In Life

Why I choose to live in Canada instead of the United States

I hinted at this last month, but here’s what’s happening in a nutshell:

  1. Leaving the United States
  2. Moving to Australia or back to Living in Canada permanently
  3. Taking a break and going to Hong Kong

Settle in, it’s going to be a long post, and be forewarned it’s mostly a rant about the U.S.
Photograph-Travel-NYC-New-York-City-USA-Highline-Traffic-Road-Busy

Photograph I took of NYC at the High Line

Leaving the United States

I am leaving the U.S. and I am not going to come back to work any time soon. Even for vacationing, I am not really sold that this is a country worth touring any longer. I’ve decided to at least see the Grand Canyon because it’s one of nature’s wonders, but otherwise, the U.S. no longer holds anything special for me. I originally left Canada for the U.S., thinking the weather would be better (and it is) and it would be more dynamic to work (and it is because of its sheer population), but I encountered the dirty underbelly of America that you can only discover while working there as a non-American. Bottom line: I’m learning how to cut my losses, so to speak, and choosing to leave. I could always find another contract or another job here to continue to live and stay, but I simply don’t want to. I was so gung-ho for this country, and I really thought it would be different, but the bloom is off the rose. No one could have told me anything to change my mind before I came here. I’m way too stubborn for that, and I had to learn the hard way.

TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS: LEGAL OR NOT

Legal or not, you aren’t American… and you are damn well reminded of that when you work for Americans. They treat illegal immigrants pretty badly, so I was lucky to be on the legal immigrant side. Everything in the U.S. government and in its structure, is all geared towards Americans (naturally), and I am not blaming them for favouring their own citizens, but I’m learning that Americans say one thing, but mean another. Everywhere, I hear about how much they need our skills in America, but in the end, they only want us if we’re willing to work under their rules as sub-class residents, which I consider to be a form of economic slavery. Let’s just say that I didn’t come to the U.S. a free person to willingly put myself into economic chains, so to speak. Everywhere we went, we saw illegal immigrants, and we couldn’t figure out why a country so tough on immigration (legal or not), would have so many of them clearly without papers. Then I researched into it a bit more, and realized that illegal immigration and unnamed, faceless workers are what’s keeping the country alive. The truth of it all, is the whole country seems to survive on some form of slavery, be it actual or economic.

ACTUAL SLAVERY

The actual slavery, is prostitution, abuse of foreign nannies, illegal and legal immigrants working in the fields and locked up at night, picking tomatoes in the fields. It sounds like something out of some Law & Order episode, but it actually exists. I can’t tell you how many documentaries I saw on TV about all of the above. It’s really disgusting. I’m sure it happens in other countries as well as in Canada, but it seems a lot more rampant here. ……maybe because people also seem a lot less interested in the well-being of others, if they aren’t American. There seems to be a certain shielded attitude towards non-American citizens, illegal or not. I absolutely understand that illegal immigrants SHOULDN’T be in the country, but if they are, and have been working and contributing for the past 50 years with nary a peep from either side…. what is the fair thing to do? I am not claiming to know the answer or the magic solution, but there’s something very strange in the country’s lack of empathy for these situations.

ECONOMIC SLAVERY

The economic slavery, is partly in the form of healthcare that is wholly unaffordable for anyone who isn’t working for a company that offers it. In a company, you could be looking at about $150 a month, which is $1800 a year, but may or may not include dental or vision benefits. You could also work for a company who doesn’t offer healthcare, or offers less than what you might expect as basic healthcare. A freelancer however, pays about $1000/month net for basic healthcare, and for full-service healthcare, it’s $2000/month. This all works out to at least $12,000 – $24,000 or more, net a year in healthcare costs alone. NET!

…BUT IT COULD BE MUCH WORSE FOR YOU

If you are an illegal immigrant, forget even thinking about healthcare. That is the least of your worries. You don’t even have access to such services because you have to deal with a different kind of economic slavery. As an illegal immigrant, you directly support and pay into Social Security and Medicare for American citizens, without actually being able to claim that money when you go to retire.

Read: Why the U.S. can’t end illegal immigration

Furthermore, if you’ve ever wondered HOW Americans can produce all-you-can-eat meals for $10 per person and still turn a profit, you should consider that there’s probably an army of illegal immigrants behind the scenes, working for less than $7.25 an hour (minimum wage), making up for the difference. If you truly wanted to make everyone pay a FAIR working wage, and have FAIR policies towards all people in terms of healthcare and social support, you’d end up with a country like Sweden, where everything is horribly expensive, because that’s the fair price for a just society that provides for each resident and/or citizen. Photography-Stockholm-Sweden-Statue-Woman-Tourist-Travel


Photograph I took in Sweden

I remember visiting Stockholm and gasping at their prices, but in contrast, I’d rather live on less in Stockholm in such a society that is fair to everyone, than in the U.S. where everything is cheap, but is built on the enslavement of others. Slavery is built and fully integrated with supporting to the U.S. system, and it is everywhere if you pay attention and start asking rational questions about how things work. Everyone is supporting this either directly as business owners, or indirectly as consumers, willingly or unwillingly. Again… I’m not saying whether this is wrong or right, but for me it’s part of the reason why I’m not staying here. Interestingly enough, Bob Dylan just made a statement recently about how the slavery stigma has ruined America.

