Moving to Canada...the finding work and happiness edition
February 2, 2017 8:22 AM   Subscribe

This is speculative but becoming less speculative by the minute... My family and I are contemplating a move/return to Canada. I'm trying to figure out where would make the most sense given my and my husband's professional backgrounds. Details within.

I am a Canadian citizen, born in Montreal but raised in the US. I returned to Montreal for university and have lived on the east coast since then. My toddler daughter also has her Canadian citizenship. I'm pregnant with our second child and will ensure she gets her citizenship. My husband is not a Canadian citizen.

My family and I are contemplating a move to Canada. I had always assumed that if we moved back it would be to Montreal but here are the factors we are weighing:

* At this point, my French is quite poor. My husband's French is better but he is not perfectly bilingual.
* Perhaps the most pressing issue: I am worried about finding work. My background is in education. I was an English teacher for many years, then a literacy coach, and am currently the director of an education non-profit. I have a teaching license for Middle School ELA and ESL, an administrator's license and a masters degree in education policy and leadership.
* My husband has a law degree but for the last few years has been working as a CFO for a real estate firm.
* My extended family lives in the Boston area.

So, the unicorn I am seeking is somewhere that 1) both my husband and I could potentially find meaningful work-- I suspect that I am the more challenging of the two given that it sounds like there's a glut of education folks on the market. 2) preferably somewhere no more than a three hour flight from Boston. 3) Somewhere decently family friendly as we have a toddler and an infant on the way.

Is that Ottawa? Toronto? Somewhere I'm not even thinking of? Bonus points for helping me think through finding work as an education person.
posted by jeszac to Work & Money (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ottowa is a pretty good choice, the average house price is slightly lower than many other cities in Canada, the winters are brutal but they have better snow clearing than most places, and from the friends I know there, the job market seems decent and is fairing better than the oil and trade cities. Whenever I've been to Ottowa it's just been a really damn pleasant experience, which I can't say for Toronto in general. Mississauga is a really nice city if you do want to be near toronto though, but it's pricey as hell. Sherbrooke is very nice too, and google shows some fair/okay house prices on average.
posted by InkDrinker at 8:39 AM on February 2, 2017

I would just look at job postings and see if there are cities hiring both of your skillsets and go from there.

Most cities are pretty family-friendly imo, I'm only speaking to Ontario, I don't know Quebec well. Toronto is very pricy and maybe less family-friendly if you can't afford to live and work right downtown but there are tons of people making it work. That said there are transportation issues with the TTC and highways in terms of commute times and I've heard the daycare situation is crazy with the waitlists. Some young families I know are moving to nearby cities like Hamilton, Guelph, Waterloo, London and either commuting into Toronto or just starting over there, it's fairly easy to go from those cities to Toronto or fly direct to Boston.

Agreed that Ottawa might be a good fit if you can both get government jobs especially. If your husband could work on his French that would be a huge help for government jobs obviously, my friend was not fully bilingual when she got her gov job (I'm assuming she killed their tests though) but a year of working in French fixed that issue.
posted by lafemma at 8:49 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

For Montreal, you and your husband will need French for work. For ordinary living, not as much. Your husband's law degree may not be of much use in Montreal, as it is a civil law jurisdiction and (I assume) he has a common law degree.

I would suggest Toronto/Ottawa/other southern Ontario as a starting point for your search, and go from there.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:50 AM on February 2, 2017

No to threadsit, but it would be especially helpful if anyone could chime in with information on cities where the chances of finding a job in education are particularly good. I'm a little traumatized by all the stories about teachers who can't find work and can't get a clear read on what the education non-profit sector looks like there.
posted by jeszac at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2017

My cousin is a teacher in or near Toronto (I don't remember where exactly) and it is definitely not a good place for getting hired. Quebec has weird rules about teaching, but if you have an education degree it is possible to get a job -- it usually takes a few years to get a permanent one, you will have jobs before that but on shorter contracts. (NB you might want to consider whether or not your children will be English school eligible before you make this decision.)

You could also look into Halifax, but I have no ideas there.
posted by jeather at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have several teacher friends in Toronto (where I live). From what they've told me, jobs are hard to get unless you teach French. The Ontario Teachers' Federation says "Finding a teaching position in Ontario has become more challenging in recent years" ... so there's that.
posted by Lescha at 9:53 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's really difficult to get a K-12 teaching job in Ottawa right now. I know people who have left the province because they couldn't get a job. That said, if you're not in a classroom, getting a job in the education field may be easier, especially since you are bilingual. Don't worry about how bilingual you are, you can always get your skills up. Monitor for nonprofit jobs and your partner can contact Invest Ottawa for more information about what's out there.

