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Canada, USA, U.K.: which country is better for a happy life?

Is one superior to the other? Where should you move to? Which nation is more suitable for you?

Here are a few comparisons of the Great White North, the Land of the Free, and the Land of the Queen, looking at all the most critical aspects you should consider, from visas and lifestyle, to help you decide about education and health.

How straightforward is it to get a visa?
One great thing that unites all the countries is the useful websites that will help you go through the whole visa process and see if you meet the necessary criteria. The U.S. State Department has a handy Visa Wizard on its website. 

In contrast, the Canadian Government has a dedicated immigration and citizenship website describing the various ways to obtain a residence permit.

All the countries prefer to attract skilled workers, but employers may have to first show that this role cannot be performed locally. Canada is working on an Express entry system, focusing on assets such as your experience, fluency in English and French, and your education. It is also worth considering that French-speaking Quebec has its different points system with different requirements.

In the U.S., they use an employer sponsorship system for particular professions. The L-1 visa is used for employee transfers who have already worked for a company for over a year outside the U.S., while the H1-B visa is for companies requiring theoretical or technical knowledge, but it is limited. Therefore, there is a strict limit each year, which is often reached by April.

None of the countries offers a specific visa for retirement. If you want to move to Canada, you will need a family member to sponsor you. In contrast, the easiest way to spend significant time in the U.S. is with a B-2 visa. It allows you to live in the country for six months of the year.

The United Kingdom is currently in the process of implementing its new points-based immigration system, not unlike the Canadian immigration system, and was launched on January 1, 2021.

Those who were already residents in the U.K. before December 31, 2020, will have until June 30, 2021, to apply for the E.U. Settlement Scheme. E.U. citizens will also be able to enter the U.K. using their passports and national identity cards until June 30, 2021.

This new U.K. immigration law is an initiative of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to issue work permits only to foreigners (both E.U. citizens and non-EU citizens) who have at least one passport:
● Secondary education
● High level of English language proficiency
● A job offer
● An annual salary.

During the campaign for the U.K. General Election in 2019, Prime Minister Johnson made his position on Brexit very clear with his slogan "Get Brexit Done." He also had no problem divulging his disdain for non-EU citizens. 

He said that they "could treat the U.K. as part of their own country" and that he planned to reduce the number of "unskilled migrants" entering the U.K. 

It made British immigrants feel uncomfortable and is also one of the reasons why many immigrants in the U.K. are planning to immigrate to Canada from the U.K.

What is the lifestyle like?
There are many similarities between the countries. However, there are also some significant differences. Canada is often considered to be a more open society, more accepting of immigration, and a much lower gun crime rate. It also has two official languages-English and French – and a political system more like the U.K. After all, the queen is still the head of state.

When it comes to working, Canadian hours and public holidays are more generous and similar to Europe, while the U.S. tends to offer fewer public holidays. Referring to the statistics, Canadian air is less polluted, Canadians live on average two years longer than their counterparts, and more Canadians hold passports to travel the world.

However, life in the Great White North is not always rosy. It suffers from long, cold winters in almost every direction, its e-commerce culture is not as developed as in the U.S.and U.K, and there is a higher unemployment rate.

What the countries share is multiculturalism. Both Canada and the US welcome thousands of immigrants each year. To give you some numbers, even with all of the last year’s events, Canada invited 184,370 people for permanent residency in 2020. And that was almost half of initially planned.

Of course, as well as having a lot in common, these countries offer impressive natural beauty and amazing travel opportunities, as well as a host of adventure sports and team sports that are rather different from those offered in the U.K. and U.S. They each have a strong car culture-partly because they are both vast countries – all of the countries usually welcome ex-pats.

The costs of living there
The cost of living in both Canada and the U.S. can be expensive when you live in major cities, as is the case anywhere in the world. But overall, the U.S. has a higher cost of living than its northern neighbor when it comes to food, rent, and restaurant prices.

However, the U.S. is cheaper when it comes to clothing, and overall wages are higher, while Canada has higher taxes. Therefore, the U.S. can work out to be cheaper.

When comparing Canada to the U.K., the cost of living is more similar than you might think. Housing will be your biggest expense and can be incredibly expensive, so choose carefully where you want to live.

If you are in a modern apartment building where the heating is on, then this is another thing to think about when it comes to bills. 

With high food and housing bills, your monthly expenses will be a little higher than in the U.K., but eating out is a little cheaper, and some might say that the slightly higher cost of living could be well worth the amazing lifestyle you can enjoy in Canada.

How does healthcare compare?
Perhaps one of the biggest differences ex-pats should consider when living in any of these countries is access to healthcare.

The U.S. is notorious for the rising cost of its private healthcare, making it necessary to have reliable health insurance that will most likely be offered through your employer but should be checked in case you need additional coverage.

In contrast, Canada's Universal Health Care System (Medicare) is publicly funded, giving everyone access to affordable public health insurance. It is also the case for the U.K.

However, you can only be eligible if you are a permanent resident, and it may take about three months to get your health insurance card. The system also doesn't cover absolutely everything, so some ex-pats still take out private health insurance on top.

When you compare, there is good news if you are a permanent resident of Canada. You are eligible for Medicare, the universal health care available to Canadian citizens through universal public health insurance. 

It ensures that most health problems are covered and others, such as optometry, are inexpensive. It functions very similarly to the NHS, with all its benefits (free of charge) and pitfalls (long waiting times).

If you’re interested in getting the best Medicare prescription plan, the US Medicare offers Part D plans that cover prescription drugs. Unfortunately, if you are a temporary resident, you will not have the same access. Therefore, you will need to take out private insurance. Premiums can be high, so if you are being transferred to a job, it is worth negotiating a package with health insurance included.

The education systems
The school system in the United States and Canada is very similar, they follow the same stages, and in both countries, most students receive a public education. No country has a nationwide standard, which can often mean that standards vary between states and provinces.

However, things usually change when it comes to the university level. The Canadian education system is also similar to the British one, with significantly lower tuition fees than in the U.S. Universities set their fees. Still, even for an international student, tuition costs should not be too unlike a university in the U.K.

However, there are many private universities in the U.S. – including all the prestigious Ivy League universities – and students can often graduate with large debts.

But there are plenty of scholarship opportunities worth exploring to keep costs down, and there is a reason why five universities in the U.S. are among the top 10 institutions in the world.

Consider the happiness rating
Referring to the latest World Happiness Report, Canada ranks eighth in happiness and the United States-18th. The U.K. ranked 34th. However, in recent years, all countries have fallen in the ranking.

Despite the rivalry over which country has the best standard of living, the truth is that the U.S., the U.K., and Canada are exceptional countries for ex-pats. 

They offer exciting opportunities, a rich culture, and some fantastic travel opportunities as you enjoy your time living abroad. All this leads to a difficult decision when choosing a place of emigration.

To sum up
All have their pros and cons. But is one superior to the other? Should you move to Canada, the U.S., or the U.K.? Which nation is more suitable for you?

The country that best suits you and your family the best will probably lead you to lead the happiest life.

Hopefully, the comparisons drawn between countries, looking at all the most critical aspects that you should consider, from visas and lifestyle to education and health, will help you make the right decision and ultimately lead you to live a happy life.

Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

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