Some Americans fear higher taxes so much they are willing to move. The capital gains tax rate might go up. The step-up basis might go away. And the top marginal income tax rate might go up too. Therefore, may I present the best life hack for Americans: taking advantage of Canada!
I’m always looking for arbitrage opportunities to help readers make more money and live better lives. Taking advantage of Canada may be one of the best American life hacks of them all.
Not only do some Americans face potentially higher taxes, but all Americans are also feeling the brunt of higher inflation. Combatting inflation by moving to Canada is a serious solution many middle-class Americans should consider.
Taking Advantage Of Canada Can Be A Powerful Long-Term Trend
My favorite money-making arbitrage opportunity for the next couple of decades is investing in non-coastal city real estate due to lower valuations and higher net rental yields. Technology is accelerating the flow of capital and people toward attractive real estate opportunities.
However, taking advantage of Canada could be an even greater multi-decade investment opportunity, especially if you have children. Despite the frigid weather for four months a year, Canadians have a lot going for them.
Their GDP per capita is a respectable $52,000. Few people go through medical bankruptcies because healthcare is heavily subsidized.
Meanwhile, the average annual tuition for Canadian universities is only about $6,800 for the 2022/2023 academic year according to EduCanada. Even compared to public university tuition in America, $6,800 a year is cheap.
Let me share how one Canadian friend is taking advantage of America and how we, in turn, can take advantage of Canada.
How Canadians Take Advantage Of America
A 25-year-old friend in my SF softball league is from Vancouver, Canada. He went to the University of British Columbia, a top-five university where annual tuition is only $5,399 in the computer science department.
When he graduated, he decided not to find a job in Canada, but come down to San Francisco where computer engineering jobs pay much more. He works for an online real estate company.
“Sam, I make twice as much in San Francisco as I would if I got a similar job in Vancouver,” my softball friend told me.
“But don’t you want to give back to your country? I thought brain drain is a big thing in Canada?” I responded.
“Yes, but let me make my money first. After five years in San Francisco making double the money, I’ll then move to Seattle with my girlfriend where my firm is headquartered. Seattle pay is similar to San Francisco pay, despite the cost of living being 30% cheaper. Further, Vancouver is only a 3.1 hour drive away.“
“Sounds like a good plan!” I responded.
Will Move Back To Canada Once He’s Made His Money In America
“Once I’m in my 30s and ready to start a family, then I’ll move back to Canada and live a less hectic lifestyle. With a stronger government safety net, I feel more comfortable raising a family back home,” he explained.
Although I feel a little bad that Canada won’t get the benefit of his productivity after providing him with 22 years of education, I can’t fault his logic.
If Canadians wish to participate legally in our labor market and also buy and sell U.S. stocks and property, why not take advantage of the opportunity? After all, America is the greatest country in the world.
Canadians are consistently a top-3 largest foreign buyer of U.S. real estate. Without foreign buyers, American real estate would be more affordable. Therefore, we should return the favor and buy up Canadian real estate.
How Americans Can Take Advantage Of Canada
Following my softball friend’s logic, Americans should take advantage of Canada’s government safety net and immigrate to Canada after we’ve amassed our fortunes as well. This is the best life hack to make life easier.
One of the biggest problems we face in America is the runaway cost of healthcare. Medical-related expenses are our nation’s #1 cause of bankruptcy. It would, therefore, seem logical that those who decide to retire early and are ineligible for Medicare should migrate to Canada and get their healthcare paid for.
Move To Canada To Save On Healthcare Insurance
For example, my family of four will pay about $28,000 a year for healthcare premiums plus co-pays and co-insurance in 2023. Does this sound reasonable to you for a healthy family who never sees a physician?
To generate $28,000 in retirement income at a 4% rate of return requires me to first amass $700,000 in capital. But I will need to have closer to $880,000 in capital due to long-term capital gains taxes. With a shaky economy, retirees should also lower their safe withdrawal rates just to be safe.
If my family moved to Canada, we’d be eliminating most of our present healthcare costs and could use the savings towards living a better lifestyle. We wouldn’t have to purposefully reduce our income to get healthcare subsidies either. What a shame to stop writing on Financial Samurai, something I love to do, just for the sake of affordable healthcare.
Supplement With Private Healthcare
The only problem is that wait times at hospitals and other health providers can be very long. Therefore, you may still want to pay for private health insurance if you live in Canada just in case. I plan to for a reasonable $3,000 a year.
Lower College Tuition In Canada
Further, given the average Canadian college tuition is only $6,800 a year, we would no longer have to contribute $30,000+ a year in our son’s 529 college savings plan. We could easily afford to pay $27,200 for four years in Canadian university tuition from the money sitting in our online savings account.
It is truly mind-boggling that four years of Canadian university tuition costs $11,000 less than one year of private school kindergarten in San Francisco.
Paying for college by sending them to a Canadian college is also so much cheaper. You will experience less stress and anxiety having to work and save so much for college tuition. A four-year private university costs $80,000 a year in America nowadays!
