Planning a move or extended trip to Canada, eh? You won’t be sorry — the Great White North has everything you can dream of and more, and we’re here to tell you all a-boot the pros and cons of living in Canada.
If you’re outdoorsy, you’ll surely live your best life in Canada. As the second largest country globally, there is an enormous amount of things to explore and discover. Wherever you are in the nation, you’ll never be more than an hour away from scenic hikes and gorgeous lakes.
Canada is so huge that the landmass includes everything from forested areas to the majestic Rocky Mountains, many amazing national parks and cities, and everything in between.
So, whether you’re planning a permanent move or just to travel to Canada, we’ve got all the info you need, from visa and employment opportunities to phone plans and domestic travel, to find your feet in the land of maple syrup. Grab your warmest jacket and get ready to learn about life in Canada.
Pros and cons of living in Canada | Navigating the Great White North
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We moved to Canada in 2009 on student visas and later went on to work and live here permanently. We are also proud Canadian citizens and are grateful for all the professional, business, and personal development opportunities we have received here.
If you didn’t know, Salil and I moved independently from India. We met in Toronto, became friends, dated for years, got married in the beautiful Canadian Rockies, bought our first home, cars and opened our online business 🙂
So, there are many things to be thankful for, and we hope this post helps you.
Life in Canada: Pros and cons
Taking the plunge and moving to a new country takes a lot of guts and preparation, and the decision-making phase isn’t easy. But you know what they say — knowledge is power.
To make an informed decision, there are many factors you need to consider, such as the opportunities and challenges that you’ll be facing.
So, before you pack your bags, it is wise to gather as much info as possible and weigh up the pros and cons of your decision. It’s exciting and extremely daunting, so we’ve broken everything you need to know into manageable pieces.
Let’s get into it.
Pros of living in Canada
Canada is regarded as one of the happiest countries in the world, which is already a pro in itself. Many things make Canada appealing, so we’ve compiled some top pros to aid your decision-making.
1. Canadians have a high quality of life
If you want to improve your living standard, moving to Canada is the perfect choice.
Generally, Canadians will tell you they have a high quality of life on all fronts. They have access to many successful social support systems designed to make life easier and more comfortable for residents.
According to the U.S. News Best Countries rankings, Canada consistently ranks in the top five of the best countries to live in.
The rankings are based on various factors: safety, political and economic stability, income equality, education, and public health systems. As you’ll learn in this post, Canada shines in all these areas.
On top of that, Canada also has one of the most highly educated populations in the world, many employment opportunities, and a high life expectancy.
Add to that the stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and delicious maple syrup, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic package that makes Canada even more appealing.
Our experience: We have lived in three provinces in Canada and appreciate the cleanliness and well-maintained parks and trails. Work-life balance is incredible. We work five days a week, get long weekends most months, and have groceries, banks, and shops within a 10-minute drive (or walk, depending on our neighborhood). Weekends are for us to explore, sleep in, hang out with friends, or brush up on our skills/side hustles (remember, we have no kids and no extended families in Canada).
2. The Canadian economy is thriving
A strong economy is a factor you should consider when moving to a new country. Canada is regarded as one of the most economically stable countries in the world. Its economy was ranked the tenth-largest in the world in 2023, bringing in an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.12 trillion USD.
A large part of Canada’s economic growth comes from engagement in international trade. About one-third of the country’s GDP revolves around exports and imports of goods and services. The United States, China, and the United Kingdom are the country’s main trading partners.
Real estate, manufacturing, and mining are key drivers of Canada’s economy; these industries are all in mint condition. So, you do not need to worry — the economy won’t crumble overnight, and employment isn’t scarce. We’ll get into that next.
Our experience: Now, depending on who you are speaking to – they will have a different take on this 🙂 We have highlighted the stats, and here is our experience. There is inflation, and prices have increased in various sectors, including housing. But….. it is also possible to find accommodation or transportation for cheaper (if one loses a job or lifestyle situation changes.
We sold our house when I decided to quit my full-time job to pursue an online business, knowing that profits would be zero in the first few years). If expenses are high, one can always try to budget – add a side hustle or a second job. We mercilessly cut necessary costs to build our disposable income and splurge on what we love (like traveling).
3. There are ample employment opportunities in Canada + work visa
If you’re stressed about whether you will find work when you move, don’t fret. Canada offers many job opportunities, especially for foreign workers with skills and experience.
In 2023, Canadian employers estimated nearly one million job vacancies across diverse industries.
