Moving to Canada from the US

Looking for a fresh start? Being relocated for work? Dreaming of a new home, surrounded by glorious scenery? Canada could be the place for you. Stereotypes aren’t something we usually side with, but Canada’s is frequently spot on – lovely, polite people, with a passion for maple syrup.

Of course, there are other benefits to moving to Canada from the US. Below, we’ll discuss different prices you can expect to encounter during the big move, as well as looking at what Canada has to offer you (other than its endless multitude of lakes and mountains). 

Cost of shipping to Canada

Looking at the overall cost of everything is enough to put anyone off moving abroad, but fear not – moving to Canada need not be as costly as you think. We’ve calculated the average international shipping rates, along with the duration of travel, for our most popular Canada/US routes – including from both the east and west coasts of America. 

The rates are sourced from WorldFreightRates.com, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth $53,620 – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance). These prices are correct as of October 2019. 

The durations are sourced from SeaRates.com, and are also correct as of October 2019.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Montreal $422.17 - $466.604 days
New York to Vancouver $2,574.54 - $2,845.5419 days
New York to Halifax$450.24 - $497.631-2 days
Los Angeles to Montreal $2,485.32 - $2,746.9719 days
Los Angeles to Vancouver$512.02 - $565.923 days
Los Angeles to Halifax$2,650.98 - $2,930.0317 days

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

Select the size of your move to get free quotes

Cost of flying from the US to Canada

You might have noticed that the US isn’t that far away from Canada. Considering the relatively short distance between your old home and new home, you might be thinking about flying your belongings over, rather than shipping. Although air freight can be up to seven times more expensive than container shipping, if time is of the essence, this might be the best option for you. Check out some examples of air freight prices below:

RouteCostDuration
New York - Montreal$2,319.78 - $2,563.961 hour
New York - Vancouver $2,319.78 - $2,563.967 hours
New York - Halifax$2,319.78 - $2,563.963 hours

Unfortunately, cargo flights are not available from Los Angeles, so if you’re situated on the West Coast, shipping is the best option for you.

When it’s time for you to make the decision between air freight or shipping, it’s worth considering what’s best for your situation. If you’re pushed for time, consider air freight – but if you’re not in any rush, shipping your belongings will be much cheaper, and much better for your carbon footprint.

Cost of living in Canada

It’s not just the getting there that can be costly – living costs also make a difference while you’re setting up camp at your new home. Before you move to a new country, no matter how near or far it is from your old home, it’s handy to get a head start and scout out the prices for everyday items. Luckily for you, we’ve created a comparison list of all the essentials: 

MetricThe USCanada
Groceries (milk, bread, rice, eggs, and cheese)$19.99$25.02
Inexpensive restaurant$15.00$16.00
Bottle of beer$2.13$2.70
A trip to the movies$12.00$13.50
A monthly gym membership$36.12$48.17

Overall, the cost of living in Canada is higher than what the average American is used to – so it might be a bit of a culture shock at first. That said, these prices are all averages, and wherever you choose to settle might deviate from these results. For example, if you’re used to New York prices and are planning to move to Toronto, you can look forward to a lovely 30% decrease in living costs

Basically, if you have your heart set on Canada, don’t let the price put you off – it’s all circumstantial.

Public transport in Canada

Before we delve into the stats and figures, there are a few things you might find interesting about Canadian public transit:

  • The average Canadian is more than twice as likely to utilize public transportation than the average American.
  • A report was recently released by Redfin that measured the pedestrian-friendliness of different cities, with transit scores calculated based on convenience and frequency of service. With a score of 78, Toronto outranks several large US cities, including Boston (72), Washington D.C. (71) and Philadelphia (67). In fact, so does Vancouver, with a score of 74. 
  • Canada’s going green. Canada has recently started introducing electric buses in several major cities, to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The plan is to replace more than 1,200 existing buses with electric-run ones. 
MetricThe USCanada
Cost★★★★★★★
Availability★★★★★★
Quality★★★★
Speed★★ 1/2★★ 1/2

These stars are based on an overview of reviews across multiple aggregator websites, including Tripadvisor, Which?, and Redfin.

Driving in Canada

Not too fond of the idea of sweaty trains and busy buses? Well, a lot of people in Canada can’t live without their car either – in fact, 22.4 million Canadians own a car (that’s two thirds of the country). It can be a less stressful way of getting around, but at what cost? 

On average, Canadians are spending between $8,600 and $13,000 a year on buying and maintaining their car. Of course, this will vary with each car, but due to strong weather conditions in certain areas of the snowy country, you might want to opt for a trusty vehicle. 

As for gas? Compared to prices in the US, your car will unfortunately be eating away at your bank account once again, as fuel can cost up to 30% more in Canada than it does in the US. So, if you find yourself struggling with travel, it might be worth swapping your four-wheeled friend for one of those busy buses. 

