After questions about Urdu resources, this has to be one of the most frequent questions I’m asked: “What are the pros and cons of moving to Canada?”, (because maybe I live in Canada).
So, today I will answer that question based on my own experience, which has been positive. I moved to Canada, after getting married, at the end of 2008 and became a citizen in 2015. I’m a very proud Pakistani-Canadian. I did not apply for immigration myself since my husband was already in Canada when I moved. If you ask me any questions related to immigration, I will direct you to the Citizen and Immigration website. So please, don’t!
Pros and Cons of Moving to Canada
1. Standard of Living
Canadian cities regularly rank high for standard of living year after year. Life in Canada is peaceful, education is great and it’s extremely beautiful and clean.
2. Public Health Care System
Yes, all that you have heard about the Canadian public health care is right! Despite wait times, it’s for free and the same for everyone! We do have to pay for dental charges, medicines (or buy insurance for that) and in some provinces you have to pay premium for health coverage but the medical services are great.
3. Safety and Low Crime Rate
While there are still robberies and the occasional murder, general crime rate is very low in Canada.
4. One of Nicest People in the World
Canadians are one of the nicest people in the world! I have lived in Canada for almost ten years and have always had the best neighbors and community.
5. A Great Social System
Yes, we do get a paid maternity leave in Canada for 12-18 months! There is unemployment insurance and deserving families do get support from the government. But do read the cons section below for the other side.
1. Initial Settlement Struggles
If you’re used to a rosy life “back home”, get used to the initial struggles of settlement. Finding a job is tough without Canadian experience and it can take years to settle down. Some of the things you took for granted such as owning a car, renting a house and eating out, become luxuries.
2. High Taxes
Guess how the government pays for the amazing social programs and free health care we talked about in the pros? Through taxes! Taxes are really high in Canada and you will be taking just a little more than half your salary home on average. There will also be many sales and provincial taxes on whatever you buy.
3. High Cost of Living
When your relatives living in Canada tell you that Canada in expensive, they are not making excuses for not buying you that designer bag you requested. Cost of living in Canada is very high due to the many taxes and tariffs. But what about the social system and hand-outs from the government you always heard about? Firstly, they are limited and not enough to sustain you for long. They are meant to get the deserving back on their feet. The maternity leave you heard about? You pay for it through out via cuts from your salary and even then don’t get 100% of your salary while on maternity leave. The same sofa from Ikea costs less in the US than in Canada. This is true for basically everything from our flights, to shoes, to even the eggs we eat!
4. Far from Family and Support Systems
Moving to Canada means being far from your family and the support systems you are used to. This means that grandma is not near by when you need some babysitting help and you can not go to your parents’ home for lunch on the weekends. You are uprooted from your network of friends and acquaintances. You will find yourself in a situation where you lose boasting rights on graduating from your top-notch university, because it’s basically unknown in Canada. You will miss family and friends at many important occasions and not able to visit them as often as you thought due to the high airfares, limited vacations and the time it takes to reach them (easily 36 hours for us door-to-door). This is definitely a big one in any list of the pros and cons of moving to Canada.
A Few Cons That I would like to Specifically Address:
Now here are a few points I would like to address that are considered “cons” in most discussions of pros and cons of moving to Canada, but I have a different view about them:
Weather is one question that always pops up in a discussion about the pros and cons of moving to Canada.
Yes, the first question everyone asks is: “But isn’t it really cold in Canada.” Yes it is, but we survive, very happily. We have heated houses, heated transport and warm coats & boots. I live in Alberta and even the rest of Canada feels sorry for us, as it’s considered the worst for weather. Guess what? I don’t mind it at all. Actually I’m really used to it now and love the transitions of seasons through out the year. Yes, we get a lot of snow in the winters (and our winter is long) but we also get a glorious spring, summer and fall. In winter there are 10 days that are really bad. But if I compare it to the other 355 days of the year, it’s not a bad deal (This infact is the exact argument my husband gave me when I was moving to Canada). And here is his second argument: There are many places in the world where you can’t step outside in the summers because it’s so hot and they have to stay indoors. We have the same situation, except it’s too cold outside in the winters.
2. No Help Staff:
Yes, you will not have a driver, cook, maid and nanny in Canada. Hardly anyone in Canada can afford that. You will need to do all house work, groceries, cooking and cleaning yourself. While many might view this as a con, I actually love the freedom and independence of doing everything myself and not being reliant on any support staff. The houses are smaller, so they are easier to manage.
3. Long Immigration Process:
Many complain about the long time it takes to get a Canadian passport. I find this one particularly irritating because the ones usually complaining about the long process, plan to leave Canada as soon as they get the “coveted” passport. Please don’t immigrate to Canada unless you intend to call it home with your whole heart.
So here was my list of pros and cons of moving to Canada. Again, please don’t ask me any questions about the immigration process. All latest information is on the Canadian Immigration website.
As a bonus, here is a picture of the children and I, the day I took my oath as a Canadian citizen back in 2015.