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infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 7:54 a.m.

My wife and I have been dreaming of moving up north for two years, since we discovered Montreal on youtube. Our dreams changed and ebbed and flowed as we got intimidated by the immigration process and when we decided to give Cleveland a chance (lol). I've certainly posted in here quite a few times how much I want to move to Canada.

Well, we just traveled up to Windsor and spent some time up there. I'll put it this way: we crossed the Ambassador Bridge at 7PM and by 9PM we had both decided we wanted to move there. The rest of the time just reinforced that notion. As soon as we got back to Cleveland, we contacted an immigration lawyer and started doing our research. 

Windsor is an interesting city. It's right across the river from Detroit but the two cities couldn't be more different. I'm sure Detroit needs no introduction. Windsor, on the other hand, is clean, safe, quiet, and the roads are very, very nice. Being the automotive capital of Canada, it's common to see muscle/sports/supercars driving around, often giving their engines a rev or two. There seems to be quite a car scene there.

The people. Canadian people being nice has become a sort of trope in America. We laugh at it and comedians use it to make people laugh. But they actually are that nice. Every single Canadian we spoke with was incredibly friendly, warm, and welcoming.

IT'S SO CLEAN! I can't emphasize this enough. In the days we spent there, we saw probably less than 5-6 pieces of litter total. The whole city is spotless. The public restrooms were clean. The streets were clean. The Walmart was clean. 

When we crossed the bridge in the other direction and came back to America, we felt like we were in some kind of dystopian alternate reality. Suddenly the roads were falling apart, there was a guy blasting music in the car next to us, everyone was driving like a shiny happy person, billboards on both sides of the highway were displaying everything from fast food advertisements to messages that we're all going to hell (so call this number!), there're fast food restaurants everywhere, the people are rude, litter is everywhere, and the list goes on. And don't even get me started on crime rates.

Also, yes I've looked into the Canadian housing market, yes I'm aware of their taxes (some are lower, some are higher), yes to basically every financial comment/question you would raise.

So for the next year we're going to be saving every penny we can and getting ready for the move! Not sure if anyone cares but I'm excited so I wanted to post this.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
5/17/22 8:23 a.m.

As a US citizen who has immigrated here twice, I can agree with a lot of what you are experiencing. The first time I moved from Puerto Rico with my parents  and the second time as a new husband to a Canadian girl. 

One thing to think about if you do make the move is that because of the medical insurance thing, it is kind of a one-way gate. Returning to the US in the future as a retired couple will cost you a small fortune in insurance. That said, I cant imagine wanting to.

 

South West Ontario is nice enough and there are job opportunities, but not really a lot to do and that can make the winters longer.  If guest visit me in London, usually we go to Toronto or Niagara Falls. If moving here, there is a LOT of Canada to pick from and explore.

 

Pete

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
5/17/22 8:31 a.m.

I know the feeling you have about finding a place you want to move to and live. I feel the same way about the Sarasota area. One day soonish. 

I hope it works out for you! 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 8:37 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

I'm in IT so I should be able to get a remote job. I'm hoping I can get hired by a company from Toronto, where I imagine the wages would be slightly higher. That's actually on my to do list for today; contact some job recruiters and hit them with a barrage of questions to make sure I'm fully prepared to start applying for Canadian jobs when the time comes.

I'm a disabled Army veteran, so I get full coverage Tricare (not the best insurance, to be honest, but it's okay) for about $50/month. If by some odd twist of fate we ever wanted to come back to America, we'd still have medical insurance.

We really want to visit Calgary, but that's a bit too far to just drive there for a weekend! Windsor is a 3 hour drive so that's the easy button. I can definitely see what you mean about there not being a ton to do there in the winters. Windsor is a nice city but you can tell it's not full of festivals and stuff like Montreal. If I land a fully remote job I could technically work pretty much anywhere there's internet, so that opens up possibilities as well. I just have to watch housing prices.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/17/22 8:48 a.m.

I have not been into Windsor in a whole lot of years.  But, back in the '90s when I was likely last there, Windsor was nice.  What I do experience more recently is boating the Detroit River.  It's quite the stark comparison of the two sides.  The US side is either industrial or commercial.   Much of the Canadian side is more "public space".  

Sample of picture taken from the Canadian side:

One the Detroit side you have big buildings and parking lots

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/17/22 9:02 a.m.
John Welsh said:

One the Detroit side you have big buildings and parking lots

Not anymore. Detroit now has a nice riverwalk and park:

Duke
Duke MegaDork
5/17/22 9:17 a.m.

Just don't turn smug about it.

Nothing is more annoying than a smug Canadian.

