An American Werewolf in Canada
February 21, 2019 4:36 PM   Subscribe

[Cultural Differences / Armchair Anthropology Filter] I am moving to Canada next month. American expatriates in Canada, what do you wish you had known before moving? What small (or glaring) cultural, institutional, infrastructural or procedural differences did you start to notice after being there for a while? (Also, for the Canadians: are there things that you wish American expatriates knew before they got there, or wish they’d stop doing or start doing?)

I’ve got an attorney who is already advising me on matters of immigration law, **this is not a question about immigration or immigration law**

This is about the unexpected cultural and practical differences I may start to notice after spending more time in Canada. The little differences and changes that may not be so obvious right now. I realize I probably won’t run into much “major” culture shock but I know that sometimes it’s the little things that can really throw a person off.

Since it will probably help: I will be living in the southern Ontario / Niagara Falls / greater Toronto region. I have spent my entire life, to date, living in the DC Metro region. (I will also still be working for my US employer over the border in New York.) I’ve been to Canada several times but have never spent more than two weeks there at any one time; I’ve only ever been to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

I should also note that I am moving to Canada for love, so I do have a Canadian who is already helping and who can advise me on some of this stuff; nevertheless, I’m looking for advice from American expatriates for whom the US-Canada differences are fresher and more acute.

I already know about:
- The metric system
- Quebec sovereignty movement and discussions/tensions related to Canadians who don’t speak French (I don’t speak French and realize I don’t “need” to learn it to live Canada, but I intend to learn it anyway for a number of reasons)
- First Nations and some but certainly not all aspects of Canada’s ugly history (and current events) involving First Nations people
- Basic Canadian politics/Parliament/MPs/PM vs the US system (I’m keeping up with the Trudeau ethics investigation and am unfortunately aware of Doug Ford)
- Common slang, but certainly not all slang, so feel free to fill me in on slang that goes beyond loonies, toonies, loosies, double doubles, kerfuffles (which I already say all the time anyway), toques, pop (vs. soda), and so forth
- I understand how hockey works and am a casual fan (I’m also from DC - how much hell if any will I catch for being a Caps fan?)
- Duh Tim Horton’s
- I know about and have eaten plenty of “real” Canadian bacon (backbacon/peameal bacon) so don’t worry, I was long ago disabused of that common American misconception that involves flat circles of ham.

Broad categories about which I’m curious:
- Etiquette do’s and don’t
- Intermediate to advanced slang
- Switching over to “Canadian” versions of things like Amazon, PayPal, and other services or apps - is this going to be as big of a pain in the ass as I think?
- Logistical (not legal) differences with the US when it comes to things like registering one’s motor vehicle/DMV stuff, dealing with things like traffic tickets, banking, the postal system, taxes, doctor’s offices- anything that really surprised you?
- Food, cosmetics or other products that are common in the US that you can’t find in Canada? Or are just prohibitively expensive in Canada?
- Things that are normal and customary in the US but that just aren’t done in Canada; as well as the inverse- what’s normal and customary in Canada but not in the US?
- Pop culture and historical references I need to get a grasp on
- Everything else - don’t hold back or feel limited to the aforementioned categories

Thank you!
posted by nightrecordings to Society & Culture (75 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I'm Canadian but I've lived in the States, my friends are from there and my family is there.

One thing Americans have trouble with is Canadians' passive-aggressiveness and indirectness. Americans are more apt to ask for something directly if they want it, or to say "no" to an invitation, rather than being evasive. They're more likely to be openly friendly, which can be a bit overwhelming in some more reserved quarters (lookin' at you, Victoria.) Your directness might be perceived as rude, or not. It's a bit geographic and particularly true on the West Coast.

I wouldn't worry about it. I think Canadians get irritated by their own tendencies in this regard and American bluntness can be a bit of a relief.
posted by klanawa at 4:50 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don't wear outdoor shoes in the house unless you're explicitly invited to do so. (Why? It's generally mucky and salty and muddy much of the year, and even summer dirt adds to housecleaning burden.)

Add your shoes to the teetering pile near the door and go forth in socks, bare feet, or guest slippers.
posted by maudlin at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2019 [27 favorites]

I grew up in the part of Canada you're moving to and incidentally have family and friends from the part of the US you're leaving. The big thing to remember?

Take off your shoes when you enter someone's home. Even in the summer. Even if they're not of an ethnicity you may associate with this practice. At least just motion towards taking off your shoes until your host tells you it's okay to leave them on. Even if they say it's okay, they probably still expect you to take off your shoes.
posted by blerghamot at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2019 [17 favorites]

Best answer: US Border towns such as Niagara Falls will likely be infested with businesses that'll provide you with an American address for receiving shipments from American companies, basically something between a Mailboxes Etc. and a full-blown Freight Forwarder (since they don't forward freight). Getting things legally through customs into Canuckistan is your problem, so don't order anything you can't personally import, but it should open a lot of doors for specialty retailers who can't afford to ship internationally, etc.

An American friend living in Nova Scotia told me she couldn't get her favorite candy bar, which I think was 100 Grand. I sent her a box of them, in return for some Smarties, which in Canada are like M&Ms, not the sweet powdery candy we have here.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:53 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

(I mean, if you want to wear shoes in your own place, go for it. But when you visit, there's an excellent chance that it will be a no-shoes-inside residence.)
posted by maudlin at 4:53 PM on February 21, 2019

Best answer: Some random vocabulary differences that make communication a little easier (I'm not listing every trivial difference):

- A fair bit of Ontario power generation is through hydroelectric plants, so people here pay hydro bills, not utility or electric bills.
- A case of beer holds 24 beers, so it's also known as a two-four.
- If it's in your home, it's the bathroom; if it's in public, it's usually the washroom (not the restroom).
- If you order a Caesar at a restaurant, you may need to clarify if you want a salad or an alcoholic drink made with clam juice.
posted by maudlin at 5:13 PM on February 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I like this question! Say Please and Thank you a lot. Apologize or say excuse me when someone bumps into you. Try to refer to the US or the States, not America. Don't refer to US money as "real dollars", and our money as monopoly money.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 5:20 PM on February 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Notaries are different, so you can't just take paperwork to your bank to get it notarized for free like you can in the states.

