Five Reasons Why I Live In Canada

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I Am Canadian

As I explained before, unlike many immigrants, I hadn’t really planned to immigrate to Canada. It sort of happened: I came here and I decided to stay. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision though. I was in Canada for almost a year on a tourist visa I had extended, and then I got a working holiday visa. Only then I felt ready to apply for permanent residence.

Canada welcomes about 250,000 new immigrants a year. I doubt all of them eventually stay and make Canada their permanent home. Life isn’t always easy at first and immigrating is much more than getting a residence permit. After the honeymoon period, the hugeness of the task ahead can be scary: learning to live in a new language, adapting to new traditions, social norms and visions, recreating a network of friends… I really don’t blame those who go back home.

Yet I chose to stay. Living in Canada was difficult at first for all the reasons I just mentioned. But little by little, things got easier. Looking back, I think five reasons made me stay in Canada.

Because I can find work: The situation in France was turning quite depressing around the time I graduated from high school. “C’est la crise”: in all aspect of life, it felt like a permanent competition because there just weren’t enough jobs, apartments etc. for everybody. The whole country was stuck: those who should have retired couldn’t because they hadn’t saved enough and faced increasingly higher cost of living, those who should have moved up the corporate ladder (thus freeing entry-level positions) didn’t etc. As students, we couldn’t even get hired at McDonald’s because there was a waiting list of skilled professionals who needed the money. It looked like I would spend the next 6 or 7 years of my life studying, living off my university scholarship money and hopefully find some kind of minimum-wage position. I feel more optimistic in Canada: I find it much easier to find jobs here and people gave me a chance even though I was young.

Because Canada has an immigration program: this reason can be quite obvious but the fact that Canada has an official immigration program made my life much easier. I hated being on a tourist visa for the first few months in Canada because I felt I couldn’t do anything. This is logic after all: I was a tourist. Temporary work visa are another story. While they are great to allow you work in a specific position in a foreign country, you are still an expat. I didn’t want to feel like an expat and I didn’t want to have to deal with visa extension, renewal etc. I like the fact that all I had to do was to apply for permanent residence. It was stressful and a bit difficult but at least, once I landed, I had a permanent status.

Because I knew I would be able to become a Canadian citizen: Not all countries give immigrants the option of becoming a citizen of their adoptive country. I appreciate the fact Canada does. I didn’t want to be an expat or a foreign worker forever – I wanted to belong somewhere, to have a real status in Canada. I know I will always be an immigrant to a certain extend and I don’t mind it. But I’m also Canadian, which gives me the right to vote and to participate fully in this country’s life. I’m proud of the fact that I have a second home, a second identity and a second passport.

Because life is affordable: I left France in 2001 when the housing bubble started. Each time I go visit my family, I’m amazed at how expensive life has become. Gas, housing, food, clothes… everything costs more. I remember when I was in high school (that is only ten years ago!), a movie ticket was 30 francs (4.50 €). It’s now over 10 €. A nice pair of jeans was 200 francs (30 €) but these same jeans cost today between 100-200 €. And I saw my beloved 500 francs (75 €) Doc Martens shoes priced at over 200 euro last year. In Canada, if you don’t buy expensive imported products such as cheese and wine, food is pretty cheap. Lodging is more expensive in Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal but it’s definitely not as bad as in London or Paris. Buying a house is going to be expensive anywhere although you can even find good deals on Ottawa real estate since it’s the capital and housing there is quite pricey. When I first came to Canada, I have very little money, yet I could afford eating out once in a while and buying clothes on sale, two things I hadn’t done in a while in France.

Because relatively speaking, things work out fine: A year ago, one of my students asked me what I liked best in Canada. I paused for a minute and said just that: “Because overall, things work out fine”. French people love to rebel and there is always a strike or some kind of demonstration going on. I sometimes think it’s better than political apathy, yet it gets tiring because it feels like France is against everything and going nowhere. Canadians are more balanced. Sure, there are serious issues here, it’s not like the country is perfect. But people tend to trust each other and it looks like they want to make things work and live in harmony.

As I wrote three years ago, “Canada gave me a future, hope and the ability to choose the life I wanted. Little by little, the jigsaw fell into place. Today, I can’t really imagine what would have been my life if I had stayed in France. Maybe better, maybe worse, who knows. But I’m glad I took a chance. “

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

36 Comments

  1. A fascinating post, especially your fifth reason that things in Canada generally work out fine, and the general sense throughout the post that you find there’s more hope here than in France. In her song California, Joni Mitchell sings from Paris that she “wouldn’t want to stay here/it’s too old and cold and settled in its ways,” and I really think that’s true. The Americas are a lot more flexible in everything – hiring, firing, schooling, etc – than France is, and maybe Europe in general.
    .-= Soleil´s last blog ..It’s here! =-.

