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Moving to Canada

Moving to Canada

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: If you're thinking about moving to Canada, expats there have a lot to share about moving to Canada - deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in Canada and more.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

If you're planning a move to Canada, expats there offer advice about what they wish they had know before moving to Canada - topics covered include deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in Canada and more.

Deciding Where to Live in Canada

When we asked expats living in Canada to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"By location and building amenities (The Richlin) a great building for adults, not a good neighborhood for kids, Everything you can imagine is within 3 1/2 miles from here," said one expat who moved to Ottawa, Canada.

"I bought a house near where my daughter initially wanted to go to school. She changed her mind before we moved in, wanting to attend school in a different town. So we moved 4500 miles together only to live 30 miles apart. She boarded, came home at weekends. Soon as my residency permit came through, I sold the house and bought one in the gulf islands," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Canada.

"We are in our 4th home in 8 years, moving from rental to rental until buying 5 years ago. Our neighborhood was really decided upon by the schools available to us with Quebec's language laws. If we could use any schools we would live more downtown rather than in the burbs," commented one expat who made the move to Canada.

"I looked at the Fraser Institute website giving school ratings as they operate a catchment area for entry to schools. This was my criteria and we found a bungalow in this area. Found it in a local newspaper and had to move fast," remarked another expat in Edmonton, Canada.

"I came here 54 years ago and was married to a Canadian and so the house was chosen for me due to a housing shortage. Subsequently, my husband died and I came to the North West part of this city," said another expat in Canada.

Read our article, 10 Best Places in the World to Get in the Christmas Spirit, for advice about deciding where to live in Canada.

Expats living in Canada interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Canada interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

What to Bring When Moving to Canada (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in Canada what they wish they had brought when moving to Canada and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"I should have brought more summer clothes, a good moisturiser with a sunblock and more photographs. I can't think of anything I wish I left behind," said one expat who moved to Kelowna, Canada.

"Top of the list is my Mercedes G wagen. Diesel off road vehicles just aren't available here. My heavy tools, bandsaw, planer, whacker, etc. I sold most of them before emigrating thinking that they'd be cheap to buy used here. They're not. Don't ship any 220 volt printers. I wasted my time bringing a laser printer that has languished in an outbuilding for the past five years. 220 volt workshop tools are ok though," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Canada.

"1. My mother
2. More of my dinner service
3. The BBC 1. Our stereo equipment
2. VHS tapes
3. Most of our furniture," commented one expat who made the move to Canada.

"More childrens books - most are American here. More shoes! A credit rating - you start afresh here! Cookery utensils Laptop - much cheaper here Winter coat," remarked another expat in Edmonton, Canada.

"1. My childhood books 2. My dolls 3. A different perspective 1. My glass and china 2. Some of my clothing 3. My notions of their school system," said another expat in Canada.

Advice for People Moving to Canada

"Where you move to will depend on your work. Visit first and decide which localities you like that might offer the type of employment you are engaged in. Then go job hunting or start your business. If the latter, make sure there is enough of a market to provide your business with critical mass. Too many people move to the gulf islands, stay a year then move out because they find they can't earn a living," said one expat who moved to Vancouver, Canada.

"The most important thing is to ask advice from someone independent of the real estate sector. Real estate agents have a huge interest in selling you houses in the area they work and are rarely independent. Locals tend to be biased toward their own neighborhoods. The best advice will come from a relocation agent who is not tied to realtor who can show you all the good neighborhoods for a day, or ask other expats. TAKE YOUR TIME! Act in haste repent at leisure," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Canada.

"Driving around is not necesarily a good indication. Properties in Edmonton and surrounding areas are timber build and look almost temporary. You will rarely find the bricks and mortar you are used to in the UK. You must be able to drive. If your partner or spouse cannot they will feel isolated even in urban settings. Remember renting or buying on 'a bold corner plot' means you have more snow to clear and you will get fined if you don't keep your side walk and access clear," commented one expat who made the move to Canada.

"Do your homework! Calgary is a beautiful city, close to the mountains. Anything you could want you can find here. There aren't really very many high crime areas here, just driving through a neighborhood will give you a feel if you want to live there," remarked another expat in Calgary, Canada.

"Find one in an older neighbourhood close to a school, as there is tremendous growth here due to Alberta's Oil economy, and new schools are at a premium. Children have to be bussed from the new suburbs because of the lack of schools," said another expat in Canada.