You need a US address to maintain US bank accounts (or at least my parents haven't figured out how you can have a Canadian address listed as your address on a US bank account.)
posted by abeja bicicleta at 5:46 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you see a highway called the 407 do not drive on it unless you want to be billed an astounding amount of money for the privilege of driving on a highway next to a (free) highway. They don't care if you have American plates or Armenian plates : they WILL find you. In fact, someone who wishes to remain nameless once had their driver's license suspended (SUSPENDED!!) for not paying 407 toll fees in the amount of $26 (For ONE trip one way).
posted by some loser at 5:46 PM on February 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Doctor/Medical: general or undiagnosed medical issues take longer here a lot of the time - for example, it can take months to get in with a dermatologist. However, once something terrible is diagnosed or happening, you will jump the queue with lightning speed. This leads to a sixth sense which is if the medical system is moving fast, take your situation seriously. If you are waiting, despite pain and inconvenience, you are probably not dying.

Many hospitals look like they belong in a post-Soviet war zone...if you look too closely at things like ceilings. Just don’t look.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:51 PM on February 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Americans are more apt to ask for something directly if they want it, or to say "no" to an invitatio

I have friends from the US who took academic jobs in Montréal and when they negotiated for their salaries (like you would expect to do in the US) people found it incredibly rude.
posted by jessamyn at 6:07 PM on February 21, 2019

They don't call it a fifth of (Hard liquor), they call it a 26er (twenty sixer) (ounces) even tho it is measured in milliliters on the label.

If you buy cannabis from the Ontario Cannabis Store (only online), it comes with this neat seal with a maple leaf that says (Cannabis) instead of (Canada).
posted by some loser at 6:09 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

As above avoid the 407 and know that Google Maps etc navigates to it by default if you’re in the area.
posted by alusru at 6:11 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Unsweetened iced tea is not served in restaurants.

Pick up the Culture Shock guide to Canada. There is also a Xenophobes Guide to Canada(part of a world wide series), but I would not leave it lying around.

roger axtell's do's and taboos books have Canadian sections but are long out of print.
posted by brujita at 6:15 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Letters don't get picked up from the mailbox where you receive mail at home. You have to take outgoing mail to a post box.

Take vitamin D supplements.
posted by momus_window at 7:14 PM on February 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The GTA through Niagara has all the foreign distinctiveness of Ohio. Which is to say a fairly serious amount if you've spent your whole life in southern or south-adjacent places! But in spite of being a different country with much more seriously different governmental and legal regimes, at the immediate interpersonal level the differences between, say, St. Catharine's and Buffalo are likely to be generally smaller than the differences between Buffalo and DC. Thinking of Ontarians as basically midwesterners is a good place to start.

Logistical (not legal) differences with the US when it comes to things like registering one’s motor vehicle/DMV stuff, dealing with things like traffic tickets, banking, the postal system, taxes, doctor’s offices- anything that really surprised you?

A friend who did this noted that moving a car from the US (presumably TX) to Ontario was a titanic pain in the ass because there was still an active loan on the car.

The USPS in most respects seems much better than Canada Post.

Dunno about moving violations, but I personally assure you that parking tickets are simple; you just send them a credit card.

When you see the doc, you just see the doc and don't have to pay anyone. Obvs this is after OHIP kicks in. If you're hospitalized, there will still be the usual raft of extra stuff you can buy at intentionally exorbitant prices, like cable tv.

Food, cosmetics or other products that are common in the US that you can’t find in Canada? Or are just prohibitively expensive in Canada?

There will be lots of this, as the retail sector in Canada just isn't as fully developed as in the US. If you want fancy stuff or quirky stuff or imported stuff, Toronto is your town. If you just want all the flavors of ice cream or all the car colors to choose from, that's where you're fucked. It's not a big deal as you can just pop down to NFNY or Buffalo to pick that stuff up. There are always *lots* of Ontario tags at our various Shopping Hells, and usually a fair number at any random Wegmans.

On the flipside: President's Choice stuff, Kraft peanut butter, generally better selection of chocolates, Harvey's burgers etc.

Pop culture and historical references I need to get a grasp on

Native-born Canadians your age will have grown up with a bunch of cancon that's mostly unfamiliar to you, but you'll get it by osmosis. I'm never sure which things biscotti knows from her youth that I don't are Canadian and which I just missed because my family spent most of that time on military installations in West Germany.

You'll learn in short order about Laura Secord, the Somme, and Juno Beach.

Switching over to “Canadian” versions of things like Amazon, PayPal, and other services or apps - is this going to be as big of a pain in the ass as I think?

No, except that parcel delivery isn't as fast, reliable, or cheap as in the US.

Canadian banks do a perfectly good and easy job of dealing with US currency and US-denominated stuff. You can expect American banks to howl in despair and confusion any time you try to do anything from Canada, even paper instruments denominated in US dollars. Eventually they will grudgingly accept wire transfers. You might find Canadian banks reluctant to deal with you because of US regulations on expat money.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:19 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A Canadian who lived for a while in the US, so, the reverse.

1 - we do not say "aboot". It is neither funny nor clever to reference it.
2 - there's more of a focus on not bothering other people, and less of a "I have a right to do what I want", for better and for worse.
3 - religion is way way more private.
4 - you are much more likely to get milk with coffee, not cream.
5 - you can do an email money transfer between any two Canadian bank accounts just by knowing the email address of the person you want to send money to, this is generally either free or $1. As such, things like paypal/venmo are much less common here for transferring money.
6 - all credit cards use chip & pin.
7 - it's easy and normal to split bills in a restaurant by who ordered what, not just equally, because there was so much sales tax fraud that restaurants are generally required to have electronic systems.
8 - don't switch your amazon kindle to the Canadian version. Use google/kobo for Canadian books, and for American.
9 - say goodbye to good streaming options.
10 - burnt toast is about EPILEPSY not a stroke.
posted by jeather at 7:21 PM on February 21, 2019 [15 favorites]

No unsweet tea!!!

My favourite slang is gitch or gotch (underwear). I am not sure if Ontarians use it.

