An American moving to Canada: what should I know?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by BadlyDrawnGirl, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. BadlyDrawnGirl macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #1
    So, my British partner and I have decided to permanently relocate to Canada (a compromise between the UK and the US, although I wasn't too keen on going back to the US anyway). He is applying to either the Calgary or Edmonton police force in Alberta, as they both offer the PNP (provincial nomination programme) scheme which would fast-track him to permanent residency in an average of 6-12 months. I'm currently applying to law schools in the area so we should be fully settled by Fall 2009.

    I'm just wondering, for any of you Canadians out there, what's the general quality of life like up there as opposed to the US? How do basic costs like housing, groceries and Internet/cell phones (always an essential!) compare? And really, are the winters THAT bad? (Neither of us are really into the whole landlocked living thing, so we'll probably be eventually moving to the Vancouver/Victoria BC area a few years after he's put in some time in the police.)

    Any suggestions on good banks, utility companies and whatnot would be appreciated as well. :)
     
  2. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

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    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #2
    Everything's more expensive, the air and the cities in general are much cleaner than in the states, everything is in French as well as in English. And yes, it's bloody cold in the winter, unless you live on the west coast where it's a bit more temperate. But it still gets chilly. If you're living in Alberta (or pretty much any provice, for that matter) you'll need a block heater in your car's engine to keep things from freezing in the winter.
    I envy you. I'm a Canadian living in the states. I've been tempted to move back many times, but I would be a fool to lose my US residency until I know for sure where I want to go.
    Keep us posted how it goes. Good luck!
     
  3. BadlyDrawnGirl thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #3
    Thanks! We seem to have a good plan hammered out, unfortunately it all depends on two major contingencies: 1) him getting into the police, and 2) me getting into law school, LOL. He's a former British Army officer so the physical test (which is supposed to be the hardest part of the police exams) shouldn't be anything worse than what he went through, but he joined up when he was 20 and he's 26 now, so (he claims) he's not as fit as he was. And me, well...I basically just need to ace the LSAT. Sigh...

    Sorry for the dumb question, but what's a block heater? I lived in NYC for years so never had a need for a car...but I sure know about cold winters!
     
  4. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2007
    #4
    It is a heater that heats up your engine to help you start the car when the temperature is -35 degrees.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_heater
     
  5. BadlyDrawnGirl thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #5
    MINUS 35 degrees?? I hope that's hyperbole...

    EDIT: Or did you mean less than? Sorry, I'm an idiot...
     
  6. glennyboiwpg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2007
    #6
    Block heaters are heaters inside the car that warms up the engine just enough that you can start the thing. Won't make you any warmer inside the cab though... YOu'll see a small powercord hanging out of the front car. Block heaters are usually something that is added by the car manufactors. As long as you get your vehicle inside canada it will be a non-issue.

    If your really bothered by cold cars, just get a remote car starter. Start the car from your comfy indoors wait unitl its warm inside the car and then off ya go.

    I live in winnipeg (center of the country) Its bloody cold here but cheap. Calgary/edmonton/Vancouver are really nice places to visit... not sure if I could afford to live there.

    I bought my house last jan for 85000 and that house would probably be at least 300000 in edmonton.... it would be more in calgary and more yet in vancouver.

    But then again winnipeg is a dumpy city that is less attractive then holes in the ground.
     
  7. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 7, 2007
    #7
    I lived in upstate NY for three years and it got down to -35 F numerous times. I am not familiar with the Calgary or Edmonton weather but a lot of people had block heaters in NY if their cars were not kept in garages. Looking on weatherunderground... it doesn't look like Calragy is as cold as Ottawa, but it is still cold.
     
  8. FrankBlack macrumors 6502

    FrankBlack

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    Looking for Lucy Butler
    #8
    Oh I think he means it. :eek: You're not an idiot, you just need information. Some parts of Northern New England, such as Northern Maine, New Hampshire, and Northeast Vermont, are known to get that cold in the winter. I have some family in Nova Scotia. They don't have Arctic-like cold, but it can indeed get pretty nippy, and when the wind blows in January, you'll feel it. It's been said that "Winter belongs to those who dress for it". Fair enough.

    As others have noted, the block heater simply replaces one of the freeze plugs in your engine block. Most cars delivered to the Northern New England area have them installed by default. Often, many hotels that cater to skiers will have "car plug ins", so you can plug in your block heater. It simply keeps the coolant warm, so the engine will start much better.

    Some of the coldest places in New England are Jackman, Maine, Colebrook, NH, and Beecher Falls, Vermont. That's right on the point where New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada come together. Can't imagine what they do in the winter up there.
     
  9. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    Toronteazy
    #9
    Both Edmonton and Calgary are cold cold cold, with Edmonton being not insignificantly colder. Calgary and Ottawa are about on par, temperature wise.

    The warmest major cities in Canada are Toronto and Vancouver, with Vancouver averaging in the positives throughout the year.

