Arrival & Settling In

Setting up your new journey in Canada can be a daunting task. Below you will find some general tips for setting up your living space and where you can find essential items to make your house feel like a home. In addition, you will find an overview of interesting programs that can help you get settled in to your time at Western and in Canada and some general information on when it is best to arrive in London.

When should you arrive?

Academic programs at Western are offered in three terms:

  • Fall term: September - December
  • Winter Term: January - April
  • Spring/Summer Term: May - August

The start date of your classes may vary depending on your academic program:

You should plan to arrive in London a week or two before classes begin and before any scheduled in-person orientation activities begin.

The best time to arrive at Western University is on a weekday, between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. Many university offices (including the IESC) are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and public/university holidays. If you are arriving in December, please note that offices at Western University are closed over the winter break (approximately December 23 to early January) and January 1 is a public holiday.

Setting Up Your Home

three young men prepping food together in their residence dorm, all laughing

Below you will find a list of tips to setting up everything you need in your off-campus home. Before you purchase  things for your new living space, check what appliances are included in your home (e.g. a microwave). For those living in on- or off-campus, here are a few things that you may need to purchase to set up your new living space:

  • Food & spices
    • this may be snack food or pre-made food that can be warmed up, but might also be things like cooking ingredients for off-campus homes 
  • Toiletries such as toilet paper, shampoo & conditioner, face wash, or other supplies that were too big to bring with you
  • Bedding and towels
    • Canadian Winters can be very cold, you may need additional blankets for the Winter season that you might not need when you first arrive
  • Cleaning supplies (e.g. toilet brush, mop, broom)
  • Cooking utensils (e.g. cutlery, pots and pans, dishes)

Utilities, Laundry, and Furniture

Utilities: Electricity, Heating, Water and Gas

Rent does not always include utilities like electricity (hydro), heating, water and gas. Ask your landlord the following questions so that you can budget for the cost of living:

  • Does rent cover utilities? If so, which ones?
  • Is the home heated by electricity (hydro) or gas?
  • How much did the previous tenants pay for utilities each month?
  • How much did the previous tenants pay for the coldest month of winter?

If utilities are not included in your rent, you can arrange for the companies below to set up them up. Your monthly bill will depend on how much electricity, heating, water or gas you use. In addition to the monthly bill, a deposit and/or an initial installment fee may be required.

Utility Companies in London

Natural gas line services

Electricity and water services

Enbridge Gas
Telephone: 1-888-362-7434

London Hydro
Telephone: 519-661-5503

Electricity in Canada

In North America, electricity is 120 volts and 60 Hertz. Electrical outlets take a 2-prong plug, with the option of a third prong, called a ‘grounder’. The prongs on the plug are rectangular, not circular. Depending on which country you are from, you may require a:

Plug adapter: If your electronic devices do not fit into Canada’s 2-prong electrical outlets.

Transformer: If your electrical devices require more or less than 120 volts of electricity.

For more information please review The Ultimate Electricity Guide for World Travelers


Most houses come with a washing machine and clothing dryer that you may use whenever you want. Apartment buildings usually provide a laundry room with numerous coin or card operated machines. Each machine will cost approximately one to two dollars per use. Ask your landlord about the cost of the machines and how to use them.

If you do not have laundry machines in your house or apartment, you can go to a laundromat. Laundromats have numerous coin or card -operated washing machines and dryers. They usually have ironing equipment and dry cleaning services too. Machines cost approximately one to three dollars per use. You can keep the cost low by bringing your own soap and fabric softener to the laundromat.

