Author Topic: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?  (Read 2044 times)

ctuser1

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There are some well-renowned Canadian universities - e.g. UToronto, McGill etc.

Are they a realistic and "cheaper" option for Americans?

I got thinking about this after a colleague of mine sent his dual citizen son to UToronto. UToronto kinda became even more "prestigious" than it already was after the recent AI/NN boom that had a strong association with it. My impression is that it should add just as much value to someone's resume as an Ivy League. I don't know about McGill *that* much, but that has a very high degree of name recognition as well.

However, their tuition rates seem to be around half that of Ivy's after you convert CAD$ to US$: http://www.planningandbudget.utoronto.ca/Tuition_and_Ancillary_Fees_Cover/tuition.htm

My kids have no "association" with Canada. No dual citizenship etc of any kind, unfortunately! I also don't know exactly what her grades are going to be, and how competitive a candidate she will turn out to be when she is applying for colleges - at least not yet!

Given the tuition for the international students seem to be a lot cheaper than similarly "prestigious" schools in the US - does it make sense to explore Canadian universities for Americans? Do a lot of people do that? Is it feasible?

My DD is a few years away from going to college. I am just speculating at this point, and wanted to figure out if this is even an option worth exploring. Any help/info will be very much appreciated. :-)

Cranky

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How does F/A work for Americans going to school in Canada?
Why do you believe your child will go to one of the top tier schools?

Itís my understanding that the Ivies have excellent F/A. My dd went to a competitive non-ivy, and the f/a was great.

Malcat

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Yeah, I agree with PP, you would have to look at the big picture:

Financial aid
Living costs (Toronto is especially insane)
Travel costs for living far from home

Another thing to consider, the mutherfucking weather. Toronto isn't so bad, but Montreal is absolutely insane in winter and the city isn't great about managing the snow and ice. Someone who didn't grow up in this weather could easily get depressed being stuck in it.

Lastly, the prestige of schools matters most, as far as I understand, in terms of networking opportunities. It's only so useful to have access to top academics in their field in Canada if your kid is planning on staying inside that academic ecosystem. Meaning, unless your kid wants to stay here, what real benefit would they get from studying up here?

Otherwise, at the undergrad level, what does prestige even really matter in terms of career outcomes?

I say this as a Canadian who went to a non-prestigious undergrad school and then to McGill for my doctorate and found the level of education to be identical, but the learning experience at McGill to be generally inferior.

Universities in Canada generally have equivalency, so at the undergrad levels, you can pretty much count on equivalent level of education. It's really only specialized programs or in academic research where schools make much of a difference. Certain schools have programs that others don't, and certain graduate departments have more funding than at other schools, etc, etc, but those differences are really case by case.

If you are serious about sending your kid to Canada, then literally all universities would be great options. The "prestige" of McGill, U of Toronto, Queens, or UBC are all well known here to mean nothing other than name recognition.

ctuser1

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How does F/A work for Americans going to school in Canada?
Why do you believe your child will go to one of the top tier schools?

Itís my understanding that the Ivies have excellent F/A. My dd went to a competitive non-ivy, and the f/a was great.

I don't know if she will be competitive for top tier schools. Not yet at least.

She shows some promises at 12 Y Old, which don't really mean a whole lot since a lot can change by the time she goes to college. However, I want to know what options exist in case she *is* competitive enough for top tier schools.

I am not thinking of F/A right now, because I am assuming she won't get any F/A in any of the top colleges:
1. We'll have enough money in 529s to cover even the most expensive private schools.
2. If she is an "international student" in Canada, then I am assuming no Financial Aid will be available (I'd be happy to learn otherwise).
3. My understanding is that there are few (if any) financial aid available without an "income" consideration. Both I and DW are in software and earn Six Figures - so we are out whenever income threshold comes in. I may not even fill in FAFSA form unless absolutely required.

A "half price top college", if she can get in, may be very interesting. The 529 money can then remain available for graduate studies, or someone else or future generation.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 01:51:34 PM by ctuser1 »

ctuser1

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Yeah, I agree with PP, you would have to look at the big picture:

Financial aid
Living costs (Toronto is especially insane)
Travel costs for living far from home

Another thing to consider, the mutherfucking weather. Toronto isn't so bad, but Montreal is absolutely insane in winter and the city isn't great about managing the snow and ice. Someone who didn't grow up in this weather could easily get depressed being stuck in it.