The Canadian Government developed immigration programs designed to attract skilled workers, such as the Canada Express entry, including the Provincial Nominee Program (this is how we got our permanent residency while working in Saskatchewan, and the immigration process was faster. You can also look into the Nova Scotia or the Northwest Territories Nominee Program).
Programs are also available that aim to fill vacancies in high-demand occupations, including registered nurses, electrical engineers, veterinarians, truck drivers, and industrial electricians. So, if you’re skilled in any of these professions, finding a job in your new country won’t be as much of a headache.
Many people also move on work and youth mobility visas meant to attract foreign workers (Working holiday visas are also available for select nationals like the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand to Canada).
Canada follows a free market economy wherever possible, meaning it is excellent to set up a new business and be self-employed.
Our experience: In the past 15+ years, we have never been laid off (although companies that we worked for went through their usual attrition and employee cuts); it is possible to find jobs here (I worked for both private and public companies, a crown corporation, and provincial government) before opening our own business.
4. Canada’s healthcare system is top-notch
If there’s one thing that’s a massive advantage for the people of Canada, it’s their universal healthcare system. Its medical services are consistently ranked among the best in the world. The government runs a tax-funded system and pays for basic health insurance, including emergency room visits.
Free healthcare is available to citizens and permanent residents, and immigrants without permanent residency status can access emergency medical care. The only downside to this is that there are usually long queues and extended wait times (for major surgeries, etc.).
Most Canadians also have private health insurance for additional services like dental care, prescription medication, and private hospital rooms. The best part is that around 90% of the premiums for this are covered by employers or unions.
If you want to dodge the long queues, consider getting private health insurance for full coverage and as added assurance.
Our experience: Health and dental insurance from our employers have been helpful for us.
5. Canada has a fantastic education system
Canadians don’t mess around when it comes to educating their children — the country’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. Its free public schools and mandatory schooling laws guarantee everyone access to primary and secondary education.
Regarding higher education, Canadian universities, community colleges, and technical institutes follow government standards to ensure high-quality education. All students are given equal opportunities to access training and education.
One thing to remember if you or your children would like to study in Canada is that fees for international students usually cost more than for Canadian residents.
Tuition fees differ depending on the institution, and the government does offer financial aid and scholarships. Doing some research in advance will be beneficial.
6. Low crime rates in Canada
Safety is a big concern when considering moving to a new country. Luckily, Canada has some of the lowest crime rates globally and consistently ranks among the safest countries on UNESCO’s Global Peace Index.
Canada has an impressively low crime rate compared to global standards. Of course, petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing happen in big cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City, like anywhere else.
When it comes to violent crime, the country has surprisingly low rates. However, their strict gun control policies (especially compared to their southern neighbors) make all the difference.
With the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the “Mounties,” Canada also has city and provincial police and community policing initiatives. These law enforcement agencies collaborate to look out for Canadians at all times.
My experience: I have worked night shifts for three years and felt safe getting to work at midnight and done at 08:30 am. I am from northeastern India, and I can say that I won’t be comfortable doing that in New Delhi now, where I completed my University Degree.
7. Canadian cities are world-class
Urban living in Canada is so good that the country has no less than three entries on Global Citizen’s list of the ten most liveable cities in the world. These cities are Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, and each brings its unique flavor.
Toronto is one of Canada’s most multicultural cities, making it a fascinating and welcoming place to live. It has a vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, economic opportunities, international cuisine, and more.
Another thing that makes Toronto so popular is how easily you can take a day trip from the city to Niagara Falls.
Vancouver has a laid-back and outdoorsy vibe on Canada’s west coast. The great Canadian outdoors is right on your doorstep. Mountains and the Pacific Ocean surround the city.
Vancouver is also known for its strong emphasis on green initiatives and commitment to sustainability. The people are generally friendly, with an unmistakable focus on a healthy and active lifestyle.
Calgary has Western roots and a unique cowboy culture that sets it apart from other Canadian cities. The town has a down-to-earth vibe and a strong sense of community, so you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
Oh, and did we mention that the city hosts Canada’s biggest annual rodeo? Calgary has many things to do, but the annual Stampede Festival is one of the city’s major claims to fame. If you’re into the Wild West culture, this is the place to be.
Our experience: Salil and I love cities and enjoy our travels each time we head back to Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal. We set forth to explore more in the future! If nature is your calling, you will LOVE mountain landscapes, lakes, and beyond!
8. There’s a lot of cultural diversity
Canada welcomes immigrants with open arms and is generally a progressive and diverse country. With just under 40 million people, you’ll be surrounded by an eclectic mix of different cultures, languages, ethnicities, and religious beliefs.