The veteran musician tells Rolling Stone that in America “people (are) at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color,” adding that “it will hold any nation back.” …he doubts the country can get rid of the shame because it was “founded on the backs of slaves.” He also says blacks know that some whites “didn’t want to give up slavery.”

Well Bob, I’m of the belief slavery is still alive and well, just in a different, more subtle but malicious form.

U.S. POLITICS AND THEIR GOVERNMENT

Okay, so I never realized this until living in the U.S., but Canada is pretty reasonable. Boring, but reasonable and stable as a country. Only in the U.S., you have people in government like Todd Akin saying things like “legitimate rape” on TV, and people are actually publicly supporting his lunacyor more ridiculousness like Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke (a student who asked about birth control), a ‘slut’ — he didn’t just do this offhandedly, he purposefully, deliberately, spent 3 hours a day on his show for a WEEK, calling her a prostitute.

It’s like saying the following:

breanies-word-vomit-flotation-rape-drowning-republican-quotes-2012

Via

What I think everyone may be forgetting, is that women are 50% of the population, and young women in particular are increasingly starting to earn more than their male counterparts. Essentially, for some Americans there is such a thing as good, acceptable rape versus bad, wrong rape… and that women who are responsible, and take birth control and expect such medical coverage from their employers (such as myself), are sluts. I can’t imagine any of those words and thoughts even being blurted out of anyone’s mouth in Canada on any public forum and surviving. I remember Kim Campbell back in the day, vying to be Prime Minister, making fun of Jean Chretien’s partial facial paralysis. Her career was instantly over without a whimper with such a fierce public lash back to her appalling ad, and Chretien was the clear winner. Aside from all this lunacy, you also have these parties on both sides spending millions of dollars (and corporations supporting them too), in campaigning to become the President of the U.S. Why don’t you take that money and take care of the residents of the U.S.? Did you know there are 16 million kids who are starving in the U.S.? Why are they talking about helping the rest of the world, when they can’t even take care of their own? It’s all so ridiculous, it can only happen in the U.S. (I am not saying the Democrats are 100% amazing either and I don’t necessarily agree with or support everything they do, but all the stupid comments can’t seem to stop flying out of Republican mouths.)

AMERICANS MAKE MONEY, BUT LIVE LOW QUALITY LIVES

Lastly, there are plenty of articles (I even heard it a number of times during political debates) on how there is a lot of money to be made in the U.S., but they just fail on meeting the basics of a good, solid society because there’s just too much money. They make lots of money as individuals, but they aren’t happy because the income disparity between citizens is too high, so it becomes a low quality, and POOR life for many.

Via

Read: Income Inequality – Just the facts

Not to mention that they basically eat junk food and call it a meal. I know this isn’t 100% of Americans, but let’s face it.. they’re the fattest nation in the world for a reason, and it DIRECTLY affects their healthcare costs because they have to pop pills on a daily basis to stave off disease and delay death caused by their own lack of proper nutrition and eating habits. Chips, greasy hamburgers, mystery meat hotdogs and anything void of a vegetable or fruit resembling its former shape and glory, is not a meal that you can eat on a daily basis. Junk food and eating out is fine, but not 100% of the time. Drinking soda and other sugary fruit juices is fine, but not 100% of the time. It’s like there’s an allergy to eating real, natural food in the U.S. Everything has to be transformed, covered in oil, some sort of fat, or super salty and/or sugary. That is.. unless you’re willing to fork over $$$$$$$$ to go to really nice restaurants or buy organic, wholesome foods; but I’m willing to bet that the majority of America can’t afford that, nor can they understand why they’d eat a celery stick instead of a potato chip. It was kind of sad really. One of the richest countries in the world, has most of its people eating junk, rather than real food.

NO REGRETS, EXCEPT FOR THE SHOPPING

It isn’t as awesome as I remember it being or imagining it to be. Only the shopping is amazing here. Let it be said, that the United States is the #1 country in the world for shopping, both online and in-store because of their free shipping and free returns.

(Although I would rule out all U.S. pharmacies and eyeglass stores in this assessment, as I find they are FAR BETTER in Canada in terms of variety and stock. Go Shoppers!)

That’s it. Otherwise, I don’t regret anything — the move, the living here, the whole change in my life. I HAD to come here and be in the thick of things to realize all of these things. I’m just happy it didn’t take me 10 years before I realized all of this. I’m also very lucky that I’m able to leave, unlike many who live in this country and don’t have a better country to go back to. You have no idea how grateful I am to my parents not having moved to the U.S. instead.

Moving to Australia or staying in Canada?

