I posted a question to our private expat Facebook group a few weeks ago and I thought some of the responses would be helpful to those thinking about moving or retiring to Canada. If you haven’t yet signed up for our exclusive expat Facebook group please do so here:
Below are some excerpts from the Facebook post that are from individuals that actually made the move to Canada from the US:
Planning for cross-border bank and investment accounts well before you move to Canada is very important:
When I first moved to Canada: believing TD when they said I would be able to open both US and Canadian bank accounts with them once I moved
Less immediately, mostly because I wasn’t sure I would end up staying: waiting a year to start my permanent residency application; not contributing to an RRSP right away; not being more proactive in trying to hanging out with people I met early on to build some social circles.
If you don’t already have a deep network of friends and/or family before you move to Canada planning to join specific groups or communities can certainly help you to integrate quicker:
I’ve been in Ottawa for 4 years. In the first year I met lots of folks through work, some folks outside of that, and got involved in doing improv with the one school here. I feel like I squandered a number of opportunities to make friends because I did not realize that either Canadians in general or Ottawans specifically aren’t particularly forward with asking new folks to socialize or inviting new people into their circles. I’m also 40 so I realize most folks my age socialize via their kids which I don’t have. By the time I realized this, COVID hit and most chances to build that network outside of work, which is now completely remote.
Travelling between Canada and the US for work each day can be stressful and might not be worth the effort. Especially with the current Covid rules:
if I would if known then what the last two years brought I would’ve stayed in the US. I live on a border town, and work in the US. The amount of rules they’ve put in place to deter travel across the two borders to curb the spread of Covid has been ridiculous. I don’t believe it’s helped more than they have hurt the people that have family or work on both sides.
If you plan on working in Quebec or even some Ontario cities like Ottawa learning French certainly gives you an advantage in the job market. It’s likely not necessary for everyday interactions, however for some jobs it may be mandatory to speak French:
Thinking I could learn French and assimilate into a Québécois environment. I’ve just accepted I won’t speak French well with an American accent , I’ll never have a decent job , or find friends and be a weirdo with my American sense of humor
Moving to Canada can not only be an expensive venture but also difficult to manage from a cultural standpoint. Reach out to our members on the Facebook group as many have gone through similar challenges and can be a great resource.
Thinking that because it felt so similar to the U.S., that it wouldn’t be a big deal to move. I have really struggled with immigration expenses, the financial implications of ex pat life, border closures cutting me off from my family, and even subtle cultural differences that have made it difficult for me to make close personal friends. (I have many lovely Canadian acquaintances.)
This is certainly a challenge I’ve heard raised from clients. If you’re planning on bring your car across make sure to do your research. Here’s a good resource that could help.
Not understanding how to export/import our cars before we arrived. It has been an unbelievable hassle-particularly with COVID closing the borders. I wish we had just sold them and bought new ones here-or atleast known to have started the process with title in hand before we left.
I think many Americans that move to Canada, especially if you didn’t previously live in Canada can undergo culture shock. That being said (in my experience) most Canadians are very welcoming to anyone moving from abroad.
The biggest mistake i made upon moving to Canada was opening my mouth and saying something🤭🤫. This brought an immediate long term reaction of “States…eh? Where you from?”
The smartest thing i did then (you didn’t ask about that🧐), i was on a student visa and i immediately enrolled in Canadian history and geography university courses. Within a year i was getting some respect from my buddies because they didn’t realize a “yank” would pay attention to these things…immediately became a hockey fan too, asked my buddies to teach me more about hockey!
I know this from personal experience speaking with my clients. Most of my clients are Americans and I witnessed first-hand how challenging travel became once Covid hit. Hopefully things will improve once we “get over” this pandemic:
Moved there from the USA right before covid. What a dumpster fire for people with cross-border families. We felt so marginalized, and very few people had any sympathy (particularly the politicians) for how much it sucked to be jerked around for so long. No communication on when we would be allowed to visit our families, dealing with a lot of jeering from people who thought Trump dealt with covid too loosely, and getting screwed with all the PCR testing and isolation requirements when the border did “open.” Because of this, we were forced to leave less than 2 years after moving there.
That being said, I loved Canada and miss it. But my family had to come first.