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We have an opportunity to move to Canada - is it really a better quality of life?

(14 Posts)
jumpyjan Sun 30-Aug-09 13:03:01

.... or is it a case of the grass is always greener?

Also, where would you recommend? We would want somewhere great for young children, rural but within reach of a city and good for outdoors activites.

Swing between thinking our area of the UK is a great place to live but then feeling a bit depressed about the usual stuff - yobs, vandalism, drinking culture, long term job prospects for DC's etc.

DH could get citizenship as family connection although has never been there (and have no family living there currently).

Would really appreciate comments/advice from those who have done this or have any experience of Canada.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 30-Aug-09 13:10:05

give it a go. We tried the US for 3 years and while I inissted we came home, am glad we tried it.
My brother lived in Toronto and loved it. Canadians are more like Brits I think than Americans are. I have friends in Vancouver too and they love it.

jumpyjan Sun 30-Aug-09 14:24:28

Thanks theDM - from what I have read up on already Toronto looks like a good option and we were wondering about more rural places to live where you could commute to Toronto.

fluffles Sun 30-Aug-09 14:32:06

I think you have to go and visit, i like canada but sometimes it feels too 'american' for my liking - though much less american than the USA obviously.

There was a big difference in 'feel' for me between toroto in the east and vancouver in the west. vancouver is more outdoorsy i'd say (although all canadians are more outdoorsy than most britains).

There's quite a lot of suburban canada around toronto but it's typically american/canadian e.g. not easy to walk around, few pavements, mailboxes at the end of your drive or sometimes end of your road! shopping very 'mall' based (half of toronto seems to be underground). and also don't forget it's FREEZING in winter, really really seriously FREEZING.

Why not plan a holiday there to see (not cheap but cheaper than an aborted emigration!)?

jumpyjan Sun 30-Aug-09 14:47:22

Thanks Fluffles. Yes I think we would probably plan a holiday once we had shortlisted some destinations. Its such a massive thing to move abroad and change everything you have ever known but we keep coming back to it as an option and just don't want to regret missing an opportunity.

vinblanc Sun 30-Aug-09 15:14:52

IMO, Toronto is a big North American city. It has a lot of facilities that you would expect of a major city, such as The Arts, shopping and restaurants.

If you live to the North of Toronto, eg Brampton and beyond, then you will find that you are driving all the time. Distances are far and Toronto is very congested. Everything is geared up for the car, which can make it difficult to be a pedestrian.

I think a pretty good place to live in that area is somewhere like Oakville (2 cities west of Toronto). I would go for South of the QEW where there are more established neighbourhoods, good schools, etc. It also has the GO train to Toronto. If you want semi-rural, then somewhere like Caledon would be a good choice (but you'd be in the car a lot).

It's easy to have a healthy lifestyle in Canada, but that doesn't mean that all Canadians are healthy. A lot of Torontonians put a lot of value in getting out of the city for the weekend, and enjoy spending time in the big outdoors. A lot of people will have a weekend cottage to the north of the city.

They don't seem to have the same problems as we have in schools. Children are generally well-behaved and motivated.

As for weather, if you are in a city, then you just get on with it. They will clear your snow, and you make sure that you have the right clothing. If you live in rural area, they may not clear your snow - and this is a big deal.

Ripeberry Sun 30-Aug-09 15:24:17

I would LOVE to move to Canada, but we don't have the required 'skills' to be accepted and no familly connections.
I've been on holiday there around Banff and the Rockies near Lake Louise.
I felt really at home in Canada and I love cold weather! The people are very friendly and there is less of a gun culture than in the USA.
All the time I was in the USA I was scared about guns.
Also the officials in Canada are much more laid back and human than the Americans.
We visited Niagra falls in May 2001 and decided to go accross to the USA on the 'Rainbow Bridge'.
No signs to say you HAD to have your passport on your person at all times.
Canadian side did not check, BUT at soon as you get on the USA side they frisk you and check your passport....well you can imagine what happened.
I was questioned as if I was an illegal immigrant and told I could not come into the USA...but could also NOT return to Canada.
So I had this stupid situation where I was stuck on No-mans land and had to wait for DH to run back to the car to get my passport.
God, I never felt so lost.
The Canadians let us back accross and agreed that the Americans were a bit heavy handed, but this was all before 9/11 so if I had done it a few months later I would have been in serious trouble shock

jumpyjan Sun 30-Aug-09 15:30:47

Ripeberry - wow that all sounds a bit dramatic! There do seem to be a lot of people like you who would like to move to Candada which makes me think we are lucky to have the opportunity - and should therefore take advantage of it.

