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Old 03-23-2008, 10:39 PM
Location: Toronto
215 posts, read 1,660,476 times
Reputation: 142


Originally Posted by glparker4 View Post
I am an American-born citizen (Atlanta, GA) who has decided to become a permanent resident of Canada, and I would like advice on the best places to live, find employment, major employers, or anything that you would like to add.

I have already applied to the Consulate under the Skilled Worker Program. However, without an employment offer, this process will take at least 2-3 years. I am familiar with the requirements that companies must have approved arrangements with the HRSDC to hire non-Canadians. However, my skillset falls under the NAFTA-exempt professions (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/special-tech.asp - broken link) for Information Technology professional (software developer). I have applied for numerous positions and posted my resume on job sites like Monster, Workopolis, and JobBank. But, I have had few responses. I realize that this is an uphill battle, but I wanted to know if my expectations of finding employment before landing are realistic.

Of all the cities in Canada I've visited, I like Vancouver the best. However, the expensive cost of living there concerns me. I am afraid if I move there without employment, I will use up my life savings quickly. Also, employment seems harder to find there compared to other areas, especially in my field.

Many of the jobs in my field seem to be located in the GTA or in the Southern Ontario corridor between the GTA and Windsor. I like Toronto as well, though not as much as Vancouver.

I do not know much about Alberta as I've never been, but I'm willing to consider Calgary or Edmonton. However, I do not care for Winnipeg; too cold in the winter, too hot in summer with mequitos, and the residents are much more reserved (despite their "friendly" license plates ). Likewise, I don't know much about SK, the Maritimes, or the Territories. I don't speak French so Quebec is probably not an option.

Thanks in advance for your help.
You have 5 options


even then Montreal is iffy due to language.

Beyond that you have to ask yourself what you most want and most want to avoid.

Vancouver has nice weather, and it's a fair size, but the commute can be a killer at times, and the cost of living could finish you off.

Calgary is a more expensive version of Edmonton, but the value is there. Both are cold, small yet growing, and have pleanty of oppertunity.

Toronto is the established favourite. It's big and there are options, but it's also the most at risk for any economic downturn due to current troubles.

Is there any one thing that you want / want to avoid? That can help the answer. I hear you talk about cost of living and cold, if those are the two concerns, then Toronto is your best bet.
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:59 PM
19 posts, read 132,205 times
Reputation: 16
I dunno, I think Toronto is the most resistant to economic downturn due to huge diversification. If you are inclined to seek work in Canada, I wouldn't count out Montreal, that is a great place with lots of fun and culture. Hey, crappy winters, but the whole country has that except for Victoria and maybe Vancouver (If you don't think overcast for 6 months is crappy). Victoria is a small market but an awesome place to live, recommended as probably the best place in the country if you can get work, it's not really a "big city" though. The quality of life blows the rest of the country away though, especially if you appreciate the environment there, which is one of the most pristine and beautiful anywhere.
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:32 AM
Location: Vancouver, BC, CANADA
24 posts, read 155,742 times
Reputation: 31
Thanks to all of you for such wonderful advice.

Nickjbor, I would conclude that quality of life is what's most important to me. I seek a community with low crime, amenities such as decent parks and a walkable city, good transportation with not too much traffic congestion, and diversity. I would like to get away from the typical crowded rat race of traffic and pollution, sprawling suburbs, crime, and right-wing ultraconservative ideologies. In other words, I don't mind that the cost of living is a little higher as long as the community offers a good quality of life.

So far here is what I've learned from my research:

Victoria, Halifax, PEI - beautiful places but difficult to find jobs, esp. outside of the tourism industry. Definitely, a place where people work to live.

Vancouver - Decent balance between good job market and quality of life. Cost of living is high due to demand/inflation for the Olympics but prices are expected to fall after 2010.

Calgary - Enjoying an economic boom now in the petroleum industry (not my field). Very conservative and sprawling like many US cities. Cost of living is also inflated & as high as Vancouver. Seems vulnerable to economic downturn from different variables such as oil production in Alaska, Middle East, South America, alternative sources, etc.

Edmonton - I don't know much other than it's called Deadmonton (compared to Calgary) and is home to the world's largest mall.

Regina/Winnipeg - Cost of living is much lower but so is the quality of life. Crime seems to be a factor in both cities. Also, very cold in winter!

Saskatoon - Known as the "best kept secret of Canada". Otherwise, may be too cold for me.

Ottawa - Seems like a great city. However, most jobs are government and require Canadian citizenship and French language.

Montreal - Definitely worth checking out. Too risky settling there and attempting to find employment without fluent French.

Toronto - Very diverse. Consistently high quality of life rating but seems to be deteriorating due to influx of immigrants. Also, high cost of living. Great transit and very walkable in the city (not suburbs). Suburbs seem to be sprawling mess with the constant nightmare of bad traffic and gridlock commutes. Excellent job opportunities. Economy seems to be able to withstand a downturn since it is more diverse and service oriented unlike Alberta. Overall, seems to be a safe city with the exception of a few areas. Also, weather can be volatile with bad storms due to the lake effect.

