Do you have an immigration visa, or are you thinking about applying to immigrate to Canada? If one of these two situations is true, sooner or later you will have to make a decision about what city, town or village to move to.

Years ago I was standing in front of the very same question.

Think big

Your best bet is to stick with big cities. Do not choose your future address in small towns or villages, especially not as your first place of permanent address. Nature might be beautiful there, the air really fresh, the water crystal clear, deer may wander downtown every day, but if you do not find a job—any job, or even better, a fulfilling job that can lead you to a nice career and solid income down the road—you will soon learn that having money in your pocket has a higher priority than watching birds singing nicely in the sky. No offence to birds.

Smaller cities offer limited opportunities. Jobs available in small towns and villages fulfill the essential needs of that particular community. Each small village needs one dentist, one lawyer, one electrician, etc. There might not be space for you, even if you are the best professional in the world (which nobody would know at the time of your arrival).

Another important factor is that small communities are closed organisms and function strictly based on referrals—in other words, who knows who. You get a good job only if you know a guy who knows a guy who will refer you.

And these are the reasons why you might consider moving to cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Calgary.

Stay in the center of the universe

At the beginning, my personal choice was Toronto. Down the road, I can say that this was a good decision. I have tried doing business, working in multilingual call centres, the financial services industry, IT and insurance. The beauty of North American thinking is that you get a chance to show what you know and can do. Then you either succeed or try a different opportunity, if you discover that one was not for you. Just keep trying and do not give up.

Toronto, with its skyscrapers, is situated in flat country with no mountains visible far and wide. So if you like hills, you will probably miss them forever. In exchange for mountains, however, you get the beautiful Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron are all within a one- to three-hour drive. In addition, the Bruce Peninsula, the Muskoka region and Algonquin Provincial Park are natural beauties worth visiting. If you like nature and you live in Toronto, you are blessed.

Toronto is a multicultural city, very accepting to newcomers. It is like the world’s biggest successful experiment in creating a post-racial society, where people live in peace and work together like nowhere else.

Toronto Immigration Heaven

Go we(s)t

I moved to Vancouver some years ago after living in Toronto for many years. I call it home now. There are some major differences between these two cities. The first difference I noticed is that Vancouver architecture is more esthetically varied than Toronto’s, as if Vancouverites care more about the city they live in. At least in downtown Vancouver, the skyscrapers try to look different from one another. Vancouver also feels like a big city placed in a small-town atmosphere. Considering the number of buildings in the city center, there are not too many people in the streets—excellent city planning.

Vancouver is, like Toronto, a newcomer-friendly city. There is not as much employment in Vancouver as in Toronto, but if you like nature and sports, this is the place to be. The Pacific Ocean in the west, the tall mountains in the north and east, and the US border to the south limit the way the city can expand. In other words, there is not enough space here.

This might be why Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada. The cost of living is high, starting with the prices of groceries and all kinds of services and ending with the major problem: property prices. They have increased in recent years so much that owning a house or an apartment has become an impossible dream for the majority of the population dependent on an average income. The shortage of affordable properties might have something to do with the city not being able to expand. Not even the bad and rainy weather in Vancouver discourages people from moving here.

Vancouver Immigration Heaven

Bonjour or hello

Do you speak French? Consider Montreal. I’ve been there as a visitor and I can say that aside from Quebec City, it is probably as close as you can get to a small piece of Europe in North America. It is the most relaxed big city in Canada, where people try to balance their working lives with relaxing, meeting friends in pubs and restaurants, laughing and breathing freely. And they not only try, they are simply good at it.

The country surrounding Montreal is mostly flat, but not far from the mountains. The city lies on the St. Lawrence River, a very important waterway connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.

There are lots of good job opportunities in Montreal. Concerning the infrastructure (bridges and roads), one of my friends who recently visited Montreal told me that he had not seen any change since his last visit more than a decade ago. Try it for yourself and let me know if you feel the city needs some maintenance work. On the other hand, the most important factor when moving there is not the bridges and roads but how high your disposable income is, to spend on enjoying life with your family and friends.

Montreal Immigration Heaven

Put some sunscreen on your neck

If you like bright, clear skies, you might consider Calgary as your future home. Calgary, the sunshine city of Canada, enjoys 332 sunny days per year, the most of the four largest cities in the country. There is a catch, however. Nature traded extra sunny days for some extra cold days in this metropolis in the province of Alberta. When I visited Calgary a few years ago at the end of August, evening temperatures dropped to the level common for November in Toronto (sorry, Calgarians). Let’s says Calgary is the Sweden of North America, with some cold days, a few Volvos on the roads and many wolves in the woods.

Calgary lies between the majestic Rocky Mountains—also called the Rockies—and the prairies. It offers five-star scenery. No wonder an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival is held there every July. Its official name is the Calgary Stampede. A rural atmosphere and the big city blended together make Calgary a unique place in the area known as wild rose country.

In Calgary, some of my friends have found well-paid jobs in IT. If your software knowledge goes beyond Facebook postings and What’sUp texting, you had better start your research now. Calgary is also a stone’s throw away from the oil sands, where money used to flow faster than the oil through the cross-mountain pipelines. Now the oil flows more slowly, as the industry is in recession after its prices dropped on the world markets. But business may resume any time soon, who knows? Just follow the stock prices of the Albertan oil companies before you pack your dreams in one suitcase and knock on Calgary’s door.

Calgary Immigration Heaven

Good luck with finding your new home in Canada. There are pros and cons to every place on earth, and the same physical rules apply in Canada too. Water is wet, air is breathable and time never stops. As for the weather, wherever you live in maple leaf country, you will never win. But you win if you find a place you like, a job you are good at, and people you enjoy spending time with.

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