    The basic quality of life compared to the states in any major city is, for all intents and purposes, identical. I've lived in L.A. and Toronto, and I don't find my life "lacking" in anything that I had in L.A., and actually prefer it here.

    Winters actually can get pretty bad. We sometimes get exposed skin warnings that say something along the lines of "exposed skin will freeze in less than three minutes". Generally speaking, though, when you live in one of the major metropolitan areas, it's no more of a concern than it is in, say, New York. A good coat, hat, scarf, and gloves and it's nothing to worry about, as long as you layer and otherwise dress appropriately. Learn to do things like double up your socks, and invest in a few pairs of "long johns".

    Internet averages about $45-50 CAD a month for high-speed. Cell phones are generally more expensive here, but you can get pretty decent student rates.

    If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. I've got friends all over this crazy country, and I've lived in Edmonton, Toronto, and Los Angeles.

    Also, visit viewit.ca to check out apartments and get an idea for the average rent will run you in different area.
     
  10. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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    USA! USA!
  11. Pants Dragon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    #11
    I live in Winnipeg as well, though I'm originally from Thompson, which is a town about 500 miles north of Winnipeg. -35 is nothing.:p Especially once you start talking about wind chill. :)
     
  12. juanster macrumors 68020

    juanster

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Location:
    toronto
    #12
    you will most likely not need a block heather, i ve lived in canada for the last 7 years and i actually do not know of anyone that has a block heater in the car,, not even the trucks i rent at u-haul have them, not even the diesel ones...hmm interesting....(i do not mean to disrespect or say that anyone is lying by the way) and yes it is colder up here, but also life up here is more adapted to the cold so you feel it way less( for example teh amount of snow,, it usually snows way more here than in most parts of teh sates, but after a day of the snowfall snow will all be piled up on the sides by plowing trucks, because since we know it may happen, we have the right equipment to do so, i gotta say i used to feel way colder when i lived in NYC than here in Toronto, feel feel, but i know that it does get colder up here...calgary is booming right now lots of jobs offering , i ve heard mortgages, rents housing in general is very expensive though i actually do not know for sure, i have been in calgary and think it s a very nice place... good luck and just ask if you wnat to know anything in particular...
     
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #13
    You're making the right choice. ;)


    Um.....Welcome To The Social™.

    I live in Toronto and have never had a block heater. I think some of my high school teachers had them, but their cars were quite old.
     
  14. naftalim macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #14
    Vancouver needs police, and its one of the greatest cities in the world so that would be a good choice. No Apple store here yet, but its coming

     
  15. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

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    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    #15
    I'm in Calgary right now and although it's supposed to get fairly cold, it's a dry cold that doesn't chill you to your bones. Also, Chinook winds from the Pacific occasionally come down over the Rockies and can send the temperature soaring a good 10-15 degrees C. Of the cities I've lived in, Ottawa and Toronto are the most livable and they have an urban feel kind of like NY but smaller and cleaner. Calgary is very clean, but very spread out so you need to drive to get anywhere. I hear Edmonton is the same.
     
  16. ~David macrumors regular

    ~David

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #16
    - We all have pet beavers
    - We live in igloos during the winter
    - We drink nothing but beer and watch nothing but Hockey

    Na, joking (obviously). About the block heater, chances that you'll need one are slim to none now, you know with Global Warming and what not. But it's always good to have. Most cars manufactured here have them as a standard feature.

    - If you keep seeing Tim-Hortons' over and over again, no you're not driving in circles, there really is one at almost every corner.

    - If you see a bunch of Moose (Mooses?) in downtown Toronto, dont worry, they're all statues.
     
  17. juanster macrumors 68020

    juanster

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    Location:
    toronto
    #17

    haha amazing, same with shoppers drugmarts, one everysingle corner...
     
  18. huntnboy04 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Location:
    MI, USA
    #18
    Glad it's not just here. I live in Michigan, they just opened 3 locations which are within 2 miles of my house.

    Anyway. What are Canada's gun ownership laws like? I am wondering because depending on what happens in the Presidential Election in 11.5 months, I might be relocating to Canada as well.
     
  19. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    I'm where I need to be
  20. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #20
    Pretty strict, pretty unenforced, pretty much ignored and pretty expensive to the taxpayers.
     
  21. EMU1337 macrumors member

    EMU1337

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    #21
    Trailer Park Boys.....thats all I need to say about Canada, look it up if you don't know what it is, best show ever.
     
  22. FrankBlack macrumors 6502

    FrankBlack

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    Dec 28, 2005
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    Looking for Lucy Butler
    #22
    Egads!!! :eek: I just thought of the most compelling reason to move to Canada! FudgeeO's!! Ummmm! Double stuffed FudgeeO's. Oh heck, the regular stuffed ones are just as good.

    A friend brings me back a few bags, when he goes north on business, about twice per year.

    Tell me, Canadian friends, am I right about these cookies? Are they the best, or what? :D
     
  23. vanmacguy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Location:
    Not where you live.
    #23
    It's spelled tuque eh?

