Moving to Canada from the United States (USA)

Moving to Canada from the US: Pros & Cons, Visa Requirements, Cost of Living and More!

Known for its many excellent benefits for residents, Canada has gradually become a top destination for immigrants, including US citizens, in recent years. Despite its 38 million population, Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. Little wonder it is now home to several foreigners. Though the country has English and French as its official languages, there are many other languages spoken by residents.

With its status as the second-largest country in the world, it is a given that Canada has a range of climate conditions. Most parts of the country experience 4 seasons. Below temperatures are common during winter going to – 25 C easily in some provinces. Hot summers are common as well. 

Regardless, Canada is a great choice if you are looking to move out of the US. However, before that, here are a few things you might find noteworthy knowing before moving to Canada from the United States!

List of things to know before moving to Canada as an American:

1. Pros and Cons of Living in Canada

Pros of Living Canada

Safety

According to the Global Peace Index, Canada remains the sixth safest country in the world since 2019. For internal conflicts, crime levels, and political stability, Canada’s scores were particularly good as well.

Natural Beauty

Canada is known for its stunning natural beauty. From the West Coast to the East Coast, breathtaking nature views can be observed.

Diversity

With over 21% of the population being immigrants, Canada is a very diverse country. At every corner of the street in major cities you will find delicious food from all over the world.

Free Healthcare

Healthcare is free in Canada for all permanent residents and citizens meaning that hospital and physician visits are free. Each province also has a medication program allowing its population to access medication at an affordable price.

Cons of Living in Canada

Higher Taxes

Canada has some of the highest sales and income taxes in the world. Income taxes vary by province and range from 4% to 25.75%. Sales taxes also vary by province and range from 5% to 15%.

Province

Sales Tax Rates

Provincial Income Tax Rates

Alberta

5%

10% to 15% 

British Columbia

12%

5.06% to 20.5%

Manitoba

12%

10.8% to 17.4% 

New Brunswick

15%

9.68% to 20.3% 

Newfoundland and Labrador

15%

8.7% to 18.3% 

Nova Scotia

15%

8.79%  to 21%

Ontario

13%

5.05% to 13.16% 

Prince Edward Island

15%

9.8%  to 16.7%

Quebec

14.97%

5% to 25.75%

Saskatchewan

11%

10.5% to 14.5%

Northwest Territories

5%

5.9% to 14.05%

Nunavut

5%

4% to 11.5%

Yukon

5%

6.4% to 15%

In addition to provincial/territorial tax rates presented above, incomes in Canada are subject to federal income tax rates. On average, Canadians are taxed 15% to 33% in federal income taxes. 

  • The first $49 020 of taxable income is taxed at 15%.
  • The next $49 020 is taxed 20.5% (up to $98 040).
  • The next $53 939 is taxed 26% (up to $151 978 based on a taxable income of over $98 040).
  • The next $64 533 is taxed 29% (up to $216 511 on taxable income of over $151 978).
  • In addition to 33% being taxed on incomes over $216 511.

(*canada.ca)

These amounts are adjusted for inflation and other factors in each tax year. Tax rates from 2020-2021. For more information about tax rates in Canada, visit canada.ca

Chilly Winters and Humid Summers

In many parts of Canada like Quebec and Ontario, winters are chilly and get a lot of snow and summers are extremely humid. Other parts of Canada like Vancouver get less snow, but more rain!

Expensive Groceries

Due to the cold weather, Canada has no choice but to import the majority of its fresh produce making it more expensive than in the United States. 

Expensive Internet and Cell Phone Plans

Canada offers top of the line internet and TV services with large service providers available in all Canadian provinces. The market being composed of a handful of large telecom companies that own the infrastructures consequently creates high presser on consumer prices. Many years ago, The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that smaller internet providers can use the bigger players infrastructure to increase the offer on the market and help maintain affordable rates. 

Province

Large Service Providers

Alternative Internet Provider

Ontario

Rogers, Bell, Cogeco

OXIO, Diallog, VMedia

Quebec

Videotron, Bell, Cogeco

OXIO, Fizz, Bravo, VMedia

British Columbia

Telus, Shaw

OXIO, Primus,VMedia

Alberta

Telus, Shaw

Primus,VMedia

Manitoba

Bell MTS

Primus,VMedia

Saskatchewan

Sasktel

Primus,VMedia

New Brunswick

Rogers, Bell Aliant

Primus,VMedia

Nova Scotia

Eastlink, Bell Aliant

Purple Cow, VMedia

Prince Edward Island

Eastlink, Rogers

Teksavvy,VMedia

*Other alternative internet providers can be found on the market.

