Sales of luxury properties declined in three of Canada’s biggest cities in 2018. Brad Henderson, CEO of Sotheby’s Realty International Canada, sat down with
Do you regret moving to Canada?
I do not regret moving away from home and experiencing a new life.
But I do regret choosing Canada over Europe (I did have the choice).
Here are a few things I am sure the responses, especially the ones from those who have ‘just’ moved here and likely wrote the comments in their ‘high’ of traveling do not cover.
1 – The cold is deadly – and no one wants to admit it.
2 – It is cold not only outside, Canadians like to burn extra fuel on airconditioning and to freeze their indoor areas too, both in summer and winter (and yes there are only two seasons in Canada). There is not one day all year around when you can do your errands without having to carry a jacket or, ever thinking of wearing a skirt like I like to do – because the moment you step inside buildings it’s FREEZING (unless you are exercising). Although, I must say people do not dress to the weather, and if you have an issue with the cold, you will be always objectified ‘omg! your wearing too much! are you cold?’
Look, winters are 8 months long here. for at least 3 months, it’s below -15. You need a car. You need a really good home with proper heating, and still your social life is brought to minimum during those months. Now, let’s see what happens when you are a broke student who lives in the burbs and cannot even dream of having a car. I live downtown and it’s 15 min walk to my school (nice eh?) when it’s -40, I do mind having to walk 15 mins.
3 – It is super expensive. Rent goes up ridiculously every year. You could look it up if you wished, but I am half-certain hat Canadians pay the highest price for phone and internet services in the developed world. Other expenses are high too, compared to many countries – and it’s not like you get a top quality life for the expensive things you spend money on. I am talking about a single person who cooks their own meals, does not even drink and, does not spare money on anything other than necessities.
4 – Public transportation SUCKS BALLS. I know most people around the world like to talk about how punctual buses are in Canada because if they do not pick people up in a timely manner people could freeze. That’s an utter lie. And on top of that, the reach each of each city’s transportation system is very weak. Unless you live in the downtown area (which makes it easier just to walk or bike rather than having to wait for irregular buses for unknown periods of time) chances are you will have to spend 2+ hrs on transportation every day just to get to where you work or you go to school. Most of the cities do not have metro (subway) and again when they do, the beauty of it is only when you are in close distances to the core downtown. Otherwise metro will never get you to the inner cities, and you will have to switch to subsidiary buses that…again will get you to wait…and wait…and wait. Intercity transport is also awful, a monopoly and, expensive. I do not know if there are any countries left around the world wish such disconnected transport system – especially given how far apart everything is in North America.
Never mind internal flight prices. I don’t want to even start writing about Air Canada.
5 – Relationships are overrated, and talking about the ‘physiological need for sex’ is the centerpiece of reasoning for inquiring one. The dating scene is an absolute bogus mess, which comes down to women chasing men, hopes of sharing the rent, or otherwise being pointed at as ‘not getting enough sex’ and ‘not having a man’ ( sometimes I wonder if it is the 1800s and the age of getting wedded is 16). People move-in in a matter of days of knowing each other and move-out in a matter of a couple of months. By late 20s, anyone you meet has been through divorce(s) or separation(s), likely has kids, usually still ‘hangs out’ with their exes (you are likely to learn about the grisly truth only after you have invested yourself emotionally in an unworthy narcissist too hard). Every one you meet is bitter and cunning, only looking for another partner to suit their economic imbalances. People put up with cheating partners very often, and internalizing these standards, at least when you are super lonely, comes next. You’ll be surprised.
(I generally would not suggest a single person who is interested in dating to come here. If I ever do recommend Canada it’s to couples. If you have kids you will get to raise them in safe, ugly neighborhoods where they never play on the streets (I don’t know why? It’s safe, it’s super flat and begs for two gates and a soccer ball or hockey puck) and you will have to dump thousands and thousands of dollars on their daycare – I will not get into the cost of primary education. Not here.
