What to Expect When You Move From South Africa to Canada

I usually blog about life here in South Africa, but I’ve had roughly a kabillion Saffas contact me to ask what they can expect when they move from South Africa to Canada… writes Phil Maloney. I’m inherently very lazy by nature, so I’m writing this post simply so I don’t have to keep answering the same question over and over again. Oh, and if you think you’re going to get any VALUABLE advice here, you clearly haven’t been following my blog. Whatever. Here we go:

The Good Things about Moving to Canada

  • Safety. Yes, this had to come up, so I thought I’d get it out of the way. If you live in a big city, even in Canada, you’ll probably have something stolen out of your house or car one day. It’s a fact of life. But the chances of you being a victim of VIOLENT crime are incredibly low unless you’re stupid enough to cheer for the Maple Leafs at a Canucks game. And in that case, to be honest, you probably deserve what you get.
  • It’s clean. You’re not going to find piles of garbage everywhere, and you’ll probably never see somebody toss an empty McDonald’s bag out their car window.
  • Customer service exists. Enough said about that one.
  • You guys- you can get a car in any colour you want. They make them in shades OTHER than white.
  • Everyone has access to healthcare.
  • Tim Hortons. At first you’ll wonder why Canadians are obsessed with this place. Then you’ll become one of us.
  • Mountains. Real ones. Whenever I mention how much I miss my Canadian mountains in South Africa, this happens:
You do have very lovely little hills, though, South Africa.
  • Cheaper cars, electronics, and toys.
  • Reliable public transit.
  • Our power generally stays on (I’m looking at you, Eskom).
  • Canadian police are USUALLY not corrupt.
  • Getting to write your name in the snow with pee (ladies, you’ll have a more difficult time than men. But it’s still worth a try).
  • There will be enough outlets in every room, and no need for 2 prong adaptors. You have no idea what you’ve been missing.
  • Good, cheap sushi all over the dang place. Saffas, I’m sorry, but what you pass off as sushi is nothing more than overpriced, stale fish swimming in globs of mayo (seriously guys, what’s with the mayo on EVERYTHING?).
  • You’re not going to be subjected to men marching around everywhere in short shorts. You know what I mean.
  • Variety. The store shelves will be stocked with DIFFERENT things, not just rows and rows of the same thing.
  • Internet EVERYWHERE. And it’s fast. This is great for when you’re stuck out at dinner with your boring family.
  • Amazon.

The Bad

  • Our politicians are incredibly boring. No Malema, no Zuma, no drama. It SOUNDS like a good thing, but what are you going to talk about at your next braai?
  • We don’t know what to do with meat. For real. Once you’ve experienced a real braai, it’s hard to stomach a BBQ.
  • You’ll get speeding tickets. Real ones. Not R100 “spot fines.” In South Africa, when the officer tells you how fast you were going, it’s the start of the negotiation. Don’t even bother in Canada. Just shut up and take your ticket.
  • Once you’ve been charged by an elephant, our wildlife is very underwhelming.
  • Canadians are polite, but not as friendly as Saffas. Don’t expect to make friends as quickly as you did back home.
  • You have to do everything yourself. Domestic help really isn’t a thing in Canada. You’d better brush up on your ironing, gardening, and cleaning skills.

Canada is a BIIIG country. Many people don’t realise JUST how big it is. You can’t drive across the country in a day, and your only escape by road is South to the United States.

Not that size matters or anything…

The Ugly

  • Housing is insanely expensive, especially if you want to live in actual cities like Vancouver or Toronto. Even if you want to live in Canada’s butthole, it’s still expensive (yes, Winnipeg, I’m talking about you).
  • Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to have boogers freeze in your nose? Wonder no more! You’ll find out.
So many frozen boogers.
  • Fast food everywhere. Ever wonder why North Americans are so fat? That’s why.
  • Nickelback.
  • We don’t have “free” healthcare. Yes, everyone has access to it. But you’ll pay into a medical plan for basic service. If you or your employer don’t pony up for extra benefits, you’ll be paying for medication and other needs out of your pocket, and it’s not cheap. Also, be prepared to wait for a year or more for non-emergency procedures.
  • You’re going to be homesick. I promise you.
This kind of thing isn’t as common in Canada

This is by no means an exhaustive list- please feel free to let me know what I’ve forgotten/been too lazy to include in the comments.

By Phil Maloney


(If you liked this post, don’t forget to sign up to the mailing list here so you never miss another post again! While you’re at it, you can like the Maple and Marula Facebook page here, the Maple and Marula Instagram here, and follow Maple and Marula on Twitter here)