Massive Savings If We Move To Canada
Saving $51,000 a year in healthcare and college expenses just by moving to Canada sounds like a home run. That’s $1,275,000 less in capital I need to amass at a 4% rate of return.
Even though the average home price in Vancouver is an absurdly high $1.4 million, it’s still about $200,000 less than the median home price in San Francisco.
Moving to Vancouver, Canada might just be the best geoarbitrage move for us. Vancouver is on the same west coast and has the same international flavor as San Francisco.
For Americans living in lower-cost-of-living areas, there are plenty of lower-cost areas in Canada as well.
Our Children Can Take Advantage Of Canada Too
In addition to recommending all adult Americans seeking financial independence migrate to Canada, there’s also a way for our children to take advantage of Canada too. The best life hack is when you can help your children as well.
One of the reasons why I became a high school tennis coach was because I wanted to learn how to interact with teenage boys before my own boy becomes a teenager in 2031. It may sound crazy to prepare so far in advance to be a better father, but I figure why not try? Planning is free to do.
During practice one day, I had a nice conversation with one of my favorite players, a senior who attended Occidental College in Southern California.
Occidental College is a good school, but I thought he was going to attend a top-10-ranked school instead. He was super smart, very wealthy, and was frequently late to practice due to constant after-school tutoring.
McGill University, The Harvard Of Canada
He mentioned a classmate was attending McGill University in Canada and I was immediately impressed. I remember having a financial analyst classmate at Goldman Sachs who had also attended McGill University.
She was extremely kind and smart. Further, she was the only one in my 1999 financial analyst class who survived the post-dotbomb layoffs and made Managing Director 10 years later. MD at 33 is quite a feat!
“McGill is the Harvard of Canada!” I exalted in a somewhat joking way. “I wonder what their acceptance rate is?“
My student responded, “Really? The Harvard of Canada? How can that be if their acceptance rate is 50%?“
“There’s no way Mcgill has a 50% acceptance rate! I’ll happily bet you 20 pushups that it’s 45% or less! You’ve got to accept the bet since I’m giving you a 5% buffer.” I retorted.
Secretly, I was thinking McGill’s acceptance rate was closer to 15% – 20%. By comparison, the best universities in America have single-digit acceptance rates.
“You’re on!” My student immediately looked up McGill’s acceptance rate on Google and started to dance.
McGill University Acceptance Rate
He showed me his phone that Google had the acceptance rate at 46.3%. “Time to do some push-ups coach!”
Never one to surrender so easily, I looked at the data closely and the 46.3% acceptance rate was from 2016. As someone who is proficient with search engines, I knew Google often had old data in its featured snippets.
Once I clicked on McGill’s website, it showed they made 15,385 offers to 37,505 applications for a 41.7% acceptance rate for the 2018 school year.
“Bahaha, never challenge the coach! 20 pushups right now!” I boomed.
More People Get Trophies In Canada
A 41.7% acceptance rate for arguably the best university in Canada is comical by US standards for the top school. The high acceptance rate shows that Canadians really are much more accepting of everybody than we are in America.
In America, where meritocracy is under attack, maybe making it easier for everybody to get into great schools and land well-paying jobs isn’t so bad after all. Think about how much less stress parents and children will feel for decades.
No wonder why Canadians have a reputation for being nice!
In 2023, McGill’s acceptance rate is still over 45% at 46.5%. Conversely, the Harvard of Harvard has an acceptance rate of about 4.5%.
If your kids are academically average, then it is much wiser to at least apply to a university like McGill. The career paths of many university graduates tend to end up in the same place.
Acceptance Rates From Other Top Canadian Universities
Let’s say you disagree that McGill is the best university in Canada. Here are the acceptance rates for the other top universities in Canada.
- University of British Columbia: 52.4% acceptance rate
- Queen’s University: 42% acceptance rate
- University of Toronto: 40% acceptance rate
- McMaster University: 58.7% acceptance rate
- University of Waterloo: 52% acceptance rate
- University of Montreal: 57% acceptance rate
In other words, the best universities in Canada have an acceptance rate of 40% – 58.7%!
One reader mentioned I left out Concordia University, supposedly one of the best Canadian universities. If so, that’s great because Concordia University has a 73% acceptance rate!
Acceptance Rates At The Top U.S. Universities
Now let’s take a look at the acceptance rates of some of the top U.S. universities.
Good luck getting into a top 10 school in America. It is nearly impossible.
And if your kids are Asian, then they’ve really got a Mt. Everest to climb. Is there no wonder why so many Asian families run small businesses? They know their odds are stacked against them, so they bypass the gatekeepers.
Unless you’re a really rich legacy student or cured malaria while fighting against gun violence, you or your children have little chance of getting into a top American university.
Remember, even some rich celebrity kids couldn’t get in on their own merit. The parents had to bribe school officials $50,000 – $500,000. Therefore, what makes you think your kids can get in?
What is the point of trying to grind so hard in middle school and high school to try and get into a top American university with a 10% or lower acceptance rate? Instead, you can be an average student and still get into a top-five Canadian university!
