The expat forum attracts a number of interesting discussions and comments and one country which appears to be growing in popularity is Canada. It seems as though more and more people are looking to move to North America with a perception of a quiet crime free life but what is Canada really like and are there any issues to consider?
Background to the thread
The individual who started a thread is currently living in France and looking to move to Canada with her partner and three month old child. They seem to believe that life in Canada will offer their child a better education and better lifestyle than that currently on offer in France, and possibly other places around the world. However, quite rightly the individual is now looking to gather information on different areas of Canada, the Canadian lifestyle, the crime rate in Canada and what they can expect if they do move to Canada.
The Canadian economy
While historically the Canadian economy was dominated, and is still to a certain extent, by natural resource such as oil, etc there have been significant changes over the last few years. We have seen significant growth in the technology sector and finance together with the emergence of new and potentially lucrative employment opportunities. However, many people forget that Canada is a massive place and there are massive local variations with regard to employment, accommodation, wages and lifestyle.
As many people will be aware, there is a significant French influence in Canada with an enormous number of French expats and French speaking Canadians. It is interesting to see that while the original poster lives in France and is attracted by the lifestyle in Canada, it appears as though those living in other areas of the world are also actively pursuing a new life in Canada.
When you consider the significant French connection with Canada and the amount of English-speaking Canadians it is easy to see why those from France, the UK and other English-speaking countries are attracted to the region. The ability to grasp the local dialect and local language as soon as you land cannot be underestimated.
The worldwide recession
While there is no specific comment on the thread regarding the worldwide recession it is worthwhile noting that recent actions by the Canadian Central Bank appear to have allowed the Canadian economy to avoid the worst of the worldwide recession. Interest rates are currently at 0.25% and authorities have promised to keep rates low for a considerable amount of time in order to allow the economy to expand and move back onto a growth path.
In line with many other worldwide economies, the Canadian rate of inflation is currently around about 0% and with the authorities expecting economic growth to hit 2.5% next year and 4.7% in 2011, the economy appears well-positioned for the future. As and when the Canadian economy improves, inflation should move back to around 1.2% (many expect this figure to arrive by next March). The potential for a quick return to growth, allied with the low interest rates, may offer an interesting opportunity to those looking to move to Canada in the short term.
Crime in Canada
There is currently an ongoing argument in the Canadian Parliament with regards to crime in the country. Interestingly crime figures released for 2007, the most recent year where data is available, show that reported crime in Canada fell to its lowest level for 30 years. This strengthens the belief that Canada has a relatively low rate of crime compared to many other countries in the world. While there are obvious variations between different types of crime, whether this be violence, cyber crime or fraud it would appear that the general trend is downwards.
However, it must be noted that crime rates can vary significantly between different areas of Canada with the likes of Vancouver attracting the larger immigration numbers which can lead to above-average crime rates. However, the general fact that crime in Canada appears to be well under control will give many potential visitors significant confidence.
The Canadian property market
While initially the Canadian property market appeared to be fairly sheltered from the ongoing worldwide recession, there has been a negative impact on prices over the last few months. However, it is interesting to see that many Canadian property companies are still well funded and looking to acquire property both in the country and overseas, where they see exceptional long term value. Historically Canadian property prices have remained fairly high and the short-term dip is seen by many as an investment opportunity.
Again, it is also worth pointing out that Canada is a very large country and the variation between property prices in places such as Vancouver and some of the more rural areas of the country can be enormous. If you’re looking to acquire property in Canada, or move to Canada full-time, you need to research your potential areas of interest, property prices, employment statistics and other factors before you actually decide on your destination.
The growth of Canada
There is no doubt that Canada, for many years seen as a poor cousin of the United States of America, is now able to stand on its own two feet in the international marketplace. Over the last few years the country has escaped from the shadow of its massive neighbour and significant changes in the employment market and economy bode well for the future. It is no surprise that Canada is attracting more and more interest from international visitors and those looking to relocate for a new life.
Even though the ancient myth, which often portrayed Canada as a quiet backwater where very little happened, may be long gone there is no doubt that Canada has a number of attractions for overseas visitors and those looking to make a new home. There are many positive factors which include the economy, crime rates and relatively stable property prices although employment can and has been an issue for some foreign visitors.
While it is vital that you research the areas that you are looking to relocate to, you also need to appreciate and learn the local laws, regulations and cultures regarding general life and employment opportunities in particular. There are certain professions which are much sought after by the Canadian business arena and if you’re able to position yourself in these specific fields that could be very beneficial. However, in general very few people appear to have any serious criticisms of Canada although yet again we need to point out that country is enormous and dominated by a small group of large cities.