How to adjust to life as a Brit in Canada

TransferWise content team
4 minute read

Oh, Canada. A land of unrivalled beauty and full of opportunity. Once the birth-child of the British Empire, Canada has grown up to become one of the Commonwealth’s most confident ambassadors of freedom and success.

Without the grandeur of its big brother to the south, Canada has developed an identity all its own, while still staying true to the “Kingdom of her Majesty." It’s no wonder that over 200,000 Brits have made the move to the land of maple syrup and lumberjacks, as Canada remains a top destination for emigrants looking for a place to call their new home.

We asked around and found some worldly Brits to weigh in on just why they came to Canada and how they have adapted to life as a New World settler.

It's a beautiful country


Ask any red-blooded Brit-turned-Canuck and he would surely tell you that Canada is one of the most gorgeous places on this planet.

It's as if David Attenborough himself forged this natural wonderland simply to justify the BBC’s licensing fees. And if that's not enough, Canada also comes complete with majestic and awe-inspiring wildlife. Mountain lions, bears and moose, oh my!

Biting bugs


Don’t get too gobsmacked by the majesty of Canada just yet.

Just when you think the mountains, cliffs and great plains of Canada are a dream come true, Oliver, a 26 year-old chippy from Leeds explains:

“The mosquitoes show up, followed by the 'horseflies' and then the 'blackflies.' How can people live like this? It's enough to do your head in, I've never been this itchy in my life! So, just take a deep breath and pour another tea...they promise that the negative 20 Celsius winter will kill them all off."

Great. Thanks Canada.

What's a chip?


…And amidst all this beauty, we are sure to find chaos.

“Don’t even mention anything to do with potatoes in Canada. It’ll drive you mad. For starters, no one knows what crisps are, as they call 'em chips instead. So when you want chips, you have to ask for 'french fries.' But, get this, if you want gravy on your 'french fries,' reach for you French dictionary and ask for 'poutine.' Alison, a Brit who recently moved to Canada, explains:

"When it gets to your table, it’s smothered in cheese."

But, if you think you can stick to the jacket potatoes, then think again.

“They don't even know what jacket-potatoes are. Here, it's a 'baked potato,' flavorless, dry and dreadfully boring in comparison."

Ok, no potatoes then.

It's not alright


In the UK, asking someone if they're “alright” is a common greeting.

Say this in Canada, however, and you'll be met with blank stares, or worse, a defensive "Of course I'm alright, why do you ask? Are you alright?!"

Apparently, in their infinite politeness, Canadians would rather have you ask "Oh, hello! How are you?” in an overly interested, somewhat time-consuming and formal attempt at making the other person feel important.

...And dare I say: it works. Damn you Canada and your endearing interests in me.

Crazy, multi-colored cash


Confusingly, Canada displays Her Majesty's face on all of their notes.

And so they should, but, that's where the similarities end. The units are not “pounds”, they are “dollars”, and their one “cent” piece is a “penny”, which has been discontinued, yet seems to still be everywhere. On top of this, they casually refer to their currency as “loonies” and not “dollars”.

In England, 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 - literally on the spot. Canadians seem strangely fine never knowing what they will have to pay until the last moment, but it can be frustrating for Brits. So, if you can possibly figure out what to call the money in your hand, you still have to devise a math formula in order to use it!

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 dodgy bank rates, no guessing until the last moment, and more money to spend on poutine! - Hey, the name might be a bit unusual, but it's delightfully delicious.

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Try TransferWise today - 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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