Friday, August 30, 2013

Why we decided to settle in Canada (rather than the U.S.)

(Maya & her dad at the beach, 2013)

Husband-ji and I both met when we were attending college in the U.S. as international students. At the time we graduated, we were both given an OPT card that allowed us to work in the U.S. for a year - and after the year was over, we were supposed to either ask a company for a work visa (which would cost the company up to $5000) or leave the country. Mind you, this was during the last year of the Bush reign and the economy was at it's worst. Many employers didn't want to spend that kind of money, when they could easily have hired an American without the hassle of a visa. Our last year in the U.S, we spent in San Francisco, which turned out to be a way more conservative city than I had expected (whatever happened to those cool hippies?) But in reality, I was getting the intuition that living in the US may not be good for us, even the year before. I was starting to really miss my family, and I was realizing all of the struggles you have to go through if you're not a citizen - for example, we always had to think twice before going to the doctor, due to the cost. I realized, why are we doing this when we can just move back to Canada and have a better quality of life? It was a huge decision that we made which changed the course of our life forever. It was extremely stressful to change countries, but it was well worth it in the long-term.

Many of our Indian relatives think good ol' USA is this glamourous place where everybody drives a Mercedes. What they don't know, is that the majority of Americans can't even afford to see a doctor when they're sick. What kind of life is that? So many of our Indian family are desperate to send their kids to the US because they think that's the only option...and it's not. It's not even the best option. And when husband-ji says we are living in Canada, they look down upon us. For many Indians (who have not left India) the US is this illusion of huge mansions, Hollywood, Statue of Liberty, everyone rolling around in wads of money...etc. Most of the international students we went to school with ended up leaving the US (but that was before Obama came in)

Canada always flies under the radar. Everyone automatically thinks it's a cold place where it snows all the time, like the Arctic circle or something. Like we live in some Eskimo hut and go ice fishing. It's pretty much the same as the US, but I would say more relaxed in every way. We like to watch American TV, movies, and news, for entertainment but we aren't really that dramatic in our own lives. People are polite, but standoffish at times. If you bump into someone, THEY will say sorry! And yes, we can identify an American walking down the road. I can't explain how but we just know. And as I lived in the US and have a soft-spot for Americans, I can sniff out an American with super sonic speed, since I know all the accents. There are more neighbourhood shopping districts, and less malls; people walk around more, than drive.

Moving back to Canada, it's pretty much been smooth sailing. I've been quite pleased. I was able to bring Madhavan into the country before we were married, on common-law status; all the benefits for children have come in really handy (the government pays us!); cheap and good quality healthcare; and also sponsoring my inlaws to come live with us. Not only that, but being Canadian has really affected my personality - although I like to call myself a global citizen - I really have some sort of a "Canadian finesse" about things (ie. dealing with difficult people in a very civilised manner - "you can win more bees with honey")

Here are a few reasons why we love Canada:

- great place to raise a family (1 year maternity leave provided by the government even if you're self-employed at 55% pay)
- health care (when I had my baby, I only had to pay $37 for a TWO day hospital stay in a large 400 sq ft private room)
- able to sponsor husband-ji's parents to immigrate here (we have applied and it takes 5 years, and then they will be permanent residents and can work if they want to, or not)
- common-law sponsorship (I sponsored husband-ji back when he was only my boyfriend and it took 7 months)
- excellent school system (not only are public schools free, but Canadian kids score in the top 10 of 65 countries)
- support from the government for children (for each child we get $150/month until they're 6 years old, to help cover for baby costs; also if you put in $2500/year into an RESP at the bank, the government will donate an extra $500 for your child...per YEAR!)
- universities are more affordable (54% of kids from low-income families are able to send their kids for post-secondary education)
- more tolerant to other ways of life (gay marriage has been legal for over 10 years, and we encourage immigration - half of Canada's millionaires are immigrants)
- better work/life balance (2 weeks paid vacation and 9 public holidays)
- not scared to travel & get exposure to other cultures (65% of Canadians hold passports - 35% of Americans have passports; 5% of Indians have passports - also we are more accepted as friendly travelers around the world)
- water supply is not a problem (our water bill is less than $30/month - we have the most water/inhabitant of any developed country)
- peaceful spirit (Canada was recently ranked the 8th most peaceful country in the world)
- safer on the streets (fewer murders and mass-shootings)

But the main reason for me was my family is here, and I thought it would be a better place for us to have children. Y'all know I like to think long-term! Of course, there are things that I don't like about Canada (Vancouver especially is less friendlier and the cost of living is more expensive than Hong Kong) but overall, I'm happy we moved here. Sometimes I wish we lived in Toronto because there are more young people, but I would miss living by the ocean too much. Of course, I miss my American friends, the American friendliness, and the cheap shopping - but I can always phone up my friends and/or hop across the border to get my Target shopping fix!

The health care, the education, the immigration for husband-ji's parents...all were the main decisions for us.

Check out THIS ARTICLE for the rest of Canada's strength in case you want to know more.

P.S. I'm not saying Canada is better...but it is just better for us.
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21 comments

  1. Americans work very hard for the things they have. Many foreigners don't realize that until they get here.

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    1. Yes, they really do. Opportunities are not just handed to them, as it would appear. You have to work your ass off in the US!

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  2. Hahaha as a Canadian, I completely agree with you! I actually didn't know some of the stuff you put at the bottom. And BTW, your Target fix? Vancouver doesn't have a target yet?? We're a small city in Ontario and we have two! Not merely as good as the ones in US though.

