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What's it like to live in Canada?

With quality education, a comprehensive healthcare system and a large expat population, Canada can offer a great quality of life.

Find out more about what it's like to live in the world's second largest country.

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Working and employment

Education and studying





Most housing in Canada is comfortable and modern. Rent tends to be cheaper the further away from a city you are, but remember to factor in transport costs if you're planning to commute.

Leases are generally for 12 months, and you may need to pay a deposit of up to 2 months' rent. Same as anywhere, take the time to research what's available and what it's like to live in different areas.

If you're wanting to buy, speak to some local estate agents to get a sense of what types of properties and locations you might be able to afford.

Explore: Moving to Canada

Working and employment

From energy to real estate and communications to finance, there's plenty of thriving industries across Canada.

The work-life balance tends to be good, although it's not uncommon to work beyond the typical hours of 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.

You'll need to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work legally. This is a 9-digit identification number that gives you access to government programs and benefits. You can apply for this online, or by post.

You'll also need to pay tax when you start working.

It's a good idea to have your chequing account set up before you move, so your employer can pay your salary into it.

You may want to work in Canada and send money back home to family or loved ones. If you have an HSBC Advance or Premier account with access to online banking, you may be able to use Global View and Global Transfer to send money between your globally linked accounts without a fee.

Read our tips for sending money abroad.

Education and studying

Canada has a high standard of education, and schools are run by each province or territory. The school year runs from September to June. Children need to attend school until they're 16 or 18 years old, depending on the province.

With a residency permit, you can send your child to a local public school for free. There are also private schools and - particularly in bigger cities - international schools, which can have high fees.

Home schooling is another option and is quite popular in Canada as there are so many remote areas.

If you're applying to study in Canada yourself, you'll need a visa and a permit. You'll also need to prove that you can cover any tuition fees and living costs.

Explore: International Student GIC Program (SDS)


Canada has a high standard of healthcare.

Medicare is a government-funded national insurance scheme. It's administered provincially, and gives people access to public and private GP practices, clinics and hospitals.

However, some medical costs aren't covered by Medicare and you may need to pay for emergency medical services in some provinces and territories.

Not all expats are eligible for the Medicare scheme, so you may want to look into medical insurance. Premiums can be high, so make sure to budget enough for this.


All the usual transport options are available in Canada: cars, taxis, trains, buses and planes.

If you're planning to drive, you'll need to take a driving test for the province or territory you live in. But you may be able to use an international driving permit or your home driving licence when you first arrive. You'll also need to make sure you have car insurance.

Some cities with extensive inland waterways, like Toronto and Vancouver, have ferries. If you're planning to take your car on a ferry, you'll need to book in advance.

In the bigger cities, you'll find hundreds of miles of dedicated cycle paths. Some places have bike-sharing schemes that you may be able to use. Wearing a helmet is mandatory in most provinces.

Be aware that most of the north isn't accessible by road.


With friendly locals and a thriving expat community, Canada is a top destination for those relocating.

English is the primary language in Canada, except in the province of Quebec, where over 60% of residents speak French as their first language.

It can take a while to get used to the remoteness of some Canadian towns, and the cities tend to be a long way apart. Many people choose to live near the US border where the temperatures are a bit warmer.

Explore more

Find out how to send money internationally from your HSBC account.
Discover everything you need to know about relocating to Canada.
When planning a move, there’s lots to think about. Read our guide to help you get started.