How to adjust to life as an Australian in Canada

TransferWise content team
28.03.17
4 minute read

Canada is known as the 'Great White North' and as a land of opportunity. In fact, over 35,000 Australians currently reside there.

A large majority of them situated near the ski resorts of Western Canada. With so much shared history, cultural similarity, and financial opportunity, it’s no surprise that more and more Aussies are making the move to the big, cold Commonwealth cousin of the North.

So, TransferWise has pulled together some thoughts to give us the low-down on the adjustments they’ve had to make since making the big move from “down-under” to up-top.


Wildlife that wants to eat you

bear

Canada is just as vast, open and striking as Australia when it comes to its natural landscapes.

The wildlife that inhabits these landscapes is also equally as dangerous. In Australia, everything wants to kill you. Spiders and snakes that sneak up on you in the middle of the night and poison you - leading to an agonizing, three day long battle with organ failure and shock - not a nice way to go.

In Canada, however, the things that want to kill you will simply come crashing through the bush, rip open your tent and devour you like a snag at Bunnings. Less subtle? I think so. Your best defense: Take plenty of precaution, and always make sure you have a good friend on retainer to TransferWise you some quick cash for unexpected medical costs.


Politeness

smile

Canadians are extremely polite. It's a source of national pride, and a defining part of their national identity.

"Sorry" might be the most commonly heard greeting in Canada. "Sorry," - “could you tell me the time?” "Sorry" - for opening the door for you so you can enter the shopping center. "Sorry" - I didn't run across the parking lot fast enough to help you load your groceries into your car - We get it, you're nice people.

The best way to respond: Compliment their Canadian kindness in the thickest Aussie accent you can muster. They will love it.


4-way stops

stop

In Canada, intersections will quite often contain 4 adjacent stop signs.

Rather than the more European concept of a roundabout, Canadians have opted for a very confusing "first come, first serve" approach to traffic control.

When approaching the intersection, the first person to come to a complete stop is the first person allowed to go. What if two people arrive at the same time, you ask? Well, you can either politely wave the other person through, or you can go through yourself - so long as you say "sorry" while you do it.


Making fun of accents

aus

The Canadian sense of humor is slightly more sarcastic than even an Aussie's. Still, both parties share their love of making fun of their mates for a laugh.

When your new Canadian friends "rag on you" (take the Mickey), they will most certainly go for a flaccid attempt at mocking your accent. "That's nawt a knoife, this is a knoife" they say, sounding like a drunken Northern Englishman, "Crikey, that's a big croc", they mock, sounding like a cross between a Newfoundlander and a Cajun boatman.

The best defense: give it back to them with a smile on your face - Canadians enjoy a good jab as much as Aussies do.


Weather

snow

You know that thing you call “winter” back home? Well, Canadians call it “summer.”

And when winter comes around in Canada, you’re in for a big surprise: minus 30 degrees Celsius and snow so deep you have to dig your car out every morning.

But, with that snow comes some serious snowboarding, and when you get to the big mountain resorts, it’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven. It must be heaven, because all your Aussie mates are here and the beer is twice as strong. So strap in, gear up and take advantage of your new Northern Hemisphere home. It’s sick, mate.


Canadian cuisines

poutine

Back home, Vegemite rules the breakfast table as a true blue essential.

In Canada, they have a similar relationship with maple syrup. Slathered on pancakes, French toast and even bacon, Canadian maple syrup takes "brekky" to a whole other level. Follow this up with poutine for lunch - a sticky, gravy drenched pile of hot chips topped with cheese, and you might think Canadians are trying to kill you with deliciousness. Pace yourself, or you'll be the last one on the chairlift after lunch.


Sales taxes

phone

In Australia, what you see is what you pay. When a price tag reads "$100", that's what you pay at the register. In Canada, things aren't so simple.

The sales tax isn't included on the price tag, and when you get to the register, the sales taxes are added on in a rather disappointing moment of mathematical realization.

Canadians seem strangely fine never knowing what they will have to pay until the last moment, and it can be frustrating for an 'Aussie abroad' to have to guess all the time. Luckily, you can always transfer your new Canadian ‘loonies’ home via Transferwise, with no hidden fees or doctored exchange rates, which means what you see is what you get. No guessing, no worries and more money in your pocket - bloody zinger.


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Banks and brokers charge a lot to send money internationally - and they use a really bad exchange rate. Try Transferwise - it's far cheaper, and it's faster too.

Click here to set up your free account and start saving. Or see what you could save in the calculator below.

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