Cost of utility bills in Canada

The US has the edge when it comes to cost so far, but what about utility bills? We imagine that if you’re thinking about moving north of the border, you’ll want to know how much your daily lifestyle will affect your bills. Check out some of the price ranges you can expect to see on a monthly basis:

MetricThe USCanada
Gas$70 - $80$125 - $150
Water$35 - $70$15 - $35
Electricity $100 - $110$125 - $200
Internet$60 - $70$35 - $70

On par with the other expenses we’ve run through, Canada is the more expensive option for utility bills. Of course, utility bills in each place will vary in price – especially gas bills in America, where you have the likes of different climates in Alaska and Texas within the same country. After all, people in colder climates are likely to spend more on their heating than those in hotter climates. 

If you’re willing to fork out a little extra each month, you can still enjoy all the benefits Canada has to offer – you might just have to keep an eye on that pesky thermometer.

Climate in Canada

Although Canada is usually associated with a constant state of winter, the reality is that Canadians get to experience the same four seasons as the rest of the world. Throughout the summer, you can expect to see temperatures rising as high as 35°C, while during the depths of the extreme winters, you can expect to see lows of -25°C. Time to wrap up warm!

Of course, this all depends on where abouts in Canada you’re planning on relocating, so there’s no need to start packing your snow boots yet.

Does it snow in Canada? 

In some areas of The Great North, yes, it snows a lot. Again, it depends where you’re thinking of moving to, but if you’re moving to Canada, generally the winters are very snowy. If you’re not too fond of the idea of moving to somewhere where it’s -25°C, but adore the scenic lifestyle it can bring, check out the areas with the least amount of snow below:

Data found from Currentresults.com

Housing costs in Canada

Housing costs are rising all over the globe – but what can you expect to pay when it comes to your new Canadian home? Major cities are of course the most expensive places to live in every country, but don’t let that stop you from living the high life under the city lights – here is a comparison of housing prices in the three major cities in Canada:

CostVancouver MontrealToronto
1 bedroom flat / rent$1,607.44$784.00$1,723.44
3 bedroom flat / rent$2,693.32 $1,326.07$2,524.57
Buying / meter ² $9,400.89$3,265.98$8,487.22

So, if you’re hoping to move to one of Canada’s larger cities, but need to budget like crazy, perhaps opting for a smaller city like Montreal would work for you.

Not thinking about moving to one of the major cities in Canada? Check out our graph below of the most expensive places in Canada to live:

Data found from Worldatlas.com

The best neighborhoods in Canada

Do you envision yourself living in solace up in the mountains? Or would you be better suited to a life of street lights and nightlife? In Canada, you’re well and truly spoilt for choice, so take your pick! We’ve picked out the best places to live, based on your interests – hopefully we’ll find you a match made in heaven. 

Best for families: Ottawa

Moving abroad is daunting in itself, let alone when you have little ones to think about – but as one of the six largest cities in Canada, you can be sure that Ottawa will have everything you need for your family. This beautiful area of Canada provides a wonderful standard of life for all ages, lavished with green parks, libraries, peaceful canals, and great transport links (with a fifth of the population taking buses to work).

One of the highlights of Ottawa that’s grabbing parents’ attention is the low crime rate in the city in fact, Global News carried out a study of 2,000 Canadians to find out where they feel the safest, and Ottawa came out on top. 

  • Population: 999,183
  • Percentage of Families With Children: 28%

Best for students: Montreal 

This one was tough Toronto or Montreal? Although Toronto has the higher ranking universities out of the two, we gave Montreal the edge. 

It has been voted the best city for students for a multitude of reasons –  it has a wonderful range of educational facilities, a fantastic public transport system, vibrant nightlife, diverse culture, and breathtaking scenery. So, whether you’re looking for a quiet place to study, a city with a buzzing nightlife, or both, off to Montreal you go. The city has even been ranked 6th place in QS’s worldwide comparison of the best student city.

  • Population: 4,195,523
  • Amount of students: 185,000 students (including 25,000 international students)

Best for singles: Toronto

This refreshing city is home to a diverse set of people, including a large population of younger people aged 15-29. Of these young people, a massive 82% are single

We know, we know, quality over quantity but we haven’t chosen this city just because of the amount of singles you’ll be with. Toronto actually came 24th out of 100 cities in a world-wide comparison of best cities for singles so whether you’d like to settle down, or you’re just fed up of swiping and are keen to meet people face to face, Toronto is calling. 

  • Population: 2.8 million
  • Population of singles: 49.4%

Best for hipsters: Vancouver

Hipster culture is ever-growing around the globe – you can now expect to find collections of rustic coffee shops, an abundance of tattooed people, bobbing man buns walking past, and of course, a virtuous amount of vintage shops wherever you decide to move. But where is the best place in Canada to immerse yourself in this culture?

We chose Vancouver, based on a large-scale study we carried out across the globe. The study takes into account the number of microbreweries, thrift stores, vegan restaurants, and tattoo studios per 100,000 city residents, to discover where the most hipsters are cultivating in Canada. Lo and behold, Vancouver came out on top. 

