With the sociopolitical climate being what it's been lately, I'm pretty sure a ton of you dear US readers have grumbled (some more seriously than others) about potentially moving to Canada.
Have you ever wanted to talk to someone who actually did it and get their take on it? Now's your chance ... or at least as much talking as an awesomely informative Reddit thread can be.
Reddit user Therubikmaster asked:
Interestingly, almost everyone was happy with the decision - even the people who came back to the states. There are the expected answers - like the cold is really, really hard to deal with. But there are also things here that many of us wouldn't even consider ... for example the total lack of access to a decent avocado and how relatively bland the food can be. So here we go; the good, the bad, and the bland about moving to Canada as told by Americans who made the journey.
Civility And Healthcare
Just moved to Ontario a few months ago.
Two really positive things, so far:
- I am amazed by how civil everyone is on the roads. People actually merge calmly and sensibly. Yeah...there are a few aholes, of course, but generally speaking--the stereotypical niceness is real.
- My husband broke a bone on a Saturday. We were at the hospital for less than a full hour before he was ready to go home. Total cost (no healthcard for us) was about $50. NOT $50 copay and 250 bill for radiology later. Actually just $50. Even without access to the health care that Canadians get, it was still faster and cheaper than any hospital visit we've had in the states.
A Cold Blessing
My friend moved, reluctantly, to Canada because his visa renewal didn't get approved about a year ago. Now says it was damn blessing in disguise that it happened. They had some health issues and they are all taken care of pretty much for free. The only complaint he has is the cold climate but he says the pros outweigh the cons by a large margin.
Cost Of Living
Been here since 2002. Am generally very happy to be here. People are kinder, less religious nutbars, more respectful in general. My son was born with rare disorder and we did not pay one penny for his nicu stay. After any baby is born a nurse comes to your house to check on how things are going and will come back if you need a bit of help (maybe this was because our child was more fragile). Friends in the states were blown away by this. families get a child benefit subsidy based on income (even moderate incomes get this extra $)
Excluding healthcare, cost of living is higher. Gas, food, booze, housing. Big discounts in shops (like bargain racks with 50-75% off stuff) are few and far between. Wages don't always keep up compared to U.S. I live in border area so I can always do some cross border shopping.
We have a housing crisis where I live but at least here I feel there is political will to do something about it unlike most cities in the US where they seem paralyzed by competing interest groups.
It has always bothered me that in the states people who struggle in any way are looked upon as moral failures instead of a reflection of a failed society and in need of support.
We Sit Here And Laugh
Wonderful. Have run into a few health problems since moving up here that would have left me bankrupt in the US. And, for the record, no, there is not a months and months wait to see a doctor here. There is no real longer wait than what you'd get in the US. Wanna know how easy it was to get my healthcare card? I walked into the non-government run registry place, waited maybe 5-10 minutes, showed proof of residence and my visa, they said, ok, here's your temporary card, a permanent one will be mailed out to you soon. And a few hours later I went out and used that temporary card with absolutely zero issues. Talk about no stress. Wonderful experience.
Would definitely recommend.
And we get to sit here and laugh at everything happening down there.
More Freedom In CanadaGiphy
I moved in 2008. I'm now a citizen.
Warning: Generalizations ahead.
My reason for moving is I felt better in alignment with the Canadian culture than the US. I feel there should be safety nets, we should pay into a medical system everyone can benefit from, we should have programs to help those in need. I work, I make money, I pay taxes. I want some of those tax dollars to help the people who can't work or can't make a living wage (for whatever reason). Morally, this feels like the right thing to do. .
Honestly, moving was the best thing I've ever done. There is a cultural respect and freedom in Canada I never really felt in the US. In the US I always felt like I was moving 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. Some of this was due to the ever growing cost in healthcare (seems like I was forever in debt for past medical or avoiding getting medical attention because I felt I couldn't afford it).