Long weekends are just called [month] Long - what are you doing for August Long? Going to the cottage eh. I have heard that Ontario usage is actually May Two-Four (as in, on May Long you drink 2-4s, so may as well just call it that)

A case of beer is usually 12, a 2-4 is self explanatory. In high school we used to get a mickey of something (liquor) to take to the bush party (this was at whichever city park your friends decided on that Friday.) A mickey is the next size down from a 26, so like hip flask-size.

My partner was always confused about my deep desire once a summer to go to Sev (7/11) for a slurpee. Then I brought him to Winnipeg for the first time and he realized that Canadian Sevs are actually clean, well lighted places that sell a vastly superior product to the ice foam masquerading as a slurpee in these godforsaken united states.

(Winnipeggers are weirdly proud that we drink more slurpees per capita than anywhere else, I am pretty sure it’s not true and is a flukey marketing success, but I still drink one every time I go home.)

Parkade is a general term for a parking garage.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:26 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Gotchies is the term in Ontario.
Be aware that the Niagara Peninsula, like other pockets of rural Southern Ontario harbours weird racist and fundamentalist sub groups. I’ve seen a pickup with a Confederate flag in Dunnville and Dutch farmers with anti-choice billboards. These people recently help elect a pale, biker gang affiliated Trump wannabe.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:38 PM on February 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: When someone says thank you, reply with "you're welcome" or "no problem" "no worries," etc. Do not reply "uh-huh" which makes you sound like a jerk.

Why would burnt toast be about a stroke? obviously it's about epilepsy...I lived in the US for 7 years and don't remember it being about stroke in the U.S. (don't remember it being about anything in the U.S. I thought Americans could just small burnt toast without instant fear of imminent health crisis). Please explain.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:42 PM on February 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Shoes off, obvs.

Re: hockey: Many sports fans use it as license to be assholes, but certainly not all; I'm sure some people will make cracks but if you're not being a jerk I would hope most people would behave likewise. Rival team fans, (in S. Ontario Habs or Bruins) will get more joshing than others. "Hey, I grew up there" is I think generally understood as a good reason for cheering for another team. Unfortunately, nobody likes a bandwagon fan, and the Caps just won the Cup -- if you have a Dale Hunter jersey or something, that'll buy you waay more cred than an Ovie one will.

Pop culture and historical references: The Heritage Minutes are a series of 60 second films representing vignettes in Canada's history. They were aired frequently for the past 25 years (US shows have more commercials than Canadian ones are/were(?) allowed to have so there is always room for public service padding). For a lot of Canadians, these are both pop culture references, but also how we see ourself as a nation. Sort of like Schoolhouse Rock. They're all here, and they have been discussed on Metafilter before, but the key ones IMHO are, roughly in order from functioning more like pop culture references to more as Canadian history:
Wilder Penfield (burnt toast)
Rural Teacher
Maurice Ruddick
Halifax Explosion
Sam Steele
Agnes Macphail
As a bonus, a couple of these will help you get a sense of how much fun we have from time to time dunking on Americans.
They are making new ones which haven't yet acquired the same pop culture force that 25 years of repetition can give, but a few that I think tell important stories are:
Terry Fox
Viola Desmond
Chanie Wenjack
Vancouver Asahi

Also on the pop culture end, The Hockey Sweater.

If you're in Niagara Falls, I believe you'll be on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Anishnaabe Peoples, in the Dish With One Spoon Covenant.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:52 PM on February 21, 2019 [18 favorites]

I have no idea why it's about a stroke but I've definitely had that discussion with Americans, Many times. They remain wrong and it's about epilepsy.

Also, racism here looks different, as, broadly, we have fewer black people and more indigenous and more middle eastern people. It doesn't mean it does not exist, but it will show up in different ways.

Food is more expensive. Spring starts MUCH MUCH later. There are a lot of labour protections. Issues are much more explicitly either under provincial control or under federal control so there's less of a state's rights sort of tension. Canada Post is perfectly fine, if expensive, and Fedex and UPS are piles of steaming garbage. Election campaigns are usually 35 days long and people will complain that it feels like forever (which it does), try not to laugh at us.
posted by jeather at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

You're getting some good comments above so I don't have a ton to add but regarding slang & pop culture you might want to check out the show Letterkenny, it's on Hulu in the US. Loosely based on the small rural town of Listowel Ontario but filmed up North which gives it a weird vibe (especially the winter episodes). If there's subtitles watch it with subs - you'll pick up a lot of the crazy slang. The later seasons introduce French characters who use some fun slang (even if the French accents are all over the place). Also you can check this previously and these Youtube videos on the Canadian English Accents (yes PLURAL!).
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If no one makes small talk in any particular situation, it's not because we're hate you, it's because we don't want to intrude. But if you want to have a conversation with a stranger, it's probably okay. You can talk about the weather. (Nothing else.) Unless they're dragging an ugly bag the size of a steamer trunk with wheels on one side. You can talk to them about hockey.

Stand on the right of the escalator. Walk on the left. And for fuck's sake don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk to stare at your phone. Are you some kind of jerk? Have situational awareness at all times so you are not blocking people from getting from point A to point B. Canadians will say Sorry if you bump into them but that's because they're regretful that they didn't notice you to make room for you.

Tim Hortons coffee is terrible. They stay in business because when you order a "double double" which is 2x cream and 2x sugar, you're getting a candy-bar worth of calories plus caffeine. Also because when you order a double-double, you don't feel guilty about using the washroom on your way to/from wherever. (Starbucks is the same as in the states. Find a locally-owned coffee shop and patronize them instead.)

There are just half a dozen big banks. They're tremendously regulated. That's how Canada's financial system didn't get fucked a decade ago. Pick any one with convenient ATMs and you'll generally be fine.

Dairy products in Canada are different in the US. Butter is far tastier. Milk comes in plastic bags, you'll need a pitcher. Cheese is more expensive. There's more varieties of cream. But you still can't get clotted, damn it.

In Ontario people buy booze and beer at the provincial monopoly LCBO, and beer in quantity at the industry monopoly Beer Store. You return your empties to the Beer Store for 10c/20c per container. Some grocery stores have alcohol aisles with special checkouts. There are funny rules about micro-breweries that serve on premises and sell bottles; they must have separate entrances.

If you want to get an IV of Canadian Culture from varying historical perspectives, start watching videos on the website -- the National Film Board is a tremendous resource of Canadian-relevant touchstones.

