What to know before your move from Canada to the U.S.

7 Things to know and do before moving from Canada to the U.S.

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Over the years, we’ve witnessed a change in the reasons why Canadians choose to migrate to the U.S. In the 1900s, migrants from Eastern Canada moved to the United States to work in the growing manufacturing sector. Today, Canadians typically move to the U.S. to pursue career opportunities, start businesses, establish families, or simply seek a different lifestyle.

Every year, several thousand Canadians move from Canada to the United States. On a daily basis, approximately 400,000 individuals cross the Canada-United States border, and the Government of Canada reports that there are approximately 800,000 Canadian citizens residing in the United States.

Moving isn’t just about packing and leaving. It involves several considerations, beginning with securing the required immigration approvals and finding the best state to live in the U.S. Read on to discover essential information before moving from Canada to the United States.

Moving to the U.S.: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move from Canada to the U.S.

1. First steps before moving to the U.S.

Visa requirements

Canadian citizens typically don’t need a visa to visit or study in the U.S. when coming directly from Canada. If you fly to the U.S., you will need a passport, and if you enter by land or sea, you will need WHTI-compliant documents.

However, some Canadians, such as those planning to immigrate, fiancés/fiancées, or investors, do need visas. Canadian visitors are usually allowed a stay of up to six months, in case you want to stay longer or change your plans, you should contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service before the initial six months expire. It’s important to meet the requirements for your stay and the purpose of your travel right from the beginning.

Finding a job 

To find a job in the U.S. you can also search for job opportunities in advance from Canada through online job portals and networking. Begin by securing the necessary work authorization, then tailor your resume and cover letter to the U.S. market. 

When you are in the U.S. you can also use online job search platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor to identify potential positions. Additionally, network within your industry and research prospective employers.

Getting there 

Moving from Canada to the U.S. can be done by several transportation options. By air, a direct flight from major Canadian cities to major U.S. cities can take anywhere from 1 to 6 hours, depending on your departure and destination points. 

Alternatively, you can opt for a road trip by car, which can vary significantly in duration based on your starting and ending locations. For example, driving from Toronto to New York City could take around 8 to 9 hours, while traveling from Vancouver to New York City can take 40 to 45 hours by car. It’s advisable to plan your move carefully and consider researching an international moving company to assist with the logistics and coordination of your relocation.

What should I look for in a cross-border moving Company?

If you’re planning a significant move, such as relocating from Canada to the U.S., it’s crucial to ensure you select a trustworthy moving company. Here are a few key factors to investigate when choosing among international moving companies.

Are Your Movers an Established, Experienced Moving Company?

Naturally, you want the best movers to assist you, but excellence isn’t achieved overnight. It takes years of refining, staff training, and learning from trial-and-error. Opting for experienced movers ensures they possess the knowledge of rules and regulations for international moves. They are likely to have the necessary licenses and paperwork. Furthermore, established international movers often have extensive networks across North America, making your move more streamlined and secure.

Is Damage Insurance included with the Moving Services?

It’s crucial that your movers offer damage insurance, and most licensed companies provide this coverage. When requesting your quote, be sure to obtain a comprehensive understanding of their insurance policy. The international moving process involves multiple stops, and there’s a possibility of slight damage occurring during transit.

Several international moving companies specialize in cross-border moves. Some movers worth considering include Atlas Van Lines, MoverOne International, to name a few.

Should I Drive or Ship My Car from Canada to the U.S.?

If you own a car, you’ll face one of three decisions: sell your car before moving, drive it across the border, or ship it. If you have a newer model you’re willing to part with, the choice is clear. However, if you want to keep your car, the decision can be challenging.

Driving into the U.S. yourself might provide peace of mind, but it can come with unexpected costs if you don’t manage your fuel efficiently, and you could potentially experience breakdowns without assistance. In our opinion, it’s often easier to find a trustworthy car shipping company to ensure a smooth and comfortable move while your car is in good hands.