    I'm in Vancouver but have lived in Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton.

    We don't have everything in French and English (most people I know don't speak French), we don't only drink beer and I've never had Canadian Bacon. We do watch a lot of hockey, a lot of people say 'eh?' and in Edmonton or Calgary you *will* need a block heater if your car is outside in the winter for any length of time - but all cars in those places are sold with one.

    Calgary is expensive, but salaries are high. They're going through a huge boom now due to the oil prices and the fact that Alberta has a lot of oil. Calgary is a lovely city, it's new and sprawling. It's about 90 minutes from the mountains and really good skiing. They have a weather effect called the Chinook which means that during the winter you can go from -20 to +20 in the place of two days. The winter skies in Calgary are pretty much always clear, which means cold. You can reasonably expect snow any time after September 1st and by mid July your grass will be burned and brown 'cause it's hot.

    Edmonton is cheaper and (IMO) the people are much nicer and salaries are a bit lower than Calgary but still high. Calgary is very much white collar whereas Edmonton is more blue collar. Edmonton doesn't get Chinooks and gets more snow. Edmonton is about 2 hours from the mountains and not as good skiing as from Calgary. Edmonton gets fantastic thunderstorms in the summer, just fantastic and the summers are hot.

    Calgary is where the offices are for the mega-rich oil companies and Edmonton is where the work happens (or where the people that do the work live).

    Vancouver is the place to be however. It's more expensive than both the afore mentioned and salaries are not as high because we don't have the oil.
    You will *never* need a block heater in Vancouver. It rains a lot but we have flowers and green grass all year - give me rain over snow any day. If you're a die hard fan you could probably play golf every week of the year. The skies are grey and cloudy (with some exceptions, such as today when it's clear and cold) from around October to around April. We have beaches and ocean on one side, mountains on two sides and the US border on the other side. We have great skiing 15 minutes from downtown and what some say the worlds best skiing 90 minutes away. Some people here wear shorts and sandals all year. It snows typically for two days a year but it's really wet, sloppy snow which causes havoc on the roads but it's gone after a couple of days.

    If you like a White Christmas and don't like rain, don't move to Vancouver. The weather is our favorite topic any day.

    If you want more information or have specific questions, please don't hesitate to PM me, I'd be more than happy to answer your questions. Canada is a beautiful place, we have our fair share of problems too, but on the whole our standard of living is high.

    The Gulf Islands just west of Vancouver have to be seen to be believed and the mountains that border Alberta and British Columbia are just as spectacular.

    I think it's a good thing that you move to Alberta first, and then head out to BC. That's what I did and I can honestly say that I wouldn't live anywhere else now.

    Cheers.
     
  24. juanster macrumors 68020

    juanster

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Location:
    toronto
    #24
    yeha they are pretty good, but i do miss the Red Bull tall cans you guys have down in the states here we are stuck with the little, normal dosis of redbull per can what is that all about? ahhaha
     
  25. Raid macrumors 68020

    Raid

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    Toronto
    #25
    To answer the OP's questions I feel the quality of life is better in Canada than the US (I like less gun violence, better health care, more social support, cleaner cities...colour me patriotic I guess).

    On costs, basic goods are usually more expensive here than the US, but due to the strength of the Canadian dollar there is a tremendous amount of pressure on businesses to drop their prices to 'US levels'.

    As for winters... yes it can get to -35 degrees C in the winter, more some times with wind-chill; but that's not the typical winter day. One thing you should be prepared for is that winter lasts a little longer here. We are expecting our first snow storm here in Toronto tomorrow, and we'll probably see the last snow in early April. (mind you there will be a lot of melt offs in between) :eek: The weather can differ a lot though, Vancouver is fairly warm with not much snow (rain mostly)

    As for Banks you might not have that much choice, rules for creating a bank in Canada are pretty different from the US. So here, you have the "Big 5" banks (TD-National Trust, CIBC, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, and Royal Bank) which are all national with ABM's and branches all over the place. There are other banks/credit unions but only a few have national coverage (HSBC is the only one coming to mind right now), but it's probably best to go with one of the big 5.

    With utilities there is a fair selection for phone, cable, internet (but it depends on where you live). Oh! One word of warning, if you buy a house in a province with de-regulated gas companies operating watch out! Gas companies in this environment have been known to use some rather underhanded, high pressure tactics to get you signed to a contract never sign anything those people give you!

    Thankfully that Moose statue thing has been over for a few years now, businesses bought them up and took them away, theres only one Moose statue right now that I know of in the GTA and that's just a bit north of Yonge and Eglinton.

    However now that the CN Tower is no longer the largest free standing tower, we have covered it in L.E.D's to make it look like the worlds largest lava lamp! :p

    Well Iscariot kind of has it right, but I think that's mainly in reference to the gun registry laws... but as a former Customs Officer, if you want to bring weapons into Canada when immigrating there are lots of forms and approvals before everything is ok'd. Honestly unless you're a hunter or a serious collector it's best to leave it all behind.
     

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