America and Canada are the friendly neighbours of the North American Continent. The only other country on the continent is Mexico, one of the biggest trade partners of both countries. In the meantime, good political relations, a strong focus on economic growth, and good immigration policies on both sides made us wonder: Is Canada better than America? 

If you are thinking about moving to Canada or the US, the reality is that these two countries are very similar while at the same time very different. Canada has a better education system, is safer, and has stricter work hours, but there is very little difference in the cost of living, at least before the current housing crisis has hit American cities. While the American government seems to be focused only on economic growth, the Canadian government also focuses on well-being, enabling both ease of immigration and quality of life for immigration aspirants. 

In reality, the countries are both very much alike and very different from each other. Although they are similar in economic terms, they are very different regarding topographical and climatic features. Many Canadian cities are too cold for many Americans to live in, while some American cities are simply not safe enough for an average Canadian. With this in mind, we will try to answer which country is better to immigrate to. 

Economy: Canada vs. America

Regarding the economies of the two countries, it is important to note that there are similarities and differences here as well. While the Canadian economy focuses on lumber, wood pulp, energy, and mineral exports, the American economy focuses on energy and services. Services also make up a big part of the Canadian economy. 

Job Opportunities

In recent years, another shift can be seen: Canada is moving to a knowledge-based economy. The steady rankings show that Canada is slowly overtaking even larger US companies, especially high-tech and IT companies and that it is starting to become a better soil for them to develop their businesses. Any business organization in Canada, just like in the US, can set up its own pricing and its own internal organization. 

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In these cases, the state only interferes in protecting employees’ rights and ensuring that everybody has equal rights. The liberal government of Justin Trudeau made this even clearer, as he was leading the country during Trump’s Presidency – and has offered a stark contrast to what a country should be like and how accepting of immigrants it should be. 

Canada vs US GDP

As both countries are developed, their GDP is also very high. Here, the US takes over, as their sector of services is much more developed than that of Canada. An average American makes as much as USD 17,000 more yearly than an average Canadian. 

Unemployment Rate

The countries also have very similar unemployment rates, and they offer relatively stable prices to their consumers. In fact, the price jump post-COVID-19 was felt in both countries and has been the single highest price jump (and life comfort reduction) in the recent few decades. Currently, the market is stabilizing, and the increase in the minimum wage by the US was also implemented by Canada – to CAD16.55 per hour. 

Public Debt and Banking System

Unlike the US, Canada has a low public debt. In addition to this, the average Canadian is also less indebted: America (USD101,000), and Canada (USD73,500). The Canadian banking system is also more robust, so it experiences minor fluctuations with the world market. However, these fluctuations are much more strongly felt in the US. Considering that the US and Canada are each other’s biggest trading partners, it has become clear that Canada has managed to make an almost independent banking system. Here are some economic comparisons between the two countries, adjusted to the United States Dollar (USD): 

Economic Comparison BasisCanadaUS
Total Budget USD690 BillionUSD2,450 Billion
ExportsUSD462 BillionUSD1,560 Billion
GDP per CapitaUSD42,300USD51,700
Inflation Rate1.5%2.1%
Population Below the Poverty Line9.4%15.1%
Unemployment Rate7.3%8.1%
Human Development Index (out of 1)0.9490.944
Tourists per 1,000 people516191
Average Tax Rate18.12%15.91%

Source: NationMaster

Work Hours

Regarding the hours worked, it is commonly believed that both countries work a lot and that there is little holiday time. However, this is not necessarily true, as the US works much more than Canada. Canada also has government programs that ensure that workers’ rights are respected and that they get to enjoy their lives as much as possible (one of the reasons behind less strain on the healthcare systems in Canada – people are happier and less exhausted). 


When it comes to Canada, the standard workweek is 40 hours, just like in the US. However, an average Canadian works some 36-40 hours a week. Even in major cities, it is difficult to find someone who works over 40 hours a week. Flexible work hours and the ability for remote work, popularised during the COVID-19 lockdown, are all available to workers. 

