Country Guides October 22, 2021

What Should Every American Know When Moving to Canada

Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

For those Americans that want a change but still don’t want to move halfway across the world, there is a simple solution – moving to Canada. America’s northern neighbor has friendly people, excellent free healthcare, highly ranked education institutions, and plenty of job opportunities for expats. It is almost impossible not to get enthusiastic about the Great White North, so let’s go over everything you should know before becoming a Canadian.

When Moving to Canada From the US, There Are a Few Ways You Can Become a Resident

Those thinking about relocation might wonder what are the requirements to move to Canada from the US? Don’t worry the process is not overly complicated. However, long before you start gathering documents for the trip, contact the Canadian embassy and learn about different ways you can become a resident.

Keep in mind that you can stay in CA for six months with just a passport as an American. However, if you want to settle permanently in the Big White North, you’ll need to apply for residency. To put it briefly, CA has a wide range of permanent residence programs, and some of them are:

  • The Experience Class – is one of the fastest ways to become a permanent resident. However, you have to have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience.
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program – is a way to get permanent residency for those that already have a job in CA waiting for them.
  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program – Americans who are professionals and skilled workers can be eligible for this residency program.

All of these programs are applied on a national level, but some provinces still have a saying in who gets to become their resident. That’s why if you are still wondering how to move to Canada from the USA if you are not eligible for the programs above, check Provincial Nominee Programs. You might be fit to apply for some of them.

If you want to learn more about how to move to Canada from the US as a part of the federal skilled worker program, check out the video below.

After Moving to Canada From the USA You’ll Need a New Driver’s License

You already have the answer to the question: Can a US citizen move to Canada, but can they drive there with an American driver’s license? It would be kind of a bummer if you shipped the car and just kept it in a garage, right? Although you can drive around for up to 90 days in some provinces, you’ll still need to get an International Driving Permit or a Canadian one.

So, don’t hesitate to ship your car to CA and enjoy driving around breathtaking open spaces. Also, remember that depending on a province, the requirements for the license change, but no matter where you settle, the document will be issued in English and French.

You might not be moving overseas, but you'll still need a new driver's license

Know the Cost of Living Before Moving From the US to Canada

When preparing to move abroad, one of the crucial things to know that will keep the relocation stress down low is just how much money you’ll require for day-to-day activities. According to the website Expatistan, those that are relocating alone will need on average $2,200 per month. While a family of four will spend around $4,215 for the same time period.

Remember, checking out the average cost of living in CA might not represent the right amount of money you’ll need. After all, not all of us have the same spending habits. Also, the prices might vary depending on where you live. For example, the cost of living in Ottawa won’t be the same as the one in Toronto.

CA might not be the most affordable place in the world, but it is still cheaper than the US

There Are Many Canadian Cities You Can Call Home

CA might be one of the best places to live abroad because of the variety of locations it offers. From urban metropolitan areas to small towns that have around 10,000 residents. If you wish to escape the hustle and bustle of huge urban jungles, there are around 235 smaller towns you can call home. On the other hand, if you are craving the excitement that metropolises bring, there are also more than a few options to choose from.

To make a decision a bit easier for you, we made a shortlist of the cities that expats mostly choose to settle in:

  • Relocating to Ottawa will put you in the country’s capital and its educational hub.
  • Those moving to Toronto will get to enjoy living in the most populous city in the nation.
  • Relocating to Vancouver will land you in one of the most linguistically diverse spots in the nation, so prepare for the culture shock.
  • Move to Montreal if you want to live in CA’s finance, industry, and technology center.
  • Settle in Calgary if you wish to land a dream job in CA because it has the second-highest number of corporate head offices.
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Compare the Cost of Housing in Major Cities Before the Move

We went over some of the most popular locations for expats in CA, and if you still can’t make up your mind about living in Toronto or settling in one of the best Ottawa neighborhoods, we can help you. Check out the table below where we compared housing costs in major Canadian cities.

Location Renting one-bedroom apartment Renting three-bedroom apartment Price per Square Feet to Buy an Apartment
Toronto $1,350 $2,120 $690
Ottawa $1,015 $1,700 $270
Vancouver $1,350 $2,380 $700
Montreal $720 $1,270 $290
Calgary $855 $1,430 $215

All the Residents Can Use Free Healthcare

The average age expectancy in the US is 78.79 years, while in CA, it is 82. That being said, the healthcare in the Great White North is noticeably better than the one we have in the US. Not only that the Canadians spend less per capita on healthcare, but they are performing better for factors such as obesity rates, life expectancy, and infant mortality. This is why CA is one of the best places to live abroad with family or alone.

