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Any regrets/delights after moving to Canada?

I am in the last stage of getting PR - would like to know if there are regrets or delights after moving to Canada leaving behind the American lifestyle?

  1. Any compromise in terms of TC? I heard salaries in Toronto are not like the Bay Area - how are they like - 10% 20% …40% cut? Typical TC for 10 yoe with recent degree in AI/ML?

  2. Which firms in Toronto pay decent - I am recent grad in AI/ML with 10 years of software development experience

  3. Is the housing market affordable? What ratio [Home price/Total annual family income] do people keep there?

  4. How is family life - I have 6 years old kid, do we get enough time to spend with family? I mean how is commute like - does it suck hours out of the day?

  5. How is Work from home culture in Toronto - do firms provide frequent WFH?

Thanks!

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I’m not sure what you mean by American lifestyle, it IMO feels the same here in Toronto since I have lived mostly in NE US before moving to Toronto. (unless you are from a warm / sunny areas in US it can only feel better :slight_smile:)

  1. TC certainly is a compromise (based I what I know of others TC in Can/US). Hard to say how much is the cut because you factor in cost of living, healthcare, currency and taxes. It’s probably best to figure out and compare based on your TC (others may chime in)

  2. No idea

  3. Not sure (if you compare to Bay Area, imo, GTA has median home prices higher compared to median salaries)

  4. This totally depends on where your work/home is. If you work in downtown and have a 1 hr commute, that differs from working in GTA and living a few train stops away (further away from city). EoD, you and your family won’t need to bother about immigration (except for filing citizenship etc).

  5. Don’t know. I’d think this depends on role and employee, and how you negotiate the terms.

Few other options to explore:

  • If you are in the Bay Area, why not get a 100% remote employer right now, keep your work auth, and live in Canada? (you can travel occasionally to US for meetings, keep visa valid). If you can score a job like that, you’d have the best of both worlds (I believe some members in MovNorth community do this already).

  • If that’s not an option, get a remote contracting job, so you can have your own entity here in Canada and charge 1099 rates to your clients.

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  • If you have been living a typical H1B life in USA, with minimal furniture and ready to move out stuff in a rental home, you would be pleasantly surprised with the mental stability you will get in Canada.
  • If you own a home in US, and/or living with a well settled home/base, it won’t change much for you here. Life will be similar albeit with an extra duty of cleaning/shovelling snow off the driveway dec-march (provided you were in a warmer climate state)

Rest everything is very subjective, salaries/titles/workload/WLB/wfh culture, all depend on what field of work you are in, how much experience you have and how ambitious you are. Very similar to the checks you might have done before deciding to immigrate to USA from elsewhere.

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Thanks @ntn and @usa2can - Very helpful! My wife and I are very determined to move to Canada but sometimes there is fear that we have to start everything from scratch [Credit history, home and etc]. We have a home here in US and should have a decent profit on selling. How was your overall experience after spending months there? Any particular challenges faced?

One good thing we found is that my friend circle has less engineers and more of bankers, hotel owners, finance managers, risk managers, and all sort of non technical people. While my friend circle in US was all H1B engineers (maybe I was less outgoing there)

It will definitely help if you have a 2-3 good friends/family/relatives to bootstrap your life in Canada.
We felt that in the first couple of months, but after spending 6 months now here, we are happier in every sense. Have got a good weekend meetup circle with kids of similar age as my kids, friends with similar tastes (who drink single malt rather than beers, most of my friends in US were beer lovers, which I had to fake to be. weather has a lot to it though). Also once the schools start, kids get comfortable in the zone with new friends, so don’t worry about that.

Yes you would have to start credit history from scratch, but to get our first home (buy or rent), many banks have special new immigrant mortgage plans, and some landlords/agents do look at US history. you can always get a credit card 6 months before your permanent move and start using it to build credit score.

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Thanks @usa2can - Is it possible to get Canadian credit card on PR without having actual residential address in Canada? If yes then, can you please share the details [how to apply, can we put US address, which Canadian banks offer such options etc]?

I applied for a credit card, when I soft-landed and used my US address as home address, but also provided my work address (where I still hadn’t started). Most of the cards/docs were shipped to US. You can check with the bank on their policy, any of the big 5 should be able to provide this service.

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Great! @usa2can My plan is to get PR and then apply for Jobs and get credit card at the time of getting PR card - is Canadian work address mandatory? Initially will they offer secured CC or non secured CC? Would be great if any Canadian banks looks at US credit history? Thanks

I doubt a bank will give an unsecured cc without a CC work / home address, no harm in trying though.

You can get a TD Bank unsecured credit card once you get the PR. And for the address, you can always get a UPS mailbox address and use that for banking purpose.

I got a TD credit card after landing for PR and before temporarily returning to the US. I used my cousin’s address in Canada. If you google “credit card for new immigrants” you will see that all major banks offer unsecured CC for a certain amount.

  1. What’s TC, total compensation? Even if you get exact amount of salary, with the conversion rate, it’s 70% of USD, so there’s the cut. Also, salaries can vary widely depending on company. Stock options etc vary. Tax-wise, expect to pay between 30-35% tax, depending on province. Again, salaries are dependent on company/job profile, not necessarily on your degree.

