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Harry

The Why, Where and How Much of Canada

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Harry

The Why, Where and How Much of Canada

We repeatedly get certain specific questions, and I thought it might be a good idea to draw up one single thread that is somewhat of an overview to get folks going. The usual questions involve "Why Canada?", Climate, Employment, Living Costs, Houses, Insurance, Taxes and the like. I have been beavering away at this over several days and nights, to post as one thread when I either run out of steam or have finished the "tome". I'll continue adding links as I search and find them.

I'll start with "Why Canada", and then take it from there.

Why Canada?

We have a whole thread dedicated to this subject and the debate often gets intense. However, I posted most of the following outline some years ago and I still stand by it. Most folks I have dealt with agree with the list. I have now expanded the economic and military bits, as they have become more relevant. It compares Canada with some other countries and makes it clear why so many of us chose Canada:

  • Canada has comparatively easy immigration requirements, compared with the USA and Australia....even if it does not always appear like that
  • At government level the country has a compelling desire to have more immigrants...even if it does not always look like it
  • After 3 years here, one can apply for citizenship....that's very quick, even if it does not feel like it.
  • It is less expensive to get going here than in the UK. Sterling is very dear and life is expensive in the UK.
  • Canada has a strong Social Security net to catch you if you fall. Some of our members can testify.
  • Pretty good government schools (compared with the USA and UK)
  • A $1,2 trillion USD G7-group* major Western economy(see below)
  • One of the strongest currencies on Earth that outperformed almost all over the past 5 years
  • Low inflation of 2.9% so one's money does not devalue much during retirement. (compared with SA)
  • Low interest rates. Mortgages were 3.5% in 2003. (compared with SA and most others, actually)
  • A huge trade surplus with the USA. They buy more from us than we from them. Great!
  • Easy access to the USA as a Canadian citizen (compare anywhere else)
  • One of the major resource countries on the planet with huge reserves (similar to SA and Oz)
  • The biggest source of imported oil for the USA and, it now appears, Oil Sands reserves trumping the Saudis.
  • Right next door to the USA with its $13 trillion economy, great market and business opportunity (compared with the rest of the planet)
  • Protected by the NORAD air defence blanket with the USA (compare any other place)
  • A founding member of NATO with a Defence Force designed to be able to integrate with the US as required
  • A supplier of Aerospace technology to the USDoD and NASA and equipped with US made weapons.
  • One's kids are safe at school and on the way there. (compared with the USA and SA)
  • Very low crime rate...can sleep with the doors open in many places (compare with USA en SA)
  • A "Frontiers"-spirit, which is something South Africans understand (compared with the UK)
  • Big on outdoor life, just like SA.
  • A colossal country to "discover" at your leisure after the insane stresses of the present SA.
  • South Africans feel welcome here and are appreciated, despite some pains. (compare with Oz)
  • Canadians are truly decent people with respect for other people.( compared with SA and the USA)
  • The Canadian culture is sophisticated and totally status-blind (compared with the UK)
  • The most highly educated nation on Earth ( highest % of tertiary qualification)
  • A near endless list of World class recreation and entertainment; a place continuously toured by all artists & musicians (compared with SA)
  • It is the place to be if one wants a balance between a Social Conscience and The Free Market System ( compared with SA and the USA)
  • The most welcome passport almost anywhere on the planet.

In summary:

A Major and Leading First World Western country

- with civilised people

- who are highly educated

- have a hugely strong economy

- beautiful natural scenery

- incredible resources

- a superb cultural level

- and, above all, A REAL FUTURE.

.

*: The only non-G7 countries with bigger economies are Russia, China, India and Brazil. Only ten countries on Earth have bigger economies. It has a bigger economy than Spain, which has more than 40 million people.

More links on SACanada on this subject:

Why Canada?

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Harry

What Are the Negatives About Canada?