These are a few laundromats in London:

  1. The Laundry Café
    590 Oxford St. E. (at Adelaide St.)
    Telephone: 519-432-8222
  2. Tommy Sud’s Laundry & Café
    79 Commissioners Road West
    Telephone: 519-679-7428
  3. The House Of Laundry
    507 Pall Mall St
    Telephone: (226) 505-3496


Used Furniture Stores

Many stores sell used furniture in London. Generally, you must move the furniture yourself but ask about delivery options just in case. Return to the store later if you do not find what you are looking for because new items arrive every week. The following stores usually carry used furniture (listed alphabetically):

  1. Goodwill
    Sherwood Forest Mall, 1225 Wonderland Rd. N
    Telephone: 519-472-1959
  2. Talize
    1345 Huron Street 
    Telephone: 519-455-1112
  3. Value Village 
    500 Dundas Street / 530 Oxford St W, London
    Telephone: 519-659-0605 / 226-777-6850

You can also check for used furniture online at Kijiji London or searching from Buy and Sell groups on Facebook.

Used Furniture from Other Students

Another great place to find cheap furniture is from students who are moving at the end of the school year in late April to early May. Students usually advertise what they have for sale online through Facebook groups or posters around campus. Many students will even put unwanted furniture at the end of their lawn to be collected by other people for free (always ask before taking unless there is a "free" sign).

New Furniture

Some furniture stores in London offer new furniture at discounted prices. Ask a sales person about delivery options—some stores offer free delivery! Here are a few stores:

  1. Wal-Mart
    White Oaks Mall, 1105 Wellington Road South
    1280 Fanshawe Park Rd. W.
  2. JYSK
    50 North Centre Road
    Telephone: 519-645-1414

Phones, Internet, and TV

Many companies provide telephone, Internet, and TV services to Londoners. We recommend comparing plans, rates and discounts before you decide on a company.

Cell Phones (Mobile Phones)

The cost for cell phone service is usually more expensive in Canada than in other countries. Ask about all fees for a phone plan or contract before you sign up, such as the cost of an activation fee, sending and receiving texts, long-distance calls, Internet access, etc. To set up an account, you will need to bring your credit card and passport.

Major Canadian Cell Phone Companies 

Buying a New Cell phone

If you arrive in Canada without a cell phone, you can get one in two ways: 

1. Sign a contract with a cell phone company. Contracts include the cost of the phone and a monthly bill for phone use. Most contracts require a minimum commitment of one year.

2. Buy a cell phone and join a ‘pay as you go’ plan. In a ‘pay as you go’ plan you purchase minutes to use on your phone and you buy more as you need them. No identification or credit card is required. If you use your cell phone frequently or use your cell phone for long-distance calls, this option can be much more expensive than a contract.   

Several cell phone stores are located in Masonville Place, a London shopping mall close to campus. 

Bringing Your Cell Phone from Home

If your phone is unlocked and has similar technology to Canadian phones, you may be able to use it here. You can take your phone to a store in London to find out if it will work in Canada (see stores listed above). To sign a contract with a Canadian phone company and still use your own phone, you will need to buy a new SIM card and pay $30-$40 for the activation. Bring a credit card and your passport.

SIM Card Providers at Toronto Pearson International Airport

Toronto Pearson International Airport has two phone plan providers near International Arrivals Terminal 1 should you wish to purchase a phone or SIM card as soon as you arrive in Canada. Below you will find an overview of the providers and links to the full list of services for each. 

CHATR Wireless

  • Hours of operation 10:00 am - 10:00 pm daily (any changes can be viewed here).
  • Located at International Arrivals Terminal 1, before security. The exact location can be found on the offical Toronto Pearson map.
  • More details


  • Hours of operation 6:00 am - 8:00 pm daily (any changes can be viewed here.)
  • Located at International Arrivals Terminal 1, before security. The exact location can be found on the official Toronto Person map.
  • More details

Home Telephone & Other Phone Information

Home Phone

To set up a home phone installation, call one of the phone companies below or register online. Customers are billed monthly. On your first bill, there might be a one-time installation fee, a monthly service fee, a rental fee (if you rent a phone) and charges for any long-distance or overseas calls made using their long-distance plan. Once the line is activated in your name, you are legally responsible for all calls made on the line.