  2. I just found your blog and LOVE it! I’m trying to immigrate to Canada right now and having a heck of a time making it happen. Your blog is making me feel like it might be more attainable than I’ve been thinking 🙂

  3. We love Canada too and especially living in this densely populated city, I truly enjoyed nature & parks 🙂 Having said that, Canada is a very expensive place too then again…..now Singapore is getting expensive too ;(

  4. Not every country welcomes immigrants. Japan, for one, is terribly xenophobic.

    Some countries welcome migrant workers, but don’t give them the option of becoming citizens. Dubai is one example. (OK, Dubai is not a country.)

    Due to its red hot economy, there are plenty of expats in China. But I suspect even a naturalized Westerner will continue to be seen as 老外. After all, China’s 55 ethnic minorities don’t include Westerners.
    .-= khengsiong´s last blog ..作文班招生 =-.

  5. In Canada I liked that I was able to think about the future in a hopeful way. In France, to be happy you have to think about the past since misery seem the norm for young people.
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..La photo du mois =-.

  6. Loved this post, and I couldn’t agree more with your list, Zhu.

    I should resume my ‘Stealing posts’ series and feature some of your recent post in my blog, with the excuse that I translate them into Spanish (when everybody knows that I do it because I have no clue of how to write like that!) 🙂
    .-= Gabriel´s last blog ..Tell me Thursday #27 – Artist II =-.

  7. Beautiful post! I think you found a great place to settle. I love Canada as well, great scenery all over. Although I have never lived there to get a taste of the life style there, I can tell from your posts. Things work out fine except the cold weather, but you will still have pleasant weather at least 7-8 months right?
    .-= micki´s last blog ..Anping Fort =-.

  8. I’m glad you took the chance too, because it means you write this blog 🙂
    This is a great post. I am at a loss to explain exactly how it is that France seems to keep limping on year after year, because when one looks at some deep-rooted issues in the economy, in politics and business, logic says the country should implode 😉
    .-= Lis of the North´s last blog ..Paid assassins? =-.

  9. BRAVO , you took the right decision.

    Eventhough I think you exagerated the price of stuff in France.
    If my life didn’t turn the way it did (to complicated to write) I would still be living in Ottawa.

    Take care, have a great life in my second home.
    I miss Canada so much.
    .-= Crikette´s last blog ..Le peuple de France se soulève ? … =-.

  10. I am glad that you took this decision. somewhere we all have to … and looking down the memory lane to analyse what you did why you did actually opens up a new perception of things.

    Very inspiring post.. for you, for them who took similar decision and for them who want to.
    .-= Nisha´s last blog ..Uncertainty =-.

  11. @Soleil – I agree. I like the flexibility here. It was kind of weird at first because I was used to French laws, contracts etc. (especially at work) but after a while, I realized most people are looking for a win-win situation. It still amazes me how smooth things are here.

    @Michelle – Immigrating to Canada isn’t that difficult really. Adapting takes times but the paperwork is not that bad. I have to look at your blog to know your story!

    @shionge – I heard Singapore was really expensive… I can imagine, I already found HK very expensive, especially compared to mainland China.

    @Agnes – In summer, maybe? 😉

    @Nigel – It is still more expensive than many places in Canada but it’s normal, it’s a big city, Law of supply and demand… depends on the area too.

    @Lizz – I think the cold weather is the reason why many decide to not immigrate here!

    @khengsiong – I know what you mean, and that makes me appreciate Canada even more.

    @Seraphine – You made me laugh out loud! 😆 I think the society is definitely more flexibly and smooth here than in Europe. God my English is bad this morning!

    @Cynthia – I hear you! I felt “doomed” in France too. Weird… Life is hard there these days and I can’t even pinpoint why exactly.

    @Bluefish – I know you miss Canada!

    @Gabriel – Steal away my friend! Hopefully I sound good in Spanish too 😆

    @micki – The way of life is pretty unique. It is definitely North American, but it’s not American at the same time. It’s an interested country!

    @London Caller – French do know how to rebel, for sure!

    @Lis of the North – I think a lot of French think the same. Any time there is a major demonstration, people think this is it. And somehow, nothing changes.