I've been through both healthcare systems in the US and Canada. Canada has some problems (some provinces more than others) but I will take Canada any day of the week over the US. Here is a good example: I had to get an MRI in the US and I got one in Canada. Both were for non-emergency reasons. In the US my insurance provided for pre-approved MRIs. The doctor submitted the request, we had to wait for the insurance to OK it, we did the MRI, insurance was billed, they billed me back the full amount, and I spent quite some time on the phone with insurance sorting it out. At the end of the day I think it cost a few hundred. In Canada, I probably waited an extra month or two over the process to be approved in the US, I got the MRI. Done. That was it. Simple. Easy.
If I needed the MRI for an emergency reason, I would have one that day.
My aunt lives in Canada. She waited about 4 months for a new hip. She has no waiting when they thought she had cancer - which she did and they successfully treated. Total cost, zero.
A month after I moved someone rear ended me rather severely. I remember arguing with the EMTs on scene about getting in their ambulance and going to the ER. I didn't know how the system worked and I was more concerned with crippling debt over a possible spinal injury. There is something very, very, wrong with this mindset.
Before someone says "yeah, but you pay more in your taxes for it". No. No, I don't. I did the math. My taxes, medical insurance, and copays in the US were more than just my taxes in Canada. My overall overhead is lower here. The cost of living is a bit higher, but so is my wage.
The ability to have vacations was huge. It wasn't until I moved did I have two weeks off IN A ROW. In the states there was always this pressure to not take vacations because if the employer could do without you for 2 or 3 weeks, then they don't need you. Also, no fighting for time off. If you need a day for a family emergency, need to go to a dentist, vote, or take care of some other personal thing you can arrange it. I've never had an employer in Canada give me sh*t about it.
Something I didn't expect after I moved, but getting away from the guns was huge. Guns are a way of life in the US. Hell, I even had them when I lived there. Guns just aren't a thing up here. I know people who have guns and go shooting, but it isn't cultural necessity. That fear of needing a gun is gone. I guess since I grew up under it, didn't realize it until after I was away from it. Americans carry around a ton of fear. It's a huge weight off your shoulders to not be afraid all the time.
There is a more relaxed feeling up here. People are more interested in the pursuit of happiness than this weird crab bucket mentality in the states. Up here it's "I got mine, and you should have yours as well" where the states feels more like "I got mine, fuck you." That's a wide sweeping generalization, I know. But if I have to generalize an average population, that's sort of how I read it. Yes, there are wonderful, fantastic, warm people in the states, but you do have Trump as a president, with 40% support, and that says a lot.
Canada has it's fair share of weirdo idiots as well. We are not immune to this. I know a couple of Canadian Trump supporters. The nice thing is these people brag about not voting - which I don't argue with.
Overall, I work, I pay taxes, I'm starting my own business soon. I own a house. I'm a functional member of the society I live in. I want to contribute to the society I agree more with.
Moving was the best choice I've ever made. When in Canada, I feel like I'm home and not just crashing on someone couch.
I Don't Miss Anything
I moved to Canada in 2011 from California and received my citizenship two years ago. I don't regret it at all. Of course the healthcare situation is nice, I've never had a problem getting the care I need. Most of all, people are lot calmer, less religiously zealous, and there are fewer people who have gone off the rails due to their political beliefs. I honestly don't miss anything in the US, all the family I cared about in the US are now dead, I had no real job prospects until I came up here, and I married the love of my life here.
I Will Never Go Back
10/10. I will NEVER go back to live in the US. Looking at relinquishing my US citizenship but that's like $2500+.
I moved here in 2010 at age 18. Met a really great guy. Later on we had two kids and one has a medical condition requiring 24hr monitoring (t1d). Because of the medical care alone, I will never move back. I remember paying $40 copay, $2500+ deductibles and that was on my parents plan (which they paid an insane amount for).
I also received maternity leave for a full year (both pregnancies) with a bi-weekly pay of $1000ish. I think the amount has increased, I'm not 100% though.
I can walk in to most clinics and get an appointment, the longest I've had to wait in the ER was like 3 hours? It was for severe flu, so not a big emergency. But I remember waiting 7 hours to get seen in Houston so NBD.
