United States or Canada for expats: which Country is better to migrate in 2023?

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United States or Canada for expats: which Country is better to migrate in 2023?

The United States and Canada are often the top candidates for relocation. Both countries offer great opportunities and a high quality of life. However, deciding which one best suits your aspirations and goals can be a challenge. Here's a look at the cost of living, key aspects, the most popular immigration routes, and other important details

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Canada and the USA are known for their level of economic development, high quality of life and employment opportunities. Each of the states is considered an ideal place for immigration. But which country is the best? When choosing a country to move to, it is important to pay attention to the long-term perspective: affordability and quality of life, opportunities for career development and personal preferences, that is, which of the countries will be better for you.
So, Canada or the US – which country is better for an expat to move to in 2023? Details in our material.

Labor protection and working hours

● Canada

The Canadian government is actively working to improve social guarantees for the country's employed population, both citizens and expats. Thanks to Canada's economic recovery programs, the unemployment rate in the country is steadily decreasing. In 2019, it fell to 5.67%. For comparison, the unemployment rate in the US is 10.2%.

The most popular jobs in Canada and the salary level (per year)
- Web developer – $62,522;
- Medical workers - from $76,362;
- Employees of the restaurant sector - $24,668-$30,377;
- Truck drivers - $45,825-$77,903.

The standard working time in Canada is 8 hours per day, for a total of 40 hours per week. Canadian companies provide a minimum of 2 weeks of paid vacation per year.


The USA is the world capital of the IT sector, and various industries are also highly developed in the country. However, many workers are dissatisfied with the labor protection system in the country. In the US, cases of wage cuts are becoming more common, and workers also complain that they can be fired at any time.

The most popular jobs in the USA and the salary level (per year):
Nurses - $24,200;
Software developers - $103,620;
Highly qualified nurses - $107,030;
Market analysts - $63,120.

Average working hours are approximately 34.4 hours per week. Employees are entitled to at least 10 days of paid vacation per year.

So, the level of salaries in the USA is higher, while in Canada there is a better level of social support for workers, a developed health care system, longer maternity leave. Average working hours in Canada are slightly higher than in the US.


A Canadian worker, regardless of nationality, must pay federal income tax of 15% of total income if their annual minimum wage is up to $46,605. If the income is higher, the income tax will also increase. In addition to federal tax, a Canadian employee must pay a provincial tax (on average 10-15%).
Income tax in the US is also divided into federal and state. The average software engineer in the US pays 25%-30% income tax. Some US states, such as Washington, are exempt from income tax.

Education system

Studying at a Canadian university is on average 27% cheaper than in the US. Best Universities in Canada: McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Montreal, Queen's University, etc. The Canadian education system allows children to receive a free public secondary education. Tuition at private schools ranges from 8,000 to 14,000 Canadian dollars per year.
There are 8 Ivy League schools in the US, including Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. The average tuition fee is $50,000 per year. The United States allows all children to attend free public schools. The average cost of tuition at a private school is $10,000-$15,000 per year.

How to move to Canada and USA?

The following visa categories are available to expats in Canada: PR Visa (Permanent Residence), Express Entry Visa, Federal Skilled Worker Visa, Provincial Nominee Programs, Family Sponsorship, Visitor Visa, Student Visa and Business Immigrant Visa.
The following types of visas are available to those who plan to obtain immigration status in the United States: student visa F1, J1, M1, migrant visa for workers - E1, E2 Visa, for spouses of US citizens - visa IR1 and CR1.

Cost of living in the USA and Canada

Although the average annual income in the US and Canada is similar, the cost of living in Canada is higher. The cost of health insurance and rent in Canada is lower, but utilities and consumer goods will be more expensive. The cost also depends on the city in which you live.

- Housing rent: Canada – $620, USA – $830.
- Products per month: Canada – $85, USA – $93.
- Travel in public transport: Canada – $100, USA – $110.
- Clothing and accessories: Canada – $95, USA – $100.

How many expats live in the USA and Canada

The United States has the largest number of immigrants in the world, more than 50 million people. This is almost 4 times more than in Germany, which ranks second in the number of immigrants - 13 million. About 1.5 million foreigners move to the country every year, most of them from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Honduras and China.
Annual immigration to Canada is about 500,000 new residents per year, one of the highest in the world. As of 2022, Canada was home to over eight million permanent resident immigrants – approximately 20% of Canada's total population. Most of the new residents are citizens of India, China and Afghanistan.

Most Popular Immigration Paths: Canada vs USA

The largest number of expats move to Canada through the Express Entry Canada program. In the USA, foreigners receive a Green Card on the basis of an H-1B visa.
In Canada, the process of obtaining a visa is accelerated. You can get PR in just 6 months. Getting a Green Card can take many years.
A job offer in Canada is not required to obtain a permit. in the USA you must have a job offer in hand.
No family or employer sponsorship is required in Canada. Obtaining PR status in the US requires the support of an employer and work experience.
You can move to Canada with your family, family members are allowed to work in the country. Family members of an H1B visa holder may be prohibited from working in the US
You can get Canadian citizenship after 3 years of work. Obtaining US citizenship is quite difficult.

The best cities to live in

According to a recent survey, Canada took first place in the ranking of the most desirable countries in the world to live. Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are among the 10 most liveable cities in the world according to the Global Liveability Index 2019.
The best cities to live in the USA are Boulder, Denver (Colorado) and Austin (Texas).

General indicators and ratings

● The population density in the United States is 84 inhabitants per square mile. According to the survey, the population density of Canada is about 3 people per square kilometer.
● According to the Global Economic Competitiveness Report, Canada scored 79.59 on a 100-point scale, while the US fared better at 83.7.
● The crime rate in the US is much higher than in Canada. However, the American labor market is more open to new immigrants and offers better pay. There are more cases of racial discrimination and hatred in the US. US Homeland Security is doing everything possible to ensure the safety of every resident of the country.
● Canada scored an average of 7.6 on the average life satisfaction rating scale, compared to a 7 for the US.
● Canada entered the top ten most peaceful countries, and the USA took 121st place.

A brief comparison of the main indicators

● Average salary: Canada – $36,760, USA – $48,600.
● Labor protection: Canadian laws guarantee the right to work for foreigners, in the US there are illegal wage cuts and sudden layoffs.
● Taxation: income tax in Canada - from 15 to 33%, in the USA - 10-37%.
● Cost of living: in Canada - $17,500-22,000 per year, in the USA - $8,400 - 12,000 per year.
● Health care: In Canada, under the Medicare system, foreigners can receive medical services worth about $670 per year. There are no free programs for expats in the USA.
So, each of the countries has its advantages and disadvantages, but with our comparison, choosing the best country to move to will be much easier.
When planning to move abroad, take care of the health insurance policy, because most countries require the presence of this document in order to obtain a residence permit. Also, insurance will allow you to receive the highest quality medical services without spending all your savings on treatment.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Medical insurance all over the world;

Legal advice from a local specialist on visa and migration issues (to receive the service, select the country of interest and citizenship).

Expat City Ranking 2023: the best and worst cities for expats in the world - find here.

USA vs Canada for expats: pros and cons of where to move to.

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