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
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.
Canada is known for its stunning natural beauty. From the West Coast to the East Coast, breathtaking nature views can be observed.
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.
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
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%.
Sales Tax Rates
Provincial Income Tax Rates
10% to 15%
5.06% to 20.5%
10.8% to 17.4%
9.68% to 20.3%
Newfoundland and Labrador
8.7% to 18.3%
8.79% to 21%
5.05% to 13.16%
Prince Edward Island
9.8% to 16.7%
5% to 25.75%
10.5% to 14.5%
5.9% to 14.05%
4% to 11.5%
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.
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!
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.
Large Service Providers
Alternative Internet Provider
Rogers, Bell, Cogeco
OXIO, Diallog, VMedia
Videotron, Bell, Cogeco
OXIO, Fizz, Bravo, VMedia
Rogers, Bell Aliant
Eastlink, Bell Aliant
Purple Cow, VMedia
Prince Edward Island
*Other alternative internet providers can be found on the market.
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.
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.
Average cost US
Average cost Canada
1-bed outside city centre
Rent is 3.57% more expensive in Canada.
Utilities are 28.25% more expensive in Canada.
Groceries are 10.52% cheaper in the US.
Cell phone plan
Cell phone plans are 36.35% cheaper in the US.
Dinner in a mid-range restaurant
Dinner in a mid-range restaurant is 23.52% cheaper in the US.
Transit passes are %
Gym memberships are 32.25% more expensive in Canada.
The cost of living in Canada is 11.72% more expensive than in the US.
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:
- Industrial painters
- Industrial butchers
- Machine operators (specifically for mineral and metal processing)
- Agriculturists and harvesters
- Truck drivers
- Orderlies and nurse assistants
- Residential installers
- It technicians
- Orderlies and nurse assistants
- Electrical engineers
- Early childhood educators
- Media developers
- Civil engineering technicians
- Hairdressers and barbers
- Construction workers
- Heavy equipment operators
- Mechanics and millwrights in construction
- Truck drivers
- Administrative assistants
- Early childhood educators
- Administrative officers
- Home builders and renovation managers
- General office workers
- Accounting technicians and bookkeepers
- Oil sands labourers
(*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.
Average weather during the summer and winter across Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
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
- Watching videos
- Programming a GPS
- Eating or drinking
- 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.
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.
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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