Returning to Canada after you have lived in the U.S. or further abroad can be both exciting…and overwhelming.
Exciting because Canada is a great place to live, work, and retire in, and overwhelming, too, because the move itself, with all the steps needing to be taken, can feel like a mountain to climb.
Uncertainty can creep in, too. “What if we make a mistake and forget to do something? Or make a wrong choice, such as with our tax planning?”
Real concerns, felt by many of the thousands of Canadians moving back every year.
Here are some tips to help your move back to Canada feel more exciting and confident:
1. Build a team you trust
Most of the clients I work with have a team of people they can trust to help them with their move. This team includes:
– A tax accountant here in Canada who can help them prepare their financial, real estate, and business assets so as to minimize any tax implications and ensure all important government filings are done. Further, a great accountant will handle dual U.S./Canadian tax filings in a manner that minimizes tax implications going forward after their move, something most Canadians returning from the U.S. are concerned with and are relieved to set up beforehand.
– A lawyer in Canada. This can be a family lawyer from when they lived in Canada previously, or a lawyer new to them who understands cross-border and international implications, such as when clients own real estate in the U.S., have trusts and pensions left there, or when clients have business and real estate assets still in Hong Kong when they return to Canada.
– A great moving company, mortgage broker, and real estate agent to help with their home move.
– A consultant and advisor to walk beside them throughout the move, who helps them build their team, answers urgent and concerning questions relating to everything from moving assets to health care, retirement, schooling, and more. I’m that consultant. 🙂
2. Be proactive with the important stuff
Because a move back can feel overwhelming, the human mind focuses on the easiest stuff first: Packing belongings, saying goodbye to friends, buying things to take back to Canada with you. All important tasks, to be clear, but perhaps not the things that need to be done early in the process.
The harder stuff, which needs to get done earlier, sometimes gets delayed until it becomes an urgent crisis, which adds to the stress of the move back.
Suggestion: Tackle these pieces early on and you will find your move happens more smoothly.
– Get your investments and tax situation planned early. Contact your 401k manager, investment firm, bank, and insurance company find out the implications of your move back and new status as “non-resident” in the country you are leaving. The implications can be significant and a mistake in your choices costly.
– Book a consultation with a professional Canadian tax accountant who understands the Canadian expatriate context. They will help you set up your move to minimize taxes and answer any tax questions you have. An investment well worth making for peace of mind!
– Buying real estate in Canada. The earlier you begin researching real estate and building your team here, the better. Knowing where you will be living, what kind of property you want, what is available in your price range, and who you will be working with, the more confident you will feel about the transition to Canada.
– Decide if you will move your whole home or move with fewer belongings. This decision has a big impact on your workload closer to the move and on your choice of moving company.
3. Prepare for a healthy move
Health care is one of the top concerns I work with clients on. Whether they have chronic health challenges or are simply learning how to bridge the waiting period for public health care in most provinces, health care is an important one to put your mind to rest about.
Another, and equally important health concern: Your peace of mind. Moving back to Canada is a big transition and one that can be tiring and stressful. Make time to take care of yourself during the move: Time-outs, dinners out, and walks on the beach. All very important in the run-up to your move back to Canada. Even as little as a 2 hour break from thinking about the move will give you renewed energy and enthusiasm for taking the next steps that need action on.
In summary, moving back to Canada can be, and should be, exciting! Build a professional team to help you, be proactive in your preparations, and take care of yourself during the transition and you can experience the move back to Canada you wish to have!
By Paul Kurucz
Bio: Paul Kurucz is a consultant and advisor helping Canadian citizens in the U.S. and abroad move back to Canada. Since his own move back to Canada from Dubai, he has helped some 1000 clients smoothly and confidently transition their finances, belongings, families, and lives. His background includes 25 years as a university professor teaching international business, marketing, and management in British Columbia and abroad. Paul has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business, Western University in Ontario and grew up in Ontario as well.
My web site contains a wealth of self-help information and tips from returning Canadians that are free to access and up-to-date. I help Canadians have a smooth and confident return to Canada through my professional advising and consulting services, which are reasonably prices packages that provide support for 2 years – help for the duration of your preparation and move back to Canada.
The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not take into account your personal situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from accounting and financial professionals. Allan Madan and Madan Chartered Accountant will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.