The reputations of the top Canadian universities are higher than their respective acceptance rates indicate. And some consider the top Canadian universities to have a similar amount of prestige to the top American universities.
The best life hack helps get your kids into a great school and ultimately get better jobs.
The Pressure For U.S. High Schoolers Is Immense
During my three years as a high school tennis coach, I saw and overheard my students talk incessantly about their studies. They discussed how they needed to go to expensive SAT tutoring after practice. They complained about having to take more practice AP exams and so forth.
Several even showed up late to important matches because they required extra time on their exams. They then wanted to talk to their teachers after class. I could feel the pressure they were under to try and do it all.
Maybe the pressure cooker environment has always been there in high school. But is it really a necessary rite of passage given college is becoming less necessary thanks to the free internet?
Instead of spending $52,659 in annual tuition going to Harvard only to end up with the same type of job as everyone else, why not spend 1/9th the annual tuition at the University of British Columbia and work at a US-based firm for more money instead? You might have to live in Canada for a year or two to be able to pay Canadian tuition, but it’ll be worth it!
Even if you cannot get any tuition exemption, international tuition is still about $15,000 cheaper than a comparable top-rated private university in America.
Not only might you land a $150,000 computer engineering job at Zillow, but you might also even make more than $1,000,000 a year as an MD at Goldman Sachs by your early 30s!
Less Crime In Canada Than In The United States
If you value your safety and the safety of your children, moving to Canada from America may also be appreciated.
According to World Population Review, Canada is ranked as the 82nd must crime-ridden country in the world versus 56th for the United States.
According to Macrotrends, Canada has only 1.97 crimes per 100,000 people compared to 6.52 crimes per 100,000 people in America. When you’ve got a larger social safety net and less poverty, there tends to be less crime.
Perhaps there’s a reason why Canadians have a stereotype of being more polite and considerate compared to Americans!
Take a look at the crime by country rate chart below. Maybe it’s not a coincidence Sam Bankman-Fried set up FTX in the Bahamas. Its crime rate is the second highest in the world! With higher crime comes more government corruption and the ability to bribe your way to success.
Best Life Hack: Move To Canada
I encourage all American high school students to apply to Canadian universities. You’ll get a great education and save on costs. Then once you’ve accumulated enough capital in America to retire, you can then return to Canada to live off the government’s good graces.
Having a Canadian university education should make it easier to be accepted by Canadians. You don’t even need a job thanks to Canada’s Express Entry program. All that’s required is at least one year of work experience, proficiency in English or French, and $1,500 – $2,000.
If you intend to be self-employed when you move to Canada, you’ll need to show you have at least two years of relevant experience in the field in which you intend to self-employ.
But once you get to Canada, there’s no law that states you need to start a successful business. You can just be a hobbyist to keep yourself engaged.
At the end of the day, Canada is great for early retirees, traditional retirees, people seeking financial independence, entrepreneurs, and children. Canadians are more laid back as its citizens are more focused on work-life balance.
Taking advantage of Canada truly is the best life hack for Americans. Who’s with me? Go Canada!
Anybody currently or planning on taking advantage of Canada to live a better life? What are some of the downsides to taking advantage of Canada besides long wait times for healthcare and cold weather? Should American work and education culture trend more towards Canadian work and education culture to there’s less stress and anxiety?
Best Wealth Hack
Now that you know the best life hack, know about the best wealth hack. Stay on top of your overall finances by signing up with Empower.
Empower is a free online tool I’ve used since 2012 to help build wealth. Before Empower, I had to log into eight different systems to track 35 different accounts.
Now I can just log into Empower to see how my stock accounts are doing. I can easily track my net worth and spending as well.
Their 401(k) Fee Analyzer tool is saving me over $1,700 a year in fees. Finally, there is a fantastic Retirement Planning Calculator to help you manage your financial future.
Best Investment Hack
Real estate is a core asset class that has proven to build long-term wealth for Americans. Real estate is a tangible asset that provides utility and a steady stream of income if you own rental properties.
If the U.S. housing market ever gets as hot as the Canadian housing market, I expect U.S. real estate prices to go up another 30%+. Americans truly don’t appreciate how cheap U.S. property is compared to the rest of the world.
Consider taking advantage of the current housing market weakness by investing in heartland real estate. Fundrise, my favorite private real estate investment platform, primarily invests in single-family and multi-family homes in lower-cost areas of the country.
Thanks to technology and work-from-home, the long-term demographic trend is away from the expensive coasts.
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The Best Life Hack For Americans is a Financial Samurai original post.
Sam, you should do post on the best countries to FIRE to in terms of status requirements (citizenship vs. residency), climate, tax, quality of life, etc. (if you haven’t done one already).
I am looking to emigrate and have dug around but the only place I keep coming back to that matches my way of life (laidback, tropical) is Mauritius with Botswana a strong second and Rwanda a third. However, Mauritius has one of those “investment programs” US dollars! EEK!
Canada may seem ideal but the weather is a bummer and way too expensive for someone looking to leave a third world country legally. So is most of Europe and Asia. I looked into South America but they seem just as unstable.