To give you an idea of just how much of a multicultural society Canada is, more than 200 global languages are spoken in the country.
English, French, Mandarin, Punjabi, and Cantonese are the five most common languages. Luckily, most Canadians understand English, so you don’t have to start learning a new language immediately.
And don’t miss out on learning about Indigenous cultures.
Our experience: There is something for everyone here – we have attended Indian festivals (Diwali, Holi, temples, gurudwaras, and more), cultural centres – Chinese, Scottish, Danish, and Ukrainian and these are just what we have experienced so far – but there is more.
Btw, I am Assamese, and when I moved here, I was surprised to hear that the Assam Association and Society, such as ASCCA, have been operating for the past 50+ years, which is mindblowing! You will find festivals, people, food, and events that remind you of home or places you have called home before.
9. Faster residency in comparison to other countries
Compared to European countries or even the US, getting a permanent residency in Canada is relatively quicker.
You can qualify for an Express Entry from your home country, where you can get a PR right away to enter and stay anywhere in Canada.
Alternatively, you can apply for a Provincial Nominee Program from Canada (when you arrive on a student or work visa). Once you meet all the requirements, you will receive your permanent residency. This is anywhere from 1 to 2+ years.
If you compare that to popular expat countries like Portugal or Spain, a minimum of 5 years of temporary residency is required before applying for a PR. On average, getting a Green Card in the US is about 2 to 3 years.
Our experience: We have already mentioned the provincial nominee program, and using that, we got our PR within two years of moving here.
10. Time for hobbies and community building
With a good work-life balance and affordable resources, one can pursue higher studies, switch careers, get into a new hobby, or improve skills.
Most companies set full-time employment at 36 to 40 hours, allowing you to utilize two days off (or weekends off). Depending on where you live, you can have a 10-minute ride to work and benefit from a short commute to do an evening certificate course.
Most Canadian cities and towns will have recreational centres where you can learn a new skill or pursue your hobby. Online classes are a bonus, as you can participate from any part of the country without breaking the bank.
My experience: I returned to school (online learning) while working a full-time night shift to get my Labour Relations and HR Certificate and a Recruiter designation. I started this blog that you are reading here (and four other blogs) in the evenings while working a busy day. So it’s doable 🙂
11. Exploring the US and the Americas + Europe
You are in luck if you plan to move to Canada to be closer to the US. You can travel to the US, our next-door neighbor, and explore easily by living in Canada.
In fact, from cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, you can fly or travel by road to get to New York City, Buffalo, Seattle, etc, to name a few.
If you have a travel heart, you can also plan winter sun escapes to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Companies like Sunwing and Transat have great flight and all-inclusive hotel deals every year, which you can take advantage of.
When it comes to traveling to Europe, it is slowly becoming better. If you live in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, you can fly nonstop to many international destinations in Europe, including Zurich, Lisbon, London, and Madrid.
Note: One thing to remember is that other than these Canadian cities listed above, most other airports will require you to have one stop (domestically) before flying out to a European destination.
We have flown from Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon to different parts of Europe. We set aside two full days to travel from our home airport > to the 2nd airport in Canada > to our international destination and back. This is something to remember as you select your base city when you move to Canada.
12. Experience a slice of Europe or the world in one country
One of Canada’s greatest advantages is its diverse and inclusive society. It is home to people from all corners of the world, creating a melting pot of cultures. This diversity adds to the cultural experience and allows individuals to learn and appreciate different perspectives and ways of life.
Because migration has occurred here for centuries, cities, small towns, and cultural institutions will serve as reminders and allow you to experience the world in Canada.
For example, you can travel to Quebec City and Montreal (including parts of Vancouver, Toronto, and Niagara Falls) to enjoy European flair.
Or head to the Yukon to experience the Icelandic landscapes (particularly ice, northern lights, and parts of the Wrangell Volcanic Belt of Alaska and adjacent Yukon Territory).
How about the Lunar Year celebrations on the west coast, the colorful fishing villages of Newfoundland and Labrador transporting you to Ireland, or the springtime (Tulip Season) in Ottawa to remind you of Amsterdam?
Our experience: We have experienced all the above-listed cultural remnants and have drawn parallels to many European countries we have visited.
13. Perfect for nature lovers
Canada is home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the world. From the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains, where snow-capped summits pierce the sky, to the thundering cascade of Niagara Falls, where water plunges with awe-inspiring force, there are endless outdoor activities and adventure opportunities.
