Canada remains a popular destination for expats from all over the world. Drawn to the safe and economically sound environment, many look to Canada as a solid option for career advancement and a great place to raise a family. While there may be some drawbacks, the vast majority will agree that the advantages of living in Canada far outweigh the disadvantages. Below are some of the pros and cons that expats may experience living in Canada:
+ PRO: Multicultural society that is welcoming to immigrants
Canada has long been a welcoming country for expats wanting to forge a new life abroad. The government’s comparatively open immigration policy is widely publicised, and the country itself was initially built by immigrants; at one point, one in six Canadians was born outside of Canadian borders. Similarly, skills shortages in many industries continue to emphasise the need to attract foreign workers to the country.
Expats relocating to Canada can thus expect to find multicultural communities accustomed to interacting and integrating with those from abroad; a point that can make a big difference in initially becoming comfortable in one's new environment.
+ PRO: A strong employment market
Canada’s approach to immigration is nothing new – however, what has changed over the past few years is the state of the rest of the world. While many Western nations have suffered their worst unemployment in decades and taken a firmer stance against immigration, Canada continues to welcome new arrivals.
The result of this has seen scores of people re-evaluating their positions, not only because of the great lifestyle a move to Canada will offer but because of necessity. While unemployment continues to grow elsewhere, Canada remains largely unaffected. Thus, expats who have the skills and experience behind them will find that the economic climate in Canada can potentially be more welcoming.
- CON: The weather
Because of the sprawling nature of Canada’s landscapes, the climate is incredibly varied. Despite the country's awe-inspiring natural beauty, some expats may be put off by the freezing winters. Expats may spend a good few months tramping through heavy snows, shovelling driveways and driving on dangerous and icy roads, depending on where they reside. Nevertheless, Canadians don't let the weather stop them from enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle and many sports from ice-hockey to skiing are popular winter pursuits.
Houses and buildings are engineered to withstand the climate and many cities also have special under- or over-ground enclosed walkways so that individuals can freely move around despite the cold.
The flatlands of the prairie regions often receive some of both the mildest and harshest weather in the country. The nature and form of this terrain mean it absorbs the currents and strong winds of the Canadian Arctic. Both the west and east coast enjoy milder climates but also endure more rainfall.
+ PRO: Excellent healthcare
Canada offers an affordable and high-quality healthcare system known as Medicare. All citizens and permanent residents are entitled to health insurance that ensures access to free healthcare. Each province differs in what is covered by Medicare, with dentistry and optometry usually excluded, and thus most Canadians also have private health insurance to cover these costs. Individuals are free to choose their own doctor or health service provider, but wait times for certain procedures can be frustratingly long.
- CON: High cost of living
The high cost of living may come as an initial shock to new arrivals in Canada. Canadian cities regularly rank amongst the world's most expensive for expats. Vancouver and Toronto are the two most costly, with Calgary trailing not too far behind. Accommodation will leave the biggest dent in one's budget, especially for those moving to Vancouver, which has the reputation of being the least affordable city in North America in terms of property prices relative to earning power.
Taxes are high in Canada, and expats may see a large percentage of their salary going to both provincial and federal taxes. Nevertheless, the reward for this is excellent public service delivery and access to world-class universal healthcare and free education.
- PRO: Safety
Canada has a reputation as an incredibly safe destination, and expats won’t need to be overly concerned about their state of security while living here. Crime rates are generally low, even in major cities, and there is little threat from terrorism or civil unrest. The Canadian police are professional and well-respected and carry out their duties timeously and efficiently.