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Questions to those who moved to Canada from the U. S.

Questions to those who moved to Canada from the U. S.

May 9th, 2004, 10:29 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 48
Questions to those who moved to Canada from the U. S.

Hi,

I am considering a move to Vancouver as skilled worker class immigration (I'm a software engineer). I took the "self test" and learned that I'm over the passing mark. I will look for a job after I move.

I have several questions to those of you who moved to Canada from the U.S.:

1) How long did it take you to move there? Was it a difficult process?
2) Is the life in Canada much different from the life in the U.S.? Did you experience any "culture shock"?
3) How's the job market?
4) Housing?
5) What do you like the most about Canada? What do you like the least?
6) What do you miss the most about the U.S.?
7) Finally, would you do it all over again?

Thank you. This is such a big decision, so I want to make sure I'm making the right choice. If you have any information to share, I'd love to hear.
Thank you again!
mami is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 10:41 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,184
The job market for software engineers is picking up, but I doubt you will find that the salaries are comparable to US levels. I've met people who have emigrated to Vancouver from other countries who have remained unemployed for months or years, despite being skilled technical professionals, not realizing how difficult it can be to get a job.

Maybe talk to a few recruiters (although I would avoid them generally) to get a feel for the job market.
WillTravel is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 06:10 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1
My husband, children and I just moved to Canada from the USA 3 months ago. My husband is Canadian and I was born and raised in Chicago. We lived in Chicago the first 6 years of our marriage and moved because of his career. We moved back to his hometown which is in the Niagara Falls, Ontario area (other side of the country from where you're considering).
The process has been much more difficult than we imagined. We are dealing with the immigration process for me (ton of paperwork, medical examinations, fingerprinting etc), our cars needed to be inspected and brought to canadian standards, we found that our car warranty was no longer valid because we crossed an international border, banks are a bit leary of giving out large amounts of credit (ie-mortgage) if you do not have a credit history in Canada. These examples are just a few.
EVERYTHING has costed money. In the end everything seems to have worked out but has been a hassle. You have to remember you're crossing an internatioal border.
You will need good movers who have dealt with this type of move. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed when dealing with the border.

You will need to think about Health Insurance until the government covers you here and the immigration process can take a while. Everyone keeps telling me that we will be lucky to find a physician because there's a shortage of doctors.
Although canada is very similar to the USA (many canadians will joke that they're the 51st state) the culture is a bit different. You are moving to a large city vs. the area we live in and so your experience may very well be different. Although we don't live in the middle of nowhere it's very different from the suburbs of Chicago. I miss the conveniences of the USA. I travel over the border weekly to shop. Alcohol, gasoline and taxes in general are outrageous but canadians say that it pays for the healthcare system. Canadian dollar is not as strong as the US. Everything costs more...everything. I still have sticker shock at times.
On the positive side....we live in a nice area and we have a beautiful home. People are nice, crime rates are very low.
My husband and I have discussed the challenges of this move and if we knew then what we know now, we would not have made the move. The process has been more stressful then we imagined and we both miss the conveniences the States has to offer.
Canada's Immigration and Customs websites are good resources. It's best to have everything in order before you make the actual move.
WindyCityGirl is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 07:13 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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HI Mami,

You're moving to Vancouver, which is a whole different ball game from where I moved to, which is Montreal.

I highly recommend finding a job before you make the move. Work permits are available under NAFTA for certain types of skilled worker. Although I was a student at McGill University, I did a post-doc at Johns Hopkins and when I moved back to Montreal, I had a job offer before I moved back. I recently became a landed immigrant; this process took about 1 year 9 months, which isn't bad compared to other countries but it's awhile to wait in limbo. You have to KNOW you REALLY want to be in Canada before you make such a decision; being an immigrant is not an easy plight.

The move was relatively easy for me, as my company paid for the moving trucks (from Baltimore). The movers were slower than they'd promised, delivering my things about 2 1/2 weeks late, but everything came intact(United Van Lines). You'll have to go to a Customs House in Vancouver to sign forms.