(*Statistics Canada, Canada Action, Canada) 

2. Canada Work Visa (and more)

Getting a visa is the most important requirement for moving to Canada from the US. Depending on whether you’re moving to Canada for work or to move in with a family member, the type of Visa you’ll need will differ. 

Express Entry Visa

The Express Entry Visa is most suitable for professionals and skilled trade workers who have at least one year of full-time work experience.  When applying through this method, your age, education, and field you work in will be considered.

Business Start-Up or Investment Visa

The Start-up Visa Program is recommended for entrepreneurs and business owners who wish to relocate to Canada. Investors with a minimum net worth of $10 million can also apply for immigration through this method.

Family Sponsorship Visa

If you have a family member who is already a resident in Canada and can sponsor your immigration, the Family Sponsorship Visa is best advised for you. If your spouse is a citizen or has been given permanent residence, you should apply through this visa.

Self-Employed Visa

The name of the Self-Employed Visa says it all. You need to be self-employed. But this is not the only requirement, you’ll need to score a certain amount of points on a selection grid made to determine if you’ll make a contribution (economic, cultural or athletic) to Canada.

Caregivers Visa

The Caregivers Visa is suitable for people who plan to be caregivers to a Canadian citizen or someone that lives in the country. You can become a permanent resident through this route or simply work temporarily.

3. Cost of Living in Canada vs the US

What is the cost of living in the United States versus the cost of living in Canada?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The cost of living for one person in Canada is $2031 whereas in the US it’s $1806 per month. These numbers are based on a national average to show a general picture. It is important to keep in mind that the cost of living varies based on your chosen location.

 

Category

Average cost US

USD

Average cost Canada

CAD

Variation 

Rent price 

1-bed outside city centre

$1100

$1140

Rent is 3.57% more expensive in Canada.  

Utilities

$234 

$311

Utilities are 28.25% more expensive in Canada.

Groceries

$270 

$300

Groceries are  10.52% cheaper in the US. 

Cell phone plan

$70 

$101

Cell phone plans are 36.35% cheaper in the US. 

Dinner in a mid-range restaurant

$30

$38

Dinner in a mid-range restaurant is 23.52% cheaper in the US. 

Transit pass

$65

$90

Transit passes are %

Gym membership

$37

$51

Gym memberships are 32.25% more expensive in Canada.

Total

$1806

$2031

The cost of living in Canada is 11.72% more expensive than in the US.

(*Numbeo US, Numbeo Canada, Lowest Rates, MovingWaldo, CRTC & US Mobile)

4. Healthcare in Canada vs the US

Contrary to the US, Canada offers free healthcare to its residents and citizens. Healthcare in Canada is free for doctor visits and hospital visits, but while medicine is partly covered, it’s not free. When moving to Canada from the US, you will not necessarily be automatically eligible for the free healthcare that Canada offers unless you are a permanent resident. If you are moving to Canada temporarily, you will have to purchase private health insurance.

5. In Demand Jobs in Canada

Canada has many job openings and more so in specific sectors. Here are the most in demand jobs in some of Canada’s major provinces:

 

Ontario

  • Industrial painters
  • Industrial butchers
  • Machine operators (specifically for mineral and metal processing)
  • Agriculturists and harvesters
  • Truck drivers
  • Orderlies and nurse assistants
  • Residential installers 

 

Quebec

  • It technicians
  • Orderlies and nurse assistants
  • Electrical engineers
  • Welders
  • Nurses
  • Early childhood educators
  • Media developers
  • Civil engineering technicians

 

British Columbia

  • Carpenters
  • Hairdressers and barbers
  • Construction workers
  • Mechanics 
  • Cooks
  • Heavy equipment operators
  • Mechanics and millwrights in construction
  • Welders
  • Electricians
  • Bakers

 

Alberta 

  • Truck drivers
  • Administrative assistants
  • Receptionists
  • Early childhood educators
  • Administrative officers
  • Home builders and renovation managers
  • General office workers
  • Accounting technicians and bookkeepers
  • Oil sands labourers
  • Anesthesiologists

(*Jobboom, Immigration.ca & WorkBC)

6. Best Places to Live in Canada

The best places to live in Canada have relatively affordable housing, are safe, will keep you entertained, have good schools, have good job opportunities and are family-friendly. 