The price one pays for all the good stuff that I listed in the first post, include:

  • Rules..they have a form for every little thing...and a person capable of French to fill it in and file it.
  • Political correctness....a big problem for South Africans who pretty much all believe in straight talk
  • Soul deadening diplomacy and avoidance..though one learns to read them after a while, it remains a pain
  • Unions and protection mechanisms that bedevil one....but they do not kill one (See SA)
  • Exceedingly liberal views on almost all social fronts. Conservative views are under unremitting attack.

...all-considered, it seems like a very good deal to me.

However, COMPETITION IS STIFF....because of the list in the first post and, more particularly, the fact that Canadians are the most highly educated people in the West.

In most cases, the jobs one hears about so much are NOT high flying ones. As the economy fires up, they need Labour in the broadest sense of the word. If one looks at BC, for example, one keeps hearing about a huge demand for workers/labour etc. However, when one really looks into it, they want people to man cash registers, drive trucks, do dry-walling etc etc. The demand is not really in the professional arena, except maybe in the case of medical doctors. But they also get put through endless hoops.

Ironically, the people who tend to leave other countries to come to Canada, are the the more highly trained/ higher income ones. When they arrive in Canada, they realise that there are endless professional hurdles, put up by professions that are actually protecting their jobs or business turf, but try to make it look like they are protecting the population. This is the reason for the large number of doctors and engineers and rocket scientists that arrive from India and China, and now find themselves driving taxis and eking out a living in huge frustration.

For the life of me I cannot comprehend the disconnect between the government insisting on drawing professionals and industry failing to employ them. The message is getting lost somewhere between those two parties. I suspect it is Canadian Political Correctness that is keeping them from saying they really just want a legal version of "the illegal Mexican problem" without the bad press. But that is just my suspicion.

In Canada getting a job depends STRONGLY on whether you have "the ticket" or not and whether you have the experience or not. Compare that with pre-AA/pre-BEE South Africa where thngs like MBA's were treated as a kind of nice-to-have add-on, not to be taken too seriously. Herer they're a much bigger deal. Given the competition form locally highly trained Canadians, and the fact that Canada has to compete head-on against US companies in the discerning US market, the employer has zero incentive to take a chance on an immigrant who may or may not know how to handle him/herself in the Canadian/US setup.

Often employers will will take the coward's way out, and claim you do not have "Canadian Experience". I have been over and over and over this issue. At this point, I am convinced that the uttering of those words actually means "We do not want an immigrant, but we are scared that we'll be accused of unfair employment practices if we speak the truth". So we'll just be "Politically Correct"...a very specific Canadian Social Disease.

Please make no mistake; Locally born folks also struggle like crazy to get a suitable job. You can ask me. Quite a few have asked me for help and I'm not an HR person or in the employment securement game. However, the immigrant who does not know the system and has no networks has a really tough time of it in the professional environment. In this country most people of higher training get jobs via referral and NOT via any job advertisement. Many companies I know have internal referral reward schemes for their employees.

On the other hand, StatsCanada will confirm for you that 30% of immigrants do not land a job in their first year in Canada. In fact it takes of the order of 10 years for the immigrant population to statistically develop the same level of employment as the non-immigrant population. SO, do not underestimate the challenge before you. The overall unemployment in the immigrant population remains, on average, considerably higher than in other populations, as a result of this effect. StatsCanada provides these statistics, but one seems unable to get results for immigrants that ARE NOT MEMBERS OF A VISIBLE MINORITY. I have my suspicions on that score.

Keep in mind that, if you speak to an employer over the phone and he hears you are an immigrant, he/she will with almost 100% certainty assume you to be a member of a "visible minority". Of course that begs the question as to what I am..."an INVISIBLE MINORITY? "....hmmm, that might explain a few things.

SO, in summary so far:

Canada is a fantastic and solid country with a fantastic future, but be prepared to package yourself for sale in a HUGELY competitive market against the very best on the planet in a labour marketplace in which protectionism and anti-immigrant discrimination is rampant....despite all the fancy speak by businessmen and politicians. The market is NOT as big as that in the US, and it is tougher to get the job you want here than in the USA, where they have fewer shenanigans in the job market.

