Life in Canada (Anyone From?)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Could any of our Canadian neighbors please give me their version of what life is like in Canada. When one chooses a new neighborhood one would look at price of homes, taxes, schools, local gov't,churches,price of goods locally, crime, etc, etc. Life here in the US is getting scarey,and what is at this very moment happening in Calif is a prime example. Thank you for your time.
-- Patricia and John Raunick (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 31, 2001
Honestly?...well here goes, but remember it's a Canadian perspective. Price of homes...depends whether you're close to a big city or not, and which region of the country. Our little town of 3000 (dying farming town, 15 min. from another pop. 5500, 1 hr. from pop. 125,000) has 4 bedroom houses as low as 21,000 cdn (about half that US). Pretty northern Ontario location, but not much work. Taxes in general higher than US, but prop. taxes will depend on where. Lots of churches with shrinking congregations. Price of goods locally about average, cheaper than large urban areas such as Vancouver, Toronto (where I've also lived). Crime...only in the town 15 min. away. The odd teen joy riding in stolen car, the odd bar fights, occasional B&Es, etc. Keep yourself in the right places, you'd think nothing bad ever happens. Climate (northern Ontario, from east shore of Lake Superior, across northern shore of Lake Huron)...snow comes between mid Nov. and Christmas. Usually stays 'til about Easter. We plant long weekend in May. Although the last few years have been short winters, little snow, very warm, dry summers. Temps from about -20 to +30 Celsius...sorry don't know how to convert to F.
In general, we Canadians spend much of our time talking weather, news, and complain about the government. We obviously have it very good, overall. Except for the large cities, the gun owners are hunters or farmers. And they're not hand guns. Medical coverage is free (in taxes), but the system is ailing since the feds have pulled back too much in it's transfer payments to the provinces, who run the system.
Someone (UN?) has consistently placed us, for several years, as #1 in the world regarding standard of living . I think we may have been #2 on the last list? Personally...I'd never live anywhere else. I have family in the US, have spent lots of time there. Uncle and cousin are cops. They're patriotic, but don't have much good to say about where they live. Hope this helps.
-- Rheba (email@example.com), August 31, 2001.
Yeah, Rheba, the taxes suck but I wouldn't live anywhere else.
-- Alison in N.S. (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 31, 2001.
Couldn't resist answering this thread. We moved here from New York almost one year ago. We are keeping our US citizenship for now, but are in the process of getting our permanent visas. We don't plan to move back to the States ever. I used to be a most patriotic American, but the last ten years or so has ruined that for me. We moved here because my husband was asked to pastor a church in Cornwall, so we didn't need to search all over Canada for that "perfect" spot. (By the way, we are in eastern Ontario; Cornwall is a border town on the St. Lawrence across from Massena, New York.) I don't care for public education in general any where; we homeschool. In Ontario, we are free to homeschool as we see fit; no one to notify, no one to report to. There was a murder in Cornwall a couple of weeks ago; made big news by being a rare thing. Land for sale is plentiful around here. Old farmers are selling off their holdings and keeping just the house and a few acres around it. You can also find land with buildings. It's all really cheap and NOT selling. Some places have been for sale since before we moved here and now and then you'll see "reduced price" added to the for sale sign. We live about 20 miles from the city and are looking at places upwind of the paper mill in Cornwall. There's a huge 5 bedroom house on 100 acres of woods up the road from us for sale at $100,000 (that's about 50-60 grand US). The weather right here is similar to NNY. The temp has gone down to 20-30 below Fahrenheit with snow lasting November to April. (The last little bit of snow melted in our yard April 22.) Most people around here start planting over Victoria Day weekend (3rd wkend in May) but I put peas, spinach, lettuce and radishes in the last of April with no problems. I went against local tradition and people said I'd be sorry, but those plants did okay. I did plant the corn on a warm day (Memorial Day), but the next day it got really cold so it didn't germinate properly. The tomatoes planted in June got hit with frost; I had to replant after losing 75% of the first planting. I should have followed my gut instinct and covered them, but I didn't.
All in all, I like Canada, and am liking it better all the time. Last year we were invited to share in a Thanksgiving Day picnic at Silver Lake Park and really had a good time. Thanksgiving here is in early October and is therefore not all wrapped up in Christmas. There has been the occasional Yankee joke, but after living in Georgia and Texas for nine years, we didn't mind it. Someone said, "You're awfully friendly for an American." And while the other Canadians around this fellow cringed at his remark, I just laughed it off.
Yes, taxes are high, but I'd rather live here than anywhere else.
-- Cathy N. (email@example.com), September 01, 2001.
I believe Canada does not have a national income tax. Therefore, monies to run the government, etc. have to come from somewhere. Same as Tennessee, which taxes just about everything, including groceries. Unlike some other no income tax states (e.g., Florida and Nevada) Tennessee doesn't make much on the tax on tourist dollars spent.
You might want to check on the income tax aspect. Say you are retired. Some portion of it may still be taxable in the U.S.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 02, 2001.
Life is very good in Canada :) We have friendly people, hockey, excellent beer, spectacular landscapes, an abundance of lakes, rivers and forests, fishing and hunting are world class, four seasons, good government, etc. As one poster mentioned, Canada always ranks very high on the "great places to live" list.
-- Max (Maxel@inwindsor.com), September 02, 2001.
About the income tax thing: You pay extremely high sales tax. In the spring, you file a form very similar to the U.S. income tax return. They (the Canadian equivalent of the IRS) estimate what they think you and your family paid in sales tax for the year (no need to save receipts). That is the basis of your return. The thing is, a family of 8 that shops yard sales, thrift shops, and the like, will get back more than it puts in. This is because THEY assume you bought everything new. So I don't complain too much about the sales tax:o)
-- Cathy N. (email@example.com), September 02, 2001.
