A Zerohedge headline that shocked the world this week showed net searches for “moving to Canada” are up more than 1,000% since the “Trump bump.” The same report said that the Immigration Canada web site (one of the most boring sites on the planet) was blown because of excessive access. (Source: “Canada Searches Up 1000%,” Zerohedge, March 2, 2016.)
If you are one of the many Americans thinking of making the switch to Canada, our exclusive “Canadian insider” offered these tips and answers about making the move to Canada and what you can expect when you arrive:
1. Are Canadians as polite as the jokes say?
In fact they are. One joke that even Canadians laugh at goes, “How do you get 47 Canadians out of the pool as quickly as possible?” The answer: simply yell, “Get out of the pool!”
2. Is the weather in Canada as bad as the jokes say?
No; it is actually worse. The beautiful East Coast becomes an ice cube in the winter—an endurance test equaled only by the weather in the capital, Ottawa, where the main distraction (aside from watching your breath freeze) is skating on the central canal, which freezes solid during winter. The prairies are no better. The outdoor parking spots accompanying most condos and hi-rises each have a built-in electrical outlet. No, not for your orbital buffer; they’re for your block heater. (If you don’t know what a block heater is, perhaps the Dominican Republic should really be your first choice for bugging out…?)
3. Of course, there is always Vancouver, which experiences the best winters in the country (like Seattle, but with fewer serial killings).
Keep in mind, however, that Vancouver currently has the largest housing bubble on the planet. (Source: “This is Freaking Nuts — House sells $750K above Asking,” Zerohedge, March 1, 2016.)
4. Canada has cross-country “value added tax” (VAT), called HST, that can add about 13% to a typical purchase in the mere blink of an eye.
If you are in business, you may be able to reclaim it. Most Canadians just pay it. Americans will find this unsettling. Of course, the whole idea of a VAT is that it theoretically obviates the need for income tax. Unfortunately Canada has not figured this out yet. They introduced income tax right after WWI, swore it was just temporary, and yet it is still here…? If, however, you are seeking the comfort and nostalgia of politicians who say one thing and then do another, Canada could be a dream come true.
5. Speaking of politics, the wise voters of Canada just threw out the most conservative leader in decades (that is “conservative” with BOTH a small “c” and a capital “C”).
This was mainly because they were bored with his conservatism, and (the irony!) they felt he was too close to the U.S.
6. Social medicine will be a kick if you are making the journey north.
It has its plusses and minuses. If you are in dire need, it is there. I have a friend who recently received a lung transplant, did not pay a nickel, and now loves Canada so much he moved back to Toronto from the Czech Republic. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple MRI in a non-urgent situation, be prepared to wait several months or (more irony!) be prepared to cross into a U.S. border town and pony up cold hard cash.
7. Supermarkets will be a shocker.
Imagine that 70% of all the products you have come to know and love disappeared in the blink of an eye, like in a sci-fi movie, and, in many cases, they were replaced by brands you have never heard of. Your first time grocery shopping may possibly bring a tear to your eye. Good news? They do stock Kleenex, just like in the U.S.
8. No, you don’t have to learn French, in spite of the millions of dollars a year Canadians spend translating and labeling everything that moves or squeaks into the official “second language.”
Learning French is mainly useful only if you plan to live in Quebec or run for federal office. And if you learned history via U.S. textbooks, be prepared for some revisionism. Turns out that France did not lose the war for Canada to the Brits at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. It was actually a “draw.” (Luckily, nobody bothered to tell the British or every province in Canada would have two tax systems and two levels of government, just like those freethinkers in Quebec.)
9. The thing you will notice the most?
Well, the whole money thing will be uncomfortable. First of all, everything in Canada costs more, ceteris paribus, than the equivalent item in the U.S., even before taxes. Why? Mainly because of the higher costs of labeling and moving goods in the sparser geography (hey! those French labels don’t put themselves on the items, do they…). Next, if you factor in the weaker loonie, well, let’s just say that as a Canadian newbie, your first experience with socialized medicine might be for anti-depressants. The good news? The doctor’s visit, and part of the cost of your meds, will be picked up by the very same country that depressed you in the first place!