Differences between houses in Canada and UK

Here is article written by a friend and colleague of mine,  that I would like to share, which has some useful hints, tips and differences between houses in Canada  .

She is an interior designer, home-stager and ‘eco-desgin’ consultant’ , living and working in Calgary and areas:

Moving into your Canadian house

Are you planning to move from the UK to Canada?

To start with, consider leaving most of your furniture behind, as they are expensive to ship and might look out of place in your new home.

As your estate agent (REALTOR) may  tell you, houses and condos (flats) in Canada generally tend to be more spacious than in the UK.  One reason being, especially in within Calgary , most  homes have a large, useable basement.

You will find that there are quite a few differences between houses in Canada and UK as well as in the vocabulary.

Most Canadian homes are heated via a forced air system (produced by large furnaces in the basement) and through vents (floor & ceiling) instead of radiators and they often have real log fires/fireplaces. Because wood is still used a lot in the interior design either as wooden flooring, decorative vaulted ceilings, staircases, cabinet doors and furniture, most furnaces have humidifiers attached. Vital in arid climates like Alberta!

Paint colours overall tend to be more muted and much darker (even on the outside), furniture tends to be big and chunky and for window covers, Canadians seem to prefer blinds to curtains.

In Canada a garden becomes a yard, the lounge a living room and the ground floor is called the 1st floor or main floor. You will take the garbage out, clear the sidewalk of snow, watch soccer or hockey on the TV (up to 80”) in a developed basement and have your cup of tea in the family room.

50 or 100 gallon water tanks supply all your hot water for the two or three bathrooms, the outside of the houses are covered in either plastic siding or stucco, lot’s of Canadians like to use an outdoor hot tub and BBQ’s on the deck are an all year round event!

And get ready to take your shoes off! When looking at properties, visiting new friends and neighbours and even at the entrance to schools (when the weather is bad), it is customary to leave your shoes at the door.

Courtesy of :


NEW to CANADA – programs for home ownership

English: mortgages Green Bay, WI

Image via Wikipedia


Here is an interesting post from a mortgage broker, who has lots of experience with newcomers to Calgary.

Of course , not everyone chooses to buy a home ,as soon as they arrive- some choosing to stay in ‘long’ stay hotel suites, others rent for a while until they are familiar with the city, others choose to rent indefinitely, but with the record low interest rates at the moment, many are taking advantage and choose to jump straight in to community living and so look in to buying as soon as they arrive.

Either way, as you will see,  there are many options there for you- and it helps to discuss your options with a  mortgage broker- as soon as you feel it is something you are contemplating.

I know from experience, that my guest mortgage broker, Gabrielle, is excellent at relaying the information you require , explaining your options and keeping you fully advised, whether you plan to buy now, 6 months or anytime in the future.

Here is her Aricle for people new to Canada and programs available for home ownership.



NEW to CANADA- programs for home ownership:

This program is designed to specifically meet the unique needs for those recently new to Canada, even if they:

  • Do not have established credit or have no credit at all
  • Are not Canadian citizen


A reminder that there no longer is a firm requirement that clients must have immigrated or relocated to Canada within the last 36 months to be considered for homeownership under this program with one exception:


  • Those who are here under a valid working visa and wish to put down 5%


(after 36 months, a minimum of 10% down payment is required)






  • Clients have to have valid work permit or
  • Have landed immigrant status


Some highlights:


For purchase transactions


  • 5% minimum down payment
  • No maximum mortgage amount
  • Maximum 2 units where at least one unit must be occupied as principal residence
  • Mortgage is portable
  • Mortgage is assumable
  • Mortgages with full features are applicable
  • Best market rates and terms including fixed and variable rates mortgages.
  • Amortization options:
  • LTV > 80% up to 30 years
  • LTV < 80% up to 40 years
  • NOT available for second/vacation homes or rental properties
  • Other conditions apply


Please note that this program allows that each application be evaluated on its own merit. Please contact me if you wish to discuss a specific client or an opportunity so we can provide customized and file specific guidance.



Courtesy of Gabrielle Thome,  with Benefit Mortgage Brokers

To buy or to rent when you move to Canada?

When moving to Canada one of the first considerations you have to make is where you plan to live , followed by  do you rent or buy ?There is no real magic answer to this though,  as it depends largely on personal preference, circumstances and knowledge.

