What is your experience moving to another country?

KleinKlein Registered User regular
I am thinking of moving to Canada in a few years, but I have no real experience moving to another country or know many people who have. I am able to research enough to figure out what is required to move, but I have some questions still. I am mostly worried about the fact that if I were to move, I would not have any family or know anyone in the area. I realize answers are going to be different person to person, but I'll still appreciate any advice.

1. How difficult was it to "establish" yourself in another country? In so far as making a social group.
2. What do you wish you had known in retrospect before moving?
3. What are some good resources for finding out what life is like in another city before moving? I have a few cities in mind, but I would like to know information like good areas to live, cost of living, etc.

Any additional advice or thoughts would be welcome. I am looking at cities like Toronto and Vancouver, but nothing is definite.

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  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    I'd look more towards like Surrey or Nanaimo and such for the Vancouver side, and like North Bay and such for the Toronto side. ( Basically the smaller within an hour neighboring cities)

    The wages in Vancouver/Toronto ( Tho Toronto a little better) do not make up for the cost of living there. For what you'll get a small house for an hour away, you'll get a 1 bedroom apartment in a shitty neighborhood in Vancouver/Toronto

    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    I have lived in 3 countries and never had any trouble establishing myself or becoming part of a social group. I think this is largely dependent on your social skills.

    And as you already are a native speaker of English, things will be much easier for you. Try doing that in Southern Spain :D

    Good luck.

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    Cauld
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Klein wrote: »
    I am thinking of moving to Canada in a few years, but I have no real experience moving to another country or know many people who have. I am able to research enough to figure out what is required to move, but I have some questions still. I am mostly worried about the fact that if I were to move, I would not have any family or know anyone in the area. I realize answers are going to be different person to person, but I'll still appreciate any advice.

    1. How difficult was it to "establish" yourself in another country? In so far as making a social group.
    2. What do you wish you had known in retrospect before moving?
    3. What are some good resources for finding out what life is like in another city before moving? I have a few cities in mind, but I would like to know information like good areas to live, cost of living, etc.

    Any additional advice or thoughts would be welcome. I am looking at cities like Toronto and Vancouver, but nothing is definite.

    Do you have an advanced degree that is in demand in the country you are moving to? Are you a millionaire? Are you married to someone from the country you want to move to? Do you have an employer willing to sponsor you? Do you have immediate family living in the country?

    Canada is kind of hard to move to.

    spool32Gilbert0RainfallInquisitor77a5ehren
  • KleinKlein Registered User regular
    edited December 2016
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Do you have an advanced degree that is in demand in the country you are moving to? Are you a millionaire? Are you married to someone from the country you want to move to? Do you have an employer willing to sponsor you? Do you have immediate family living in the country?

    Canada is kind of hard to move to.

    I am hoping to get sponsored by an employer. I am working on my doctorate in engineering, I think it should fall under some entry program.
    I'd look more towards like Surrey or Nanaimo and such for the Vancouver side, and like North Bay and such for the Toronto side. ( Basically the smaller within an hour neighboring cities)

    The wages in Vancouver/Toronto ( Tho Toronto a little better) do not make up for the cost of living there. For what you'll get a small house for an hour away, you'll get a 1 bedroom apartment in a shitty neighborhood in Vancouver/Toronto

    Thanks for the advice, I will look more into areas when I have something lined up. I know little about surrounding cities so I would like to hear more.

    If there are any Canadian forum goers, I would also like to hear their thoughts on living in Canada. Stuff like the cold and weather are not a problem, it would get to - 30 F where I grew up.

    Klein on
  • daveNYCdaveNYC Why universe hate Waspinator? Registered User regular
    This site isn't horrible for cost of living comparisons: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp
    It's numbers aren't super accurate, but they'll let you know if you need ask for more money and/or really lower your expectations.

    Shut up, Mr. Burton! You were not brought upon this world to get it!
  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    If you are thinking of moving to the Vancouver area there's a few things to keep in mind.