Lastly, the prestige of schools matters most, as far as I understand, in terms of networking opportunities. It's only so useful to have access to top academics in their field in Canada if your kid is planning on staying inside that academic ecosystem. Meaning, unless your kid wants to stay here, what real benefit would they get from studying up here?

Otherwise, at the undergrad level, what does prestige even really matter in terms of career outcomes?

I say this as a Canadian who went to a non-prestigious undergrad school and then to McGill for my doctorate and found the level of education to be identical, but the learning experience at McGill to be generally inferior.

Universities in Canada generally have equivalency, so at the undergrad levels, you can pretty much count on equivalent level of education. It's really only specialized programs or in academic research where schools make much of a difference. Certain schools have programs that others don't, and certain graduate departments have more funding than at other schools, etc, etc, but those differences are really case by case.

If you are serious about sending your kid to Canada, then literally all universities would be great options. The "prestige" of McGill, U of Toronto, Queens, or UBC are all well known here to mean nothing other than name recognition.

Thanks for the perspective.

I have heard European Colleagues also express bemusement at our obsession over academic name recognition. It seems from your description that Canada is similar in that respect to Europe than US.

Malcat

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Thanks for the perspective.

I have heard European Colleagues also express bemusement at our obsession over academic name recognition. It seems from your description that Canada is similar in that respect to Europe than US.

That's because they don't understand it. The US system is very different, obviously.

I get it, but my point to you is that it truly does not matter within the system up here. So if the goal is just to spend the least possible on a university name, then you will have to look at all of the factors that I mentioned above.

If your goal is for your child to get the highest quality education, then in Canada, "prestige" won't matter.

If your goal is to give your child the best career advantages, then, well, that's complex, but by far, teaching her how to network in order to maximize her education will be critical, which will mean her being educated in the same region where she wants to work is critical.

After my doctorate, I had a laundry list of jobs available to me in Montreal, but when I moved away shortly after graduating, I had to start from scratch.

On that note, you also have to account for the fact that your child has a huge chance of settling down where they go to school if they do in fact learn to network effectively.

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GuitarStv

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Unless things have changed since I was going, our universities charge much more for tuition for foreign students than Canadian ones.  Is it still that much cheaper than a US school?

Malcat

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Unless things have changed since I was going, our universities charge much more for tuition for foreign students than Canadian ones.  Is it still that much cheaper than a US school?

Maybe a US Ivey league

ctuser1

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Yale happens to be the cheapest of the Ivy Leagues, @~ US$68k/year. Other Ivy Leagues are US $70k+/yr. Other good private schools aren't much cheaper.

For comparison:
http://www.planningandbudget.utoronto.ca/Tuition_and_Ancillary_Fees_Cover/tuition/fees1920/Intl_ase1920.htm

International, Applied Science and Engineering tuition is CA $54,430 = US $41549. Add, maybe, USD $12-13k in living cost and it is ~US$55k.

Not quite half, but still cheaper than most Ivy's by 20+%.

International tuition rates *do* mess up my "half cost" plans! 20% is probably not enough of a difference to cross international border.

-----------------------------
State schools in the US are way cheaper! UConn is, I think, around $25k/year or so including room and board. Cost of out of state students is much higher.
If you are particularly mustachian, you can do state schools even cheaper - just do 2 years at a community college and then transfer to the state college.

Sometimes lower ranked private schools will throw in fantastic financial aid package to a competitive student irrespective of family income. e.g. one of my colleagues daughter got a "free" tuition offer from an expensive (but not quite highly ranked) private college. She went to an "out of state" state school paying out of state tuition rates with no F/A.

I did not understand that choice because I did not think the out of state school she went to is worth $180k more than the private college near us that offered her free tuition. That sort of money (or even $300k that Ivy's charge), in our way of thinking, is probably worth it for Ivy's and other name brand schools (e.g. UCB, Stanford), but probably not for a run of the mill state school in the Midwest.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 05:01:18 PM by ctuser1 »

Cranky

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2020, 06:46:25 AM »
Again, my dd went to a school with an annual cost of $60k+ and we paid about $8k/year. The rest was scholarship money, and not need based.

ctuser1

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2020, 02:38:43 PM »
Again, my dd went to a school with an annual cost of $60k+ and we paid about $8k/year. The rest was scholarship money, and not need based.

