Moving to Canada
While expats may bare their fair share of insults when they first tell friends they are moving to Canada (it’s often thought of as a place where very little happens) in reality, it is likely that they will have the last laugh. Canada may be best known for Mounties, maple syrup and hockey but it is the country’s exemplary social programmes, wide open spaces and resilient economy that truly make it notable.
Canada is simply huge in scope. It is the second largest country in the world, occupying a vast northern corner of the earth, and is an enormous expat destination that attracts immigrants from every part of the globe. The country was built by foreigners and is a place that hasn’t turned its back on those from abroad. In fact, it claims one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world.
That doesn’t mean the visa application process is as sweet as the country's syrup, but with a small population, many of whom are soon-retiring baby boomers, it does mean that Canada will desperately need to fill an assortment of jobs to ensure the gears of its economy continue to grind forward.
Canada has an abundance of natural resources, including off-shore natural gas reserves and on-shore oil sands, and many positions are available in its energy sector as well as in its major cities where financial services, real estate and the communications industry are thriving.
Expats should pay careful attention when they negotiate their salaries, though. The cost of living in Canada is certainly reasonable when compared to the likes of many of the Asian superpowers and European metropolises but tax rates are high. Thus, a lucrative salary can be reduced significantly.
By the same token, such deductions also mean that expats moving to Canada are able to take advantage of some of the country's fantastic infrastructural assets; namely, universal health insurance that grants near comprehensive coverage, to a high-standard healthcare system and free education at public schools that are well reputed.
What’s more, Canada is an incredibly safe country and, apart from separatist grumbles from the French-settled Quebec province, it has never been the target of terrorism or too much other ill will.
One drawback that can be a source of worry, however, is the Canadian winter. Expats moving to the coastal regions of Canada, such as British Columbia and Ontario won’t suffer, but those heading for Calgary, Edmonton or anywhere else in the interior or Prairie provinces will need to prime themselves for the severe cold. Snow can cover the ground for nearly six months of the year in these areas and temperatures can hover well below freezing during the peak of the bad weather.
Typical of a well-developed, wealthy Western country, however, Canada’s buildings are well equipped to withstand the appalling temperatures and, in some cases, cities have even created underground or raised heated platforms that residents can use to move from place to place.
Apart from the cold, most expats find that their quality of life improves in Canada. After all, both Vancouver and Toronto were rated in the 2014 Economist Intelligence Unit’s top ten “Most Liveable” cities, and most centres in the country offer a multicultural societal blend set against a backdrop of rugged and spectacular scenery.
The country’s British and French origins feature in the European architecture; the American cultural influences through fanatic sport leagues and entertainment; Inuit traditions are realised through its contribution to the country’s rich and ancient history; and, more recently, Asian immigrants have made their mark on vibrant neighbourhoods throughout the country.
Expats relocating to Canada will naturally need to learn more about the specific area in which they plan to settle but, overall, it is fair to expect a calm, peaceful and well-adjusted life in Canada.