As people retire, a lot of them like to head to the warmer south and live out the rest of their lives in a beach condo. However, there is a great option up north as well. We are talking about Canada here. Retiring in Canada offers a range of advantages, like universal healthcare and fairly priced housing. And if you’ve got family and friends within the US, retiring in Canada allows you to live the expat life while staying relatively accessible to important people back in the States. If you have been wondering how to retire in Canada, this post will answer a lot of your queries.
Things to Know Before Retiring in Canada
Consider Your Status
If you’re heading to Canada part-time, you’ll do fine with just a tourist or family visa. A tourist visa allows you to stay in Canada for up to 6 months of the year. You’ll get a couple of protections, just like the ability to shop for a vacation house and get a checking account. That means that a part of retired life can be spent in Canada. However, you will still have to pay American taxes since you will be considered an American resident.
Canadian citizens or those with permanent residency can apply for a parent or grandparent under the “super visa” program. This allows you to stay within the country for up to 2 years, but you wouldn’t have access to Canada’s universal healthcare. Along with that, your child or grandchild needs to be a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. They will also have to furnish a letter stating that they hold the financial liability of your stay.
Retirees with family in Canada can also pursue permanent residency under the country’s Parents and Grandparents Program. About 30% of all immigrants coming to Canada are sponsored by their relatives and family members. Canada also grants permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Another way of applying for permanent residency is the Express Entry system. If accepted, you’d have access to government programs and social services, like universal healthcare. It’s the primary step to becoming a Canadian citizen. If you have children, university tuition and fees for permanent residents are much less compared to international students.
Estimate Your Cost of Living
Rent in Canada can cost $700 CDN ($525 USD) for a one-bedroom apartment. Three bedroom apartments start from $1,100 CDN ($826 USD). But these prices can vary significantly based on the town of your choosing, with the cities of Toronto and Vancouver having particularly high costs of living. That variance extends to home prices as well. The typical home price in Toronto is $800,900, while in Quebec, it’s $280,580.
The bottom line: counting on where you’re moving from and to, your housing costs could also be lower or above they’re now.
Other costs, like food, gas and sales tax will all be more expensive in Canada. If you don’t have a permanent residency, you’ll be required to get international insurance as well. So while the favorable rate of exchange helps some, you might still have to pay more in terms of the cost of living after moving from the US to Canada.
Healthcare in Canada
Canada offers universal healthcare, which is available for all of Canada’s citizens and permanent residents. While emergency services are available to anyone within the country — even without a government-issued health card — walk-in clinics also exist but aren’t generally free.
Taxes cover a portion of universal healthcare but residents and Canadian citizens also pay monthly or yearly premiums. The government also has educational programs made to extend public awareness to scale back potential healthcare costs. Universal healthcare, alongside educational programs, has led to a major boost in the life expectancy of Canadian citizens and residents.
Taxes in Canada
While federal income taxes in the U.S. range from 10% to 37%, Canadians have a special tax structure. Canadians who make less than $48,535 are taxed at 15%. Between $48,535 to $97,069, the tax rate is 20.5%. Between $97,069 to $150,473, the tax rate is 26%. Between $150,473 to $214,368, the tax rate is 29%. All Canadians earning over $214,368 per year have to pay 33% of their income in taxes.
Aside from the Federal income tax, tax rates vary from province to province. All provinces have some level of local tax and are levied as a percentage of the federal tax system. For 2020, Canadians are also required to pay an Employment Insurance tax of 1.58% of their gross employment income.
Canadians have to deposit a smaller chunk of their wages into their Social Security plans when compared to US citizens. In 2020, Canadians will be required to pay 5.25% of gross employment income into the Canadian pension account (CPP), up to $55,200. Medicare is included in Canada’s universal healthcare plan. Americans will be required to pay 7.65% of their wages into Social Security and Medicare in 2020.
Retiring in Canada: Weighing the Pros and Cons
Before you head over the border, review both your financial and emotional situations. There could be other reasons to stay around (or ones that encourage you to leave). Ask yourself a couple of questions, like:
Will I be ready to find work if I want to? Retiring doesn’t always mean you’re not working. Sometimes you would like at least some form of employment, perhaps part-time, to remain busy or earn a little bit of extra cash. What happens to my benefits? If you collect disability, Social Security or other U.S. benefits, there’s an opportunity those don’t roll over once you move out of the country.
Am I financially dependent on someone else? If you are financially dependent on someone else, you can’t just move into another country.
Does somebody else financially depend upon me? If you’re liable for someone else’s financial well-being, this might hold you back from moving.
Can I move wherever I would like to? If there are places in America you don’t want to live in, you might find places in Canada where you wouldn’t want to live either. If the cost of living affects your choice of the place to retire, your options might be limited in Canada as well.
Would it be easier to move? once you consider your residency status, cost of living and realistic expectations, you’ll find that moving to Canada won’t be as easy as you thought.
What if I stay? If you receive government benefits, all your loans have been paid and you don’t have a high cost of living, retiring in the place you worked at, might not be that bad of an option for you.
Retiring in Canada: Conclusion
Retiring in Canada might sound appealing. But relocating to a different country might end up being more work than you’re willing to partake in. Review your finances, your long-term goals, and the way the move can impact your loved ones before you decide to take the plunge. Weighing all of your options will go a long way in helping you arrive at the right decision. You can also take the help of a financial advisor to learn about the various aspects of retiring in Canada. It’s a big decision, don’t be hasty about making it.