  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Burlington, Ontario 
  • Quebec City, Quebec
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

 

Indeed, many Americans moving to Canada for work are tempted to move to larger metropolitan areas like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver that are full of career opportunities.

7. The Weather in Canada

The average weather in Canada during summer is 71°F and during winter it is 20°F. 

The Weather in Canada

Average weather during the summer and winter across Canada

Province

Summer Temperature

Winter Temperature

Alberta

73°F

14°F

British Columbia

77°F

45°F

Manitoba

70°F

7°F

New Brunswick

76°F

35°F

Newfoundland and Labrador

77°F

32°F

Nova Scotia

75°F

24°F

Ontario

78°F

23°F

Prince Edward Island

75°F

19°F

Quebec

76°F

12°F

Saskatchewan

76°F

41°F

Northwest Territories

66°F

14°F

Nunavut

49°F

-7.6°F

Yukon

66°F

6°F

(*Climate-data.org, Weather.gc.ca & provincial websites)

8. Driving in Canada

Depending on the province you’re moving to, you will be required to exchange your driver’s license for a provincial or territorial one between 90 days to 6 months upon your arrival. When it comes to driving in Canada, each province has its own organization that deals with driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. For example, in Quebec it’s the SAAQ and in British Columbia it’s the ICBC

Varying by province, Canada has a set of Distracted Driving Laws that include consequences for the following actions while driving:

  • Talking on a handheld device
  • Texting while driving
  • Reading
  • Watching videos
  • Programming a GPS
  • Eating or drinking
  • Grooming
  • Smoking or vaping 

9. Moving Household Goods from the US to Canada

To move your household goods from the US to Canada you have 3 options:

  • Move them by car: a good option if you don’t have much stuff and you might need to drive your car to Canada anyways.
  • Move them by plane: a good option if you’re starting fresh and will only be bringing a few things with you.
  • Move them by hiring an international moving company. This is your best option if you have a bigger budget and a lot of stuff. When searching for an international moving company make sure that insurance is included, their prices aren’t extravagant (get many quotes), they have good Google reviews and their customer service is excellent.

10. Car Shipping to Canada from the United States

When moving to Canada from the US with your car, you can either:

  • Sell your car before moving to Canada.
  • Drive it across the border and spend on gas, registration fees and modifications costs. 
  • Get the car shipped by a car shipping company and spend on the car shipping company, registration and modifications  

Registration Fees When Shipping Your Car to Canada

To import a US vehicle into Canada you must pay registration fees that are determined by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV). The registration fee to import your US car to Canada is $325 plus the taxes in the province you’ll be moving to.

Modifications When Shipping Your Car to Canada

While cars in Canada and in the USA may appear the same, there are a few differences that have to be updated once you move to Canada. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles mandates that all cars entering Canada from the US must undergo and inspection during which the following modifications may come up: 

  • Recall clearance letter
  • At the time of import/inspection, the vehicle must bear the manufacturer’s valid US Statement of Compliance (SOC)
  • The 17-digit alphanumeric Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) must be valid
  • Metric speedometer
  • Odometer labels
  • Daytime running lights
  • Kit for anchoring the child restraint tether
  • Child restraint tether anchorage point locations (refer to Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States)
  • A supplementary restraint system label for airbags that require periodic maintenance in French
  • A vehicle equipped with air bags must have functional airbags at the time of inspection
  • The vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) must be less than 10,000 lbs, and the date of manufacture must be after September 1, 2007, in order to meet the requirements of Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 114.

11. The most important insurance for immigrants in Canada.

Car Insurance

If you had your car shipped, it is advisable to have it insured in case of any accidents. Once again, be sure to do proper research and pick the car insurance that works best for you.

Tenant or Homeowner Insurance

Even as a tenant, immigrants need home insurance. To get yours, make sure to find out about the different insurance companies accredited in Canada.

Temporarily Health Insurance

Again, if you are moving to Canada temporarily, you will have to purchase private health insurance. When you become a permanent resident, you will be covered by the public health care system. 

Ottawa

Conclusion: What to Expect from Your New Life in Canada

Canada is a safe country that is filled with stunning natural beauty and plenty of job opportunities. Expect chilly winters, high costs of living in major cities, and don’t text and drive!

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