Canadians Who Have Moved to the States/Abroad

To all the Canadians who have moved from Canada to the States permanently to work in finance, how do you feel about your decision? I am contemplating the move because NYC is the global center of business and Toronto does not have that much to offer besides a couple of decent shops. 

Do you think you will ever come back to Canada, why or why not? Do you fear not knowing anyone when you make the move back? Or do you feel that moving to the US was the right decision? 

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Comments (59)

Most Helpful
Mar 25, 2021 - 2:11pm

I've lived in a handful of US cities and grew up in Canada. As a minority, there is no way I would raise a kid in this country, will 100% move back to Canada. There is a lot more stratification between rich and poor here and to be blunt, a lot more stupidity. Opportunity in the US is much bigger but again, if I had a kid, not sure I would care that much.

IMO, make your money, then GTFO. Luckily I have a US-partner that makes the above very feasible and long-term geo wont impact my income.

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Mar 25, 2021 - 2:25pm

yeah that is a fair statement, I am also a minority and have reservations about it at times. On the flip side Canada is subtle with racism but at least Americans only care about who can make them the most money. Way more ethnic people and women in C suites in the US vs CAD

Mar 25, 2021 - 2:36pm

Agreed. In T1 cities it's not bad at all but you certainly can't go/live in certain parts of the US.

Canadian racism can be bad, but it's almost always from other minority groups who are non-violent. Different in the US...

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Mar 25, 2021 - 2:39pm

It's always been like this. The instability is a bit much too. With BLM, when I was leaving the gym there was a car on fire and police helicopters in the air. Then there were armed paramilitary troops in the city. This isn't something I've ever run into in Canada and its very third-world IMO.

At some point, you make enough money and would rather live in a safe country without a bunch of idiots.

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  • Works at Other
Mar 25, 2021 - 6:20pm

I feel the same way. I actually did move back, mostly because of visas, but I didn't fight very hard to stay after a certain point. The country has changed a lot in 10 years, or if anything the last few years just revealed what was always there. There's a lot of background stress to life in the US, especially as a minority immigrant. That said, I kept my job and getting paid the conversion rate is great so I'm not fully in the Canadian job market either (just yet).

  • Works at Other
Mar 26, 2021 - 8:14pm

Everyone responding has lived in both countries and acknowledges all of the great things about the US. But like...race in America spills over into so many aspects of society that non-Americans find jarring.

How are schools funded? How is healthcare access distributed? Why are universal programs so reviled? Why is the electoral system so unrepresentative? Why is it so hard to vote? Why are the police so militarized? Why is drug policy so punitive and destructive? Why does environmental pollution disproportionately affect minorities? You could literally go on forever. Sure, it's not 100% race, but another 40% of it or so might be "we hate the poor" which isn't that much better, and then policy is designed to keep certain people poor. 

Not saying Canada is some utopia by any means. People are people everywhere, and I think Americans and Canadians are mostly similar...but about 30% of Americans are batshit insane, definitely racist, and hold a lot of power because conveniently the system is designed that way. 

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Growth
Mar 26, 2021 - 1:12pm

Second this. I have worked in LA and New York and while both cities has its charm, I wouldn't want to start a family here. For New York, I am never going to afford a good private school without continue living in the finance rat-race and I dont trust my kids going to a NY public school. In LA, I could definitely move into the suburbs like Thousand Oaks or Orange County, but at that point why wouldn't I just move back to Canada. 

Career-wise I already expected a big pay cut but I am fine with this. 

  • Intern in HF - Other
Mar 26, 2021 - 11:16pm

Don't raise kids in OC. It's beautiful but the people there are incredibly superficial. 

My buddy grew up there and at his public HS all the kids got BMW's and Mercedes when they got their license. He got a Mazda 3 and the kids started making fun of him for it saying he was poor (he wasn't poor and his parents lived in a $5 MN house). 

Mar 28, 2021 - 11:34am

You can just say you prefer to live around white people lol, no need to dress it up. 
 

