Life in Canada: Is Canada a Better Place to Live than the UK?

Deciding to live abroad can raise many questions, like what life will be like, “Is it affordable?”, “How much should I budget for?” and “How much should I earn to be able to get by?”. But for those considering moving to Canada or the U.K., the number one question is, “Is Canada a better place to live than the UK?”, and the answer is not as cut and dry as you may think.

Canada and the U.K. have many similarities and differences with various factors to take into account. Life in Canada has been described as “welcoming”, “multicultural” and having an all round “high quality of life” regarding education, healthcare, and job opportunities, but how do these two countries stack up against each other?

Let's hear from Lola Black, a YouTuber who has made the move to Canada after living in the U.K. Take a look at her personal experiences below:

Source: Lola Black

Let's face it, no place that you decide to live in will be perfect, but the important thing is to find a place that is perfect for you and your loved ones. So let's take a closer look at some of the key factors that make both these countries great as well as what puts Canada a cut above the rest.

How Are Canada and the UK Similar?

Tower bridge London U.K. | UK and Canadian flags | Life in Canada

Both Canada and the UK have a quality of life, from the exceptional healthcare and education system to its diverse communities. Let's take a closer look at their similarities.

1. Free HealthCare

Both countries offer a high quality of healthcare to their permanent residents and citizens. In the U.K., it’s known as the National Health Service (NHS).

U.K. Healthcare

Primary care for General Practitioners (GPs) and nurse consultations are free to everyone. Secondary care is free to anyone that is considered an ‘ordinary resident’ or anyone who is from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has an immigration status of ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or in other words a permanent resident.

Free Medical Care in the U.K.

  • COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, and treatment;
  • Emergency services;
  • Family planning;
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) diagnosis and treatment;
  • Palliative care from a charity or community organization; and
  • Treatment for physical and mental abuse in extreme cases.

For other medical care, immigrants applying for a visa for six months or longer from outside the U.K. or any length or time from inside the U.K. (regardless of whether or not you have private medical insurance) have to pay an immigration healthcare surcharge as part of their visa or immigration application. This excludes visitor’s visas. Once this surcharge payment has been made and your visa application has been granted you will be able to start using the NHS.


UK Immigration Health Surcharge Costs
Type of VisaCost per Year
Student or Youth Mobility Scheme visa£470
Visa or immigration applicants under 18 years old£470
All other visa or immigration application£624

Canadian Healthcare

Similar to the NHS, Medicare is the universal Canadian healthcare system. It’s available to all Canadian permanent residents and citizens and covers primary and secondary care including:

Free Medical Care in Canada

  • COVID-19 testing, diagnosis and treatment;
  • Prevention and treatment of common diseases or injuries;
  • Emergency services;
  • Primary maternity care;
  • Primary mental health care;
  • Health promotion;
  • Healthy child development;
  • Palliative care and end-of-life care (usually provided by provincial and territorial governments); and
  • Rehabilitation services.

Unlike the NHS the Canadian government does not require health surcharge payments. It is however recommended to have some form of medical insurance when you first arrive in Canada as you will need to register for public health insurance and will be issued with a card which you will need to present at the hospital or medical clinic, which could take up to three months.

Both the NHS and Medicare do not cover services such as dental treatment, eye tests or prescription eyeglasses, physiotherapy, ambulance services, and prescription medication.

It is important to note that each province or territory has their own levels of coverage, for example, Ontario has a drug benefit program which covers most prescription medication costs for residents who are 24 years or younger and doesn’t have private medical insurance or seniors who are 65 years or older.

2. Free Education

Both Canada and the U.K. have exceptional education systems. In fact, both countries have universities listed in the Times Higher Education's World University Ranking for 2021. Although post-secondary education is not free of charge, primary and secondary public or state education is government funded. All dependents or children of permanent residents and citizens have access to free education.