Must dos before your arrival 

Moving to the U.S. is an exciting and life-changing adventure, but thorough preparation is essential for a smooth transition. Here are some crucial steps to take before your arrival:

  • Make your travel arrangements and ensure you have all required documents for entry into the U.S., like the necessary visa or immigration status for the move, considering options like work visas, family-sponsored visas, or student visas.
  • Inform Canadian authorities of your intention to move and fulfill any necessary obligations or paperwork.
  • Notify institutions of your change of address, such as banks, government agencies, and subscriptions or memberships.
  • Research the cost of living in the U.S., including housing, groceries, transportation, and healthcare, to budget accordingly.

Employment Sponsorship

The first thing you need to figure out is the reason why you’re moving to the U.S. This will determine the immigration process you will have to follow. If you’re moving for the purpose of working in the USA, you’ll have three main categories to choose from. In most cases, your employer will sponsor you for a visa, which would allow you to live and work in the country. Acquiring the appropriate immigration employment authorization means you need to be approved for one of the following three items:

Depending on the conditions you meet and the duration of your intended work in the US, you will be issued one of these documents.

Business and Investment

If you’re moving to the US to start a business or invest in the country, you will need to acquire either a Business Visa or an Investor Green Card. There are various types of business and investor visas, both temporary and permanent.

  • Business Visa: is the most common immigration document for individuals who wish to start their own business in the US or invest in one. E-2 and EB-5 are the most popular programs, especially among Canadian entrepreneurs.
  • Investor Green Card: While not all of these will turn into resident green cards, the one that provides you with the best chance is the EB-5 Investor Visa.

Family Sponsorship

Canadians can acquire a permanent resident green card through marriage or by being an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. The steps you need to take to apply for a Green Card will be specific to your situation.

Each of the immigration options highlighted above has different application requirements. Additionally, when you are moving, you will need to provide proof of identity. If you are traveling by air, you will need a valid passport or a NEXUS card to enter the USA. However, if a person or family is entering the USA via road or sea, they are required to present a Canadian passport along with at least one of the following documents:

  • NEXUS Card.
  • Enhanced Driving/Identification card.
  • FAST Card.
  • SENTRI enrollment cards.

To apply for a visa, please visit the provided link to find out more

2. Upon your arrival in the U.S.

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Whether renting or buying, plan your housing ahead, based on location, amenities, and budget.
  • Explore health coverage options, including private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and specialized plans for Canadian immigrants, ensuring your well-being in your new home.
  • To get a Driver’s License, each state may have specific requirements and processes, so it’s essential to check with your state’s DMV or equivalent agency for detailed information on how to obtain a driver’s license in your specific location.
  • Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood; learn about your neighborhood and note emergency contact numbers for safety.
  • Arrange communication services; consider securing a cell phone and internet plan.

Find a home 

If you haven’t secured lodging prior to your arrival in the U.S., your first step upon getting there should be to contact a real estate agent to assist you in quickly finding a place to live. You can also explore various websites, such as Zillow and Realtor, to help you find your new home.

Housing prices in the U.S. have been increasing yearly. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the median home sales price in Q2 2023 is $416,100. The typical home value is higher in states like California, Columbia, and Hawaii, while the most affordable options are found in Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia.


When moving to the US, obtaining health coverage should be one of your top priorities. To enroll in a coverage program, you must live in the United States, be a citizen or national (or be lawfully present), and not be incarcerated.

In the USA, healthcare services are primarily provided by private companies, with the government having little to no involvement except in exceptional cases, such as disability, unemployment, or living close to or below the poverty level. Citizens are responsible for managing their own well-being.

Several healthcare programs are available for residents of the USA to choose from or utilize, including:

  • Private medical insurance.
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare

As a Canadian immigrant, we urge you to get insured as soon as possible. As a new immigrant, you can consider New Immigrants Health Insurance. These will include companies such as Sirius International, Seven Corners, and Lloyd’s Of London. Additionally, you can opt for a Short Term Health Insurance plan that will provide temporary coverage while you travel to and settle down in the US.