In Ontario every product sold is labeled in French and English. You get used to it.

Oh, the knit hat is a toque. Pronounced tuuk.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:03 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also on the pop culture end, The Hockey Sweater.

In general, the National Film Board is your friend. What is considered a "classic" will probably vary by age demographic, but The Hockey Sweater mentioned above is pretty darn famous.

Sampling of NFB animation shorts classics that maaaany many Canadians will be familiar with:
The Sand Castle (1977)
The Big Snit (1985)
The Cat Came Back (1998)
The Logdriver's Waltz (1979)
Blackfly (1991)

Robert Munsch is a beloved Canadian children's book author (The Paperbag Princess, Mud Puddle, Love You Forever, Jonathan Cleaned Up...) The NFB made Blackberry Subway Jam (1984) based on Jonathan Cleaned Up.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:43 PM on February 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Please do not say "huh?" or "what?" when you can't hear somebody and need them to repeat something. Please say "Pardon?"

The American "huh?" comes across as abrasive and rude. Apologies to all Americans who pardon themselves.
posted by Juniper Toast at 9:14 PM on February 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The advertised price for foodstuffs sold by mass will be in pounds, the label will be in kilograms or grams. Also anytime you see a non-round number of millilitres or grams on a packaged item it is usually because the package is actually an imperial holdover.

Oh and an Imperial Gallon is significantly larger than a US gallon; if you hear a miles per gallon figure in Canada it will be significantly better than the same US number (but most people born post metriication will be using l/100km)

A friend is an American ex-pat. She remarks that the strangest thing is Canadians will just go to the doctor, just go to the urgent care clinic, just go to the ER. All without considering cost because generally, once you are on a provincial health-plan, there isn't any cost attached to the visit itself. So don't feel guilt or anxious about accessing these services. You won't be taking advantage or abusing the system and no one will think you are either.

seanmpuckett: "Pick any one with convenient ATMs and you'll generally be fine. "

And all bank debit cards work at all ATMs and POS terminals; you don't have to find one in any particular network (there may be charges, but your card will work).
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on February 21, 2019

Different grammatical uses of "eh" (scroll down)

Must say sorry even if they bump into you. You're apologizing for not being spatially aware enough to give that person the extra room they clearly needed. As a canuk in the US the first time someone responded to my "sorry" with "you're good!" I was consumed with visceral rage where is my sorry how dare you It was pretty stunning.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:25 PM on February 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

And in a synergy of the ATM and Doctor things there aren't networks of healthcare so you don't have to worry about in or out of network. When you need an emergency room you generally go to the closest and even if you don't it is not because of some concern about the network.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lawn Beaver, I laughed when I saw your comment! Ha ha! ...and then, I thought, wait a minute... it's "Ginch" or "Gonch". I may have heard it as "gitch", but never "gotch"... ah well, it's different all over Canada, I guess!
posted by itsflyable at 9:43 PM on February 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oh, and a while back I dispensed some wisdom (on no authority whatsoever) about the word hoser.
posted by klanawa at 9:44 PM on February 21, 2019

We eat normal US-style bacon, not the weird peameal stuff. I don't know why it's called Canadian bacon because not a single person I know eats it unless, like, the store is out of regular bacon and you're desperate for fried pork products or something.
posted by randomnity at 9:52 PM on February 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

itsflyable - growing up in Sask, ALL I heard was gotch. Also, in Sask, chocolate milk was "vico" and of course a bunnyhug is a bunnyhug.
posted by Cosine at 10:19 PM on February 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Nobody mentioned radio. The CBC is a national media and an icon. Both radio and television are broadcast across the entire country. All of it. There are a few decent shows on television. Radio has a couple of different types of stations: talk radio with some very good programs and music radio. Music radio broadcasts mostly classical during the weekday hours but starts to shift into pop/rock at around 3pm. All very similar to NPR. The music is more eclectic than commercial radio and you will definitely hear some songs on the CBC that you won't hear on commercial, and vice versa. The Tragically Hip is a beloved rock band who's lead singer died a few years ago. The entire country went into mourning. We love our pop icons, even the ones we hate (Bieber, Celine Dion). Hockey Night in Canada is broadcast on television every Saturday evening and it's an institution. (Caps hats are fine but be ready to be mocked). Stick around for the first intermission so that you can see Don Cherry in one of his fantastical suits. You might want to be a Leafs fan. Or a Canadiens fan. Either is fine but be prepared to be mocked for your choice. Learn how to play euchre. Prepare to be mocked for sucking at it, even when you aren't sucking.

I mentioned being mocked three times. That might be a thing too. :)

I have to reinforce the politeness of Canadians: we often find the directness of Americans to be rude.

You mentioned that you understand metric but you're still going to have a hard time at the gas pump. I have no advice for you other than to know what size gas tank you have. This will help you figure out the comparison to gallons. Or I suppose you could do the math conversion from gallons to litres.

Speaking of cars, we use lots of sand and salt on the roads. Get an undercoating to protect your car.

Don't be surprised at how hot it is in the summer. As we always say, it's not the heat, it's the humidity.

Colour is spelled with a "u".

Welcome to Canada! You'll love it! And congratulations on finding somebody that you felt so strongly about that you're willing to relocate.
posted by ashbury at 10:37 PM on February 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: We don't have Trader Joe's and Canadians who live close to the border can get very, very excited at the prospect of dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

There are a few words that are pronounced quite differently in Canada and America: niche, foyer, and clique are pronounced closer to their original French; decal rhymes with heckle.
posted by invokeuse at 11:17 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

because there was so much sales tax fraud that restaurants are generally required to have electronic systems

At least on the West Coast, this is enigmatically referred to as The Machine.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:53 PM on February 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I’ve heard it said, and said it myself, Canadians aren’t friendly, we’re polite. The idea is to avoid offence, not to make people feel welcome or at ease. The emotional habitus of the GTA specifically is insular, neurotic, anxious, introverted. (Which makes for good singer-songwriters and comedians, I guess.) It can be hard to get to know people, who tend to be a bit cliquish. Many times, I’ve seen newcomers perplexed and hurt by the silence that usually follows even a vigorous “we should hang out sometime!”. Unless you hear mention of a specific date, that’s just a polite way of ending a conversation. Get involved in team sports (or improv) if you want to meet people who are in the market for friends (most aren’t and hang out with university or high school friends). It’ll take a while to build a social circle, is what I’m saying.

