Author Topic: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)  (Read 8107 times)

nkt0

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Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« on: August 02, 2018, 07:12:11 AM »
Hey,

For various reasons, my SO and i have decided to attempt to immigrate from the US to Canada. I would love to hear from the MMM community about the pitfalls of such a move and generally whether this is a positive step from a frugality and FIRE perspective or a step back. I'm really interested to hear from people who have done this or seriously considered it and backed out. 

We are currently living in Philadelphia and are targeting either Montreal or one of several non-Toronto cities in Ontario. I intend to keep my job with an American company and work remotely. My wife is an author and we have a limited liability partnership in the US to publish her work. We also own a piece of a house (the bank owns the rest via mortgage).

Thanks for any advice, well wishes, facepunches or other thoughts! :D

Freedomin5

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2018, 12:43:21 PM »
Can’t speak to the details of immigrating to Canada as an American (we immigrated over 30 years ago), but Ontario is great. Note that you will likely have to move several hours drive out of Toronto to get cheaper housing. For example, my mom lives 1.5 hours north of Toronto, and 1-bed 1-bath condos are still around $400-$500k (Cdn). We have a cottage 3.5 hours north of Toronto, and a small old house there would cost you around $250-$350k. Cost of living up in cottage country (Muskoka region) is cheaper — we lived up there for a month this summer and spent approx. $2000/month for a family of three. Winter will likely be more expensive due to increased heating costs.

Montreal housing has been doing well since Vancouver and Toronto started taxing non-resident purchasers 15%. What would you do with your US house? Sell?

Long story short, it is totally possible to stay frugal and FIRE in Canada (Ontario).

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2018, 12:51:04 PM »
What would you do with your US house? Sell?

Initially we plan to hold on to our US house in case things don't work out or we hate it. We also might use it to escape winter. Depends on if we can convert it into a break-even part-time rental.

We don't plan to buy in Canada right away until we find a long-term place we want to be.

AMandM

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2018, 01:10:33 PM »
Have you done any research to see whether you would be *allowed* to immigrate to Canada from the US? Generally, unless you a refugee or have a family member in Canada to sponsor you, I believe you have to come to work there. That work can be self-employment, but I think it has to be based in Canada. So you may need to move your LLC and reincorporate in Canada.

I'm a dual citizen and my American husband attempted to immigrate to Canada about 19 years ago (so rules may have changed). He couldn't get a permanent resident card without a permanent job offer in Canada, for which his employer would have had to demonstrate that there was no Canadian suitable for the job. I also had to guarantee that he would not receive any government assistance for at least ten years, and would have had to back up this guarantee by a supporting him financially if he had needed assistance in those ten years.

Or he could have invested two million dollars that we didn't have in a Canadian enterprise. But I think that option is gone: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/immigrant-investor-venture-capital.html

As a Canadian permanent resident, you will have to pay federal and provincial income tax on your income. Unless you formally revoke your US citizenship, you will also owe federal US income tax on income over the exclusion level if it's taxed at a lower rate in Canada.

Finally, if you're considering Montreal (which I totally understand, it's my native city), be aware the Quebec has several of its own immigration programs.

Bonne chance!

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2018, 01:21:22 PM »
Have you done any research to see whether you would be *allowed* to immigrate to Canada from the US?

Yes, i have done a lot of research on immigration policies and we should qualify for both Canada federal immigration and Quebec. A lot has changed in the past 19 years regarding immigration policy in Canada and things are a lot more open than they used to be.

And if they don't let us in, then so be it. But we are trying to gather as much information as we can while assuming they will! Mostly i'd like to hear about weird financial stuff that i need to think about, especially since i'm simultaneously trying to FIRE while doing this. I realize this will be a costly setback, but we've made that decision for our long-term future.

I've read in other threads about differences in Canadian retirement programs, savings, and other currency-related issues. I'd love to hear more about them if people have thoughts!

nereo

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2018, 01:28:56 PM »
Hey,

For various reasons, my SO and i have decided to attempt to immigrate from the US to Canada. I would love to hear from the MMM community about the pitfalls of such a move and generally whether this is a positive step from a frugality and FIRE perspective or a step back. I'm really interested to hear from people who have done this or seriously considered it and backed out. 

We are currently living in Philadelphia and are targeting either Montreal or one of several non-Toronto cities in Ontario. I intend to keep my job with an American company and work remotely. My wife is an author and we have a limited liability partnership in the US to publish her work. We also own a piece of a house (the bank owns the rest via mortgage).

Thanks for any advice, well wishes, facepunches or other thoughts! :D

HI nkt0.  We recently spent over 6 years living in Canada (Quebec) and just moved back to the US to pursue some job opportunities here.
First off there's the question about how easily you can gain a visa to live permanently in Canada - which is not the same thing as having permanent resident status or citizenship.