Canada also mandates breaks during their workday – a 30-minute break every 5 hours and a 24-hour break once weekly. Canada also mandates three weeks of paid vacation time after five years have been spent in a company. Maternal and paternal leave is also enabled for up to 15 weeks for the mother, or 35 when combining maternal and paternal leave. 


When it comes to the USA, although the countries are so similar, they are still very different. Americans work a lot, and a lot more than Canadians do – on average, 47 hours a week. There are few possibilities for remote work, although this was a popular measure during the lockdown. 

There are almost no breaks during an American workday, and there is little paid vacation, up to two weeks, although the employees are discouraged from using all of it. Most mothers will return to work as little as 2 weeks after the delivery, and paternal leave is not recognized in many companies. An American is expected to show loyalty to the company at all times. 

Cost of Living Difference Between Canada and America

Among American countries, Canada is the most peaceful country. It is one of the largest countries in the world with very low population density and usually long distances to cover between liveable cities. These are all factors that could make Canada very expensive to live in. Still, Canada is cheaper than the US. 

The average cost of living in one of the best countries for immigrants in the continent is around USD1,900 per person. This person can also expect to pay around USD1,110 for rent and USD530 for food. Transport is around USD127, while the average monthly salary (neto, after tax) is USD3,170. 

With a higher human freedom index of 8.47 and a higher life expectancy (82.6 years, 6.3 more than the US), Canada is a great place to live. All these factors combined make Canada less expensive than the US. 

On the other hand, the US is more expensive in almost all other fields: on average, 18% more expensive than Canada. The cost of living for one person is USD2,310, the rent is USD1,470 (per person), while an average American can expect to pay as much as USD590 per month on food. Transportation is somewhat cheaper, at USD104, while the lower human freedom index (8.23) and lower life expectancy (76.3 years) make the US a slightly worse and slightly more expensive place to live. All prices are adjusted to USD for ease of comparison. 

Comparison BasisCanada (USD)the USA (USD)
Cost of Living – One Person1,9002,310
One Person Rent1,1101,470
Food Expenses530590
Transport Expenses127104
Monthly Salary After Tax3,1704,610
Human Freedom Index8.478.23
Life Expectancy82.676.3


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Education in Canada vs. America

Education in Canada and the US is very much alike, with a single notable difference. Students in Canada can expect much lower living expenses than in the US for an approximate level of education. In addition to this, students in the US can also expect to pay higher tuition costs. And while an average Canadian student needs to pay CAD1,500-2,300 per month for living expenses and ends their education with as little as CAD17,000 of debt, US students need USD2,000-3,500 per month to study in a larger city and end up with USD30,560. 

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Other Key Differences Between Canada and the USA

Although Canada and the US are very much alike, there are some key differences between the two. Namely, there are differences in which country is voted a better place to live, the differences in work opportunities, immigration policies and targets, and safety. 

Poll results

Canada ranks as a better place to live. This is true in both domestic and international polls. This is also true for the domestic population and immigrants. Good quality healthcare, universal healthcare, great education, good policies for immigrants, and other important factors make Canada one of the happiest countries to live in. 

Work Opportunities

When it comes to work opportunities, we can see that Canada has many. Canada is a great exporter of wood pulp, wood in general, minerals, and oil. All these massive industries need a lot of people to keep running. They are coupled with a new government focus: that of a knowledge-based economy. Canada has been working hard to attract many foreign companies and is a real brain sink of today’s world. The USA, too, is a great exporter, but they have more vacant work positions than Canada and much stricter immigration policies. 

Express entry vs Green Card

The US of A is not to be blamed for this: the country has several decades of illegal immigration, putting pressure on its social security and healthcare costs for its own domestic citizens. As a result of this, the process of getting an American green card is a complex one and very likely to end in a negative response. On the Canadian side of the story, it can take up to a year to know your status, with the Express Entry program taking as little as six months for the full processing time. This makes this program perfect when you consider which is better: Canada vs USA for Indian and other Asian immigrants. 

