The Cost of Living is another important factor, as is the exchange rate if you are drawing a pension from the UK for example. Since these vary it pays to check it out regularly. But the cost of living also varies greatly from one place to another and from store to store. It's easy to check out the local papers of any places you're considering and have a look at their grocery store ads. Here's my opinion of the various places in Canada...
Victoria, Vancouver, and BC (British Columbia) in general. The most beautiful place on Earth. And it comes with a price tag. The housing market in the major metropolitan areas is second in the world only to Hong Kong as far as being an unaffordable English speaking housing market. The median home price in 2011 in the Vancouver area was almost $700,000 but having said that, if you want a multi-cultural and vibrant city with good weather and a good arts scene, it's a great choice. If though, you wanted a quiet country life near to the sea and an easy flight to Europe then you'd look at Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia is a lovely small Maritime province steeped in English and French history since the 1600's. The people are friendly, the real estate is unbelievably cheap in rural areas, and the winters are not too long, though we do get plenty of snow. So why are houses so cheap? Due to the nature of the local fishing industry and it's falling on hard times, unemployment is fairly high and so there are less people in a position to buy homes. Many people here already own their own home, even those receiving Social Assistance can manage the $300-$500 typical mortgage for a small rural house. Having said that, if you are a skilled worker you'll find plenty of work in and around the metro areas of Halifax and Dartmouth and the house prices rise accordingly. Here in the Annapolis Valley a decent home will range in price from $75,000 to well over $300,000 for the fanciest models with large acreages. The typical price for a hobby farm of 5 acres in the country is probably somewhere closer to $130,000 if you are an hour or more outside of town. We bought just 42 acres of bare land and it cost us $35,000. Nova Scotia reminds me a lot of Scotland and Ireland as far as climate goes and the population is under 1 million people. Many young people move away from the Maritime provinces seeking adventure and employment in busier places such as Alberta and Ontario. But on the reverse side, many people retire here for the slower pace of life and the cheaper cost of living. A great tourist destination, as my Dad is demonstrating (that's him in the pic) and a large British ex-pat population.
Ontario varies from city to city but it's the largest population centre of the country with large cities like Toronto, Ottawa and really too many others to list. This province is bigger than many countries in the world so topography varies as you'd expect. The southern part of the province has the best weather and also the largest population centres and these are home to many people who choose to make Canada their home as refugees, immigrants and those who have been in Canada for generations. The population is approximately 12 million.
Alberta, located on the western side of Canada it's separated from BC by the glorious Rocky Mountains and then stretches eastward onto the rolling prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta is home to Edmonton and Calgary both of which offer ethnically diverse populations and arts and culture despite the region being known as the home of cowboys. Oil and gas make this a resource rich province boasting high wages and low unemployment so many younger Canadians live and work here in the hustle and bustle of the boom towns and cities. Being conservative area, it's home to many different religions and people are generally friendly and welcoming. There's a marked difference between the rural life and the big city life on the Prairie Provinces, but no matter where you go you're sure to find a warm welcome as this lovely couple found out. The white hats are gift given from the City of Calgary to visiting dignitaries and are especially prevalent during the world famous 'Calgary Stampede' held every year in July over a 10 day period. Billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth, it's got something for the whole family to enjoy.
The northern territories offer opportunities for a slower pace of life and the thrill of living away from large centres. Yellowknife, the only major city has a population of 20,000 and boasts a varied cultural heritage with 20% or more people identifying themselves as aboriginal. Located just 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle, it's cold in the winter and the winters are long and dark. Transportation of goods can be tricky in the summer months when the ice roads begin to thaw but that doesn't stop tourists from flying in and workers who use Yellowknife as a hub on their way to the many mines that lie withing a 500 mile radius of the city. Diamonds are particularly plentiful. Tourism is another industry that's flourishing among the adventure providing outfitters up north and they offer a once in a lifetime vacation for anyone looking for something different.
Moving to Canada is a big step so if you're considering it, I'd urge you to come and visit a different province for vacation each year and see what you like best. You should have a good idea of your budget and your priorities so that you can make a decision that you will be happy to live with. And if you're moving within Canada, enjoy the drive! Our family moved to Nova Scotia with the idea that we could have our own land, home and finish raising our family here before settling down into a semi-retirement. It's a dream that's slowly becoming reality, and I wish you all the very best success and happiness too!
Please feel free to comment and ask questions.