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Moving to Canada From the UK - Pros and Cons

Ashleigh Williams

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

8th Jun 2023 (Last updated on 19th Mar 2024) 13 minute read

Canada is the second-largest country in the world. It’s a beautiful and welcoming country to consider moving to from the UK. It has a diverse culture with English and French being the predominant languages. With its high standard of living, it’s easy to see why many UK citizens choose to make the move each year.

If you’re thinking of moving to Canada, there are several things you need to take into consideration. This guide covers everything you need to keep in mind, from the best visa to apply for to property prices and shipping costs.

  1. Why Are People Moving from the UK to Canada?
  2. How Much Does it Cost to Move to Canada?
  3. Types of Canada Visas and Permits
  4. How Does the Express Entry Program to Canada Work?
  5. Permanent Canadian Residency
  6. How to Apply for a Canadian Visa
  7. Canadian Citizenship
  8. Property Prices
  9. Work and Salary
  10. Opening a Canadian Bank Account
  11. Cost of Living in Canada
  12. Education
  13. Healthcare
  14. Importing a Vehicle
  15. Culture and Art
  16. Is it Worth Moving to Canada from the UK?
  17. How to find an international removal company
Here are some useful facts to know about Canada:
  • Average Shipping Costs from the UK -£2,972
  • Population - Over 39 millionCurrency - Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Main Languages - English and French
  • Number of British Expats - Over 500,000 people
  • Number of British Expats Compare My Move Have Helped to Relocate - Over 120 people
  • Most Popular Cities for Expats - Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

Why Are People Moving from the UK to Canada?

Brits are moving to Canada because the quality of living and the standard of life is particularly high in Canada compared to the UK. Around 531,584 residents in Canada currently are British expats. Here are some other reasons why people are choosing to make the move:

  • Canadian education has a lot of government investment. It provides top-quality education services to its students.
  • Canada has a free universal healthcare system that’s reliable and of a high standard.
  • The country has a stable economy
  • Canada has a lower cost of living compared to the UK
  • People in Canada are generally open and welcoming, especially when it comes to immigrants
  • Canada is a multicultural country and accepting of different religions, races and cultures

How Much Does it Cost to Move to Canada?

Shipping goods to Canada will cost around £2,972. This is based on the average cost of shipping a 40ft container. This is equivalent to the contents of a 3-bedroom house. As Canada is 3,606 miles away from the UK, international removal costs will be more expensive due to the distance travelled.

Extra services such as packing will add at least £250 to the cost of your international move. Exact costs are based on the type of shipping used, distance travelled and the number of items being shipped.

Types of Canada Visas and Permits

The Canadian immigration system is fairly straightforward. It’s quite relaxed compared to other countries. To move to Canada permanently, you will need to apply for a Canadian Visa.

Here are some options to consider when looking for permanent residency visas:

  • Student Visa and Study Permits - These visas are suitable for those looking to study in Canada for a specific period. It covers the length of the study.
  • Business Immigrant Visa - For people looking to invest in the country’s economy.
  • Permanent Residence Visa - These visas provide permanent residency in Canada. Some popular options include the Spousal Sponsorship Program and family sponsorship.
  • Family Visa - This allows a Canadian resident to sponsor a family member to move to Canada. This can include family reunification.

Visitor Visas are available for temporary visits. They are valid for up to 6 months. For more information on the visa process and residencies, visit VisaGuide.World.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA)

To enter Canada by aeroplane, you will need to have an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA). This will need to be applied for before travelling via the Government of Canada website. It will cost $7 (£4.20).

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How Does the Express Entry Program to Canada Work?

There are many work visas to choose from, including Canada Express Entry Program Visas. The Canadian Government looks at these visa applications. They organise and sort through the express entry pool of potential skilled migrants using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). This is a points-based system that is based on different aspects such as education and work experience. You will need at least 67 points to be accepted for this program.

The program covers:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program (points-based system)
  • The Canadian Experience Class
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program

These visas have specific requirements that need to be met. This includes work experience and whether your skill sets meet any shortages in the country. Plumbers and aircraft mechanics are favoured, for example.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is great for low-skilled workers looking to help the economy in Canada. Workers between 18 and 35 can work and travel in Canada through the International Experience Canada (IEC).

In addition to this, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program is useful for those looking to move to this specific area of Canada. These economic immigration programs are popular options.

Permanent Canadian Residency

To be accepted for permanent Canadian residency, you must apply and be nominated by the territory you want to live in. Once accepted, you can then apply to your local Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Some of the documentation you will need to supply includes, but is not limited to:

  • Valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Relevant visas and permits
  • Proof of funds
  • Medical report

The Government of Canada website will help you to determine the best visa option for you and here you can download the necessary forms. You can keep track of your application’s progress, estimated visa waiting times and how much you will need to pay.