    1. It rains a lot between mid-October and March, then still a fair bit all the way through mid-July. August, September, and the first part of October are typically the drier months. For someone who has grown up here, it's normal. But for people who aren't used to the rain it can get depressing.
    2. Housing is expensive, even in the suburbs. However, food prices tend to be cheaper. Car insurance is more expensive in the Greater Vancouver area than elsewhere.
    3. When considering where you want to live, remember your commute cost in time and money. Closer to the core, public transit is better and you can walk/cycle more places. Further out and you are more car dependent.
    4. For engineering jobs, you will typically want to be looking in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond. There are offices in Surrey, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, New Westminster, etc, but depending on the type of engineering the jobs are going to be in the first three cities I mentioned.
    5. For places like Nanaimo, Victoria, Parksville, Courtenay, etc on Vancouver Island there may be jobs, but the market is typically small enough that it is mostly satellite offices of big companies or smaller companies. If things don't work out at one employer it can be harder to find a job in that area.
    6. Depending on what type of engineering you are doing there may be jobs available in the Okanagan, Peace River country, or The Caribou regions of the province. If it is at all academic though, you are more likely to have success closer to Vancouver.
    7. In the Vancouver area, it typically doesn't get very cold. Most of the year it is above freezing. However it is damp. 4°C, damp, and windy is about as cold as -20°C and dry. The dampness penetrates if you don't dress properly.
    8. For social activities, I'd suggest things like meet-up, joining local community centre activities that you like, joining local beer leagues for different sports, etc. Depending on where you work, there may be some people you can form a social group with, but I've always had more luck with the shared activities approach.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    It really depends on you. When you are in a new place all on your own with a backpack, do you feel like there are amazing infinite possibilities, or like weeping in your hotel room calling all your friends?

    Why Canada? You like snow?

  • LailLail Surrey, B.C.Registered User regular
    I would start looking online at both the potential wages you would expect to earn in your field in Canada as well as potential houses/apartments you would feel comfortable living in. In Canada's major cities (and the surrounding areas), housing costs are very expensive and will eat a large chunk of your income. Find out where some current job openings are located to give you an area of where you may end up working, and see what rent is like in that area.

    As for finding a social group, I think that really depends on you. Most people I know that have made major moves have done quite well. In Canada, if you want to make friends I would suggest joining a hockey beer-league (or any sports league really). Most guys will hang out for a beer or three after a game, so its a good way to get to know people.

    Also, Vancouver has a pretty good nerd-community. There are lots of board game clubs, fan expos, weekly meet-ups, etc etc. Though most major cities probably have the same.

  • l_gl_g Registered User regular
    Klein wrote: »
    I am thinking of moving to Canada in a few years, but I have no real experience moving to another country or know many people who have. I am able to research enough to figure out what is required to move, but I have some questions still. I am mostly worried about the fact that if I were to move, I would not have any family or know anyone in the area. I realize answers are going to be different person to person, but I'll still appreciate any advice.

    1. How difficult was it to "establish" yourself in another country? In so far as making a social group.
    2. What do you wish you had known in retrospect before moving?
    3. What are some good resources for finding out what life is like in another city before moving? I have a few cities in mind, but I would like to know information like good areas to live, cost of living, etc.

    Any additional advice or thoughts would be welcome. I am looking at cities like Toronto and Vancouver, but nothing is definite.

    Where do you live right now? Are you used to life in a small town or in a big city? What kind of life do you want out of the place that you live in?
    An advanced engineering degree is a nice thing to have, but depending on the field there may or may not be readily available employment. Canada does have more of a social safety net than, say, the USA, but perhaps not quite the one of somewhere like Sweden.

    There are subreddits for the major cities that you can ask questions in where you will get some very real but often very cynical answers. Since you don't know anybody in those parts of the world, posting there can get you a wider range of answers.