In the GTA, the horrible infrastructure and transit system, which make commutes excessively long and difficult, are another reason people over 30 tend to just want to hunker down when they get in. Getting around can be draining. (And, drivers are aggro.)

(This is all highly GTA-specific, people are way more open in central and western Canada.)

It may be that people will warm to you when they hear your accent, because regardless of whatever’s said about the US, we (still) secretly admire Americans. That capital plus making people laugh will go a long way towards breaking the otherwise fairly impenetrable ice.

Our Netflix sucks because of licensing costs. Domestic flights are expensive.

2nd taking vitamin D. And plan a trip somewhere sunny for next winter. You’ll be desperate for it come February.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:16 AM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Paper Bag Princess was a staple in the children's section of all US feminist bookstores.

The ou diphthong is more "eu" than "oo".

I think bilingual packaging is the law nationwide; I've seen it in BC and the Maritimes too.
posted by brujita at 12:51 AM on February 22, 2019

Best answer: Restaurant tipping is different here than in many places in the States – 15% as a minimum, 18% as standard, 20% or more if you were really pleased with the service. Or, if you're in the Timmies drive-thru, whatever is left from the toonie you paid for your coffee.

If you end up in the Niagara area, you're going "over the river," not "across the border" when you head to the States. Many Niagara area kids grew up with TV from Buffalo, so are conversant in the accents and tropes of that area, especially commercials. It's not far as the crow flies, but as far as accents go, it's worlds apart.

Canada won the War of matter what your history teacher might have told you.

The May long weekend celebrates Victoria Day on the third Monday of the month. It's often on or around the 24th, hence May 2-4 (plus the beer connection). Many people go camping that weekend. It is too cold for camping. They go anyway.

Two pints in a litre; almost four litres in a gallon. So if you're looking at gas prices, multiply by 4 to get a rough idea of the price per gallon.

Politeness is the ultimate social lubricant. Please, thank you, sorry (which has 1,000 shades of meaning) will get you through your day easily. But the gloves come off if you are standing on the wrong side of the escalator.
posted by notquitejane at 4:38 AM on February 22, 2019

Speaking of pints....if you order one here in a pub you are more likely to get a proper 20oz pint, not the 16oz US pint (unless you're in some corporate gastropub hellscape, which in my experience do try to pawn off 16oz as a pint).
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:53 AM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our potato chips are better and more thoroughly seasoned (also: ALL DRESSED CHIPS and a thousand other flavors)

If you're moving to Ontario, you might be invited to a Stag and Doe: this is a fundraiser for a wedding. You buy a ticket, then you go to the party and buy more tickets for games and drinks, and it's basically a huge party with big draws and prizes. None of my non-Ontario Friends had ever been to one and thought it was strange but awesome.

We always said "Gotchies" lol
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:38 AM on February 22, 2019

Best answer: Oh and if something is good and you are pleased, you say "Beauty."
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:39 AM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Agree with others suggestions of getting a little exposure to Canadian culture thru the nfb and cbc radio & tv. Cancon ( canadian content laws) means dorky and not super commercial local music was what most of us were exposed to while driving around with our parents, going to cottages or cabins in the summers. Canadians are said to have an inferiority complex to Americans - don't play into it. Expat american friends of mine are humble about their roots and don't talk about the US as the centre of the world. It's a big turn off as it shows a certain cluelessness, there's something about how Americans learn so much history in high school mostly about themselves that creates a different world view, it can seem cocky and insulting. Let Canadians make fun of you for this if something us- centric comes out of your mouth, it will make us like you more. In Canada it is said we have more media literacy and a more international view of the world, that varies but is generally true.

Show interest in Canadian culture. Even though you are in a border town there is differences that you may not immediately catch on to. In time you will notice more differences.

We are obsessed with talking about the weather- all the time. I made fun of adults as a kid doing this but now it's a thing I uncontrollably do.

Never say huh. It's always rude. There's no reason- it comes across as grunting. If you don't hear someone say - sorry? or excuse me? When it comes to politics or religion don't immediately offer your opinion- with any charged topic- start with trying not to offend people. In general Canadians try not to offend first- and slowly get a sense of what someone thinks. Joking around is a great way to get to know people. Check out canadian comedians as it's a point of pride. Bbc described our sense of humour in this way "American humour is the art of overstatement, English humour is the art of understatement, and Canadian humour is the art of observation.” I think it's very true! Last but not least generally speaking there's a different relationship with England. Lots of people are into the british royal family and a bit more into british culture and tv and style. Especially older people. Good luck!
posted by Ladydetective at 5:52 AM on February 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Not a big deal, more of a quirk, but... since the penny (coin) was eliminated, all prices are rounded to the nearest 5 cents for cash but not for electronic transactions. So, it's common to hear the price rounded to the nearest 5 cents, but see the actual price to the penny. ie the cash register will say "16.12$", but the cashier will say "sixteen-ten" - then you pay 16.10 in cash or 16.12 with your credit or debit card.

Go ahead, try to game the system. Fumble for cash versus a card depending on this last-minute bit of information. You'll see some fine Canadian passive-aggression in action. :)
posted by Mogur at 6:21 AM on February 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also you will learn to giv'er. This is an incredibly important concept that I have had to do without now that I live in the US, I miss goin out and just given'er.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:50 AM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Get a decent VPN so you can access US websites, especially media content. Browsing from Canada you'll constantly run into US websites that either block you or try to redirect you to the Canadian version of their site. Netflix has unfortunately cracked down in the last few years so it's no longer easy to switch between locations, but most other websites are easily fooled.

