Expat Interview: From UK to Canada

Isaac and Kate in the Canadian snow

Canada, England and USA have the same culture one could think, but in reality they are really different, and the only thing in common is probably the English language. Kate, from TheHomeWanderers, talks about the stereotypes, living costs, her favorite things to do and eat in Canada.

Hi Kate, tell us about yourself…

I’m Kate, 27 years old and I have a LOT of experience being the ‘foreign’ one in the room! I am originally from the UK, but when I was 13, my parents moved our family to the South of France and I grew up there adapting to a new language and drastically different culture. Since then I’ve definitely caught the ‘moving abroad’ bug and have lived and worked in 5 different countries.

Now, I run a website (see above) to help others living abroad where I share resources, discounts and my own personal travel experiences.

Kate in front of the CN Tower in Toronto

What was the main reason for moving to Canada? And which part did you move to?

I decided to go backpacking solo in 2016 to explore South-East Asia and to have a big adventure before settling down to adult life. While I was exploring Thailand, I fell in love with a Canadian and we ended up traveling for a full year together before having to decide which of our home countries to move to (England vs. Canada).

Canada had never been on my bucket list but after doing some research, I was very happy to continue my adventure in Ontario with him.

Is it easy to connect with locals or are there any (language/cultural) barriers? 

Looking back, I was definitely over-confident going to Canada because I thought ‘hey, they speak the same language, listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows, so how much different can it be? But the culture shock really surprised me!

Canadians are very polite and sometimes don’t understand controversial English humor or ‘banter’.

I have also followed my boyfriend to his very small Ontario town so it took me a while to get used to drinking beers in outdoor garages and listening to country music instead of going to lively pubs or seeing a show in the city. I have made some really great friends here though – Canadians are so kind, welcoming and supportive.

Isaac and Kate in the Canadian snow

How about the cost of living?

The cost of living is generally cheaper than in the UK for most things. I’ve especially noticed Gas/Diesel and restaurant prices as these are almost half as much as you pay in England! House/rental prices really depend on where you are living but I get the overall impression that it is much more affordable to live here.

What is your favorite and least favorite part about living in Canada?

Favorite – Nature! There is so much space around you. I love having a big back yard. We are lucky to live right by a lake, so I can spend summers boating and swimming all day. There is always a new fun and unique activity to do outdoors and I feel so much more in touch with nature now.

Least Favourite – The food! Much like America, there are a LOT of fast-food chains here. I really miss finding healthy places to go for lunch or discovering new locally-owned places to eat. Everything is franchised and covered in cheese!

What is your favorite local food?

Beaver Tails!!!  A hot flat fried doughnut batter with a delicious topping of your choice. This photo is the plain Nutella with powdered sugar but you can get ones with all types of chocolate or candy on top. Perfect for a cold winter day.

Favourite Food - Beavertails

What is a stereotype about Canadians that you found out not to be true?

It is not a frozen hostile wasteland! (see Jim Carrey’s sketch about Canada) Whenever people find out I live in Canada, they think that I’m battling – 40 winds all year round and sleeping in an igloo. Canadian summers are INCREDIBLE!  Sunbathing in 40 degrees on a boat deck sipping a beer is my new heaven.

What is your favorite thing to do in Canada that people should do if they visit?

If you come in the summer months, make sure you book a stay at a lake cottage! Canadians spend most of their summer weekends on the waterfront and it is the most relaxing and fun thing to do with friends and family. Water skiing, jet skiing, tubing, BBQing, making s’mores on the bonfire and more.

Weekend at the Lake Cottage

What was the biggest challenge for you once you moved to Canada?

Homesickness. After being used to hopping on short-haul flights within Europe to see family and friends, the 8+ hour flight (and price) from Canada definitely makes it more difficult to get my fix of ‘home’.

What is/are a fun fact(s) about Canada most people don’t know about or expect?

Here you go: 1) Summers are HOT! 2) Winters aren’t THAT bad. Canada is so used to snow that the roads are plowed and paths salted really quickly so it doesn’t affect your day much at all. 3) Canadians really are very friendly and do say ‘eh’ and ‘sorry’ a lot!

Kate in the snow

What would be your top advice for people who are thinking to move to Canada?

Join Facebook groups (e.g. Expats in Canada, Brits in Toronto, etc). Other people who have moved here are so kind and are always happy to answer any questions you post online. 

What is the biggest difference between your home country England and Canada? 

I would say the biggest difference is definitely the weather! In England, temperatures stay pretty mild all year round. In Canada, you get real ‘extreme’ versions of each season.

I absolutely love this because you can really make the most of summer when it comes (e.g. sunbathing, watersports, hiking, etc) and then winter comes with a whole new variety of activities you can do (e.g. skiing, skating, dog-sledding, snow tubing, etc).

I feel like I have tried out so many new things since moving here. You’re never short of weekend plans.

Kate with the huskies after dog sledding

What do you miss most?

Canada is a relatively modern/new country so I definitely miss being able to walk around England and seeing beautiful old historical buildings around me that have a story.

And I miss English roast dinners! (hello Yorkshire puddings).

By the way, Kate just got engaged, so head over to her social media channels and congratulate her!

Here you can find more expat stories.

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