So.. my next step? I left Canada, mainly because 6 months out of the year, it’s too cold to do anything. I know it sounds trivial to leave a country that is otherwise fine to work in just because of the weather, but this is not the way I want to live, hiding out in my apartment, whining about how cold it is. I’m lucky enough to have a job where I can basically work anywhere I want in the world, so I want to make sure I make the best choice for myself before I commit. I thought long and hard about going to Australia. I’ve even spent $1000 $600 in the process of doing it, but I’m pulling the plug on the whole thing. I’ve been thinking about it for the past 2 weeks, and I’m staying in Canada. For good this time. It’s really one of the best countries in the world, aside from the weather, and I’ll just have to STFU, and learn how to live through 6 months of a nasty winter without whining. I’ll just travel a lot.

Traveling for the year in the meantime

My map of Macau when I visited

So… I really want to go on one vacation. I’m really exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I am going to Hong Kong for a month, getting everything set up and ready. Then I’m going to go full speed ahead in 2013 for working in Canada. Savings and higher net worth, here I come!



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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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41 Comments

  1. Tania

    For some of this, it depends on where you are located. In Honolulu, I worked with people from Italy, Japan, Korea, Macau, Phillippines and more. None of us ever saw or treated them as different. It was such a normal situation for us, just another co-worker or friend like anyone else. I think the dietary habits can also vary greatly by State. When I used to go to Hong Kong for business trips, it shocked me how all my peers in the Asia Pacific countries referred to their nannies as “Filipino maids”, not just maids but with the ethnicity tacked on. So yup, offensive and exploitive stuff happens everywhere and when someone from elsewhere is looking in, you are not as desensitized to what everyone else is accustomed to or accepts. It is always good to hear the impressions of someone who is not immersed in what is the accepted normal. The healthcare, yes! When I read your posts about Canadian healthcare or I read about certain countries in Europe with good social benefits, it makes me want to move and I’m always gainfully employed with health insurance but it is a constant concern for my retirement age. I’ve always felt that the US has a bit of arrogance and there is so much we can learn from other countries but we are fighting those who like to keep the status quo because of that arrogance, fear or greed.

    Reply
  2. A
    Anonymous

    I’m a naturalized U.S. Citizen but I have experienced some prejudice for not being a natural-born American. Not a lot but some.

    Yes although the U.S. is a nation of immigrants unfortunately I think because of 9/11 many Americans now are suspicious of immigrants particularly middle eastern immigrants. Yes there is an attitude from *some* people that you’re not American unless you were born in America.

    Another thing that bothers me about the U.S. is the fact that many refuse to acknowledge evolution and you are thought of as a second class citizen if you are agnostic or atheist. My bf works in IT and told his boss and
    co-workers he’s an atheist and from then on he was treated differently but I think this is because we live in the midwest.

    There are a lot of Americans whom don’t think you can be a good decent person unless you’re a Christian. In their minds that is just not possible.

    Americans don’t think they can fall into fascism. Ironic right especially after Guantanamo Bay and the abu ghraib scandal. If you read history then you learn that you can live in any time in history and if the pre-sets are there then you can fall into fascism.

    America recently has become an Orwellian society with the NSA scandal.

    Interestingly enough I think it’s strange when Americans cry if people were killed in the Boston marathon bombing but don’t cry when we go and invade other countries such as Iraq and kill their own citizens including children.

    Then they do things like “Go America” or “America is #1” *VOMITS*

    I also hate it when Americans talk about revoking H1B1 Visa’s as if they are the problem for why Americans can’t get jobs. No the reason that Americans can’t get jobs is because many of them are not willing to do crappy jobs that illegal immigrants are.

    Americans hate manual labor. Many Americans also sniff at the trades and refuse to go into them even though right now they are lucrative. American women sniff at tech girls and call them “geeky” – I’m not kidding, I’ve heard them say all sorts of disparaging things about the IT field.

    On the other hand there are great things about the U.S. such as individualism. Americans tend to highly value individualism. Would pet rocks have been created in another country? They’re willing to take gambles on weird and odd concepts.

    I love the fact that we don’t have socialized health care in the U.S. That just would mean higher taxes for everyone. I love that we have gun rights because the police can’t always get to you in time. I would never live in a huge city such as NYC, Seattle, L.A.

    Too expensive. However in the mid-west the economy is pretty good right now and cost of living is affordable. But yeah there are great things about the U.S. but many not so great things as of lately. My bf and I have talked about what would happen if we would ever need to leave the U.S.

    Within the past 10 years or so the constitution means nothing to the past presidents such as Bush and Obama. To them it’s a document to be ignored. 🙁

    And Obama has authorized killing American Citizens.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/who-were-the-4-us-citizens-killed-in-drone-strikes/

    Anyway it’s scary the direction that the American government is moving in.
    Land of the free? Not so much as of lately.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-the-united-states-still-the-land-of-the-free/2012/01/04/gIQAvcD1wP_story.html

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh yes!! That religion thing was VERY prevalent in Texas. I felt judged all the time because I didn’t proclaim to love Jesus or any other religion, I just kept quiet.

      I can understand Americans not crying at others being killed or hurt, mostly because it isn’t happening in their own country, which is to say, it isn’t directly affecting them. Iraq is far enough from the U.S. that it makes it safe and ‘displaced’. If the war was happening in Canada close to their borders, they might feel that it’s closer to them and more likely to affect them than overseas.

