Moving to Canada: a guide for expats

Canada as a destination for expats

Moving to Canada is a popular choice among expats. And that is not entirely surprising considering the job opportunities, quality of schooling and living cost. Canada has not only one of the strongest economies in the world, the country is also known for its beautiful landscapes combined with the enjoyment of modern conveniences. In this guide we try to give you more information about moving to Canada and the requirements that come with it.

Canada remains a part of the British Commonwealth and is therefore a popular destination for expats from the UK and France. Also, because Canada shares most of its economic and social features with the US rather than with Europe, there are also a lot of US expatriates to be found in Canada.

Most popular expat cities

Deciding in which city you are going to live in Canada can be a very difficult decision. Namely every city has its own pros and cons. The most popular expat cities are:

  • Vancouver
  • Toronto
  • Calgary
  • Montreal
  • Ottawa

All five cities listed above rank high in quality of living and have a multicultural tolerant community.

canada as an expat destination

Moving to Canada: checklist

Even though moving to the great north sounds like paradise, the relocating process is not always that straightforward. Below we listed some things you need to arrange before moving to Canada.

Visas & work permits

When moving to Canada you need to arrange a Canadian Visa and work permit as soon as possible. The process of acquiring a visa may take up to a year (and in some cases even longer). As an expat moving to Canada for work, you also need to apply for a work permit. The type of work permit depends on the work you do. Worth mentioning here is that some expats are not required to have a work permit. You can find out if you need it via this link.


Canada has a lot of options and types of accommodations, like short- and long-term rentals or furnished and unfurnished rentals. The bad news is that the housing costs can be high, especially since the housing crisis started in 2002. Mostly the largest cities in Canada are facing housing scarcity. For this reason, it would be wise to plan well in advance where you want to live and in what type of accommodation.


Expat parents moving to Canada with their children will not encounter too many problems in terms of school search. Canada has many options available including international schools, private schools, universities and even language schools.


Canada has a free public healthcare system for permanent residents and citizens. For expats, the system is a little more difficult. After applying for a Canadian residency, you will have to wait three months on average to be able to make use of the public healthcare system. For this reason, it is recommended to appeal to some kind of international insurance plan during the waiting time. You never know what medical problems might occur.

Banks & taxes

Opening a bank account in Canada will without a doubt make your life as an expat easier. Even for non-residents and expats is it pretty easy to open a bank account. In most cases you will need the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Immigration papers
  • Second piece of identification
  • Social insurance number

Career opportunities in Canada

Canada recognizes the importance of skilled immigrants to the economy. Hence, the Canadian government has spoken out about being open to foreign workers. Most expats moving to Canada find work in the insurance or production sector. There is also a high demand for expats working in the field of project management and engineering.

career opportunities canada

Cost of living in Canada

On a global scale, Canada has one of the highest living costs in the world. Of course, everything depends on your home country in order to make an informed comparison. It is generally assumed that the financial shock might be higher coming from Europe than coming from the US or the UK. If we zoom in on the different cities, we see that mainly British Colombia has the most expensive cities in Canada.

cost of living in canada

Moving to Canada with a professional moving firm

Organizing an international move to Canada is not something you should go through on your own. An international moving firm can not only give assistance in administration. We can also help you with insurance, school search and long or short term storage.