Can I request you to please share a bit more detail?

How did she get so much in scholarship?
Did she write a lot of essays?

zurberts

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2020, 02:49:31 PM »
I can't speak much for US universities other than to say that some of them are astronomically expensive even compared to top tiered universities in Canada. When I went to school, I went to McMaster University. For me it was a no brainer since my folks lived in the area and offered to cover my tuition. Books and residence would be on me so I ended up having to just pay the book part and staying at home.

UofT, McGill, UBC, and UWaterloo always rank high but where I went never ranked far behind. I did apply and got in but it just made more sense to me graduating debt free. I include the 2020 rankings from MacLeans below. I am not going to oversell where I went to school but what did help immensely is the fact that they offered an internship program. Whenever someone asks me for advice, that is the one thing I tell them - if there is an internship, take it. My dad once told me, get your degree and stick it on the wall. That gets your foot in the door. In 10 years, no one will care which school you went to. Even if you have a local school that has an internship, I would give it some thought. In the end though, if the cost of going to school in Canada is lower, go for it....then again, she may fall in love with it here and not want to come back :)

https://www.macleans.ca/education/canadas-top-school-by-reputation-2020/

Coincidentally, I just finished reading chapter 4 of Jill Schlesinger's book The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money which talks about taking on student debt and has some relevant advice for this conversation being a parent helping their kids out with University planning. If your daughter is 12, it might give you some good nuggets to consider.

Some things she suggests is a middle-of-the-pack school is often a good option when you consider the cost-benefit analysis, she too mentions internships, and parent networks often help their kids get their feet wet in the workforce and is often overlooked as something in their arsenal. She also says for parents not to mortgage their futures paying for their kids to go to school. Overall, I am enjoying her in-your-face perspective on money.

Good luck!

TrMama

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2020, 03:34:45 PM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.

However, U of T is going to be one of the more expensive schools in Canada and is in one of the most expensive cities. If you want to save some cash, send her to a less well know school located in a cheaper city. The Atlantic and prairie provinces will have lower COL and may have lower tuition. An English language school in QC may also be an option. QC has lower COL and the cheapest tuition in the country. If she goes to QC and ends up in a career that requires some sort of professional designation, she'll have to be careful to make sure that designation is also recognized outside QC.

You can use some of the saved cash to buy her good boots, long underwear and a warm coat.

Also, be aware that her US citizenship may make it more difficult for her to work while she's in Canada.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2020, 06:40:41 AM »
My son is at Waterloo now.  One of his dorm mates is from Boston.   Waterloo is cheaper than Harvard even though the guys dad is a Professor there.

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2020, 08:00:16 AM »
My son is at Waterloo now.  One of his dorm mates is from Boston.   Waterloo is cheaper than Harvard even though the guys dad is a Professor there.

Thats surprising only in that I always was in the understanding one of the perks of being a professor was you kids go to college there for free. I know if you go to a Jesuit school any meaningful employee of a University say Like a Marquette can go to either Marquette or another Jesuit school for free. Let me clarify I have been told this by numerous people so that doesnt make it a 100% true I guess.

AMandM

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2020, 08:39:08 AM »
Some US federal aid (loans) is available for study at some universities outside the US, including Canadian ones.
https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/international

When I was at UofT in the 1980s, they gave merit scholarships to international students on the same basis as Canadian ones. That may have changed; in those days, international tuition was higher domestic tuition by a factor of 2, not an order of magnitude.

OP, I would encourage you to consider what you're really after. You seem to be thinking of McGill/UofT as Harvard or Yale at a discount, but that's not really true. No Canadian university is going to give you the same name-dropping brand recognition, especially in the US, and in any case the brand is a pointless goal to be going after in the first place. The networking opportunities will be very different. The actual education received will be very different (possibly better)--Canadian universities require a much stronger concentration of courses in your major than US ones do. The social environment will be different: the student body will be much larger and more diverse both socio-economically and intellectually and there won't be the insular four-years-of-subsidised-adolescence atmosphere.

