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My Canada Immigration Journey

My Canadian Journey

Sharing this from – Ask Kubeir FB group. This was in response to a question to list pro’s and cons in wanting to move to Canada, without any particular attention to the job market, instead emphasis on nature, business and comparison with US and Indian business markets…..

This is just my own experience……….

Wow. This is gonna be a long one. I hope my phone battery doesn’t die out on me.

Part I

Let me start by saying that I am a convert. Convert as in I am that person who until years back saw everything wrong with Canada.
I thought their political leaders were wuss, I thought even little of their political clout, I couldn’t care less about its healthcare, education and social benefits services. I thought it was a migrant country and hence its economy is going to be that of penny pinchers vs that of spenders and by that accord, it would always be a slow economy.
Coming from a bejeweled glass palace in the sandbox (read Dubai) I would never care for white Christmas or freezing rains. Spoilt and pampered why the hell would I move to a place which needed me to vacuum the house, do the dishes, mow the lawn and of course shovel the damn snow.
My first experience here as a tourist was an affirmation of my idea of what Canada was. I couldn’t spend more than 4 days here and rushed back to the US mainly because this place felt lonely, depressed and desolate. Friends and relatives tried showing the brighter side of things and I put my blinkers on.
I laughed off all advocacies of why Canada is the place to be with arrogant smirks.
Mind you I was a very senior aviation professional/consultant/entrepreneur riding the high waves of comfort and luxury as an expatriate in Dubai.

Part II after a break.

Part II

Due to certain changes in career/business/opportunities, life took me to various parts of Asia. I learned to appreciate genuine hospitality and people warmth which is otherwise absent in the desert cities. I have even spent time back in India with a large aviation group, only to realize how I can not adapt to the idiocracies that come with unnecessary red-tape and politics.
As life would have it, I came to Canada to review another opportunity, though with a lot of skepticism and unreasonable bias.
This arrogant bias did not allow me to consider the (otherwise brilliant) opportunity in an objective manner. I stuck around for few weeks before I left. However this time, with time in hand and nothing much to do, I ventured out. I traveled to 4 different provinces. Took several road trips. Some with friends, others solo. And I discovered the true meaning of how one falls in loouve with a place. This was astounding.
More than the place, it was people. OMG. How the hell can someone be so polite and consistently so. Across the border, it struck me, how helpful, how warm and how welcoming people were. The racial bias that I have felt so often in so many places across the world (I have 100+ countries in my travel log) just didn’t make my acquaintance here. Suddenly I was aware of polite greetings the strangers exchanged with me. The 2weeks that I was supposed to be spending here, turned into 6weeks and I did not want to return. However, this was still me here as a visitor and life as a resident is different than a life as a visitor.
Suddenly for the first time, after numerous attempts several people made for me to consider Canada as an option, I realized what an idiot I have been. How did I rule this place out without even objectively doing a simple SWOT analysis? My flight back to India was spent scribbling notes and thanks to in-flight wifi doing a lot of web-based research. I landed with a strange feeling. It was a feeling of having found this new wrapped toy that I so wanted to unwrap and start playing with. I wanted to find out more, I wanted to know how soon I can be on another plane back to this place, which until a few weeks back was a total NO NO for me. Over the next several days I called all my friends and their friends that I could think of even remotely associated with Canada. I wanted to know their experiences and their stories. I was pleasantly surprised. I listened to them for the first time and realized what a buffoon I was.

Well, time for a decision. Time for a family team meeting. Thankfully, our nomadic lifestyle had room for another adventure and we were ready to pack our bags immediately. And that’s what we did. I arrived back in Canada within 3 months to do a more detailed recce about what I could actually do here if I were to take this seriously and call it home.

Phew … It does take time to type all this. Coffee break.