Students and workers with temporary visas can apply through the Canadian Experience Class. Criteria include English language ability and work experience.

Permanent Residency Card

When you have been accepted for permanent residency, you will be given a Permanent Resident (PR) Card. This will allow you to have access to social benefits, including free healthcare, and the ability to work and study in the country. It also opens the door to applying for Canadian citizenship.

When your PR Card expires, this can be renewed. You will receive this within 180 days of immigrating to Canada from the UK. You will need to pay a Permanent Residence fee in addition to processing fees when applying for permanent residency.

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How to Apply for a Canadian Visa

Applying for a Canadian visa is fairly straightforward. To begin with, decide which visa you need and check if you’re eligible to apply. You will then need to book an appointment at your local Canada visa application centre to begin the process.

Fill out the IRCC application form. You will need to take this along with the relevant supporting documents and application fees to the appointment. The application time will vary depending on the visa you’re applying for, correct submissions and the country it’s being submitted from.

You can check the Government of Canada website for a more accurate idea of processing times.

What Documents Will You Need to Move to Canada?

Some of the documentation needed to move to Canada includes, but is not limited to:

  • Valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of employment
  • Relevant medical examination forms
  • Police certificate

Canadian Citizenship

To become a Canadian citizen, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Have spent 730 days in Canada within 5 years
  • Have a Permanent Residency Visa
  • Have a Permanent Residency Card
  • Proficient English and French language skills
  • Filed taxes correctly

In addition to this, you will need to pass a citizenship test and interview to be approved. The test covers aspects such as the history, laws and economy of Canada. Canada recognises dual citizenship so British citizens won’t have to renounce being a British national.

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Property Prices

While there isn’t a significant difference, purchasing and renting properties in Canada is slightly more expensive compared to the UK.

To buy a property in a Canadian city centre, you can expect to pay $10,059.10 (£5,829.55) per square meter. In the UK, properties in city centres cost around £5,117.22 per square meter.

Purchasing a property outside of a Canadian city centre is slightly less expensive. This will be around $7,002.16 (£4,057.97) per square meter. In the UK the equivalent is £3,722.98.

Here are the rental costs for Canada and the UK:

Type of PropertyCanada (PCM)UK (PCM)

1 bedroom property

$1,725.87 (£1,000.19)


3 bedroom property

$2,609.01 (£1,512.00)


Popular destinations to live in for British expats include Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Affordable places to live include New Brunswick and Newfoundland. More expensive areas are Hamilton, Ottawa and Victoria. Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario are locations worth considering.


Moving to Toronto from the UK is a popular choice. English is the predominant language, and it’s seen as one of the best places to live in the world. The city is safe and has a diverse population.


If you’re looking for a particularly diverse city in Canada, moving to Vancouver from the UK is the perfect option for you. It’s home to many cultures and languages. Around 27.6% of residents do not speak English or French at home in this city.

*Data taken from Numbeo statistics

Work and Salary

To legally work in Canada as a foreign national, you must have a work permit. The permit you will need will depend on how long you are staying in the country and the type of work you will do. For more information on work permits visit the Government of Canada website.

Workers are required to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN). It allows you to legally work and access the country's benefits, such as healthcare. It can be applied after receiving your visa or permit.

The average salary in Canada is $65,773 (£39,582.96). This is slightly higher than the UK average of £34,963. The higher salaries and lower cost of living in Canada are a driving force for people emigrating from the UK.

Some of the most common jobs in Canada are in the following industries:

  • Nursing
  • Trades
  • IT
  • Engineering
  • Retail

Opening a Canadian Bank Account

For ease, it’s better to open a Canadian bank account when you move. This can be used for your income, rent or mortgage payments and outgoings. Many UK bank accounts will charge for payments made in different countries. There may also be restrictions on what you can do with your bank account. This is why it’s an easier process to open a Canadian bank account.

To do this, you will simply need to visit the bank branch of your choice and request to open an account with them. You will likely need to book an appointment and provide relevant documentation such as a valid ID.

Some popular banks in Canada include:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • HSBC Canada
  • Scotiabank
  • Bank of Montreal (BOM)

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Cost of Living in Canada

The cost of living in Canada is 6% less expensive when compared to the UK. As salaries in Canada are typically higher than in the UK, living in Canada will provide more disposable income.