Also be aware that there's no such thing as "Canadian" universal health care; nor will you automatically qualify for "free" health care just by living in Canada.  Each province has their own health care system, and there are different rules and standards governing each.  Consequentially you'll need to plan buying health care insurance, at least until you qualify for your provinces' health care card.

As for living in Canada as an ex-pat, it can be a wonderful place to live, and in many ways it is very similar to life in the US.  BUT - there are some differences, and those differences can range from quaint to irritating.  A lot of your happiness will depend on your mindset of how you deal with these differences.

Taxes and cost of things - you will need to file taxes in BOTH the US and Canada, though if you meet the bona-fide resident test or the physical presence test any income earned in Canada will be exempt from US taxes up to about $108k/year.  Because you said you will be keeping your US job that income will be considered US income, though under certain circumstances you will have to pay Canadian taxes on it as well.  Sales tax is very high compared to the US; 15% in Quebec and 13% in Ontario. Even labor is taxes in Quebec. Broadly speaking many of your everyday items will be 10-30% more expensive than in the US, including groceries, cars, airline tix and fuel, though there are some categories that are cheaper.  There's also much lower consumer choice in most stores compared to the US, and Amazon.ca doesn't carry nearly the diversity of products you get stateside.

Politically there's a much greater spread among the political parties here than there is between the Dems and GOP in the US. Overall I'd consider the political center of Canada to be quite a bit to the left of the political center of the US, and the NDP is quite a bit to the left of the progressive wing of the Democratic party in the US. And of course there's the Bloc Québécois always threatening succession. If you live in Montreal you can get by without speaking any French, but government services will be primarily (and often exclusively) available in french, and you miss out on a lot of cultural interaction if you never learn the language.  Even if you are fluent in French there's a cultural barrier between those that speak english (termed 'anglophones') and the self-identified 'Quebeçois'.

Compared to the east coast cities can seem super far apart, with lots of wilderness in between. This is something we loved about Canada (access to relatively undeveloped land just a short drive from a major city) but it also means what people consider an 'acceptable driving distance' for a vacation is vastly different.

hope that helps to get you started.  Feel free to ask targeted quesitons and/or PM me
~n~

meghan88

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2018, 01:35:38 PM »
Here's another vote for Montreal instead of Toronto, for all kinds of reasons.  But keep in mind that the winters are more brutal in Montreal than they are in Toronto.  Making up for that is:  somewhat cheaper housing, a MUCH, MUCH more beautiful city, vastly superior public transport, better restaurants, better cycling infrastructure, richer history and culture, fewer random shootings, better hockey team ... and on and on.

If you're looking at southwestern Ontario, IM me and I'll give you the lowdown ... suffice it to say that when we FIRE in a year, we are back to Montreal. 

Can't help much with the legalities, but good luck.

SunnyDays

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2018, 09:59:46 AM »
If you are both not reliant on a particular location for work, why don't you consider cheaper areas of the country, like the maritimes or prairie provinces?  Not only less costly, but also more relaxed.

nereo

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2018, 11:27:37 AM »
...absurd construction

I think "absurd construction" is apt :-)

TrMama

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2018, 11:36:29 AM »
the hospitals *shudder* although they are being fixed,

The medical system in Quebec was awful. In fact it's the single reason I won't move back there, which is a shame because I loved everything else about it. Insane waits, condescending doctors and treatment protocols 20 years behind the rest of the developed world. They still insist on taking kids temperatures rectally for goodness sake.

FIRE@50

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2018, 11:39:56 AM »
So much talk about Visas, healthcare, and taxes. I'm here for the maple syrup insight. Is that like a national secret or something?

Freedomin5

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2018, 12:01:07 PM »
Maple syrup is a given. I mean, what else do you put on pancakes, French toast, and waffles that even compares to maple syrup? There is no need to talk about maple syrup.

Also, ice wine from the Niagara region (Niagara-on-the-Lake) is another thing that we just accept to be the best.

nereo

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2018, 12:18:40 PM »
So much talk about Visas, healthcare, and taxes. I'm here for the maple syrup insight. Is that like a national secret or something?
70% of the worlds maple syrup comes from Quebec, with much of the remainder coming from Ontario and New Brunswick (the rest comes mainly from NH and Vermont). You can buy it for about $10CAD a liter (about $7.50USD per quart) and it is wonderful stuff.

most Americans outside of new england never put real maple syrup on their pancakes, mostly because its so damn expensive most everywhere else (costing easily 2-3x more than what you can buy it for in Quebec).  In my informal survey of people from the south, I'd say fewer than 50% had ever even tasted real maple syrup, instead using things like "Aunt Jemima" or "Log Cabin"- which are artificially flavored corn syrup died brown.

