Retire in Canada!


Your Retirebook editors spend a lot of time in western Canada.  The border is just a short drive away and the fabulous cities of Vancouver and Victoria are right at our doorstep.  Vancouver is a big international city that recently hosted the winter Olympics.  Victoria is very much like a tiny corner of Britain.  Both are chock full of festivals, shopping, events, the arts and great food.   When we need a big city fix, we head north to British Columbia.

Like many Americans, the family immigrated first to Canada (from Scotland and England) and then down to the US.  A good number of us have strong family and cultural ties to the big beautiful land to the north.  We know all the words to “Oh, Canada” because we hear it so often.  Those who retire in Canada, even for a season, will find a home much like the United States.

When we think of retirement, you may think “Go someplace warm” and have not considered Canada.  But if you live in the blistering heat of the south, say in Arizona or Texas, Canada is a great choice for the summer.  So many Canadians head south for the winter but, more and more, we see RV’s heading north for the cooler summer. With Arizona temperatures averaging well over 100 degrees every single summer day, no wonder Canada is so attractive.

US citizens can stay in Canada for up to six months without a tourist visa.  Don’t even think of staying longer or you will be deported.   You need a passport or an ‘enhanced drivers license’ to cross the border.  You cannot live there permanently or work without the proper permits.   See the very detailed immigration website for specific information.

Canada is a federation with 10 provinces and 3 territories composing almost 10 million square miles, making it the second largest country in the world and one of the world’s strongest economies.  The majority of the country speaks English as its first language, but there are many aboriginal tribes with their own tongue and much of Quebec speaks French.     76% consider themselves of European descent, 14 are Asian and then multiple smaller groups.   Thirty-five million people call Canada home and vast areas of the far north are totally unpopulated.

While Canada is not the least expensive place in the world to live, it isn’t the most expensive either.   One bedroom apartments in the suburbs of Vancouver BC can be had for $900 per month.    A comparable apartment in Toronto was $1,200 per month.   

The crime rate in Canada is lower than the US, but about the same in the big cities.   

Depending on where you are, prices can vary quite a lot.  Gasoline is usually higher in Canada, but utilities are lower.    Food averages out about the same.   We see a lot of shoppers coming south to visit our Malls, so the merchandise must be lower in the US.

Canada is so big its hard to know where to start with a description.   The west has pretty big mountains and hundreds of islands along the coast, not the least of which is Vancouver Island.   The midlands are the plains with vast open fields of wheat and produce.  Heading east you come to low-lying hills and vast forests with lakes and rivers.  The eastern seaboard has more forests, and a wild and rugged coastline with more islands.   The southern parts of Canada can get warm in summer with temperatures as high as the 80’s.

In our RV travels (we too are snowbirds in the winter) sometimes we find ourselves in a sea of Canadian license plates while visiting Palm Springs, Havasu City, and the Phoenix area.  We all head south to find warmer climates and then get to know each other over barbeques, cocktail parties, card games, bocce ball, and hanging out in the pool.   These friendships continue when we go north in the summer when we meet up with our new friends on their turf.  I swear, there are few shy people in the RV Parks! 

So consider a long visit up in the great land of Canada.   Americans are welcome and we love to compare our differences.   It’s a great place to visit, if only for a season!

Living in Canada
Pros: We all speak English, friendly people, much like home.
Cons: It gets cold in the winters!
Best Places to Live: Vancouver Island, Toronto area,  and Amherst, Nova Scotia
Favorite Inexpensive Events: In Vancouver: “Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner”
Did You Know:  Canada has a quarter with a glow in the dark dinosaur on one side.  Who knew?

Victoria, on Vancouver Island British Columbia

Here’s a great little peek of what you can expect to see in Victoria, Canada, one of our favorite places to visit.   Be sure to be on the deck of the Empress Hotel at sunset!


Windsor – Essex Ontario

This quick little video will give you a picture of what the Windsor area is like.  Just across the border from Detroit, Windsor is a world away.  


Edmonton, Alberta

Here’s what you can expect to see in beautiful Edmonton – and no provincial sales tax!   Festival City Canada!


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