Sign up for a Canada Post FlexDelivery address. That gives you a virtual PO Box at any Canada Post outlet (which may not be a standalone building, but rather a desk in a nearby Shoppers Drug Mart). Canada Post hires ninjas to sneak onto your front porch and leave "Delivery attempted" slips instead of actually knocking on the door to see if you're home (and then the parcel is available the next day at some random post office that may be nowhere near your house), so it's better to know that you can pick your parcel up at the location of your choice. If you're ordering from they will also give you the option to send a package directly to a Canada Post outlet.
posted by Gortuk at 6:56 AM on February 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Best answer: If you are a person who perhaps has a tendency to ask more of your body athletically than is necessarily wise for your age/skill level/fitness, you would be wise to discover the wonders of Robax, an over-the-counter muscle relaxant you can only get via prescription in the states that you will marvel that you ever lived without. Ketchup chips and Kraft dinner be damned, THIS is the only product we ever buy to bring back to the states, and (having evangelized about it to friends and neighbours) we now take orders for a small army of Robax addicts every time we go home for a bit.
posted by Dorinda at 7:21 AM on February 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

not the weird peameal stuff. I don't know why it's called Canadian bacon because not a single person I know eats it unless, like, the store is out of regular bacon and you're desperate for fried pork products or something.

First of all only in the US do they make a distinction between bacon and "Canadian" bacon. What they call "Canadian" bacon is pork loin usually smoked, cooked and put into a cylindrical shape , thickly sliced and often pan fried. Generally speaking that's not available in Canada. Here we have back bacon / peameal bacon or ham which is a wet cured, uncooked, and usually unsmoked (though you can get it smoked) pork loin with a bit of the belly and presented as is. We don't call that "Canadian bacon". And if you don't know any Canadians who eat it I'm not sure what to say other than literally everyone I know who isn't a vegetarian or has an aversion to pork eats it. When I was growing up we ate it weekly. It is Toronto's sandwich.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:22 AM on February 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

I guess there's the whole "homo" milk thing that people from outside of Canada think is hilarious.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2019

Long weekends are just called [month] Long - what are you doing for August Long?

That might be a Winnipeg thing. I've never heard it in either BC or Ontario.

And if you don't know any Canadians who eat it I'm not sure what to say other than literally everyone I know who isn't a vegetarian or has an aversion to pork eats it.

I'd never seen peameal bacon until I moved from BC to Toronto. It not even that common a few hours away in Ottawa. I think it's just a regionalism in Southern Ontario, mostly.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

I ate it in Northern Ontario and Quebec. Both are Lands of Pork though.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:28 AM on February 22, 2019

Best answer: I'm a U.S. expat in the approximate region you're moving to (welcome!). Given your list, you won't have a lot of big issues, and it sounds like you already are following politics more than a lot of fellow Canadians (see: Ford(s)).

Be very aware when ordering/importing anything from the states. "free shipping" no longer applies to you, along with the exchange rate to keep in mind. If your order is shipped out via usps, it will likely be delivered to you via canada post, with a good chance of no additional fees for duties. If your order (or gift!) is delivered via UPS, you're not only going to be paying duty, but you'll also be paying a brokerage fee. I've paid $23 for a gift(!) that had a $10 value. UPS == Fail.

Learn the Newfie accent, so you won't be as surprised when someone random starts talking to you and just. won't. stop. You'll understand why, and can enjoy the conversation, instead of wondering what they're trying to get/con from you.

If you're eligible for OHIP, get a doctor as soon as you have residency. Not all physicians are taking new clients, and you want to have one before you need one. Be prepared to always feel "wrong" when you leave the doctor - the first few times I annoyed the receptionists by asking/clarifying if I'm all set to go without signing away my life on a to-later-be-filled-in invoice and/or paying something. After you see the doctor, you just walk out and get on with your day.

As Dorinda mentions Robax (which is available super cheap at costco in kirkland generic), I'll need to mention codeine cough syrup. If you are sick with a cough, just get some, and have the best sleep you've ever had while sick. You need to ask the pharamacist for it (I.E. it's behind the counter), but it's not really expensive, and for a cough, it works far better than anything else. Oh, Sudafed is not available as a concept to my understanding. Anything with pseudoephedrine has at least tylenol or advil in it.

Relatedly to getting sick, in the states I had a pretty great immune system. For the first ~4 years after moving to Canada I was getting sick 2-4 times a year. I'd say my immune system has caught up, and is now above average.

Get used to and adopt some spelling changes - cheque, colour, flavour, centre. I still haven't fully adopted "pop" instead of soda. However, I grew up in a small urban-ish bubble that proudly said soda, in the middle of a surrounding area that called it pop.

... and well, apparently I'll need to cut back on my "huh"'s. However, I will at least note that if someone walks into me I do instinctively say, "Sorry." If I accidentally bump into someone else, then it's "Sorry sorry sorry."
posted by nobeagle at 7:32 AM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might find Canadian banks reluctant to deal with you because of US regulations on expat money.

TD, RBC, BMO and CIBC all have a presence in the eastern US. If you already bank with one of those or their US subsidiaries, you may find your transition a bit easier. Manufacturer's Life Insurance Company (Manulife) owns John Hancock. They are pretty good at cross border stuff.

Also, bacon is what you think of as bacon. Peameal bacon is what you think of as Canadian bacon.
posted by TORunner at 7:52 AM on February 22, 2019

Um. I feel like I proved my earlier point by being so down on Toronto, just as you’re gearing up to come here. Expectation-setting went very dark for a minute there. Jerk move. My apologies. (I guess there’s probably some projection in it, so, maybe take it with a grain of salt.) I do think it’ll probably take time to get to know people, so patience about that’s a good thing, but especially with a partner (who likely has at least a few pals), I’m sure you’ll find your social groove!

My substantive contribution is that Differin gel is prescription-only (and expensive) in Canada.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2019

Our debit cards are issued by the banks, and Interac purchases withdraw money directly from your account. Credit cards are issued by the credit card company (although most have an affiliation with a bank) and purchases are made using your credit only. There is no crossover between the two the way there is in the States.

Apply for a Nexus card if you do not already have one.
posted by twilightlost at 10:30 AM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Never order Mexican food. Just pretend it doesn't exist when you see it on a menu.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:57 AM on February 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Geography:
Learn some basic Canadian geography, like:
- the names of the provinces and territories, their approximate location, and what time it is there compared to where you are
- the capitals of the provinces and territories
- the names of the larger cities in each province/territory (which are sometimes the capitals)
- the difference between provinces and territories
- things like where the Rockies, the Confederation Bridge, the Canadian Shield, large bodies of water, etc. are (you probably know many of these already).