Cannabis is booming. My spouse is a Sr. PM at a large LP and makes bank.
Also, my favorite part - I had a coworker complaining about immigrants (I guess she assumed because I'm white, I would take her side?) and how they didn't pay taxes, didn't work, and just wanted to live here for free. I told her I was technically an immigrant and the look on her face was priceless.
Anyways, Canada is awesome. Move if ya want. It's cold as balls And I have yet to see a bag of milk.
Not Utopia, But Still Trying To Get Back
I left when I was 18, lived there for 10 years. I've been back in the States for about eight years.
It was a great decision that gave me the best years of my life (so far). I intend to move back. However, it isn't at all what my extremely idealistic and liberal younger self expected. There's this idea that Canada is like a liberal utopian version of the U.S., hence the stereotype about moving to Canada when a Republican gets elected.
Canada is not a utopia. There's poverty, racism, crime, and despair; just like everywhere else. Furthermore, thinking of Canada as "a ______ version of the U.S." also fails completely, because it's very much uniquely Canada. My love for it is stronger now, because it's stood the test of realizing that utopia doesn't exist, and because I discovered such profound and solemn beauty in nature, the people, the culture, and my own sense of isolation there.
If we're being honest, I think of myself as half Canadian. I apparently speak with a noticeable GTA accent, even after all this time. It's difficult to really describe my relationship with the place, but thinking about it never fails to make me smile.
Life Before Was Inadequate
Good decision. Mine was less America vs. Canada and more about living in Flyover Country vs. a cosmopolitan, bilingual, and Urban city (Montréal). The experiences I've had here make me realize that living life the way I used to seems inadequate. Wouldn't trade it for anything.
Interior British Columbia Weather
I moved from Florida to the central interior of British Columbia 17 years ago. Considering that I only get more liberal as time passes and I love the health care... 9/10, would do again.
The only reason that it isn't 10/10 is because winters are balls cold and summers can be smoky due to wildfires.
No Good Avocados
I moved to Toronto but returned to US. Here's the stuff that pops into my mind when I think about the experience:
-People are almost always polite (but not genuinely nicer than folks in the US- that's a myth.)
-Healthcare was mostly free but poorer quality vs having good insurance in the US... Lots of hoops to jump through. And prescriptions are VERY expensive without Rx insurance (which no one tells you.)
-Weather was absolute garbage (not much can be done about that.)
-Food is very bland, on average; this aspect is hard for Americans/ other expats who like spicy or even just really complex, flavorful food. Even when eating ethnic cuisine it is tempered to appeal to the Canadian pallet. Unfortunate, but true.
-Good avocados are rare. Most Canadians don't seem to like them.
-Liquor is heavily regulated and expensive.
-Dairy is expensive but regulated in a good way because they don't do a bunch of terrible things to the cows (by law.) The milk is really fantastic. No need to buy organic!
-Catholic schools are funded by the government, which seemed amazing to me.
-Traffic was a nightmare and housing was insanely expensive. What you see on HGTV... Those prices are real. And so is the panic over finding a decent house in places like Toronto or Vancouver.
-There seemed to be far more smokers, which was disappointing. Canada is 15-20 years behind the US on a few things- this is one of them.
-To most Americans, the taxes on everyday items (even groceries) would seem astronomical.
-It is very safe... That was an outstanding benefit of living there.
-Great municipal recycling and composting programs; on average people seemed more concerned about being "green"
-Wonderful 1 year long maternity leave!
-Canadians are proud of their country... And for good reason. It's a pretty nice place for the most part.
Lots of pros and cons. HOWEVER... If you live in a nice, safe US city with good weather and you've got excellent health insurance... You may find that moving to Canada is a significant step back. If you don't currently have these perks and you can live without decent avocados (only kind of joking)- Canada might be for you!
A Breath Of Fresh AirGiphy
Oh neat. Something that applies to me. I moved from Memphis, Tennessee to Toronto three years ago, and the change has been like taking a breath of fresh air. In general everything just feels more comfortable and higher quality. And going to the doctor when I sick, instead of trying to ride it out, is just amazing.