So my aim here  is to help provide you with some knowledge that  will help you weigh up your options, so that you can decide.

Map of Canada
Image via Wikipedia

Because it is such a big change some people prefer to rent when they move here,whether it be for just a month or two, 6 months or more,  this gives you the ability to sort out other financial commitments first, and get a ‘feel’ for the communities/areas. If this is the case, one good place to look for a rental, is www.rentfaster.ca  . Here there are lots of private landlords and many of the rental agencies which advertise here, so is a good place to start.With regards to renting/tenants rights a good resource is www.servicealberta.ca/Landlords_Tenants.cfm.

Note most landlords ‘prefer’ long term rental agreements, but do feel free to ask for what you want, e.g. 6 months or so.

However,  if you want to ‘settle’ in and  want to take advantage of the slower market  and  low rates,(as of  Dec 2011) and hence plan to buy soon after your arrival, this most definitely can be possible, and financing (e.g. new mortgage)  when you are new to Canada is an option with a fairly low down payment,, but with the right steps in place. So,  if you are planning to buy fairly soon after your arrival- it is worth speaking to a mortgage broker well in advance ,if possible,  to make the transaction as smooth as possible, and so that you have all your ‘ducks in a row’ for when you move here. (see my local services section for 2 GREAT mortgage brokers- who have had much experience dealing with expats obtaining mortgages in Canada).

Or if you are simply unsure, and just want to discuss your options, and weigh up the pro’s and con’s, I am always happy to discuss, so feel free to email or call, having ‘been there,done it and got the t-shirt’ I am always happy to help.

Mel McCartney

Brits calling Canada Home

© Copyright 2010, Nolan Matthias

Purchasing a first home is an enormous financial step, and often marks the beginning of a different phase in our personal and financial lives. Imagine, then, what it’s like for new Canadians – arriving in a new country, and looking for a place they can call their own, in a country they’ve just begun to call home.

A growing number of Brits are choosing to call Canada “home”. According to Statistics Canada, more than a million new Canadians arrived between 2001 and 2006 – and that trend is expected to grow. For many of these new Canadians, purchasing a home is a top priority. If you are new to Canada, there can be some unexpected challenges, but the good news is that it is possible to find a place to call home, and there are plenty of professionals with vast experience in dealing with new Canadians.

The biggest hurdle of course is credit history. An international credit report is the first step to getting a mortgage in Canada. You can get one directly from the UK divisions of Experian (www.experian.co.uk) or Equifax (www.equifax.co.uk). You may also be able to obtain a reference letter from a recognized financial institution in your country of origin. Even though it is not required, it is a good idea to start establishing credit in Canada as soon as you can, this can be as simple as applying for a credit card or a car loan.

There are alternative ways to demonstrate creditworthiness that several lenders will recognize. For example, a year of timely payment history of your rent (to a non-family member) confirmed by a letter from the landlord and supported by bank statements.

Additionally, 12 months of payment statements for utilities, telephone, cable, or insurance premiums, or documented savings for 12 months.

Typically, with as little as three months of employment history, you can often secure a mortgage. And if you have arrived as part of a corporate relocation, you are exempt from this requirement.

A down payment of five percent is the minimum required and, in some cases, must come from your own resources, for example, your own bank account or investments. If you are not employed, a larger down payment will be required. In addition to income and down payment confirmation, the lender will also require a valid work permit or verification of landed immigrant status.

Getting independent mortgage advice is definitely recommended. The mortgage planners at Mortgage Architects are trained to help new Canadians navigate the challenges of homeownership, and have excellent relationships with a broad range of lenders. Many of these lenders have mortgage programs that are specially designed to help new Canadians into their first homes – and to minimize the usual hurdles they face. Mortgage planners have insight into this broad range of options, and when a lender introduces or modifies a program that will benefit new Canadians, they’ll hear about it. They are well-equipped to help you with your homeownership goals.

It can be a daunting experience for a new Canadian. The system is often unfamiliar, and they often can’t count on their financial history and reputation. But Mortgage Architects has helped many new Canadians, designing a mortgage that is part of a total financial plan for them. This kind of attention and expertise can make for a great start – and a lasting difference.

Courtesy of Nolan Matthias at :http://mortgage360.ca

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