People frequently associate Canada with its cold weather and snow, whereas the United Kingdom (UK) is associated with the English accent and the Tower Bridge. Both Canada and the UK are much more than the aforementioned. Having lived in the UK and now Canada, I find myself constantly comparing which country is better. When thinking of relocating to either country, one needs to know what they are up against.
When considering relocating to either country, there are numerous factors to consider, including housing, cost of living, weather, travel, and so on. It is key to understand the similarities and differences in order to understand how this will affect your lifestyle and your bank account.
Before reading any further, a lot of my comparative analysis is drawn from my own experiences, I chose not to use metrics as there are tonnes of websites that already do that.
Overview of Canada vs the UK
Both countries have four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. The weather in the UK is generally warmer all year. It hardly ever snows and tends to rain more frequently.
Canada, on the other hand, has extreme weather in both winter and summer. It can be as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or as warm as 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In Canada, there are more cold days than warm days.
UK 1, Canada 0 ~ UK wins
Canada and the UK are both very multicultural countries, but in comparison to each other, I believe Canada is more multicultural. This is because Canada is open to welcoming immigrants as a result of its friendly immigration policy. In Canada, I’ve met more people from different countries than in the UK.
UK 1, Canada 1 ~ Canada wins
Travelling within Canada is very expensive; instead, people consider travelling to another continent or country. Furthermore, not every province has an efficient transportation system so driving a car is the most common mode of transportation in Canada.
The UK has one of the world’s best transportation systems. You can travel by rail, road, or air at a very low cost. Depending on the destination, travelling to a European country from England can cost less than £100 while a two-hour flight from Halifax to Toronto costs around $500 or more.
UK 2, Canada 1 ~ UK wins
In comparison to Canada, I find the UK immigration policy to be extremely unfriendly. I know that the UK is currently dangling a two-year postgraduate work permit in front of international students’ faces; do not fall for it. The two years are insufficient to apply for Leave to Remain in the UK.
Canada, on the other hand, provides postgraduate work permits for 1-3 years after graduation. After one year of full-time employment, you can apply for permanent residency via Canada Experience Class and eventually become a citizen after 1095 days in Canada.
UK 2, Canada 2 ~ Canada wins
Cost of living
According to Canada Buzz, the cost of living in Canada is 8.7 percent lower than in the UK. However, I disagree because I consider Canada to be quite expensive to live in when compared to the UK, particularly in terms of lifestyle elements such as groceries, clothing, and travel. Canada Buzz further revealed that grocery prices in Canada are 34.7 percent higher than in the UK.
The cost of transportation in the UK, which includes underground, overground, and bus travel, can be exorbitant. The commute route is divided into zones. I recall spending more than £150 per week commuting from Kent to Surrey on a daily basis. Let’s not even get started on the Congestion and Emission Charges that come with driving in the UK. A monthly bus pass in Halifax, Nova Scotia costs around $82.50.
UK 2, Canada 3 ~ Canada wins
Tax when Shopping
The price of items displayed in the UK is the final price, and it is somewhat uniform across the various counties. The tax is known as Value Added Tax (VAT), and it is approximately 20%. Whatever price you see in a shop in the UK is after tax.
The price you see at the grocery store or shopping mall in Canada is not the final price. Depending on the province, the following taxes may be added: Goods and Service Tax ( GST), Provincial Sales Tax (PST), and Harmonized Sales Tax HST. In Canada, each province has its own tax rate. When deciding whether or not you can afford something, consider the item’s price plus tax. I dislike Canada because of this.
UK 3, Canada 3 ~ UK wins
In most cases, you are not expected to tip in the UK. In Canada, I’m still trying to figure out how to tip when I go to a restaurant, take a cab, or order food online. It is said that you are expected to leave a tip of at least 10%.
UK 4, Canada 3 ~ UK wins
Shopping Online & Import Duties
Shopping online in Canada is a nightmare, and if you are not careful about where you shop, you will be hit with import duty charges. You can read about import duties in this post. To make matters worse, because Canada is at the other end of the world, delivery can take an eternity.
The majority of UK websites do not charge import duties when you shop online. When it comes to shopping, there are plenty of options and varieties.
Whether you choose to shop online or in-store in Canada, you really can’t win, you just need to pick your battles.
UK 5, Canada 3 ~ UK wins
Cell Phone Plan
In the UK I had a pay-as-you-go plan with the network Giffgaff. I received free calls from people on the same network as me. Whenever I opted for a plan, I paid between £10 and £20.
In Canada, cell phone plans are quite expensive. Pay-as-you-go is even more expensive than a monthly mobile plan. A cell phone plan will typically cost between $70 or more per month.
UK 6, Canada 3 ~ UK wins
Students in Canada are required to purchase health insurance, which can cost up to $1500 per year depending on the University’s provider. As a temporary resident, you may be entitled to free healthcare (which applies mostly to students). While I was a student, I dropped my university’s health insurance and began using the medical insurance provided by the province of Nova Scotia.
During my time in the UK, students were not required to purchase insurance. I recall going to the General Hospital once and getting an x-ray for free. Students are currently required to pay £470 per year to access National Health Service (NHS) health care as part of their visa processing.
UK 6, Canada 4 ~ Canada wins
In terms of the learning experience, I personally prefer the Canadian education system for international students. One of my favourite aspects of schooling in Canada was having Nigerian lecturers. During my undergrad in the UK, I never had a lecturer who was a person of colour. This made it very easy when I had a research topic in mind and I approached a Nigerian Lecturer who was able to see the value of such research. Overall, I found my Canadian lecturers to be much more approachable.
My dissertation experience while studying in the UK was a nightmare. I had to pick a project topic from a list of over 100 options, and a networking research topic was what was chosen for me. I did well in my networking modules, but I was uninterested in a networking project. When I asked to change my topic, my supervisor told me that if I did, he would be unable to assist me.
With that said, one of my favourite aspects of the British education system is that a bachelor’s degree takes three years.
UK 6, Canada 5 ~ Canada wins
Finding a job is difficult in both countries. In the UK, the majority of employers are not willing to sponsor immigrants to remain in the country. However, Canada has put in place systems to ensure that you can find work. For example, in Nova Scotia, some businesses receive funding for hiring a recent graduate who studied in Nova Scotia. It is an incentive for the government to encourage companies to hire locally so that students do not have to relocate to another province for work.
UK 6, Canada 6 ~ Canada wins
Quality of Life
Canada provides a much better overall lifestyle than the UK in terms of quality of life, which encompasses all four socio-economic spheres of life. This includes public education, security, political stability, a job, good health, income, and wealth. The houses in Canada are a lot bigger than in the UK, same as the roads as well.
UK 6, Canada 7 ~ Canada wins
Both countries have advantages and disadvantages; it really depends on what you’re looking for. To the younger demographic, living in the UK is likely to be enjoyable, but for stability and advancement in life, Canada is a better option. On paper, Canada is a better country and is one of the best places in the world to live, but when it comes to deciding where to live, I choose the UK.