I’m not sure living in Canada a year or 2 would qualify someone from the U.S. for the low cost universal health care insurance or low tuition rates that bona fide Canadian resident enjoys. My guess is that a foreigner would have to legally immigrate to Canada in order to enjoy those benefits.
Little Seeds of Wealth says
Not sure if moving to Canada as a retiree under the Express Entry would be easy (don’t they usually prefer people with job offers?), but worth looking into. I used to live in Toronto. Wonderful and very safe city with great universities. The cold sucks but it’s very similar to Chicago/Detroit. I would not mind living there again.
Sport of Money says
Great food for thought. I didn’t know the acceptance rate is so high in the elite universities in Canada.
I live in NYC. As I’ve gotten older and older, cold temperatures during winter bother me more and more. I think the colder weather in Canada would be a big deterrent for me to make the migration up north (among other things).
Like you, I believe the US is the greatest country in the world. Why would I want to settle for less regardless of how great Canada is?
In the past, it’s been mentioned in the comments how much cheaper you could live if you moved to a LCOL and you responded (paraphrased) “why have the money if you can’t live in a place you want to live?” Same applies for me to Canada. Seems like a nice place (I was in BC last month), but not worth the life upheaval.
Mr EH says
I enjoyed the post. I have lived on both sides of the border and am currently living in Washington state. We were born in Canada moved to Texas shortly after the NAFTA in the early 90’s. Our three adult children are dual citizens and our oldest will definitely consider the Canada university option. I graduated from Queens University in Kingston Ontario and can attest that they provide a worldclass education.
We are a handful of years from retirement and our current plan is to relocate to beautiful Victoria British Columbia to enjoy the benefits of Canadian health care but also having easy access to US healthcare since it is only a two hour ferry ride to Seattle with some of the best hospitals in the US. As for all the horror stories about rationed Canadian healthcare my sister-in-law, who lives on Vancouver Island, was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and was undergoing chemo within a couple of weeks.
GenX FIRE says
There is one huge problem for me with this idea, temperature. It’s just too cold that far north, and yes, for me living in the suburbs of NYC, Canada is only a few hours away. Still, those hours matter. Perhaps I am just tired of the weather in the NorthEast.
In truth, Vancouver is a bit warmer in the summer and a good bit cooler in the summer. Arguably it is more comfortable.
I still think that the South will be the better option for us. What I take from this post is to look for these opportunities, North if you can take it, but elsewhere from where you are. We are doing the earn in the NY area until we can leave for a place with a better life.
Karl B. says
Do what a lot of Canadian “snowbirds” do. Spend the winters down South in Florida and spend the summers in Canada (minimum 180 days to retain your Canadian benefits). I’m Canadian and that’s my plan when I retire.
Curious why you are paying so much in healthcare. Don’t the Obama care exchanges offer much better rates?
Financial Samurai says
It depends on income and family size. Given our retirement income is over $200,000, we do not qualify for subsidies.
See: How To Qualify for Healthcare Subsidies Under Obamacare
Having studied at undergrad in UBC and then graduate school at University of Toronto, I have to say that the acceptance rate figures are falsely boosted.
Certain “hot” programs, such as the STEM programs are definitely much harder to get in compared, and the acceptance rates are definitely lower than your posted general figures.
Unlike the states, a lot of these acceptances are very program specific. For example, the science program now at UBC requires a 96% average, and are rejecting 92% averages. But there is also the problem of grade inflation in highschools generally which skews these statistics.
When I was in highschool, the top student in my class who went to Harvard undergrad/medicine and ended up as an ophthalmologist had a 96% average.
Overall though, I think the top Canadian Universities are a great deal for undergrad. Regardless, it takes hard work and a lot of luck wherever you go to succeed.
If you come to Vancouver or Toronto, let me know! You definitely have many followers here :)
Agreed…just sat with the Marketing Dept of UBC Sauder School of Business at a conference a couple weeks ago. They confirmed it’s a 95-97 to even get looked at. After that it’s very depended on your personal profile, resume and volunteer activities with focus on breadth and vigor (AP high school courses).
But aren’t Canadian taxes much higher than US taxes?
You got it! Taxes are much higher, Insurance is much higher, cost of things are much higher, GST is much higher… only the pay is much lower than US counterparts for same job and CAD is much much lower than US.
Financial Samurai says
I wonder, did everybody miss the point of my article and example of my softball per friend who is going back to Canada after he makes his money in America?
Nobody is going to Canada to work a lower paying job and to freeze their butt off for four months of the year.
The recommendation is to take a vantage of their higher university acceptance rates and then to retire in Canada after making a fortune in America.
No Sam, I didn’t miss your point! After having in US for a while, I live, work and pay taxes in Canada and terribly miss the low cost of living & shopping & dining & paying low insurance in US.
Any US citizen retired moving to Canada will be all ‘whoa’ when they see the real cost of living here, even if they don’t pay employment taxes.
Financial Samurai says
OK, what are some higher costs I will be surprised about coming from San Francisco?