If you can, then landing a job before you arrive here, will always be the better bet.

More links on SACanada on this subject:

Political Correctness: A Canadian Societal Disease you have to acquire to function here.

The Dreaded Words: "Canadian Experience"

Charles' post about Canadian Experience

Robin's post about avoiding the Downward Spiral

CPU's story

Gypsy Girl's story as a returning Canadian!

Stuart Lategan's comments

Hydro's comments about volunteering to get experience

The Canadian Job Market: The view of a South African

Negative Experiences in Canada, www.notcanada.com

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Harry

Where to settle?

A lot of folks start off thinking of Canada as one single country and that one can pretty much put life together the same way everywhere. That is simply not true.

This place is big....correction......H-U-G-E. It is the second biggest country on Earth after Russia. It covers 4-1/2 time Zones!!

The variations across the country are massive. The median income in 2006 for a two-person family in Fort MacMurray, Alberta is $120,000, but the town is not the most superb in Canada to live in and it is one helluva distance to anywhere and pretty cold. The median two-person family income in Abbotsford outside Vancouver is $59,000...less than half of FortMac, but one is near the World City of Vancouver with all that has to offer, and Abbotsford can handle international flights. Abbotsford has one of the fastest salary growths in the country.

SO, one clearly has to be a little more specific.

Economy and jobs:

Most folks have an image of Canada as mostly a Forestry, Mining and Fishery country. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are the numbers:

GDP Contribution: Services (71.3%), Industry (26.4%), Agriculture (2.3%) (2004)

Employment: Services (74%), Industry ( Mnfctr & Constrc & other)(23%), Agriculture (3%) (2000)

SO, Canada is BY FAR AND AWAY a Service Sector country...and in large part it serves the USA. If the USA were to legislate the shut-down of Telemarketing as threatened, hundreds of thousands of Canadians would lose their jobs in Ontario and the Prairies.

The auto industry is by far the biggest in the Manufacturing Sector centered between Windsor and Toronto in Ontario. Windsor is right across the water from Detroit, as one might expect. This industry manufactures around 2.4million light vehicles per annum while 1.7 million are sold in Canada. Manufacture is split between USA and Canada. Folks who work in that industry have been among the great winners for decades, but it is taking a hit right now. The image of the Central Canada employee with house, two cars, boat, RV and cabin in the Cottage Country is essentially the story of the auto industry worker. Having weathered the DotCom crash, they have suffered huge lay-offs recently as the US auto designers suffered against the far superior Japanese. ( Harry: That is what one gets from intentionally building unreliable cars).

The oil industry is based largely on Alberta. With it goes that part of the Chemical industry that derives from oil or oil sands. Fort MacMurray is the Miracle Economic Mecca, and the rest of Alberta, mostly Calgary and Edmonton, feed off that. Some offshore oil is done off Newfoundland. The Federal government is keeping BC from exploiting its offshore oil. However, the fossil fuel fields extend from Alberta into Northern BC around FortStJohn, which is a BC boom town. In 2005, the oil industry exceeded the auto industry for the first time, as may be seen on the Government stats site linked below.

The financial capital is Toronto, with Vancouver and Montreal in second position.

The hydroelectric HQ is Quebec and. weirdly, NOT BC. The forestry is more spread, but BC and Quebec are the biggest. Mining is big in BC and in northern Ontario in the so-called "Nickel Belt", though some key things come from elsewhere; such as uranium from Saskatchewan.

In 2005-2006, the two growth provinces were Alberta and BC...both based on their Resource Sectors. Beyond that, the rest of the economy is in a slow upward grind. It is true, however, that the Canadian economy has been consistently outperforming the US one for the past several years in all but sheer size. Canadian unemployment, however, is always higher than the US one.

Doctors are in permanent demand on the Prairie ( Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and some of those provinces have specifically headhunted SA doctors. Something like 40% of all doctors in Saskatchewan are South Africans. In BC and Alberta you'll find them everywhere in smaller towns outside Vancouver and the like.

