Expats have commented that living in Canada has changed their lives. Modern cities separated by beautiful wilderness; it is the country that has it all. It is frequently in the top spots for ‘best expat country’ listicles and is championed for its quality of education, cost of living and job opportunities.
The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their Global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.
Ranking in 5th place in 2016’s report (out of 149 countries) was Canada. This puts Canada in the top 3%, with its rankings for personal security (2nd place), social capital (3rd) and business environment (3rd) helping it achieve such a positive result. Canada’s lowest ranking was 22, for safety and security. Other thank this slight slip, every other category performed well.
With the ability to buy a large house on a nominal income, friendly locals and a fantastic work-life balance it is easy to understand why many move to Canada. However, how much does it cost to live there?
Canada has the 7th largest economy in the world and most of the businesses are privately owned bar government funded healthcare, transportation and some utility companies. The economy is high developed, diverse, and essentially a smaller version of that in neighbouring America.
The primary foundation for Canada’s economy is foreign Trade, mostly with America. Foreign trade is responsible for approximately 45% of the country’s GDP and free trade agreements between America and Canada has increased by eliminating tariffs. Everyday around $1 billion worth of goods cross the US and Canadian border.
Despite having a small population for its size, the Canadian economy is one of the most prosperous in the world.
The official currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar, usually shown as $ or CAD. Sometimes you will see it represented as Can$ or C$ so it is easily distinguished from other dollar-denominated currencies. Each dollar is split into 100 cents. There are notes in circulation; $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins come as $1, $2 cents (a quarter), 10 cents (a dime), and 5 cents (a nickel).
How to Fund and Secure a Home in Canada
Securing properties in cities can be time-consuming and expensive for expats. Like most cities, metropolitan livings come with a premium price tag. However, utilising a real estate agent can make the process much easier, whether buying or renting in urban or rural locations.
Expats are welcome to buy a home in Canada and many comment that the process is usually easy and no-nonsense. Estate agents in Canada have access to a unique system called MLS – Multiple Listing Service. Around 95% of all properties on the market in Canada are available via this database and it simply is a case of getting together with an estate agent and giving them your requirements. They can then provide you with a list of possibilities and take it from there.
Your agent will then help you liaise with the seller and accompany you to view the property and carry out an inspection. Given the green light, they will then put you in touch with a lawyer and ensure your paperwork is correct.
Alternatively, renting is also a popular choice with many expats. Expats should keep a very close eye on lease contracts as they are followed to the letter. Therefore, once it is signed, the conditions will be legally binding. Tenants will often sign a lease for a year and the monthly rent will include a water charge. Gas and electric, as well as any other utilities, will be paid separately to providers. Two months’ rent tends to be the usual deposit amount required. Expats can either go it alone and browse local ads and online portals for properties or use a real estate agent.
Expat Healthcare in Canada
The Canadian healthcare system is exceptional and on par with the likes of the UK and US. However, whilst Canada offers free healthcare to nationals and expats with residence status, others will have to cover their own healthcare costs if they require treatment.
Although the level of care received in Canada is equal to similar nations, the cost of healthcare is often considered excessive. Canada is the only country in the world whose government-funded healthcare system doesn’t extend to prescription medications. The vast majority of Canadian citizens end up paying full price for their medications.
As medical care is expensive and no subsidised offers are available to expats, those heading to the country will undoubtedly need to invest in comprehensive medical insurance. This means you can have a better handle on costs and not feel you need to decline important healthcare for financial reasons.
Expat Education in Canada
The Canadian government invests heavily into its education system, usually over 5% of its income. Generally speaking, children attend school between the ages of five and 18. However, as the government does not control education on a provincial level, this can vary slightly. For instance, students in Quebec tend to leave school at 17. Due to the local level of education management parents school look into schools before moving to Canada.
Expat parents will not need to worry about the standard of education in Canada as it is similar to that of the US and the UK. A greater benefit, schooling is free for Canadian nationals and legal residents. When joining a school, you will simply be required to show your residency papers. For parents who would prefer their child to attend a private or international school, there are widely available. However, unlike expat countries which lack in educational development, there is little disparity between the calibre of education between public and private schools.
Jobs in Canada for Expats
Skilled foreign workers are welcomed with open arms in Canada. The government are happy to employ expats as they know their expertise will help with the development of the country’s economy. For this reason, there is a multitude of jobs available to expats in Canada, most of them office based. Other industries with a high number of vacancies for foreigners includes catering, production and insurance. Canada somewhat suffers from a lack of candidates from jobs such as project management and engineering. For this reason, a number of expats are often appointment to fill these roles.
There are some roles in Canada where you will not need a permit to work. To see if you match the criteria, click here. If not, you can only work in Canada with the correct permit.
Comparison to UK
The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user-contributed data in regards to Canada. Compared to the UK, the cost of living is slightly lower in Canada.
The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between Canada and the UK. Please note that all Canadian prices have been converted into British pounds.
|Groceries||UK Price (£)||CAD Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|White bread (500g)||£1.00||£1.58||UK|
|Local Cheese (1kg)||£6.25||£6.64||UK|
|Transport||UK Price (£)||CAD Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Utilities (Monthly)||UK Price (£)||CAD Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment||£147.29||£80.24||Canada|
|1 minute of PAYG talk time||£0.13||£0.18||UK|
|Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)||£23.98||£35.06||UK|
|Clothing||UK Price (£)||CAD Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Jeans (Levi or similar)||£62.48||£34.23||Canada|
|Dress (chain store)||£31.24||£24.34||Canada|
|Nike running shoe||£66.04||£57.07||Canada|
|Leather business shoes||£78.92||£69.54||Canada|
|Eating Out||UK Price (£)||CAD Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Fast food meal||£5||£5.17||UK|
|3 course, mid-range, 2 people||£55||£36.05||Canada|