But good luck!  I hope it works out for you folks.

 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/17/22 9:21 a.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) :

True.  Yes, Detroit is changing.  The downtown of Detroit is improved from what it was in the 80's/90's.  True but they are both still very different.  I couldn't find good pictures of Detroit River, south of Ambassador Bridge to Grosse Ile.  Sure, Grosse Ile is attractive but shortly north of that, where The Rouge River meets the Detroit River...its industry!  

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
5/17/22 9:28 a.m.

In reply to infinitenexus :

Best of luck with your application. Also take a look into employment opportunities in the federal government. There's still a shortage of IT workers, and with your military background, I'd assume that your security clearance would be relatively straightforward. 
Cheers, Paul 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/22 9:41 a.m.

Man, if you liked Windsor, you're going to be blown away if you make it to, say, Kingston or Ottawa :) There definitely is a pretty stark change when you cross the border there, or at least there was 15 years ago.

Congrats!

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 9:47 a.m.

In reply to eastpark :

I'm hoping I can get into something like that--a good gubmint job with good benefits. Only time will tell, I guess. I just started perusing the Canadian job bank, but work got busy so I had to stop.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/22 9:48 a.m.

If you want a job with the federal government, get to work on your French. Helps a ton.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
5/17/22 9:48 a.m.

Just remember Montreal is not Canada. Montreal is Montreal.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 9:49 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Man, if you liked Windsor, you're going to be blown away if you make it to, say, Kingston or Ottawa :) There definitely is a pretty stark change when you cross the border there, or at least there was 15 years ago.

Congrats!

So, after reading, watching videos, and talking to people, we decided that instead of Montreal, Ottawa was our primary choice. Super clean, family friendly, safe, etc. The downside is that Ottawa is getting very, very expensive. One of the benefits of Windsor is that it's much more affordable than most other cities in Canada. Even in the current real estate market, we drove around and looked at probably a dozen houses all listed for under $300K, many of which had been on the market for a few weeks. As I understand, a month or two ago they all would have sold in a day or two and at $100K above asking price, but things are changing.

Maybe I can get lucky and land a high-paying job in IT and afford Ottawa, but for now I'm still pretty new to IT so Windsor is all I can afford. Windsor is awesome though, so I'm okay with that!

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 9:51 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

If you want a job with the federal government, get to work on your French. Helps a ton.

having been a linguist in the army, I'm pretty good and experienced with learning foreign languages. I just started learning some French, and we play French baby videos for Avi all the time and I sing him French nursery rhymes. In a month or two I'll probably start taking some more in-depth classes. Learning French helps with immigration as well.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 9:51 a.m.

Thank you everyone for all the positive comments.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/22 10:02 a.m.
infinitenexus said:
Keith Tanner said:

Man, if you liked Windsor, you're going to be blown away if you make it to, say, Kingston or Ottawa :) There definitely is a pretty stark change when you cross the border there, or at least there was 15 years ago.

Congrats!

So, after reading, watching videos, and talking to people, we decided that instead of Montreal, Ottawa was our primary choice. Super clean, family friendly, safe, etc. The downside is that Ottawa is getting very, very expensive. One of the benefits of Windsor is that it's much more affordable than most other cities in Canada. Even in the current real estate market, we drove around and looked at probably a dozen houses all listed for under $300K, many of which had been on the market for a few weeks. As I understand, a month or two ago they all would have sold in a day or two and at $100K above asking price, but things are changing.

Maybe I can get lucky and land a high-paying job in IT and afford Ottawa, but for now I'm still pretty new to IT so Windsor is all I can afford. Windsor is awesome though, so I'm okay with that!

Yeah, Ottawa is crazy expensive now. I'd never be able to afford to move back, I sold my house there in 2006 to buy a house in the US. You know what happened in 2008, but only south of the border. Follow me for more investment advice :) I like the multicultural nature of Ottawa, but I grew up there so it seems smaller to me than it really is.

If you can work remotely most of the time, there are a lot of nice smaller towns that are not well placed for a daily commute that might be affordable. I'll bet London isn't too bad, relatively speaking. The winters in that area tend to be messy and damp instead of cold and snowy (when compared to further north) but you can always move around later if they're not to your taste.

dyintorace
dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/17/22 10:19 a.m.

I follow real estate pretty closely for work. Things in Canada are changing fast. Might want to sit tight for 3-6 months to see how things play out.

Prices plummeting

Prices down 2 months in a row

Schmidlap
Schmidlap Dork
5/17/22 10:24 a.m.

I live in Windsor, and our relatively cheap real estate is one of our biggest advantages over other cities. Having Detroit next door also provides access to all major sports leagues, tons of concerts and other cultural stuff that a city of 250,000 would never pull on their own, and access to US shopping.