There are other cities that I have discovered too but have not found much info on them:

Kamloops, BC
Yellowknife, NWT
Waterloo, ON
Fredericton, NB
Medicine Hat, AB
Fort McMurray, AB

Thank you for all of your help and suggestions.
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Old 03-24-2008, 03:18 PM
354 posts, read 1,077,926 times
Reputation: 62
If your biggest concern about Halifax is getting a job but you like everything else that the city offers, why don't you try looking at jobs in your field in the USA that have offices in Halifax. You would be surprised at how many big American Companies have smaller service type offices in Halifax.
Once you find a few.......check with the American office and try to get hired in the USA FOR the Halifax office. Just a suggestion.

I know a lot of Americans that came to the Maritimers that way.
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Old 03-24-2008, 03:24 PM
354 posts, read 1,077,926 times
Reputation: 62
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Halifax is appealing to a lot of American Companies because of it's close proximety to New York via air. Nova Scotia also has a speed ferry-boat that travels from Portland Maine, and Boston I believe. I can't remember what it's called. It's similar to the "Victoria Clipper" that comes into Seattle but only much larger and newer.

Halifax is a very nice "Little-Big City" to live and do business.
You won't just be working to live. You will have a good quality of life there if you land a decent job. Good Luck
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Old 03-25-2008, 05:14 PM
Location: Vancouver, BC, CANADA
24 posts, read 155,742 times
Reputation: 31
From my research, Halifax seems like the ideal place for me to settle. I seek a city that is not too large, not too expensive, and offers a decent quality of life. I started the application process for the Nova Scotia PNP under the community stream but backed out because I was worried about committing myself to the province considering the poor job prospects in the Maritimes, and opting for Vancouver or Toronto instead. I will research some American companies with locations in Halifax to see if that may provide opportunities for me. If you have any suggestions regarding major employers in the Halifax area that may aid me in my search, that would be helpful. Thanks again for your advice!
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:33 PM
354 posts, read 1,077,926 times
Reputation: 62
Glad I could be of some help.

Check out "Research in Motion" they are/have opened an office in Halifax from what my husband tells me. They are a Canadian company who invented the "Blackberry". (you might have already known that)

Another city I completely forgot to mention that I'm sure you would LOVE is Ottawa!! It's our capital city. It's absolutely beautiful! The Rideau Canal runs in the middle of the city. I can't remember if anyone else mentioned it on this thread or not? Anyhow.......if you aren't successful in Halifax........a place outside Ottawa, called KANATA...is where you should focus your search on! It's a major IT and Telecommications area......it's probably your best bet! Don't know why I wasn't thinking of it before. If I moved back to Canada I would first choose Halifax and if I couldn't live there I would choose Ottawa. That's just my opinion though.......but Ottawa, Ontario is like a much larger Halifax.......and a smaller, prettier Toronto.

So of the house prices are a little expensive right in the city of Ottawa but Kanata is about 15 minutes outside of the city and the prices are a little more reasonible.
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:37 PM
354 posts, read 1,077,926 times
Reputation: 62
I just noticed you mentioned Ottawa and thought possibly the French language might be a problem. We have a friend who lives and works in Ottawa and he doesn't speak French. I'm sure if you found a company there.......especially an American Company...their requirements would be different and less worried about language especially if you aren't in the service industry.
Let me know how you make out. I'll see if I can come up with any names of IT companies in the meantime.
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:04 AM
Location: Royalton, NB
18 posts, read 83,137 times
Reputation: 24
Honestly I finding a job in the maritimes is quite easy as long as you have the proper skillset. Also you have to realise that the pay will be lower then anywhere else in Canada.... Saying that however I would never consider leaving NB. The small home town feel is something that even a huge salary could not compensate me for.

For IT there are some major companies that higher IT skilled workers

Irving Oil hires many skilled IT workers in places like Saint John, NB. They also pay quite decent.

I work for a large food company called McCain foods.. the building I work in employees over 250 IT workers... anything and everything from web developers, helpdesk, lan admins and everything in between. I would say the pay is probably less then working for a large IT firm out of Toronto but I make more then enough to be happy without worrying about how im gonna live.

Aliant is another large company that hires and pays well in the maritimes.. they are our telephone and internet provider for NS, NB, PEI and NFLD.

And I could go on and on... there are opportunites other then Toronto- although those in Ontario may try to convince you we do not exist out east.
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:07 AM
Location: Vancouver, BC, CANADA
24 posts, read 155,742 times
Reputation: 31
I think I may share a similar philosophy to you Canada_Dave. I have lived in large metro areas and small towns throughout my life, and I prefer the smaller town environment. Even if the pay is less, I am willing to accept it over long commutes and all of the other problems with overcrowded cities. It seems that most people get consumed by the rat race of the big city for the promises of higher salaries. Yet, they relegate themselves to such a low quality of life by accepting these unpleasant conditions and working jobs that make them miserable just to support a superficial lifestyle. Thanks again for your suggestions.
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