Thanks vinblanc - will have a look at Oakville.

The problem is its easy to find out information on cities but not so much on surrounding areas - we would not want to live in a city.

I have been looking at Fredericton in New Bruswick and that looks very much 'up our street'. Anyone know of it?

Ripeberry Sun 30-Aug-09 15:35:53

Go for it, at least in Canada there is space to breathe and real winter and summer! Even the currency looks like Sterling and has the Queen's head (well it did in 2001).
I can't wait to go on holiday again....sigh!

JeMeSouviens Sun 30-Aug-09 15:55:37

We live in Montreal atm. I can say that Quebec is not representative of the rest of Canada, locals also agree.

We do like that it is a smallish city, just the right size for us. Yes, the winters are freezing, but you can dress for it. Although a lot of people hibernate and do things at home, have dinner parties, friends over, as it is quite a hassle to go out. As VinBlanc said, in the city the snow is cleared very quickly. We live in quite a good suburb so ours was always the first to be cleared. We also have suburb security that drive around randomly keeping an eye on things.

I have seen only very rare examples of anti-social behaviour. Probably only 2 in the 17mths since we have been here. One on the metro, a young woman slapped another woman, strangers apparently. But instead of everyone turning a blind eye, a man had a go at the slapper and said he'd call the police. There was no fear of being attacked himself. There are a lot of homeless/beggars here. Downtown, there will be about 3 at least on every city block along the main street. You really have to harden yourself to it, especially in winter.

We find it expensive here. Eating out is cheaper than the UK. Drinks out are more expensive. Supermarket food probably on par, but of lesser quality (we spend about CA$300/week for 2 adults, 1 toddler (not incl nappies or toileteries), although we shop at a Farmers market for meat, fruit, vege and fish. Clothes much more expensive and online shopping is pants. Very little choice in childrens clothing. Overall shopping here I think is not as good. (But again this is all from a Quebec point of view). There is an almsot 15% tax to be added to everything at point of sale, and also adding 10-20% tips on food, drinks in bar (even if you order at the bar!)

Rent is quite reasonable (we have a 4bed apt for CA$1800/mth close to downtown) with heat included, so pay no utilities (only phone/internet/cable which is $160/mth). Fuel is about 1.20/litre at the moment. Owning a house, it can be expensive for municipal and school taxes (council tax). Dependant on area and govt valuation of house.

Also due to the size of the country, we have found travel is expensive. From Montreal we have not found it cheap to leave the country. We are soon moving to a small town in BC, it will be a 17 hour DRIVE to Vancouver. This gives you an idea of the scale of the place.

We are not terribly impressed with life here, although that has been clouded with some ups and downs in our job situation and are hoping for another stint in Montreal after our BC assignment with more firm work which should give us a better outlook.

If we were going to stay here, the main reason would be for our son. It is a great place to raise him and like I said earlier, have not come across much anti-social behaviour here.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed or rambley, have to dash, as 2yo is pulling on my sleeve grin. I hope this is a little useful for you. I forgot to mention the bugs in summer, oh the bugs, how we hate them. They are a scourge. Little bitey black flies

JeMeSouviens Sun 30-Aug-09 15:57:52

on New Brunswick, we were there for a holiday recently. Fredericton is quite small, but overall the province seems nice. But it is very quiet, and very far from civilisation. It was a 10hr drive from Montreal to get to St Johns in NB. I'm not sure where you are living now, but anywhere in the UK is only a few hours from a major city. Not so in Canada.

JeMeSouviens Sun 30-Aug-09 16:05:38

Also forgot to mention the income taxes, they are very high. A colleague became a resident recently and switched to local payroll. While the gross amount looked good, her net pay ended up being 50% of her previous.

vinblanc Sun 30-Aug-09 17:50:08


Have a look at this website for a rural location:

This is a town about one hour's drive from downtown. We have a cottage there.

I'm not particularly recommending this place but it is an example of a rural community within commuting distance of TO, and 20 minutes from the nearest shopping (Orangeville).

jumpyjan Sun 30-Aug-09 18:05:31

Jemesouviens - thank you for some really useful information. It is hard to get my head around the distances in Canada - so different from the UK! Like you, I think our main motivation for going would be for the DC's and what you say about low levels of antisocial behaviour is really appealing. I think that is one of the main things that is getting me down about UK and I live in a reasonably nice village.

Vinblanc - thanks for the link to Caledon - looks like a great place to have a cottage - lucky you smile

Lots to think about.

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