      I do agree that Americans (generally) hate manual labour which is why there are so many illegals. Illegals support the system in America (indirectly) by working, buying goods, and living there but without any real rights afforded to them.

      It makes me think of the old argument of why the sex industry is the oldest — it’s because the demand is there, that the supply exists.

      It’s the same for manual labour or anything that is dirty, hard, difficult… no one wants those jobs if they had a choice, but in the end, someone’s gotta do it.

      I’d also agree that the U.S. is great at individualism, but it also backfires to the point where everyone thinks they’re a special snowflake and should be given rights without having earned them.

      As for universal healthcare, we pay about $500 a year per citizen for the care we receive in Canada.

      I can’t imagine how the U.S. currently pays MORE than that, about 18% of their GDP if I recall the numbers correctly, and receives a lower quality of healthcare than other developed countries.

      Healthcare doesn’t have to be expensive or prohibitive, but with the prevalence of people suing medical facilities, doctors, lawyers getting involved.. that’s what drives up the cost of your healthcare, not necessarily the cost of the service itself.

      Reply
      1. A
        Anonymous

        @save. spend. splurge.: $500 a year? How? What Province? I want to know. Do you have proof? I went online but I couldn’t find anything on payments. Please help!

        And what about health care queues in Canada?

        http://www.canadianliving.com/health/prevention/9_ways_to_jump_the_health_care_queue.php

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/20/canadian-healthcare.html

        Maybe it would help if you had a post where you addressed these issues and it would help if you did a post on the Canadian system of health care?

        I would also love to read what workers rights Canadians have vs. American workers. You could even email me I’d love to hear it.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Once I didn’t pay the taxes in a province (I had moved to another and they didn’t know), and they sent me a bill for around $500 to cover healthcare. That’s my only proof, really.. I don’t even know where the paper is now.

          I know it’s included in the taxes, you pay it each year.

          Health queues are pretty nasty here in hospitals but then again I have nothing to compare it to, as I never went to a hospital abroad or elsewhere. I just know you end up waiting at least two hours to see a doctor sometimes. 🙁

          I’ll do a post on Canadian healthcare once I gather more info. I’ll try and find that piece of paper or an article that states that $500/year cost.. as well as rights of Canadians vs. Americans.

          Reply
          1. A
            Anonymous

            @save. spend. splurge.:

            Thank you I would really appreciate that! ^_^

            I’m not trying to be difficult but I would like to know more besides what is coming up on Google search.

          2. save. spend. splurge.

            So I googled Healthcare in Canada and it says the indirect cost is around $11,000 for an average 2 parent family with 2 kids. I am not sure how else I would calculate this but I do remember receiving a paper saying: You owe $500 for healthcare.

            The true cost perhaps is through taxation, a portion goes to healthcare, and on average those who pay more taxes, pay more for healthcare but subsidize those who are in lower income brackets.

          3. A
            Anonymous

            @save. spend. splurge.:

            Awesome thanks for doing that, I really appreciate it. Yes immigrants including many Mexican immigrants keep this country alive.

            I find it weird that Americans are willing to admit their own immigrant past but want to deny that privilege to the poor Mexicans and they offer pat answers such as “They need to improve their country.”

            Easier said than done and you can’t always do that, sometimes it’s easier to cut your losses and immigrate to a new and better country.

            Sometimes I want to say to white Americans who are racists “Why didn’t your ancestor improve their own country? Why did they come to the U.S. decades ago?”

            Besides many people immigrated from countries like England, Russia, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Italy to escape atrocities and come to the U.S. so why shouldn’t Mexicans be allowed to do the same?

            I don’t blame the Mexicans one bit for immigrating legally or illegally. Their government is corrupt, drug cartels rule the country to the point where North Americans are afraid to go to Mexico for vacation now, and the poverty there is disgusting.

            However there is a double edge sword. In states near the Mexican border such as the southwest because of illegal immigration and because people are desperate they tend to steal IDs and SSN #s for work.

            Sometimes illegal immigrants adapt the attitude of bad Americans such as entitlement.

            In Colorado it’s common for Mexicans to sue, but that is an American attitude. We know of one young lady who got in a small accident with a Mexican and they sued, and the insurance company instead of fighting it they decided to pay out.

            Americans are very litigious so not surprised that some do pick it up when they come here.

            I’ve seen interviews on the news where illegals feel entitled and feel Americans should pave their way because Americans make more.

            Not that it’s right but when it happens, Americans are understandably upset. That’s where a lot of the culture immigration wars come in.

            There is a lot of human trafficking in those states and I read about a news story where drug cartels in Texas were using children to do their dirty tricks.

            Some Americans can be really racist such as not wanting Spanish to be spoken in schools or in businesses or signs being in Spanish.

            Which is ridiculous because if you travel overseas there are many signs in ENGLISH and the native language of that country.

            Other Americans are open minded, they date and marry Mexicans and other Hispanics and they raise their kids bilingual.

