Congratulations on taking the first step
My GC process didn’t start before 6 years of H1b was over and I wasted about 2 years being in a similar dilemma
I had similar thoughts too (I’ll get a remote job in US, then apply for PR, move to canada, then wife will apply for PR and then she’ll move, stay out of US for a year, apply for h1 lottery again etc etc).
Fortunately after some time, we didn’t see any point in continuing to stay in the US and started the Canada PR process.
Though initially our plan was to go to Canada temporarily and move back to the US, now we have decided that it’s going to be for good. Having lived more than 10 years in the northeast US, cold wasn’t/isn’t an issue for us.
Though the reasons have shifted or changed a bit since the time we decided to start the PR process, here’s what we find are the pros and cons of moving to Canada with PR:
- Freedom to work anywhere / anytime / with any employer (thanks to the PR, I have my own corp in Canada and I’m contracting with a US company already).
- Freedom to not work and stay at home (I have seen quite a few of my friends or their wives wishing this was an option)
- No worries about healthcare of one or both members of the household are jobless. Funnily, I’m coming across healthcare debt horror stories in the US, after getting Canada PR, which already makes me glad about that aspect.
- Lower salaries was certainly a concern, but having met a few of the MovNorth members in Toronto, it was reassuring to see that US experience has more weightage (but you still cannot convert your current USD salary in CAD).
- Just having other sources of income (heck, drive for an Uber just for fun, AirBnB, or a small business you want to try) is possible. So any itch to be an entrepreneur can be scratched without having any restrictions of a temp work visa
- Taxes: IIRC, this is the quite a misunderstood part of the comparisons. In Canada, you are taxed individually, i.e., in the US Married Filing Jointly couple, earning $100K per head, will pay taxes based on tax brackets for $200K. In canada, there’s no MFJ concept. So both will be in the $100K bracket.
- The payroll taxes we pay (Social Security and Medicare) are technically money down the drain if we don’t stay in US (this cost is almost never added in the comparison of taxes)
- If you factor in HSA contributions, monthly premiums, include yearly out of pocket maximums, deductibles and copays, (which can be like 2%-5% depending on combined annual take home)
- As @usa2can mentioned, I cannot stand the word alien though we were so used to it since landing in the US. Feels good to be a permanent resident human
- Appears to have a lower salary (net savings may be lower compared to the US, if assuming both are having good full time jobs), but it’s hard to genuinely evaluate pay between two countries with different currencies, taxation, healthcare and cost of living.
- Everything (flight tickets, cell phone plans, car insurance, fuel, homes etc) is more expensive due to higher sales taxes and/or due to growing demand.
- Losing my professional and personal network of friends and colleagues. This I think I overthought before starting the PR process. In our case, we already know more people in Ontario than in NJ. and may not be that much of an issue after moving there.
- More months of cold weather
Most of the Cons I have listed are not truly deal braking for us. It probably may be for many others.
What’s ideal to do now:
If you want to take some time to decide whether to go fo it or not, remember that clock is ticking in terms of age (and related points) for the primary applicant and spouse. To keep the total time required to get PR, if you decide to go for it:
- Get the academic credentials evaluated for you and your wife (this easily takes 2-3 months of time, and if you don’t have the necessary docs, then much longer) because the evaluation is valid for 5 years.
- Get IELTS/CELPIP for both of you, this is valid for 2 years. (this will save a month or two or more in the PR processing timeline based on how many attempts are needed for a good enough score).
The reason to get these two done is, once you have these, you can apply for Express Entry at any moment.
We decided to start the Express Entry process in November 2017, got CoPR in September 2018, and landed in Canada in November 2018. If we had our IELTS and WES docs ready earlier, that’d have cut the total duration by 3 months.
Hope all this info helps in making a decision.