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Vancouver, BC. ER option as US Citizen?
Old 12-02-2011, 08:28 PM   #1
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Vancouver, BC. ER option as US Citizen?

Howdy folks,

With healthcare being one of the largest cost for early retirees, I have been trying to come up with a plan B in case congress actually repeals obama's healthcare reform. I imagine, because I have a disability, that private individual healthcare will likely be too expensive for me to retire in the United States.

One place I keep thinking about is Vancouver, BC.

I'm a software developer, and my skills make it fairly easy to immigrate to Canada. If I did decide to, I would do so about a decade or so before retirement, and likely become a permanent resident.

My reasons
1. Universal Healthcare/Insurance
As I understand it, there's a 90 day waiting period, and you get the same level of care as everyone else (which contrary to scareMongers, is pretty good)


2. Very mild climate (for Canada)
I'm from the south. I visited Seattle this past summer, and was blown away by how nice and cool their summer was. As I understand it, the PNW also very rarely falls below freezing. I know what you're going to say. "What about the rain!" Contrary to popular opinion, mobile Al actually has the most precipitation per year in the us. We *like* the rain.

3. Jobs (specifically software)

It might not be as booming for software developers as say, seattle, but I can assure you it has more than most places in the south. I plan to be close to FI before moving there, but as I said, my skills are my ticket in

The one thing that concerns me is the cost of living in the PNW is very high. It would likely cost me %50 more to live there than down south. That's why I plan to work most of my career here, and move there if nessasary.

What do you all think? Has anyone here done it?
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:22 PM   #2
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If you are an engineer, you can get work in Canada under NAFTA. If you do not have an engineering degree, you are SOL.

First you have to have a job offer, even if you are freelance through an agency (in which case they will most likely make you a temporary employee), then you can get your work permit (good for one year no matter what you have heard or read). Apply for residency as soon as you can; you have to work there for a while (3 years? I forget.) You can apply yourself. You do not need an agent to help you.

One thing about applying for residency, the forms say that they want you to list every place you have lived more than 6 months since you were 18, including postal codes. In fact, they are only interested in the details of the last 5 years.

If you have ever had a DUI, forget it.

Yes, Vancouver and all of BC is very expensive. VERY expensive. You would be better off in the balance staying in the US and getting good health insurance.

Actually, if you qualify, you can go work there now. Why wait?
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:37 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by mortal View Post
Howdy folks,

With healthcare being one of the largest cost for early retirees, I have been trying to come up with a plan B in case congress actually repeals obama's healthcare reform. I imagine, because I have a disability, that private individual healthcare will likely be too expensive for me to retire in the United States.

One place I keep thinking about is Vancouver, BC.

I'm a software developer, and my skills make it fairly easy to immigrate to Canada. If I did decide to, I would do so about a decade or so before retirement, and likely become a permanent resident.

My reasons
1. Universal Healthcare/Insurance
As I understand it, there's a 90 day waiting period, and you get the same level of care as everyone else (which contrary to scareMongers, is pretty good)


2. Very mild climate (for Canada)
I'm from the south. I visited Seattle this past summer, and was blown away by how nice and cool their summer was. As I understand it, the PNW also very rarely falls below freezing. I know what you're going to say. "What about the rain!" Contrary to popular opinion, mobile Al actually has the most precipitation per year in the us. We *like* the rain.

3. Jobs (specifically software)

It might not be as booming for software developers as say, seattle, but I can assure you it has more than most places in the south. I plan to be close to FI before moving there, but as I said, my skills are my ticket in

The one thing that concerns me is the cost of living in the PNW is very high. It would likely cost me %50 more to live there than down south. That's why I plan to work most of my career here, and move there if nessasary.

What do you all think? Has anyone here done it?
I love Vancouver, too. DH and I considered moving to Canada or Australia, in part for the same reason as you, mostly because they are lovely places. We wanted to do it as early retirees, and in that case they wanted us to be under a certain age, and have a certain amount of assets (quite large). So if I were you I would read up on residency requirements for sure, and not wait until you're too old (however old that is). Those folks pay taxes all their working lives for their excellent health care, and they can't let us freeloading Americans just come get it when we need it (as was our "plan" ).
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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If you are a member of a listed terrorist group, you can walk right in to Canada.