GuitarStv

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2018, 12:28:05 PM »
Old Thyme, Aunt Jemima, Mrs Butterworth, it's all awesome.  I prefer artificially flavoured corn syrup dyed brown on my pancakes to real maple syrup . . . which I believe is technically a form of high treason in this country.


:P

damyst

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2018, 11:41:35 PM »
I work with a number of Americans who live and work in Canada long-term. They were advised not to touch Canadian tax-advantaged savings arrangements (RRSP, TFSA etc) with a ten foot three metre pole before seeing an accountant.

Both the U.S. and Canada are very serious these days about preventing tax evasion, and unfortunately this tends to entangle cross-border taxpayers in complicated paperwork, even if they do everything above board.

Altons Bobs

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2018, 12:20:14 AM »
Have you done any research to see whether you would be *allowed* to immigrate to Canada from the US?

Yes, i have done a lot of research on immigration policies and we should qualify for both Canada federal immigration and Quebec. A lot has changed in the past 19 years regarding immigration policy in Canada and things are a lot more open than they used to be.

And if they don't let us in, then so be it. But we are trying to gather as much information as we can while assuming they will! Mostly i'd like to hear about weird financial stuff that i need to think about, especially since i'm simultaneously trying to FIRE while doing this. I realize this will be a costly setback, but we've made that decision for our long-term future.

I've read in other threads about differences in Canadian retirement programs, savings, and other currency-related issues. I'd love to hear more about them if people have thoughts!

Can you share how you're going to accomplish moving to Canada please?  I've done some research as well because I'm interested in moving to Canada, but without a company sponsoring you or a family member or investing millions and creating jobs for Canadians, what are the ways you're thinking about using to move there? I'm genuinely interested.

lizzzi

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2018, 06:36:21 AM »
PTF

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2018, 06:37:46 AM »
Can you share how you're going to accomplish moving to Canada please?  I've done some research as well because I'm interested in moving to Canada, but without a company sponsoring you or a family member or investing millions and creating jobs for Canadians, what are the ways you're thinking about using to move there? I'm genuinely interested.

I'm applying under the Skilled Worker immigration program. You need to score 67+ points in six different categories including education, age, work experience, language proficiency, etc. Once you've entered your profile, provinces can also select you as a preferred candidate, which gives you bonus points. You also get points for having a prospective employer, but you are not required to have a job lined up to immigrate.

There are many other programs available as well, including for investors, self-employed, and Canadian relations. We could also apply under the self-employed program, but i've heard that the wait for that could be multiple years.

@SunnyDays: The reason we're seeking a larger city is because we are comfortable in them. I've lived in Philadelphia, Oakland, and other places, so i understand the pros and cons of big city life. For what it's worth, we are also considering some smaller cities like Ottawa, Kingston, and Windsor. If people have other suggestions, i'd like to hear them.

We're avoiding the maritimes because they are so far from everything. I think we'd be more inclined to go a smaller town in BC than further east.

MrsPB

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2018, 07:34:11 AM »
Canadian here who lives in the maritimes but lived a number of years in Vancouver prior to that. I also emigrated here from the uk via the skilled worker program (did not have a job to come here to)  and then applied for citizenship after 3 years of living here. I love BC and I do miss it, Kelowna is a great choice further  out of the crazily  expensive Greater Vancouver area. We recently visited Ottawa too and I could definitely live there, it’s beautiful and has many amenities and attractions. City status but not huge. Summers are sticky and humid though  and winter is very, very cold there....
The maritimes are far from places but there are good international travel links out of Halifax to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa etc, and the Eastern seaboard of course, and direct flights to Europe in just a few hours. We have nice summers and our winters are not as bad as central/Eastern Canada. Yes, we get snow but we don’t get the crazy cold they get in Ontario for extended periods. Halifax is undergoing major development right now yet it’s still very affordable for housing. I can see it becoming very popular in the next decade or so. Income  taxes  are higher here though so there is that to consider. Overall, we have a lot more house/land for our money and we are close to the largest city in the province and are close to major transport links. Jobs are harder to come by in this region historically  but I do think that will change with the potential growth occurring due to development. That’s just my opinion/speculation based on what I have seen happening in the past few years here!

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2018, 07:47:35 AM »
@MrsPB Thanks for the note about your experiences in various parts of Canada. We're not too interested in the inland places in BC and can't afford Vancouver. I would say that the maritimes are a possibility except that my SO is afraid of being too isolated. My sister-in-law lived in Halifax for a while and really didn't like it, so she warned us off of that place. It may be worth a visit, though, to assess it for ourselves.