Vocabulary related to schooling:
- When talking about kids at school, we usually say "grade 6" instead of "sixth grade". Everyone will understand the second, but will notice that you've said it differently than they would have.
- In high school, we just say the grade number ("grade 10") instead of freshman/sophomore/junior/senior. Those words are also rare in university; there, we usually say "second year", etc.
- Similarly, "college" in the US is called "university" here; you can specify "undergraduate" if you want. "College" in Canada means "community college". You will probably be understood regardless.

Comparison of the university systems:
Understand that the "elite" Canadian universities are often the largest universities, and they cost about the same as most other universities. "Elite" in this context is only semi-meaningful, since the perceived quality varies a fair bit by subject matter. Most well-respected Canadian universities are public; private universities are rare and often religious. These combine to reduce (not eliminate!) how much affluence affects educational achievement. They also combine to make grade 12 students' lives somewhat less stressful.
posted by MangoNews at 10:59 AM on February 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh the food warning goes triple for any restaurant claiming to serve something that is a regional American cuisine. The chef probably saw it on a cooking show they liked.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2019

Best answer: I've actually never been to the east so I'm guessing that some of the differences will be the same as US to BC/AB.

The joke that canadians are always apologizing is really true, but it's because we use sorry as a word that isn't an apology really. It's like.. in other languages there are ways of addressing people more formally or politely, and I find we use that less, and instead preface or pepper our conversing with "sorry". Like, this morning I said "sorry" to a person to ask them to move out of my way when getting on the train. Often if I need to ask a waitress a question I will say "sorry? what's the soup?" instead of excuse me. In fact I'd probably wager to say I've NEVER said excuse or pardon me in my life, and instead just said "sorry" when I needed to sneak past someone. It's also a stand in for the american "huh?" or "what?" if you didn't hear someone - "sorry?". Therefore, if you have to apologize for something, state that you are "really sorry" or "I apologize" because just saying sorry as an apology is flippant - it's a too commonly used word to have any weight. Also this might be a western thing, but I don't hear people say "very" here out loud almost at all. You're "really" everything. Really Early, Really Expensive, a really serious car accident.

We recently changed a line in our national anthem to be gender neutral (from "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command") and some people are real mad about it. If you go to a hockey game right now some people will refuse to stand up or will yell or even boo during the line that got changed. this is rude - everyone else thinks they're acting awful, don't worry, this isn't some major weird thing canada is doing, booing during their anthem. You should just stand up silently.

"rub-a535" seems to be a Canadian thing when I have left Canada, it's like.. a sports rub that burns? You probably have it under another name but here we call it Rub-A535.

Until 2010, only cola drinks in canada were allowed to contain caffeine, so a lot of people here assume that all pops are caffeine free except coke and pepsi. But they changed the rules so if you're concerned about caffeine content at all most do list it on the label.
Our iced tea is not just sweetened, but is sweetened to SUPER sweet levels with HFCS, and also doesn't taste much like tea. Even the sweet tea you have in the states has a lot more tea flavour. No one makes their own here. Free refills on pop are not a given in canada. Sometimes pop in restaurants will be like $2.50 and not include refills.

Only beef-cows can be treated with Growth hormone in canada - chicken and pork and milk cows are free of (added) growth hormones. Antibiotics are approved for use, but milk cannot be sold when the cow is being treated with antibiotics. Organic food here can't contain antibiotics or hormones, other than the natural occuring ones.

You can't buy beer or wine at the grocery store or convenience stores. Liquor stores or "cold beer and wine" stores only, cold beer stores have a markup. Drinking budweiser or kokanee is considered kind of low-class, though lots of people do it, but it is kind of an american move to get a budweiser. I don't think people shorten it to "a bud" here either, I've only heard that in the states. Also our alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and gas are heavily taxed here. Alcohol, especially wine, is MUCH more expensive as a result. If you leave ontario, almost everywhere else charges a deposit on beverage containers of either 5 or 10 cents per can or bottle.

It's not considered rude here to drop the honourifics for our prime minister and other government officials. In regular conversation you could call him Trudeau or Justin Trudeau and no one would think you were being rude, though his father was also our prime minister once, so you may need to clarify which Trudeau.
posted by euphoria066 at 12:24 PM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

You need winter tires whether you want them or not. Don't argue with me.
I love the 407 for getting through Toronto. From one side to the other, no stops, you can't beat it. Having been stopped for hours due to accidents on 401 in blazing August, or blinded by rain or snow, you won't hear me complaining about the bill.
posted by Enid Lareg at 1:21 PM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can't buy beer or wine at the grocery store or convenience stores.

This is less true than it used to be - Ontario and BC have both started to allow grocery stores to sell beer, cider, and wine in the last few years. But the outlets are very limited so odds are you won't be able to pick up a bottle of wine with the rest of your dinner.
posted by Gortuk at 1:34 PM on February 22, 2019

When someone says thank you, reply with "you're welcome" or "no problem" "no worries," etc. Do not reply "uh-huh" which makes you sound like a jerk.

This times a billion. I'm a Canadian living in the US for 16 + years and it STILL irritates the hell out of me when someone says "uh huh" in this context. It's so rude.

Many grocery stores are not open 24/7, especially not on long weekends (holiday weekends), so be prepared to think ahead and stock up, depending on where you end up living.

The variety of choice in almost everything will be far, far less than you're used to, even in Toronto. Here in Buffalo we have approximately, for example, nine million different Lean Cuisines to choose from, as opposed to the five or six you can get in Toronto. On the other hand: legal weed.

Get used to the Green Bin and Blue Bin and tiny garbage bin and be prepared to put the right things in the right bins.

Toronto is BUSY and VERY EXPENSIVE. Also no pennies!
posted by biscotti at 3:10 PM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Last letter of the alphabet is zed. We don't have that vowel you use in drama and taco.