There are over 40 national parks and reserves where you can enjoy mountain and lake views, hiking, and camping in the summer months. There are over 300 provincial parks, so you are guaranteed a natur-escape near you.
Canada offers it all, whether you seek the thrill of hiking through untouched wilderness, the serenity of canoeing on a peaceful lake, or the wonder of observing wildlife in their natural habitat.
Our experience: We are truly blessed to have lived in 3 different provinces (multiple cities), and each time, we were never too far away from a park or a trail to enjoy nature (and many times for free – no park entries).
14. Playground for cold weather activities, including northern lights
Canada is known for its long, harsh winters. And while some may see this as a con, it offers a unique opportunity for outdoor activities that can’t be experienced in other parts of the world.
From skiing and snowboarding to dog sledding, there are endless options to explore the great outdoors during winter.
Imagine the joy of ice skating on frozen lakes, the crisp air filling your lungs as you glide effortlessly across the glistening ice. And let’s not forget the thrill of snowmobiling, zooming through snowy trails, and exploring the vast winter wilderness.
But winter in Canada is not just about adrenaline-fueled activities. It’s also a time to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the northern lights. As darkness falls, venture to the northern regions of Canada, such as the Yukon or Northwest Territories, and be prepared to be mesmerized by the dancing colors of the aurora borealis.
Our experience: We love to spend winters in Canada. We saw our first northern lights in Alberta – just by our home in Edmonton, and it was an amazing experience. Winter hikes and snowshoeing tours have been amazing so far. We don’t know how to ice skate still, but each year, we look forward to learning to ski – Canada has opened up a new range of hobbies and activities for us!
15. Haven for photographers
With its stunning landscapes and vibrant cities, Canada is a photographer’s dream come true. Imagine standing at the edge of Lake Louise, mesmerized by the turquoise waters reflecting the majestic snow-capped mountains.
Or stroll through the charming streets of Quebec City, and capture the world’s most photographed hotel as well as the historic architecture and cobblestone alleys transport you to a different era.
For a truly unique and unforgettable experience, venture to Aurora Village in Yellowknife. Imagine yourself nestled inside a cozy and comfortable teepee, gazing up at the night sky as the mystical and mesmerizing northern lights dance above you. The vibrant colors and ethereal movements create a truly breathtaking spectacle, making it a moment you’ll want to capture for eternity.
If you’re seeking a different perspective, why not take a thrilling helicopter tour over Niagara Falls? From high above, you’ll witness the sheer power and grandeur of this iconic natural wonder. The cascading waters and mist create a mesmerizing display, and capturing it from a bird’s eye will offer a unique and awe-inspiring perspective.
No matter where you go in Canada, there’s always something new and exciting to capture through your lens.
Our experience: We love photographing Canadian cities and landscapes, and it is one of the inspirations behind starting our travel blogs and social media.
16. Work is valued, regardless of your profession/ degrees
In Canada, work is valued and respected regardless of profession or education level. Whether you’re a doctor, a plumber, or an artist, your work is considered valuable and essential to society. This creates a sense of pride and satisfaction in one’s job and promotes a healthy work-life balance.
Our experience: Hailing from India, it is common to see parents and our social circles favor one type of profession (you know, doctors, engineers) over others. While having a career preference of any kind is great, overall acceptance and respect for all professions are amazing!
17. Brushing up on skills early
Adding to the above pro, if you are in your late teens or early 20s with or without a University degree, you CAN start working in Canada early.
Our experience: Salil and I entered the workforce after we completed our master’s Degrees. As retail managers in Canada, we have mentored and worked with teenagers (some as young as 16). It was amazing to see students building their work experience/ customer service skills or working to save money for higher education.
18. Maternal and paternal leaves
One aspect of living in Canada that often goes unnoticed is the generous parental leave policies.
New parents in Canada are entitled to up to 18 months of (extended) combined maternity and parental leave, giving them time to bond with their new arrival without worrying about work. This policy also promotes gender equality by encouraging fathers to take a more active role in childcare.
Our experience: We don’t have kids, but as an HR professional, I have processed leaves for up to 3 years. Here is how – in certain organizations, you are allowed to access unpaid leave of absence as a caregiver (children and/or aging parents). You can also set aside a portion of your income to cover the months beyond the typical paternal leave of 18 months.
19. Gun restrictions
For those seeking a safer environment, Canada’s strict gun control laws offer peace of mind. The country has some of the toughest gun regulations in the world, making it a much safer place to live compared to other countries.
