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You may have heard that Canada is a great place to live. But is it a great place for you to live? If you are considering a move to Canada, you must read this article before making any decisions! I compiled the pros and cons to living in Canada in 8 main categories: weather, cost of living, lifestyle and convenience, healthcare, travel and transportation, safety, work, and other. No place or country is perfect, and neither is Canada (despite what you may have heard on the news or read online).
Note: Canada is a very large and diverse country. This is a generalized post and the points mentioned may not apply to all parts of Canada.
- There are 4 distinct seasons.
- Long amount of daylight during summers. The sun sets at 11 pm and even later in some parts of Canada.
- Summers are fairly dry.
- Autumn can be incredible. Amazing foliage colours and moderate temperatures, perfect for being outdoors.
- In most of Canada, snow is dry and won’t soak your clothes.
- Very long and extremely cold winters.
- Summers can get extremely hot.
- Spring and fall can be extremely short in some parts of the country.
- Winter can last 6 months and more in certain places.
- Extremely cold winters (-35°C and even colder).
- You need a lot of winter gear and it can get expensive!
COST OF LIVING
- Living in Canada is more affordable than in large US cities.
- Large incomes (compared to other countries) making some goods very affordable.
- Most medical procedures are covered through your taxes.
- Private health insurance is optional (it will cover dental, eye glasses, etc.).
- Electricity, water, and gas are quite affordable.
- Extremely expensive housing (it may take up 50% or more of your income).
- Most produce comes from abroad and is quite expensive.
- Buying and driving a vehicle might become a necessity and it can cost you quite a lot.
- Insurance, phone plans, internet are some of the most expensive in the world (for not very good quality).
LIFESTYLE AND CONVENIENCE
- Canada is a very large country and there are countless opportunities to spend time outdoors exercising or relaxing. Nature is always close-by.
- There is a large diversity of scenery across the country. Some of the most breath-taking landscapes are in Canada.
- You can have multiple types of lifestyles in Canada. From big city life, to suburbs, small towns, and remote rural communities, there’s something for every taste.
- In many grocery stores you can get anything from food to medications, to electronics and small car parts.
- Stores have long opening hours so you can buy your necessities any time.
- Due to its large size, Canadian cities and communities are largely spread out.
- You may have to commute large distances to get to work.
- If you prefer city life, your choices are limited to a handful of cities.
- You may not be able to do even the most basic shopping without having to drive to work.
- Life becomes very challenging if your car breaks down.
- There are very few cities in Canada, so most people live the suburban/ rural lifestyle.
- In most of the country, you cannot buy alcohol at the grocery store; you’ll have to go to designated liquor stores.
- You don’t pay out of pocket for healthcare, so you don’t have to worry about affording necessary treatments during financial difficulties.
- Hospitals are clean and well-maintained.
- Prescription medications are significantly cheaper than in the U.S. (if you pay full price out of pocket).
- You can get insurance for dental, eye exams, and medications that is not very expensive (~60 CAD per month).
- Long waiting lines to see a doctor or get a scan.
- You can’t book an appointment with a specialist directly. You must first see a physician who will then decide if you should see a specialist or not.
- There are very few or no options for private healthcare.
- It is extremely expensive to go to the dentist and buy glasses.
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION
- Since most people need a car, there are many options for cheap second hand vehicles.
- It is relatively easy to fly across the country. Even some small communities have airports.
- Gas is relatively affordable and there are many camping sites. You could travel inexpensively if you’re willing to sleep in a van/ tent.
- If you don’t drive, getting around is a nightmare. Even in cities, public transit leaves much to be desired.
- Expensive to travel anywhere (within Canada and abroad). Canada has (probably) the most expensive flights.
- Due to the large size of the country, it is exhausting and time-consuming to travel.
- Almost zero major crime incidents.
- Tap water in most of Canada is safe for consumption.
- There are good food safety protocols in place.
- Visible minorities are generally safe from abuse and discrimination (there are very few incidents, but those are isolated cases).
- No corruption at the government/ judicial level.
- There is an increase in petty crimes, mainly break-ins.
- There is also an increase in bizarre crimes. Some people had their coats stolen from them at knifepoint because thieves confused them for Canada Goose.
- Lately major cities have experienced more shootings, but these have been limited to gangs.
- There are some high-paying jobs that don’t require education in the field of construction, roadwork, transportation.
- There are (usually) plenty of jobs in the restaurant or retail sector.
- There are laws in place to protect workers against discrimination and unsafe working conditions.
- If you lose your job, you will likely qualify for EI (employment insurance) benefits.
- If you can’t find a job, it is easier (compared to other countries) to start a business in Canada.
- If you are university-educated, it is very difficult to obtain a good job in your field of study.
- Most (if not all) jobs require references, which can make it very difficult for those who haven’t lived in Canada very long.
- Many employers (particularly in low paying jobs) do not abide by the laws and it can be very difficult to prove.
- To be eligible for EI you must have paid for it through your taxes and worked a minimum number of hours. That means part-time employees might not receive EI even if they paid for it.
- Primary and secondary (up to and including high school) education is free.
- Canadian public schools are just as good as private schools.
- Little/ no hierarchy; people don’t look down on you for “looking poor” and don’t praise you for “seeming rich”. You can dress modestly and not feel pressured to “show off”.
- Personal space is valued and respected. You won’t have someone standing right behind you at checkout.
- Because the country is so wide, there are few crowds (with the exception of large cities).
- There are many national holidays that (may) give you a paid day off work.
- Government websites are useful and written in plain English so anyone can understand (in some countries government websites are written in legal language, which even native speakers can’t understand).
- It is straightforward to start a business in Canada and not very expensive.
- University is not free and it’s getting more and more expensive every year. I graduated from a public university with nearly 40K in student loans! And I lived at home so I had no housing expenses. That’s actually more than what many people pay in the U.S. for community college.
- There are student loans that you can take from the federal and provincial governments, but they charge you interest. Sometimes this interest is higher than the interest on a mortgage.
- Getting into university in Canada has become incredibly competitive in the past few years. Universities seem to prefer international students (who pay way more in tuition).
- If you have a high income, you’ll be paying very high taxes.
- You don’t get any tax benefits if you seek medical help outside of Canada.
- Very poor quality for certain services such as internet.
- Very little to no consumer protection from large companies taking advantage of customers.
- Canada uses the SI (international system of units) system of measurements. Speed is measured in kilometres, weight in kilograms, and so on.
- Canada has a prime mister and the head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Queen of Canada).
- Canada has 6 timezones! So if you plan on watching a show at a specific time, make sure you have the right timezone.
- Canada has 2 official languages: English and French.
- More than 80% of Canada’s population lives in cities. There are just a handful of cities in Canada, making housing very expensive.
These have been my pros and cons to living in Canada. Do you have anything to add?
If you’re not from Canada and are interested in moving here, take a look at my article on How to Move to Canada and Deciding if it’s Right for You.