The phone companies above offer plans that combine the following features in various ways:

  • Telephone rentals
  • Overseas and long-distance services
  • Internet services
  • Calling Cards
  • Cable/satellite television

Overseas and Long-Distance Calls


You can only get basic phone installation and maintenance through a local telephone company, but many companies offer competitive rates on overseas and long-distance calls for telephones. If you find a company that offers better rates for overseas calls than your local provider, you can use that company as your long-distance carrier. You would receive two different phone bills each month, but you might prefer this minor inconvenience to paying more.

  • Many long-distance carriers offer a reduced price for calls at certain times of the day. Ask your carrier about special deals.
  • You can buy Pre-Paid Calling Cards from your phone company that allow you to make calls from any phone and charge them to your account

Some carriers:

Long-Distance Calling Cards

Long-distance calling cards may be the cheapest option depending on the country you are calling. They are usually sold in denominations of $5, $10 and $20 at convenience/variety stores or pharmacies (e.g., the pharmacy in the UCC basement). Remember to check the expiry date (3-6 months is average) and whether there is a connection or maintenance fee. You can use long distance calling cards on any phone, with any carrier.

How to Dial Long-Distance

Dial 011 + country code + routing code + local number  OR  1 + country code + routing code + local number depending on which area you are calling. Country codes and routing codes are listed in the phone book.

To make a long-distance call through a public phone, dial 0 and tell the operator that you are making a ‘collect call’ to your country and provide the phone number. The person who receives the call will be asked to accept the charges. Charges for operator-assisted calls are the most expensive; the minimum charge is for three minutes.

Note: You will NOT be charged for calls made to long distance numbers with the area codes 800, 866, 877 and 888. These numbers indicate a 'toll free' call.

Internet Phones

In general, Internet phones offer free long-distance calling within the U.S. and Canada and free world-wide calling to anyone with the same type of phone. Students can buy two Internet phones and send one to their family at home so that they can talk for free. Make sure the phone will work in your country before you make the purchase. Internet phone services start at $3.30 per month. If you prefer to order plans in person you can often find start-up kits at local electronic stores (Best Buy, Future Shop, Sears, Walmart, Tiger Direct, etc.).  

Note: If you have an Internet phone, the phone number will not be a local number and people who call you from London will have to pay minor long distance charges.

Some options:

  1. Magic Jack
  2. Net Talk
  3. Vonage


At Home

Dial-up is the cheapest Internet option, but also the slowest. With dial-up, you cannot use the hand phone and the Internet at the same time unless you have a separate phone line for you computer . High-speed (broad band) is more expensive than dial-up, but also much faster. It allows for simultaneous Internet and phone use. The companies below offer both high-speed and dial-up.

Popular Internet Companies

On Campus

With a Western email username and password, you can access the internet wifi all over campus. There are computer labs for you to use in the Health Sciences Building, North Campus Building, Natural Sciences Centre, Social Science Centre and Somerville House. You can also take advantage of Western's wireless network.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact Western’s IT department:

Western Technology Services (WTS)
Telephone: 519-661-3800


You can sign up for digital TV through Rogers Cable or Bell Canada’s satellite service. These services will have several fees attached to them, like one-time set-up charges and monthly service fees. Each company offers a variety of packages with different prices and advantages.

TV on the Internet

You can also view television shows and movies on your computer by paying for a low cost online television service like Netflix. You can connect shows to your TV with a video game console, Apple TV player or an Android TV player. Keep in mind that there are both free and for fee streaming sites.

Programs to Help Transition

students playing uno and laughing

Transitioning to a new university, new city and a new home can be overwhelming. Please know that you are not alone. As a new student we encourage you to take these steps to help adjust to your new life at Western:

  • Sign up for an International Peer Guide – an upper-year student mentor
  • Join the English Conversation Program – meet friends and practice English in an informal setting
  • Come to Global Café - a weekly social gathering where you can meet friends and get connected to the campus community
  • Join a Club or Committee on Campus - there are many to choose from to suit your interests for undergraduate and graduate students alike
  • Come talk to us – if you are struggling or need support, drop in to see us, or make an appointment with an International Student Advisor