Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 11.
So, you're an avowed #NeverTrump-er and you can't want to follow celebrities like Lena Dunham, Cher, and Amy Schumer and bid the U.S. "good-bye" and say "bonjour" to our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada.
That's fine. The U.S. is a free country, and pulling up stakes and crossing borders is well within your rights. But just don't slap a maple leaf flag on your rear bumper and steer toward Moose Jaw or Banff without a good moving plan in place. Just a few missteps will have you back in the land of the stars and stripes before you can say "hoser, eh?"
To get you heading north of the border, TheStreet spoke with several experts on moving to, and living in, Canada. Here's their advice:
Know what you're getting into - "Ask yourself why you want to move and be honest," says Donna Duncan, a small business owner who holds dual-citizenship in both the U.S. and Canada. "Canada is in many ways similar to the United States, and Canadians are just frustrated with their political system and economy. The big difference is culture and opportunity." Duncan says Canadians have more of a sense of community and less tolerance for self-serving individualism than U.S. citizens do. "They value humanitarianism, moderation and conformity," she says. "While friendly and kind, some outsiders might consider Canadians boring." Duncan also notes that because Canada is a much smaller population and economy, and because their immigration policies are more open, and job opportunities are fewer. "If you want to move, ask yourself why," she adds. "You won't necessarily escape your problems by moving to Canada. You might just be swapping one set for another."
What is the Canadian real estate market like? - It really depends on what kind of housing situation you're looking for, says Michelle Farber Ross, managing partner and broker at Toronto-based MMD Realty. "If you're looking for new construction, for example, expect to pop down a 10% deposit, and 50% through the course of the build," says Ross. "And, you'll be expected to show you have the full 100% to close." Ross adds that Canadian banks have "tightened up" lending for home loan borrowers. "Banks used to lend 90% ten years ago, but the highest amount that is obtainable now is 70%, and they look closely at your income and your ability to pay," she says. Right now, the Canadian real estate market is competitive and the prices are well above the historical means and averages, Ross notes. "Vancouver and Toronto are both over-priced, due to the Chinese and Eastern European money coming in, because they wanted out of China and Eastern Europe. The average per square feet for a house in Vancouver is around $800 -$1000 , and that's in a high-tax environment and less-desirable climate than oceanfront property in Florida and California, which go for $600 per square foot."
What's the tax situation? - If you like paying taxes, Canada is the place for you. According to Dale A. Walters, a certified financial planner, and author of the book, Taxation of Americans in Canada: Are You At Risk?, as a rule of thumb, a U.S. citizen moving to Canada will pay between 33% to 50% more in income tax. "In addition, there are high sales taxes and those sales taxes apply to services, not just goods," Walters says. "Also, in some cases, the person leaving the U.S. may be subject to an exit tax." Walters strongly advises Americans considering a move to Canada to discuss the financial implications with a trusted money manager and/or accountant."
Do I need to beat the rush? - You bet. According to Roxana Baiceanu, communications specialist with Canada-based Point2Homes, traffic data collected on the website shows that in the last 48 hours (in the two days after the election) the number of visits from the U.S. landing on Canadian listing pages jumped by 700%. "The most targeted cities were Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Windsor, and Cape Breton," Baiceanu says.
Here's what Point2Homes found in its 48-hour data, from Tuesday, November 8, to Thursday, November 10:
- Searches targeting homes for sale in Ontario went up by 900%, and rental listings saw a bigger surge of 1,120%.
- Toronto and Ottawa listing pages saw visits jump by 515% and 275%, respectively.
- Montreal homes for sale recorded a 430% increase in searches.
- Searches for Vancouver homes for sale went up by 335%.
- Visits landed on Cape Breton listing pages rose by 600%.
What's the job market like? - The answer depends on your current line of work, says Ian Wright, a Canadian citizen, and founder of MoverDB.com, an international moving comparison site. "For people who work in natural resource industries the job market is not great due to low global prices for most products such oil," he says. "The technology industry is doing quite well in Canada, but Americans moving to Canada should be prepared for substantially lower wages than comparable jobs in the U.S."
How can you make the move easier? - If you really do just want to drop everything and go - and you have enough money stashed away to get the task completed, look for turn-key furnishing services like Furnishr to set you up in an empty home and make it "move in ready." Furnishr, which has locations in many Canadian cities, says its service is a "natural" for U.S. citizens who are in a rush to get to Canada. "They can leave their furniture behind and just pack their personal belongs," the firm states in an email to TheStreet. "Choose one of our room designs and tell us when and where they are moving, and we'll deliver and assemble all brand new furniture in your new home."
In the end, perhaps the most critical question an American whose bags are already packed is this: "Will I be welcome in Canada?"
"Yes, I think on the whole Canada is very welcoming to immigrants from all countries, including the United States," Wright says. "However, if you do make the move be prepared to have to explain American politics and voting patterns on a pretty regular basis."
"Canadians, on the whole, are pretty baffled that Donald Trump could get elected President," Wright adds.