One area where these two countries differ is the number of educated adults. Canada is known to have the highest level of educated adults in the world(56.71 percent) with the UK coming in at number five (45.74 percent).

3. Diverse Communities

Both the UK and Canada have a vast number of immigrants who have made the move abroad in the hopes of finding a better way of life for both themselves and their loved ones.

UK

Based on the 2011 census, 13.4 percent of people in the U.K. were born outside of the U.K. (7.5 million) 59.5 percent were Christian while 4.8 percent were Muslim. In the UK there are 18 different ethnic groups listed by the government and over 250 different languages spoken.

Although the UK issued just under 1 million visas in 2020, more than half of them were tourist visas. 23 percent were to students (232,191), 13 percent were work-related visas (125,175), 4 percent were family visas (154,658), and 9 percent for other reasons.

85,470 were granted settlement in the UK for non-EEA nationals and 130,568 people granted citizenship in 2020.

Canada

Based on the 2016 census, more than 20 percent of people in Canada were born outside of Canada. 67.3 percent were Christian while 3.2 percent were Muslim. In Canada, there are 250 different ethnic origins listed by the government and 196 different languages spoken.

184,370 new people immigrated to Canada in 2020. This number dropped considerably due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

4. Four Seasons

The UK and Canada vary vastly in size. In fact, Canada is 41 times larger than the U.K. which means that you don’t have to get stuck with one type of weather while in Canada. Although both countries can get chilly in winter, temperatures can drop well below - 40 degrees Celsius in winter in Canada, compared to U.K. winters, which are slightly milder, averaging at 0 to 7 degrees celsius (32 -45 Fahrenheit).

UK

The U.K. can get quite cold but also offer balmy summer days. You’ll be more likely to experience snow in the north but it is synonymous with gloomy winter days filled with rain. Summer months are very pleasant, with temperatures averaging at 15 - 25 degrees celsius (59 - 77 degrees Fahrenheit), however, these temperatures have been increasing over the years and can get as high as 38 degrees celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Summers in the U.K., however, are short-lived. Spring and Fall both have temperatures that average around 5 to 15 degrees celsius.

Canada

Canada, as the second-largest country in the world, has various climates. Most of Canada has a continental climate however winters can be harsh in the interior of the country, particularly in the Prairie provinces. The average daily temperature is around -15 degrees celsius( 5 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter while summer sees temperatures of 25 - 30 degrees celsius (77 - 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Some inland provinces can exceed temperatures of 40 degrees (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

5. Multicultural Menus

With both countries as diverse as ever, it’s no surprise that you could taste a dish from nearly every country in the world in both Canada and the U.K. Immigrants come from all corners of the globe and you could just as easily find a great chicken vindaloo in the U.K. as you could Canada.

UK

The U.K. is known for its traditional cuisines such as beef wellington, shepherds pie, fish and chips, falafel, kebabs, and a spicy chicken tikka masala, to name a few. There are some other less desirable meals such as haggis (sheep’s pluck with oatmeal and seasoning) and black pudding (blood sausage). Food in the U.K. has a global taste, with culinary influences from Indian, Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean countries, America, and North Africa.

Canada

Nothing quite beats the Canadian breakfast. We’re talking pancakes and Canadian maple syrup. The eating style is quite healthy in Canada but there are some gut busters, for example, the national dish Poutine consists of fries, curds and gravy. Canada also offers a wide variety of food. Although the main food influences are French, you’ll be able to find food from all over the globe, including European, Asian, American, and North African influences. This means that no matter your country of origin or where you are in Canada, you’ll be able to fill your food craving.

How Are Canada and the UK Different?

people in canoe on river in front of mountains | life in Canada vs the U.K.

Friendly

It's no secret that Canadians are known to be some of the nicest people on earth. Warm and welcoming, Canadian pride themselves on their kind nature. In fact, Canadian people are so kind and apologetic that the Apology Act had to be created in order to protect Canadians from implicating themselves in a crime by apologizing!