Ottawa is on our list, too, but i literally know nothing about it and no one that lives there. Same with Kingston, which is i think a little more desirable from our standpoint because it is on a Great Lake (we're Great Lakes Midwesterners by upbringing).

MrsPB

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2018, 08:01:17 AM »
What kind of pasttimes do you enjoy? That might swing a region/city for you. Also, if you have kids or are planning to, there are wild variations in the costs of child care to consider.

MrsPB

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2018, 08:05:38 AM »
It has taken me a while to settle in Halifax for sure as we knew no one here and I left my job in BC to move here for SOs job. Halifax definitely doesn’t have as much of a cultural mix as other canadian cities  but even in the past couple of treats, I’ve seen that shifting and more international immigration occurring which is good. I moved to Vancouver without knowing anyone either and settled there more quickly but it was at a different time in my life where I had more social flexibility (pre-kids!)

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2018, 08:49:17 AM »
@MrsPB We are not having children, which has been part of the struggle to meet new people. When you're in your 20s, it's easy, but once you get into your 30s and 40s, if you don't have kids, you become more and more outcast.

As far as what we like to do: movies, (inexpensive) theater, (library) books, urban wandering, hiking day trips, weekend car camping, free stuff outside, board games with friends.

freddyottawa

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2018, 10:17:50 AM »
I can't give much insight into anything other than Ottawa as its the only place i've lived in Canada since moving here 12 years ago from the UK.

Ottawa isn't a massive city by any means but I honestly would not live anywhere else at this point. I love living here. It has everything you need. About an hours drive to the US if you want to travel down there. Ski resorts within an hour in pretty much every direction in the winter.

Thanks for the National Capital Commission (NCC/CCN) and the city itself there are alot of parks and one of the best cycle friendly infrastructures I have used outside of Europe. I use it most days for travelling to and from work.

Its for sure humid in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter but that is somewhat part and parcel of living in Canada. I love getting outside whatever the weather and embrace the sometimes extreme temperatures.

just be aware come February each year the chances of being able to see out of your driveway as you back your car out are likely to be very low because the snow banks will be in the way :)

Shinplaster

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2018, 04:44:44 PM »
Ottawa (lived there decades ago) is great to live in, not so fun to work in if you don't speak French. 

Kingston is a lovely little town.  We lived there back in the 80's, and I'd go back in a heartbeat.  Affordable, easy to get around, good medical, and the lake is never far away.

Have you thought of London or Kitchener/Waterloo?  London (where we are now) is affordable and close to the border (an hour to Port Huron, Michigan) and 2 hours to Toronto.  University town, good medical, horrible transit service. We are scheduled to get high speed rail by the mid 2020's, which will make going back and forth to Toronto a lot easier.  KW is bigger and more expensive, with a lot of tech industries and Waterloo University.  There are lots of things to see and do in SW Ontario, and beaches and cottages on Lakes Huron and Erie.  Lots of small towns nearby have theatre groups, as do London and KW.   Winters are unpredictable - either masses of snow, or freezing cold, or none of the above - you just never know.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2018, 06:03:17 PM »
As far as what we like to do: movies, (inexpensive) theater, (library) books, urban wandering, hiking day trips, weekend car camping, free stuff outside, board games with friends.
You have British Columbia written all over you.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2018, 06:24:51 PM »
You have British Columbia written all over you.

Yup come on out to the Best Coast! ;)

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2018, 10:18:17 PM »
You have British Columbia written all over you.
Yup come on out to the Best Coast! ;)

If we could afford it, we would!

Aminul

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2018, 11:50:24 AM »
I'll give another vote for the consideration of London (or surrounding communities).  There are some nice paths for biking/walking in the city.  Some forested trails just outside of the city, and two great lakes within a short drive (Huron is nicer!). 

Off the board suggestion:  Windsor, ON.  Okay, it's probably not as nice as London but you're a tunnel bus ride away from all of the big city amenities in Detroit.  The housing is cheaper in Windsor and the waterfront is gorgeous!

Full disclosure:  I live in a small community between London and Windsor so I'm entirely biased towards this area.

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2018, 06:49:07 AM »
Off the board suggestion:  Windsor, ON.  Okay, it's probably not as nice as London but you're a tunnel bus ride away from all of the big city amenities in Detroit.  The housing is cheaper in Windsor and the waterfront is gorgeous!

Thanks for the suggestion, @Aminul. Windsor is actually on our short list. Being from the upper Midwest, it's very close to our hometown, so that's a plus. Unfortunately we know no one that lives there and everyone we've talked to says bad things about Windsor. That usually makes me more inclined to check it out. :D

FIPurpose

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2018, 07:10:51 AM »
Posting to follow mostly.

