Is Canada a good place to live? This is a question that many people ask when they’re considering Canada as their new home.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best place to live depends on your individual needs and preferences.
Let’s be realistic, there is no such thing as the perfect place. That being said, Canada is a great country to live in.
Read on to find out the pros and cons of living in Canada from our personal expat perspective.
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Why is Canada a Good Place to Live?
We felt welcomed from day one. Canadians are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we have ever met.
Upon arriving we were surprised by the conversations, curiosity and hospitality that we would encounter from everyday people.
Almost every town in Canada has a recreational center. We love spending afternoons relaxing in the hot tub, pool and sauna.
Canada’s education system is one of the best in the world. Canadian libraries are constantly innovating and adapting to new modern technologies.
For example, a library in Toronto, offers 3D printing, robotic kits and even a podcasting studio amongst many other things. A new study from German researchers has ranked Canada as having the best public library system out of 31 major cities.
Canada is a land of breathtaking outdoors. From the snow-capped Rocky Mountains to the rugged coastline of Newfoundland, there’s always something new to explore.
Approximately, 90% of the land is uninhabited and comprises raw wilderness with mountains, forests, lakes and hot springs.
Equality And Abundance Of Opportunities
We feel like Canada is a place that gives you support and opportunity to grow and this sense of inclusion encourages many to contribute towards making Canada a better country.
This is one of our favorite reasons for living here.
Canada is truly a multicultural nation that sees diversity as an advantage/strength rather than as a weakness. Immigration to Canada over the past 100 years has shaped the country, with each new wave of immigrants adding to its cultural richness.
Today, Canada is home to around 230 different nationalities. Each one of these contributes to the overall mosaic of Canadian society. Many people weren’t born here but instead chose it as a place to live, therefore you rarely feel like a stranger.
Free Health Care
In Canada, health care is a right, not a privilege. Every province or territory in Canada has a healthcare plan which provides all residents with reasonable access to medical services, including hospital visits and access to doctors.
Even if you are only a temporary resident or temporary worker, you are still eligible to apply for provincial healthcare.
Bear in mind that not all health care expenses are covered by the government but the majority are. Dental care generally isn’t though. Your employer might also provide additional coverage.
In any case, the Canadian health care system rocks!
Home To Inspirational Minds
Did you know that Canada is home to Eckhart Tolle, Gabor Mate or Jordan Peterson? These are some of our favorite authors and thought leaders.
I’m not sure how about you but we love the change of the seasons. Our favourite season in Canada is autumn. We love the red maple leaves, pumpkin spice flavors and soups.
Some people aren’t big fans of long and cold winter but it doesn’t really bother us.
Safety and High Quality of Life
According to the Global Peace Index of 2019, Canada was ranked the 6th most peaceful nation in the world, number 1 when it comes to the quality of life.
The criteria that have been evaluated range from broad access to food and housing to quality education and health care to sustainable employment income.
Quality of life may also include intangibles such as job security, political stability, individual freedom and clean environment.
What Are the Cons of Living in Canada?
High Cost of Living
Costs vary considerably depending on the province where you live in. Some of the most significant expenses will include rent, car insurance, and food.
Compared to other places where we lived, the cost of the telephone services and internet can also be quite expensive.
Not even get us started on the crazy inflated housing market.
Monopolies and Oligopolies
Some of the major monopolies and oligopolies in Canada include telecom industries, airlines and banking.
There are only three major phone service providers in Canada – Rogers, Bell and Tellus. Koodoo is owned by Telus. Fido is owned by Rogers.
Due to lack of competition, each of these main phone providers offers almost identical services for almost identical prices.
According to cansumer.ca Canadians pay 20% more than Americans and 170% more than Australians on their cell phone plans on average.
For this reason, it might be better to opt for some pre-paid sim cards such as Lucky or Virgin Mobile.
Taxes can also be pretty steep.
Because of long winters, a lot of food produce needs to be imported to Canada. That also means mark up on food and reduced freshness.
Expensive Domestic Flights
In Europe, you get spoiled with an abundance of low-cost flight options.
We used to go on spontaneous weekend getaways to Amsterdam, London or Barcelona. The flights would cost her less than 50$.
This is unfortunately not the case in Canada. Local flights cost on average 400$.
You need to plan your adventures a long time ahead.