Canadians win this category hands down. It’s not that people in the U.K. are not friendly at all, just less so than Canadians are.

Beautiful Landscapes

Although the UK has its fill of landscapes such as its Lake and Peak Districts and rolling countryside, the U.K. simply cannot compare with the beauty and vast rolling landscapes that Canada has to offer. Canada has 48 national parks, over a million rivers and lakes, not to mention the longest coastline in the world to explore. Visit the majestic Canadian Rockies or experience nature’s phenomenon known as the Northern Lights.

Better Job Outlook

Both the U.K. and Canada offer foreign workers amazing opportunities to further their careers, but Canada offers greater opportunities in certain fields than the U.K. does. Canada’s current unemployment rate is 7.5 percent, which is the lowest it's been since February 2020. Although the U.K.’s unemployment rate is lower, sitting at 4.8 percent, however when looking at job trends and job opportunities there are a few sectors where Canada beats the U.K.

Business

According to Harvard Business Review, Canada is ranked number 10 globally for business skills. So if you’re an entrepreneur looking for new business immigration opportunities, Canada offers great growth and expansion opportunities. Not only is Canada conveniently located in terms of transportation, it offers attractive business tax incentives to encourage businesses to innovate and go green.

Tech & Data

Canada is world-renowned for its innovation and tech development and is constantly in search of talented tech professionals. Certain provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia have designated tech draws to help fast-track the visa application process. Data is another emerging market in Canada and those with data science expertise and experience will continue to be sought after in Canada. If you are exceptionally talented and highly experienced you may qualify for a fast-tracked visa application through the Global Talent Stream. Industries such as the banking sector are currently undergoing major transformation and are hiring data developers and robotics engineers.

Below are some of the emerging tech jobs in Canada

  • AI Specialist
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Full stack engineers
  • Robotics Engineers
  • Javascript Developer
  • Cloud Engineer.

Lower Crime Rate

Granted, there will be crime wherever you go in comparison, Canada has a 23 percent lower crime rate than the U.K. Canada is one of the safest countries in the world and offers a great safe environment for those looking for a good place to raise a family. The U.K. has reported 33 percent more robberies, 22 percent more assaults and 30 percent more murders as well as 28 percent more hate crimes than Canada. Canada is one of the most tolerant and accepting nations in the world, and it shows.

Better Air Quality

Canada has been ranked number one in the quality of life rankings, a contributing factor of which this rating is based is the quality of air. Pollutants are a growing concern to many nations yet Canada is driven to become one of the leading G7 countries when it comes to innovation and sustainability. According to IQAir, Canada has a very good quality of air with an average score of 30. The UK is also rated as having a good quality of air with an average score of 34. Air quality in the U.K. continues to be a concern, however, as quality levels are regularly found to exceed legal limits.

Added Bonuses of Living in Canada

  • Spend Less on Taxes - In the U.K. the maximum tax rate is 45 percent whereas in Canada it is 33 percent.
  • Lower utility bills - on average your household bills for a one-bedroom apartment will cost around $145.93 in Canada versus $250.75 in the UK
  • Eat our more often - restaurant prices are 17.7 percent higher in the U.K. than in Canada
  • More road trips - petrol/fuel is almost half the price per litre in Canada versus in the U.K. than in Canada

How to Move to Canada from the UK

UK and Canadian flags | Life in Canada

1. Express Entry

The Express Entry system has been and still remains Canada’s most efficient and successful immigration system since 2015. Managing three federal economic immigration programs, the Express Entry (EE) system helps skilled foreign workers find their pathway to Canada, no matter their skill level, in as little as 6 months! Sound like something you may be interested in? Let's take a look at your options.

The Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) was created to assist highly skilled professionals to find their way to Canada to pursue new career and life opportunities. This means that if you are working in a managerial role, for example, or an occupation that generally requires some form of higher education such as a Degree or Diploma, the FSWP may be the right option for you!