            Like you said the U.S. is full of contradictions. Americans like Mexican food, but some of them hate Mexicans.

            They will hire Mexicans to tend their lawns because Mexicans are cheaper than hiring a landscaping and lawn mowing company.

            Companies like Pepsi use temp Mexican workers for their labor. See this:

            http://nation.time.com/2013/06/27/the-4-am-army/

            You do have a lot of families that come here, legal and illegal, work really hard, put their kids in school and they reach the American Dream.

            Many Mexican children are far removed from the realities their parents grew up in. Many of them just know what it’s like to be an American kid.

            There are some sad stories too of illegals living here for decades and not being able to obtain citizenship. So yes there are bad Americans and good ones, bad Mexicans and good ones.

            So I don’t think that it’s all black and white. The immigrant issue is very complex.

  3. eemusings

    “I know it sounds trivial to leave a country that is otherwise fine to work in just because of the weather, but this is not the way I want to live, hiding out in my apartment, whining about how cold it is.”

    Not trivial at all. I am used to 10-degree winters and up being from Auckland, so as much as I liked Toronto, there is no way I would ever move to Canada. I can’t take the cold. If I were to leave my city, it would need to be somewhere with better weather, among other things.

    Anyway, I just bounced back to this post today somehow (and the comments were interesting as it looks like a lot of them have disappeared but your replies to them remain).

    For us, the US was a fascinating place to visit. I think parts of California would be great to live in long term if you earn good money (yes housing is expensive but it’s about the same in NZ) and everything – food, gas, clothing, entertainment, cars – is SO cheap, and you get so much variety in food. The weather is great and you’re close to beaches and mountains and everything.

    That said, I would prefer not to live in the US in general because of the big things – healthcare, litigation, lack of employment rights, guns, to name a few. Yes, I realise most of those things don’t impact your daily life if you are a middle class type, but I appreciate the principles as I come from what some might call a “socialist” country. Politically, it really scares me that there are states where they seem to be going BACKWARDS in this day and age.

    And I can’t get over all the sugar and corn syrup that’s in everything. I was surprised I didn’t see MORE obese people than I did (very few).

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Just check out this picture of the ice storm we just had:

      Ice Storm 2013 - Toronto Canada

      *sigh* When I did the port over from my one blog to this one, the comments disappeared which made me really annoyed.. but at least the responses remained. I’m going to try and re-port them again.

      California is not that cheap. It is a great place to live and very warm, but if you want to live somewhere centrally located, it is not that cheap with the cost of living. It LOOKS cheap based on consumption — food, gas, clothing, but it is not.

      Healthcare is the #1 reason I would avoi teh U.S.

      I think even with sugar and corn syrup in everything (plus pop being the #1 cause of obesity), you did not see MORE obese folks because you were in more urban cities. If you went to smaller, lesser known regions, people there (as I have observed) tend to be a lot heavier.

      Reply
    2. A
      Anonymous

      @eemusings: I didn’t grow up in a household with guns. I grew up in middle class neighborhoods and normally if you grow up that way or upper middle class or in the 1% you probably will not be threatened with a gun at any point.

      In fact it’s possible to live out your entire life safe and not come across any gun threats. The only time I’ve seen a gun in real life was when I moved in with my domestic partner, who is a gun enthusiast but has never had to defend himself in real life.

      His parents were in the upper middle class bracket before his father retired and they’ve never had any real emergencies either. Before retirement his parents bought land and during family reunions they like to go outside and shoot.

      My partner offered to teach me how to shoot but so far I’ve declined. I’m not really interested in guns. But I’ve realized they’ve saved many peoples lives from would-be predators. I don’t think that guns are really the enemy.

      I think the U.S. could use a better mental health care system that helps people who are on the edge like that Sandy Hook shooter. I’m sure if guns didn’t exist then there would be some other weapon we would be using effectively. So I don’t think that the tools (the guns) are the problem.

      I think our society is the problem. A better mental health care system should be in place. Our media is too much of a problem by giving too much attention to criminals in the news thus giving them the “fame” they seek. Another problem is that the U.S. government has created their own criminals.

      The CIA experiment with Americans in projects such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra ….the Unabomber participated in that project so not surprised that he did what he did. In fact that entire thing was such a fiasco that the CIA destroyed many of that projects records.

      Because of taxes we do pay into programs such as medicaid (for the poor) and medicare (for the elderly). So we do have programs that assist people and that seems like social health care to me. I’m not sure how they would compare to what Canada offers though.

      Anyway I’m making the U.S. sound like a terrible place but each country has their own problems.

      Reply
  4. K
    Katie Collins

    1) I hate that you had a bad experience living in one city in the entire country and decided to write a blog post blasting the entire country. NYC, in my experience at least, is dramatically different from every other part of the U.S. I’ve visited. I don’t disagree with all of your points, but I think it’s horrible to degrade an entire nation based on living in one city for a limited period.

