Lolling in a powder-white beach or drinking wine under the Tuscan sun may just be your usual idea of retirement heaven. But you may find Canada to be a good choice for retirement, familiarso comfortable, but with enough difference to make life spicy and interesting – starting with its weather.
Canada occupies most of North America and is the second largest country in total area. With such a large area, the country has a diverse topography for all who seek to retire in the country.
Retiring To Canada
Climate in Canada
Canada is known for its “challenging” weather. Go to its Rockies and Pacific region if you want the mildest climate in the country. This area extends from the coast of British Columbia to the crowded cities of Vancouver and Victoria, and Prince Rupert and Jasper. On the other hand, the grain rich plains of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan have cold winters, hot summers and scanty rainfall.
During sweltering summers, parts of Ontario can reach 30 degree Centigrade temperatures, but the Great Lakes can have a moderating effect on this heat. Southern Quebec is known for a mild spring, a cold but brief autumn, and extremes of humid hot summers and cold snowy winters. The Atlantic region of Canada combines heavy snowfall and sudden changes in the temperatures. Summers are warm in the region but are usually comfortable and not oppressive.
Government in Canada
In terms of area, Canada is the second largest country in the world, next only to Russia. However, population wise, it is smaller than countries like France and Japan. Its population was only 32.2 million in 2006. About 90% of the Canadian population live clustered along its border with the U.S., while large tracts of land remain virtually unpopulated, a wonderful opportunity for people who want adventures in untamed nature. Canada is relatively open to the entry of immigrants of various ethnic, religious and cultural persuasions. It does not suffer from racial tension and conflict to the extent that countries like the US and France do. However there are some criticisms from the UN about Canada’s treatment of its indigenous peoples and there is the lingering issue of the Quebec separatist movement.
The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General Quentin Bryce.The fact that the US is its neighbor has affected Canada tremendously, and the two, together with Mexico have formed the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). There are many trade, environment, foreign policy, and other issues that remain unresolved between US and Canada including such diverse concerns as farm subsidies and the Iraq war.
Tax System in Canada
You will need a social insurance number (SIN), which the Canadian Revenue Agency will use for income tax and benefit purposes. To get a SIN, you should go to any Social Development Canada (SDC) office. The Canadian tax system is similar to that of many countries. Employers deduct taxes regularly on your salary and people with income from business or rents pay taxes by installment. You have to complete an income tax return and submit it to the Canada Revenue Agency. Under the country’s tax system, you have the right and responsibility to verify your income tax status and make sure the amount of taxes you pay is correct. Canada has concluded tax treaties with many countries to avoid double taxation; these treaties determine how much taxes Canada and your country of origin can collect from you. The rate is reflected in a post at the Canada Expat Forum last August 19, 2009:
you should probably allow at least 35% total deductions from each paycheque.
There are also other taxes involved in transactions in Canada. Amongst them is a sales tax on purchases made. This is called the Goods and Services Tax set at 5%, with an additional Provincial Sales Tax on purchases. Each province has its own rates set for the imposable taxes.
Medical Care in Canada
There is a public health system in Canada and is governed by the Canada Health Act. The costs of this system are supported by taxes. Primary care private practitioners form the foundation of Canada’s health care system. Canadians who need medical care usually go to a physician or clinic, armed with the health insurance card that is given to all qualified residents. They do not pay the doctor or the clinic. Instead the private practitioners file service claims with the government’s insurance plan that pays them. More than 95% of Canadian hospitals are non-profit entities run by community boards and accountable to the communities and not the bureaucracy. In Canada, health care is considered a universal human right and its quality is generally adequate, even excellent. However there are still problems such as the imbalance of health professionals, that is, an oversupply or adequate supply of nurses and doctors in cities and serious scarcity in rural isolated areas. There was a post made at the Canada Expat Forum last August 17, 2009:
Con’s Shortage of GP’s. There are walk-in clinics to offset this but you may not
get an assigned GP for a few years. The clinics work well and you will
receive equivalent treatment
Does not cover drugs (except when in hospital) and dental care.
Now, many employers provide supplementary health benefits such as drug costs and dental care and other medical procedures. I notice you have a thread about giving birth in Canada. The mother will receive excellent pre/post-natal care.
Our system is not perfect, but then neither is the NHS. As someone who has used OHIP extensively in the past 5 years I can say with honesty that I have been very happy with the care I received and have not paid one penny directly.
Real Estate in Canada
Canada’s real estate market continues to be extremely healthy. The real estate boom can be attributed to a Canadian economy that is entering another year of positive growth, the rising value of the Canadian dollar, low unemployment figures, strong consumer confidence, low interest rates, and the steady entry of new Canadian immigrants who will be searching for homes
Despite the current financial doldrums, the property market in Canada is as robust as it has ever been. The priciest housing is in the Greater Vancouver area, with the average price of half a million Canadian dollars, followed by Calgary (Canadian $393,307), Toronto (Canadian $368,687) and Edmonton (Canadian $321,000). Prices were lower in places like Montreal and Halifax-Dartmouth.
Shopping in Canada
The following are unique Canada treats good as treats for yourself and for friends and family: smoked salmon available without artificial flavors and preservatives and nitrites; ice wine made from frozen grapes; ice cider made from frozen apples; Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games items such as baseball caps and hoodies; and butter tarts.
Other shopping destinations include: the Duty Free Shops at the Canadian-US border and the largest mall in the world, the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta that features 800 stores and services, 110+ restaurants, one hotel, a water park, roller coaster and other theme park attractions. Liquor is the best buy from the Duty Free Shops, priced about half what it would ordinary cost in a non-duty free store. You can also get a 50% discount on tobacco and good deals in perfume, jewellery, candy and accessories.
Cost of Living in Canada
The cost of housing depends on location, from affordable in Manitoba to expensive in Vancouver. Homes are generally large and roomy. Food is generally cheap and available in great variety and abundance. Vehicles are cheaper in Canada than in the U.K. and U.S. So are cable TV and other forms of entertainment. The standard of living in Canada is generally high but the most expensive areas are Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal while things are much cheaper in Charlottetown, Winnipeg and Edmonton. To give you an idea, we can give a few samples of prices in Vancouver of the following items: a two-bedroom apartment — $15,250/year a year; annual food expenses — $8,004; and annual household operation — $3,303.