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household finances

With immigrants bringing wealth to Canada from all over the world, new kind of problems have emerged for estate planners and financial advisers.

Immigrants arrive in Canada with an average of $47,000 in savings but end up using more than half that to get settled, according to a new study.

And almost one-fifth of immigrants come with no savings whatsoever, the report by the Bank of Montreal says.

After all initial expenses related to making the transition to a new life in Canada, immigrants are left with an average of $20,000, the survey results published Wednesday indicate.

The study is the first of a series examining financial issues that face new Canadians - defined by BMO as those who have moved to Canada less than 10 years ago.

New Canadian residents use the money they still have after moving and related expenses to save for retirement (53 per cent), their children's education (49 per cent), to make a major purchase such as a house or car (44 per cent) or to go on a trip, the survey indicates.

And two thirds of the respondents said they send a portion of their money – an average of $2,300 – back home to relatives or friends; 17 per cent do so on a monthly basis and 24 per cent a few times a year.

A large majority of those polled – 67 per cent – feel their standard of living has improved since coming to Canada, with 27 per cent saying their lifestyle has improved greatly.

"It can be incredibly stressful, financially and otherwise, to pick up, move to another country and begin the process of creating a new life for yourself so it's great to see that new Canadians do have a bit of a nest egg remaining," BMO InvestorLine president Julie Barker-Merz said.

"Compared to other G8 countries, Canada has the highest proportion of foreign-born residents. This is not a coincidence. People from around the world often choose Canada as a place to raise a family or start a career because of the opportunities available to newcomers," she said.

The survey found that immigrants to British Columbia have the highest average amount of savings at $86,270, while those settling in Alberta have the lowest at $28,784.

Immigrants to Quebec have the lowest average amount of money left after the move: $7,388 compared with an average nest egg of $36,527 on arrival in that province.

The survey was conducted by Pollara between Feb. 4 and Feb. 19, 2015, based on an online sample of 507 people who have immigrated to Canada in the past 10 years. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is plus or minus 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.