20. LGBTQ friendly
Canada is known for its progressive and inclusive policies, making it one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world.
In 2005, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage, and since then, it has consistently ranked as one of the top countries for LGBTQ rights. The cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are vibrant hubs for the community, offering a welcoming and safe space for LGBTQ individuals to express their true selves.
21. Cannabis is legal
In 2018, Canada made history by becoming the first G7 and G20 country to legalize recreational cannabis. This move has not only brought economic benefits but has also changed the stigma surrounding cannabis and allowed for safe and regulated consumption.
Whether you’re a cannabis user or not, this legalization showcases Canada’s progressive attitude towards personal freedom and responsibility. It also adds another layer of diversity to the country, with cannabis now being a part of its cultural landscape.
22. Air quality in Canada is one of the cleanest
Canada’s air quality is one of the cleanest in the world. According to the Environmental Performance Index, Canada ranks 15th out of 180 countries for air quality (and first and 4th out of 33 high-income OECD countries on two key air quality measures. This is due to the country’s strict regulations on emissions and pollution control from industries and transportation.
Note: What is air quality and why is it important? Air quality refers to the level of pollutants present in the air we breathe. These pollutants can come from a variety of sources such as vehicle emissions, industrial processes, and natural events like wildfires. Breathing in polluted air can have serious health consequences, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, elderly, and those with respiratory conditions.
23. Experience all four seasons in Canada
Living in Canada offers the incredible opportunity to experience all four seasons, each with its unique charm. Every season has something special to offer from the vibrant colors of fall to the warmth and sunshine of summer.
All four seasons are distinct – spring, summer, fall, and winter. We LOVE fall and winter months here because even the long and cold winters have their magic, with snowflakes gently falling from the sky and transforming everything into a breathtaking winter wonderland. It’s truly a remarkable experience!
Our experience: Four seasons also mean four different seasonal wardrobes. This can be a con and an expensive affair, and I suggest buying clothes here once you move (so that they withstand the weather). As for me, I was so excited to experience fall, drink pumpkin spice lattes, and wear ankle-length booties.
Cons of Living in Canada
While there are many incredible advantages to life in Canada, no country is perfect. It’s best to be realistic about some negative aspects when moving to a new country.
Here are a few cons that make living in Canada challenging.
24. You’ll have to deal with icy cold winters
There’s no way to sugarcoat it — Canada’s harsh winters are bone-chillingly cold. From mid-December to mid-March, the thermometer drops well below freezing across most of the country, accompanied by heavy snowfall.
There are provinces in Canada that experience slightly warmer winters. These include cities in coastal regions like British Columbia, where Vancouver is located. The city generally has mild and wet winters, and temperatures rarely drop below zero. The average daytime temperature is around 45°F, which most of us will still consider chilly.
The further north you go, the more intense winter becomes. In the northern territories like the Yukon and Nunavut, winter weather lasts around eight months a year, and the average temperature can drop as low as -40 °F. These areas also hold records for the lowest recorded temperatures in Canada’s history.
In 1947, Snag, a small town in the Yukon, experienced a face-freezing winter with lows of -81 °F.
These cold temperatures aren’t for everyone, so ensure you’re prepared to cope. Check out our tips for winter clothes that can withstand Canada’s frosty conditions.
Our experience: We have severe winters, and you can expect snow for 2-4 months of the year, depending on where you live. Having said that, houses, buildings, public transportation, etc, have central heating. You must dress warmly, wear waterproof sturdy boots, and make note of weather conditions before heading out. But it is worth it for all the fun things that come in the winter months, like festivals and cold weather activities 🙂 We had never experienced snow before moving to Canada, and we survived – I think you will too!
25. The exchange rate isn’t great
In the grand scheme of things, the Canadian dollar (CAD) is strong when compared to the rest of the world. But generally, it tends to be weaker than the US Dollar (USD), the Euro (EUR), and the British Pound Sterling (GBP).
For instance, over the past decade, the standard exchange rate has hovered around $1 USD to $0.90 CAD. This means that, on average, one US dollar equals approximately 90 cents in Canadian currency.
The exchange rate mainly affects Canadian citizens when it comes to imported goods. Some imported goods may seem more expensive compared to countries like the United States, but Canadian currency is still reasonably priced globally.
Our experience: We often travel to the US and Europe and maintain a WISE account (you can open a USD account with national banks like TD or ScotiaBank) to help us get a better rate.
When we send money back home to India or Indian charities, we definitely like the better exchange rate.
