For those considering a move abroad, the United Kingdom may have crossed your mind as a destination worth exploring if you’re planning to bid goodbye to Canada. And indeed, it’s a country that’s worth serious consideration.
Boasting remarkable career prospects, towering landmarks, boundless travel choices, and a truly distinctive culture, it’s debatably one of the most desirable locations globally for millennials to inhabit.
After calling both Canada and the U.K. home, I chose to settle in the latter. However, I frequently reflect on the respective merits and drawbacks of living in each country.
Canada is undeniably a land of stunning natural beauty, vibrant urban centres, and friendly locals. Nonetheless, the countries within the United Kingdom offer a way of life that I simply couldn’t bid farewell to for good.
Considering this, here are ten areas in which the U.K. excels over Canada, and why it may be worth considering leaving the Great White North for a fresh start on the tiny island.
I must admit, one of the things I adore about Canada is the guarantee of experiencing all four seasons every year. A winter wonderland, a vibrant spring, a sunny summer, and an autumnal blaze of gold – so breathtaking!
In the United Kingdom, the seasons lack romance and instead blend into a soggy, rainy muddle.
While British winters tend to be damp and brief, they’re practically tropical in comparison to Canada’s long, frosty, and snow-blanketed winters. In most regions, temperatures seldom dip below minus 1, allowing for uninterrupted activity in most circumstances.
During my time living in Canada, the winter season felt like a period of stagnation. With fewer social activities and more time spent indoors, it seemed as though time had stopped entirely. The prolonged duration of darkness and cold only added to this sense of never-ending stillness.
I must admit that Canada’s summers are comparatively warmer and more enjoyable, while the vibrant orange hues of autumn are undeniably stunning (although they are here, too), but I’d sacrifice the beauty of both for a milder winter season.
The Cost Of Living
There is no getting around the fact that the cost of living in both Canada and the UK is high at the moment.
But according to Numbeo, in March 2023, commodity prices in Canada increased by about 9.2%, and rents also increased by an average of 12.5%.
Groceries are also more expensive in Canada, and fewer stores are offering cheap groceries or deep discounts, in my experience.
Not to mention, one of the best things about buying anything in the UK is that all taxes and charges are included in the item’s fare, so you know how much you’re paying before you check out.
Plus, you can save a ton of money on UK phone bills compared to Canada, where the cost of the basic plan blew my mind! In the UK, you can pay as little as £5 (CAD$8) per month for the cheapest plan.
Save money by eating out too! In most UK service industries, employees do not rely on tips for a living wage, so there’s much less of a commitment to leave anything extra if the service isn’t top-tier. It’s a nice gesture, but in most cases, it’s not expected.
Finally, if you do move to the U.K., the National Health Service (NHS) has got your back when it comes to any medical or dental issues. It’s not without its problems for sure, but having three widespread health care — which includes dental and some other things not covered in Canada — is one of Britain’s finest attributes.
The Time Off
If there’s one thing millennials around the world are increasingly talking about, it’s a healthy work-life balance.
In the UK, I think it’s easier to get than in Canada.
A recent study found that Canadians take the fewest vacation days in the world, with only 10 days of mandatory paid time off for full-time employees, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Travel Opportunities
For me, one of the UK’s biggest advantages over Canada is its proximity to other countries – so travel is very easy.
Depending on which part of the UK you fly from, you can be in European bucket list countries like Spain, France, Greece, Italy and more within a few hours.
Plus, strong flight connections within Europe and a plethora of low-cost airlines mean you can get round-trip tickets for under £100 (CAD$163) – and many countries are close enough to visit in just a weekend.
Although Thailand, Australia, Dubai, Egypt and other countries are far away, due to the large demand and many routes, it is not only easy to book trips in Asia, Africa, Oceania and other continents, but also relatively cheap.
Even better, the UK is four different countries rolled into one – so you can experience the wonders of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales without needing a passport!
All of this leads me nicely to my next point…
Canada is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of land area, and I feel that way too.
Even though I knew the country was huge before I came to Canada, I couldn’t believe how big each province was – and some of them were far apart.