  2. Not sure, glassdoor will give you that information.

  3. No, not in Toronto, and certainly not in the desirable areas in GTA. House prices can vary depending on area, proximity to markets etc, but for e.g. in Mississauga, expect to pay anywhere between 900k-1.5M for a detached home (two car garage, 4-5 bed etc). So same rates as Bay Area. This is due to the housing boom.

  4. Depends on where you live. Work/life balance is better than US, however, again depends on your job profile and company. Commute can suck time depending on your mode of transportation etc.

  5. My company has excellent WFH policy, even though I don’t use it much, other people do. Again, depends on the company.

The main question you did not ask, is the reason why people are moving to Canada: immigration.

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This. Don’t sweat out the small stuff. Definitely plan your finances and think about your family (don’t just move here overnight), but consider what’s the biggest thing which prompted you to make the move.

Many people have opted for smaller salaries and made the move just so that they can have peace of mind. There are a lot of similarities with the US, but also a lot of differences - however we all learn to adapt pretty quickly.

A couple of things to add from my perspective:

  • Family life, especially for people from eastern backgrounds (Indian, Chinese, Bangladesh, etc.) is much better. People have commented on how the country is open open to their respective cultures and lets them create a family atmosphere, raising kids in their own ways.
  • Traveling internationally (either to visit family or take vacations) has been so much easier. I don’t have to think about my “visa situation” to plan my trip - just the tickets. When I get back, I do not have to answer a hundred questions, just flash my PR card at immigration and I’m done.
  • I will have to settle for lower salaries and higher taxes, but I can now switch jobs and move cities on my own terms. Heck, I can start my own company if I choose to.

Of course, your priorities are different. However when you take those into account, you will definitely figure out a way to tackle the smaller problems.

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Thanks for the information! Do you have any recommendations for good primary care physicians or hospitals around in toronto? We are in the process of moving next year and making a list of all the essentials for when we land.

Appreciate it!

Regards,
Appy

We used Health Care Connect ( a service by Ministry of Health Ontario) to find our primary doctor. It was recommended to us by our friends who had moved before us and were happy with the doctors they found through this service. They try to locate a doctor that’s accepting new patients and is closer to where you live. If you don’t like the doctor after your initial meeting you can always go back to Health Care Connect and ask them to find you a new doctor

https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-family-doctor-or-nurse-practitioner#section-1

You need a valid Health Card for this which you can only get once you move here.

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It is recommended to find a PCP (GP) close to where you live or work, so you should be starting that search once decided on your place of residence. In general, if you are not in core Brampton/Mississauga/DT, it’s easy to find a doctor that you like within short time.

Thanks so much! I did take a look at this, however I suppose we can only utilize this after 3 months( The time it takes to get the Health care card).
So I guess, the private insurance that we opt for 3 months is the place to find any doctors/PCPS for those 3 months and switch to a different doc once we get the card.

Appreciate the response! Thanks!

Appy

Thanks much! Yes, once we decide on the location I suppose we can track the PCP’s and other details close by.
So you are suggesting if we live temporarily around downtown GTA its quicker to get appointments with docs?

Appreciate it!

Regards,
Appy

We just completed 3 years in Toronto, Canada. We moved from the Bay Area with two kids under 4 and looking back we are so grateful we made this decision to move. If everything goes well we’ll be Canadian Citizens soon. We are proud to call Canada our home and our kids have blossomed here.

Some of the positives (based on our core city living experience)

Zero/Minimal driving: Unlike the bay area where you spend numerous hours on the road, in Toronto, we barely felt the need to use our car. Our kids’ school is walking, grocery stores are walking, the gym is walking, we do everything walking. We occasionally use our car on the weekend. Public transport in Toronto is pretty good, we have friends who are car-free and happy.

Great for Kids: The city has so much going for kids even in the winter. Public schools are awesome, parks are always filled with kids. Affordable nannies. I can do a whole page on how great Toronto is for kids but I’ll keep it short by saying we absolutely love Toronto for this and I don’t think any place in the US can match a lot of these things.

Great City: Toronto is an awesome city. Super friendly, diverse and safe. It’s very easy to make friends here. Great parks, museums, theater, trails, ravines. You’ll find restaurants open till late in the night. People are always out and about irrespective of the weather. Everyone is well equipped for every type of weather and nothing stops them from stepping out.

Winter is definitely longer and extreme as compared to California. But you get used to it and if you have the right clothes it’s not a bother at all especially if you live downtown. Toronto feels like a big popular east coast American city with a bit of Europe mixed in.

As for jobs and salaries, it’s subjective. I know several folks who’ve moved here and working for top American companies Google, Instacart, Coursera, etc. I know several people who are working remotely for valley companies. We also have American friends who have moved here with family for the Canadian quality of life.

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There are walk-in clinics you could use during that period. I remember my child was sick and we still hadn’t got our health card we just visited one of the children’s walk-in clinic and got good care.