Immigration Policies

Other immigration policies are in place as well, and they are supposed to ensure that the immigrants can find their way around. But, while Canada plans to welcome more than a million immigrants by 2025, the American government still lags with immigration policies issued by the Trump administration. The difference in processing time once someone is there is also very stark: in favour of the Canadian side. 


Canada is also one of the safest countries in the world, which is something that cannot be said about the USA. In fact, the latter is very burdened with the incarcerated population, with very high legal responsibilities and a longer jail time per an average inmate. Canada, on the other hand, has fewer violent crimes, and its safety is only comparable to that of European cities. 

How to Migrate to Canada?

So, is it worth moving to Canada from USA? Migrating to Canada is much easier and faster than migrating to the US. There are immigration targets that the country is trying to reach, and there is an immigration program for everybody. As long as you search through the types of immigration to find the best one for you, you will be able to apply for a visa and get it in a short time. 

Although Canada has strict immigration policies, the process of immigration is relatively short. Express Entry, for example, can finish the visa process of application in as little as six months. Beware that the time you take to collect all the documents is also important. This process can end up with applying for a permanent residence visa after only five years. 

Good education opportunities, a well-developed education sector, and a record ranking of Canada by the number of tourists that visit the country every year make it a perfect place to live in. In fact, moving to one of the mid-sized cities will mean moving to a livable city with reasonable costs of living. Simpler immigration rules and immigration practices enable this process to finish in a short time. 

How to Migrate to the USA?

In the US, the same process with more difficult terms of immigration can take up to 20 years, with a long wait time for Visa Applicants and visa rules that may be difficult to follow. While it is relatively easy to get some visas (such as a J1 work visa for students), getting a B-2 visa or H1-B Visa can take months and must be done within a certain quota. Many US residents ask for a Canadian retirement visa, as Canada is on the list of exceptional countries to retire to and is a very welcoming country in general.

The US residents also benefit from great Canadian healthcare, and moving to a liveable city (and a walkable city) often does well on its own. Private healthcare is also cheaper than in the US, and green living options in Canada are far beyond what the US could realistically expect to achieve in the next decade or so. But, how to work in Canada as an American is an important question. The answer is simple – apply for a Canadian working visa just like anybody else. 

On top of this, a lower standard of living, poor visa choices for immigration, and immigration applications getting declined for no apparent reason make the immigration process to the US very difficult and long. Specialist immigration is encouraged by the immigration department, but there is still a lot more paperwork to get the H1B Visa of America than there is for a PR in Canada. 


How is Life in Canada Different from the US?

Life in Canada is different than life in the US. Every country survey shows that most Canadians insist that Canadian healthcare is much better than that of the US, that the educational system is better, and that prices are more affordable. In particular, because of less stress on healthcare resources and a generally more balanced work-life pattern, Canadians are happier and live longer. 

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Why Do People Move to Canada? 

People move to Canada for a variety of reasons. Visa Avenue is more accessible, immigration aspirants wait for a shorter time, and choosing a livable city is a piece of cake, as almost all of them offer a high quality of living. Both public and private healthcare are accessible to most, and the same goes for education, which is free for the most part. All of this makes Canada the best country for immigrants. 

Is College Free in Canada?

Colleges are not free in Canada, but there are a number of scholarships that are available. Seeking a part-time job while relying a bit on your parents’ help is also a good way to end up with little to no student debt. An average Canadian owes as little as CAD17,000 on graduation. 

Is It Safe in Canada? 

Yes, Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. Canada is a very peaceful country, despite being a country for immigrants – their generous immigration programs enable everyone to work or find work soon after arrival. This, coupled with strict laws, enables anyone to enjoy the safety that almost no other country can guarantee. 

Final Thoughts

Canada and the US are friendly neighbours. However, the two have some differences, especially as the countries are so close, have very similar policies, and rely on immigrants to help their economy and growth. Although the US offers better post-tax salaries, Canada still has a lower cost of living, rent, and better education and healthcare systems to offer.