    Calgary is not an awful city, but Alberta's fortunes wax and wane with the oil industry, which can result in fluctuating employment. I assume from your post you are competent with English, but if you have French proficiency Quebec is a place that may have prospects (again, depending on your expertise) because Montreal is very much a big city.

    Cole's Law: "Thinly sliced cabbage."
  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    Hi! I moved to Canada from the US (spousal sponsorship) 13 years ago. Here are my thoughts.

    1. As mentioned before, this at least partially depends on your social skills, but also on location and your age. The trouble with Toronto and Vancouver is that you can live downtown where it's easier to meet people and have social contacts, but the cost of living is unreasonable... or you can live further out where things are more affordable but you'll be more isolated. I actually had some trouble making friends in Toronto. The city can be a bit cliquey, oddly enough, and I found a lot of people to be flaky about keeping social engagements. YMMV, of course, and it always helps if you're cool with joining a group or an institution that lets you meet people. I personally find it easier to meet people in mid-sized communities over the biggest and smallest ones.

    2. Canada is expensive. Yes, your salary will be a bit higher (especially in Toronto - less so in Vancouver) than it is for comparable jobs in the States. But everything costs so much more. Food is craaaazy expensive. Clothing is more expensive with no increase in quality. Car insurance prices in Ontario and BC will make you cry. The telecoms are even greedier bastards here than they are in the States. Rent is pricey and the TO/Van housing market is completely out of control. Any time our currency dips below par with the US, everything shoots up in price even more (especially things that are reliably distributed from the USA, like electronics) and you better bet you're not getting a pay increase to make up for it.

    Also, for Americans, Canada can occasionally be a minefield of culture that's just close enough that you think you know what you're doing, but you actually don't. Some things that are particularly valued in the US workplace are not valued as highly here, and you can come across as overly aggressive when you thought you were just being straightforward or doing what you need to do to get ahead. The passive aggression can be strong here, though Canadians tend to see it as being polite or not making waves... you're supposed to get the hint, anyway. ;)

    It helps to have a healthy sense of humor and to be the kind of person who is ok with people openly talking about both the good and bad points of the USA. Canada is not a good place for a thin-skinned patriotic American, but if you're capable of criticizing the bad parts of your country of origin and understand self-deprecating humor, you'll find Canadians to be quite friendly towards Americans in general. I've actually never had a bad experience with somebody learning I'm American, but I also never bought into the "America is the greatest country in the wooooorld" stuff and enjoy a lively political discussion.

    People in Ontario might tell you that Quebecois hate English speakers and will be rude to you if you don't speak French. I have found this to be unequivocally false. I have always had the best time visiting Quebec, whether I'm in Montreal or further afield where you do meet people who don't speak English. Honestly, the same rule applies as it does to anyplace where English isn't the native language. Smile, be kind, and be willing to meet people halfway with whatever pathetic French you've got. In fact, Canadians tend to have a lot of region-based prejudices. Nod and smile at them, then completely ignore them because frankly, Canadians are pretty awesome no matter where you go.

    3. The RedFlagDeals forums can be an interesting place to check out what peoples' financial issues and questions are in various parts of the country.

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  • SolventSolvent Econ-artist ኢትዮጵያRegistered User regular
    In direct response:

    1. It's been two years and I haven't really been able to make myself a new social group. I am not good at social stuff. I've tried joining clubs, going to events, etc., but it's not helping much. I have friends here and there but I definitely haven't developed a close relationship or friendship with anyone.

    2. A better idea of how the medical system works might have been good. Once you're sick and looking for a doctor, and you just get told that they can't fit you in, or they don't want to recognise your insurance, that's a pain.

    3. Numbeo is good. There are expat websites, Glocals is one that helped me a little. Expat blogs can also give you an on-the-ground perspective.

    I moved to Switzerland a few years back, and it's been good and bad. I always wanted to work abroad, and now I am, so yay!
    My workplace is a little different, it has people from a lot of different cultures. I have found that it is way, way harder to make conversation and connections with people from diverse backgrounds than I expected. I have nothing to make small talk about besides the weather, because I share almost no cultural links with my coworkers. Humour is awkward - people make jokes, and I recognise them as jokes, and other people around laugh, but I stand there stonefaced because I perceive they're either terribly unfunny or (sometimes) even what I would consider unprofessional.