Also, commuting across the border for work is an option that many do (I have been doing it for more than 20 years). Also, with working from home, there's no reason you can't work for a US company and live anywhere in Canada.

I like Windsor, but if my mom wasn't living here, or one of my brothers still lived close enough to help her out with things as she gets older, i would have moved somewhere else long ago. I like hills (snowboarding, mountain biking etc) and is as flat as you can possibly get.

You will love Montreal, Calgary is awesome, though both are expensive. Good luck wherever you decide to move to!

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/22 10:35 a.m.

I have been threatening to expat there for 20 years.  I have a place north of Kingston (look up Sharbot Lake and Perth) where I spend the summers.  Canada has this lovely existence that is so welcoming, safe, and loving.

Kingston is absolutely lovely.  Once you get just a bit north you get into precambrian shield geology which is just stunning.  Ottawa is one of my favorite cities in the world.  Culture, food, architecture.  I agree with Appleseed about Montreal.  It's the Portland or Austin of Canada.  Fantastic city, but not a representative sample.  If I were moving to Ontario right now I would look in Perth for a small town and Ottawa for a bigger town.  Toronto is tons of fun, but it's a bit new and bustling.  It's also not a "pretty" town by comparison in my opinion.  Just kind of flat and boring surroundings, but otherwise a great city.

Out toward the lake you have some amazing towns like London and Stratford.  Simply beautiful.  

And I'll politely disagree with Duke... be smug.  Smug that E36 M3 up.  Canadians have earned the right to own barrels of smug and spread it around like fertilizer.  All the smugs.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 10:58 a.m.
dyintorace said:

I follow real estate pretty closely for work. Things in Canada are changing fast. Might want to sit tight for 3-6 months to see how things play out.

Prices plummeting

Prices down 2 months in a row

If everything goes as planned, we'll be moving to Canada in 6-12 months and looking to purchase a starter home probably a year later. It all is resting on how quickly I can save up money.

From watching real estate trends I had gotten the notion that the housing market in that area peaked a month or two ago and was just starting to come down, and it looks like I'm right.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 11:08 a.m.

Kingston looks gorgeous, as does London, of course Ottawa and Montreal and every other city. What's driving us specifically towards Windsor is the house prices. As I said earlier, I found a number of houses for mid-$200K Canadian, which is something I can afford (especially with lower Canadian property taxes). My wife doesn't work, she stays at home raising our son so we have to make do on a single income. Total, I probably make around 45-50K/year depending on overtime, so definitely not rich and it limits the places I can live pretty sharply. The Wife is looking at doing some babysitting to bring in a few extra bucks. Fortunately, I'm generally pretty good at saving cash and we currently live in a cheap apartment, so I'm hoping to be able to save $1,000/month from now until we move. I did just get a raise, so that helps.

By the time we move, I'll have two years of experience at an IT Help Desk, so that should land me a decent job. It'll still be somewhat entry-level, but at least I'm on my way to climbing that ladder. By the time we move I should be pretty conversational in French as well, so I know that'll help.

As I get more saved up and we get closer, I plan on talking with an immigration lawyer. I could most likely do it all myself, but I'd rather be safe and just pay the money to have a pro ensure I'm doing it right. We're heading up there in August for our son's 1st birthday and both my wife and I are going to open Canadian bank accounts so we can start building credit up there. I figure we'll both take out small personal loans, not spend any of the money, and pay them back over the course of 2-3 months. Then we'll do it again. I may get a RBC credit card as well and buy just enough to make a few payments on. I hate credit cards, haven't had one in 15 years, but I want good credit up there.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 11:09 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

Canada has this lovely existence that is so welcoming, safe, and loving.

I think that sums it up perfectly!

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
5/17/22 11:25 a.m.
Duke said:

Nothing is more annoying than a chest thumping American.

But good luck!  I hope it works out for you folks.

 

FTFY, buddy. I don't know that personally. Only what I've heard while traveling...

Ottawa too expensive?

Gatineau

We've seriously considered it ourselves.

Yes, the real estate market is due for a serious correction, but permanent damage has been done, and some (too many) places will likely never be affordable

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
5/17/22 11:28 a.m.

In reply to Peabody :

The only issue with Gatineau is that it's in Quebec, which has slightly different requirements for immigration. Most notably, you have to get accepted by the province as well as the country. Still worth looking into though; I love the thought of Avi going to school learning French and growing up bilingual! Thanks for the link though, I just found this cute little house there for $289K

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/24411753/203-rue-laurette-routhier-gatineau-masson-angers-angers

 

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