Even Vancouver housing is 10-15% cheaper than San Francisco at the moment.
Karl B. says
Gas, food, clothing, electronics, books, cars, insurance, cell phone plans, (some of the highest in the world). You name it. Pretty much every consumption item is more expensive in Canada.
A little perspective too: the top earners get taxed a disproportionate amount (the top 1% pay 10% of taxes for example). That being said, we don’t go broke with a trip to the ER…
I’m proud to be Canadian but the road to wealth is a tougher slog than the US, especially with a Liberal government.
But come on up! We’d love to have you in Canada!!
Thanks for comparing my Alma Mater, McGill University, to Harvard! My B. Eng there has done well for me in the world!
Financial Samurai says
You bet! Be proud of being a McGill alum! If I’m ever up there, I’ll take you up on your offer for some free food and beer.
One other thing… amazing that despite lower salaries, property in Vancouver and Toronto are way higher based on price to income.
Is this a result of the government allowing foreigners to buy up property?
B/c $1.4 M for an average property in Vancouver sounds nuts given I can’t name one global firm based there that pays big bucks like in the SF Bay Area.
Canadian and American says
The other advantage is Canada has no inheritance tax (except for capital gains tax on death and small probate fees) even for large estates unlike the USA and the UK. Real estate property taxes are also low. Corporate tax rates are generally low. It’s pretty tolerant from a cultural/racial point of view.
The downsides are high income taxes (in some provinces 50%++) that kick in at upper middle class income levels, outrageous real estate prices in the Vancouver and Toronto, a competent but too powerful bureaucracy, and probably the worst part, a socialist streak of “tall poppy syndrome” that seeks to scapegoat successful (read: upper middle class) people in the supposed name of “redistribution”. Once in a while, socialist politicians will fan the flames of class warfare. That’s probably worse in BC and Quebec but better in Alberta and Ontario.
You are better off in Canada if you are middle class or less wealth, public service employee like a cop or teacher, retired or expecting a large inheritance. Not so good if you are upper middle class or richer, high income professional, successful businessperson that’s self employed.
Financial Samurai says
Thx for your thoughts.
Aren’t you even better off if you retired early and don’t have to pay any income tax?
Canada seems like the perfect FIRE destination.
This is a timely post for me as it is something my girlfriend and I have been preparing to do.
I am in my mid-30s and looking to quit my corporate law job within the next 2 years and move to Canada. The application for permanent residency was extremely easy (I am a US citizen) and nothing in the process so far suggests I won’t receive it.
There are various reasons behind this experiment, but you have touched on two of the big ones: health care and child education. Those are the biggest obstacles to financial independence because, unlike housing and transportation (the other two large expenses), an individual has little control over those costs.
Moving to Canada solves those two problems and presents a different problem: taxes. But there are various ways to mitigate the impact of these taxes (happy to share more once we’ve confirmed our strategy) because tax laws are transparent and known in advance.
There isn’t much you can do to mitigate the impact of an insane US hospital bill or premium increase because US health care costs are not transparent. It is this uncertainty that creates so much anxiety in the US, and for good reason.
Another point in Canada’s favor for Americans is that the US dollar is strong against the Canadian dollar. Canadian goods may be more expensive than American goods, but US dollar holders are getting a big discount (at least for now). Also, if you are a FIRE person, you probably aren’t buying much stuff anyway.
Two concerns that I have are:
1. Will my girlfriend and I be able to do the type of work we each are interested in doing? I’m willing to experiment and see what happens.
2. Will we like spending the winters there? I expect it will be easy to spend the winters in some other country up until we have a kid who reaches school age. After that, not sure what the plan would be.
what will you do with your 401Ks, IRAs? How will they be treated by USA and Canadian taxes?
We haven’t moved to Canada yet so I can’t say for sure. But we both work outside the US already (not in Canada) so I have some insight. I contribute to my 401K the same way I did in the US. Neither the US nor our host country taxes the dividends/gains from the 401K. (In fact, the host country doesn’t tax any investment income that isn’t generated in the host country). I contribute to a Roth so I wouldn’t get a US tax deduction, but if I contributed to a traditional 401K I would get a tax deduction for US tax purposes, but not for host country tax purposes.
Please continue to ignore places such as the north coast. You don’t have to move to Canada. There are several border states with reciprocity agreements. This was common in medical device out of Minneapolis going across the border for cheap education.
“The costal communities, including some right here in Louisiana, that are already making plans to leave behind the places they’ve called home for generations and head for higher ground… ” Tim Cook, Tulane University
American citizens, regardless of residency, are taxed on their worldwide income. So while living in Canada you will pay “at least” American rates.
An American (and Canadian) citizen. Educated well at University of Alberta (BS, MD). Med school tuition was $1500/year in late 1980’s.
I’d love to see you actually break down at what income level Canada’s higher tax rates eat up any savings you gain by not having to pay for health insurance. Top tax bracket in every Canadian province puts you at ~50% or more, well above the top federal tax rate in the USA.
