What’s it like to be in Canada right now?

10 years in New York City – now living in Montreal, Canada. One of the best decisions I ever made! Of course this is very subjective because our satisfaction with a particular place depends on the initial expectations.

Here are two main things that I like based on my observations during the 4 years I’ve been here:

  1. Life-Work balance. In general, people seem to value life & family time more than the opportunity to make a bit of extra cash.
  2. Less selfish society. I like this one the most. If I will contrast the difference in attitudes (again based on my own observations, and a bit exaggerated) it would go something like this:

There – “I’ve made it. I’m rich. Fuck the rest. You can’t afford to take your kids to a doctor? Stop being lazy and work! Your public school suck? Well, you want to be lazy, barely make any money, and still expect the same opportunities for your children? Yeah, right. Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Don’t know how to make money? Simple: start a business, hustle, struggle – make it work. What? This is an unrealistic dream for most people? Ha, you are wrong! Just look at all those rugs to riches stories. I see that you barely watch any films, do you? Anybody can become a billionaire. Anybody. All you need to do is stop being lazy. You are where you are because you are lazy. Whatever happens to you or your kids – you deserve it. It’s your problem.

Here – “Look, shit happens. Today you have it all, but tomorrow you got a series of problems and they pulled you down. That’s ok. That’s not the end. We are not just a country – we are a group of close people, united by the same culture and the same values. Let’s take care of our own. Your got sick? No problem. This can happen to anybody. Let’s make sure that anybody can get the needed treatment, whether you can pay for it or not. And it’s definitely not your children’s fault that you got sick, so don’t worry. They won’t fall through the cracks in the society. They’ll get great education. Free. They will get the same opportunities in life. Poor family with 4 kids living on welfare? Those kids have done nothing wrong. Children is our future and the future foundation of our country – let’s take care of them. Let’s give those 4 kids the best opportunity to succeed and contribute to the prosperity of the country. How do we do it? We’ll build a social safety net. It will be low – but it will be there. Just the basics. Free education. Free healthcare.

During my MBA studies, I knew a guy who was one of those four kids when he was young. All 4 of them are now professionals, one with an MBA. All 4 have stable jobs and contribute to the society. They have more than paid back for the support they received.

Look, I am an entrepreneur and I still like it here more, even with higher taxes. I know if something happens to me – my kids would still be ok: they can still afford to see a doctor and get the education they want. That’s comforting. And this even allows me to take greater business risks. Plus, overall it’s not that much different money wise. In the US, my monthly insurance was $1,800 per month + I still had to pay co-payments and visit charges. Plus saving for kids education. Now those two amounts go to taxes and I get pretty much same.

The main thing I don’t like:

  1. Discrimination against English-speakers (more true for my area). I don’t mind promoting French and I am 100% for French culture, but that can be done without pushing English part down. It’s so great to have a fully bilingual place. As a businessman, I really don’t understand why all the government communication for businesses has to be done in French. Why make it hard for local business: businesses that employ people and pay taxes? I mean, I know “why” it is this way, it just does not make any sense for us to make the lives of our businesses harder and close the doors to many foreign businesses (my US employer expanded to Canada, but stayed out of Quebec for language reason. Big missed opportunity). The good part is that people are super nice, regardless of what language you speak. So, overall it feels like a warm and very nice bi-lingual place with a few outdated and misguided language policies.

Overall, I really love it here. The country that really cares about the well-being of my family and my children is the country I want to be in and contribute.