I only wish it were warmer. And that people wouldn't ask me where I'm from so much because of my accent. lol
This is the second best decision I've ever made, the first being marrying my Canadian girlfriend.
Commercial Downgrade, Cultural Upgrade
I moved to Montreal to go to university in 2016, and I'm now transitioning into a work permit.
I love it here. The United States feels so...intense compared to here. There's so much pressure there, while here, people my age are far more relaxed and focused on enjoying themselves and doing the best they can yet being able to forgive themselves for their failures.
Also, I'm gay, so the social infrastructure is way more beneficial to me personally.
I'm probably not moving back to the US anytime soon, but I do miss having access to the same quality and quantity of goods/services. Here, places close at relatively odd times and the closest thing to 24/7 Walmar's or Meijers are small pharmacies or convenience stores. Everything commercial feels like a bit of a downgrade.
Also, my experience with the medical care is okay...I didn't need to wait as long for specialized doctors in the US, though I lived in a very small city. Here, I had some pelvic pain and the doctor referred me to get an ultrasound which would take 3 months or I could pay 300 dollars for a private clinic to conduct one. I didn't wanna pay 300 dollars, so I waited but after 2 months the source of the pain was revealed as a cyst that burst and I had to be hospitalized overnight because there was so much bleeding. I didn't pay a dime, but the hospital was a different experience to those in the US. Like, I had to wait in a big waiting room in excruciating pain for 3 hours while they tried to organize an ultrasound, I didn't get a bed or anything until they found out how much blood I was losing, then they gave me a recliner to sit in that was still in a big waiting area with lots of other lounge chairs around. Didn't get my own room until I had to spend the night. I'm not complaining, but in the US, it would've been a pretty different experience.
And...the taxes are insanely high.
Earned, Not Bought
American to Montreal here. Diversification is amazing: all races are more accepted here, the melting pot here is a true one (though you always get a bit here and there). The health system is lower in quality BUT at least it's complimentary.
My daughter is not of school age but from what I see so far, as long as she works hard: she'll be whatever she wants without the heavy burden of school loans I've acquired as an American. Education here is earned, not bought like the US.
Coming from NYC, stress level is a lot lower from day to day and one thing I noticed moving here is they don't sell fear on TV as much as the states. I feel it's a method to drive economy in the US.
One thing I truly hate about Montreal is there roads. Most 3rd world countries have better roads.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
My partner rates it 11,000/10. They said it's because they finally feel like they're in a place where they can hold my hand.
Worth The Immigration Hassle
I'd say it was worth the hassle of immigration. I moved here 9 years for school, stayed for work and met my fiancée. I work in home care and serve people of different cultures, age groups, and tax brackets but they all get the same services. In the US, your healthcare is largely dictated by your health insurance and income. 10/10 would do again.
A Few Complaints
I moved temporarily to take advantage of cheap undergrad tuition at McGill University (as a dual citizen) and don't regret it. Headed back stateside after 3 years in Montreal, but I have very few complaints.
Here they are: In terms of healthcare, it took a while to find a family doctor but once I found one it was alright. No urgent care clinics kinda sucks, but it's okay I guess. Other inconveniences include the fact that online shopping is more expensive and has less selection. Also, liquor costs more here. That's not the end of the world though, especially living in a large city like Montreal. Also, the winter sucks, but that is probably a function of my upbringing where winters weren't awfully cold. One of the bigger problems is the taxation situation for US citizens abroad. Sucks to have to file in both countries.
The good things? The exchange rate is marvelous and has been for a few years now, so transferring saved-up American money into Canadian money has been great. Montreal itself is one of my favorite cities because there's always something to do and it feels quasi-European. Plus, rent here is insanely cheap, which isn't the case in Toronto or Vancouver. Canadians, in general, are indeed friendly (albeit less so in Quebec). McGill was a great university with lots of opportunities. The summers here are wonderful and the city really comes alive.