In BC and Ontario the high tech industry headhunted SA engineers in the 1999 period of the DotCom boom. A link to the Canadian Aerospace picture through government eyes is given below. Quebec utterly dominates the Aerospace Industry. One of the reasons for this is the Company Bombardier.

Interestingly, when we look at SACanada, it becomes clear that church ministers have had the fastest approval of Permanent Resident Visas.

All considered, the industrial belt of Canada runs from Windsor through Toronto to Montreal. The vast bulk of the Canadian economy revolves around that along with the service industry that originally grew up to serve it and which now dominates it by far, having expanded to cross the Prairie and to serve the USA. In fact you will now find call centre operations in Calgary and Regina, whereas they used to be mostly in Mississauga, outside Toronto which appears to be the pivot of the Canadian economy. Everything you'll need always seems to have to either come from there or needs to be fixed in Mississauga, near the airport.

The East Coast is probably more like the textbook romantic image that folks have of Canadians, but its economy is congenitally depressed, particularly in Newfoundland. Along with it, incomes tend to be lower and prices tend to be lower. Young people tend to migrate from there to Toronto or Alberta or BC. So, one can get a beautiful house in urban Nova Scotia for less than half of what you will pay near Vancouver. The people of the East Coast, however, are utterly superb to deal with.

Socially/Politically:

In the social domain, Quebec tends to be Economically Socialist ( a bit like France) except on the medical side, where they constantly lead the country in attempts to implement more private health care. Toronto and particularly Vancouver tend to be Socially extremely liberal, with the mayor of Vancouver actually helping a druggy to shoot up in his van. Alberta tends to be the social conservative/small businessman (Reaganomics)headquarters of Canada, ever since Trudeau alienated them by making economic war on them about their oil.

The Provinces charge provincial taxes, and the federal government charges it own taxes. In the middle of the table they have a sort of pooling scheme by which they try to share a bit. There is a permanent cat-fight about who is being "done in', "starved" or "taken advantage of" around the table. Quebec has threatened to secede once or twice, as has Alberta. Quebec is more serious, and Alberta more dangerous, in that regard. Newfoundland also sticks its bottom lip out now and then. Both the Quebecois and the Newfies seem to consider themselves Special Canadians by virtue of deals they made when they joined, while the rest of us are just ordinary Canadians. The deals we made in joining do not seem to count.

Ontario and Quebec, with their large populations, utterly dominate the political scene, and absolutely everyone else resents that. The folks in the West hate it particularly much because they are so far away and get near-permanently ignored by Ottawa, which is often seen as a "sort of foreign country in the east somewhere". A bit like Cape Tonians view Pretoria/Jhb...and for the same reason.

Basically, "Fisherman Newfoundland" is as different from "Glitzy Toronto" and both of them from "Cow town Calgary", as PE from Sandton and Bloemfontein respectively....and each has a Provincial government that controls a hell of a lot of your life. BC, for example, has provincial-government car insurance while Toronto in Ontario has the most expensive private car insurance schemes.

Most immigrants first settle in Toronto, with a large fraction of Asian immigrants first settling in Vancouver, where around 50% of the population is Asian of various nationalities, around 30% being Chinese.

Climate:

The climate varies drastically. Most urban centres are pretty close to the US border where the climate is more forgiving. Hence the vast majority of Canadians actually live in a relatively tiny southern fraction of the country. To the north is what they call "The Bush"..and, north of that is "The Tundra". It is a little like SA people's view of the endless Kalahari being some sort of limit and one stays south of it.

In the interior summers can be hot and winters bitterly cold. However, low humidity makes the low temperatures more tolerable and the skies blue. Some outlying First Nations places in those areas are only accessible by road in winter on ice roads. Examples are north of FortMacMurray.