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    1. No, Vancouver is sooooo behind!!! I think we are getting one soon, finally. I'm counting down the days ;)

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  3. Hmmm.... How much does a doctor make in Canada? ;)
    I know what you are saying about Indians thinking US is the place to live. I wanted to go to UK or Australia, (I am a sucker for their accents,) but my mom would not budge. Finally, I had to yield. Australia makes me think of vacation, the beaches and the Kangaroo's. I was thinking if I go there, I can be on vacation all the time. Kohinoor diamond is the reason I thought about UK lol. My aunt’s family lived in Canada for 25 years before they migrated to US. Canada is a peaceful country that does not poke their nose in other countries matters. US on the other hand have to have opinion on everything and anything. I think the reputation of US overshadows Canada because US is noisy and Canada is silent. If there is a kid in the class that is shouting all the answers (doesn't matter if they are right or not) everyone pays attention to him and no one pays attention to the silent kid (even if he has right answers).
    Before I came to US, I imagined US to be a place where the roads are paved with gold (I mean very clean) because that was kind of the description people gave me. The day I landed for the first time in US it was raining after a heavy snow storm. The roads were nasty and muddy; there goes that expectation of golden roads lol. I did not have a car for almost 10 months after I came here and life is really difficult without a car. I moved all my belongings in a suitcase trolley when I had to move. I made 21 trips with 3 suitcases to move all my belongings so, I told people US is poorer than India they don’t even have auto’s or Public telephones. lol . I know I am funny like that.
    -R

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    1. I checked online and it says resident doctors in-training make $50,000; and family doctors make $120,000; and then specialized doctors make up to $500,000 (I've heard the eye doctors make the most)
      My husband wanted to go to Australia too but ended up going to the US because he had elder cousins who had gone to college and loved it. (And thank god he did because then we wouldn't have met!) It is VERY difficult in the majority of the US without a car. In NYC area you can get away with it because of subway/trains, but the majority of the US you really need a car badly. At least now they have those car co-op things where you can rent by the hour.

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    2. http://careerbear.com/doctor/article/what-do-doctors-make

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    3. It totally makes sense Alexandra! Also canada is one of the safest countries in the world (I saw on a documentary) plus its a beautiful place to live.

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    4. Hi Amelia!
      Yes, I have not been disappointed at all, I feel like it's been a very peaceful place for us to be. And nature, and getting outside is a big part of everyone's life here. Maybe that's why we're so peaceful! ;)

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  4. I've never been to Canada (it's on my list of places to visit), but I think my Canadian friends and collegues are really cool. They have a no BS attitude which I appreciate a lot ! (Padparadscha)

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    1. That is funny :) My dad thinks that the main reason why I've got positive blog readers is that Canadians are mostly well-liked around the world, so nobody is going into it with a stereotype of pre-hating "american" or "british" or "australian" etc. I am fortunate in that way, that way people can just read and get to know me that way

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  5. HAH!
    I'm an American married to a Kashmiri Indian man who had never been to the US.
    He also had the Indian idea of the US being a paradise.
    We attended a wedding in the US last year & saw Disneyworld, Yosemite, & a lot of touristy stuff.
    I tried to explain how most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, don't save $ like Indians do, can't afford to go to the doctor , the American dream is based on credit cards etc.
    He couldn't believe it til we drove passed the oodles of foreclosed houses you see in the US now. A visit to Walmart was rather enlightening also.

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    1. OMG, I can only imagine. How different it is in real life than what is seen on TV....so many people living paycheck to paycheck, if they even have a job in the first place that pays enough to cover the massive bills and debts.
      Indians are really smart that way saving their money, and using cash rather than credit.
      And also, there is just too much to buy, I go crazy shopping when I visit the US just because there is such a variety of product! Shopping central...LOL!

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  6. Hey,

    What came to me after reading this post was.... a conversation from HIMYM between Ted and Robin!

    How Robin always thinks highly of Canada!

    After reading your reasons, Canada was definitely feel a safer and better choice.

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    1. Hahahahaha.....yeah, Canada has been good to us, so far...easy living!

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  7. Please do not mind...but why have you never considered to live in India?

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    1. Have lived briefly, but it wasn't meant to be, the timing was wrong! Mostly due to my hubby, he is in the Arts field and would not have as much opportunity to make $, and although he is from India and lived there until 25yrs old, he hates the heat and the traffic! LOL!
      I am not opposed to living in India again, you never know with life!

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  8. Hello!! Did you have any issue with your in-laws because they wanted you to settle down in India?? I have an indian boyfriend and so far is their major concern, they say I am suppose to live there as he is the eldest son :(

    Regards!

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    1. Eldest son's responsibility is to take care of the parents, very common. My hubby is also eldest son and my inlaws will be coming to live with us. My inlaws are already settled abroad because my FIL did not want to live in India anymore. We are just waiting on their immigration to Canada to come through. But yes, eldest son means you inherit his parents too!

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  9. Thanks Alexandra!!!

    I have no issues to inherit his parents, but I dont want to settle down in India as I consider we will have a better quality of life outside, even my boyfriend agrees, but he is in too much preassure of his parents as they tell him is his obligation to go back and take care of them.

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    1. Yes so many factors to consider. Perhaps his parents can move abroad? Have they visited yet? Best option would be to have them stay nearby but not in the same house.

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