8 Things to Know Before Moving to Canada
1. Even Americans need work visas and to apply for residency
Don’t be under the misconception that it’s easier for citizens of the US to move to Canada than those from anywhere else in the world. The same rules apply; however, Canada is extremely welcoming to new residents.
Canada has a very open immigration system, if you have skills to offer and/or can financially support yourself you should find yourself successful in your application for a work visa, or residency.
The great thing about Canada’s immigration system is all the information and the application process can be found online. It’s very detailed and very efficient, so once you have all your documentation together you can make your application, then track it completely, online.
2. Canadians really are very polite
You know Canadians are polite, but did you know they are very polite?! They really are, from apologising unnecessarily, to uncomfortable door opening moments – “you first”, “no, you first” – really does happen.
It’s one of the most endearing things about Canadians though, they are genuinely very polite, and wonderfully welcoming even to strangers. No matter where you are moving to in Canada, expect a warm welcome and to make friends quickly.
3. Canada is bilingual
French is predominant in Quebec, spoken widely in the East and the francophone provinces. Around 20% of Canadians speak French as their first language, 56% of Canadians have English as their first language. (Source: Census Canada 2016).
Around 95% of Quebec residents speak French. French is spoke far less in the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, but you can still choose to send your children to French immersion schools which have an excellent curriculum for learning French at an early age.
4. It gets really cold in Winter
You may be from a state which already experiences extreme cold and snow, if you are not, be prepared. Areas of the North and East can regularly experience lows of -20 to – 40 C, and snow a few feet deep.
If you are not a fan of snow you need to look more to the plains, the coast, the Vancouver area or Vancouver Island.
Nunavut, Manitoba and Saskatchewan average -30 degrees Celsius during winter. Quebec and Ontario also experience the “lake effect” from North America’s great lakes, which can result in paralyzing snow falls for a few days at a time.
5. Smoking in public is illegal
It is illegal to smoke in many public places outside and inside. Check the rules for public areas in towns and cities. If you are moving to a more rural area you must remember the risk of wild fires, which are often caused by cigarette butts. If you do smoke you must dispose of your cigarette butts safely.
If you are not used to being out in the wilds, consider learning to make a proper (and safe) campfire, vital education before you move.
6. Canada is truly multicultural
Known as being of the most diverse and multicultural countries in the world. Everyone is welcome in Canada and treated the same.
The Canadian Parliament is the most diverse anywhere with 41 sitting Members of Parliament having been born abroad.
There are many languages spoken in Canada and you will encounter, and can experience, many cultures.
Like America, Canada is a country of both immigrants and native peoples. By 2031 it’s expected that half of Canada’s residents could have been born in Asia.
Canada needs immigration to meet some major skills gaps in its thriving technology sector, and to meet demand for trades, healthcare and many other skilled roles.
Canada’s population is changing, with a higher population of seniors than children for the first time, in 2016. Canada’s fertility rate is an average of 1.6 children per mom, the fertility rate needed for a stable population is 2.1 children per mom. Canada needs its new residents!
Not only will you receive a warm welcome, Canada was voted the 2nd best country in the world to live, again in 2017, by the U.S. News & World Report.
7. Healthcare and insurance
If you have residency, or a long-term visa, you may be eligible for Canada’s excellent healthcare system. Public health insurance is available to eligible citizens and permanent residents. You may have to pay towards a medical services plan, which will vary from province to province. Though Canada’s healthcare system is not ranked the highest in the world, it is ranked better than that of the USA.
Canada does rank incredibly high for quality of life, and being one of the best places to live and work.
8. Taxation in Canada
Canada has a decentralised federal tax system so there are taxes at a few levels. Income tax will be collected by both the federal and provincial government.
When taking a job make sure you understand what your net income (income after tax) will be. Taxation is straight forward and if you are due at refund at the end of the year, due to your tax status or terms of employment, you will usually receive it quickly.
Sales tax is added at the point of sale in Canada. So, the prices you see in a store will have tax added when you get to the checkout. Rates of sales tax vary between 5% in Alberta and nearly 15% in Quebec.
The cost of living will be much higher in the big cities due to demand for property. Vancouver and Toronto are expensive. If you choose a small town or city, or a more rural location, prices will be lower.
The sheer size of Canada, and relatively low population per area, can mean that your groceries need to travel a good way before they reach your local store, bumping up prices of groceries somewhat. If you choose one of the Canadian islands, like Vancouver Island, most produce is imported which will increase costs.
Canada and America are countries of similar size. Where America has a population of 314 million Canada’s population is just 34 million.