O Canada: 3 Quick Thoughts About Our New Life in Vancouver
(1. I like living in a country freer than the USA. Canada’s banks actually make money, their currency is strong, gays can get married and no one cares, our (comprehensive!) health insurance is $100/month, and both the conservative Heritage Foundation and the United Nations rank Canada above the USA in key metrics of economic and social freedom. So what if I can’t carry a concealed weapon?
(2. I like Vancouver. Ok, so it’s a chic yuppie gentrified paradise that takes itself way too seriously. Granted. It quite annoyingly calls itself things like “the greenest city in the world”, etc.. but it is unmistakably a gorgeous place that gets alot of things right. There are no freeways in the city limits at all thank God! Step outside the city or more than 1/2 mile from a SkyTrain station, and Vancouver’s suburbs are as much of a sprawling hell as anywhere else. Mountains and water are everywhere. I walk to my grocery store, my coffeeshop, and even my butcher. Pedestrians rule: they control the light timings at each intersection, there are very few dedicated turn signals (so turning cars must always yield to both oncoming traffic and crossing peds), and at any given green light half the pedestrians have a walk signal (as opposed to many USA cities in which only 1/4 of the pedestrians may cross at any given time). Such a setup is illegal in the USA.
(3. I don’t like the job market, and I miss the job flexibility of the USA. Oddly for otherwise polite and welcoming Canadians, open discrimination against immigrants based upon national origin and legal status is allowed and expected, and it is making my job search very difficult. Technically I have an open work permit and should be able to work without bias for any employer, but in practice what I usually hear is, “Oh, you have a work permit? Then we’re not comfortable hiring you.” Or worse, the absurd parallel statements on the bottom of the UBC Human Resources page, “we hire on the basis of merit and do not tolerate discrimination. Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.” In addition, labor market flexibility is a bit more tightly structured here. Unions hold too much power, you’re expected to keep jobs longer, and resignations and firings are a bigger deal, especially as opposed to USA right-to-work states. That makes breaking into the job market much more difficult, even if you have more security once you do.
So Vancouver’s a fantastic place if you’ve got a decent job and don’t mind paying 40% of your income on housing. If my employment search continues to be unsuccessful, I may quickly sour on the place. If I do find my niche here, I may never want to leave.