Part III

With the decision to make the move already done. I was back in Toronto in the month of November to spend a month to find some economic opportunities. The pace of doing business shocked me. It feels as if everyone wanted to work next week. Everything happens at a much slower pace. Timekeeping and punctuality is appreciated. But the slow pace gets to me even now. The work/life balance was always very apparent. Weekends meant weekends. Time to just kick back. Chores, shopping, sleeping and just spending downtime with whoever you wished to spend it with.
Everyone seemed to head out to cottages over the weekends to spend time in serenity as if you lacked it in your backyard. There are so many well maintained provincial parks all over the place. I have been to quite a lot of tropical countries. But the green I saw here would have made any of them green with envy. I had arrived towards the beginning of winters and had just missed the Halloween. Diminishing fall colors were still there to be admired.
I was wary of the cold that was going to be on us soon. But I survived.

Registering a company is fairly easy, understanding HST/GST/Taxation is also fairly doable. My initial research shortlisted Vancouver and Toronto and this was purely due to their size of the population. For me, population meant more prospective customers and hence better opportunities.Hence Toronto was a no-brainer. Though Vancouver was very attractive option for different reasons.
Businesses are quite thriving in Downtown Toronto. Finance, Insurance, Service, Retail, IT and Media have a significant presence, with major industry leaders boasting their presence here. Business is thriving.
Professional attire and ethics are an automatic assumption.

Nightlife is quite vibrant. F&B is reinventing itself. The theater is beginning to make its mark. Weekends can be quite busy with so much of buzz around the core downtown Toronto.
It feels like a beehive amongst all those sky-kissing skyscrapers (I am no stranger to them). Residential and commercial structures counting 10s of floors take up most of the real estate here. With some shades of old structures under heritage tag being preserved in the Distillery district.
Overall a very buzzing and lively commercial place for business.
But in order to live a wholesome family life, you would probably live in the suburbs outside of Toronto in any of the various cities that border it. This way you can actually dissect home and work.

There are plenty of web resources that will tell you about the health services, children educational benefits, social benefits, government grants, business grants etc. I won’t get into that. I was sold already,

It took me a month to realize that I was moving in the right direction and the decision to migrate was now a certainty in stone.

Part IV

Drawing comparisons with NYC or USA is not fair. Largely because it’s a different country altogether. It has its own pace, its own bloodline and its own nervous system which is 2nd to none. The dynamics are totally different. Comparing 35million population vs a country with 300 million would be largely unfair.

The US has a vibrant feel to it which may concentrate in the larger cities or business hubs. Sure, US would also have a lot of nature to offer just as Canada does, maybe with less snow. I have spent a lot of time all over the US as well and feel the major difference is in people. Though increasingly a migrant population Canada somehow is more tolerant as a nation, unlike the US which is more aggressive and wants to be in your face.
The aggression in New York and the vanity of LA and similar other emotions will certainly be found lacking when you get to Canada.

I have learned to understand and appreciate the political system and the stand that government takes on various local and international issues.
I see the amount of effort that is made at the grassroot level to make it welcoming and comforting for the new immigrants.
I witness the genuine warmth of everyday people every waking moment that I am out on the streets. The dignity of labor stood redefined for me.
Children are treated as the most valuable assets of the country with government extending the family a benefit of up to $600 per child depending on the income bracket.
I can go on and on and on.
But then as I said I am a convert and damn happy one.

Obviously, my recce/research and my actually moving here was altogether a different realization. In my excitement, I had missed a lot of markers during my research. I had got too carried away and lapsed when making notes about what I would need in a month to survive comfortably. I guess until you do it, you won’t see things the way they are supposed to be seen and that’s how it turned out for me as well. But then that’s another story for another day.

No, this is not New York or Frisco and it will never be. I don’t think it’s looking to become it either. But it has a charming quality by itself. It may seem like just another city at the first glance, but once you let the warmth that extends out of people seep through, you become a believer. The crisp clean air that you can breathe reminds you every moment that you actually are ALIVE.
Yes its going to be difficult, yes its going to be challenging, yes its not going to be a fairytale ending for everyone, yes making ends meet is going to be a struggle, yes the real estate market is going crazy, yes taxes are too high, yes the traffic is a nuisance etc etc etc. Isn’t that the curse of every modern city globally.

But then there are so many other things that Canada has to offer that make all of it absolutely worth it.

Kubeir over and out.