5 financial tips to know before moving to Canada

5 financial tips to know before moving to Canada

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Managing your finances is hard enough – now imagine having to do it in a new country. Before you come to Canada, or if you’ve recently arrived, you might need help figuring out where to start. That’s where we come in. Here are five financial tips for new Canadians.

Understand Canada’s banking industry

In Canada, there are five major banks: Scotiabank, TD Bank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). Every bank in Canada offers bank accounts, investments, and loans. 

There are also smaller financial institutions such as KOHO, Wealthsimple, and Questrade, which are called fintechs. They often specialize in one aspect of your finances, like investing or chequing accounts. 

Finally, there are member-owned financial institutions called credit unions. These are typically more localized than national banks, but they offer many of the same services as banks.

When you move to Canada, you’ll need to decide which banks and financial institutions you would like to use. Research is key, but they all offer services for newcomers. 

Know your accounts

In Canada, you should be aware of a few types of financial accounts.

Investment accounts

Three popular investment accounts that all Canadians should know about are the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), the tax-free savings account (TFSA), and the First Home Savings Account (FHSA). 


An RRSP is a top choice among Canadians to save for retirement. Money saved in an RRSP is tax-deductible, meaning these accounts can help reduce the amount of money you pay for income tax each year. The investments in an RRSP grow tax-free until withdrawal, which is usually in retirement. It’s important to note that withdrawals are taxed as income.


Contributions to a TFSA are made with after-tax dollars, which means they aren’t tax-deductible. However, investment growth, interest, and dividends earned within the account are tax-free. Withdrawals from a TFSA are also tax-free, making it a great option for both short—and long-term savings goals, such as retirement, education, or purchasing a home.


The FHSA is a great account for saving for your first home in Canada. It allows Canadians to save up to $8,000 per year and $40,000 in total toward their first home. Similar to an RRSP, money contributions made to your FHSA are tax-deductible and funds can be withdrawn, tax-free, when purchasing a home. 

Bank account

Savings accounts

As the name suggests, savings accounts are bank accounts for your savings. However, unlike investment accounts, money within savings accounts isn’t tax-free. Unlike investment accounts which can hold things like stocks, savings accounts can only hold cash. Savings accounts are great options for short-term savings, like saving for a trip or building an emergency fund.

Chequing accounts

As a new Canadian, you should have a chequing account for your day-to-day banking. These are affordable accounts that allow you to spend your money on everyday purchases, like groceries, clothing, and any other retail spending. They come with a debit card, making it easy to access your money wherever you shop.

You can also link your chequing account to pay bills online, such as subscription services, insurance, or your mortgage. 

Meet with an advisor

We’ve given you a brief overview of the types of accounts you should know about, but there are many other things you should consider when it comes to managing finances in Canada as a newcomer. The good news is there are plenty of resources you can use when you get here, including speaking with an advisor.

Scotiabank, for example, has its StartRightTM  program. The program offers special credit cards, bank accounts, car loans, and mortgages for Canadian newcomers, making it a great first place to look when you arrive.1 

Book an appointment online here to learn all about the program. 

Scotiabank advisors are also available to help walk you through the process of managing your finances as a new Canadian. 

Learn as much as you can

While an advisor is an important resource, there are also online resources to help you learn on your own. For money management tips for newcomers in Canada, Scotiabank’s StartRight® Program has informative articles to help you learn more about managing your finances in Canada.

Get to know financial programs for new Canadians

All banks offer affordable chequing accounts and many offer accounts specifically for newcomers.

As mentioned, Scotiabank’s StartRight® Program has information and programs specifically for newcomers. Through the program, you can get a chequing  account with the monthly account fees waived for an entire year.2 It’s a great way to get started managing Canadian finances as a newcomer.

To learn more about the program, make an appointment with a Scotiabank advisor today.

This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.

1 Scotiabank StartRight Program, created for Canadian Permanent residents from 0–5 years in Canada, International Students and Foreign Workers. For customers onboarded as a part of the Scotiabank StartRight Program we do not charge a service fee for the transfer, however, foreign currency exchange rates apply. Subject to certain limits and additional terms and conditions. 

2 The 1-Year No Monthly Account Fee Offer (the “Offer”) is available to eligible clients who open a new Preferred Package account under the StartRight® Program (the “Account”). Employees of The Bank of Nova Scotia (“Scotiabank”) and individuals who are currently or were previously holders/ joint holders of a Scotiabank chequing account within the last 2 years are not eligible for this Offer. If you are eligible for the Offer, during the first 12 months, your monthly Account fee will be waived and will not appear as a charge on your Account. The Account must be open and in good standing at the time of the waiver. All applicable service charges on the Account will continue to be applied monthly. After the first 12 months, you will begin to see the monthly Account fee charged to your Account unless you maintain a minimum daily closing balance of $4,000, in which case the monthly Account fee will be waived per the Account terms and conditions. This Offer is non-transferable and cannot be combined with any other offers. Maximum one Offer per customer. All rates, fees, features and benefits are subject to change. Offer may be changed, cancelled, or extended at any time without notice.