I've thought about trying to immigrate to Canada on and off. Likely by taking on some work tours in the Northern parts of the country to get a foot in the door. But I think if I were to settle somewhere it'd either be Victoria or PEI. But when you compare the diversity and expanse of the US, I'm sure I could find a similar type of city in the US.

I'm curious if anyone here has any info on Quebec City. I've heard it's mostly inexpensive for a Canadian city, and I think learning french there would be doable?

nkt0

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #31 on: August 10, 2018, 07:15:46 AM »
I'm curious if anyone here has any info on Quebec City. I've heard it's mostly inexpensive for a Canadian city, and I think learning french there would be doable?

I have ruled out QC primarily because it is 96% french speaking. While i'm okay with learning french, i think the transition would be too difficult for us. But from all accounts it sounds like an amazing city. We plan to visit soon!

I'm a red panda

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2018, 07:23:16 AM »
Our biggest issue has been figuring out how to find jobs.  I would sincerely love to move to Canada. We've done a mock up of the immigration test and score really well (my husband especially due to his French proficiency), but I wouldn't be able to keep my US based job.

Alas, for us it is probably a pipe dream.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2018, 07:27:44 AM »
Our biggest issue has been figuring out how to find jobs.  I would sincerely love to move to Canada. We've done a mock up of the immigration test and score really well (my husband especially due to his French proficiency), but I wouldn't be able to keep my US based job.

Alas, for us it is probably a pipe dream.

If you can get into the country with a work permit our labour markets are pretty tight. As long as you have a decent resume in a field that's not an outlier you shouldn't have a problem getting employed.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #34 on: August 10, 2018, 07:34:23 AM »
Posting to follow mostly.

I've thought about trying to immigrate to Canada on and off. Likely by taking on some work tours in the Northern parts of the country to get a foot in the door. But I think if I were to settle somewhere it'd either be Victoria or PEI. But when you compare the diversity and expanse of the US, I'm sure I could find a similar type of city in the US.

I'm curious if anyone here has any info on Quebec City. I've heard it's mostly inexpensive for a Canadian city, and I think learning french there would be doable?
Do you speak any French already? It's already a hard language to master, and Quebecois is a whole new level. I'd make sure you really want to live there before making an investment in a quirky regional language spoken by fewer than 8 million people.

Our biggest issue has been figuring out how to find jobs.  I would sincerely love to move to Canada. We've done a mock up of the immigration test and score really well (my husband especially due to his French proficiency), but I wouldn't be able to keep my US based job.

Alas, for us it is probably a pipe dream.
Immigration is the hard part. If you qualify for permanent residency that's not contingent on a job offer, you can always move and find a job over there. It's no different than finding a job elsewhere.

nereo

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2018, 07:50:15 AM »

I'm curious if anyone here has any info on Quebec City. I've heard it's mostly inexpensive for a Canadian city, and I think learning french there would be doable?

Lived in QC for 6 years, and leaving was bittersweet. Yes daily life there is in French, and there's a tightly knit Quebeçois culture that's not terribly inclusive to those who were not born into it. But the city is beautiful, bikeable with a clean and extensive bus system. It has a good restaurant scene and the top end restaurants are shockingly affordable compared to other large metro areas. Taxes are high but so are the services - it seems like every weekend there was some free public event to explore, and just 30 minutes from downtown you could be in any number of wilderness areas with moose and wolves and bears.
There's no better way of learning a langugage than complete emersion, but you've got to want to learn it, and not surround yourself with other english speakers day-in-day-out. And you'll be learning Quebecois french, which has its own accent and slang from french-french.

FIPurpose

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2018, 08:02:24 AM »

I'm curious if anyone here has any info on Quebec City. I've heard it's mostly inexpensive for a Canadian city, and I think learning french there would be doable?

Lived in QC for 6 years, and leaving was bittersweet. Yes daily life there is in French, and there's a tightly knit Quebeçois culture that's not terribly inclusive to those who were not born into it. But the city is beautiful, bikeable with a clean and extensive bus system. It has a good restaurant scene and the top end restaurants are shockingly affordable compared to other large metro areas. Taxes are high but so are the services - it seems like every weekend there was some free public event to explore, and just 30 minutes from downtown you could be in any number of wilderness areas with moose and wolves and bears.
There's no better way of learning a langugage than complete emersion, but you've got to want to learn it, and not surround yourself with other english speakers day-in-day-out. And you'll be learning Quebecois french, which has its own accent and slang from french-french.