Three boats full of Tamil refugees got into Vancouver, BC, recently. They were all Tamil Tigers (listed terrorists in Canada) and/or their families. The were allowed to stay on humanitarian reasons.

When I lived in Ontario, the local paper told us that there were over 100 known war criminals living in Canada.

Why are you working for a living?
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:56 PM   #5
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Emmigrating isn't easy. Just think of how hard it is for people to come to the US today......to a foreign country you're just another immigrant and there has to be a good reason to let you into the country and a hint that you are coming for the health insurance would not help a visa application.

So I'd look at moving to one of the states that specifically outlaws health insurance discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. MA basically has Obamacare now, but for us it's Romneycare, so no pre-existing conditions.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:09 AM   #6
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I don't want to move to canada right now, because I wish to stay close to family. After they retire in about a decade, they'll be free to follow me out west if they wish. They like the PNW, but would likely stay on the US side of the border.

As I said before, my degree and experience as a software developer qualifies me for immigration as a skilled professional in canada. I would not be going 'hat in hand'. I'd be working at least a few years there before FIRE If my indian co-workers are any indication, I would be welcomed.

My main concern with FIRE is getting health insurance with my disability. I have a mild case of cerebral palsy, but it is enough to likely make health insurance here very expensive. As I've said, moving to Vancouver would be something close to plan C.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:57 AM   #7
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So how much does Canada require as asset you place in Canadian soil to
qualify for Investor or early retirement visa?

If I recall right thousands of people from Hongkong years ago was able to come to Vancouver by transferring some big amount of money to Canada.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:23 AM   #8
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Ther Canadian health system is not perfect, but I have yet to meet one Canadian who would trade it for our system. Yes, there are delays in getting some treatments. Even so, one knows one will get the surgery and not be bankrupted.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:54 AM   #9
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The weather in Vancouver BC is very moderate, the Pacific Ocean functions as a heat pump. Once you move away from the water its influence wanes. PNW natives may think 'hush your mouth' but on the US side Bellingham is a great town for US relatives of folks who work in British Columbia. There is a 'side door' border crossing. The US town of Blaine is actually on a peninsula where access by land is via BC. Many US Border Patrol employees live in Blaine.

The cost of living is higher but remember some of that cost goes to pay for the health care program. Everyone bellyaches about taxes but I don't see waves of Canadians sneaking over the border or applying in droves for residency in the US. To a certian extent the higher cost of housing will be offset by higher wages.

If you can obtain BC residency I would do that sooner rather than later because the need for specific skills can change.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:13 AM   #10
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If you can obtain BC residency I would do that sooner rather than later because the need for specific skills can change.
In particular, if H1B visa adminstration is ever modernized, some of that Vancouver tech employment will dry up, since a good portion of it is run by US companies that employ people that they want but for whom they have not yet been able to get green cards.

Ha
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:08 PM   #11
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on the US side Bellingham is a great town for US relatives of folks who work in British Columbia.
Pssssst.... Over here. Want a low cost place to live?..... Arkansas.... Don't say I told you.
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:17 PM   #12
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I have some friends who put their house in BC up for sale. They tried to immigrate to Canada, and have waited several years for the process. They have finally decided to cut line and move back to the US. Even though the Canadian people are friendly enough, there is always that undercurrent and stigma of being an immigrant.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:04 PM   #13
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And that doesn't exist in the USA??

In the PNW there is a social concept called The State of Cascadia, a culture that shares many of the same values. For example, if you are in a bar in a country outside the US full of North Americans.. people from Oregon, Washington & BC would congregate at the same table to the exclusion of all others. Socially we operate as a single entity.

Hard to know what your friend's circumstances are but one would really need to study the potential of converting a work authorization to permanent residency. The process, like in the US, is likely to take several years. That is how immigration lawyers earn their fees. For heavens sake don't buy a home until that is resolved (as many Mexicans have learned).
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Old 12-04-2011, 05:41 PM   #14
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And that doesn't exist in the USA??