    2) You implied that America shouldn’t even think of helping other countries when so many in our own country are starving. To a point, I agree, but as a super power, the U.S. cannot simply ignore what is happening in the rest of the world. Many countries would be in even more dire straits than they’re already in if the U.S. ceased all foreign aid to help its own. (Though the percentage of foreign aid compared to GDP is small, the U.S. gives more in actual dollars than any other country in the world.) There are plenty of situations in which the U.S. sanctioned countries whose governments did bad things and citizens of those countries starved to death. (There are arguments to be made that some countries have corrupt governments who are not distributing aid from the U.S. in a way that truly benefits their citizens, but it’s certainly not the case 100% of the time.) A quick Google search will show you that millions of children across the globe have starved to death as a result of US and UN sanctions. I don’t know a better system than the sanctions, but isolationism generally doesn’t work as a foreign policy. Why is an American child’s life more important than the life of a child in Iran or Somalia?

    3) While I would concede that many people are obese because of poor eating habits, it’s not always the case. It’s a pet peeve of mine that people lump all overweight/obese people into the “lazy, eats like shit” category. Some people are genetically predisposed to be overweight just as some people are people are genetically predisposed to be thin. Rail against poor eating habits, sure, but don’t say it’s the entire reason our inhabitants are overweight.

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      I see your points but each country has generalizations that don’t apply to everyone.
      The US helping others may seem like it is a nice, altruistic thing but I am far more cynical. I know most people feel and think it is for the good of the other countries, but it is to also protect American interests in their resources (Canada and our oil, gas and fresh water is an example).
      No one, especially not governments, do anything solely just to be good people. Yes, it is part of it on the surface but not the whole story.
      It is the same thing to me as people who tithe 10% to their church when they can’t even feed their family and would rather let their kids go hungry than not give 10% away.
      My motto has always been: take care of your own first, to better help others with your success lest you are unable to do so any longer.
      If it isn’t bad eating habits then what is it? There are too many studies that show it is as simple as eating better and exercising regularly.
      I don’t buy genetics — elephantiasis, yes but does such a large percentage of the population suffers from that? And how can we have changed into a nation of the obese and fat in just 50 years or less, if it is due to genetics and evolution? Not possible in my eyes.
      Even my mom who is 20 pounds overweight (her doctor says it is hurting her health) knows that. She even admits to eating crap and going to restaurants too often. She KNOWS but doesn’t care. That apathy is the same apathy in the US. Deep down, they know what they have to do to combat obesity (no sugary drinks for instance) but don’t want to do it because it SUCKS.
      Even I who have given up eating crap as much as possible, crave on occasion, crap. I don’t give in because I know it is bad for me, but I am sorely tempted to say: EFF YOU WILLPOWER!
      I see them on food shows where it is all butter, quantity, excess and overall junk. Things that are too rich and too decadent are not daily eats. They shouldn’t be.
      Couple that with a lack of exercise, lack of knowledge about not eating in excess and being unable to NOT eat junk (it is addictive) it is the only explanation for how people are getting fat. It is that simple.
      Fat to me, by the way, is not if you are NOT 110lbs. You can be big but not fat.
      Looking at those in other countries who don’t eat crap as much as the US, I don’t see many who are THAT overweight as a nation. The UK is just as bad as the US and I observed they were almost just as fat as a whole nation with their sweets and junk food, as well as the lack of exercise.

      Reply
  5. R
    Rob M

    “I left Canada, mainly because 6 months out of the year, it’s too cold to do anything”

    Hockey pucks! When was the last time that you checked out the winter weather in Canadian cities? Sure, I grant you that Calgary winter weather (chinooks not withstanding) are the pits but during last winter our weather here in Toronto in December 2011 was downright balmy ( probably due to global warming, eh? lol)

    To prove my point, here’s a Google search link article for you (bearing in mind that we use Celcius temperatures, not Farenheit like the U.S. uses – meaning that 1C = 33F – as mentioned in the article)

    http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/local/article/175501

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      I do concur that it was quite mild the last winter but I spent a previous winter in Ottawa and Montreal and froze my butt off. Basically I meant that it is not a guaranteed warm or mild winter in Canada unless you are in Vancouver where I cannot find consistent contracts.

      Reply
      1. R
        Rob M

        Well, having lived half my life in Montreal, I do agree with you but Toronto is not in the same snow belt area and nor is it as expensive to live in as Vancouver so you might consider living in TO – so long as you are not into sports since all TO sports teams suck! 🙂

        Reply
        1. M
          Mochi & Macarons

          Living in TO also means I would give up $60K a year in income. I’m afraid that I do have to live in those snow belt areas 🙁

          Reply
  6. A
    ArianaAuburn

    I am sorry you weren’t treated well in the US. If anything, it could be possible that a lot of the people in your work environment were jealous because Canada is famous for being one of the best places to live in the world. Curiously, from where I work, I get treated as a foreigner even though I am a US citizen. I guess a lot of US citizens have forgotten that the government still holds several colonies to this day.

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      No need to be sorry. 🙂 It’s just the way it was when I was there.

      I’m always of the more suspicious/negative nature.