I'd rate my 3 years in Canada an 8/10.
7/10. Awful healthcare, extreme and appallingly open racism against the first nations, lots of passive aggression. However, did make some good friends and the land is beautiful.
A Gateway DrugGiphy
I did my research before and as a result wasn't too surprised at how superior it was with regard to politics, general human decency, accessible healthcare (yes, it's as easy as walking in with your card, getting what you need, and leaving..just hope your private plan covers anything outside of the urgent care/ER that your default plan sure as hell won't.) Couple things stand out though:
There seems to be a general condescending tone about the neighbo(u)rs to the south. While a fair amount of this is warranted, it's to the point where I don't mention this upbringing in casual conversation anymore until I trust the person. To me, it's hypocritical to make sweeping generalizations about a people that you hate for being racist, bigoted, etc. Attack the issues, not the population.
It's not exactly some kind of cradle of intellectualism, either. Like anywhere else, there are smart people, dumb people, everything in between. It just seems better on average [than the US] as there's a different starting point in society, some kind of privilege, if you will. By not being born and having to deal daily with the mess and socioeconomic challenge that is living the US, it's of course easier to form opinions about how poorly everything is being operated. Issues still exist here too, from poorly maintained infrastructure, monopolistic phone companies, not-so-subtle genocidal activities toward natives. Same fallible people, different issues.
Changing gears: One of the many reasons I wanted to move was that I thought I was going to be among my people with respect to embracing harsh winter weather. All the propaganda sold how cold and scary and snowy it was. I grew up in the southern US where snow was occasional but not terribly common. This seemed like a heavenly transition...but lordy jaysus everyone here is a little wuss. Just pick a random Canada twitter account or Facebook page about the most trivial of weather and everyone complains like they've never seen it before. It's embarrassing. Hell, while the southern infrastructure couldn't handle snow as well, they were at least far less cowardly about it. I get the inconvenience thing but this seemed to be a deeper-rooted hatred which is toxic for the cozy winter weather lover.
A couple of things I do miss: as a scientist--the lack of free data exchange..those with ready access to US government data don't know how good they have it. Another perk is tech and media in general (understandably less robust than the place with access to Hollywood and numerous tech research facilities).
All in all, however, I don't regret much; for whatever problems exist here are greater in number back south; I like to think of it as a EU Lite® where it still has some of the same issues the US does, just not as great in intensity or number--It's a good gateway drug for those considering full evil socialist European living.
Finally, one I can answer! Immigrated summer of 2017, moving from New York City to Toronto.
The good: Almost everything! People are nicer; I'm significantly less anxious given the social safety here, lots of great food and fun things to do and I love the culture up here.
The bad: No good Tex-mex (not "Mexican") food. Really bad drivers. Utility costs
Overall: 10/10 would immigrate again. I started a family here and have no intention of ever returning to America.
No More "Me First"
Moved to Quebec and never plan to return to America. I love it here. It's safe, even major cities like Montreal. It's super multicultural here, and people embrace it (for the most part, racism exists everywhere). I don't worry about my future children's safety when they will go to school. I have been sick many times, including bilateral pneumonia and have never paid a dime for treatment.
I work at a job that is dangerous for my unborn child so I am on leave for the entire 9 months of my pregnancy with 90% of my salary. After the baby is born I will take 18 months of maternity leave. Honestly, the social benefits are just so incredible.
Why in the world would I want to move back to a society that values a "me first" and "I've got mine, so screw you" mentality. Of course there are people who don't feel that way, the government and those who put them in power certainly do.
Moved Without A Job
I moved to Vancouver in 2015 and ended up returning to the States. Couldn't find a job and nothing was working out. The taxes were killing me and the cost of living is higher. Was not the best decision.
Great - Except The Lack Of Hot Cheetos
I moved to Canada from California to be with my boyfriend a month after we met, It has been over 5 years and we will be getting married on July 13 next month. I didn't expect much when I moved to Canada, I thought I would be living in a pile of snow. Boy was I wrong!! I love Canada even more than the US.
