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Canadian emigration: is it worth it?

Canadian emigration experts share some tips for moving abroad – or, as in the case of Margaret Johnston – moving home

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The Skyline trail in Nova Scotia hugs the coast, providing a beautiful view over the North Atlantic ocean. Margaret Johnston moved back to Canada in 2013 after spending most of her life in Scotland  

For many people, the New Year is the perfect opportunity to make a fresh start and to move somewhere exciting away from friends, family and a run-of-the-mill existence.

If you’ve decided to emigrate in 2014, you’ll know it takes lots of planning and the whole process can be daunting. Most emigrants will have visited their new home country on at least one occasion, but for some people there might be a deeper rooted reason to move overseas.

Margaret’s story
Take Margaret Johnston, who has just celebrated her first Christmas at her new home in Canada after leaving Scotland last year. When Margaret lost her husband in 2009, soon after taking early retirement, she decided it was time to move back to her place of birth, namely a town called Shelburne in Nova Scotia.

[I]t wasn’t until 1982 that I made my first of many return visits back to Canada

“I was born in Nova Scotia in 1948,” explained Margaret, who worked as a pharmacist. “My Scottish mother was a war bride and married a Canadian serviceman, settling with him in his hometown of Shelburne. When my father died in 1954, Mum and I returned to Glasgow and it wasn’t until 1982 that I made my first of many return visits back to Canada.”

In October 2013, Margaret made her final move back to Shelburne, where she has bought a traditional detached home for CAD$179,000 (approx. £98,000). Margaret’s 60-year-old heritage home in Shelburne has one large en-suite bedroom, three further bedrooms and a family bathroom. Downstairs are two reception rooms, a dining room and large kitchen. The Nova Scotia property is located in a quiet road near the centre of town, set off the road with lots of green space. Margaret is considering opening a boutique bed and breakfast.

“Nova Scotian house prices, outside the capital Halifax and its metropolis, are very favourable and slightly less expensive than an equivalent UK suburban home. Generally, homes here are larger and come with more land than in the UK,” Margaret said.

Margaret Johnston
Born in Canada, Margaret Johnston moved to Scotland in 1954. It wasn’t until October 2013 that she finally made the move back to her home town of Nova Scotia

Shelburne was once a vibrant shipbuilding town with the second deepest natural harbour in Canada – in fact the Royal Yacht docked there to allow Prince Charles and Lady Diana off to visit the museums during their honeymoon. It has also retained some of its fishing industry and a large percentage of the Atlantic prawns exported from the Americas are docked there. To the south of Shelburne, the town of Yarmouth operates a regular summer ferry from Portland, Maine, so that passengers tend to stop in Shelburne on their way to Halifax.

How to move to Canada
While Margaret was able to move to Canada freely thanks to her Canadian citizenship, she advises British people considering a move there to prioritise getting their visa and researching employment opportunities.

“If you are below retirement age and expecting to earn income for any number of years in Canada, research the rules of employment, your tax situation and pension provision,” she advised. “And ascertain the details of any UK pension contributions already gathering in your UK pot. There is provision for state healthcare in Canada but it is basic medical, as well as hospital care. Prescriptions and some other things require contributions, which I believe can vary between provinces.”

Stewart Buchanan, author of the Canada Buying Guide, concludes: “The Canadian Government, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), sees immigration as vital for increasing the country’s population, as well as growing its skill base. Among the various visas offered by CIC, one of the most popular with expats is the Federal Skilled Worker Program. However, check the CIC website to see when applications for specific visa types are being accepted and whether there are any caps that would affect you. Employing a suitably qualified migration agents can be a great help for some people.”

Richard Way is the Editor of The Overseas Guides Company, 0207 898 0549.

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