Tales From Toronto – J1 in Canada

For many students summer can be tricky to figure out. There’s a lot of pressure on us to make the most of it because our time is so limited. Everyone wants to travel these days and there’s so much to see in such little time. It requires planning and sacrifice so I’m going to tell you about my experience of living in Toronto in Canada for the Summer. This will hopefully help those of you thinking about heading across the Atlantic in the near future.

I had my mind made up that I wanted to spend an entire Summer in another country way back in July 2016. Fortunately, I had a solid group of 6 friends who were on the same page. The J1 is a staple of student life and we knew there’d be a wealth of information out there for us to study. The first thing to mention about our decision to go to Canada is that there is no J1 visa process required, those pertain to the USA alone. If you decide to go to Canada, you’ll need to apply for a 2 year working- holiday permit. At first it seems daunting, but the International Experience Canada system is rather straight forward as long as you follow the required steps carefully.

Organisation is the key to a successful trip. You really have to be on the ball with your visa so that no issues arise later on. Looking for accommodation can be quite deflating but persist and you will succeed. I was lucky enough to live in a house with my  other 6 friends for the Summer, paying only $480(€325) a month. Although, most others we met over there were paying around the $800(€543) mark. Kijiji, Craigslist and Airbnb are all very useful when looking for accommodation. Also, The University of Toronto allows students to rent out residence rooms every summer, if all else fails.

Toronto is also full of some of the most amazing people you will meet as it is one of the most culturally diverse North American cities. Not to mention the huge LGBTQ+ community who celebrate pride in June, which is host to some of the craziest street parties I have ever bared witness to. Toronto is also host to some seriously hot weather. This means rooftop patios are where you’ll spend most of your drinking time.

Toronto is full of jobs but perseverance is needed. It took all of my group of friends about 4 weeks until we were all working but truthfully, we all could have been trying a lot harder. Getting a job was the greatest aspect of the Summer for me. I managed to work with City Sightseeing Toronto (those big red buses you see driving around town). It was a fantastic opportunity and I got to know the city like the back of my hand.

However, Toronto is not cheap at all. You will certainly need about €2000 heading over. You should be smart about how you spend your money during your first month. Luckily, minimum wage is set to be increased to $15 by next year so things won’t be as difficult.

There’s really not much more for me to add other than do it. It’s the most difficult, rewarding, scariest and most enjoyable experience you will ever have and you will not regret it.


Ian Mangan

Image Credit: Ian Mangan