6 – Unless you are an engineer or have an MBA or, if you are a real estate or car sales agent (or wish to become) forget about doing anything ambitious. You could have all the qualification in the world and work in Walmart and enjoy your 4 K salary with benefits. And if you refuse, you are pointed at as a sloth who doesn’t want to work. Your success is measured by salary, pension, and mortgage, not if you are happy with your job (it’s actually the norm to hate your work). Ironically no one wants to talk about numbers when it comes to money. There is a presumption everyone’s wellbeing and financial condition is safeguarded by some godly ransom that they digged up from the graves of their ancestors.
7 – Dishonesty. The way people do not tell you what they mean and confuse you with their actions and words is astonishing here. Barely anyone is straightforward, and humor is the lost word in Canadian English. Everyone seems to have a stick up their arse (and you will become like that too). People only open up after getting absurdly drunk – mainly for a few seconds before they losed the ability of collecting their conscious.
(Edit: there is a general assumption that people in countries with Arctic climate and low-density populations have bigger bubbles around their selves, are more difficult to connect and are easily out of touch with their emotions. I cannot speak for Scandinavia for example, but, have heard foreigners from dense societies feel the same about them. Take this tho; emotional has negative connotations in Canadian English. So you know who you are).
8 – It’s boring (save for the hardcore advocates of outdoors sports – even though the temperatures are usually below standard for those too, I have heard skiiers from Scandinavia come here and are shocked how locals go out on days they would absolutely refuse to exercise outdoors). Other than the few main cities I’m sure you know which ones are and, their downtown areas only, the rest of the towns and the burbs and the cities are a copy and pasted version of one another – ugly 70s style cement buildings, from an era where architects stopped being creative and erecting venues, was likely left to road builders! City structure is inaccessible without a car and, is alienating.
Having fun comes down to bar hopping with teens (or grown-ups who like to act like they are still teens; super excited about being able to drink), in un-fashionable clothing, hearing some off-tune country music and watching girls throw up and drop like flies – because alcohol is the holy grail no one wants to be left behind in consuming it as much as possible (and guess what? it is also more expensive than anywhere I have been, U.S. Europe, South America). You cannot enjoy your drink, or socialize all without it if you wished – it always seems to me that there is a race in ‘how much’ you can drink, so to say, you have a place in the society!!!
I am an artist, and I have studied human sciences. This type of environment does not cultivate creativity. The level of artwork, presentation and access to creative means is bare minimum because people care too much about having a routine and a salary – because back to the point, prices are no joke here, nor are your bills, your credit card neither the mortgage etc. And the best way to secure those is being as predictable and average as possible. Art is regulated by the government which is great in the sense that artists can have access to massive fundings; so long that they follow the government’s agenda which changes at every turn of the parliament.
9 – The food including fresh produce, snacks, prepared meals and pub/restaurant dishes is bland and tasteless (I do not really know what it is, the way the American groceries that are exported to Canada are grown? The amount of sugar and salt that is used in food versus all the other spices that should be but are NEVER used?)
Edit: I accidentally came upon a source about proteins that indicated in North America some animal proteins (that are not naturally found in the structure of plants) are used for the growth of fruits and vegetables. I have also heard that many standards in agriculture and farming are way different from elsewhere in the world, whether these contribute to the tastelessness of food is for debate but surely modifications that are done to our food remain largely a mystery.
‘Affordable ethnic’ cuisines are limited to Thai and Chinese food. For the rest you will often have to pay 3 times as much.
10 – Get ready for wrecking accommodation, roaches, bedbugs, and mice. There are many many old residential buildings made of wood. Naturally, susceptible to all kinds of vermin. The hygiene level is also below my standards (and I am not fussy whatsoever). People, very often do not seem to clean enough. Not all, of course. But it does not surprise me anymore that 50% of the times when I walk into a new place and I notice the clump of dust in the corners and uncleaned kitchen and bathrooms.