"Visible minorities" as Canada calls them travel through literal hell for a chance at working some menial job in the US. 
 

Meanwhile Canada doesn't let anyone in and remains one of the whitest countries in the world, and liberal Canadians sneer at the US for being racist. 
 

The largest non-white group in Canada is Chinese at 3% if the population lol. That's probably on par with as many Chinese people who live in NYC alone. 

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Mar 28, 2021 - 4:45pm

He's saying the exact opposite, and you really went full Ben Shapiro and twisted a bunch of facts. Minorities make up 1/5 of Canada's population, despite the fact that a) there was no wave of minority migration anywhere near the size of slavery and b) Canada doesn't share a land border with a country with much lower income per capita and ravaged by cartel violence. 

There's a reason why Toronto is the second choice after London for banks to move analysts that don't get the H1b. 

Plenty of racists in Canada, but they don't come close to the level of racism you find in the US. While the suburbs in the US are diversifying, there is still an incredible amount of segregation to the point where many of the dudes I went to college with essentially encountered minorities for the first time after getting to college. And I went to a Boston College type school filled with rich suburban white kids.  

Mar 25, 2021 - 2:38pm

I have worked in both Canada (bay street) and the US - however, I didn't grow up in Canada.

- My compensation was higher in the US, and I also felt there were more job opportunities, promotions and other routes available to me
- I prefer the work culture in the US. Canada is an amazing country with really nice people and beautiful nature; just didn't like the office culture in the places I worked at
- I interviewed for various other jobs in Canada while I was employed there to get a feel for the market, the perfect match wasn't always where I wanted them. When you work in the US or even in the UK, most finance opportunities are in London and NYC. (had a great Canadian job offer in a place that wasn't so great).
- I don't speak French, sadly, but I found that Quebec had decent opportunities and an interesting culture. In the US, you could have an entire career without speaking another language (I am NOT saying learning another language is not positive, I speak multiple myself. Just unlucky that I don't speak French).
- I felt like I had more buying power as an individual consumer in the US compared to Canada.

Mar 26, 2021 - 4:04pm

mech60

I found that Quebec had decent opportunities and an interesting culture.

Visited Montreal a couple years ago and I liked the culture a lot, though I sadly don't know French fluently yet either. What kinds of opportunities are there? CDPQ and PSP are the only ones that come to mind.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Mar 26, 2021 - 4:51pm

I am in PE and a few years ago someone introduced me to a quirky French-speaking PE firm, believe they were based in both Paris and Montreal, their staff were amazing (everyone literally looked like a model).

Montreal is a cool place.

Mar 25, 2021 - 2:51pm

I am Canadian and my spouse is American. So I have done the move both ways and truly the debate rages on in our household. Currently we moved back to Canada as others mentioned mainly to raise our kid but we are open to moving back to some US cities if the right opportunities arise. 

As a young person I would say totally do it, the USA has way more opportunities and chances to move up faster. Toronto rents/cost of living is not far off from American cities now and while Toronto is super diverse lots to do etc...It does not compare to NYC I think in the amount of stuff you can do as a young person. Similarly the west coast (SF/LA/Seattle) are leaps above lifestyle for a young person compared to Toronto I would say. Houston/Austin/Chicago as well. 

Lots of my classmates (went to an engineering heavy school) are in the USA now and lots of people will probably never move back. That said I know lots of people at Shopify and some others like it and they will never leave Toronto so at some point becomes more of preference thing. 

In terms of Finance or not knowing anyone, I do not think anyone would ever look down on your move to the USA, in fact the network you create in the USA will probably be more helpful if do want to move back more than youd imagine. Again just a lot more people in USA, lot more opportunities etc...Everyone knows when you come back to Canada its for personal reasons.

Mar 25, 2021 - 3:08pm

Best decision I've made in my life and would never look back for multiple reasons:
-Better money
-Better companies and tools
-Better and more opportunities
-More purchasing power
-Bigger network
-Weather is way better

The ceiling is higher and the floor is lower. 