26. Canada has a high cost of living
With the country’s high standard of living, healthcare, and education, it should come as no surprise that the cost of living in Canada is relatively high.
Living in a less populated or remote area will likely be more budget-friendly. But staying in one of the major cities, like Toronto or Vancouver, will cost you a pretty penny.
Because everyone has a different idea of what being financially comfortable means, it’s hard to give exact estimates of living costs. To give you a rough idea, the monthly cost of living in a big city like Toronto is approximately $3750 CAD for a single person.
In places like Edmonton, the average drops to around $1800 CAD per person per month, or $2100 CAD for Quebec City.
Our experience: It is true for most places/cities worldwide. Living in India, owning a place or rental in Assam was cheaper than New Delhi or Mumbai. The same goes for cities like Toronto and Vancouver, which are very expensive (not only housing but also traveling there is pricey compared to exploring Edmonton or Saskatoon).
27. Tax rates are high
Canada’s excellent healthcare services and educational structure come at a cost — high taxes. Obviously, no one likes paying taxes, but the country’s progressive tax system is relatively fair.
You’ll be taxed according to your income, so the more money you make, the higher the tax percentage you have to pay.
If you consider the country’s wealth of social systems (excuse the pun), you’ll understand why plenty of Canadians agree that higher taxes are worth it for everything you get in return.
Healthcare, maintenance of national parks, education, social services, and public safety are tax-funded. Although we can all agree that high tax rates suck, it’s comforting to know that you get a whole lot of value in return.
Our experience: We say – it is what it is 🙂 As we grow in our careers, our income and taxes have definitely increased by heaps and bounds. But income taxes are a part of life and a trade-off for living in a beautiful country and having a strong passport. Taxes are for the health care system, road maintenance, policing and safety, community programs, and foreign aid, and it is all good!
28. Housing prices are steep
Whether you’re planning to rent or buy a property, be warned — the cost of housing in Canada can be pretty high. On average, Canadians often allocate between 30-50% of their monthly income towards housing.
The area you plan to move to in Canada will heavily influence how hard your accommodation will be on your wallet. If you’re moving to one of the major cities, like Toronto or Vancouver, you can expect to pay upwards of $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
The best advice we can give regarding reducing your housing costs is to look at options in smaller suburbs outside the city center. Living in one of Canada’s charming smaller towns, like Banff in Alberta (where you can visit Banff National Park) or Elora in Ontario, will be much lighter on your budget.
Our experience: Housing and car payments are definitely the top % in our budget. Thankfully, we don’t have any other debts, and we strictly monitor our fun money, enabling us to own a house or rent luxury apartments. But we agree house + car accounts for 55% of our monthly budget.
29. Public transport is limited outside of major cities
Most Canadians own and drive their vehicles, and public transport is easily accessible and reasonably affordable.
Large cities like Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto have sophisticated subway systems, bus networks, and taxis. But this is only available in urban areas, so transport becomes an issue when traveling around small towns.
Because Canada is such a massive country (the second largest in the world, remember?), there are plenty of remote and rural areas. No public transport is available in these smaller towns; you’ll need your car to get around.
There’s a lot of space between cities and extensive areas covered by the wilderness. This means long drives between places; don’t always expect smooth rides on straight highways. You might have to take a much longer road to your destination to get around a mountain, lake, or river.
My experience: So I don’t drive and don’t enjoy driving (but I love to be a passenger princess); we own one vehicle and use that for our needs – getting to and from work, shopping, traveling, etc. Living in Edmonton now, and in places like Saskatoon and North Battleford in the past, a vehicle is essential. We survived Saskatoon relying on buses when we had just moved, but a car makes it so much more convenient, and no more wasting time navigating or waiting for public transport. If you do not like driving and love using public transportation, opt for bigger cities with better bus/LRT frequency and connectivity.
30. Your support network might be limited
While it’s a welcoming country and Canadians are generally considered friendly people, moving to a new country isn’t an easy experience. You might be moving far away from your family members and friends, which can be very challenging.
Around 20-23% of Canada’s population are immigrants from around the world, making it possible to find fellow compatriots from your home country. Yet it’s still a good idea to do a quick Google search beforehand if you’d like to connect with your countrymen, for example, Americans living in Canada. This will go a long way in helping you adjust and find your feet in your new country.