Also, bad landlords, awful landlords and absolutely psychopathic ones who own houses and rent it out for extra income and make the life of the tenant hell, are plenty. Unless you are living in a condo building which is at least 1.5 times rentals and twice as expensive as shared houses, situations can rise easily.
Nature is great tho. Again if you have the luxury of accessing natural sites by car. Freezing your ass camping, or, would like to go hiking and skiing – mainly in inhuman temperatures. This is all given the fact that you do find the time off to ever do something extracurricular.
And last but not least International Higher Education: There is a humongous number of people who come to Canada as international students every year (I wrote my Ph.D. thesis about this, so this only a glimpse of the facts I have come upon while writing. Rest assured, I have presented my research to the department of immigration and citizenship and they approved I had my facts right_so there). All around the world, studying abroad is encouraged and celebrated, especially is one gets into a highly accredited institution in the top universities that are mainly located in angolphone countries. Many of those who come to Canada are essentially pursuing this as a pathway for accessing immigration to Canada. Little they know the number of foreign students is so overwhelmingly high, and the information regarding their success in getting permanent residency is very scattered; the reality is the government of Canada recognizes international education as one of its most important economic assets (immediate expenditure of incoming international students earned about 12 billion dollars for Canada in 2016 ) but despite the available programs for immigration of students, the ultimate goal has never been to settle all of them .
Each international student pays up to 3 times the tuition fee to the domestic student (depending on the province) and funding (especially for foreign students) is becoming more scarce every year. Now while you might be experiencing all of the social aspects of life including the above-mentioned, before deciding to study in Canada you might want to check the job market from within – meaning people who have been through your field of study. Do not rely on the advertising university partners provide or the pretty pictures on university websites. Studying here is no joke and one is better to consider everything and more (including finding a good adviser who is not planning on being a dick to you for the entire course of your graduate degree) before committing to a program that requires great attention.
EDIT: Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not absolutely hate my life (so please, be kind and save the philanthropic positivist advice, I’d prefer a proper mural or DJ gig lol – you see no matter how great I feel about myself, if I do not enjoy the social scene and do not wish to live the rest of my life HAPPILY in an isolated enclave, there is no way around it). This is not my diary or resume. And I have not included anything close to my day to day negative experience with matters such as underemployment, higher education fees, the art scene etc. These are my reasons that convince me, as per speaking to the general public, why I would have possibly chosen another destination – somewhere warmer with better urban architecture and a dense population – if I went back and decided to go abroad and explore the world at 24 (again, if you are here to represent Canadian patriarchy by hateful comments, you are simply on a wrong post, go read something that fulfills your agenda). Also, this is in the 2010s, Canada screens in almost only highly skilled technical work force and, I am in the arts and humanities. My experience would be incomparable to numerous people who moved here 30 years ago as general labour.
Canadians are very nice. They are welcoming and do not discriminate (often, as I have seen) against race or culture. There are very decent, respectable people I have met here. There are friendships I do cherish. But I do not think that I would have moved here for the sake of meeting these people. Especially for a person without their 1st degree family, life is very machine-like, disconnected here. You might not mind the prices if you are rich, and would likely be able to skip atrocious housing conditions. It doesn’t negate the fact that the industrial nature of everything resonates everywhere no matter what you do. People will not ever, never get actually close to you and at some point you give up trying to break the ice. And you will learn to do the same as them, and limit your relationships to thinking of them as professional networks which you will have to employ for career purposes. You will create your own bubble around yourself and you will either learn to enjoy it, or you will keep regretting your life choices.
P.S. These are my reasons for ‘regretting moving to Canada’. Things I have listed here have affected me personally. It is always easier to see things from a critical perspective once one has lived in different places. Nonetheless, these are my viewpoints as a foreigner; most of the times people who have lived all of their lives in their country of birth think their country is either the worst of the best. Yet, everything is relative.
This is not by any means a thorough socio-cultural nor is an economic analysis of everything that there is to know about Canada. For that, there are more comprehensive resources on and researchgate.