As a Canadian immigrant, we strongly encourage you to secure insurance as soon as possible. New immigrants can consider options such as New Immigrants Health Insurance, provided by companies like Sirius International, Seven Corners, and Lloyd’s Of London. Additionally, you can opt for a Short Term Health Insurance Plan, which offers temporary coverage while you settle down in the US.

Setting up your cell phone 

You can choose between postpaid and prepaid plans. Postpaid plans require paying for the service at the end of each billing cycle and come with a contract for a specific time of use, along with associated fees. Prepaid plans, on the other hand, necessitate upfront payment, have no credit check or contract, and are an excellent choice for those looking for budget-friendly options.

The best cell phone carrier to choose depends on your specific needs. There are plenty of options, but the major carriers are Verizon, which offers the best coverage in rural areas, AT&T, renowned for the best 5G coverage in cities, and T-Mobile.

Getting a driver’s license 

In most American states, you need your Social Security Number to apply for a driver’s license. We recommend that you bring all your identification documents with you, including your passport, foreign driver’s license, a birth certificate, as well as proof of your legal immigration status. For information on obtaining your legal driver’s license and other related details, please visit this link.

Here you can find some examples of how to notify your city DMV of an address change:

Home and Auto Insurance

Moving to the USA will also require you to consider home and auto/car insurance. When we talk about auto/car insurance, it is a plan to cover the cost of damage that your vehicle or you may incur in the event of an accident. While it won’t cover the full cost, a significant portion will be taken care of. Several factors define or affect your insurance plan, including:

  • Car’s model and make.
  • Age and gender of applicant.
  • Marital status of applicant.
  • Credit history.
  • City and neighborhood.

Although auto insurance is mandatory in most states, the enforcement of insurance requirements varies. Different types of auto insurance include:

  • Liability coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Collision coverage.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage.
  • Comprehensive coverage.

Home insurance, on the other hand, is not as compulsory as auto insurance but is still considered important, much like health insurance. It provides protection against damage or loss. If you have a mortgage on the property, it’s likely you already have insurance. Home insurance protects your personal property and home against damage or loss. It also offers protection to the homeowner in case someone is injured while on their property.

Setting up a bank account 

Financial access for immigrants is crucial when moving to a new country. Immigrants often rely on these financial services to send remittances, cash checks, and pay bills. The first step you should take is to open a bank account with both a USD (U.S. Dollar) account and a CAD (Canadian Dollar) account. While the specific documentation requirements can vary between banks, you will generally need two things:

  • An I.D. number.
  • Proof of your identity and address, typically satisfied by providing a government-issued photo ID.

3. Best places to live in the U.S.

Best places to live in the U.S.

The United States is celebrated for its cultural diversity, with cities and regions offering a wide range of backgrounds and lifestyles. This diversity influences where you might choose to live, but the best places to live depend on your individual preferences and needs.



San Diego, CA

Offers a relaxed pace of life with beautiful weather and a coastal location.

San Francisco, CA

Known for its tech industry, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and vibrant arts scene.

Seattle, WA

A hub for technology and innovation, surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital, rich in history, museums, and political activity.

Boston, MA

Renowned for its universities, historical sites, and vibrant sports culture.

New York City, NY

A global cultural and economic epicenter with endless opportunities and attractions.

Setting up home services 

When moving to the U.S., it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the different utility providers and decide which ones are best for your needs. Some well-known utility providers include Duke Energy, Exelon Corporation, Domino Resources, and Southern Company.

Next, you’ll need to determine which internet and cell phone providers suit you best. Here are some options:

  • Xfinity: Available in 21 states across the U.S., Xfinity offers internet speeds ranging from 15 Mbps to 2 Gbps, with prices starting as low as $35.00 per month.
  • AT&T Internet: As the oldest and most trusted telecom company in the U.S., AT&T offers packages with internet speeds of 100, 300, and 1000 Mbps, all starting from $30.00 per month. You can also bundle your plan with DirecTV to save more money.
  • Verizon Fios: As the first provider of fiber internet to households, Verizon Fios keeps it simple by offering three internet-only plans. These plans cost $24.99, $44.99, and $64.99 per month, providing speeds of 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 1 gig, respectively.