Just had my trade dispute rejected by Schwab for a loss of 35k. This single issue alone should be a gigantic red flag to anyone who trades on their platform.

If they have a system error, and you do not video record your trading (they actually said this), they will not honour their fuck up. Switching everything away from them. Fuck this company.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 25, 2021 - 4:29pm

how do you even go about staying in US permanently? TN visa doesn't work for IB does it? or do you just rely on H-1B visa and then getting a green card?

i'm a first year working in NYC and looking to stay here permanently but also currently on an OPT - i'm Canadian that went to college in the US

Mar 25, 2021 - 4:46pm

My good friend working for a hedge fund is using a TN. Not sure how that works. I used a TN before but have an e2 now which is a joke to maintain. The TN is very easy too, was a little surprised my first time. Took maybe 10 min at the border, they just asked me a few questions and then let me go on.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 25, 2021 - 5:55pm

how does an E-2 work? seems like some sort of investment visa.. how do i go about doing that?

also for TN, which occupation did you list in the occupation list? understand that "financial analyst" is no longer a thing

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Mar 25, 2021 - 4:37pm

I grew up Canadian and have no intention on moving back. You should move to the US and give it a shot.

In Canada you have 1 city relevant to finance on a global scale (Toronto), whereas the US has 4 of those (NYC, SF, Chicago and Boston...with NYC being on a league of its own). And there's far more cities depending on your professional interests (DC for global affairs, Houston for energy, LA, etc.) and personal interests (growth cities like Atlanta and Austin, Florida for weather, Colorado for skiing, etc.). 

Unless you're very close to a large network of interesting people in Canada, it's worth trying your hand in the US. You can meet more people, grow your skill set, and see if this is a good place to live. Canadians also appreciate the experience of US finance professionals who may have been exposed to slightly more things and can bring with them a bigger network, so it'll be easy to move back if the right opportunity emerges and you want to move back.

Mar 26, 2021 - 9:53am

Now that I'm older, I'm very happy to be back in Canada.

I loved the US as a place of opportunity, the ceiling for growth/comp is WAYYYYYY higher, NYC is amazing, more of every kind of diversity - cultural, food, professional etc. But damn, I found it hard not to feel uncomfortable as a minority. NYC stop and frisk days did not leave a positive impression of police in general.

Canada and Toronto have their issues - TPS is lazy as shit, we pretend like our homeless and mentally ill don't exist, it takes years to get anything done, taxes, I could go on and on. But my quality of life is better and I'm generally happier. I find the Toronto rat race is far far FAR less intense than NY and other hubs, which is great. It's the right balance of hustle and chill for me.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Mar 26, 2021 - 10:45am

Echoing most of the sentiment here. I moved to the US to work with a partner here also. Definitely see a lot of opportunities for career progression and wealth generation, much more so than in Canada.

That said as a minority, I'm pretty jaded by how the US is right now with all the violence and racism. Also doesn't help moving from a place that has universal healthcare to a place that doesn't. While it's fun to be in a big city like NYC/LA/SF for a little bit to make money, I definitely miss Canada. Even if we don't move back to Canada, I'd 100% send my kids to McGill/UofT/UBC. IMO Vancouver and Toronto are just as nice of a city to be in compared to US peers.

Mar 26, 2021 - 11:11am

I never want to go home.

Being from the West Coast, it's amazing that in the United States you can work a high-octane business job and still live in an area with mountains and water on the West Coast (SF, LA). In Canada, the only place you can work in business and live near the mountains and water is Vancouver, and when it comes to Vancouver the scale and impact of business job opportunities is just not there. Everyone else is in Toronto, and the mountains there suck for skiing.

I don't plan on going back to Canada ever unless Vancouver becomes more of a business hub.

