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Daily life

What’s the best way to prepare to move abroad? Besides our winters, which you have certainly heard about, some things about life in Quebec might surprise you. The information below can help you prepare.

  • Cost of living

    The cost of living varies from one city to the next, and generally goes up proportionally with the size of the city. For example, the average cost of rent in Montreal is higher than elsewhere in Quebec. That’s why we recommend that you communicate with the advisor at your cégep to get information on the average cost of rent and different services that are offered in your future city or town. The advisor can also give you some tips to find the best local deals!

    You should know that most products and services are subject to federal and provincial sales tax:

    • Canadian products and services tax (TPS), which is 5% of the pre-tax price; plus
    • Quebec sales tax (TVQ), which is 9.975% of the pre-tax price (excluding TPS).

    Be careful, because the price you see on items in the store almost never includes these taxes (they are calculated at the cash register).

    When you go out to eat, service (the tip) is not included in the bill. It’s customary to give the server at least the equivalent of 15% of the bill (before taxes).

  • Electricity

    In Quebec, electric outlets are 120 volts. If you bring small appliances with you (hair dryer, laptop or computer charger, etc.), don’t forget to get an adapter.

  • Taxes

    As an international student, you need to file an income tax return if you have taxes to pay or if you want to request a reimbursement. The advisor at your cégep can help you. You can also learn more on the Government of Canada and Revenu Québec sites.

  • Système de santé

    If you are injured during your stay in Quebec:

    • For serious cases, go directly to the nearest hospital. All hospitals have emergency rooms which are open at all times.
    • For non-emergencies, there are walk-in clinics in most municipalities in Quebec. Opening hours and registration processes vary from one clinic to the next.
    • Local pharmacies are an excellent resource for minor complaints such as cough, colds and flus, allergies, digestive issues, etc.
    • Info-Santé is a telephone system available across Quebec that gives you 24-hour, free access to a nurse who can answer your health questions. To reach Info-Santé, dial 8-1-1 from any telephone.
    • Your cégep may offer nursing services on campus. Check your cégep’s website or ask your advisor.
  • Currency and banking system

    The currency in Canada is the dollar (CAD) and the bill denominations are $5 (blue bill), $10 (purple), $20 (green), $50 (red), and $100 (brown). The coins are the following: 5 cents (¢), 10¢, 25¢, $1 (also known as a loonie), and $2 (a toonie). To check the exchange rate with your country’s currency, you can use a tool like UX Change. There are also different mobile applications you can download to your cell phone.

    To open a bank account, go to any financial institution. Bring your ID, your study permit, proof of enrolment at your cégep, and proof of address.

    There are seven major Canadian banks: Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), TD Canada Trust (TD), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), ScotiaBank (BNS), National Bank of Canada (BNC), and Laurentian Bank of Canada. There is also Desjardins Group, with a network of credit unions located in all regions of Quebec.

    Tip: try to chose an institution that’s close to your cégep or to your housing to reduce your travel time!

  • Credit / Debit card

    In Canada, you might be solicited by financial institutions who want to offer you a credit card. Unlike in many other countries, Canadian credit cards don’t require you to have money already available. You can use a card to pay for your purchases, up to a certain amount (limit) that you need to pay the following month. Be very diligent in your payments if you decide to use a credit card – the interest rates are very high!

    A prepaid card is another possibility. Ask your financial institution directly for more information.

    Your debit card (bank card) pays for transactions by taking money directly out of your bank account. This card also lets you make transactions in person at the bank or at an automated teller machine (ATM).

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Your debit card will work in ATMs managed by all banks. However, banks charge access fees and high service charges for each transaction made with a card from another bank! Go to your bank’s website to find out where its ATMs are located.

  • Guides officiels

    The governments of Quebec and Canada have prepared useful guides to help you when you arrive in the country. You can learn more about Canadian values, the history of Canada, its laws, etc.

    Find the guides here:

    Learning about Québec

    Welcome to Canada: What you should know

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