Typical Housing for Expats

When we asked expats in Canada about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:

"It was a small modular home on the banks of Okanagan Lake. It's not a typical home for the area although there are quite a few areas in Kelowna with this type of low cost housing," said one expat who moved to Kelowna, Canada.

"I have a small farm, 11 acres, on the ocean. We have 5600 square feet of home, offices and workshops. This isn't typical for expats," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Canada.

"We live in a suburban estate not typical for expats as we have been here a while now. Most expats live near downtown or out on the West of the island," commented one expat who made the move to Canada.

"Single story bungalow with a large basement. Quite large, the basement has a laundry room, a bedroom and recreation room. Gardens or should I say yards are bigger in older neighbourhoods and obviously extensive in areages. New properties often have just decks," remarked another expat in Edmonton, Canada.

"Live in a Condo so I don't have to worry about yardwork. Some expats live in houses and apartments, there is a wide variety to choose from," said another expat in Canada.

"I live in a manufactured home retirement park now in a very beautiful part of this city. It is typical for some retired expats from many different countries as we live a very mobile life style. By the way, the average age for this city is 32 years of age.It as grown from less than 200,000 to more than 900,000 since I came here," remarked another expat who made the move to Canada.

Housing Costs in Canada

"What we got for our money made it worth every cent. We were paying $750.00 per month and had our own beach. Averages in the area vary depending on the type of homes. House prices range from around $150,00 to around $3 million," said one expat who moved to Kelowna, Canada.

"Cost of housing less than the UK but living costs around the same. Typical median house in the islands would be around $650k CAD," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Canada.

"Housing costs are roughly half those of the UK. an average 2 storey house costs $226,000 dollars but is of course bigger than a similar house in the UK as they usually have finished basements," commented one expat who made the move to Canada.

"We are renting in a 'nice' middle class area but property is expensive to rent and becoming increasingly expensive to buy, by Canadian standards. An very average property costs around 2000 CAD per month. Saying that we could buy a nice home for 250,000. It is also difficult to find expats most either settle for good and love it or stay a relatively short time," remarked another expat in Edmonton, Canada.

"Housing costs are definitely lower. Paid 140 for a 1200 foot condo, its only four years old so it's all like new," said another expat in Canada.

"Lower. A 3 bedroom 1,500 square foot home sells for $200,000 plus. Condo apts and townhouses are less," remarked another expat who made the move to Canada.

Banking in Canada

We asked expats which banks in Canada they use and their experiences. They said:

"I have maintained my UK bank accounts and credit cards as it is useful when buying Christmas or birthday presents from web sites in the UK. I opened an account in Canada at Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank, and they are both excellent banks," said one expat who moved to Ontario, Canada.

Finding a Job in Canada

If you're searching for a job in Canada, expats talk about popular industries and how expats find employment.

"There are lots of shopping centres, restaurants and small businesses in the area which has a good transport system in place. There are numerous vineyards and orchards in the area and quite a few new housing developments. Glaziers and Chefs are in high demand," said one expat who moved to Kelowna, Canada.

"Skyscrapers in town house many office workers. Film Industry is pretty big in Vancouver. Travel, accommodation, outdoor entertainment at ski resorts in winter. It's not unusual to see women wearing hard hats and doing manual labour," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Canada.

"In the Greater Toronto Area: IT, telecommunications, marketing, manufacturing, automotive industry, finance, tourism, arts and entertainment, etc," commented one expat who made the move to Canada.

"It is a quite city with some artists, services providers, etc. No more a manufacturing town," remarked another expat in London, Canada.

"Jobs aplenty. Gas and oil are big here. Look in the aper and I am sure you will find a job," said another expat in Canada.

"Prison system headquarted here for Federal system, Canadian forces has big base and school, Queens Univ and a large tech school as well as big teaching hospitaland lots of retirees," remarked another expat who made the move to Canada.

Work Permits

"My husband was offered employment and we came over on work permits. We have recently applied to extend our work permits and are hoping to become permanent residents. When you make the decision to relocate then get the paperwork done as soon as possible," said one expat who moved to Vancouver, Canada.

Expat Health Insurance in Canada

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Join our Canada Expat Forum

Visit our Canada Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Canada.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 23, 2019

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