Thursday, May 29, 2014

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Moving To America From Canada

  1. Buying a house in the wrong neighbourhood will be a costly mistake. We did it and paid the price. We moved to a better neighbourhood with better public schools and just plain better (not near the highway noise). The costs were the closing fees and moving fees to change houses. A big hit to our savings, but worth it for the better schools and quality of life.
  2. Schooling is different but only by the openness of perceived quality. In the USA, I can choose to send my kids to public school (bad/cheap) or private school (good/expensive). In Canada, in general you send your kids to public school. Very few people I know send their kids to private school in Canada. There is no need seen for it there. In the USA, there are very few people I know at work that send their kids to public school. We have tried both and think both options have pluses and minuses. That said, the public system here is good if you pay up front for the neighbourhood. That is not much different from Canada.
  3. Healthcare here sucks, no it rocks. If you need care, it is fast, professional, and it is a business. It is run like a business and you don't wait in some old ER to see a Doctor. You go to an urgent care clinic, it is modern, and it is clean. They are fast and professional. That is the rocks side. But it costs you. Everything costs you and without good medical benefits you are going to be out a lot of money. You need to be making a lot of money with good benefits in the USA or you need to make decisions about if you see the Doctor for this minor ailment.
  4. Businesses have figured out how to tune themselves for the stock market. Many large companies have a large percentage of their employees as contractors. Why? So they can lay them off whenever they want to cancel products or lines without having to incur layoff packages. It lets them be more agile (good for stock and company) but is bad for employees and company brain trust. Canadian companies like BlackBerry could have learned more from this. Then they could have more silently laid off large numbers of contract employees without the large hit from layoff costs. I expect this will come to Canada as companies like BlackBerry are taken over by leaders that grew up in the modern American school of business management. I expect this was there for BlackBerry on the manufacturing side but expect to see this in the R&D side of the house as well at big companies.
  5. Church is like the social safety net that the Canadian government gives you. In Canada, you know that if everything goes to hell, the government has your back. In the USA, you are screwed. It is up to you. The only place offering any assistance outside of family is the church. They seem to take the place of the Canadian social safety net and as such I think this is why church is so strong here in America. They are picking up the slack of the American government.
  6. Being this far from family will be harder than you think. You know not seeing family will be tough but here is what else is tough. Have a new job? Need help with the kids? You are on your own. WIth Babysitters being $12-15/hour, Nannies being $20/hour, and the long work hours expected from tech workers; it makes for an expensive life to have kids. You will go out little since it is so expensive, costing $30-60 to go out for a night without the cost of the evening. This will strain your marriage since you need to get out with your spouse to be away from the kids and have fun by yourselves sometimes. Try to work in a date night and eat that babysitting cost. Do this early when you move.
  7. If one or both of you go to work for a high tech company expect your workload to increase from what you were doing in Canada in high tech. 10 hour days are regular. 50-60 hour weeks can be expected. It makes so that childcare adds to your bills. You see your kids little, you get little valuable time with them. You can barely squeeze in the level of homework requested of them each day (15-20 mins homework per child + 15-30 mins reading per child / day). It is fucking crazy and that just scratches the surface.
  8. Commutes are hell. Finding a house in the right neighbourhood is tough. But finding one in the right neighbourhood that is a decent commute to work is tougher. More so if you both work in different ends of towns. And usually the Venn diagram of good schools, in affordable neighbourhoods, that are between both your offices do not collide. Sacrifices are made and someone has to have a big commute.
  9. Exercise, what exercise? Trying to fit this in with everything else above is difficult to say the least. It is more difficult here than it was in Canada I find. Everything is more here. More commute. More time working. More school work for the kids. More activities.
  10. You'll wonder why you left.

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