Lived in US for 13 years (F1, CPT, OPT, H1b).
Been in Canada for little less than a year
- What’s your take on the Job Market?
This seems to be quite specific to industry / vertical you are in. S/W jobs seem to be plenty. But applying to the low hanging fruits usually means super low ball offers. It’s easy to be mislead by the salaries you see on the listings and you may think the salaries are too low. If you can get remote US jobs, huge advantage. Bigger / established new tech companies (Slack, Square, Amazon, Google) pay top $ for top talent even in Canada.
- What’s your take on lifestyle?
Materialistically, it hasn’t changed much. Some things cost a lot more. Fuel and Insurance for your car is expensive.
eg: Honda Civic insurance in NJ was about 55 USD per month. Started off with 238 CAD per month in Ontario (because less US driving history, due to living in different states). After 6 months and COVID discount, it is now 140 CAD per month. And the liability component in the insurance is a significant percentage, because people in GTA drive like idiots (quite a lot of rich kids driving like it is Grand Theft Auto) and also because of insurance fraud (based on your home location).
Housing costs are super expensive (compared to a similar sized home in the US) or if you look at it the other way, for the same price, the homes are super tiny.
Otherwise, I think not having to worry about healthcare costs and immigration, takes off a huge load from your mind. People tend to be generally nicer (compared to US). Living in a Toronto / GTA means you have access to a wide variety of cuisines. Neighbourhoods seem to be more diverse.
There’s a lot to do in the city or even away from the city. Haven’t explored much thanks to COVID.
We love the healthcare because we tried this: Went to a nearby clinic which had 7-8 doctors listed. Asked which doctor has the most availability (or is available in that location most often). Signed up with that doc. We get same/next day appointments, and doctor is great. Yet to visit a specialist, so we are not sure how that experience will be. If you sign up with a doc who is hard to get hold off, then probably you wont like the Canadian healthcare experience in terms of how long it takes for you to get an appointment.
- How do you feel about giving up your H1B and moving to Canada?
We didn’t give up our H1B. We got rid of it. You can take a guess about how we feel about it now . It’s been extremely liberating. Having lived as an Alien for almost 14 years, living as a PR reminded us how much we got used to having very limited freedom.
- Do you plan to come back to the USA when the dates (priority) get current?
No I-140 for either of us. Didn’t even bother starting the process, so no plans of going back to US. In any case, even if we had I-140, it’d mean moving back to US in the 50s, find an employer willing to go through the process, and hope the priority dates dont retrogress and then be shackled with some more rules (time in US to maintain GC) etc, then 5 years after that get citizenship. I saw no point of getting it at that age.
Instead, in 4-5 years after moving to Canada, we can get citizenship. Can work in the US on a TN visa if needed (and not pay FICA that we’d never use). Live anywhere, work when and where you want, Travel as much as you feel like. Whether we go through the process of citizenship or not is immaterial. Just the fact that theres no uncertainty in the process lets you figure out what you want to do next.
Here’s how I look at living in the US: It is great to kick start your career, build up savings, when you are under 30, single or not with kids, when you don’t have much to worry about health or dependents immigration status / work auth. Once in 30s or 40s, healthcare costs (for the employer’s POV) makes it easy to for companies to ignore older employees / applicants or those with anything more than a simple health issue. I have seen some well known independent developers in their late 30s / 40s, mostly worried about healthcare costs. This situation doesn’t exist in Canada, since employer doesn’t pay anything for the primary health insurance aspect. Similarly as a non-employee you dont have to worry about healthcare.
- What could you have done differently if you had a chance to go back in time before you moved to Canada?
Similar to what others have said: Should have applied for Canada PR and moved to Canada much much earlier.
If you have even the slightest itch to do something other than being employed (take a long break, try a few business ideas of your own, build a side hustle etc), it means you are losing opportunities and time, the longer you stay in the US. I could have easily moved to Canada 3 years earlier. That’s what I wish I had done. Instead, we wasted a lot of time trying to figure out all the possibilities of H1b, H4 EAD, F1 CPT, I-140, O-1 etc.