What does it take for an American to buy property in Canada, and move up there? Do you have to pay a tax on the stuff you bring up with you? Do you have to become a citizen before you buy property or can move on your property? How hard is it to become a citizen... Any of you live in the Prince George area I found a beautiful piece of property up there, They said there was lots of wild life, including Griz!
-- Ginny D (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 02, 2001.
Just to clarify on the tax issue: yes, we pay national (and provincial) income taxes. It's all on one form due April 30 of each year, however the money is deducted from your pay by your employer each pay period, along with your premiums for national unemployment insurance and Canada Pension Plan, and forwarded to the government on your behalf by your employer. We also have provincial and federal sales taxes (PST and GST, or both together in some provinces as HST) at point of sale. GST is 7%, PST varies according to province. Groceries, childrens' clothes and books, etc. exempt. Property, local roads (rural), and education taxes, etc. The only exception to this (I believe) is Alberta, where there's no provincial sales tax as Alberta's an oil and nat. gas rich province. In BC (British Columbia) there is also a provincial health care premium to be paid monthly, if it's not a part of your benefits package with your employer (was about $74 cdn/month for our family of 4 in '98). May vary a bit more in the Atlantic (Maritime) provinces, but I've never lived out there. Cathy is talking about (I think) the GST rebate that those of a certain income bracket receive, and you apply for this on your income tax form. Hope this helps clarify.
-- Rheba (email@example.com), September 02, 2001.
Ginny, I believe Americans (or other "foreign nationals") can just buy the property in Canada. I don't believe that automatically (sp?) means they can live here. For that you must go through Canadian immigration (previous thread). The property across the road from my family's belongs to some women in Detroit, and down the road, a parcel with cottage belongs to a woman in her 90's from Calif. She's come up every summer since she was a baby. Cottages around where we live now belong to a number of Germans, who don't reside in Canada (million dollar cottages). I have never heard of anyone having to pay tax on any personal belongings they may bring when legally moving here. I doubt if they'd bother with personal belongings to fill cottages or hunting lodges, even if you're not a resident, just vacationer. As for becoming a citizen, I can't say. Easier than a Canadian to the US, I'd expect, but you'd have to check into that. I know that if you invest some money to start a business here, that will employ Canadians, that can get you in. It all works on a points system, and if the points add up to enough, you get in. Immigration info at the government site:
-- Rheba (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 02, 2001.
I moved from Canada to New Zealand...Canada was nice..but it's even NICER in NZ. Clean and green and low unemployment less taxes..warmer winters ;) Just a little far if you've got relatives ;) Seriously though Canada is a safe place for now. The taxes are considerably higher and interest on your mortgage is NOT tax deductable like I believe it is in the US. Just cross your fingers that you don't get seriously ill because the health system is a real mess. Unlike the US where I believe with a good job you can have access to private healthcare and not have to worry too much..in Canada there is one system...you get sick...you have to wait for treatment. The Canadian dollar is worth alot less than the US dollar so you'd have to account for that if you do alot of travelling or if you planned alot of visits back to the US once you're earning canadian bucks. I think the UN surveys that rank SOME places in Canada as some of the top places to live mainly look at 'social opportunuties' like the percentage of the population with an education and the number of women in high postitions and stuff like that. So Canada is a good fair place for everyone. No guns... :) And less traffic in most big cities in the US I'd bet ;)
-- jen (email@example.com), September 03, 2001.
ps: I think the price of things dollar-for-dollar is similar. I'm talking like groceries and furniture and movies. Restaurants might be slightly more expensive. Canada has Wal-Mart and Sears but not J.C Penny or any other of the more upmarket department stores. Gasoline is considerably more expensive BUT 'commute' is not as common a word in Canada as it might be in the US. People don't spend as much time in their cars to get to work (unless you live in/near Toronto!!) Public transportation is very good almost everywhere I think. Cost of living is higher on the West Coast of Canada than it is in the eastern provinces...but it's much milder in the winter in BC than in Quebec/Ontario.
-- jen (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 03, 2001.
Our experience moving to Canada:
We had a letter saying that the church had "hired" my husband as their pastor. We used this letter to give us a "visitors permit" which was good for one year. This type of permit does not allow us to work for pay at any other job in Canada, nor can we use any of Canada's educational facilities. You have to get either a workers permit or a students permit for that. We have all our paperwork done to get our permanent visas except that we need our physicals and also an interview in New York City. Meanwhile we were able to get an extension on our visitors pass.
Next, the move. Every box has to be labeled with what's in it. All of this also had to be written up on a piece of paper listing what we owned and how much we figured it was worth in Canadian dollars. The lady in the immigration office told me basically what you do is estimate how much money you would get if you sold it all at a yard sale; just don't mark your computers down at $5!! The only item we would have paid duty on was our station wagon that was less than 15 years old. We decided to leave it in the states and bring in our mini van. The duty for the car would have been $200 Canadian, if I remember right. It was 14 years old at the time, so we decided to leave it for a year.
So, we showed up at the border with all our worldly goods, all our birth certificates and the letter from the church. That's when we got our official visitors permit. (Sorry for making it seem like we got the permit first.) We were at the border for less than 4 hours and only my husband had to go into the office to do the paperwork.
If anybody wants to move to Canada and wants to know more about our experience, email me privately--I may not necessarily get back to this thread.
-- Cathy N. (email@example.com), September 05, 2001.