Opting to move to a foreign country is an expensive undertaking that you should prepare for financially in advance. In addition to the move itself, you must also consider expenses such as finding a place to live and applying for temporary residency---without it you cannot work in Canada. If done properly, you can prevent the intense stress an international move often brings and make your experience a pleasant one.
When undergoing any long distance move, transportation costs can add up. Depending on how far away you currently live from your destination, you could pay several thousand dollars to have professional movers pack your belongings and move them to Canada. Shipping items to Canada is likely to be even more expensive, since you may be required to pay a duty tax on packages entering the country. Whether or not your particular package will be stopped and assigned a duty is random. Renting a moving truck and moving yourself is by far the cheapest option. International rental companies will allow you to rent a truck in the U.S. and drop it off at a Canadian location.
The prices of Canadian apartments and rental homes are typically comparable with U.S. prices. As of September 2009, you could expect to be charged monthly rent ranging from $700 to $1100 in Canada. Similar to the U.S., the closer you are to a big city, the more expensive rental property becomes. The average Canadian homebuyer spends around $130,000 for a home. This is actually much less than the average American homeowner. This is good news for you when you get ready to purchase a house in Canada. Unless you plan on paying cash for a home, however, buying property will not be an option until you have been in the country long enough to establish a Canadian credit profile and obtain permanent residency.
To live comfortably in a foreign country, you must be able to work and support yourself. Canada requires all individuals planning to live and work within its borders to have temporary or permanent residency. If you do not have a family member living in Canada able to sponsor you, you can apply for residency as a skilled worker. This is a broad category that offers eligibility to workers from a variety of industries. The fees for permanent residency average around $1500 per application. Acquiring permanent residency will, however, save you money in the long run, since permanent residents have access to Canada's free national health care system. You can apply for temporary residency prior to your move for a fee of $200. Temporary residents receive a work permit and may work in Canada as soon as they arrive.
Sales tax in Canada is much greater than sales tax in the U.S. When making purchases, you will be subject to a provincial sales tax and a goods and services tax (GST). For example, if you make a purchase in Ontario, you will pay a 15 percent total tax on your purchase---7 percent sales tax and 8 percent GST. The sales tax is regulated by province. Income tax rates, however, do not vary greatly from those in the U.S. Because of the added sales tax on purchases, your everyday cost of living once you arrive in Canada will probably be more than you are accustomed to. Prepare for this in your moving budget.
Save for your move well ahead of time. Budget for at least three months in Canada without a job. Apply for temporary residency ahead of time; this will provide you with a work permit when you arrive. You can wait to apply for permanent residency until you are working. Save money by finding a Canadian roommate who will split rent and utilities with you. Also consider only bringing the bare necessities with you to Canada. Moving furniture is expensive. Keep in mind many larger items cost more to move than they do to replace. Consider selling what you do not need to finance your move.
- Photo Credit Ian Muttoo:Flickr.com
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