With that being said, Canada is more suited for epic road trips.
Although Canada is a highly organized and functional country, a lot of Canadians and expats alike feel that there are way too many regulations and restrictions.
For example when it comes to building permits.
A large number of required building permits makes it a lot more difficult to build and afford your house.
It also significantly slows down the entire house-building process.
Just for comparison, getting building permits in Canada takes on average 3 times longer than in the USA.
Price Tags Without Tax
In Canada, the price tags don’t include tax which may come as a surprise to a lot of newcomers.
We remember shopping in the supermarket for the first time and thinking at check out that the total doesn’t seem right.
This was simply because we didn’t take into account the added sales tax.
What makes it even more complicated is that each province has its own sales tax.
This can be super confusing to expats who are used to prices that include tax.
But once you get used to it, it’s not a big deal. It’s just something to keep in mind when you budget.
Inflated Housing Prices
In recent years, Canadian housing prices have skyrocketed, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford a home.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this price increase, including low-interest rates, population growth, and a limited supply of affordable homes.
As a result of these factors, it makes it difficult for first-time home buyers to enter the market.
Many Canadians spend a larger percentage of their income on housing, which is putting strain on families and individuals.
We will just have to keep our fingers crossed that the housing market doesn’t continue to spiral out of control.
Canada has some of the coldest and snowiest winters in the world. If you’re not used to this type of weather, it might be a bit of an adjustment.
Be prepared for freezing temperatures and stock up on warm winter clothes.
Canadian climate may not agree with everyone but if you love winter, it’s a perfect spot for you.
Get ready for your new chapter in Canada with our New to Canada guide.
Things We Wish We Knew Before Moving to Canada
International Driver’s License
Before you leave your home country, apply for an international driver’s license. With an international driver’s license, you will be able to drive in Canada for up to 1 year.
If you choose to convert your foreign license into a Canadian license, it will give you more time to get yourself organized.
In order to get a fully converted driver’s license, you will need to prove your driver’s history. It might be a good idea to get this document before you arrive in Canada.
If you are from non-English speaking countries, get your license translated. For more info on how to convert your driver’s license see here.
Car Insurance And Driver’s History
If you buy a car, it is a legal requirement to get car insurance. If you can’t prove your car insurance history, you will be registered as a new driver.
A car insurance policy for a new driver is significantly more expensive than insurance for an experienced driver, especially if you have a clean record.
Transferring Funds From Overseas
If you are transferring funds from your home currency into Canadian dollars, it is best to utilize a platform like Wise for this process.
Many traditional banks will rip you off by charging exuberant fees (3-6%) to handle your international currency exchange and transfers. A solution like Wise charges a small flat fee and offers the Google spot exchange rate.
This makes a significant difference in saving. The more you intend to transfer, the more you’ll save!
Resuming your professional career in Canada might not be as easy as you expect. Get ready to start from scratch. It may be difficult to have your previous qualifications and credentials recognized.
Some employers might request previous job references to support your application. It is easier to prepare these references in person before leaving for Canada.
Gather as many references as you can. You never know when you might need them. If you have your previous job references, it can increase your chances to get hired.
Even if you are not a big fan of credit, it can work to your advantage to build up your credit score in Canada.
You might decide a year into your visit that you would like to settle in Canada and buy a home for yourself and your family.
If you apply for a credit card when you arrive then you will have more time to build your credit history.
This may come in handy, should you ever need it while living in Canada. Make sure to always cover your credit on time to avoid unnecessary penalties.
Banking fees in Canada can be significantly higher compared to many other countries in the world.
When you fill up your Canadian visa application, make sure to include your common-law partner in your family history section.
This is important, in case you want to immigrate to Canada with your partner and only one of you attains permanent residency.
If this happens, then the other partner can still apply for Canadian residency as a common-law partner. Having this indicated on your application right from the get-go makes it easier to prove that you are in a relationship down the line if need be.
Living in Canada has a lot to offer. We spent our first year in Canada on a working holiday where we were able to explore the country.
The longer we stayed, the more Canada grew on us. (I bet we aren’t the only ones who feel that way!)
So Is Canada a good place to live? From our perspective, it sure is. We hope that after reading this post, you will have a better understanding of life in Canada.
Get ready for your new chapter in Canada with our New to Canada guide.
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