Here are some cost of living examples for both countries:

Cost of Living ExamplesCanadaUnited Kingdom

Public Transport Pass (Monthly)

$113.53 (£65.80)


Utility Bills (Monthly - One Person)

$130.96 (£75.90)


Gym Membership (Monthly)

$53.49 (£31)


Taxi (5 Miles)

$23.81 (£13.80)


Dinner in a Restaurant for 2 People

$90.24 (£52.30)


1 Cinema Ticket



Beer (0.5L)

$3.73 (£2.16)


Chicken Breast (1kg)

$16.24 (£9.41)



$5.02 (£2.91)


* Data taken from LivingCost.Org


The education system in Canada differs from the UK. Each province has its own education system. It’s useful to look into each system before moving. Education is mandatory between the ages of 6-18 (16 in some territories). In the UK, education is compulsory between 5-16 (4 in Northern Ireland).

The schooling system is split into three stages:

  • Kindergarten/Pre-elementary - age 4-5 (not compulsory)
  • Primary education - age 6-12
  • Secondary education (Junior high school and high school) - age 12-14 and 14-18

Top-performing schools in Canada include Fulford Academy and Rousseau College. There is a good mixture of both public and private schools. There are several French-speaking schools such as Toronto French School.

Canada is home to some fantastic universities. There are over 100 universities in the country to choose from. This is not too dissimilar to the UK, which has 160 universities. Some of the best options include:

  • University of Toronto
  • University of Alberta
  • The University of British Columbia
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University

University tuition fees in Canada cost around $6,463 (£3,886.20) per year for an undergraduate degree. This is a lot cheaper than UK universities which average around £9,250 per year.


The Canadian healthcare system is one of the best in the world. It offers free healthcare to everyone living in the country. In many ways, it’s similar to the UK’s NHS.

Medicare is a free service, but it doesn’t cover everything. Around two-thirds of Canadian residents have private medical insurance. This is often provided through their employer. This helps to cover any additional costs that may incur and aren’t covered by free healthcare.

The system is run through Medicare and each of the 13 provinces and territories has their own insurance plans. As a result, what’s covered through government funding and taxes will vary slightly.

You will need to apply for a Care Card (health insurance card) after you move. This will allow you to have access to the free healthcare system. These are issued by the specific province you are relocating to.

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Importing a Vehicle

It’s possible to import a vehicle to Canada. It will need to comply with Canadian standards and import requirements to be approved. The vehicle will be inspected upon arrival and should be cleaned before shipping.

You will need to provide vehicle, tax, insurance and shipping documentation. Check the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Transport Canada websites for more information.

When driving in Canada, you will need to check the specific rules for each province as these do vary. In most provinces, you can drive using your UK driving license for up to 6 months. After this time you will need to apply for a Canadian driving license. Some provinces may require you to have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Culture and Art

The culture in Canada is open and welcoming. The main influences on Canadian culture are France, America and Britain. The co-official languages in Canada are English and French. While the majority of French Canadians live in Quebec, French influences can be found throughout Canada.

The country is known for being tolerant, and respectful. Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Immigration is one of the main factors that has allowed the country to become so diverse, with over 7.5 million immigrants.

There is also a big focus on community and family life. Ice Hockey is the most popular sport. As Canadian life is not too dissimilar to UK life, British immigrants tend to settle in quite easily.

Visual arts and paintings are popular in Canada. Many stone carvings were created by the Inuit and the Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples. Some of the most popular art galleries and museums in Canada include the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Is it Worth Moving to Canada from the UK?

It can certainly be worth moving to Canada from the UK. If you’re looking for a higher quality of life in one of the world’s most attractive countries it’s a great option.

Here are some pros and cons to consider before you make your final decision to move:


  • High-quality, free healthcare system
  • Higher quality of life
  • Great Economy
  • Good education system
  • Safe country to live
  • Multicultural society


  • Weather can be particularly cold in the winter
  • Weather is more extreme compared to the UK
  • House prices and rental markets are more expensive
  • The Canadian dollar is lower than the pound

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How to find an international removal company

One of the best ways to find an international removals company is through comparison websites. They allow you to compare different international removal companies to help find the best option for you.

Here at Compare My Move, we can help with your removals to Canada. We will match you with up to 6 of our international removal partners. You can then save up to 70% on your move.

Alternatively, you can ask friends and family for advice on choosing the best moving company. It’s important to read reviews of the company before making a final decision. This will help you to choose reliable removalists.

When you choose a removals company, you will want to ensure they are fully covered by Goods in Transit and Public Liability insurance. Also, check the company ships to the country you are moving to.

All costs listed in this article are correct at the time of writing. Costs may vary slightly and this is just an estimated number.

Ashleigh Williams

Having written book reviews and content for For The Love of Books for over five years, Ashleigh now creates advice articles for Compare My Move, focusing on all things home-related.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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