Financial Samurai says
We can easily find that out. But it shouldn’t matter to Americans. Americans will be accumulating their wealth in America, thereby not paying Canadian taxes.
Once enough wealth is accumulated, Americans then immigrate to Canada like my softball friend.
There are provinces like Alberta and cities such as Edmonton and Calgary which have US coastal levels of median incomes, much cheaper real estate than Vancouver and Toronto, lower taxes than the other big provinces and still enjoy the same levels of health and education programs that those places have. Oh, and no rent control in Alberta unlike BC, Ontario and Quebec making it a much more friendly environment for residential real estate investment.
Do your research. Each province is very different.
Patrick Dwyer says
Do Canadians really love their healthcare? I get the cost factor in US healthcare but I don’t have issue with the quality (in general). I recently broke my hand and had surgery by top orthopedist within a few days. I understand the wait time in Canada would be many months.
Don’t believe the lies. You only wait if the procedure is elective. I love the Canadian healthcare system and happily pay my 40%+ in income taxes to support it.
David Michael says
Don’t believe the misinformation fed to American taxpayers about the Canadian healthcare system. I had an emergency bladder surgery in St George ‘s Hospital in BC a few years ago. I was admitted immediately, talked with doctor, given costs of everything upfront before operation. The care, surgery, doctor were first rate. For two nights, three days costs were $10,000 as compared to $100,000 in USA. And, the nurses were all locals who were in better shape than our own. American citizens are being exploited by American corporations which only care about money. Trump is symbolic of what’s gone wrong with the USA and he wants to repeal Obama care and Medicare. If I was younger I would immigrate in a heart beat to BC.
Dave @ Accidental FIRE says
sing it with me…. “Blame Canada”
someone had to do it….
Jeff Wiener says
A Canadian entrepreneur here:
Thanks for the insightful article, Sam. I’m a proud 50-year old Canadian who built, grew, ran for 27-years, and sold a successful business. I’ve often thought that Canada is the best country in the world with two exceptions: the weather, and the somewhat unfriendly anti-small business government. The first problem is easily solved now that I’m semi-retired and spend the colder winter months traveling the world to warmer climates, the second problem might be resolved to some extent with the election of a more business-friendly Federal government this October. I’ve often considered leaving Canada over the years, but I’m not sure there’s a country that offers as much as Canada does including its inclusiveness, healthcare, world-class universities, diversity, and overall opportunity.
Canada, and in particular, Toronto, is an extremely multi-cultural vibrant city and is an example to the world that yes, it is possible to live in peace and harmony and respect all people as human beings. We are all citizens of the world.
If you’ve got brains and a good education, and are willing to work hard and contribute to Canadian society, then welcome. If you’re bringing hate or are isolationist by nature, then please stay away because you’re not welcome, and you’ll notice that very quickly.
P.S. my son applied to McGill’s business program. The minimum average required for acceptance for an out of province student was a 95%. He’s now attending Queen’s business which has an approx acceptance rate of approx 8%.
Comparing the Canadian acceptance rates to the US is not quite an apples to apples comparison.
Given SAT tests are not required and the application essay is much less used acceptance is more heavily weighted to the GPA of students in Canada. Also, students will have a pretty good idea if they will be accepted or not based on historical GPA cuts offs which will deter them from applying to several different schools that are out of their reach.
I assume Canadian students would be even more selective with their applications vs their American counterparts as you can apply for up to three in universities at no cost. Any additional applications above that would have a fee associated with it.
Finally, the cut off may change slightly year to year but for most of the top schools/programs in Canada getting the equivalent of just a 4.0 GPA would not get you admitted. You would need the equivalent of a high-end 4.0 given the grading system is on a 100 point scale and the cut off for most top programs is significantly higher than the start of the 4.0 American grading scale.
That being said I think acceptance rates for international students might be more lenient due to the monetary upside to the University of higher tuition fees.
Proud Canadian says
So the plan is now that you have decimated your Country, destroyed your Educational, Medical and legal institutions and completely shit the bed on a global basis. It’s now time to move to Canada, and exploit our services and programs funded by my 53% Income tax rate.
Don’t try to fix your broken political and economic system, just run North like cowards. No wonder Trump won.
Financial Samurai says
Yes! We are all family.
I learned in many alien movies that once their planet’s resources are exhausted, it’s time to conquer another one.
The Alchemist says
Heh. Which, according to a lot of comments in various online media, is what a lot of desperate Californians are now doing to our fellow states. And small wonder… Poor California has been undergoing gradual, insidious destruction over the past 30 years. One party rule and progressive politics have done us no favors. You can see it becoming a 3rd World nation right before your very eyes.
But on another note, regarding University tuition costs: Do they have higher tuition fees for international students? If so, are they significant enough to offset your cheap tuition theory, Sam?
Financial Samurai says
About $10,000 cheaper than the top private school tuition if you absolutely can’t get any exemptions or relocate beforehand. Will include this in the post.
Indian mama says
Thank you. When immigrants come to the USA, they get trashed and discriminated against but Americans are being advised to go North to take advantage of Canadian benefits. I don’t think so….
