5 Cities to Consider if You Want to #MovetoCanada

Nicole Laoutaris
by Nicole Laoutaris March 8, 2016 / No Comments

Last week’s Super Tuesday win by Donald Trump had an interesting effect on U.S. Google searches: “how can I move to Canada” searches spiked 350% in just 24 hours, and by midnight peaked at 1,150%. That search term has popped up before in connection to the political climate in the United States, but Google Trends reported that last week’s searches were the highest of any time in Google history.

If you Google “move to Canada” right now, you’ll see the news coverage that has popped up in connection to the story. Outlets are reporting on everything from instructions on how to make the move, to Canadian cuisine, and what kinds of jobs are available here. We thought this was an intriguing approach on how to move to Canada and work for tech startups by Geektime.com.

Because of the weak Canadian dollar, Americans could be looking at an attractive discount if they wanted to buy property here. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average home price in Canada is $470,000, which translates to slightly more than US$350,000. We wanted to take this opportunity to crunch a few home-buying numbers, and offer our own list of best cities in Canada to consider for our American counterparts. Before making the move, Americans should consider using an online calculator to play around with down payment amounts, amortization period scenarios, interest rate options, taxes, and cash needed to purchase a home in Canada. (By the way, interest paid on a mortgage on your personal residence isn’t tax deductible here like it is in the U.S.)

In no particular order…

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto has endless restaurant offerings, beautiful parks, major museums and art galleries, an internationally acclaimed film festival that draws the biggest Hollywood stars to the city every year, is the home to the second coolest neighbourhood in the world–according to Vogue—and of course this city is Drake’s beloved hometown. But this year Toronto also jumped from No. 26 to seven on BMO’s Regional Labour Market Report Card, showing a 4% increase in job growth.

Though this city’s residents will tell you this is an unfair comparison, Toronto is often considered our version of New York City. So if you’re choosing between these two cities, consider that the average home price in Toronto is $622,000 (US$429,000). To buy an average-priced home in New York City, Americans have to come up with an amount well in excess of US$1 million.

Montreal, Quebec

Even though English-speaking visitors to the city won’t have a problem getting by, Montreal is one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world. For Francophone Americans, this could be a great option. The city is ripe with cultural variety. According to Traveller.com, which named this city in its Top 10 cities everyone must visit, it “is multicultural, multilingual, progressive and accepting.” You can live in a city famous for its unparallelled smoked meat sandwiches, chewy bagels, award-winning cheese, and Quebec is the birthplace and best place for poutine. If you need to work off all of that grub, you can hike in the scenic Parc du Mont-Royal or explore the beautiful streets and shops in the Plateau.

The average price of a home in Montreal is $341,000, which is a cool US$256,000. Comparable culture-heavy U.S. cities could be Portland (US$335,000), Austin (US$334,758) or New Orleans (US$305,000), putting Montreal on top for affordability.

Vancouver, British Columbia

In Canada, Toronto and Vancouver are all the buzz right now due to their skyrocketing home prices. Vancouver is experiencing a boom much like San Francisco, with limited land availability and big money–foreign investment and tech, respectively–driving up home prices where the average price is $743,000 (US$512,000). With San Fran being the most comparable location, the average home price in the Golden Gate City is a whopping US$1.1 million.

Offering a beautiful mix of big-city appeal and the gorgeous natural world–much like San Francisco–visitors and residents can explore the largest park in Canada, Stanley Park; buy fresh market goods on Granville Island; give into their adventurous side by taking on the Capilano Suspension Bridge; and head to Gastown to explore galleries, restaurants, and designer stores. Vancouver is also one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world and has the largest Chinatown in the country.

Ottawa, Ontario

Considering the underlying political reasons for this “move to Canada” spike, Americans could consider our capital city. It’s also home to our new prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Yes, this is a second Ontario city on the list, but with Alberta experiencing a severe hit to the economy due to the downturn in oil prices, Ontario was the one province that saw job growth last year. The province’s unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.7%, according to a recent report by Statistics Canada.

And Ottawa is much more than government buildings. You can lose yourself in the National Gallery of Canada, one of the country’s largest art galleries with more than 1,200 works; take a gorgeous afternoon bike ride along the Ottawa River; paddle along Mooney’s Bay; run (or skate) along the Rideau Canal; explore the Byward Market; and show your Canadian love by visiting Parliament Hill, especially for the major celebrations on Canada Day. And if you make the move soon enough, you’ll get to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017!

If you want to make that move, the average home price in Ottawa is $387,000 (US$268,000). Compare this to the U.S. capital where you’d have to pay as much at US$510,000.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada’s east coast is not to be forgotten. Our Atlantic coastline provinces offer harbour towns with gorgeous views, lighthouses, cliffs, ocean views, and the best seafood in the country. Halifax boasts traditional pubs, summer festivals, historic neighbourhoods and architecture, and the famous Peggys Cove (yes, there’s no apostrophe), a rural town on the eastern shore of the Halifax Regional Municipality. There you’ll find storybook rustic charm, and breathtaking views from the most photographed lighthouse in Canada. Peggys Cove is mostly a tourist town, and the locals are mainly in the fishing and lobster industries. Interestingly, there are restrictions on who can move into the community to prevent inflated property values for the year-round residents.

But, it’s just 45 minutes from downtown Halifax, where you’ll find home prices at an average of $265,000, which is US$198,000.

It’s your move

Outside of this “housing sale” for Americans due to the state of the Canadian dollar, the reasons we Canadians love it here include our famed free healthcare system, and a progressive government. In Ontario the provincial government just announced free tuition for students whose families make less than $50,000 per year, 20% of the world’s fresh water is here, and we have very generous parental leave.

If you’re already living in Canada or thinking about making the move, we always recommend you do some comparison shopping for the best mortgage rates in Canada, and make your Canadian or American dollar work for you.

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Flickr: Jessica