Expat returns home to Canada after almost 30 years

by Ray Clancy on February 5, 2014

Not many people retire to the place they originate from, but that is precisely what expat Margaret Johnston did when she left Scotland for her new home in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, or New Scotland.

When Margaret, a pharmacist, lost her husband in 2009, soon after taking early retirement, she decided it was time to move back to her birthplace of Shelburne in Nova Scotia.


Research purchasing a home and sign up to the Canada Buying Guide online information resource when thinking of moving to Canada

‘I was born in Nova Scotia in 1948. My Scottish mother was a war bride and married a Canadian serviceman, settling with him in his hometown of Shelburne. When my father died in 1954, mum and I returned to Glasgow and it wasn’t until 1982 that I made my first of many return visits back to Canada,’ said Margaret.

She began her research for purchasing a home in Canada, signing up to the Canada Buying Guide online information resource. ‘I found sound advice and the trusted suppliers I needed for moving such a long distance, such as a reputable removal firm and currency exchange specialists, who I used to transfer £200,000 to my Canadian bank account from Scotland,’ she explained.

In October, Margaret made her final move back to Shelburne, where she has bought a traditional detached four bedroom home for $179,000 which is big enough for her to run a bed and breakfast business.

‘Nova Scotia house prices, outside the capital Halifax and its metropolis, are very favourable and slightly less expensive than an equivalent UK suburban home. Generally, homes here are larger and come with more land than in the UK,’ she pointed out.

While Margaret was able to move to Canada freely thanks to her Canadian citizenship, she advises British people considering a move there to prioritise getting their visa and researching employment opportunities.

‘If you are below retirement age and expecting to earn income for any number of years in Canada, research the rules of employment, your tax situation and pension provision,’ she advised.

‘There is provision for state healthcare in Canada but it is basic medical, as well as hospital care. Prescriptions and some other things require contributions, which I believe can vary between provinces,’ she added.

Stewart Buchanan, author of the Canada Buying Guide, pointed out that the Canadian government, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC,) sees immigration as vital for increasing the country’s population, as well as growing its skill base.

Among the various visas offered by CIC, one of the most popular with expats is the Federal Skilled Worker Programme. However, he advises potential expats to check the CIC website to see when applications for specific visa types are being accepted and whether there are any caps that would affect you.

He added that employing a suitably qualified migration agent can be a great help for some people.


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