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Living in Kingston

Banking

Banking in Canada may be different from banking at home. Canada has strict banking regulations governed by the Bank of Canada, a Federal Agency under the Government of Canada.

It is important to be aware that the number of frauds and scams being reported each year is raising. Protect yourself by learning how to spot a scam and what to do.

International students, researchers and staff who will be living in Kingston for more than six months are advised to open a Canadian bank account.

You will use this account for the entire time that you are in Canada. You can choose to change banks at any time or have an account with multiple banks. Be sure to ask about Student Plans when opening a bank account, these plans have reduced or “zero” services fees.

Anyone who will be working in Canada must have a Canadian bank account as employers may use the direct deposit method to pay you your wages. Also, it is not easy to have a cheque cashed if you do not have a bank account.

If you will be in Canada for less than 6 months you may choose to not open a Canadian bank account.

Cellphones

Canada is known for having some of the most expensive cellphone plans in the world. This is due to the size of the country (second biggest landmass in the world) and the distribution of the population. 

Some ways to reduce costs:

  1. Bring your unlocked cellphone from home – It is important to confirm that your phone is compatible with the network before purchasing a SIM card. However, this doesn’t guarantee that your phone will be able to read the SIM card purchased in Canada.
  2. Sign a contract – by signing a contract you often get a preferred rate however if you break the contract early you will have to pay a penalty that can be expensive (read the fine print of the contract).
  3. Select a lower level of Data – determine how you will use your phone and if you can use wifi more than data selecting a lower data plan may be an option.
  4. Look for deals – cellphone companies will often have deals available for students.
Adapters

You may need to purchase an adaptor for your electronics before traveling to Canada. In Canada the standard voltage is 110-120 V (with a standard frequency of 60 Hz) rather than the 220 volts used in Europe. Some electronics will also require a voltage converter if they are not dual voltage. If you want to find out more go to tripsavy.

Weather

Ontario has four separate and distinct seasons, which can make deciding what clothing to bring difficult.  Be prepared to have to purchase articles of clothing in Canada, for example you may need to purchase a warm winter coat in Canada because these are not available in your home country.

Food

Access to certain types of food varies around the world based on several factors, including climate, growing seasons, soil, etc.  This results in certain regions having greater access to certain food types than others, or certain food being cheaper based on location.  With these factors in mind, we realize that foods which are easily available in your country may not be available in Kingston.  If you cannot find something that you eat frequently in your country, ask the people you have met from your cultural community what they have done to make sure their meals are healthy or try something new.  You will be able to access fresh fruit and vegetables in Kingston throughout the year and grocery stores have large selections of frozen fruit/vegetables in their frozen food departments. 

Keep in mind:

  • The cost of food may be higher than at home – be sure that you are creating a realistic budget.  In Winter the cost of Fruits and Vegetables is higher because these must be imported, frozen vegetables and fruit is an option to help reduce costs. 
  • When shopping, keep in mind that the names of foods may be different from country to country.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for try searching for it online to see if it may have a different name in Canada or describe it to a store employee as it may be available but may have a different name or packaged differently.
Shopping

Many shops are found along Princess Street or in malls (a large building with many stores), sometimes called Shopping Centres.  In Kingston, there are many different types of stores which sell goods of varying types, quality and price.  

Transportation

Walking, biking, and taking the bus are the easiest and least expensive modes of transportation in Kingston. The Queen’s University Main Campus, West Campus, the downtown area, student residences, and homes are all close together.

It is also easy to travel to destinations outside of Kingston, either by plane, train, bus or car rental.

I.D.

If you do not have an Ontario Driver’s License but would like a piece of Government Id to carry instead of your passport you can apply for an Ontario Id Card.

Driving in Ontario

Each province in Canada will have its own laws and regulations for driving in that province.

Internet

All members of the Queen’s Community have access to Wi-Fi and internet-linked computers on Campus. You will need your NetID in order to sign in.

Students living in Queen’s Residences can get the Resnet service in their rooms.

Students living off-campus may have internet provided their landlord as part of their rental agreement.  Others may need to arrange their own internet access at home.  Kingston has a number of internet services providers who can install high-speed internet in your home, most plans come with a Wi-Fi activated modem. Local internet services providers:

With larger companies like Bell and Cogeco, combining internet service with other services (home phone, mobile phone, television, etc.) can offer a small discount on each service.

Taxes

Most students will not earn enough income from Canadian sources while they are studying to have to pay income tax. Instead, many students will qualify for tax credits/refunds simply by being a student in Canada. Preparing a tax return will determine if you need to pay or if you will receive a refund. Income tax returns are done yearly and due by April 30th.

The Canada Revenue Agency offers a series of videos that can help international students understand their rights and responsibilities with regard to taxes in Canada.

The Queen’s University International Centre offers tax workshops during March and April to assist international students, staff and faculty with the process of preparing their taxes.

 

 

As a small-size historic city located on the shores of Lake Ontario, mid-way between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, Kingston offers many unique opportunities and enjoyable cultural and outdoor activities with walking trails and proximity to nature conservation areas. The city is home to three excellent higher education institutions: Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College and the Royal Military College of Canada.

Kingston has the greatest number of restaurants per capita residents in all of Canada. It has its own hockey team and downtown arena, theaters, festivals, art galleries, and the renowned Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Kingston is a transportation hub with a small airport, a train station and a bus terminal, not to mention our city transit. There is access to the St. Lawrence River and its islands and ferries, and we are close to the border with the USA, which presents some additional travel opportunities.

Kingston offers a clean, safe and friendly environment for its all members of the Queen’s University community.