International Man Expat Interviews—British Columbia, Canada

International Man Expat Interviews—British Columbia, Canada

Carl moved from the US to Victoria, BC, Canada two years ago. Vancouver is a popular choice for those seeking to expatriate from the US while experiencing minimal changes in lifestyle. We’re happy to bring you his story below.

International Man: What was your country of birth, and what countries have you previously lived (or spent significant time) in?

Carl: I was born in the US in 1942. I’ve visited 35 other countries but lived in only the US until I moved to Canada in late 2012. I had a desire to diversify both my life experiences and my alternatives, as my perception of quality of life in the US continues to decline.

International Man: What were the primary positives you were seeking?

Carl: Access to a second passport with minimum hassle and physical inconvenience. I visited 17 countries over nearly a decade while searching for an optimum second country in which to gain the right to long-term legal residence.

British Columbia provides: 1) First World quality of life; 2) English as the primary language; 3) First World communications and travel opportunities; and 4) extremely easy access to the US and the entire world. One can reach almost any destination in the world in a single day through Vancouver international Airport.

Last, First World medicine is available here, for true emergencies. For non-emergency issues, many BC residents travel to the US and pay for health care from their own funds, versus sometimes waiting multiple months, even years, to see specialists. BC health care seems totally oriented toward fast and effective response to real physical emergencies versus preventative or long-term health maintenance.

International Man: What were the existing negatives in your first country that you were seeking to eliminate?

Carl: My perception of the disappearance of the US middle class, increasing loss of freedoms I had always enjoyed (via the Patriot Act), militarization of local police forces, and related constant expansion of Big Brother.

International Man: What destinations did you research as possibilities, and what made you reject each one?

Carl: Mexico, Belize, Bahamas, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Monaco, Hong Kong, and Singapore. All held distinct disadvantages when compared to the “comforts and attributes of daily living” found in BC. These caused me to select the quality of life and ease of US access we have in Victoria, BC.

On the negative side, I would not be as happy here if I had to work for a living. I came here with a financially independent status, without need for regular income from BC sources. Although we don’t, my bride and I could live relatively well here on our combined Social Security monthly incomes. The cost of daily living in BC is noticeably higher than my former home in a suburb of Sacramento, with lower wages and higher taxes on even the necessities of normal living.

Few families can afford even the older single-family home most Americans used to expect would be their lot before 2008’s meltdown.

International Man: What made you choose Canada in the end?

Carl: Southern BC offered the most comfortable and attractive combination of quality of life and ease of access to both the US and worldwide travel. I married in 2014, and we discovered that we greatly prefer life in southern BC to northern California. I plan to spend at least a large part of the rest of my life in southern BC.

International Man: What’s your present residential/citizenship situation worldwide?

Carl: I reside legally in Victoria, BC under a Permanent Residency visa with plans to seek Canadian citizenship when I qualify, expected in 2016.

(Editor’s Note: See here for the best ways to obtain a second passport.)

International Man: What problems did you experience in your change of country that you didn’t anticipate?

Carl: I cannot recall any significant negative surprises. Access to a work permit, which enabled eventual issuance of my Permanent Residency visa, required more than a year wait.

International Man: What pleasant surprises have you experienced as a result of your internationalization?

Carl: A much broader “international view” of life than I found on the US West Coast. And exposure to many unexpected subcultures within Canadian society, i.e., enclaves of Asian, Brit (England, Kiwi, and Aussie), and Slavic groups.

Also, the weather in Victoria is substantially better than expected, with only two to three months of cold, fog, and rain in January to March and fabulous summers from June to October to make up for short, cold, and wet winters.

International Man: In what ways is life better now?

Carl: Far lower fear of crime, slower and more enjoyable pace of daily living, breathtaking beauty almost every day.

International Man: People sometimes say that they can’t afford to internationalize themselves, as they assume it’s only for the rich. Has that been your experience?

Carl: Absolutely not! While we are financially independent, I don’t consider us wealthy in terms of physical possessions. We drive one Prius and live in a rented duplex in a desirable area west of downtown. I believe our costs of living here, versus owning a larger home in an upscale community near Sacramento with the two cars needed to enjoy living in that environment, are far less than we experienced in the Sacramento area.

International Man: If you had it to do over again, are there things you’d do differently?

Carl: Yes!! I would start—and move—sooner.

Editor's Note: How about you? If you have internationalized yourself and feel your experiences could benefit others, please forward a brief description of yourself and the changes you made to International Man here for a possible interview.

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