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The American’s Primer on Moving to Canada

So, you have finally made the big decision. Unlike all those other random people online, you’ve made your threat to move and you are actually going to stick with it; it’s a landmark decision for anyone, and I congratulate you on making it. But, if you are in the early stages of this decision, chances are you haven’t done a ton of research on what you’re getting yourself into. Sure, you might have heard that the rivers are made of honey, and that everyone holds hands and sings songs on a nightly basis to the beautiful Canadian sunsets, but do you have any idea what it’s truly like up in the True North? I didn’t think so. With that in mind, here are a few things you should know before making the big move; who knows, you might end up changing your mind in the end (though that is definitely not my goal).

This totally happens, by the way.

“Obamacare” is Not a Valid Reason to Move

Since this is a beginner’s primer, I thought I’d start with something that will get all those internet conspiracy theorists to stay at home. Yes, yes, Obamacare is terrible, and Americans are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from true socialism; but, did you know that Canada has a system that is similar to Obamacare, only more widespread? Yup, Canada implemented Nationalized Healthcare in 1971, way before Obamacare was even an idea. But, before you go crying “socialism” again, you have to think about the benefits. This means that, the moment you become a resident, you will have access to healthcare, without really having to do anything; and this includes if you couldn’t afford healthcare in America. Sure, the taxes might be a bit higher on average, but healthcare is extremely affordable, and you won’t have to worry about being uninsured. Overall, the Canadian healthcare system is a much more sophisticated one than you have in the US, and it isn’t as much of an onus as you might think it would be. Contrary to what you might be thinking, I would argue this is actually an argument for moving to Canada…anyways, moving on.

The Cultures are Different, but Not Incredibly Different

You might think that moving to Canada is like moving to China, or you might think Canada just a strange extension of the Northern United States; the truth is somewhere in-between. There are many key differences between Canadian and American cultures, but there are also a ton of similarities. For instance, Canada—like America—has a love for fast food and unhealthy food, causing them to have a similar weight problem (though nowhere near as bad); however, the realty system is much different, as there’s not as many tax breaks and advantages for owning a house, meaning renting is much more valued in Canadian culture. You will also find that sports are similar but different (Canadians like football, but also curling), and that Canadians are a bit more socialist in leaning than free market (see: Nationalized Health Care and Equalization Payments). So, while moving to Canada isn’t going to be an alien experience, it’s still different enough that I would suggest reading up on it more so you can be prepared down the line; here’s a good article concerning the differences between Canada and American culture.

Renting makes Much More Financial Sense

In America, there are a boatload of tax breaks, incentives, and cultural ideals that make buying and owning a home much more glamorous. How many people have told you that renting is just throwing your money away, and how big of a day was it when you bought your first home? If you’re like most Americans, then the answers are “everyday” and “huge”, respectively. However, though Canadians value home ownership highly, it is a bit different in the True North. There, renting is not seen as money pit, and home ownership is not so highly rewarded as it is in the states. This is partly because Canadians are much more thrifty with their money, and the government tries to set policies to enforce that; the result? You pretty much won’t be able to buy a house unless you can truly afford it, and that’s okay! Renting is perfectly fine in Canadian society and it’s a perfect segue into actually owning a home once you get on your feet and are used to the higher priced lifestyle that Canada provides.

Overall, moving to Canada is a huge decision, and one that should not be made lightly. So take this advice, do a bit more research, and make absolutely sure that this is what is best for you; it never hurts to be cautious when making life decisions. Good luck with your search!

Tyler Fleck is an American blogger who has lived in Canada for several years, and is writing on the behalf of The Chamberlain Group Real Estate Company. For more information on moving to Canada, or to find some houses for sale in Calgary, Toronto, or any other Province in Canada, visit the previously linked website. Thank you for reading!

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