      Personally, I’d chalk it up to the fact that a lot of Americans don’t think that people are American unless they’re natural-born Americans and don’t have a trace of an accent.

      I saw a lot of other folks who were U.S. citizens (perhaps citizens 20 years after they immigrated) are treated differently just because they look different and speak another language or had a slight accent.

      Reply
  7. B
    Below Her Means

    I’m with Joanna on this one. While I definitely see your point of view (and agree in a few places), you make some sweeping generalizations about all of us that are borderline hurtful.

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      Every country isn’t perfect. Canadians are no saints either, but this is what I am seeing as a generalization of Americans.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t think individual Americans are good people who are trying hard and doing good things.

      I am seeing everyone function as a whole society and system that reacts against non-Americans.

      Reply
  8. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    Love is nice! 🙂

    I couldn’t have expected that when I was there. I really had no idea it was like that, and no one I knew could really tell me what it was like versus being in Canada.

    Although even if they tried, I am PRETTY sure I would have been too stubborn and pigheaded to listen to them.

    It also struck me as very odd that American citizens who are dual (as you mentioned), always told me that they only consider themselves Canadian, even though they live in the U.S. They also make fun of their own family members (all dual, mostly siblings) by teasing them that they’re Americans, not Canadians.

    When they tell me this, I think: .. So why don’t you live in Canada then?
    It confused me.

    Reply
  9. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    I’m quite sad, myself.

    I spent a lot of time and money trying to get there only to find out it wasn’t what I wanted.

    It’s disappointing but at least I didn’t spend 10 years of my life before coming to this realization.

    Reply
  10. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    Can’t find a job there. It’s too specific in terms of industries, and as a freelancer, contracts are where companies are >> Toronto, Montreal and the government in Ottawa.

    Reply
  11. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    America allows dual citizenship, as does Canada. Some countries don’t.
    Sweden is gorgeous but darn expensive, as are most of the Scandinavian countries (a lot of them rank high in terms of happiness and livability).
    Australia is also said to be very nice, but to move there as a freelancer, I gave up. Employed however, you can find a job easily if they need you.
    I think you may like Canada… although the weather is a real turnoff for most people. I just find it less extreme here, which is (for me) a better society to live in, when people aren’t so far right or so far left.

    I don’t consider myself ‘right’ or ‘left’, because I have varying views depending on the topic. I just like to think of myself as a rational person who can choose either or, based on what I think is the fairest option to the majority of people.

    Reply
  12. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    It’s like you all need a fair but firm dictator to step in and say:

    *LISTEN UP FOLKS. We spent more than we made for far too long and now it’s time to STFU and clean house. No more of this namby pamby coming to a consensus crap, we know what’s right and what’s wrong, so let’s get it done. *

    Reply
  13. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    You’re welcome.

    I think it’s hard to explain to other people what it’s like to try and move to another country. Until you do it, you can’t know how frustrating it is and how it feels to be an outsider.

    I had a same problem with Australia — although they’re worse! I just decided to cut my losses and give up, although in hindsight, it’s the best decision compared to what’s out there, and Canada isn’t so bad in the end.
    I did not know Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary are livable. Vancouver I find difficult to live in. Although I love the weather, the industries there are very narrow and it’s hard to find work if you aren’t catering to retirees and the superrich.

    Toronto is the easiest to work and live in… and Calgary, I can see that as being a nice place, although I hear it is far worse in terms of weather out west.

    Reply
  14. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    I understand your point of view.

    I see it more like you’re all in transition towards a better country/future, but you aren’t there yet because a lot of die-hard attitudes are ingrained in the culture that are hard to eradicate.

    Your point of 49% of Americans voting against Bush is exactly supporting my point — a little over half, or really the technical ‘majority’ of Americans voted for someone like Bush (who subsequently sent your whole country deeper into a debt that I am skeptical America will ever clear).
    It’s that diversity of opinion that I liked about the U.S. initially, but as I mentioned, in the end, it’s far too extreme for me.

    It’s like an internal struggle between those who want to do good, great, empathetic things, and those who basically don’t want things to change for the better or don’t care.

    Like it or not, America IS a whole country where you have two halves, battling out to see who will be boss, but nothing changes because it’s really just moving back and forth without much progress because there isn’t a clear agenda of the country as a future, and a clear, accepted leader by both sides.

    In contrast, Canada is far more moderate compared to the opinions I heard and saw in the US.

    Lastly, for me, it *was* a country (like many others) half built on slavery, and I see faint traces of it in the work culture that I don’t see in Canada.

    It’s like you’re all trying so hard as a country to be neutral and to not be racist, sexist and any kind of bad -ist there is possible….but it’s all talk, little action.

    Reply
  15. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    Aww thank you.

    I think for me, weather plays a big part, but not big enough to overlook the general atmosphere and environment of where I am working and living.
    It’s hard…

    I didn’t mention this in my post above, but I am also realizing how much more eco-friendly Canada is. We aren’t doing everything perfectly or the way Europeans or Japanese would do it, but at least we have a organic compost recycling program, trashbins that let you separate recycling from true waste, and an attitude to try and do something.