The about thing (which is, incidentally, why I didn't understand that song which is not called "Paperback Rider" for a very long time, as I never saw the title written down) is called Canadian Raising.
posted by jeather at 3:14 PM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: - Pop culture and historical references I need to get a grasp on

You can increase your street cred by learning the lyrics to Stan Rogers' song "Barrett's Privateers."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:23 PM on February 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Learn to draw a rough map of the Maritime provinces, and you'll be able to do something 99% of your fellow Ontarians can’t.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:59 PM on February 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Also, please be aware that most people who live in Newfoundland consider the term "Newfie" to be mildly insulting, as it's been used for decades to mock Newfoundlanders.
posted by peppermind at 7:04 PM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Doing your taxes is really different in Ontario versus the states. They send you a statement of what you paid and owe, then you make some adjustments to that, and send it back.
posted by SyraCarol at 1:33 AM on February 23, 2019

Best answer: Hawkins' Cheezies are a way crunchier, saltier, dare I say proper version of Cheetos. Don't judge them just because the packaging design hasn't changed since 1958.

People may (will?) drive like assholes, especially on the highway, but that's the Greater Toronto Area, not Canada as a whole.

Southwest Ontario outside of cities is relatively socially conservative by Canadian standards. Some almost approaching Republican levels. The local accent sounds like this. This is pushing it.
posted by anthill at 7:13 AM on February 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: - Switching over to “Canadian” versions of things like Amazon, PayPal, and other services or apps - is this going to be as big of a pain in the ass as I think?

I can't speak for Paypal, but will suggest that you DO NOT "switch over" your Amazon account, but, rather, sign up for a new account. It is useful to have both, depending on what you're going to be doing. For instance, .com has a MUCH better kindle store than the Canadian one. BUT, you can only have one or the other. (You can have both a .ca and a .com account, but you can only buy Kindle books and audible books from one and if you switch from .ca to .com, it is hellish to switch back if you regret it.)

When shopping for shipped goods, I switch back and forth between .com and .ca, depending on price/shipping/etc. For kindle/audible, I use .com.

Regarding phone shit, Due to more competition, some provinces have considerably cheaper phone plans than others. Unfortunately, Ontario isn't one of them. That said, there are "back door" workarounds. For instance, my phone plan is $45 a month for 10GB of data and unlimited minutes/texts/NA long distance on the Bell/Telus network. However, the same plan from the exact same company in Ontario is $85 a month. The backdoor method will result in a much cheaper bill AND a 416 phone number, but it costs $90 one time setup fee. Feel free to memail me if you're curious and I can send you specifics. I prefer not to share online as I'm terrified too much exposure will close the back door.

Toronto has numerous area codes (416, 647, 437, and 905 on outlying areas). 416 is the oldest and, to most people, the preferred. But when you sign up for a new plan, they will not default to 416 (in fact many companies will tell you they're all sold, which is not true). Request it when you sign up for your plan and there's a chance you'll get it; don't request it and you never will. Some places will charge you an extra one time $10 fee, which is what mine did.

I don't know if you would like to keep a phone number with the area code of where you live, but if you do, get a Google Voice number BEFORE you come to Canada as they can't be set up here and they will not send a confirmation code to a Canadian area code--but, once you're set up with an account, you can use it here no problem. I have the same phone number for Canada and America, but one with 416 and one with 415 area code. I believe the phone number is free unless you want to choose it, and then, if I remember correctly, it's a one-time $20 fee and you have to make a call with it at least once a year or you'll lose it.

RE: bank cards and credit cards. Most come with chip/tap enabled. If you do not trust this technology (as I don't), you can ask the bank to remove it from your particular card, meaning you'd have to enter your pin each time.

re: Bacon: Bacon here is the same as Bacon there. By this I mean if you order eggs and bacon in Toronto, you'll get what you are used to getting. If you want Peameal bacon you have to order it by name or as "Canadian bacon".
posted by dobbs at 12:08 PM on February 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also re: Amazon. The Prime accounts for .ca and .com are different. You cannot take advantage of Prime stuff in Canada with a .com Prime account.
posted by dobbs at 12:10 PM on February 24, 2019

Why would you not trust chip credit cards? They're far more secure than magstripe.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:36 PM on February 24, 2019

Why would you not trust chip credit cards?

I trust the chip. I don't trust "tap to pay".
posted by dobbs at 4:38 PM on February 24, 2019

Got it. It still has the same fraud protection as chip and PIN, but this is veering into a derail eh.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:01 PM on February 24, 2019

Best answer: I moved to Toronto 20 years ago, and here are some of my key culture shocks:
1. Dairy/poultry is fantastically expensive in Ontario compared to the US. Like sometimes 3x the price. I stock up whenever I drive a car down to Buffalo.
2. Canada Post is very unreliable when delivering mail from the US. I sometimes receive a 3rd notice from the IRS for the fist time.
3. Which brings me to - you will need to file US taxes for the rest of your life, even if you earn no US $. It is getting so complicated you will want to engage an accountant who specializes in these things.
4. The 5 banks operate as a cartel. I have had miserable experiences with all of them, and finally just picked one and stuck with. You will not get the options you are accustomed to nor the level of service. On the plus side, you may never write a check (cheque!) again, and can email money to anyone.
5. In my experience, Canadians perceived me as loud, forward, and opinionated. You may want to tone it down until you get the lay of the land. In Toronto, the culture is a bit cold, and I mostly made friends with people who weren't originally from here.
6. My experience with health care is amazing - no forms to fill out - go whenever you need to. Waiting rooms in ER have long waits similar to my experience with the US, but it is triage - I have generally not been dying or anything. My doctor of 20 years still complains that I don't come to her enough when something is wrong (my US conditioning)
7. Dressing in Toronto is a step up from the states - even casually. I am less likely to wear sneakers (runners) and a message t-shirt even just around the neighbourhood.
8. DO NOT CLOSE YOUR US BANK ACCOUNT! You may not be able to open a new one from here (happened to friends of mine). I belong to a credit union, and they manage the foreign address.
9. Welcome to geoblocking. Nothing like a US friend sending you a link to a video and having it say "not authorized for your location". A VPN is a good investment. Also, even if you keep a US address for shipping, having a Canadian address for billing will lock you out of the occasional website which is only set up for US addresses. Also, in the US along the I90, I will sometimes get gas and find I am to put a zip code in for my credit card. I obviously can't, which means I can't pay at the pump and confuse the folks inside when I try to pay that way.
10. Seconding Space Coyote on the absence of Mexican food, although some will pretend to be.

In spite/because of what I wrote above - WELCOME! And feel free to memail me if you would like to discuss further or meet up. Would be happy to show you around Toronto if you are interested.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

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