Costa Rica Blog

Live or Retire in Canada, a Comparison to Costa Rica

Posted by Steve Linder on Sun, Jun, 19, 2011


In our continuing series visiting potential countries for North Americans to retire or relocate, today we will take a look at Canada.  As always, we'll look at cost of living considerations, accessibility, political stability and more.  Check our blog for a similar comparison to a variety of other countries.

The United States’ neighbor to the north is not usually the first place Americans think of when they’re considering retiring abroad, but Canada offers some appealing benefits for expats, as well as some difficulties worth overcoming.  

It may not be a tropical paradise that some retirees dream of, but for those who prefer world-class skiing rather than skin-diving it just might be the prefect place.  And it’s hardly all prairies and frozen tundra -- from the ruggedly graceful coastline of the Atlantic provinces to the lush Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada is a vast country of natural beauty.  It also boasts some of North America’s most important cities, Toronto (photo) , Montreal and Vancouver, all culturally vibrant and diverse metropolises.

Two of the biggest financial incentives for moving to Canada are its lower cost of living relative to the United States and its national health care program which is mostly free at the point of use for its citizens. Canada’s typically higher taxes may counteract these benefits for some people, but at the very least Canada and the United States have an agreement not to tax expats twice, avoiding a problem that can plague Americans abroad in other countries.

The biggest challenge facing those of any country who wish to retire in Canada is getting permission to do so.  United States citizens don’t need to apply for a visa to visit Canada for up to three months, but to stay there permanently does require a visa.  Unfortunately, Canada no longer offers a specific visa for retirees, which leaves expats with the option to either apply for residency as an investor, which requires a minimum net worth of $800,000, or as a skilled worker, which is only open to certain occupations.  Expats who enter Canada on a skilled worker visa may find difficulty gaining employment in some of the eastern states without being bilingual in English and French, but French is not required in the rest of the country.

Country Overview

Canada has the second largest landmass of any country in the world, and its southern border with the United States is the world's longest. It is a vast country, and contains more freshwater lakes than anywhere else in the world.  It is made up of mostly plains with mountains in the west and lowlands in the southeast.  The climate in the north and interior is usually far below freezing, with snow covering the ground at least half the year, but the costal regions enjoy temperate climates and highs in the 70s, with British Colombia having the mildest winters.

Facts and Figures

Canada’s population was 33,212,696 in 2008 and is estimated to be 35,051,000 by 2015.  Most people speak English, although about 1/3 speak French; both are official languages.

In terms of crime, the rate of intentional homicides is 1.81 per 100,000 people which is incredibly low by international standards

Political Instability Index (out of ten): 2.8

Quality of Life ranking (out of ten): 7.599


In terms of currency, one US dollar is roughly equal to 1.13 Canadian dollars.

Price of a round-trip flight to Toronto:

From New York: $311 (Expedia), $362  (American Airlines)

From Los Angeles: $561  (Expedia), $628  (American Airlines)

From Miami: $388  (Expedia), $428  (American Airlines)


Price to rent an economy car for 10 days in Toronto: $368.88


Median price for an apartment in Toronto’s city centre: $7,538 per square meter.

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Tags: Costa Rica real estate, international real estate, living internationally, Canada, what to consider when moving abroad

The 13 Most Important Considerations When Moving or Living Abroad

Posted by Steve Linder on Tue, Oct, 05, 2010

After years of looking at options for offshore living, we have come up with a list of factors to consider when thinking of moving abroad.  Choosing a country and deciding where to live abroad has it's challenges.  It also has many benefits.  For many people change is difficult.  No place will be exactly like where you moved from but in many cases that will be good news.  Make a list of the things important to you as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the locations you are considering.  Don't ignore your present and future needs when you make a decision to move to a foreign country.  For most of us it will be the things we did not do in life that we come to regret, not the things we did. 

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Tags: Living Abroad, living internationally, what to consider when moving abroad, retiring abroad

Risk - A Decision Making Tool For Expats Living Abroad

Posted by Steve Linder on Sun, Feb, 14, 2010

Here is a great Slide Show I made for risk analysis when considering moving abroad.  With 7 years of International Business at the college level, I present things to consider when choosing a country to relocate or invest in.  Risk and return are related and our threshold for risk varies from person to person.  Take a look at this slide show to get a better understanding of how to use risk analysis to help in the selection process of where to live, relocate, retire or invest.  Remember that every scenario has risk, even that of doing nothing.  Also remember that when looking back at life it is often not what we did that we regret, it is what we didn't do.

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Tags: Expats, Abroad, international living, Risk for Expats, living internationally, overseas living, investing abroad, international investing