I learned Portuguese in Africa when I lived there for 6 months. I think I would take a similar route: take intensive French classes for about 2-3 months, try to have a unique interaction 1-2 times per day. Maybe even if it's not a permanent thing, it would be interesting to take a work break to live there as a transient for half a year. (Not sure if that's allowed lol)

FIPurpose

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #37 on: August 10, 2018, 08:04:10 AM »
That's also a part of what would keep me from Montreal or parts of New Brunswick: there would be just enough English to keep me lazy. Or too many bilinguals to allow for full immersion.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2018, 09:07:33 AM »

Our biggest issue has been figuring out how to find jobs.  I would sincerely love to move to Canada. We've done a mock up of the immigration test and score really well (my husband especially due to his French proficiency), but I wouldn't be able to keep my US based job.

Alas, for us it is probably a pipe dream.
Immigration is the hard part. If you qualify for permanent residency that's not contingent on a job offer, you can always move and find a job over there. It's no different than finding a job elsewhere.

I think we'd both be okay to find jobs if we were already able to get into the country; but the best I can tell, we can only get into the country if we already have jobs.

Sadly the "my great-great-great-grandfather helped found Montreal" route doesn't seem to work. He's got a statue and everything!

TrMama

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2018, 01:16:25 PM »
the hospitals *shudder* although they are being fixed,

The medical system in Quebec was awful. In fact it's the single reason I won't move back there, which is a shame because I loved everything else about it. Insane waits, condescending doctors and treatment protocols 20 years behind the rest of the developed world. They still insist on taking kids temperatures rectally for goodness sake.

Yeah...I spent two years at the Montreal General....
um...no thank you.


I'm curious if anyone here has any info on Quebec City. I've heard it's mostly inexpensive for a Canadian city, and I think learning french there would be doable?

Lived in QC for 6 years, and leaving was bittersweet. Yes daily life there is in French, and there's a tightly knit Quebeçois culture that's not terribly inclusive to those who were not born into it. But the city is beautiful, bikeable with a clean and extensive bus system. It has a good restaurant scene and the top end restaurants are shockingly affordable compared to other large metro areas. Taxes are high but so are the services - it seems like every weekend there was some free public event to explore, and just 30 minutes from downtown you could be in any number of wilderness areas with moose and wolves and bears.
There's no better way of learning a langugage than complete emersion, but you've got to want to learn it, and not surround yourself with other english speakers day-in-day-out. And you'll be learning Quebecois french, which has its own accent and slang from french-french.

This is accurate. Not sure if it applies, but Québec City is also very family friendly.

However, you'll always speak French with an accent and with therefore always be treated as an immigrant. Even though I was nearly perfectly bilingual when we lived there it's not just the accent that keeps you from being fully accepted. You'll have not-quite-Québecoise views and mannerisms that'll give you away. I was totally OK with that and it didn't bother me. However, many of the other expats I was friends with were really bothered by it.

Learning French there is doable if you don't also have a day job. DH tried to learn French while we lived there (his job was all in English) and had a really hard time. Most classes run during the day. It took him over a year to find an evening class that actually ran. Several are advertised, but then don't run because not enough people sign up for them.

There's also a big enough English speaking population there, that you can be lazy about language if you really want to. They even have an English hospital. Actually, I really recommend the English hospital because it has much shorter wait times than the others.

FIPurpose

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #40 on: August 11, 2018, 06:02:56 AM »
French is a brutal language to learn, especially if you are going to need it for work, and especially if you expect to be able to write it. There are many native French speakers who can’t write it at a level that would be professionally acceptable. It really is a remarkably challenging language.

DH and I both grew up in Quebec and have studied French since early childhood and have kept up practicing it, and we’re still nowhere near fluent and would be utterly hopeless writing it. I studied Spanish for a year at 30 and dated someone from Colombia for 6 months and felt more confident in Spanish than I ever have in French. French is special, so be careful if you are making a plan that depends on learning fluent French or any formal writing.

That's interesting, and I wonder why that it is.

I would say Portuguese is probably closer to Spanish than French. Portuguese has very easy pronunciation rules, (though the dialects between Europe, Africa, and Brazil are very different). And the number of exceptions to rules or special verbs is relatively low.

What makes French especially difficult? The more complex pronunciation? A high number of irregular verb conjugations (or at least it felt like that the one college class I took). Or is it the Quebecois dialect itself? Or maybe they just make you feel worse for not being perfect in the language. The Portuguese people that I talked to were always pleasantly surprised to see an American who could speak Portuguese (though some thought I was just faking it from Spanish.)

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #41 on: August 11, 2018, 07:23:28 AM »
French is a brutal language to learn, especially if you are going to need it for work, and especially if you expect to be able to write it. There are many native French speakers who can’t write it at a level that would be professionally acceptable. It really is a remarkably challenging language.