  • VP in S&T - FI
Mar 26, 2021 - 4:23pm

I was born in Vancouver (dual citizen of US now). I basically grew up mostly in the US in different cities from Boston to Dallas. I visit Canada quite often because of family, have been to Toronto multiple times as well. Have also been to Montreal, Quebec City, etc. My parents basically left exactly for this, as I think most people come to this realization. The opportunities just aren't there in Canada (or very limited). And tbh there are really only a handful of cities in Canada where you can really have a career; the US is so big and vast, there are literally tiers of cities where you have opportunity and can make a very good living. There is also no other place in the world with such vast different (livable) climates and nature. In particular, lol at the people whose only impression of the US is NYC, SF, and LA... 

Mar 26, 2021 - 11:59am

Good ol' Canadian boy here who spent several years down south. I moved to the US for job opps/$ and have since moved back but admittedly I never intended to move to the US permanently for social / WLQ reasons that others have mentioned.

I would 100% do it again and would encourage people to do it, even if just temporarily. Everybody else has said it, but to re-iterate... $ is better, opps are better, network is deeper, ceiling is higher, etc. I don't know that I want to stay in finance so the move was primarily short-term $ motivated for me. The Visa situation is case-by-case dependent but I would caution you about considering a TN-Visa a sure thing as some commenters have alluded to. Several folks at my old firm were on TNs that were hard processes to complete (even with the help of $1000/hr immigration lawyers) and were regularly held up at the border. Others had 12 month TN's approved when requesting standard 3-yrs. Others got screamed at during their "TN Interview". My first go-round I had a 2-hour interview/lecture that involved a very angry person belittling me the entire time. The second time I literally got a rubber stamp - guy looked at it for about 30 seconds. It seems super subjective depending on who you get at the border to review your application. This was all during the Trump admin so who knows if there's been some softening since.

Other folks have mentioned the a few of the "key" cities in Canada - Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver... Toronto/Ontario generally sucks but has the most finance opps and best growth trajectory. Montreal is super fun and a very unique vibe there (same for Quebec City but the finance sector is just nowhere close). Calgary is another fun city with cheap COL compared to the others on this list, but it's kinda dying along with Canada's OG sector. Rocky mountains are absolutely beautiful west of Calgs but if you head east, you'll keep driving for 5,000km before you see anything nice (NW Lake Superior is postcard stuff in the summer). Vancouver is one of my favourite cities in the world but the job market there is brutal and the cost of living is insane. I hope to settle down there some day but frankly I don't know how.

All that is to say: Purely from a career perspective, you should absolutely move to the US. From a "life" perspective, I would 100% pick Canada over the US, unless I was forced to choose Toronto. I hate Toronto.

Mar 26, 2021 - 12:25pm

Seems all the older folks said. You move back for personal reasons.

Anyways just to add about visa questions, Donald is gone kids. The "travel ban" random H2 visa etc crap is quieted down much more so. TN visas are harder now as you need the right firm and usually an engineering/econ degree vs bcomm (majority of finance ppl have) but still do able. But really if you like it there, like your firm get an understanding asap about how to get into the H1B process. Know friends at some funds/shops who are in the H1B process now, Trump made it way harder but luckily due to the new "higher incomes, skills, etc" requirements finance ppl should have better chances than entry level tech people lets say. But H1B process is only way to stay down there now. For years people, just used an L1 (if you have a Canadian office) or TN and renewed it lots, but from long-term taxes/job security/border rules etc, H1B is by far best process.

Mar 28, 2021 - 9:34am

I would try to get in through a job and then only MBA as a last resort. The cost of an MBA (tuition+foregone income) is one hell of a price tag so keep that in mind. Obviously the equation changes if you could get into a top MBA though.

Just had my trade dispute rejected by Schwab for a loss of 35k. This single issue alone should be a gigantic red flag to anyone who trades on their platform.

If they have a system error, and you do not video record your trading (they actually said this), they will not honour their fuck up. Switching everything away from them. Fuck this company.

Mar 29, 2021 - 3:09pm
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