More broadly, don't focus on the Ivies or Ivy knockoffs, because even if your daughter does end up being a contender for them, they may not be what is best for her. She has plenty of time. Let her develop her interests, which may or may not coincide with the kind of resume filling activities that Ivies prize. Help her think about the various benefits of higher education: a credential for a job? Training for a particular kind of career? Furnishing of the mind and spirit? Digging deep into a subject she loves? Making serious friends? Making professional connections? Working to improve a situation or location?  The best kind of college/university, or not going at all, will depend on which of those factors end up being most important to your daughter.

partdopy

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2020, 09:58:38 AM »
Seems like a lot of work.  Many state schools are very affordable and high quality.  I, for example, went to the University of Florida.  In state tuition is $6,300 and its ranked 34th in national universities by US News.

To be perfectly honest I'd suggest looking into your state's universities, or becoming a resident of a different state, and suggesting the student get a part time job.  FWIW, I worked for the university, made ~30k/year and got my tuition covered 100%, there's always that option.

Also, I've never heard of UToronto, so it would definitely not add as much 'value' as an Ivy League degree unless you're applying in the country where it has a reputation.

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2020, 12:19:52 PM »
Unsure if you're only considering Canada. My master's degree (UK school) was dirt cheap (~$10k) compared to US and perceived well by US employers. A former work colleague is getting a second degree in the UK too (much more affordable in her experience). My neighbor's daughter is at a university in Amsterdam. International schools can be a heck of a lot cheaper than US.

marcus_aurelius

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2020, 02:13:26 PM »
Thanks for starting this discussion. With 2 boys (currently 14 and 11), this is something we think about a lot. When we start seriously looking at colleges, we will add some Canadian (McGill, Toronto, British Columbia, and possibly others) and UK schools (Oxford, Cambridge) to the mix. We visited Oxford and Cambridge some years ago when we were traveling and loved them both.

Added bonus of UK schools is that a Bachelor's degree takes 3 years, and an integrated Master's takes 4.

Malcat

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2020, 04:44:52 AM »
Thanks for starting this discussion. With 2 boys (currently 14 and 11), this is something we think about a lot. When we start seriously looking at colleges, we will add some Canadian (McGill, Toronto, British Columbia, and possibly others) and UK schools (Oxford, Cambridge) to the mix. We visited Oxford and Cambridge some years ago when we were traveling and loved them both.

Added bonus of UK schools is that a Bachelor's degree takes 3 years, and an integrated Master's takes 4.

I'm going to repeat myself: if you are seriously considering Canadian universities for the sake of a high quality education for a lower price, then don't get sucked into name recognition because it does not matter for undergrad here.

Those schools you mentioned are in very very high cost cities and in many ways offer a poorer student experience than the smaller, more undergrad focused schools that are typically located in smaller, infinitely more affordable towns.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2020, 06:22:11 AM »
It really depends on what you are studying.   I am a Toronto grad of a small faculty professional program.   It really built my network for staying in Toronto.   If I wanted make a big name I needed to get my career going in the states with a big name firm or prestige grad school turn.

My son choose Waterloo because of the coop program.  Six opportunities to work at different companies before graduation.   Everyone I know who attended had a much better idea of what type of work they wanted to do when they graduated.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 06:26:40 AM by Frugal Lizard »

AMandM

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2020, 06:28:14 AM »
I'm going to repeat myself: if you are seriously considering Canadian universities for the sake of a high quality education for a lower price, then don't get sucked into name recognition because it does not matter for undergrad here.

This is so true.  It's hard for Americans to appreciate, because in the US there is a huge gap between the quality of education at the best and the worst 4-year schools. In Canada that gap is negligible.

And in the US there's negligible difference in the name value of different Canadian universities.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2020, 07:00:42 AM »
I'm going to repeat myself: if you are seriously considering Canadian universities for the sake of a high quality education for a lower price, then don't get sucked into name recognition because it does not matter for undergrad here.

This is so true.  It's hard for Americans to appreciate, because in the US there is a huge gap between the quality of education at the best and the worst 4-year schools. In Canada that gap is negligible.

And in the US there's negligible difference in the name value of different Canadian universities.
And Americans don't realize how small Canada's population is overall and all our universities are publicly funded/regulated. 