    I'm trying to learn French but I'm bad at it. With a better grasp of the language socialising would definitely be easier. Perhaps I also underestimated how hard picking up another language would be - even after two years I'm barely competent enough to make basic conversation. In my defence, in my workplace French is used probably less than 5% of the time, so I'm not exactly immersed in it despite my location.

    Family matters can be trying - that is, dealing with the bureaucracy around permits and such for spouses and dependents. The Swiss are famously efficient, and all that official stuff is really hard even despite that. I find it tough to imagine how much worse it must be in other countries with less friendly public administrations. Switzerland is a federal state though, so you have two layers to worry about - cantonal and federal, with different areas of responsibility.

    For me, it's also a bit of a psychological weight to know that if anything went wrong 'at home' I'm more than 24 hours' worth of transit time away.

    I don't know where he got the scorpions, or how he got them into my mattress.

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  • DodgeBlanDodgeBlan PSN: dodgeblanRegistered User regular
    edited December 2016
    The most important thing when moving to a new city is to really try to make friends.

    Sometimes this will be a total non problem and you'll just fall into a great group of people you gel with really well. Or you have contacts in the place already. But if you're unlucky it can be really hard and you've got to be ready to overcome that challenge

    I'm not a social butterfly by any means, and I've lived in a variety of cities and the quality of the experience has been directly proportional to how much effort I've put into making friends.

    It can be really hard to do because most of us don't enjoy those initial encounters, and if your job doesn't provide you with an adequate social circle you may really have to work for it.

    I've had times where I didn't really find anyone I fit in and I just sort of retreated into myself. Those times were miserable.

    Go out on a limb with a colleague even if you don't think you might have anything in common. Join a sports team. Meetup all the time. Just don't give up even when you'd rather spend the weekend gaming.

    DodgeBlan on
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  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    A bit of a different perspective from me, as i immigrated to the US when i was 13 due to war back in the old country.

    Age makes a huge difference in adaptibility, as in age when you move. People who were in their 60s+ never adapted, and many went back as soon as it was peaceful enough. People in the 35+ can get around find, but get tripped up by idioms and random daily expectations that don't match exactly (like the Canadian above talking about work culture). I was 13 and pretty much think of myself as American with an accent i can't shake, some interesting childhood memories, and a few things i do or say that my coworkers and native spouse find odd but it's rare. Then you have folks that were 6 when they came over, and they may as well be born here except they have odd parents.

    The only reason i bring this up is because if you are thinking of making a move like this electively (as opposed to because someone is trying to bomb you off the face of the earth and you are just trying to GTFO), go earlier if at all possible. Don't make like a 5 year plan to eventually maybe.

    steam_sig.png
  • KleinKlein Registered User regular
    Thanks everyone for your responses. I plan on asking some more questions when I get on my computer. Regarding the cost of living, is it considerably more than living in cities in the northern U.S.? I know suburbs are generally cheaper in the U.S., are suburbs also significantly cheaper in Canada?

  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    Short term, it's been VERY bad for affordability in Vancouver. The average price of a detached home in Greater Vancouver is over 1.5 million. and that's after a historic crash/correction because the government was trying to stop the huge amount of sales that were happening. It was closer to 1.75 million in July. By Greater Vancouver it means the surrounding "suburbs"/municipalities. If you talk Vancouver proper, the city of and the downtown core, probably add a million on top of that. The wife and I moved out of Vancouver because 2-3 years ago we couldn't afford the 900K - million dollar homes. Those houses are now 2.5 to 5 million.

    Add on to that, rent is super high as the vacancy rate is below 1% in these cities. Open house basement suite walkthroughs will have 50 people show up for a 1 bedroom priced at 1500 per month.

