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Living in Canada

 

Location

Canada lies to the North of the USA and, behind Russia, is the world's second largest country. The vast majority of Canada's population lives near the southern border with the USA.

Employment

In recent years, Canada's agricultural and mineral exports have performed well in world markets. Economic conditions are relatively good for most of the country. A few years ago, you would not have been advised to come to Canada to improve your salary.

Canadians enjoyed, and still enjoy, a very high quality of life but, compared with salaries available in the USA, UK and Northern Europe, Canadians were not highly paid. Now rising wages and a strengthening currency have pushed Canada's average wage higher than the USA's, the UK's, and most of Europe's.

A major advantage of living in Canada is that, in most locations, it's possible to buy a comfortable, large, detached house on a normal income.

Jobs tend to be most plentiful in Toronto/Southern Ontario, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Canada has not been immune to the general economic downturn, however, and unemployment rates in Toronto and Vancouver hover (early 2012) at about 9 and 7 percent respectively, while Calgary's and Edmonton's are about 5 to 6 percent.

Getting work can be difficult for migrants when they first arrive in Canada. Ideally you should arrange a job before you go to Canada. Before seriously considering moving to Canada, it is absolutely vital you check that Canadian employers will accept your qualifications and experience.

If you have specialist, in-demand skills you are less likely to encounter difficulties but that is no guarantee of finding a suitable job.

When they have a position to fill, Canadian employers tend to look first for a local employee - someone they can get the low-down on from trusted industry contacts. If they can't find a suitable local employee, employers will consider taking on a migrant.

Given the potential difficulties in finding suitable work, migrants are strongly advised to bring plenty of money to live on while job-hunting.

If your English language skills are not excellent, you may find it almost impossible to get a job appropriate to your skills.

Character

Canadians are very hospitable, welcoming people - particularly in provincial and rural Canada.

The majority of Canadians are very tolerant and follow a live and let live philosophy. There is often a stronger sense of community and duty in Canadian towns than can be found in other countries. Visitors to Canada may find it difficult to tell the difference between its English speaking provinces and the USA.

There is no danger of mistaking French-speaking Quebec for the USA. A degree of hostility to Canadian English speakers can be encountered at times in Quebec. Getting a job or running a business in Quebec requires fluency in French.

Most of Canada has a semi-continental or a continental climate. Depending on the exact location, summers are warm or hot and winters are cold or very cold (or brutally cold). The exception is Canada's Pacific coast, where summers and winters are mild.

Sunshine is abundant in most provinces, particularly the prairie provinces in the middle of Canada. Toronto and Vancouver are Canada's most multicultural and cosmopolitan cites. They are rich in cultural and artistic activities and their restaurants offer many of the world's cuisines.

Housing

Canada has traditionally offered its residents some of the cheapest housing in the developed world. In recent times, house prices in a number of cities have risen sharply and can no longer be considered cheap. They also have the most expensive housing in Canada. Other Canadian cities have a more provincial character than Toronto and Vancouver and considerably cheaper housing.

The country has huge forests and timber is readily available as a building material. Houses in Canada are typically timber-framed and, because of climate extremes, the housing stock is usually high quality and well insulated.

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