David Michael says
Dear Proud Canadian,
Don’t be so harsh on the USA. I left California over 30 years ago because of overcrowding. I love Oregon and frequently travel to BC. Both countries have their pros and cons. I must say that most of your retirees spend five months a year in S. California, Ari zona, and Florida.
Go Canada …and GoUSA. Hopefully, Trump is an aberration and sanity will return. Cheers!
Hi Sam, I’m a Canadian living in SF, so I can speak to the benefits of Canadian education and healthcare. I grew up in a low income family and I wouldn’t have had a chance at an education if it weren’t for the country I lived in. Plus, both my parents have passed on from cancer (at early ages). Their illnesses never cost our family a cent and their care was exceptional. I love this about Canada. I also love their culture of inclusiveness. Is there still racism in Canada? Sure, but it’s not the norm and it’s not reflected in their government and politics. They’re also not backwards about human rights (as the US clearly still is).
But I live here, in California (also known as “Canada lite” because of the weather. My personal wealth has also grown as a result of being here. Toronto, my hometown, is expensive as heck now and I’d never make the same amount there than I would here.
All that said, Sam, I want to challenge you on your comment about “America being the best country in the world”. By what measure? It’s low (and still declining) in so many quality of life metrics and it seems to be more and more hostile toward minorities and women. So what is america “best at”?
BTW – one more thing. I hate to burst your bubble, but Americans going to school in canada are not going to enjoy those low tuition fees. International rates are much higher (although probably still much lower than here).
Financial Samurai says
America is the best country in the world because even as a Canadian, you choose to live here.
We have more opportunity for advancement than any other country in the world. And once we have accumulated our riches in our capitalistic society, then we should move to a more socialist country like Canada to enjoy retirement.
Seems to make sense! And when the winters are long and cold, will just come back to America to enjoy the better weather.
A 40% – 60% Acceptance rate for Canada’s top universities is shockingly high. This massive welcoming of students will seriously alleviate a lot of pressure that American students and parents feel when applying to college.
Financial Samurai says
I was asked to explain my belief on why I think America is the greatest country in the world. Feel free to explain why Canada is the greatest country in the world. It’s good to have pride in your own country. I don’t think that’s arrogant at all. We’re all trying to learn now to improve the quality of our lives.
This very post is showing a lot of respect for Canada. If I didn’t like Canada, why would I encourage myself and other Americans to move there?
Please elaborate on your thoughts on Canada instead of just criticizing my pride in my country.
I never said Canada was the best country in the world. I’m not sure that it is, but I’m also not sure that America is, either. It’s not a criticism (well, perhaps in some ways), but it’s questioning this ignorant belief many americans have that they are “the best”. But best at what?
Equal opportunity? no
Politics? oh, hell no.
Weather? No – there are a ton of countries with better weather than America.
At the end of the day, money and opportunity for advancement are important, but what’s the end goal for every human being? Happiness. Let’s be honest – America isn’t doing all that well in that department.
I live here because the weather is better than back home, but it’s still close enough that I can pop back home whenever I want, so I have the best of both worlds. I do take a lot of pride in being Canadian, but I don’t assume it’s the best in the world… nor do I think the US is, either.
Here’s a little further evidence if you need it:
Financial Samurai says
I sort of agree, which is why I think once we make a fortune in America, we can leave and go to places like Canada or happy or countries in Europe to live a more peaceful and happy life style. Where do you plan to retire? And could you make the same amount of money in Canada?
BTW, I lived in 5 different countries growing up for 2-4 years each, studied abroad in a China for 6 months and have traveled to over 50 countries. I think ISA is #1. Life is good here.
If it wasn’t, I’d be gone.
we’ve thought about Portugal or somewhere else in Europe to retire (I’m a British citizen as well), but chances are, it will be some combination of the US and Canada.
I don’t think either country is unilaterally “the best”, but I agree, life is good here.
The Alchemist says
” it seems to be more and more hostile toward minorities and women. ”
What’s your basis for this observation?
Have you seen the rhetoric and laws American politicians have been passing lately?
caren magill says
Sitting here wondering if you watch the news or not……
” You don’t even need a job thanks to Canada’s Express Entry program. All that’s required is at least one year of work experience, proficiency in English or French, and $1,500 – $2,000. ”
It is that easy to immigrate to Canada? That’s it?!!
And then I can get that all Canadian healthcare coverage?
I will definitely look into this.
Yeah….gaining permanent residency in Canada (necessary if you wish to be covered by our health care or attend a university and pay resident tuition vs international tuition) isn’t easy–especially for retired people. You’ll need to marry a Canadian or have a family member sponsor you. Shockingly, the Canadian government doesn’t just open the doors to people who haven’t paid taxes here their entire lives and let them use the subsidized health care and university system without ever contributing.
Financial Samurai says
That’s not what Justin Trudeau said.
Canada has a big advantage over the United States in one major way: immigration, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
“We’re a country that is open to immigration right now,” Trudeau said at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal Monday night, responding to a question about how Canada is competing with the United States on attracting business. “[That’s a] hell of a competitive advantage I don’t see the U.S. matching anytime soon,” he added.