    Reply
  16. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    I think we’ll go at the end of next year after I feel comfortable financially, now that our future is set, and we can say definitively we’re staying in ONE country. 🙂

    I really feel the need to make money, and I didn’t realize it until I woke up last night feeling bothered about it.

    Until I get on (my) solid financial footing, I will see if we can go to Japan…

    Reply
  17. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    Don’t apologize! Not your fault, specifically.

    I see it more of a symptom of the whole way things have been rolling along for the past 50 years.

    It all came to a head in these last 5 years, especially with the housing crisis and the recession, and everything is becoming exposed.

    Now, it’s really just how America as a country will fix what they see is wrong, but I think it also starts with people recognizing there’s a serious problem and wanting to do something about it rather than being apathetic.

    Reply
  18. fabulously frugirl

    I am SO glad that you decided to stay in Canada! Having lived briefly in the US, I was pretty sure there were only a few cities I could live long term and be happy, but I still prefer the diversity of Toronto. Canada is a pretty fabulous country, there are definitely is a lot of room for improvement, but overall, I am pretty happy with my life, here.

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      I think the food in Montreal is better 😉 It’s like a small hint of Paris outside of France.

      Reply
  19. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    To be clear, I don’t think Americans are rude individuals for the most part.

    Yes, NYC, New Jersey.. they are all a bit rude because it’s a symptom of living in a large urban city, however I’ve been elsewhere in the U.S. and was really happy to be treated with such friendliness… in stores and in general.

    For slavery and rudeness, I’m talking more about the general work and political culture of Americans to treat non-Americans as slaves.

    For me, I can distinguish between the two quite easily — who they are at work and the way they are used to working, doesn’t really factor deeply into who they are as people.

    They are probably nice, kind, generous people outside of work, but at work, they don’t know how else to treat people in a working environment, and I had just never worked with Americans before in an American environment.
    (If that makes any sense.)

    France … is another world of rudeness. It’s not worse than NYC, but it is another league/category. That is a true culture thing, rather than a symptom of a densely-populated urban environment.

    The Japanese on the other hand, are in the other extreme of being fabulously polite. Too polite.

    I am Canadian to be sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever reached the level of politeness/consideration of the Japanese (although I should aim for that).

    Reply
  20. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    I spent 8 days in Hong Kong/Macau and it was not enough in 2011.

    BF and I said: We have to come back, and we’re going back for a whole month to get it out of our system.

    I’d also like to go to Japan next year. I’m pushing BF…

    Reply
  21. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    The U.S. is fine to visit for the holidays — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, NYC, .. those are all very nice cities.

    To live.. not so much. Having been there in-person, I was really really excited, thinking it would be a great country, and it turns out, it’s pretty ugly.

    China — that was an immediate NO after 2 days there. I visited Beijing and Shanghai, and totally crossed them off my life. Hong Kong would have been fine for me, but the air pollution would destroy my lungs.

    I also think China has a lot more underneath its rugs in terms of dirty secrets or practices. I am not willing or eager to find out what they are.
    Europeans have it set, except for perhaps in Greece right now.

    I am not 100% socialist, but I do agree a country (especially where I pay taxes) should provide the basics for citizens, no matter their employment status (freelancer or employee).

    Reply
  22. M
    Mochi & Macarons

    Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden… those are all countries that rank very highly as being wonderful places to live. I think they sound lovely!
    Unfortunately, I cannot work there consistently. Otherwise, I’d move.

    I not only don’t speak the language (Swiss-German!) there wouldn’t be enough work for the two of us, let alone as freelancers, and although BF can work anywhere in Europe, I can’t.

    Canada, luckily, is near the top of being ranked as a fab country. I’m very thrilled to be back home permanently, winter and all. 🙂 We had it great all along…

    Reply
  23. M
    MySavingStyle

    I hate to point out the obvious, but how do you think Forever 21 can sell those rings for $2- I’m thinking cheap (slavery) type wages.

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      YES! YOU ARE SO RIGHT!

      Actually, I just realized that when I had my post up today on US economic/real slavery.

      I am not going to buy from them or other super cheap places any more. I knew it subconsciously but somehow my brain didn’t factor that in when I bought the rings.

      I should have known better.

      From now on, I’m going to stick to paying more.

      Or perhaps the solution is not to buy anything unless it’s food? Food for thought.

      Reply
  24. Deena Dollars

    I agree with a lot of your points about the US – I am not apologist for the way we treat the economically disadvantaged here. I do want to point out that there is a wide diversity of opinions though, and there are plenty of us who are working for changes. There are plenty of signs of hope, in my opinion. That said, I love Canada. I grew up in Upstate NY and most of our family vacations were to various places in Ontario, and I’ve gotten to go to other provinces as an adult. I would seriously consider moving there at some point if it ever made sense for me career-wise. Glad you’re going home! 🙂 Come visit again in a couple of years and we’ll go shopping.

    Reply
    1. M
      Mochi & Macarons

      That is originally why I loved the US so much — diversity and dynanism. But I suppose I need something more moderate.

      Reply

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