When I visited Montreal in 1992, dumb as this might sound, I was surprised and fascinated how French was the lingua franca. I was pleasantly "shocked" at the more European quality of life. Vancouver will be different.

The job market in biotech is pretty good in Montreal, so I feel like if my job goes under I'll be able to find something else. Housing WAS *very* reasonable in Montreal but it's been skyrocketing of late... housing is more expensive in Vancouver. I still think I'll be able to afford something small if I buy in the next year. It's getting harder though, but certainly easier than in some of the big US markets.

I like the greater environmental consciousness in Canada and the generally more liberal mindset (matches me best). "Green" policies get more respect I find, Gay marriage is already accepted in Ontario, Quebec and BC, and laws to protect the worker I find stronger. I find the media less one-sided. I find there's a greater belief in public transit (more of a questioning of the "car-culture" here in Montreal for sure) and more emphasis on buying local/in health-food stores. Things I like least? That some people are always comparing Canada to the States... there's a lot of be proud of here. In the States, I miss my parents.

I have no regrets about moving to Canada and would do it again. That's my 2 cents.

Good luck deciding! I'd definitely recommend spending a week (at least) in Vancouver before making your decision!
Daniel_Williams is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 07:24 AM
  #5  
 
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This is a travel discussion forum, not an immigration discussion forum. If I was to share my opinions frankly, my post probably would be deleted. So I'll try to share my opinions tactfully enough for my post to be left alone.

I'm not American, so I don't know what it's like for an American to move to Canada. However, I have lived in the U.S., so I think I can guess to some extent how an American might find relocating to Canada.

I agree with WindyCityGirl that international relocations are way more complicated, time consuming and expensive than most people anticipate they will be.

Yes, Canada is different from the U.S. You might come to Canada on vacation, notice that we too speak English (sort of ), and see that we too have McDonald's, Sunglasses Hut, The Gap and Holiday Inn. From this you may conclude that Canada is pretty much the same as the U.S.

If one actually lives here for a stretch of time, however, one discovers that there are some fundamental differences between Canada and the U.S. I lived in the U.S. once before I had kids, and then once again with kids. It was when I had kids that I REALLY noticed the differences.

I personally prefer Canada because of the lower crime rate and the supportive infrastructure for people with families (publicly funded vaccinations for babies and various publicly funded services like that).

A person who likes shopping and is used to the range of merchandise in the U.S., however, would be disappointed in the prices and selection available in Canada.

Housing in Vancouver is waaaaay more expensive than it is in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg.

I don't know about the employment outlook for a software engineer in Vancouver. I suspect you'd have a better chance of finding employment in Canada if you were flexible about the location.

I do know that many people who live in Calgary do so because this is where they can get work in their field. (Although Calgary's economy has grown more diverse in the last few years, it's still dominated by the oil industry.)

Many Calgarians would love to have Vancouver's milder climate and be close to the ocean, but the combination of employment prospects, housing prices and general cost of living (lack of provincial sales tax here, etc.), keep them in Calgary.

Another hassle about moving countries is that your tax status becomes much more complicated, and it becomes considerably more time consuming to administer your investments. The Canadian equivalent of an American 401(k) plan is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan. If you do decide to move, I highly recommend you consult an international tax specialist before you do so.

An international move is a great deal easier if it's the result of a corporate relocation, in which case the employer typically provides an enormous amount of support (legal advice, tax advice, real estate assistance, relocation costs, etc.).

If you have some very compelling philosophical reason for leaving the States and independently moving to another country, you may have the motivation to stick it out in Canada.

If you simply want a change of scenery and you like Vancouver's geographical setting, I do not believe you will find the incredible hassle of an international relocation to have been worthwhile. In that case I suggest you relocate to the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Then you can visit Vancouver on weekends and, without the inconvenience of an international migration, enjoy what both the U.S. and Canada have to offer.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 08:13 AM
  #6  
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Thank you all for your helpful replies. I appreciate your generosity in sharing your experiences and opinions. These are exactly the things I need to hear before making the decision.

WillTravel, Daniel Williams, Judy in Calgary, you help me reconsider the idea of moving to Canada without a job. I'm going to start looking into the employment opportunity first and see what options I have.