    @Crikette – I’m pretty sure the prices I quoted are accurate since my last trip was last year. But as usual, it’s a perception. It’s always hard to talk numbers, especially for me 😆

    @Nisha – Thank you! I love walking down the memory line, it’s my French side 😆

  12. @ khengsiong, China has 56 recognized minorities (unless the one you excluded refers to the ethnic Russians, whom are Whites).

    All those prices you stated at the time you left France were almost the same as in Malaysia now. I can’t believe a pair of Jeans cost that much in France now! I could buy a high-end mobile phone with that price! Or even a return trip to somewhere in South East Asia, all expenses included, and still have a lot of change left! 😀
    .-= kyh´s last blog ..March o’ hell =-.

  13. Love your post Zhu! I agree with you on Canada’s official immigration program. I was very pleasantly surprised with all the services offered to new immigrants. The best of all, Canadians work hard to improve the existing programs in order to facilitate the installation process.
    .-= Yasmine´s last blog ..The Love Story About Two Dirty Socks =-.

  14. @kyh – I can’t believe how expensive everything has gotten in France, it’s just crazy. Prices do change in Canada too but not as much and there are always sales going on.

    @Delph – Je ne sais pas trop ce que recoupe la qualité de vie mais je pense qu’on est sur la même longueur d’onde. Même si je préfère de loin Ottawa et l’Ontario! 😉

    @Yasmine – This surprised me too, especially considering Europe doesn’t have such programs for immigrants. I like the way it’s done in Canada, it’s very transparent.

    @Cornflakegirl – Well, good luck with your application!

    @Fede – I think Argentina and France are very similar on many grounds, especially when it comes to social protest and stupid government!

  15. As an American wishing to immigrate to Toronto, is it true that my wife and I must have $13,000 saved up before we can consider moving to Canada to prove we can take care of ourselves for 90 days?

    Also, how does NAFTA affect our desire to move to Canada? I’ve read in some places that NAFTA allows for things to go easier but nobody was clear as to how.

    The biggest obstacles to us moving is the $13,000 requirement-if it exists- and whether or not one has to be debt-free when applying for permanent residency in Canada. Can anyone please clarify these issues?

    • If you are immigrating in the skilled workers category, yes, you must have settlement funds (see here: . Trust me, you will need it – immigrating to another country, no matter where you are from, is expensive.

      I haven’t heard anything about being debt-free and I know people who keep on paying the mortgage back in their home country, so I guess this is not a requirement as long as you have the settlement funds.

      As far as I know (I’m French and Canadian, not American!) the NAFTA agreement doesn’t make immigration much easier than it is now. I know that as a Canadian, I can’t move to the USA just like that, so I assume it is the same for you guys 😉

    • Honestly, NAFTA will really have very little impact on you. It is a trade agreement and does not really do anything in terms of immigration.

      Now it may have an impact on items you bring/send across the boarder. Some things may incur tax, for instance if you are bringing you car. A car built outside of north america will get a duty charged on import into canada (this can be expensive depending on what you drive). If it was built in north america though, you are free and clear. This is not brand dependant, but rather where it really was built, so a BMW X5 built in South carolina is the same duty (zero) as a Ford truck built in detroit, but your BMW car built in germany, or your toyota built in japan will get you hit on taxes.

      Nafta really streamlined things for import and export, beyond some things like cars you wont see nafta impacting you at all.

      • Thank you for you input! I admit I know relatively little about the trade agreement, mostly because it’s that, a trade agreement. That said, it’s much easier to cross the border as a Canadian than as a French or whatever citizenship!

  16. Alecsandre Volti on

    Hi, i am contemplating on the issue of me permanently moving to Canada. I recently graduate from high school in the United States but am a Mexican citizen, since I was born in Mexico (I am of Spanish decent). I will be returning to Mexico and will be attending university there but I want to further my French, that is why i’ll be taking classes abroad in France (Montpelier). I can already speak French well, and I also speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese (my mother is from Portugal/i thought i let you know). To get back on track, My intentions are to seek work in Canada and potentially move there permanently. My question is, what procedures you took to apply for Canadian citizenship or permanent residence? If you can, please, specify in detail.

  17. I’m glad I found your site. I’ve got my New Zealand Residence approved, and same as you, it sort of happened. I came from Argentina on a W&H in 2011, but then things started working out, found my kiwi lover, and started writing my story here, although I still got a long way to go ahead. Nobody can explain better than us how it feels to be an expat, and your five reasons are the same ones I choose since NZ and Canada have lots of similarities. Thanks for your posts! 🙂

  18. Pingback: Do You Want To Live In Canada . . . Seriously? (Part 1) | Lost In The Leaf City

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