Working in Canada

If you’re used to the American way of working, your work-life balance in Canada will be a dream. Working in Canada is much more rewarding than it can be in the US – the country offer maternity and paternity leave, annual leave, and sick pay

Whilst it’s nice to be reminded that you’re moving to a more work-friendly country, let’s talk figures:

CityAverage annual Salary
Toronto $59,399
Vancouver $57,523
Montreal$56,438

Figures are in US Dollars, and can be found from Payscale.com

As you can see, across each major city in Canada the average salary hovers over the late-fifties mark. Although this is a relatively generous average, it still pales compared to America, where the average salary in 2018 was $63,179.

Unfortunately, this means you might find yourself a little strapped for cash in the first few months of moving to Canada. Hopefully over time this is something you can adjust to, and you won’t have to think about money so much.

The bustling city life of Toronto, where you can look forward to the highest average salary in Canada!

Working Visas

Now to get down to the nitty-gritty – it’s time to organise all of those exciting documents. 

Working visas aren’t impossible to get, and if you’re a skilled worker, you’ll probably pass with flying colors – but there are a few things that are mandatory for you to have. If you’re hoping to move to Canada through a working visa, to be able to apply, you must:

  • Prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires
  • Show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada 
  • Obey the law, and have no record of criminal activity 
  • Not be a danger to Canada’s security
  • Be in good health. A medical exam may be required
  • Not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with a list of conditions. To learn more about these conditions, head over to canada.ca.
  • Provide any other necessary documents to prove you can enter the country

For more information on what you’ll need to get ready in preparation for your working visa, visit Canada.ca. We won’t lie to you, it’s not a quick process –  but it will all be worth it once you get settled in your new home.

Best places in Canada for graduate jobs

Struggling to get a job after university is something that almost everyone goes through – but what if we’re just searching in the wrong areas? 

To explore this idea a little further, Youthfulcities recently created an Urban Working Index for Canadian cities, based on 48 urban work indicators – and you’ll be surprised at the results.

Rather than just the bigger cities coming out on the very top, the place named best for the amount of graduate work opportunities was Edmonton, Alberta, which scored 713.86 points out of a possible 1,310. 

Runner-up was Montreal, with a close score of 708.13 – missing the top stop due to its high cost of living. Next up was Ottawa, which took third place with 697.91 points.

So despite what you might think, the major cities aren’t always where you should be looking when you’re applying for graduate jobs. Hopefully these top three places will give you a helping hand when taking the first steps in your career.

Expat healthcare

Canadian healthcare is very different to American healthcare – in fact, it couldn’t be more different. If you are a Canadian citizen, or a permanent resident, you can apply for public health insurance – meaning you won’t have to pay for most healthcare services. These services are all paid through taxes.

But we’ve got some bad news: this only applies to Canadian citizens. Unfortunately for American expats living in Canada, this means you might have to fork out some extra cash each time you’re ill. 

Do you need private healthcare? 

Generally speaking, expats have limited access to free medical care, and will likely have to pay for treatment or sign up for private healthcare.

One way around this, if you plan on living in Canada for a long period of time, is to become a citizen! To actually become a Canadian citizen, you’ll need to have lived in the country for at least six years. You must stay on your best behavior, and you’ll need to complete an exam on Canada before you can call it home. 

This is a long process, and only really works if you’re planning on staying in Canada for a while, but it’s not all doom and gloom. If you’re lucky, your employer might be able to provide you with healthcare. Although this is usually only in larger companies, it’s worth looking into. Fingers crossed…

Schools in Canada

Canada has a very good reputation for its education facilities – in fact, on the most recent Programme for International Assessment (PISA) tests, Canada ranked 4th overall globally – the US, by contrast, trailed behind in 31st. Rest assured – in Canadian schools, your children will be in safe hands. 

Want your children to be taught by the best of the best? Check out the best public and private schools in Canada below.  

Best public school

Al-Risala academy – This academy has three different schools under one roof: Montessori, elementary, and high school. The academy strives to nurture, cultivate, and foster creativity within its students. It was even ranked first place out of all the schools in Ontario.

Best private school 

Appleby college – This prestigious private school is a boarding school for both boys and girls, and is renowned for its innovation and success rate. You’ll be pleased to know that Appleby provides over $3.4 million in bursaries, loans, and scholarships annually, meaning that students come from a variety of backgrounds.

Conclusion

Moving to your neighboring country is a brave, exhilarating decision to make – one that will benefit you whether you’re a singleton, bringing your family along, in it for the city life, or in it for the nature.

You can look forward to a glorious new home in a climate you’re more familiar with – or something a little on the chillier side – as well as excellent schooling and universities and top notch transport.

If you’d like to get free quotes for shipping your belongings to your new Canadian homestead, fill in this form and begin your adventure in The Great North.