Are you also wondering if it’s going to be worth it to immigrate to Canada? Is living here worth the money and the long wait?
We also wondered the same thing during our PR application.
Some people say good things about Canada, while others say they regret their decision of moving here. So, just allow me to share our two cents on that.
Here’s a list of some of our pros and cons of living in Canada as an immigrant. Since we lived in the UAE for 8 years, I compared our lives in both countries.
Hopefully, this could help clear your doubts about your PR application to Canada. But keep in mind though that our pros and cons are not the same with other immigrants. So, you might still want to get more insights.
PROS AND CONS OF LIVING IN CANADA
Pro: Canada has four seasons, and spring and autumn are the loveliest ones for me.
Right now, it’s springtime here and summer’s about to start soon. Here in Niagara Region, it’s between rainy and sunny days. It’s still cold outside, but you can go out for a walk and just put on a warm sweater.
Flowers are in full bloom, and you’ll see lots of red, pink, and white trees. There are also cherry blossoms in some parts of the country. These beautiful sceneries are what I love about being in Canada at this time of the year.
Con: Winter is cold, snowy, and gloomy. And it can be worse depends on where you live. (But the good news is you can learn to live with it).
I’m sure this is one of the first terrible things you’ll hear about Canada. As someone who has endured three winter seasons, I wouldn’t vouch for it.
You can still enjoy the season though. Winter is the best time to visit ski resorts and go ice skating. Playing in the snow can also sometimes be fun, especially during the early days of winter. Just invest in the proper garments and accessories, and you’ll have something to look forward on winter.
But if you live in your own house, just be prepared to shovel snow from your driveway and your front sidewalk (because if you don’t, you’ll be responsible if someone gets into an accident). Here where we live, we’re luckier than those who experience harsher winters (like in Manitoba and Alberta).
TIP: Some of our friends say that Vancouver gets less snow during winter, although it rains more often there. So, you might want to consider living there if you think winter would be an issue for you.
Pro: Canada is one of the best countries to live for nature-lovers.
Aside from breathtaking sceneries like Niagara Falls, it’s home to natural parks, lakes, falls, walking and hiking trails, gardens, and a lot more.
It also has 13 provinces and territories to explore. So far, we’ve visited the cities of Montreal and Quebec and we’ve loved it a lot!
So whether you’re a nature-lover or a fan of road trips, you’ve got an endless list of places to visit here.
Con: Depends on where you live, there’s not a lot of exciting attractions.
I’m not sure about you, but there came a time when nature can become too monotonous for us. If you live in Dubai and you enjoy its many modern attractions like the Global Village, Dubai Parks, City Walk, La Mer, The Jumeirah Beach, and so on, you’ll get disappointed here at some point.
We lived in Etobicoke where there’s nothing much to see, although Downtown Toronto is just 45 minutes away. Here in St. Catharines, we’re just 15 minutes away from Niagara Falls and Clifton Hill. And that’s why we (or should I say, I) love it here.
Pro: Free education (up to high school) and children benefits
Our kids used to receive around $600+ from both the federal and provincial government each every month during our first year here. In our second year, the amount went down because our annual income went up (because that’s the pattern). This tax-free monthly allowance is the Canada Child Benefit.
On top of this, our children also occasionally gets extra financial support from the government (like the Ontario Learner Support that we got twice already, and the recent one from the federal government).
Aside from the children allowance, they also get free education up to high school.
Con: We pay a heartbreaking amount of taxes.
All goods and services here are subject to taxes (it’s 13% here in Ontario). So if you’re buying a pair of shoes for $100, you’ll actually pay $113.00.
You also get tax deductions from your income, which doesn’t happen in the UAE yet. The tax percentage depends on your income bracket. So, if you earn more, you also pay more taxes. Even on your annual bonus, the tax will be deducted (*sad face*). But the good thing is you get it back anyway in the form of benefits.
Pro: Universal health care, which means free access to medical check-ups and treatments.
You’ll appreciate this when you come here as a visitor and you need to see a doctor, but they tell you that you need to pay a $700 consultation fee. But if you have a health card, you don’t pay for anything to see a doctor, even if it’s to see a gynecologist for a birth control consultation.
However, prescription drugs are not free (except for certain ages), unless if they’re covered by your company’s health benefits. When I had my IUD inserted by a gynecologist, my health card didn’t cover the device. It costs around $400+, but my husband’s health card covered most for it so we only paid $90+.
Also, when I gave birth to my youngest in Etobicoke General Hospital, we didn’t pay for anything. My government health card covered everything, including my stay in the hospital’s ward (which I shared with 3 other patients) and the phototherapy treatment for our daughter. The only thing we paid for is the hospital’s parking fee.
Con: You need a family doctor’s referral to see a specialist.(Sometimes, the waiting time to see a doctor can also make you go crazy).
This may not be a big issue until you realize how easy it was to see a gynecologist in Dubai. Here, you need to go to your family doctor first, then get a referral from him. So, instead of me calling the gynecologist for an appointment, I needed to make an appointment first with our family doctor. Then during our scheduled consultation, I just told him I need a referral to a gynecologist. He asked me a few questions, then a few days later a got another appointment with the gynecologist (finally).
Pro: Good government…
Nobody’s perfect, including the leaders of this country. But at least here, you can see where the taxes are going. The government also provides support to its citizens and residents like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and the Ontario Learner Support (they gave us $200 per child last year, and another $400 per child this May 2021).
Pro: …and lower crime rate
When we first arrived here, we still felt safer in Dubai. If you live there, you know how you can walk outdoors at night without worrying about robbers.
But they say that Canada has a lower crime rate. And depending on where you live, some cities and towns are family-friendly. Like here in St. Catharines where we moved last year. According to a news report in 2019, this city is among Canada’s safest metropolitan areas. The report says that the violent crime severity here is less compared to other metropolitan cities in Canada. In fact, it was said to be the third-best rating in all of Canada as of the 2019 data released by Statistics Canada.
Con: Some goods (like fuel) and services can be expensive.
Some services here can be expensive, and it’s probably because there’s a minimum labor wage being enforced here. Some goods are also more pricey here if you’ll convert its price to Dirhams. Like fuel, and mint leaves. Most seafood items are also quite expensive, like shrimps and salmon (that’s why we rarely buy them).
But as time goes by, you’ll get used to it. Besides, you can live here comfortably even if you are a minimum wage earner.
Pro: We worry less here.
Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, ice storms, forest fires – all of these still happen, of course. But so far, in our two years here, we haven’t experienced anything yet. Except of course for this pandemic.
Also, we don’t worry about losing our jobs because the government will support us for a couple of months if we go unemployed. We don’t worry about getting sick because we have medical benefits. We don’t worry about our kids’ tuition fees (at least until high school). We don’t worry too much about groceries because our kids get monthly allowances.
Con: But we worry so much because it’s not easy to come home to your family (especially when you miss them the most).
In the UAE, most companies pay for your return plane tickets. But not here. Flights to the Philippines are expensive especially for a family of five like us, so no matter how much we miss our families, we need to learn to live with homesickness.
For moms like me, struggling to keep our sanity while caring for our kids, living far away from friends and families can be depressing.
So, there you have it. Our pros and cons of living here in Canada from our experience as immigrants.
About the author:
JK Legaspi is a permanent resident of Canada since 2018. She and her family lives in the beautiful Niagara Region. As the founder of Detour To Canada, she aims to help aspiring and future immigrants reach their Canadian dreams by sharing her family’s own immigration and newcomer story.
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