And FYI re McGill and Montreal weather....I would have totally gone to McGill if they had my field of study.  Why?  Montreal is the best city to live in.  Amazing arts, culture and food.  Hard to work in as an illiterate French speaker, but man, it is beautiful and fun. And way more affordable than Toronto or Vancouver.  You buy good boots and a coat and you acclimatize to the weather.  It is way less cold than Chicago and less miserable rain/freezing rain than Ottawa.

Dicey

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2020, 07:26:04 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?

Sibley

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2020, 08:08:24 AM »
Why are you so worried about sending your kid to an Ivy league or equivalent? At the undergrad level, chances are they'd get a much better education at a smaller school where the professors actually teach, vs being packed into classes of 200+ and being "taught" by grad students. And that's completely separate from the apparent epidemic of depression, anxiety, and general inability to function that I keep hearing about.

I worry that you need to take a step back and think about your assumptions and beliefs about higher ed in general, never mind if US or Canada or another country makes sense.

GuitarStv

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2020, 08:38:34 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?


Winnipeg.  You should definitely plan a warm weather trip to Winnipeg in January.  :P

Malcat

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2020, 09:00:35 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?


Winnipeg.  You should definitely plan a warm weather trip to Winnipeg in January.  :P

Fuck yeah. Great idea!

Dicey

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2020, 10:15:31 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?
Winnipeg.  You should definitely plan a warm weather trip to Winnipeg in January.  :P
Fuck yeah. Great idea!
I was born at night, but not last night ;-)

Edited to un-bury my response.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 11:17:55 AM by Dicey »

TrMama

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2020, 10:26:26 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?


Winnipeg.  You should definitely plan a warm weather trip to Winnipeg in January.  :P

Fuck yeah. Great idea!

*snirt*

Canadian Hawaii is Victoria, BC. We have palm trees. In true Hawaiian fashion it *may* snow 1-3cm next week. This has prompted much hand wringing and the local Navy base *may* shutdown if there'e enough snow.

Dicey

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2020, 11:23:17 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?


Winnipeg.  You should definitely plan a warm weather trip to Winnipeg in January.  :P

Fuck yeah. Great idea!

*snirt*

Canadian Hawaii is Victoria, BC. We have palm trees. In true Hawaiian fashion it *may* snow 1-3cm next week. This has prompted much hand wringing and the local Navy base *may* shutdown if there'e enough snow.
I suspected as much. Dicey has a secret side gig of coaching mustachians who are shopping for houses. As such, I've been analyzing options in that area for a couple of years and learned a bit about the area. Mostly that it's beautiful, but still probably way too cold in winter for this California girl's thin blood. Possibly in summer, too, but I'm a sucker for a fabulous view.

BTW, that particular house hunt was a success, I'm happy to report.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Are Canadian universities a realistic and Mustachian option for Americans?
« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2020, 11:12:16 AM »
When I was in school I only had one US classmate. She was here a) because it was cheaper and b) because she was from Wisconsin and our school was in the "Hawaii" of Canada. Ironically, she was thrilled not to have deal with snow.
Off topic, but where is this "Hawaii" of Canada?


Winnipeg.  You should definitely plan a warm weather trip to Winnipeg in January.  :P

Fuck yeah. Great idea!

*snirt*

Canadian Hawaii is Victoria, BC. We have palm trees. In true Hawaiian fashion it *may* snow 1-3cm next week. This has prompted much hand wringing and the local Navy base *may* shutdown if there'e enough snow.
I suspected as much. Dicey has a secret side gig of coaching mustachians who are shopping for houses. As such, I've been analyzing options in that area for a couple of years and learned a bit about the area. Mostly that it's beautiful, but still probably way too cold in winter for this California girl's thin blood. Possibly in summer, too, but I'm a sucker for a fabulous view.

BTW, that particular house hunt was a success, I'm happy to report.


I was thinking Vancouver but it was 3rd on the list

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS847US847&ei=pA8aXuCTCPG7tgX6xb_QAw&q=Which+city+has+the+best+weather+in+canada&oq=Which+city+has+the+best+weather+in+canada&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0j0i22i30.24203.33903..34307...2.2..0.366.7124.6j33j5j3......0....1..gws-wiz.....6..0i71j0i131j0i67i70i256j0i67j0i362i308i154i357j0i131i67j0i70i249j33i160.uonjLLjCWhU&ved=0ahUKEwjg9ajJkvzmAhXxna0KHfriDzoQ4dUDCAs&uact=5