On the two coastlines matters are different. Vancouver and Halifax are roughly at directly opposite sides of the continent. However, Halifax gets quite cold and gets feet of snow in a typical year. Vancouver-Victoria-Nanaimo tends to hover around 3-5C in the day in the heart of winter, and might sink to -6C on a bad night. Vancouver gets mostly cloud and rain in winter. Vancouverites go into shock when it snows. The Vancouver summers are possibly the most fantastic on the planet, while they often utterly swelter in high humidity in Toronto in summer. However, even at -32C the Prairies sport open skies in most of winter, which makes up for the temperature, while the temperate Vancouver sits in wet winter gloom for two months over mid November to mid-January. By way of example, people in Vancouver use all-weather tyres all year round. That would be crazy dangerous in most other places in Canada. Calgary can get cold, but it can also get a bergwind in winter, the famous hot Chinook, which can melt all the snow in one day.

In simple terms, treat inland Canada as a colder version of Bloemfontein, with Winnipeg as Sutherland. Calgary and Toronto are more reasonable. Treat Nova Scotia as Port Elizabeth with lower temperatures and snow. Treat Vancouver as Cape Town, but just colder and wetter in winter...vastly drier in summer than in winter, but some rain does fall in summer.

More links on SACanada and elsewhere on where to settle:

Where would you go?

The Canadian Climate

The 2004 Canadian Mining Industry

A comparison of the Canadian Aerospace Industry with other industries. Useful Graphs

Salaries in the automotive sector

The Government Stats site on all industries

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Harry

Salaries

We repeatedly have folks ask what salaries look like.

Again it varies from place to place. As already stated, the median income for a two-person family in Fort MacMurray, Alberta is $120,000, but the town is not the most superb in Canada to live in and it is one helluva distance to anywhere and pretty cold. The median two-person family income in Abbotsford outside Vancouver is $59,000...less than half of FortMac, but one is near the World City of Vancouver with all that has to offer.

So let's start with Salaries:

The Latest (2005) Statscanada report on salaries is HERE.

To give folks some idea, I have extracted the information on average salaries for people with university degrees in certain disciplines, for each of five provinces:(All salaries in thousands of dollars CAD per year)

salaries2005.jpg

Cleary Ontario and Quebec are the Meccas for the Health folks, Alberta for the Engineers, Ontario for the MBAs and Ontario again for the Social Sciences folks. As you can see, BC has a distinct problem, as has Nova Scotia.

Now look at the same fields, but for folks without university degrees:

salaries2005nu.jpg

Alberta still stands out on all engineering issues, and Ontario on Business and Engineering, but BC now looks more middle-of-the-road.

With any such numbers, one always has to consider the fact that they cover the entire spectrum of experience. An engineer with 10 years experience will still command more than $80,000 in BC and more than $100,000 is nothing strange. Yet the table above gives $54,000. So there is no telling how many young green engineers are in the stats.

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Harry

The Cost of Living

I think the only way to address this matter, is to separate the mortgage, tax and insurance matters from everything else and then address those separately. That allows one to more sensibly treat the other costs. Usually the commute to work is traded off against the house price/mortgage. Our own place is worth around $800,000 according to the realtors and I have a 20/25 minute commute to work, with a bit of a slowdown at the Second Narrows bridge. The folks in Cloverdale have closer to a 90 minute commute and the same kind of house would cost around $400,000 there. I struggle to believe the nice scenery, mountains and water at our place makes that much difference; nor does the gasoline consumption. So, you figure it out. Maybe saving 2 hours of every day makes the difference.

I do not know the other cities well enough to make the equivalent comparisons.

Groceries, utilities and gasoline

The best I can do here is to provide folks with some examples that have previously been given by folks who were prepared to share their information.

Example 1: My own family of 4 grownups

I'll add more as I dig them up out of threads.

Groceries: $800CAD per month

gas: Winter $200-300, Summer: $50-100 : Average $150-230 per month ( at 8 heating months)

electricity: below $100 per month.

gasoline: about $100 -$150 a month.

This totals to around $1250 a month.

BEcause folks from SA are not used to running furnaces in their homes, I thought I'd include a little bit more here. The Figure shows the distribution of gas usage by billing month ( typically the billing is in the month after use). The range ( stove), home heating furnace and the hot water heater run on this gas.

