How to adjust to life as an American living in Canada

08.06.17
4 minute read
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On the evening of the 2016 election, Canada’s immigration website shut down, buckling from the weight of thousands of Americans willing to brave the Great White North - by trying to apply for immigration visas.

With Canada’s strengthening economy, healthy housing market, free healthcare and wealth of untapped natural resources, these draw-cards of North America’s coldest, friendliest and most progressive nation can be rather alluring.

TransferWise interviewed some of the approximately 2 million Americans who have made Canada their second home, to weigh in on their new life up north.


From “eh” to “zed”

talking

On the surface, it might be hard to distinguish an American from a Canadian.

Their accents are similar, they dress alike, and they occupy 90% of the same continent - so, why wouldn’t they seem similar? Once you start to settle in, however, you start to see there are a lot of differences between the two neighbors. In Canada, they spell using British English, so words like “color” become “colour” and “realize” turns into “realise."

An easy enough adjustment – but wait, there’s more: When reciting their ABC’s, they say “zed” instead of “zee,” and they seem to have decided to use "eh" as a sort of ubiquitous sound to be placed at the end of statements, turning everything they say into a rhetorical question.

“Nice weather, eh?”

Uh, I guess it is...or, are you asking?

“I’m not feeling so well, eh”

Umm...I’m sorry to hear that?

“I just got tickets to the “Zed-Zed” Top concert. I love those guys, eh!”

Ok. This is getting too weird. Thank god the beer is so strong.


Stronger beer and a much stronger hockey obsession

canadianhockey

In Canada, it’s hard to find a popular local brew less than 5% alcohol, and it’s as much a part of their national identity as the great sport of ice hockey.

Think bourbon and rodeo in the Southern U.S. - the two define a certain aspect of the culture that just reeks of testosterone. Derrick, a 32 year-old electrician from Chicago now living in Vancouver, BC explains:

“The first time I went out drinking in Canada, I was with a few of the boys from the local college hockey team. We love our hockey in Chicago, and the Blackhawks recently took the Stanley Cup trophy from these guys, so right off the bat, there was a healthy amount of teasing at work."

To a Canadian, hockey is like college basketball, Major League Baseball and NASCAR all rolled up into one. It's safe to say a true Canadian has a place in their heart for hockey, and they love to cheer on their team with a pint in their hand.


The forecast calls for...

snow

Jared, hailing originally from Oregon, described his move up to Canada, initially explaining: “Well, it wasn’t for the weather!”

“Here in Canada, they embrace the outdoors like it is going out of style, and in a way, I guess it is.”

With long and frigid winters, summertime activities are a huge commodity.

"The community up here really gets it. Summer isn’t long, and before you know it, it’s back to frozen snot and chattering teeth. Summer is a time to spend with friends and family, up at the lake or out in the woods, not cooped up inside watching 'The Bachelor.'"

He says the change is sudden and drastic when the days start get a bit longer.

“It’s like these Canadians defrost from winter and come out of hibernation, ready to burn off all the calories they built up drinking maple syrup and going to bed at 7pm. It’ll be -5 Celsius and you can see them walking around in t-shirts and shorts, talking about what a nice spring it is, and how they can’t wait to go for a swim!”

I guess Canadians are crazy about summer - don’t forget your bathing suit (and your long underwear).


Crazy, multi-colored cash

canadian

Canadian dollars are a funny thing. For one, they call them “loonies," not dollars, on account of the feathered animal featured on the back on the $1 coin.

Well, ok. If you must. You’ll also notice the bills come in every color of the rainbow. Couple this with the fact that the exchange rate fluctuates daily against the dollars you're used to at home and it sort of makes you feel like your life in Canada is just a giant game of Monopoly, and your daily transactions are merely a feeble attempt to climb a property ladder owned by an maniacal midget with a mustache.

...Is this money even real?! Luckily, TransferWise understands your plight, and promises to get your Monopoly “loonies” to and from Canada with no hidden fees, and no doctored exchange rates like the big banks. "Loonies” to “greenbacks” in no time flat. Which means you can relax, roll the dice and keep on saving up - for that big, red hotel.


Moving money to Canada? Avoid getting hit hard with a bad exchange rate.

Whether you use a bank, PayPal or a broker to send money home, they might say it's "free" or offer a "fixed fee," when they actually use a terrible exchange rate, which costs you a lot of money.

TransferWise charges just 1% or 0.7% over $5,000 with no mark-up - that means you get a much better exchange rate.

Here's how much it costs in total:

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