Living in Canada?
Living in Canada
At a Glance:
- Having a car is fairly essential to get around Canada, even if you live in one of the cities.
- Expats living in Canada spend close to half of their budget on rent and utilities.
- Canada has an excellent healthcare system, with the publicly funded health insurance ‟Medicare”.
- Expats should begin to look for a family doctor or general practitioner soon after their arrival.
The high quality of life in Canada is almost proverbial. Ever since the United Nations established their Human Development Index, the country has ranked among the top ten. Moreover, Canadian life reflects the country’s relatively immigrant-friendly policies. Every fifth person living in Canada today was born abroad, which amounts to approximately 6.8 million people.
Besides, there are other definite advantages. As opposed to its southern neighbor, for example, the government provides free basic healthcare to most citizens and permanent residents.
Urban Population and Phenomenal Countryside
Most expats in Canada work in one of the big cities or metropolitan areas. In fact, 82% of the population has settled in urban centers, while the rest of the country is less densely populated. Only 36.6 million people are currently living in Canada with its nearly 10 million km2. Approximately 75% of them live in the south, within 160 km of the US border.
Landscapes range from maritime regions over the Great Lakes, the Prairies and the Rocky Mountains up to the Arctic in the far north. Some of the natural highlights include Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, the Bay of Fundy, and Niagara Falls.
Often Essential: Driving a Car
Soon after arriving in Canada, you will notice that cars are very popular among Canadians and expats alike. Statistically speaking, nearly 8 out of 10 people own a car. After a while, you’ll find out why: in Canada’s rural areas, your “next-door neighbor” or the closest supermarkets are likely to be located several miles away.
Even if you live in a large city, a lot of tourist attractions or recreational areas are only accessible by car. Consequently, expats often choose to buy a car if they have not imported one from home. Car prices are relatively cheap. It may well be your cheapest option to buy a new or used car once you have arrived.
What to Do without a Car
Nevertheless, if you opt for one of Canada’s larger cities, getting around by public transportation is manageable. While Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal remain the only Canadian cities with a subway, most bigger cities have a comprehensive bus system.
Cities in other provinces are best reached by plane. Business trips by plane are a common part of business life in Canada. The country has about 500 airports. The larger passenger airports include Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International, and Montréal-Trudeau International.
You can also benefit from a relatively extensive railway network. However, many use it for the occasional scenic trans-Canada trip rather than as a regular means of transport.
Finding Your Perfect Home
Many expats choose to rent rather than buy a place in Canada. Outside the downtown areas of the large cities, only few Canadians live in apartments. Small houses are the norm. Whether you are renting a house or an apartment, either will be at least partly furnished. Many homes, especially in southern Canada, are equipped with air conditioning. While prices for renting a home vary considerably, an apartment in downtown Toronto or Vancouver is probably the most expensive option you could be looking at.
Homes in smaller towns, also in those surrounding larger cities, are not all that expensive. Utilities are normally not included in the rent. Costs for heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer are particularly high, which is why expats living in Canada spend around 35% to 50% of their budget on rent and utilities.
As there are no or only few restrictions on foreigners buying property in Canada, purchasing a home remains a feasible option. To guard yourself against possible fraud, however, you are strongly advised to contact a consultant accredited by the Appraisal Institute of Canada. Make sure to have a lawyer review all contracts before buying property in Canada.
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