DH and I both grew up in Quebec and have studied French since early childhood and have kept up practicing it, and we’re still nowhere near fluent and would be utterly hopeless writing it. I studied Spanish for a year at 30 and dated someone from Colombia for 6 months and felt more confident in Spanish than I ever have in French. French is special, so be careful if you are making a plan that depends on learning fluent French or any formal writing.

That's interesting, and I wonder why that it is.

I would say Portuguese is probably closer to Spanish than French. Portuguese has very easy pronunciation rules, (though the dialects between Europe, Africa, and Brazil are very different). And the number of exceptions to rules or special verbs is relatively low.

What makes French especially difficult? The more complex pronunciation? A high number of irregular verb conjugations (or at least it felt like that the one college class I took). Or is it the Quebecois dialect itself? Or maybe they just make you feel worse for not being perfect in the language. The Portuguese people that I talked to were always pleasantly surprised to see an American who could speak Portuguese (though some thought I was just faking it from Spanish.)

yes, yes, and yes.
French (in general) is difficult to learn for native english speakers for all the reasons you listed.  There are so many irregular verb conjugations that the 'rules' for conjugating anything are only vague guidelines. Two of the most common verbs (être and aller) are highly irregular.  Verbs also have 8 (?) different tenses which are all commonly used.  Like other romance languages all nouns have a gender, but unlike in Spanish where words that end in "o" = masculine and words that end in 'a" are feminine, there's no apparent rhyme or reason for french. As an english speaker I found it very difficult in distinguishing 'la' (feminine) from "le" (masculine) at conversational speed, and any time its pluralized ("les") you have no way of knowing the gender.

Unlike Spanish or Italian, you don't pronounce every letter - particularly towards the end of a word. Practically speaking this means that I had absolutely no idea how to spell commonly used words (e.g. "d'accord").  In Spanish I can read anything out-loud (even if I don't know what all the words mean) - in French I often can't pronounce unfamiliar words.

Because there's a shared linguistic and cultural history, there are a number of words that seem like they should match up but don't (faux amis).  Location is a good example: in english it means 'where you are" while in french it refers to a rental (like a car rental). It leads to some pretty comical situations.

Then of course there's the dialect - almost any course you can take or software available teaches you Parisian french, but there's a ton of slang and anglocisms. This is true of course for any language, but much of what i tried to learn on my own was useless in Quebec, and many of the words that they use everyday are not found in traditional french/english dictionaries.

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #42 on: August 11, 2018, 01:48:06 PM »

It took until I was 30 to realize that “actuellement” doesn’t mean “actually” but instead means “currently”

FML

Same in Portuguese actually. (Lol)

Atualmente vs na realidade

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2018, 07:33:52 AM »
Off the board suggestion:  Windsor, ON.  Okay, it's probably not as nice as London but you're a tunnel bus ride away from all of the big city amenities in Detroit.  The housing is cheaper in Windsor and the waterfront is gorgeous!

Thanks for the suggestion, @Aminul. Windsor is actually on our short list. Being from the upper Midwest, it's very close to our hometown, so that's a plus. Unfortunately we know no one that lives there and everyone we've talked to says bad things about Windsor. That usually makes me more inclined to check it out. :D

I lived there for three years while going to school, and I know a handful of folks that currently live in/around Windsor.  I really enjoyed my time there.  The riverfront is beautiful and there are trails that stretch from the very east end down to the bridge.  Having the bridge and tunnel there really do connect you to Detroit in a unique way.  It is incredibly easy to go over for a hockey/baseball game.  If you are concerned about Canadian winters, Windsor has it the easiest of any larger city in this area.  When London gets hammered with lake effect snow from Huron, Windsor stays wet and slushy.

For better or worse, city council has poured a ton of money into making Windsor into a "world class destination", specifically around sporting events (hockey and swimming).  I'm sure there are other similar investments that have worked to improve the city for folks coming in. 


Dee

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #44 on: August 15, 2018, 07:46:49 PM »
Chiming in for Ottawa! Though, admittedly, I too am drawn to the Great Lakes. Ottawa's got the Ottawa (or Outaouais) River which is super but...it's no Great Lake. Day trips to Kingston are not out of the question, though the distance does warrant spending the weekend for most folks. Same for Montreal. Closest border into the US is near town of Prescott into Ogdensburg, NY, a little over an hour away by car.

Probably no need for French at all, but you will hear it around you and will have opportunities to learn it if that's of interest.

There are a couple of repertoire theatres (the Bytowne and the Mayfair), lots of bookstores and libraries, lots of easy (flat) bicycling paths (but opportunities for hills in the nearby Gatineau Park).