Another thing you should remember is that the healthcare system here is mostly free. The government funds it, and its official name is Medicare. Also, hospitals here are not state-run. They are only paid by the government. Medicare covers all the necessary medical services, but those are different depending on the province you are living in. However, the health insurance usually covers:

  • Emergency treatments
  • Services that diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses
  • Maternity and prenatal and postnatal care

You Should Consider Additional Private Insurance as Well

Even though the public Medicare covers a lot of services, there are still some things such as dental and eye care that it doesn’t cover. So, many Canadians (around 66% of them) buy additional private insurance. Another thing to consider is group health insurance that employers offer. That’s why before relocating ask the future employer if they offer it because almost 80% of Canadians are on some sort of group health scheme.

You'll need around $65 for a monthly private healthcare policy

You’ll Have Access to the Top-Notch Education Institutions

Those that are relocating with kids or wish to pursue higher education should know that CA is one of the best countries in the world to do so. After all, with a long academic history and highly ranked schools, there is no better choice than the Big White North.

Being one of the most educated countries in the world (according to OECD report), CA has to offer all sorts of public and private education institutions to expats. That’s why, no matter if you are looking for primary, secondary, or high schools for your kids or colleges you can enroll in, you’ll surely find it.

Check Out Some of the Most Affordable Colleges in CA When Moving Abroad

If you want to gain higher education in the US, you’ll need on average $48,500 per year. That’s a lot of money. We can all agree. However, you don’t have to move across the world to get an affordable and yet high-quality education. Just immigrate to CA because the country has some really affordable colleges for international students, such as:

  • Algonquin College – where $9,800 a year will cover tuition and books.
  • Bow Valley College – a school where minimum tuition is $4,890
  • Camosun College – where tuition on average for international students is $5,700
Over 56% of Canadians have at least an undergraduate degree

There Are Plenty of Work Opportunities Waiting for You

You’ll be relocating to the country with the world’s tenth-largest economy, which has a household income well above the OECD average. With such a booming economy largely dominated by the service industry but also by petroleum and forestry, finding work won’t be too hard.

Remember that even though most natives speak English, applying for work in some provinces might require you to learn French as well. For example, those that want to live in Montreal and work there might need to crack a book and break the language barrier since this is the second-largest French-speaking area in the world.

Look for Job Openings in One of Many Multinational Companies

Job hunting in another country might seem scary and time-consuming. However, if you use international moving services combined with professional packing assistance, you’ll have enough time to network and land a dream job.

If you wish to shoot for the stars, apply for positions in some of the largest enterprises that are ranked on the Fortune Global 500:

  • Manulife
  • Power Corporation
  • Magna International
  • George Weston Limited
  • Royal Bank
CA is the perfect environment for career chasers

Canadians Know How to Have Fun

Since CA is the second-largest country in the world (after Russia), its natural richness is almost indescribable. There are mountainous terrains, alpine landscapes, wide forests, and beaches, and truly, CA has everything you can think of when it comes to nature. That’s why it is an ideal place for those that like to explore.

You never get bored no matter where you choose to live. Because there are festivals, museums, bars, restaurants and everything else that you can think of. And then there is unexplored nature where you can hike, bike, fish, or just watch wildlife.

Prepare to Embrace Hockey When You Move to Canada From the USA

Yes, you can still watch basketball, cheer for your favorite baseball team. However, to become a true Canadian, you need to embrace the sport that is the national heartbeat – hockey! And since CA shares seven franchises in the National Hockey League with the US, you can still cheer for your home team (just do it on the down-low when sitting in a group of passionate Canadian sports fans).

When You Move to Canada From the US Welcome Outdoor Adventures With Open Arms

We already mentioned CA’s open spaces, and those outdoor enthusiasts who move here will have plenty of places to see and explore. There are 48 national parks and national park reserves, for starters, covering more than 211,260 square miles of space. In most of these parks, you can play tennis and golf. But also cycle, canoe, and ski. Furthermore, there are close to 31,750 lakes all across CA, so when you want to fish, there will be plenty of places to do so.

There are 561 lakes in CA that have a surface area larger than 62 square miles

Moving Internationally to CA Will Be an Adventure to Remember

Well, that’s it, you learned all the basics about the Great White North. Now it is time to hire an international moving company to assist you in the great task that is relocation. Remember, you might not be moving overseas, but you are still going to another country, so you need all the help that you can get. While the professional movers are handling your belongings, you can take your time looking for a new home and a job. Research the country as much as you can, and when you finally settle in, you’ll already feel like a Canadian.

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