5-09-22gas.jpg

Our house is about 2,300 square foot in floor area on two floors with a further half-basement floor on concrete. That size is typical around here. However, it was registered in 1950. So, it is an old house and has a couple of quirks that make it thermally less than hugely efficient. Also, we have a rather older 60% efficiency furnace. I believe I can bring those heating costs down through some more engineering and a new furnace, but it will have to wait a bit. There is no point to a higher efficiency furnace until I have done the engineering. My point is that most folks should be able to do much better on heating costs. We keep the place set to 20C and switch on the heating only between 6am and 10pm.

Of course, the furnace is off during the warm months and the gas consumption is driven by the burners of the range (stove) and the hot water needs of the house. Even a quick glance at the graph, shows that the the winter heating causes BY FAR the greatest consumption of gas. Also, the greatest gas usage is in January (paid February), which is pretty much the coldest month over here. So the picture is consistent with what one experiences here. I just don't know what the consistent bump in July (paid August) is all about. It may have something to do with the meter guy going on Summer break and the reading being delayed.

Example 2: Flip & Ilana in Flin Flon, MB ( family of 4)

Groceries: $600CAD a month

Example 3: Debs in Toronto

See HERE.

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Harry

Homes and Home Taxes

Buying a house was a mortal nightmare for folks who arrived here in around 2000-2001, when the SA house market was pestilentially bad. I got somewhere over R400,000 for house that is now selling at more than R2,000,000. Also, one was vastly more limited in what money one could invest overseas. It seems to me that house prices have increase dDRAMATICALLY over there and so people should be MUCH better off.

Using a real example out of the www.Realtylink.org website for Real Estate agents here in Vancouver, I calculated the following back in 2005:

Purchase Price of Property: $409,000

Location: Port Coquitlam, BC ( Vancouver Tri-Cities area)

Mortgage TERM : 5 Yr

Down Payment $ 143,150 ( 35% selected to get 4.6% rate)

Total Mortgage Amount $ 265,850

Monthly Mortgage Payment $ 1,486

Monthly Property Taxes $ 206

Monthly Heating Costs $ 200 (estimated, but see the post above)

TOTAL Monthly Payment $ 1,891

Canada-Mortgage, theorganisation that watches over these matters, has a set of rules that it applies to ensure that people do not get themslves into home debt beyond their means. SO, as per their rules:

Household Income Required as per the rules of Canada-Mortgage: $ 70,921 ~$71,000

For a 5.8% mortgage the mortgage payment is $1,669 per month and the required income is $77,800

You can read a lot more about this, and its associated issues HERE.

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Harry

Taxes

I provide a "standard calculation" for Tax in BC below ( other provinces come off better):

You have to assume that, at a salary of $60,000CAD, you'll have tax of about 31.15% ( here you have to do EVERYTHING YOU CAN to get maximum deductions) look HERE. Your deduction for yourself is $8,523 and for a non-working spouse another $7,298, making about $16,000. This taken off $60,000 gives $44,000. 31% tax on that figure is about. $13,700. Per month that is about $1,142. As the spouse starts earning, the spousal-deduction decreases. Let's round this up to $1200 per month.

IMPORTANT: I last did these calculations in 2004 and folks need to recheck it all for themselves from that webpage in the link

The taxes in this post DO NOT COVER your Home Taxes, or, as we used to call it, "Rates and Taxes". For those, see the post on Homes and Mortgages.

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Harry

Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance is a subject SACanada members can get very passionate about. The reason is simple: It is exepensive. It also varies dramatically from place to place.

It would appear that the Greater Toronto Area is the aera with the highest insurance rates. Manitoba might very well have the lowest rates. In BC it is actually run by the Provincial Government via the Insurance Corporation of BC ( ICBC) Which also manages car driver's licences, testing and vehicle emission monitoring.

Here is the scheme as it operates in BC

icbc001.jpg

The scheme is explained HERE. Essentially it boils down to starting (in BC) at some or other Claims Rate Scale (CRS). For a newly licenced driver, it would be 0. For someone who arrives here from SA, if you have your claims history from your SA Insurer, ICBC will give you credit in terms of that CRM. In my case they gave me 7 years credit for 26 years of driving and a last claim going back to the late 80's or early 90's...can't remember and should check again.