The best part of Canada is its stunning scenery. Banff and Jasper are the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. Banff has glaciers, very large mountains, a thick coniferous foliage covering the landscape, emerald and sapphire lakes, lots and lots of wildlife (bears, eagles, cougar, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, wolves, foxes...even more so in the Yukon, bears are like squirrels). Yosemite isn't nearly as pretty in comparison, it is blown out of the water. The only thing California has over banff are the redwoods.
Healthcare is a big one. I am still surprised it costs nothing when I got to the hospital, even feel very guilty for some reason. I severed all the tendons in my pinky finger when I was chopping vegetables and I got hand surgery and 20+ physiotherapy sessions free. Most I paid was 20 dollars for the cast. The waiting times are the same as in California. Literally noticed no difference at all. I was raised in a highly conservative seventh day adventist family and was convinced when I lived in the US that the healthcare was perfect and "lazy" minimum wage workers didn't deserve to be healthy. Living in Canada has left me much more open minded and compassionate. There are a lot less stupid billboard advertisements about jesus stuff and less churches.
I find the tuition to my university is much much cheaper in comparison to California, although the campus isn't nearly as pretty.
Mcdonald's also tastes much better, no gray patty.
Weird stuff about Canada: slightly racist sentiment against indigenous people. LOTS AND LOTS of Ukrainians (my fiance is one), everyone seems to love Kraft dinner (WHY!!!), they have an obsession with slurpees (no Icees!), only two seasons here: construction and winter, NOT ALL STORES CARRY HOT CHEETOS!!!
The sense of safety - from crime, from medical and student debt, from the weird political whims of the US government - is what really stands out for me. I lived in Canada for 13 years and became a citizen. It was so good to me.
The US Is A Better Option
I moved to Canada (Toronto and Vancouver) for a while and eventually came back to the US.
In Toronto and Vancouver, I think there's more of a sense of community than what I've experienced living major US cities like NYC, Chicago, SF. The people are a bit less self centered and more aware of their surroundings, and that manifests in the little things like doing a better job of cleaning up after themselves, being more courteous on the roads and on public transit, and just being a bit more friendly and helpful to strangers.
Stuff was definitely more expensive in Canada. Even considering I've lived in expensive US cities such as NYC and SF, non-housing things in Toronto and Vancouver were more expensive, like groceries, clothes, plane tickets.
Canada lacks a creative energy compared to what I've experienced in the US. Everything from the music, food, visual art, architecture, and fashion felt dull. A very sterile, generic feel overall.
People seem healthier and well rested in Canada. I'm sure that has to do a lot with having a proper healthcare system in place and more adequate paid time off (still bad in regards to PTO, but better than the US). I've always had a lot of PTO in my jobs in the US and it's been years since I've had any health concerns that a Costco-branded allergy pill or ibuprofen couldn't handle, so that didn't really affect me. But yea, the people as whole just seem healthier and happier.
Internet speeds in Canada are absolutely terrible. Both residential/commercial internet and data connections on phones. It's not great in the US either, but Canada's is a downright joke.
Salaries and overall job opportunities in my fields (tech/biotech/research) are very limited compared to the US. The top innovators by and large aren't in Canada so if you want to work with the best, you're likely not going to be in Canada. I felt similarly about most European countries (UK/Germany excluded) when I've looked at jobs there too.
I'm glad I did give Canada a shot and I don't regret it one bit. It's a really wonderful country that I could happily live in, and I think the majority of Americans would probably be happier in Canada than they are in the US just due to healthcare, PTO, and better education. But for me personally, the US is the better option.
I'm a dual-citizen who's spent about half my life living on either side of the border. In my opinion, Canada is significantly better for many reasons including healthcare, culture (dumb, uneducated rednecks are few and far between) and natural beauty.
The only reason I reside in the states right now is because Canada (specifically Vancouver, where I grew up) is incredibly expensive. Their housing market is out of control and everyday items are more expensive. That being said, if/when Vancouver's housing market crashes I will likely try to move back.