Should you rent or buy?

If you’re moving to the U.S., it’s important to understand that living costs can vary significantly by state. Some of the most expensive states, such as California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, have home prices ranging from $600,000 to over $700,000. States like Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and New Jersey offer homes priced between $500,000 and $600,000, according to Zillow.

The cost of your rent can have a substantial impact on your overall living expenses. Many people choose apartments due to their relative affordability. You can find available apartments by browsing online listings on websites like Rent.com or apartments.com.

4. Cost of living in the U.S.


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($63.46 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Where should I get food, alcohol, and different amenities in the U.S?

Since this will be a completely new setup for you, at MovingWaldo, we have compiled a list of places where you can shop for groceries, alcohol, and other amenities. The U.S. is home to numerous grocery store chains with franchises in nearly all states, ensuring you have access to these stores around the clock. Some of the well-known options include:

  • Kroger
  • Whole Foods
  • Wegmans
  • Save Mart

In addition to grocery stores, major hypermarket and warehouse chains like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot are also available. These stores are excellent for purchasing necessities such as toiletries and home essentials. Besides everyday items, you can also buy alcoholic beverages like beer at your typical grocery store. The regulations surrounding the purchase of alcoholic beverages vary by state, but, in most cases, you can buy a variety of alcoholic beverages at general stores and liquor stores. This differs from Canada, where alcohol sales are typically regulated by the government.

What Can I Expect Moving from Canada to the U.S.?

Moving to a new country can be daunting and stressful. However, the effort is well worth it because the United States is a place where dreams can come true. You can look forward to many opportunities and meeting friendly people who are willing to assist you when you encounter challenges. Getting organized and preparing in advance will make your move to the U.S. a much more enjoyable adventure.

5. The weather in the U.S.

The weather in the U.S. varies widely due to its diverse geography. Winters (December to January) are cold in the north with snow, while the south and west are milder. Spring (March to May) sees thunderstorms and rain. Summers (June to August) are hot and humid, especially in the south and southwest, but cooler in the north. Fall (September to November) brings cooler temperatures and beautiful foliage.

It’s advisable to check local forecasts before your move, as weather can vary.

6. What to do as a local in the U.S.

As a U.S. local, there are many activities to enjoy based on your location and interests in this diverse country. You can explore national parks like Yellowstone in Idaho, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or Yosemite in California. Visit historic landmarks and museums in major cities, such as Independence Hall in Pennsylvania, the Statue of Liberty in New York, or the White House in Washington, D.C.

Attend cultural festivals, savor the diverse culinary scene, from bagels to pizza, and visit food markets like Chelsea Market. Join community events, watch the NFL and NBA if you’re a sports fan, or enjoy camping and fishing if you’re a nature enthusiast. The U.S. also offers a vibrant arts and music scene with live performances, such as Coachella in California and Lollapalooza in Illinois, as well as art exhibitions in many cities. 

Activities for locals can vary significantly from one region to another, ensuring that you will never get bored!

7. Fun facts about the U.S.

  • It’s the only country to have every type of climate, from deserts, mountains, forests, to coastlines. 
  • Home to the world’s most iconic national parks: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite.
  • Silicon Valley, California, is a global tech and innovation hub, housing many major companies.
  • While English is the most widely spoken language, there is no federal official language in the U.S.
  • Niagara Falls, on the U.S.-Canada border, is among the world’s most famous waterfalls.
  • Home to some of the world’s most famous amusement parks: Disneyland, Disney World, and Universal Studios.
  • The cheeseburger was first served at a restaurant in Pasadena, California, in the late 1920s.


Moving from Canada to the United States offers an opportunity to experience the distinct charm of this neighboring country. The U.S. stands out with its captivating blend of diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant urban lifestyle.

As you plan your move, consider reaching out to international moving companies to make your transition smoother. The United States is ready to welcome you, offering a one-of-a-kind blend of experiences where urban energy meets the beauty of the great outdoors. Your next adventure begins here!


Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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