In the PNW there is a social concept called The State of Cascadia, a culture that shares many of the same values. For example, if you are in a bar in a country outside the US full of North Americans.. people from Oregon, Washington & BC would congregate at the same table to the exclusion of all others. Socially we operate as a single entity.

Hard to know what your friend's circumstances are but one would really need to study the potential of converting a work authorization to permanent residency. The process, like in the US, is likely to take several years. That is how immigration lawyers earn their fees. For heavens sake don't buy a home until that is resolved (as many Mexicans have learned).
When I went to visit those friends in Canada last, I did experience that "State of Cascadia" that you speak of. I totally fit in at a bar in a charming small Canadian town; everyone was very warm and welcoming. I found that the culture of Canada reminds me of the way the United States was about 40 years ago or so. And, they were intrigued by the fact that I was from California. I love Canada! ...at least, British Columbia.

But, what my friends had trouble with was navigating the road to immigration. It turned out that they had more hopes than plans. I am not exactly what the hitch was, and I didn't ask.
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Old 12-04-2011, 05:50 PM   #15
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I suppose the secret's out on Sequim.

heh heh heh -
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Old 12-04-2011, 06:30 PM   #16
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I suppose the secret's out on Sequim.

heh heh heh -
Only for those of us who know how to pronounce it.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:14 PM   #17
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I have some friends who put their house in BC up for sale. They tried to immigrate to Canada, and have waited several years for the process. They have finally decided to cut line and move back to the US. Even though the Canadian people are friendly enough, there is always that undercurrent and stigma of being an immigrant.
Having worked there for about ten years, I can confirm that a significant number of Canadians are at least antagonistic and sometimes hostile towards Americans. There is a perception in the liberal population of Canada that the only evil people in the world are Americans.

Canada welcomes many immigrants--except Americans (and white citizens of the UK, I have been told). This is not universal, but is certainly there. In Ontario and BC, about once a month someone, usually someone I did not know, would tell me that they hated Americans. Why me? I worked to fit in and be inoffensive. Nobody ever bothered an over-the-top Texan I worked for on one project. I loved to tell people in Sarnia, Ontario, that I came south to get this job, or that my house was further north than the provincial capital of BC (both of which are true).

A good friend who works in a world-wide technical business used to do a lot of business in Canada and asserted to me that Canadians had the biggest inferiority complex he ever saw.

I like the country and have many good friends there. If this gig runs out early, I have in mind to go back to Alberta to work. Except for the high cost of living, I could be happy to settle there, especially in Alberta.

If one wants to immigrate to take advantage of the health care system, be aware that many things are not covered. You will need additional health insurance or pay for some things yourself. Diagnosis is lower priority than treatment, so you could die of cancer before they get around to you. And even for treatment, many Canadians come south for it. Our home is in Bellingham, WA, and a lot of Canadians come there for serious health problems.

Too many people have stars in their eyes when they imagine a relocation like this. It is an option open only to a few and requires adaptation on your part. TANSTAAFL
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:16 PM   #18
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I suppose the secret's out on Sequim.

heh heh heh -
By the way, Unk, there ain't nothin' to do in Sequim.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #19
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By the way, Unk, there ain't nothin' to do in Sequim.
Ya drive to Port Angeles and take the ferry to BC.



heh heh heh - at least that's what I did my last trip out West. And then there is Hurricane Ridge.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:06 PM   #20
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For those of you not in the know Sequim is the beneficry of a rain shadow from the Olympic Mountains and is popular with retirees who can amuse themselves because there isn't much to do there. The fishing, sailing, hiking are great. There is a Costco but no Trader Joe's. The ferry to BC goes to Victoria. There is air service to SEA out of Port Angeles.

I had a former colleague who retired to Sequim with his wife. After a couple years she got bored and wanted to move. She told him if they didn't she would leave. They divorced, I understand he still lives in Sequim.
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