Life in Canada: Challenging Assumptions

While traveling abroad I have had many people tell me their assumptions about life in Canada, and common stereotypes. I often have to s...


While traveling abroad I have had many people tell me their assumptions about life in Canada, and common stereotypes. I often have to spend time explaining to them why these are false, and often get a surprised reaction, followed by an "Oh my friend so and so went there and told me what it was like." First off, I would like to start off with the fact that living in a country and visiting a country are two VERY different things! What you see as a tourist and what you see as a local are not comparable. Second, if you are one of these people that tell stories about places you have never visited yourself, or heard about from your friend so and so, please stop. The amount of times I have heard comments from people, whether here in Canada or abroad, about countries they have never actually set foot in is astonishing. In this post, I will write about some of the common questions and comments I have heard about life in Canada while abroad.


"Isn't it cold all year?"

Beach day in Toronto
No. It is not cold all year. The summer months, especially in Southwestern Ontario, are hot and humid with temperatures reaching low to mid 30s (Celsius). We have many beautiful beaches in Southwestern Ontario, and to quote my husband, there is no need to travel anywhere tropical during these months. It is hot. As much as I love summer, spending the summer in the city is not ideal as it gets too hot to do anything, unless you spend the day swimming in the lake. 

Fall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada 
Fall is my favourite season in Canada, and for good reason. The temperatures remain to be warm (in the teens), with lots of sunny days, and beautiful fall colours. 

Elora, Ontario, Canada 
Winter does suck and I hate it so much, but Canadian municipalities invest a lot of money in keeping the roads clear. Business owners keep their business nice and warm, sometimes even too warm. The days are shorter, but they are not any shorter than in European countries. Our winter typically lasts from mid to late December to early to mid March. By the way, not all of Canada is covered in snow during the winter months. Vancouver sees very little snow. 

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
The spring is usually short lived, at least in Southwestern Ontario, as the temperatures tend to rise quickly and summer is here before you know it. 


"You won't have a hard time finding a job. There are lots of jobs in Canada"

Riiiiiiight. Although the Canadian economy is much stronger than many other countries in the world, the job market is not perfect. Sure, there are a lot of minimum wage jobs that not many people want to work, which are relatively "easy" to get, but to start in a profession, especially as a recent graduate in Canada, it is tough. Many of my friends who have completed university degrees are working in unrelated fields than what they graduate from. This is in part due to personal choice, but for the most part, it is because they could not find a suitable job in their field. Employers often ask for previous work experience, yet no one seems to want to offer that work experience. 

Side note: After returning to Canada, I applied to over 200 jobs in less than a month, nationwide, to only get 3 interviews in total. It was truly a full-time job looking for a job. 


"Life in Canada is easy" 

I have been told stories of people who have immigrated to Canada in hopes of a better life for their family, only to return to their home countries after being disappointed. It is not easy starting out a new life in Canada, it takes time, but with lots of effort, it is doable.

Having grown up in Canada as a first generation immigrant, I have witnessed the struggles many immigrant families go through. We all had to learn a new language, relatively quickly. My parents had to go back to school in order to get Canadian education experience in order to get good employment, all while working minimum wage jobs to pay for the school and support a family. And now I am seeing these challenges through my husband's eyes all over again as he gets accustomed to his new life in Canada. 

Life is easy in Canada if you work really hard for it. I'm not saying the ones who came and left were not hardworking. What I am saying is that it takes a certain character to go through the ups and downs of not knowing anyone, learning a new language, having to go back to school while supporting a family, being away from family and friends, and building new relationships. It is tough, but well worth it in the long run. 


"Canada, America. Same thing"

Not really. Ask any Canadian and they will agree. Although the USA is right next door, we are not like the Americans. We have a different political system, medical system, culture, and so much more. Heck, we even talk differently than them. Please do not compare us to our neighbours because we are not like them. 


"People in Canada are rich" 

I don't think I know any rich people, and if I do, I am not aware of it. Canada has a large middle class. Sure our wages may be higher than in other parts of the world, but our standard of living is just as high. For example, to live in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto, costs approximately $1300 per month, if not more. Minimum wage in Ontario is $11.40. A phone plan goes for approximately $50 per month. All utilities could come to $200, depending on what your energy spending habits are like. And you have to eat and get dressed. Do the math yourself and see how many hours in a month you would have to work in order to survive - oh and don't forget the tax. People are by no means rich. Sure we have wealthy people, but calling all Canadians rich is a stretch of the imagination. 


"What is there to see in Canada besides Niagara Falls?"

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Yes my dear Canadians, this was said to me before. Canada is the second largest country in the world, with very different geographical regions. To say that the only thing to see in all of Canada are the Niagara Falls is like saying the only reason to travel to China is to see the Great Wall. There is so much more to Canada. I have not seen all of it (because it is huge), but what I have seen is natural beauty in every part of the country that I have visited. Yes the Niagara Falls are cool to see, but in my opinion, they are way too commercialized, and although we have a nicer view on the Canadian side, the Americans have the natural beauty of the falls (one more reason how we are different). 


So what is life like in Canada?
Early fall in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Life in Canada is peaceful, safe, clean, and beautiful. Having lived in 4 other countries, I can say that no country is ideal. The nice thing about life in Canada is that Canadians are friendly, warm, and welcoming. Those of you who don't agree need to spend some time abroad being yelled at by grumpy people for no reason besides the fact that they are having a bad day and you were the unlucky soul who crossed their path. Sure, I would love to live abroad again for a year or so just for the experience, but my road will always lead me back home to Canada. After all, Canada is the only country in the world that has ever felt like home to me. 


Happy Travels!


Andrea 








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3 comments

  1. So interesting, I live in Canada and I love it, sometimes is not easy but at least for me its worth it

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed my post! I agree, it is not always easy but it is all worth it in the end :)

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