If you apply for PR for your spouse out of country, it usually takes longer I believe. I applied in country (came in as a tourist so I couldn't work) and it took nine months to get approved.

Ottawa is fantastic for families. There's so much support here.

Feel free to memail me.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 10:10 AM on February 2, 2017

For teaching jobs, consider whether you need to be in a city. A few years ago I moved from Toronto (where almost nobody could even get an interview to be eligible for substitute teaching!) to rural Nova Scotia, where I immediately got a great permanent job.

Generally speaking, teaching jobs are hard to come by these days. But around here, good people can get substitute work every day, then quickly get long-term sub work, then many get permanent jobs fairly quickly too. I suspect my rural school board and many others like it would be thrilled to have someone with your experience and would find you at least full-time work (if not a permanent position) fairly quickly.

Of course, there are lots of factors at play in this decision. But don't discount small towns and villages!
posted by MangoNews at 10:11 AM on February 2, 2017

My wife is a teacher in the Toronto Board. It's very difficult to find work. At this point, you'd be a supply teacher for a couple of years, and then on year to year contracts, and only then considered for permanent positions.

I imagine there is more opportunity on the ESL side, and the non-profit side, especially given the number of immigrants and refugees here.

We are in year 14 of a real estate boom that needs to be seen to be believed, both in terms or residential real estate prices, but also development of new condominiums. There is a fierce debate as to whether there is a bubble or not, but observers on all sides agree that Toronto has become very desirable. If there's a bubble that pops, there won't be tracts of empty houses, or empty condo buildings. The rental market is tight too. A lot of your enjoyment of Toronto would hinge on you being able to spend $750,000 to $1 million to get a 3 bedroom home in a neighbourhood reasonably close to transit, daycare, and a good school. Daycare is a battle as well. (1100-1500/month for kids under 18months, and people get on waitlists before they tell friends they're pregnant, and then go to Facebook to announce it when they've secured a spot.) That said, if you can afford it, it's a great place to live.

All the real estate activity means that your husband may have an easier time finding work, if he can get his residency sorted out quickly. This may be more pressing depending on which of you is taking time off once the baby arrives.

Kingston would be another place to look. 150,000 people. Some nice growth in downtown, with good neighbourhoods and schools. Still bad for finding work as a elementary school teacher, but your area might be better. Much lower cost of living.
posted by thenormshow at 10:30 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm going to vote against Sherbrooke; it's very very Francophone unless you want to live in the Anglophone enclave of Lennoxville. It's a beautiful part of the world, the Eastern Townships, but you don't want to drop your family there unless you are prepared for a long language adjustment. (I lived there for five years, having moved from the States; my Ontario born husband lived there for nearly 20 years, but quickly became bilingual).

We are in Kingston now, where the cost of living is lower but the job market is a bit crap. You can check the Limestone Education Board for any job listings. If there is anything on the Queen's University job board you are qualified for, those are very very good gigs to get. Check Kingston is Hiring too!

I got my PR in country so it didn't take long, but so I can't speak for out of country. I agree with posters in considering smaller cities than the usual suspects. I like Kingston in that it's between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, all of which are easy to get to for weekend trips.
posted by Kitteh at 10:45 AM on February 2, 2017

A lot of your enjoyment of Toronto would hinge on you being able to spend $750,000 to $1 million to get a 3 bedroom home in a neighbourhood reasonably close to transit, daycare, and a good school.

Renting is also possible and can often make more financial sense.
posted by grouse at 10:47 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

A few years ago I moved from Toronto (where almost nobody could even get an interview to be eligible for substitute teaching!) to rural Nova Scotia, where I immediately got a great permanent job.

I was going to suggest Nova Scotia as well, but for transportation reasons: both Air Canada & WestJet fly non-stop between Halifax & Boston.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:08 PM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you're looking at Nova Scotia, look outside the HRM. I have several teachers in my family and they all bemoan the lack of jobs in the city/cities.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:36 PM on February 2, 2017

Fredericton, New Brunswick is worth a look.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:38 PM on February 2, 2017

If you are considering Ottawa (Gatineau) or Montreal don't forget the CEGEP system. With your credentials and experience you could look at a variety of positions including teaching, educational support or administration. For Gatineau you want to look at Heritage College. In Montreal you have Vanier, Champlain, John Abbott, Dawson and Marianopolis. There aren't a ton of open teaching jobs and competition is fierce - I think you'd probably have better luck looking at one of the admin or educational support positions. Having said that, your CV looks pretty sweet for a CEGEP prof. You should also look at private English elementary and high schools in Gatineau/Montreal. My friends in teaching have had more luck there than in public schools.
posted by Cuke at 6:58 PM on February 2, 2017

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