WindyCityGirl, thank you for sharing your experience. It helps to know the financial impact of moving. I'm surprised to hear that everything costs more in Canada. Somehow I thought Canada was cheaper?

Daniel Williams, say hi to Montreal for me. It's another one of my favorite city.

mami is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 05:34 PM
  #7  
 
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I am born and raised CANADIAN...so my offerings are not re: making the move - however I too have considered Vancouver as a possible place to live and I want to point out that it has been listed as the number one most expensive place to live in all of Canada....that includes Toronto - I know this statement might offend some of my Western Canadian chums (being aghast something more expensive than Toronto) but with all the ritzy houses and big money people in Toronto (not the center of Canada in my opinion) I thought it would be the most expensive - but alas NO - Vancouver!!

When I had dreams of moving to Van. I checked out this website to explore costs of houses www.mls.ca I did searches in all sorts of fab. cities in Canada and wanh - there will be no move to Van. in my future unless someone gets a great job with a house thrown in....boo hoo - just something to bear in mind if Canada is of interest to you...Otherwise I think we are a great country and I would only think that it would be worth the international drive / move to live here - I am maybe a touch biased though....
carib_bean is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 06:48 AM
  #8  
 
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I've known and still know many Americans who have moved to Vancouver. This includes my business partner - an ex New Yorker. Some came as a result of job offers, some as spouses of Canadians and some just because they fell in love with Vancouver. Most of them adjusted very well and all but a very few ended up taking Canadian Citizenship, (though most waited until the US allowed dual citizenship).

Canada is different from the US but less so than any other country on earth and so the chance of culture shock is certainly less than moving elsewhere. Most Americans remain strongly attached and interested in what's happening in the States but of the few dozen, (at least), that I've known only a very few have moved back. One thing I have noticed however is that many of their children, (perhaps over a third), have taken advantage of their parents' dual citizenship and moved to the states at least temporarily.

Finally I also know many Canadians who have moved to the States and I have to say the return and dissallusion rate for them is higher than that for the Americans I know who have moved to Canada. But that's just my personal experiance - I'ld be interested to know what the actual statistics are.
GaryA is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 09:30 AM
  #9  
 
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I agree with Gary. In fact, I have lived in both the US and Canada and have dual citizenship myself (because of my parents). The culture shock in moving from one region to another (say the Midwest to California) is likely greater than the culture shock of moving from Seattle to Vancouver (for example). Vancouver has many, many people who have come from all over the world and adjusted happily.

mami, I think you are wise to look into the job situation first. I think that's the main thing that would determine whether or not you would be happy in Vancouver.
WillTravel is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 12:22 PM
  #10  
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I have and will continue looking at the job opportunity in Vancouver, but I'm not very optimistic that I'll find something anytime soon... It is my understanding that the potential employer has to prove that they couldn't find any qualified candidate in Canada first before being able to issue a working permit to an individual from another country. Right now I just can't imagine lack of software professionals in Vancouver...
I'll keep searching, though, and remain hopeful.
mami is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 06:00 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Would someone please offer some answers that I have? Are the requirements to become a citizen of PQ different in addition to becoming a citizen of Canada? My belief is that it is, for example, mandatory that one be fluent in French to better solidify one's chances of citizenship in PQ.

Do the citizens of PQ pay a higher income tax as well as sales tax-I understand that people in Quebec pay the highest(?) taxes of any province in Canada. Sorry to be so uninformed about these topics.

I am asking here first, before calling my Canadian consulate with additional inquiries.

Daniel Williams, may I ask do you now hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada? You lucky dog; living/working in Montreal-I am wild about the city!

Thank you.
John_W is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 06:36 AM
  #12  
 
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Quebec is a province of Canada just like Ontario and there is no official Quebec 'citizenship'. As in any other province of course you have to establish residency in order to vote in provincial or civic elections but you also need to be a Canadian citizen to vote there.
GaryA is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 07:24 AM
  #13  
 
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John_W and GaryA, I believe you're both partly correct.