I'm not sure about Kingston... last time I was there, I visited the (now closed down) Kingston Penn and that has probably (negatively) influenced my view of the place.

I've never been to Windsor. London does have the nice points mentioned above (plus lots of trees!).  If I was moving to Southern Ontario, though, I'd be looking at Niagara-on-the-Lake/St-Catherines/Niagara Falls region. Again, close to the US border (for you, not a consideration for me) but, really, some of the mildest winter in Canada with an early spring and the amazing splendour of the falls themselves (which are even greater than the Great Lakes, as far as I'm concerned).

One option that hasn't been mentioned that may be of interest to Great-Lakes loving people with an interest in a connection to the midwest is Thunder Bay.  I've never been but I've heard lots of good things, mostly about the natural beauty in the surroundings.

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #45 on: August 15, 2018, 09:58:25 PM »
Born and raised in Thunder Bay.  If you like isolation, cold weather for months on end and expensive everything, this is the place.  4 hours to Duluth, Minn., I think 9 hours to Winnipeg, and a very long drive to Toronto.  Said trip in the winter could involve your entire engine freezing up while you are driving - yes, it gets that cold sometimes.  Flying everywhere costs a lot - the airlines don't discount much 'cause they don't have to.   Summertime is very pretty - the lake, the parks, Kakabeka Falls, the Finn restaurants, camping, hiking, all that good stuff.  Winter time is another story - not Hoth (Winnipeg gets the honour of that nickname), but pretty close. It's not as cold as it used to be 30 years ago, but still pretty frigid.   It was a great place to grow up, but I couldn't wait to get out.  I wouldn't recommend anyone move there without experiencing a winter first.   Although I will say they know how to plow streets there, unlike London.  Here they seem to have the attitude that Mother Nature gave us the snow, and she will take it away again eventually.

Funny - I lived in Kingston for almost 8 years, and rarely even drove by the Kingston Pen.  Don't let the Pen colour your opinion of Kingston Dee.  It really was (and hopefully still is) a lovely city.

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2018, 05:40:28 AM »
Thanks and keep the info coming! It's very helpful to have multiple perspectives. I'd like to hear more about living frugally in these places… Do people live without cars? Are there good, free things to do in all seasons?

I'm getting discouraged about the immigration process, though. It seems we are short on points for the federal express entry system, so we're going to have to rely on a provincial nomination, which probably means we are limited to Ontario or PEI. Not sure what the odds of getting a nomination are, but i'm guessing not good. :(

freddyottawa

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #47 on: August 16, 2018, 06:23:07 AM »
I live in the east-end of Ottawa (Orleans) and work west of downtown (Westboro).

I own a car but almost never use it. The bus service is really good and I use my bike for a lot of my commuting (27km) as the cycling infrastructure is great.

You have to try quite hard in this city to live far away from grocery stores, shopping malls and recreation centres.

If you are looking to work locally and are in the tech field then you are likely going to want to live closer to the west-end of the city as that where many of those type of jobs tend to be.


RetiredAt63

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2018, 08:39:12 AM »
Old Thyme, Aunt Jemima, Mrs Butterworth, it's all awesome.  I prefer artificially flavoured corn syrup dyed brown on my pancakes to real maple syrup . . . which I believe is technically a form of high treason in this country.


:P

This is grounds for extradition.  Go back to where you came from, you . . . .

Seriously, all those brands you mention?  I'd rather put something else on my pancakes than those imitations.  Homemade jam, anyone?

Yes, I grew up in La Belle Province.  Maple syrup, smoked meat, bagels, good French cuisine, a civilized attitude towards alcohol consumption.  Good food is taken seriously in Quebec*.   Almost makes up for winter and politics.

*A few years ago a bunch of us went to the Twist Festival in Saint-André-Avellin, which is a small town (population 3,700). We went for lunch at a little bistro across from the Subway.  Potted tomatoes and herbs at the front door.  Lovely lunch, <$15.   We remarked that a town that size in Ontario would never have a restaurant like that.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Moving to Canada (aka I need more maple syrup in my life)
« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2018, 08:53:19 AM »

Because there's a shared linguistic and cultural history, there are a number of words that seem like they should match up but don't (faux amis).  Location is a good example: in english it means 'where you are" while in french it refers to a rental (like a car rental). It leads to some pretty comical situations.


Yep.
Fuck me.

It took until I was 30 to realize that “actuellement” doesn’t mean “actually” but instead means “currently”

FML

"Rampant".  In French it is "creeping".  I think it was Pauline Marois who managed to send totally different messages - she called English in Quebec "rampant" - she meant creeping (sort of like poison ivy or kudzu, you know?) and Anglophones were all going - Rampant?  No way!" because of the different meaning.