Our experience: It is difficult to find your tribe. I missed home while living in North Battleford, and there was little to do. However, the time spent in NB was life-changing as I went on to study online marketing and labor relations (and also lost about 35 pounds by healthy eating and exercising at home). You may be lonely if you are a social butterfly and need to be out and about with people. For us, we enjoy being alone and spending time on self-development. We miss friends and family, but we also love our own company.
31. Surgeries and cosmetic work can be costly
While Canada’s healthcare system is often praised for its accessibility and coverage, it’s important to note that elective procedures, including surgeries and cosmetic work, can be costly for individuals. This financial aspect may discourage some people from seeking these types of services.
However, it should be emphasized that the quality of care in Canada is consistently top-notch, ensuring that patients receive the best possible treatment and outcomes.
The healthcare professionals in Canada are dedicated to providing comprehensive and high-quality care to patients, which further contributes to the country’s excellent reputation in the medical field.
32. Canada is not for all professions/ job fields
While Canada offers many opportunities and a strong job market, it may only suit some professions or fields. Some industries may be more saturated than others, making it challenging for individuals to find employment in their desired fields.
It’s important for individuals to research the job market in their specific area of expertise before making the move to Canada.
For instance, those in the petroleum engineering field may find limited prospects, given the job’s specific geographic and resource-oriented requirements.
Similarly, certain specialized fields in the fashion industry, such as haute couture design, may face limited opportunities due to a less established fashion industry compared to major fashion capitals like Paris or Milan.
Another example would be the field of shipbuilding, which might not offer a vast scope of opportunities given the limited number of shipyards.
Our experience: While living in cities like Saskatoon, digital marketing and tourism-related jobs were limited for me. These examples, however, should not deter one from seeking opportunities in Canada, as the job market is dynamic and changes according to various factors such as technological advancements, market demands, and governmental policies.
We recommend researching to find out what job options are available before moving if you are set on following a particular career path.
33. There are job opportunities, but you will have to start with the basics
For those seeking job opportunities in Canada, it’s essential to keep in mind that you may have to start at the bottom and work your way up. This is especially true for individuals in specialized fields or industries with limited opportunities, as mentioned earlier.
However, this shouldn’t discourage individuals from applying for jobs, as entry-level positions can offer valuable experience and growth opportunities.
Note that with Canada’s strong economy and labor laws prioritizing fair wages and working conditions, individuals can feel confident in their career prospects.
Our experience: Salil and I both have Master’s Degrees, and we started at the bottom of the corporate ladder, getting paid a minimum wage. With hard work and determination, anyone can climb the ladder of success in Canada, making it a rewarding place to build a career. So don’t let starting at an entry-level position discourage you from pursuing job opportunities in Canada.
34. Limited luxury brands (or expensive to buy from within Canada)
While Canada has a thriving retail industry may not offer the same variety and availability of luxury brands as other major fashion capitals. This means that individuals looking for high-end and designer items may have to purchase them from international retailers or online, which can often come with added costs such as shipping and customs fees.
Most of the European brands and their boutiques are in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, so if you prefer an in-store experience for labels like Christian Dior, Fendi, Chanel, or Hermes, you must travel to Toronto or Vancouver.
35. Limited options for nightlife
Canada has a robust arts and culture scene, with a plethora of music festivals, theater performances, and art exhibitions taking place throughout the year. However, when it comes to nightlife, the options are limited, especially in smaller towns and cities.
Nightclubs and bars often close earlier than in other countries, and some areas, the nightlife scene may be virtually nonexistent. This lack of late-night entertainment options could disappoint those who enjoy a vibrant and bustling nightlife scene.
Note: If you prefer an active nightlife, we recommend opting for larger cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, etc. Small towns are heavenly if you prefer quieter evenings and relaxed weekends.
36. Traveling within the country is expensive and time-consuming
While Canada offers breathtaking landscapes and diverse cultural experiences, traveling within the country can be costly and time-consuming.
Due to its vast size, traveling from one end of the country to the other can take several days by car or even longer by train or bus.
Additionally, flights between major cities can be expensive, making it difficult for budget travelers to explore multiple areas quickly.
Return trips to cities like Toronto from Edmonton or Calgary are around $500 CAD per person, which rises quickly for cities like Quebec City ($1000 CAD) or Halifax from Alberta – which is like traveling from the west to the east coast/Maritimes.
A short train ride within the province will also cost you dearly, and departures are not frequent/every day.
37. Nonresidents have difficulty applying for travel visas to other countries
As a large and diverse country, Canada offers plenty of opportunities for exploration within its borders. However, for those who want to travel outside the country, obtaining a visa may be challenging for nonresidents.
