Moving to Canada for many South Africans is a chance to find more work opportunities, lower crime statistics and a fresh start. While expenses are greater in Canada, the beauty of the outdoors, change in weather and difference in lifestyle are notable draw cards.
It is estimated that over 300 000 South Africans now live in Canada with most of these residents moving to areas of British Columbia.
How does life differ?
South Africans who are used to mild weather will need to adjust to a difference in hemisphere and climate. The temperatures in Canada can often drop below -10 degrees with warmer days reaching 22 degrees. Snow arrives in November and eases in April with certain warmer cities like Vancouver narrowly missing this weather on occasion.
Canada has one of the lowest crimes rates in the world, a factor that drives many people to leave South Africa.
Most residents walk or cycle to work while others use the extensive public transport system. The trains, buses and subways are modern and popular as a method of transportation. Affordable and preferable to buying a car, each province has its own system.
Health care differs in each province with most expenses being funded by the government. In Ontario for example, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan has a three-month waiting period before resident immigrants can qualify for full coverage.
Living in Canada is relative to the increase in salary, however, South Africans will find that their expenses will increase in most areas. While you may pay R7000 rent per month for a 1-bedroom flat in the centre of the city in South Africa, you may spend double the amount in Canada for the same place.
Which city should I live in?
Most South Africans flock to areas of British Columbia with its mild weather conditions and surreal landscapes. The popular tourist location of Whistler is only an hour away from Vancouver with exciting winter sports all year round.
Although Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is also one of the cleanest and most livable cities with many opportunities for immigrants. Vancouver also has some of the best beaches in Canada, an attraction for South Africans who miss the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Ontario is often a popular choice for immigrants due to employment opportunities in some of the biggest international companies. The beautiful scenery and reasonable cost of living in the suburbs including North York, Markham and Richmond Hill mean that immigrants can live comfortably in areas with low crime rates.
Culture and religion.
As a multicultural society, Canada caters to many religions and cultures with many places of worship in each city. Whether you are Hindu, Christian or Islam, there are temples, churches and organizations dedicated to the various faiths.
What are my job prospects?
Speaking fluent English is imperative when making the move to Canada for work. Most industries operate in English or French and require skilled workers. Canadians are amongst the most educated in the world, meaning that immigrants often need professional experience in their CV to qualify.
Powerful business centres including Toronto attract financial and tech-savvy professionals, though the competition is tough to secure a job in these sectors. An abundance of natural resources in the area has also led to a profitable industrial sector.
South Africans in Canada.
Though South Africans have moved to a very different country, there are still many who celebrate their culture and heritage in various cities. These groups are connected via Facebook and on websites where fellow South Africans discuss their experiences and arrange meetings and events. South African celebrities and musicians visit Canada often, promoting their music and connecting with their international fans.