So I was at -7. Every year of driving claims free here, they gave me one CRS point credit ( going more negative, that is). So, this year they have me at -13 after six years here, having never claimed.

On the scheme, it means I get a 43% discount on the base Basic Insurance Rate, and a 50% discount on the base Optional Insurance Rate. It also means that, if I DO make a claim, they shift me back up the scheme by 4 slots. So, this is lke a game of Snakes and Ladders.

For the Highlander (in 2006) the base Basic Annual Rate is $1380, covering $200k of third party, $150k of accident benefits , hit and run protection and underlicensed motorist protection of $1M.

The "Optional" Insurance Rate is $1480 for extending the 3rd party to $2M. The rate applies if I pay the first $500 for collision claims and for comprehensive insurance claims. I personally prefer to pay the higher deductible, because I consider myself a very safe driver and unlikely to have an accident.

The result of the scheme is that I get a 43% = $594 discount on the base BASIC and 50% = $779 discount on the base OPTIONAL amounts.

My total insurance is therefore $786 + $701 = $1487

The Registration Fee for the year, which one pays at the same time, is $61

A weird peculiarity here, is that they expect you to pay for the year in a lump sum. If you pay per month, then you pay more because they try to convince you that they are financing you in paying their "Annual Fee". As my grandfather said: "My kind, wees maar altyd versigtig waar hulle Ingels praat". :angry:

Keep in mind that insurance on Japanese cars is higher. On Chryslers and the like it is lower. That is how I ended up paying much more insurance on our small Toyota Corolla than on our big Chrysler Intrepid.

Folks should read the excellent post by Smith007 HERE, to see how it works in Ontario and for general wisdom on Auto Insurance and the purchase of a first car.

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Harry

Buying a House

Beyond giving up one's job, house and life in SA, the buying of house over here must rate as the scariest step. It also differs dramatically depending on where you settle. Even a nominal house can consume one's entire income in Vanocouver, where people apparently spend up to 67% of their income on housing. How they keep body and soul together in such a scenario, I have no idea.

In Nova Scotia it can be a much more pleasurable experience.

This is placeholder. I'll edit this post as I gather the bits.

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Harry

Adaptation

My take on the adaptation thing is something as follows, after being here almost 80 months:

1. SA folks are Jacks of all Trades..folks here work in narrowly defined jobs, often with unions and licenses

2. In SA, losing a job is like death in the family....over here you take a holiday and decide what to do next

3. SA folks are big on huisvriende....to folks here this is almost a no-no..very tight private space per person

4. SA folks have a cynical sense of humour.....the folks here laugh at totally different stuff...(but what?)

5. In SA you save for retirement....here apparently no-one saves at all and the future has to look after itself

6. In SA do-gooders are distrusted...folks here have doing social good as part of their national self image.

7. SA folks are aggressive in many domains.....the folks here are pacifist to a point of making it a religion.

8. SA folks see virtue in talking straight...the folks here are the most diplomatic nation on the planet.

9. SA folks lean on average toward conservative...the local folks lean on average toward liberal

10. SA folks are used to taking risks...here nothing happens until the insurance is sorted out.

The political correctness thing is really a big problem. If someone steps over the line, people will just walk away, leaving the poor unsuspecting offender wondering what just happened. It truly is a phenomenon that does huge damage and leads to people avoiding positive conflict and burying problems so they cannot be solved. To remove the first coating of Political Correctness from a metropolitan Canadian might require roughly two beers. Be warned, though, that when it disappears, you might be staggered by what comes out....the thing is a true societal dysfunction masquerading as "politeness", "diplomacy" and "sensitivity to others".

Unfortunately, if you want to live here, you'll HAVE TO learn to handle it. That means that you have to become Politically Correct........ unfortunately. It will happen the easy way...or the hard way. That does not mean you have to like it.

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