Americans love to talk about moving to Canada, but there’s surprisingly little helpful information on how to actually do it. That’s what we learned when we decided to leave our home in Brooklyn and make the move up to Toronto. While our experience is from an American perspective moving to Ontario, the process is basically the same for everybody, wherever you’re currently living or want to move to (with the exception of  Quebec, which has slightly different rules).

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has a very thorough website, but it’s still something produced by a bureaucracy. Many existing third-party guides are all outdated, since the CIC made major changes last year. Most of the forums and other resources out there are for people coming from non-Western cultures, who have very different concerns than we did.

Now that we’ve successfully immigrated to Canada from the US using the Express Entry program, we’re writing the guide we wish we’d had. We also created the “Can you move to Canada” quiz we wish we were able to take to figure out which immigration program would work best for us.

This is a work in progress, so sign up to get updates when we add new posts.


Contents

A quick primer
Visa programs
Express Entry
Landing
Getting settled
International banking
Healthcare
Living in Toronto
Working
Paying taxes
Becoming Canadian

A quick primer for would-be expats

There are a lot of things to think about before moving to another country. What does it mean to be an American living abroad?

Your rights as an American

We explain the rights came along with being born in the US and how they change when you leave the country.

Your rights in Canada

The rights you have in Canada change depending on your status. Life as a tourist is very different from life as a dual citizen.

Quality of life in Canada

Many people don’t realise Canada has a Queen. We get you up to speed on the basics.


 

All the ways you can move to Canada, legally

It’s not the 60s anymore. Our sports leagues may play in “national” leagues, but you can’t just move up to Canada. Here’s what you can do as a tourist, the benefits of NAFTA, and all the options for going to Canada for longer than just a vacation.

Can you move to Canada?

We moved to Canada, and you can too! Take this quiz to find out if any of the immigration programs can work for you.

Benefits of being an American

There’s no fast track for US citizens. Sorry.

Moving from English & French speaking countries

If your official documents are in English or French, you’re a step ahead of the game.

Temporary options

Not sure you want to stay north forever? Here’s how you can stay in Canada for six months or six years.

Work Exchange with International Experience Canada

Want to try out working in Canada for a few months or a year? Under 30 or 35? Here’s how to make it happen.

Immigrating to Canada

When you’re ready to commit, here are your options.

Moving to Quebec

Quebec is part of Canada, sort of, but they have their own immigration system.


 

The definitive guide to Express Entry

If you have skills the Canadian government is looking for, you can become a permanent resident of Canada within a year.

How to know if you qualify

If you’re in you’re under 35, have work experience, and are a manager, office worker, or tradesman, your odds are good.

Creating your Express Entry profile

Not like creating your OkCupid profile at all.

How to know if you’ll be approved

Nothing in life is guaranteed, but you can get a pretty good idea of your chances before you invest the time and money into becoming a Canadian permanent resident.

Creating your final application

All the paperwork you need to make sure you meet a pretty tight deadline.

How much it costs and how long it takes

We share what the CIC says and how it actually worked out for us.

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Landing in Canada

You get permission to move up. What next? Learn about our experience with the actual immigration process and landing in Canada for the first time as permanent residents.

The Invitation

You’ll get an actual invitation to move once you’ve made it through the Express Entry process.

Getting ready

It’s time to start planning the big move. Learn about how to bring all of your stuff across the border and what exactly a B4 form is.

When you land

Going through customs as a new immigrant is not the same as going through customs as a tourist.

Flying with cats

We brought two cats with us to Canada. We were prepared for the worst but it went ok.

Moving your stuff from the US to Canada

An international move is more complicated — and expensive — than moving across town. Here’s how our stuff made it through customs and into our apartment.


 

Getting settled in Canada as a new resident

You’ve finally landed and are an official permanent resident of Canada. Now what? There are a few basic things you’ll want to take care of relatively soon. Here are some of the most important:

Social Insurance Number

Similar to a SSN, but also sort of different

Your brand new PR card

Your access key to basically everything

Drivers License

It’s pretty easy to exchange your US license for a Canadian license

Universal healthcare

You’re not in America any more


 

Living in Canada

Canada is just like America, except for when it’s not. We share what we’ve learned to save you some trouble.

Healthcare in Canada

It will take some getting used to, but it’s less complicated than figuring out all the different copays and deductables you’re used to dealing with in America.

Universal healthcare

What exactly does universal mean, anyway?

General Practitioner

Your gateway to medical coverage.

Supplemental Insurance

Most jobs offer supplemental insurance plans. What does that mean and what does it cover?

Taxes

It’s “free” but it’s not free.

Costs

How does insurance in Canada stack up against private insurance in America?


 

Cross border banking

I didn’t think much about this until I found out the hard way.

Linked US/CA accounts

Annoying to set up, easy to use.

Other ways to move your money

Ways to move your money into Canada, other than a duffel bag full of cash. Which is totally legal, as long as you got the money legally and declare it at the border.

Canadian banks

Canada has a bunch of different banks to choose from. We go through the most popular banks and outline what services they have to help you bank internationally.

Your new credit score (zero)

Canada doesn’t care about your US credit score.

Understanding currency conversion

Canada’s on sale right now. Why? How? Will it last?


Living in Toronto

Toronto neighborhood guide

Torontonians are in denial about it, but Toronto is a big city. We walk you through the options so you can find the neighborhood that’s right for you.

Renting an apartment in Toronto

If you’re coming from an expensive city, we have good news for you.

Buying a condo in Toronto

Condos are everywhere. Don’t get distracted by the flashy amenities and end up living in a shoebox.

Setting up utilities

There’s no ConEd in Canada. We give you the scoop on hydro and [[gasp]] metered internet.

Furnishing your apartment in Canada

Sometimes it’s just not worth shipping your furniture. Here’s how to make your apartment comfortable quickly and affordably.


 

Working in Canada

We wrote this because there’s no Canadian version of The Office to guide you.

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Finding a job in Canada

Not hugely different from finding a job in the US, but here are some tips anyway.

Rebuilding your professional network

No one wants to go to networking events.

Canadian salaries

Are Canadian salaries higher? Lower? And what about the exchange rate?


A tax guide for Americans in Canada

US citizens are unique in that we’re required to pay taxes on our worldwide income, regardless of where we’re living.


 

Becoming Canadian

There’s more to being Canadian than watching hockey and saying ‘eh.’ Canada isn’t just a colder US, it’s got a culture and history of it’s own. They’re just too modest to brag about it.

Things about Canada you should know

We’re going to save you from embarrassing yourself.

A watching list

All the movies are filmed in Toronto, but none of them are actually set there.

A reading list

Beyond Margaret Atwood.

A listening list

Not just the CBC. Okay, it’s just the CBC.

A guide to Canadian politics

You realize Canada has a queen, right?

Becoming a Canadian citizen

How long it takes, whether or not you have to give up your US citizenship, and other things you should know before making a decision.