The Pros and Cons of Being an Expat in Canada

Canada is a hugely popular destination for expats. The country boasts a thriving economy and job market, high-quality public services and friendly locals. It also offers residents plenty to see and do, with lots of outdoor activities in gorgeous landscapes, from lakes to mountains.

If you’re thinking of moving to Canada, we’ve looked into some of the pros and cons for expats in the country.

Pros of living in Canada

Multicultural society

One of the great advantages of Canada for expats is that the country already has a diverse and multicultural society. Canada can be very welcoming to foreigners and there is a general attitude that diversity strengthens society. The government also has initiatives in place to actively encourage workers to move to Canada to fill skill gaps in certain industries.

All of this amounts to a welcoming community for expats. Many locals are used to interacting with people who arrive from overseas, which can be a huge help when it comes to settling in and integrating.


Canada offers universal healthcare for its citizens and permanent residents. Their healthcare system is celebrated for being very high quality. Various provinces in Canada will have variations in the healthcare that’s provided, but most include GP visits, ambulance call-outs, emergency care, tests and check-ups.

However, dental work and opticians are not always covered. Plus, one downside to the Canadian healthcare system is that there can often be long wait times. As such, many expats choose to get private international healthcare insurance to avoid these wait times.


Canada has a strong economy and employment market. Most expats find it simple to secure a job in Canada, especially if they have experience in an industry that has a skill shortage.

Canada has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. It’s also a great place to set up a new business, with schemes in place to encourage new ventures.

Low crime rate

Canada is generally seen as a safe country, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Crime is low even in the major cities and most residents report feeling safe and secure. The Canadian police force is respected, responding to issues in good time and professionally.

Still, basic safety rules should be followed wherever you are in Canada. You should always lock your vehicle and property and be careful when carrying valuables around in public

Cons of living in Canada

High cost of living

Canada has a relatively high cost of living, meaning even basic items like food can cost more than most people will be used to. The country is often high up on the most expensive places to live for expats. This is partly due to the country having to pay high import taxes on items that come into the country. This cost then gets passed on to the consumer.

The major cities are usually even more expensive than the rural areas. Taxes in Canada are also high, with a large percentage of salaries going towards both provincial and federal taxes. However, many Canadian residents see this as a fair price to pay for the services they get in return.

Expensive accommodation

Canada has one of the most expensive property markets in the world. This is partly due to a high demand for houses but a shortage in supply. The cities are more expensive than other areas, especially Toronto and Vancouver.

Expats wanting to save money could find it cheaper out in the suburbs or in smaller towns. The downside to living outside the major cities is that employment options are more limited.

Extreme weather

Canada is known for having extremely cold weather during the winter months. The average temperature in some parts of the country in winter is -15C and some places can go as low as -40C.

The further north you go, the colder it can be, and the longer winter will last. Some parts of Canada see the winter season last around 8 months. Extreme weather like blizzards can cause issues, such as power blackouts, regularly throughout the winter. Many locals have their own generator to keep power going through blackouts.

An advantage of the cold weather is that Canada has a vibrant winter sports community, with everything from ice hockey to skiing. Plus, during the summer months, Canada has a warmer climate with average temperatures ranging from 20C to 30C.

Difficult to travel between cities

Canada is the second-largest country in the world and so it can take a long time to travel between cities. For example, driving between Ottawa to Toronto takes around 5 hours.

Whilst the country is full of stunning scenery and landscapes, these can cause a problem when trying to traverse the country. Roads will usually have to go around mountain ranges or large lakes, making the journey even longer. Plus, one road blockage or broken bridge can add even more time to the journey.

If you’re moving to Canada, get your international health insurance from Expatriate Group. We’re dedicated to supporting expats living and working abroad, creating international healthcare plans that suit the different needs of those living all over the world.

Get a quote today or view our international medical insurance plans.

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