Moving to Canada from Australia
With its famously liberal mindset, vibrant cities and spectacular natural beauty Canada is one of the world’s favourite places to relocate to. In fact, moving to Canada was ranked the 12th best destination choice in the world in the 2016 Internations Survey.
Similar in size and population density to Australia, Canada has radically different landscapes to discover. The deep waters of the Great Lakes, the rugged drama of the Rocky Mountains, the awe-inspiring power of the Niagara Falls, the frozen wilderness of the north – Canada is blessed with mile upon mile of outstanding scenery. Here you can trade surfing for snowboarding and beach barbies for roaring log fires as you embrace an exciting new life in the North.
Living in Canada can be pretty much anything you want it to be. Want to study or work in a dynamic city? Toronto and Montréal are ready and waiting. Love the idea of combining urban life with all the fun of the great outdoors? Vancouver could be the place for you. Fancy raising your family in a small city brimming with culture? Try Quebec. And of course, if your occupation allows (or you’re looking for a tranquil spot to retire in), you could even go wild and make your new home in a rural setting surrounded by all that beautiful nature.
Whatever your reason for wanting to migrate to Canada, we’ve got all the information you need to begin your new life…
Popular Canadian cities vs Australian cities
Yes, some of these cities may have climates as different as chalk and cheese – but you’d also be surprised at their similarities.
Toronto vs Sydney
Both of these large cities are buzzing with life. From their international residents and thriving financial districts to their happening bars, clubs and restaurants, both Toronto and Sydney have that exciting urban atmosphere you only find in the world’s most vibrant cities.
Montréal vs Melbourne
Culture vultures will find plenty to compare between these diverse cities. With their lively arts scenes, packed festival calendars and devotion to all things foodie, it’s impossible to be bored in either city. What’s extra exciting about Montréal is its French culture, which influences everything from the food markets to the architecture.
Calgary vs Adelaide
If you love Adelaide’s mix of cosmopolitan city life and friendly country feel, you’re sure to love Calgary, where affluent skyscrapers exist side-by-side with a strong rodeo culture. It’s even nicknamed “Cowtown”. Both cities are surrounded by vast and beautiful countryside to explore on the weekends.
Permanent Canadian residents can take advantage of the generous public-funded healthcare system, which covers far more aspects of medical treatment than Australia’s. However, if you are on a temporary visa, you will need to take out private healthcare to cover you and your family.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Cigna for private medical insurance in Canada. With four levels of annual cover to choose from and extra modules for more flexibility, Cigna will sort you out with a plan that suits your needs.
Start building a customised plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets – you and your family.
Becoming a Citizen of USA, New Zealand and Canada
Canada’s immigration rules allow Australian citizens to visit without needing to apply for a visa. However, if you want to stay in the country for longer than six months you will need to apply for a visa.
If you are planning to work in Canada, you will need to apply for a Canadian working visa. Alternatively, if your main purpose for moving to Canada will be to study, you should apply for a student visa. You can find all the details that you need on the Canadian government website.
If you end up putting down permanent roots in Canada, you might want to consider applying for Canadian citizenship. To be eligible you must:
- Have held permanent resident status for at least two years
- Have spent at least three of the previous four years living in Canada
- Be over 18
- Have a clean criminal record
- Speak either English or French fluently
- Pass the Canadian citizenship test, which covers Canadian history and culture
Application fees are currently A$98 to establish the right of citizenship and A$522 to grant citizenship. If you have to renounce your Australian citizenship, this will cost an additional fee of A$205.
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Jobs in Canada may be slightly harder to come by than in Australia, but in general the employment market is healthy – especially in the major cities of Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Calgary.
English-French bilingual workers are in high demand in many parts of Canada, like Quebec, so good French skills will always help your job search. Canada is also rich in natural resources, with potentially lucrative careers to be found in the oil and energy industries.
Toronto is the best place to find jobs in the financial and business sectors, while Vancouver is known to be a hub of tech innovation. Check out Canada’s list of High Demand Occupations to find the sectors most in need of workers. If your occupation is on the list, this could also fast-track your work visa application. The list currently includes human resource managers, court reporters and meteorologists – to name but a few!
Workers in Canada often work long hours. Good childcare policies and an abundance of national holidays soften the blow though.
Transferring money to Canada from Australia
If you’re seriously considering a move from Oz to Canada, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into Canadian dollars.
However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with TransferWise, an online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees. How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to 8x cheaper than high street banks.
Join more than 7 million people and start using TransferWise today.
House prices and renting
As with all large, developed countries, house prices in Canada vary massively according to location. Prices are higher in the cities and lower in rural areas. Overall however, house prices are lower than in Australia – with an average city centre apartment costing 30-40% less than it would back home. Do bear in mind that your salary and spending power may also be lower in Canada.
Renting makes sense in some of the more expensive cities. In Toronto and Vancouver, renting is far more affordable than buying a home and is likely to give you a better quality of life with easy access to the thriving downtown areas. In Ottawa and Montréal, however, real estate is more affordable with some great family homes on the market.
Canada’s state education system is internationally recognised to be of a high quality. Each province has devolved responsibility for its education system, so there may be differences according to your location.
Literacy rates in both Australia and Canada are impressively high and there are many similarities between the two countries’ approach to learning. One thing to bear in mind is their different school calendar, with the Canadian school year running from September to June. Canada also has both English and French-speaking schools, which can be a great way of improving children’s language skills.
Canada has almost 100 universities to choose from, some featuring among the world’s top institutions. The five top-ranking universities in Canada are:
Things to do
Canada may be most famous for its staggering natural beauty, but its cities are also packed with cultural attractions.
Art lovers should head to the National Gallery of Canada in the capital city of Ottawa. Here you’ll find a fascinating collection of Canadian art, as well as exhibits from top international artists. History buffs can discover Canada’s rich heritage at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, while sports fans can’t miss the chance to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame for an initiation into Canada’s favourite sport.
Families will love exploring the interactive fun at Science World in Vancouver, meeting the Mounties at Fort Calgary or journeying back in time at the grand castle, La Citadelle de Quebec. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg!
Food and drink
Canadian cuisine is eclectic, as you might expect from such a diverse country. Favourite ingredients, of course, include maple syrup and crispy bacon (amazing eaten together – try it), but dining out in Canada’s cities is a truly international experience.
During the harsh winters, game meat and potato-based dishes are popular. Make sure you try ‘poutine’, an unlikely but delicious combination of French fries, gravy and cheese curds – perfect if you’ve indulged in one too many beers the night before. Many Canadian also embrace healthy eating to fuel their active, outdoor lifestyles. Sushi is massive here thanks to the amazing Canadian seafood on offer, and there is a growing vegan movement.
Canadians like to let their hair down just as much as the Aussies. For one thing, cosying up in a friendly bar is a great way to stay warm in winter! The big cities are the home of the best nightlife but smaller towns very much have their own thing going on too. The remote destination of St. John’s in Newfoundland, for example, boasts the highest number of pubs per capita in the whole country.
Montréal is renowned for being a liberal city that never sleeps, with all-night raging happening every day of the week. It has a particularly vibrant gay district and an endless choice of dance clubs featuring music from techno to jazz. The nation’s capital, Ottawa, has a cosmopolitan selection of bars and venues, with an excellent theatre and arts scene.
Vancouver is the place to go for funky cocktail bars and exclusive clubs, although you can also find more laid-back nightlife offerings in the Kitsilano neighbourhood. Toronto has the best in live music from down and dirty basement venues to huge mainstream arenas.