Countries have varying visa requirements; some may require extensive paperwork or proof of financial stability. This can make it difficult for individuals from certain countries to travel outside Canada easily.
If you are on a student or work visa, you can secure a tourist visa for the USA by applying at a consulate.
The same goes for Schengen visas (for European Union members). The difficulty arises if you are not living in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, or Vancouver because most of the other cities do not have a working consulate (just an honorary consulate for emergencies, and they do not process visa applications).
As an expat, you will see yourself traveling to nearby jurisdictions to process documents to travel to other countries or get criminal record checks from your home country – and it is a long process.
Our experience: Living in Saskatchewan and Alberta, we traveled to Vancouver whenever we needed immigration or tourist documents. This requires 1-2 days of travel, expensive flights and hotels.
38. Medications may or may not be available here
Another potential drawback of living in Canada is the availability and cost of certain medications. While Canada has a universal healthcare system that covers basic medical needs, some medicines may not be included in this coverage or may come with additional costs. This can be challenging for those with chronic conditions or specific medication needs.
This is equally true if you have family members or parents who are on prescribed medications from their home country and are unable to change their treatments here. Those medicines may not be available to buy in Canada.
Note that Canada has a well-regulated pharmaceutical industry, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medication available in the country. So, while there may be some limitations, individuals can rest assured that they receive quality care and treatment in Canada.
39. Water is bad for your hair
This is a big one for me, and many others will agree and complain about the effect of hard water on our hair.
Hard water contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can leave a residue on the hair and make it feel dry, dull, and difficult to manage. Hair fall is also expected due to the hard water.
However, various solutions are available to combat this issue, such as using a clarifying shampoo or installing a water softener in your home.
40. Phone plans are expensive
For those looking to stay connected with family and friends back home, it’s important to note that phone plans in Canada can be expensive.
Canadian phone plans may offer limited data and higher prices for international calls and texts than other countries. However, there are options available for budget-conscious individuals, such as prepaid plans or using messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for communication.
Our experience: We have come a long way…….when we just moved to Canada, incoming calls were billed with limited minutes, and now many plans are unlimited, which is excellent. We recently bought phone plans in Portugal as we were planning a short-term stay there, and our monthly plans were 40% of what we paid here.
Frequently asked questions about moving to Canada.
Now that you know the main pros and cons of living in Canada, you might have some lingering follow-up questions. You may be worried about the cold or wondering what to expect when arriving in Canada.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about living in Canada to help put your mind at ease.
Which part of Canada is the most manageable in the winter?
Let’s be honest — no part of Canada is entirely immune to chilly winter weather. But if you are extra sensitive to the cold, British Columbia on the west coast generally has slightly milder winters than the rest of the country.
The average daytime temperature in this province is between 1.6°C (35℉) and 7.2°C (45℉), which is definitely more manageable than Quebec City’s average of below -3.8°C (25℉).
Are there any specific challenges for newcomers in Canada?
If you go to a new country, there will always be a few things you need to get used to. Depending on where you are originally from, you might experience some culture shock. Adapting to new customs and social norms can be challenging, especially if your home country’s culture is worlds apart from Canada.
Language barriers might also be a challenge for some. English and French are Canada’s official languages. People with different first languages may struggle if their English isn’t that good.
Are there any support systems available for newcomers to Canada?
As we mentioned, Canada welcomes immigrants with open arms. The good news is that the country has various support systems to help newcomers integrate into Canadian society.
For instance, the government runs orientation programs that provide information on understanding Canadian culture, social services and systems, and available resources. They also offer language training programs for newcomers needing to improve their English or French skills.
And it’s not just the government that supports new immigrants. In most big towns, locals lead community-based organizations or cultural associations that you can join. This provides support, networking opportunities, and even cultural events you can participate in.
Pros and cons of living in Canada | Wrapped up
So there you have it — everything you need to know about the pros and cons of living in the Great White North. Canada is both an enticing and challenging place to call home, and hopefully, you’re ready to make an all-encompassing decision now.
From a Vancouver to Banff road trip Niagara Falls day trip to visiting the fjords in Newfoundland and Labrador, you’ll never run out of exciting outdoor activities. And when the winter cold starts to bite, the big cities will keep you entertained indoors with museums, art galleries, and ice skating rinks.
One of the best things that makes Canada even more appealing is that it has a place for everyone, regardless if you’re a city or country or middle-of-nowhere kind of person. Whether you’re drawn to the impressive big city life or hear the great outdoors calling your name, Canada is ready, willing, and waiting for you.