It’s crazy to me – but kind of cool – that you can fly for hours and still be in the same country you took off from. But it also has some disadvantages.
It strikes me as odd that Canadians tend to spend hundreds of dollars travelling in their home country due to high airfare prices in Canada.
Living in a smaller country (the UK can hold over 40 times the size of Canada!) means it’s much easier to explore where you live. If you have friends and family across the country, you can be there to reunite with them within hours—even if you’re driving.
If there’s an event, festival, sporting event, concert, or any other event on the other side of the country, it’s no big deal to attend!
You may enjoy some Canadian entertainment, but I firmly believe that Canadian entertainment doesn’t even come close to the UK.
From easy-to-watch crap like Gogglebox and Love Island to gritty ITV crime dramas and BBC documentaries, I think British TV is top-notch, otherwise, you can’t convince me.
Considerable investment is poured into making British television one of the finest globally. It comes as no shock to me that these broadcasters — Channel 4 (Peep Show, Derry Girls, It’s A Sin, This Is England ’86, Stath Lets Flats), ITV (Des, Downton Abbey, Broadchurch), and BBC (Line of Duty, I May Destroy You, Fleabag) — produce highly rated shows that captivate audiences worldwide.
In Canada, cable television channels can provide some solace at most, but British television offers a plethora of extraordinary and indelible content that can fill a lifetime’s worth of viewing pleasure. This remains true regardless of whether one has access to streaming services or not.
The Sports Culture
It’s no secret that Canada has a deep-rooted love for hockey, and while that’s undeniably impressive, it’s also pretty cool.
While I was in Canada, I had the chance to attend hockey, baseball, and basketball games, all of which were lively, and engaging, and made for a great day out.
I’ve never felt that same fervour, thrill, and unadulterated ardour anywhere else in the world quite like in the UK, no matter the risk.
Football (or football as Canadians call it) creates relationships like no other. Strangers can always find common ground when it comes to football – the teams they love, the teams they hate (with equal enthusiasm) and how their teams perform – and it inspires you won’t find it anywhere else friendship.
The rivalry is heating up, with daily games taking place every week, and fans of smaller teams can always count on their Saturdays being ruined. It’s not always pretty, but it’s a way of life.
While football is undoubtedly the main sport in the UK, you’ll also find grown men sobbing in Welsh pubs during the Six Nations rugby game, you’ll find people who’ve waited a whole year to enjoy strawberries at Wimbledon, and you’ll find them at Cricketers are monitored at every corner as long as the weather permits.
The sporting culture in the UK is unlike anywhere else in the world and once you experience it there is no going back.
Like any country, Canada and the UK have their own rich, complex and unique histories.
While Canada’s is surely as fascinating, Britain’s long history is visible on every town corner, in every local museum and through almost every piece of architecture, all in a way I didn’t expect during my time in Canada.
The Pub Culture
British pub culture is renowned, and it’s easy to see why. Drinking is undoubtedly a part of life in Britain, but pubs are excellent places to socialize – regardless of what you’re looking to do.
Have lunch with your grandparent? Pop into a pub. Meet up with your best mate for a beer. Pub. Need to unwind after a hard day at work? Pub’s the place. Want to grab a quick bite? Head to the pub. Taking your pup for a walk? Make it a pub stop.
Too hot outside during summer? Find a pub with an outdoor garden! It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday, Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday – pubs are always open and ready for anyone who wants to drop in! Plus, they act as staples of the local community; everyone is welcome – from youngsters and hounds to grandparents and beyond! And really, pubs can’t be found everywhere else in the world quite like they can in Britain – making them even more special.
As for drinks, you can find alcohol – think wine, beer, cider, spirits – anywhere and everywhere; from gas stations and supermarkets to grocery stores and small retailers alike.
While I truly cherish my two years spent in Canada (the people are so hospitable!), Britain will always have my heart – so I’d implore anyone dreaming of change from Canada to try living abroad in the U.K., if only for a year or so! Chances are you won’t want to leave afterwards!