While it's true that there is no separate category of "citizenship" for Quebec, it's also true that, if one wants to migrate to Quebec from outside of Canada, one has to go through a two step process in which one has to be accepted first by the provincial government of Quebec and then by the federal government of Canada. Here's a website that explains the criteria for admission into Quebec from outside of Canada:

http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.q...admission.html
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 07:49 AM
  #14  
 
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GaryA-I did not mean to imply that PQ is separate from the rest of Canada, nor is it my intent to go into the separatist movement, which for now seems a dying issue. My beliefs are that there are certain different requirements to become a citizen of PQ, over and above those to become a Canadian citizen.

Judy_in_Calgary, thank you for the link-I will review the information on the website.
John_W is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 08:30 AM
  #15  
 
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Hi John_W,

Yes, in order to become a permanent resident of Canada within Quebec, I had to first apply to Immigration Quebec and get accepted by the provincial immigration authorities(which involved a phone interview to verify the quality of my French). THEN, once one gets one's Certificat d'Acceptation du Quebec, one applies to Immigration Canada to become a permanent resident.

As for your question John, I am not a dual national; for now, I am a US citizen and a Canadian permanent resident.

I too love Montreal and it's always good to hear other's enthusiasm for the city. Cheers! DAN
Daniel_Williams is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 09:34 AM
  #16  
 
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What are you guys talking about? My son moved to Quebec City last year and other than the usual things, (i.e. get a new D.L, medical plan, etc.), I don't recall him telling me that he had to do anything different than when he moved from Vancouver to Toronto. He's also taking intensive French instruction for which he pays a ridiculously low amount and gets unbelievable benefits for. Furthermore 4-5 months after arriving he voted in the Provincial Election. I'll ask him when I next talk to him if I'm mistaken but I don't think I am.
GaryA is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 09:51 AM
  #17  
 
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Gary, as I understand it, we aren't discussing relocating to Quebec from within Canada, as your son did. We're talking about immigrating from outside of Canada.

If a prospective migrant wants to move from a foreign country to any Canadian province or territory besides Quebec, he/she only has to satisfy the requirements of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (a federal government department).

If a prospective immigrant from a foreign country wants to gain entry to Quebec, he/she has to satisfy the requirements of Quebec Immigration Services. If Quebec Immigrations Services deem that the prospective immigrant meets their requirements, they issue a Certificat de sélection du Québec. Only then may the prospective immigrant submit an application for immigration to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

You can check this out at the offical website of the Government of Quebec:

http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.q...ais/index.html
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 10:15 AM
  #18  
 
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OK Judy, you're right - I misunderstood. But I would be curious to know if Quebec rejected any applicants and if so for what reasons and would that then mean they couldn't be accepted to live elsewhere in Canada. And if not then once the immigrant got residence in another part of Canada then what's to stop them from moving to Quebec? Methinks this is just Quebec nationalist spinning of wheels.
GaryA is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 10:43 AM
  #19  
 
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Well, funny you mention this GaryA. I know of people who were rejected by Immigration Quebec, applied later to live elsewhere in Canada, and got accepted by Customs and Immigration Canada to become a permanent resident. These same immigrants then moved to Canada (Alberta in this case). After a few years of living in Alberta, these people found a job in Montreal and are now living in Quebec. So, they did exactly what you mentioned and were legally well within their rights to do so.

These Alberta-traversing (well-educated!) immigrants that I know do not understand French at all, although this may not have been the deciding factor in their getting rejected by Immigration Quebec. My understanding is that with a good knowledge of French, one is more likely to get accepted by Immigration Quebec. I think the reasoning of Immigration Quebec is that immigrants will more likely integrate better into Quebec society with a knowledge of French.
Daniel_Williams is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 11:26 AM
  #20  
 
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Daniel_Williams, Interesting. I was wondering if there was just such a *legal* end-run to gain citizenship in Quebec.

Can anyone address my question re: taxes paid by citizens of Quebec vs taxes paid in the other Canadian provinces (higher income tax, sales tax, provincial tax or are all of these higher in PQ)? This would be another factor (for me, at least) in deciding whether to reside in Montreal. Thank you.
John_W is offline  

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