    Rather than suburbs, smaller outlying cities is better. Victoria/Nanaimo/Kamloops, rather than Vancouver. Mississauga/Hamilton/London instead of Toronto. Slightly harder to find jobs but your housing is cheaper.

  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    Coquitlam and Port Moody might be worthwhile looking at for th GVRD as rhe Evergreen Skytrain line just opened up connecting it to the rest of the city. I haven't checked housing prices in the area recently, so it could be ridiculous.

    For purchase costs of houses in Canada, I would recommend using www.realtor.ca or www.mls.ca to search for prices in the area you are thinking of moving to.

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    edited December 2016
    Klein wrote: »
    Thanks everyone for your responses. I plan on asking some more questions when I get on my computer. Regarding the cost of living, is it considerably more than living in cities in the northern U.S.? I know suburbs are generally cheaper in the U.S., are suburbs also significantly cheaper in Canada?

    Define "northern US"? Before I moved up here, I lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was major sticker shock time. It's less of a difference if you lived in a more expensive US city like Seattle, NYC, etc., but you'll find even "bargain" places like outlet malls are more expensive here than they are down south.

    Suburbs or satellite communities can have (slightly) cheaper housing, but everything else is pretty much the same or more unless you're comparing prices to jacked-up downtown tourist malls. It's a matter of volume. With a small population and huge land mass (and currently, low currency), it's just more expensive for retailers to bring things to market. There are also some dumbass trade issues like softwood lumber that make things like books more expensive than they should be.

    Right now if you're looking at Metro Vancouver and environs, even more outlying areas like Langley and Abbotsford, you're looking at $500k or more for a detached home. The closer to Vancouver proper, the more ridiculous. We're in the market to buy in Abbotsford and are sticking with non-new condos and townhouses for our budget (new condos are mostly "luxury" and $400k+).

    SwashbucklerXX on
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  • SynonymSynonym Registered User regular
    I moved from Canada to the US and the thing that sticks most in my mind is credit. Same credit bureaus, but they do not share records. I don't know about moving South to North, but moving North to South was crippling. We had daily banking and a credit card through a small US affiliate of a large Canadian bank, but they didn't do mortgages with less than 20% down, and only did ARMs (and we wanted conventional). They also didn't do car loans. It seems to be getting better, and it may we be easier for Americans moving to Canada, but we were shocked when we realized that our solid Canadian credit records meant nothing in the US. It took about 18 months before we had enough of a history to qualify for things we had previously just taken for granted. So if you need to finance anything, or if you're like me and you like to credit card things for points, make sure you can locate financial service companies / banks (in advance) that can underwrite based on your US credit history.

    Ethea
  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    Synonym wrote: »
    I moved from Canada to the US and the thing that sticks most in my mind is credit. Same credit bureaus, but they do not share records. I don't know about moving South to North, but moving North to South was crippling. We had daily banking and a credit card through a small US affiliate of a large Canadian bank, but they didn't do mortgages with less than 20% down, and only did ARMs (and we wanted conventional). They also didn't do car loans. It seems to be getting better, and it may we be easier for Americans moving to Canada, but we were shocked when we realized that our solid Canadian credit records meant nothing in the US. It took about 18 months before we had enough of a history to qualify for things we had previously just taken for granted. So if you need to finance anything, or if you're like me and you like to credit card things for points, make sure you can locate financial service companies / banks (in advance) that can underwrite based on your US credit history.

    I can confirm that it's the same way the other way 'round. I had an excellent credit rating in the US before moving to Canada, and it did nothing for me. I had to build up my credit from scratch by being added to my spouse's existing accounts rather than getting things fully in my own name. It kinda sucked, and is something I'd definitely recommend you research before coming to Canada on your own. I believe there are some banks and programs that help immigrants with this issue.

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  • tennosistennosis Dr GermanyRegistered User regular
    I really recommed you to move to another country. Traveling around the world is the best thing you can do. You will find new friends and a new enviroment. Thats a big chance for you to evolve.

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