Every four years a contingent of crybaby Americans led by a cadre of self absorbed loopy celebrity narcissists threaten to move to Canada if their choice for President of the United States is not elected. This year it is the prospect of a Trump residency that is causing the furor.
Here we will try and provide a guide for what those Americans that actually follow through can expect, although, keep in mind that most never do.
Upon first arrival, most will probably feel somewhat comfortable, especially if arrival occurs in the spring and summer months. The prospect of experiencing something new usually keeps people excited and interested in their new environment, at least until the novelty factor wears off and the reality starts setting in. While there are similarities between Canada and the USA there are also significant differences.
Let’s deal with the practical side of things to begin. Firstly, expect to pay a lot more for everything, this includes, but not limited to: food, utilities, rent, real estate in most cases, public transportation, airfare for domestic flights, taxes, cable, cell phones, Netflix, computers and gadgets, clothes, footwear, a Big Mac, you name it. Canada loves to tax their citizens starting with the national sales tax of 5% on top of the Provincial sales taxes. Additionally, there is an income tax on top of the federal tax, some new arrivals may find this galling if they have moved from a state that has no state income tax. The list goes on and on, but suffice to say, that tax freedom day which is an overall measure in the USA, is still months earlier than it is in Canada. Then again, these things only matter to the majority of people, not the mollycoddled celebrity class, Hollywood and the USA are awash with Canadian celebrities that as of yet, have not come forward with similar threats as some of their American counterparts.
Form a cultural perspective, most Americans in Canada should feel relatively comfortable, at least initially. Most of the country speaks English, many retail establishments are US based, US based television programming is widely available and popular with Canadians, so much so that Canada has rules for media to ensure that a percentage of what you see and hear will be of Canadian origin. After settling in, some may start to notice that there are some fundamental differences in the cultural narrative.
For the sake of brevity, we refer to the commonly held axiom that the USA is a melting pot and that Canada is a multi-cultural country. In fact, the current Canadian Prime Minister has refereed to Canada as the first post national state, which is to say that Canada has no defining culture. Also, most will notice over time that in Canada, what many Canadians like to complain about the most are Americans or America. Canadians don’t complain about the high taxes and high prices they have to pay relative to the USA, they just quietly make trips across the border to stock up on food, wine, gas, etc.
Depending on where these new emigrants choose to live in Canada, they will surely appreciate the natural wonders of Canada. Indeed, from east to west – Canada is vast, second only to Russia in land mass. However, most of the population is concentrated in the several larger cities or bunched up within a short distance of the border. With the exception of Quebec, the new arrivals will notice a uniformity that is unlike the USA, which has many states that for all intents and purposes, could pass for different countries they are so different.
From a quality of life perspective, the USA and Canada have similarities but there are important differences. Both the USA and Canada rate relatively high on various standard of living indexes. One thing that most Canadians point to as something that the USA does not do better than Canada is publicly funded universal healthcare. In Canada, depending on where you live, most residents are provided with basic healthcare, but take note that the basic package does not include vision, dental, or prescriptions. For complete medical coverage Canadians have to buy insurance just like in the USA and some provinces are now charging residents monthly health care premiums. Comparatively, Canadians feel that they have a superior healthcare system than the USA, even though wait times for some medical procedures are lengthy. Quebec for example, was recently rated as being in last place for wait times for emergency room visits.
Educational opportunity and quality is similar and post secondary education options that are available are of good quality with several institutions ranked among the best available.
From an investment, entrepreneurial and overall business climate perspective, most will find the two countries comparable, but with the Canadian example generally being more limited and cautious in most areas. Because Canada is rich in natural resources and has a small population, there has been more of an emphasis and dependence on development in mining, oil & gas and energy sectors rather than other cutting edge industries. There has been a recent effort in Canada to diversify into other areas of development such as high tech and alternative energy but there is much work to do, although some progress it seems is being made. Overall, for those Americans that actually follow through on their threat to move to Canada and complete the arduous bureaucratic and immigration requirements that Americans moving to Canada must do, Canada welcomes you and remember, if you get too cold, you can always go south to for a winter vacation just as millions of Canadians do.