The Federal Skilled Worker Program has its own initial scoring system, unlike the other two programs managed by the EE, which requires that you score a minimum of 67 out of 100 FSWP points to be able to be entered into the Express Entry draws. These draws take place every two weeks where an average of anywhere between 3,500 to 5,000 applicants are invited to apply for permanent residency every draw.

Federal Skilled Trade Program

The Federal Skilled Trade Program (FSTP) was created to help skilled trade workers immigrate to Canada. So if you’re an electrician, butcher, or plumber, for instance, this may be a fantastic opportunity for you to apply for permanent residency in Canada!

The FSTP is ranked according to the Comprehensive ranking System (CRS) and is based on factors such as your age, work experience, language abilities (English and/or French), and ability to easily settle down in Canada. You will also require a full-time non-seasonal job offer in Canada to qualify for this program.

Canada Experience Class

The Canada Experience Class (CEC) is the perfect pathway for immigrants who have already worked in Canada and would like to settle down permanently. You will need to have worked in Canada for at least 1 year, as well as meet the general requirements of the Express Entry System.

Once you have selected which program you qualify for, you can create an online Express Entry profile, which will be valid for 12 months. Your profile will automatically be entered into draws until it expires, you are offered an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency, or whichever comes first.

To receive an ITA, you will need to score the same as or higher than the CRS cut-off score, which is determined by the level of other applicants in your draw pool.

An additional advantage of applying through the Express Entry system is that you can always improve your score, giving you a greater chance of success in your visa application from Vietnam.

2. Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) helps international workers who are qualified and experienced in specifically in-demand job sectors of the province or territory you are expressing interest in.

To qualify to apply through a PNP you will need a full-time non-seasonal job offer that’s valid for at least one year. If successful in your visa application, you will get a Provincial Nomination (PN) which could boost your application to the top of the pile when applying for permanent residence in Canada.

For faster processing times through the PNP try applying through an Express Entry-linked PNP stream, as it will give you a better chance of immigrating to Canada from Vietnam.

Provincial Nomination (PN) through Express Entry-linked Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). A PN is worth 600 extra permanent residency points, which could give you the edge you need to over other Express Entry applicants.

A province that has some of the fastest visa processing is British Columbia. The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) has an average visa processing time of approximately two to three months, which is nearly half that of the Express Entry System!

3. Fast-tracked Work Permit (CUKTCA)

The Canadian immigration system has recently announced a new expedited visa application program for U.K. and Northern Irish nationals. CUKTCA (previously CETA), the post-Brexit trade agreement between Canada and the U.K. came into effect on April 1, 2021. The visa application process is fast-tracked as applicants will not need an Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which is usually required for all jobs in Canada.

What is an LMIA?

An LMIA or Labour Market Impact Assessment is a document required by Canadian employers who want to hire foreign employees. This is to show that they were unable to fill the position with a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.

You can apply as a:

  • Business visitor,
  • Investor
  • Intra-company transfer
  • Contractor or professional;
  • Engineering and scientific technologist.

life in Canada vs the UK infographic

How Do I Ensure a Successful Visa Application?

To put it bluntly, it simply can’t be done. The only people who have the ability and authorization to approve your Canada visa is the government official processing your application. No Regulated Canadian Consultant (RCIC), visa agency, or consultancy can guarantee that you’ll get your visa.

There are however ways to improve your chances, such as having a professional helping you to complete and submit your visa application, not to mention finding out which immigration programs are the most suitable to open the doors to your new life in Canada.

Although both Canada and the U.K. have their pros and cons, Canada offers a higher quality of life, better job opportunities, lower crime rates, and a diverse and welcoming place to call your new home, no matter your religion, beliefs, the way you identify or where you’re from.

Ready to find out how to take the next step in your immigration journey and move to Canada from the U.K. to start a new life in a country full of opportunity?