I would think being an American would be easier to immigrate to Canada and take advantage of your social safety net versus someone from another continent. We’d assimilate better.
Further, what’s preventing an American student from applying to a top Canadian university with a 40% to 60% acceptance rate?
Wow! That is really shocking how high the Canadian university acceptance rates are. It’s like getting 200 on your SAT exam if you write your name.
Do you think this socialist type of economy and government is the reason why Canadians don’t have much innovation or have any world class companies?
Maybe relying on resources such as oil has made them lazy. Makes me not want to hire a Canadian over an American.
You might want to check your ignorance. It’s showing.
Andy – I work in finance in NYC with many Canadians. I won’t even start about how wrong you are.
The reason the Canadian acceptance rate is high is because Canadian education is better overall from the early stages of child development.
Public education is better than in the US, there is less segmentation of schools between low income vs middle class. There ARE private schools in Canada and they do provide an advantage but there are many excellent public schools, gifted programs etc. that offer a great education to children whose parents don’t have the resources to pay. As a result, children tend to do better because everyone is getting an opportunity at quality education. If you don’t grow up in an area of good education, mess up your life etc., there are grants and government assistance to get you training for a career change. The safety net helps equalize opportunities.
SAT is a horrible way of testing learning or success in academics when so many children learn and perform differently and exhibit different talents. The US application system is also well documented to be discriminatory in its application practice by enforcing “diversity”. Asian Americans generally work their butts off and get accepted less to top-tier schools because schools max their “quota”. By contrast, every single student is just a number to Canadian universities come application time. There are no “well-roundedness” considerations. The main consideration – some would say the only consideration – is how well you do in school aka your grades. If you show excellence in highschool or even just in the last 2 years of highschool, you have a good chance of going to university.
80% of Canadians have a university degree and most undergraduate programs are highly subsidized by government student loans, making it affordable. The debt is nowhere near the levels Americans pay, even though it has been steadily climbing in the last decade.
Our problem is not lack of innovation. It is brain drain. We lose our best and brightest to south of the border because the US pays more. University of Waterloo has historically been a feeder school directly to Silicon Valley. That is slowly changing in some ways. Toronto is increasingly becoming a tech hub. Lots of start-ups in the city. A big reason for this is that America is no longer selling the “American dream” as well as it used to. We have also seen a tick upwards in quality immigrants for the same reasons.
I volunteer at am employment agency to help resumes and the quality of immigrants is amazing. Engineers that used to build army bases, skyscrapers. People who learned French in order to get into the country and who are now doing really well 3-4 years later. They are all extremely grateful for the perceived acceptance of Canadians vs. Americans. The reality is that it’s prob not that different, but perception matters.
Fascinating info on Canadian universities. I love those tuition prices and acceptance rates! The comparison to the US is crazy. I’ve only been to Toronto but had a great time when I was there and loved the city’s diversity. The freezing winter not so much though. Canada has some beautiful parks and lakes I would love to visit some day too. Great post!
I have been on the hunt as to where I want to continue my education and getting a Master’s degree. I never even thought of Canada as an option. I am convinced this might be the best choice here. I am definitely going to be looking into this.
I’m Canadian and moved to the US for lower cost of living and higher wages. Also a much lower tax bracket and I don’t pay Canadian taxes since they don’t tax worldwide income. I intend to send my kids to University in Canada which is why I’ve never bothered to save money for future tuition. An overall win if you can take advantage of geoarbitrage.
I agree with you Sam that Canadians do have a lot of advantages that us Americans don’t, healthcare is a biggie (unless you are a physician because you can’t make as much as in the US).
The educational system is on par with the US as well and as you mentioned far more affordable.
My mom remarried and moved to Toronto when I was in college and I spent a lot of summers there. It is a beautiful city, culturally diverse, amazing food, etc. The only problem is the weather for me which tons of snow (which is why a lot of the affluent Canadians are snowbirds and head to Florida for the winter).
I didn’t know it was that easy to gain entry and citizenship to Canada, especially if you are already retired. May have to look into it :)
Tim B says
With a daughter headed for high school next year I immediately looked up a couple of these universities after reading your article Sam. Unfortunately, tuition for international students will be on the same level as most private institutions here in the US. I will go back to looking at in-state schools :(
Financial Samurai says
Time to relocate and spend a year or two to gain residency first and then you’re good to go.
Even if you can’t pay the cheap Canadian tuition, the 40% – 59% acceptance rates are HUGE for their top schools. No brainer to at least apply to one of them as a backup.
Tim B says
Its funny that you suggest relocating. My grandfather tried to convince me to live with him in Florida to gain residency for instate schools before going to college. I never seriously considered it but wonder how often this is done to save on tuition costs?
I wouldn’t mind moving to CA if our son gets into a good public school there. It’s a big saving.
Is it that easy to immigrate to Canada? I’m sure they have some kind of criteria for immigration.
I really like Victoria. It’s a very neat tourist area.