Where should I go?
Even those who are planning to travel have to land somewhere and it’s quite a conundrum when you’ve never been to Canada. How should you pick your destination city? How can you be sure to start the experience in a place you’ll enjoy?
Canada spans six time zones
There’s bound to be a place that fits your requirements!
There’s no magic formula to come up with the perfect destination city, but defining your priorities and doing research is a good way to start narrowing down the quest to a few choices. And if you really have no idea what you’re looking for, just leave with a plane ticket and an open mind! You’ll figure it out once you get there, as long as you master a few basic facts.
What’s the main goal of your adventure?
If working in your field or trying to find a new career path is your priority, research cities with the best professional opportunities. For instance, go on a Canadian job search website, enter a few keywords and do a nationwide search. The cities with the most relevant offers are likely to be the most promising destinations! It’s not an exact science but you will quickly notice a few trends and the main industries.
You should also check the overall economic growth of different cities. Some are still recovering from the global economic crisis while others are already booming.
Just keep in mind that there won’t be a perfect place with the perfect job. Very few people are hired for their dream job as soon as they step off the plane.
Even if work isn’t a priority for you, preliminary research online can give you an idea of what major Canadian cities look like. Maybe you’ll find one particularly attractive—if so, go for it!
English Canada or French Canada?
If you want to learn French or practise your language skills, Quebec is the best place to be. French is the sole official language in Quebec so you’ll be able to work in French, live in French, magasiner (shop) in French and possibly eat good French food. There are English-speaking neighbourhoods in Montreal and for some positions, being fluent in both official languages is a strong asset.
Note that there are also thriving French communities in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Ontario.
The rest of Canada (which is basically most of the country!) is mostly English speaking so it’s a no brainer if your first language is English or if you want to improve your language skills. Canadians don’t have a strong accent (it sounds more American than British, though) so it shouldn’t be too hard to decipher native speakers.
No idea where to start? Answer the following questions!
Would you like to live by the seaside, in a mountain town or on flat lowlands? Are you scared of cold temperatures? Would you rather be in a city, in a town or in a remote community? Are you more East Coast or West Coast? Would you rather grab a drink and go for a movie or hike all day and enjoy a starry night?
What’s your budget?
It takes a while to save the required $2,500, but spending the money is deceptively easy. If this is all your savings, you’ll probably have to find a job pretty fast or live on a tight budget.
If this is your case, it’s best to stick to smaller cities. Sure, there are fewer work opportunities, but there are also fewer candidates and cost of living is generally lower. Just consider this option even if small-town Canada sounds less glamorous than Toronto or Vancouver!
Again, with limited funds and no job in sight, you probably don’t want to start your WHP with an expensive cross-country trip (unless you manage to volunteer for room and board). There’s no guarantee you’ll find a job the day you decide it’s time to get a paycheck!
Would you consider going off the beaten track?
Even in a country as big as Canada, most paths are well-worn. However, there are still a few that aren’t trodden down by many feet.
Unsurprisingly, Canada’s largest cities—Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver—are very popular destinations. That said, they are big enough that you won’t necessarily bump into another WHP holder at every street corner.
If you want to go off the beaten track, you should head for the Prairies (Manitoba and Saskatchewan), the Maritimes (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador), the Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) or even Northern Quebec. Yukon is geographically off the beaten path but it’s increasingly popular with WHP holders, even though it probably won’t feel crowded.
Finally, remember that if you don’t enjoy the destination you picked, you don’t have to stay. Give it a chance but feel free to jump on a bus and try your luck somewhere else! Every Canadian city has its own unique vibe, don’t judge the country based on one place.
Main articles about the WHV to Canada
Step-By-Step Guide to International Experience Canada Work Permits
Introduction to the Canada Working Holiday permit
Guide to Working Holiday in Canada (free download)
16 Good Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
Globe WHV insurance policy highlights
The duration of your insurance coverage directly impacts your WHV
15 Tips for a Successful WHV Experience
The Working Holiday Visa Adventure as a Solo Traveller