Ireland vs Canada: Which Country is Best to Live In?

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Perhaps you have been debating recently about moving and living in a whole new country.

Having lived in Canada my entire life, I always thought that Canada was one of the best countries to live in. However, after visiting Ireland twice in the past couple of years, I would get in serious debates with my wife over whether it would be better to live in Ireland over Canada.

There is something magical about Ireland’s culture and people that once you go there you just feel like your “home” and don’t want to leave.

So which country is best to live in when looking at Ireland and Canada? This list will examine some of the main items to look at when considering relocating.

From the cost of living to medical services, this list should highlight some of the differences between Ireland and Canada and help you decide which one would be the better choice to move to. 

Of course, depending on whether you are moving to a large city or out in the country there will be some fluctuations, so it may be worth doing a city to city comparison once you have decided on places.

But in the meantime here is some information that will give a good indication of averaged data across the board. 

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Housing

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One of the biggest items to take into account before making a major move is the cost of housing. Not just the cost of the house but the size of the home should be taken into account, you want to know just how much home you can get for your money. 

There are also property taxes, maintenance, utilities and all of the other factors that go into the cost of owning a home. The home prices and property sizes can vary wildly from city to city in each country and there is also a variance to consider if you prefer to live in the city, suburbs or a more rural location

However, if we are using general guidelines the data shows that Ireland could be the better option than Canada when it comes to property prices.

According to recent data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the National Average price of homeownership Canada is $505,500, but that isn’t putting Canadians off from purchasing their homes. Recent data shows that Canada has one of the highest homeownership rates in the world with almost 68% of people owning their homes.

Compare this with the Irish House Price report which shows the median cost of homes costing buyers an average of 330,000 euros or $478,322 in CAD (as of October 2019), then we can see that Ireland is lower by some $27,178 on average making it a slightly cheaper option when it comes to home purchasing.

However, cheaper doesn’t always necessarily equate to better so make sure you are weighing all factors carefully if you are thinking of making a purchasing decision in the near future. 

Medical

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The cost of medical care can be a primary consideration for you and your family, especially if you are coming from a country like the USA where everything is a paid-for service that has to be covered by your own personal medical insurance. 

Prices for medical services and procedures can rack up quickly and should be assessed carefully before moving country especially if you have a condition that required constant supplies, medication and/or repeats prescriptions, such as medication for diabetes for example. 

Ireland as a country does basic free public healthcare, but it is essentially a hybrid health care model. You can rely on the free public health care system, but for many people, they do not feel this is adequate and opt for private health care coverage.

Even if you do not fully qualify for complete public healthcare there are subsidies available to cover the cost of GP visits, medication, or visits to the hospital. 

Canada operates its own publicly funded universal Medicare health system and it has been touted as the country to model by US politicians and other public figures.

Canadians do not pay any out of pocket fees for most health services. However, you do pay out of pocket for services outside of hospital visits such as dental, physio and eye care.

Education

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Moving countries as an adult will bring with it a set of challenges. If you happen to be moving with young children then the ante is upped even more, school and colleges will need to be a strong consideration for the education of your children. 

Ireland and Canada have similar literacy rates, both standing at 99%, but there are some substantial variations in other areas. Canada stands in 5th place in the world for mathematical literacy while Ireland ranks at number 15. Canada also ranks 5th for Science with Ireland being number 9.

There are many factors to be assessed when looking at education levels, for a complete list of stats you may view the data at Nationmaster.

Each country has the option of paying privately for education and both allow homeschooling with certain requirements for students who wish to opt-out of the traditional school system.

Weather

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Ireland is known for its heavy amount of precipitation throughout the year. The Emerald isle didn’t get its well-founded reputation for lush landscapes without being subjected to a decent amount of rainfall, about 40 inches per year to be exact. 

You might think that Ireland is the clear loser when it comes to matters of meteorology but you might not be quite accurate.

Areas like Montreal in Canada rival Irelands annual rainfall numbers and the capital city of Toronto only has 10 inches less of precipitation per year. 

Canada covers a vast geographic area so the weather patterns can vary greatly by region. The Great Lakes, Pacific Region, and Mountain areas all see quite different climates so depending on the city that you are moving too it can be tricky to make a direct and general comparison to the Irish weather. 

In fact, Canada is so large that it covers 8 different climate zones ranging from moderate to extreme. The Atlantic Climate region sees cool winters and mild summers, while the Arctic Region sees harsh winters and short summers so make sure your research your region thoroughly to determine the weather you are likely to experience. 

Employment

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Ireland is a region that has been historically plagued with less than attractive employment rates. The economy has had its fair share of challenges and the challenges associated with finding employment has been a contributing factor to the large numbers of immigrants leaving the country to seek greater prosperity and opportunity.

However, in recent years that have all seen a dramatic change. For the first time in decades, Ireland is seeing more people moving into the country than out and has entered a period of lucrative economic stability and growth. 

Recent statistics and data point to continued movement in a positive direction for Ireland and a continuing uptrend for the Irish economy for the foreseeable future. Unemployment across the country has seen a consistent reduction in unemployment rates since around 2012 and has been at the lowest levels for some time hovering between 4.5 and 5.5%

Canada on the other hand trends slightly higher with their unemployment rate ranging from 5.5 to 6% on average. The countries highest levels hit in excess of 12% back in the early eighties then steadily dropped over the following years.

Again as Canada covers such a large area there are regional differences in unemployment rates and cities will report higher or lower than the national average depending on the region they are in. For example, the city with the highest unemployment currently in Calgary currently trending at 7.6%

Cost of Living

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Now we have looked at things like education, unemployment and homeownership costs lets examine the overall cost of living in each county. In other words, will your money go further in Ireland or Canada? 

If you are thinking about relocating then you will want to know what your day to day living will cost you. There can be variances by country and or city for the price of things like grocery shopping or petrol for the car. As these items are purchased frequently on a daily or weekly basis the cost can soon add up.

In general items like consumer goods, restaurant prices, and rent tends to trend on the cheaper side in Canada. The one notable exception is groceries, which on average will cost you around 10% more in Canada for the same weekly shopping purchases in Ireland. 

Variations by regions will play a part and the differences between Canadian and Irish cities may be researched using this tool that will help make a direct comparison.

Language

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One thing that can get easily overlooked when researching a move is the languages spoken in the country you are moving to. You may assume that Canada and Ireland are largely English speaking nations. 

This is true of many areas in both countries but does not automatically apply to all regions. Many areas of Canada, for example, use French as their primary language, which some of the more traditional Irish villages still converse in the ancient Irish Gaelic when communicating with friends and neighbours.

If you move to a country where you do not speak the language then even the simplest communication can prove tricky. If Engish is your first language then you might want to check that is also the language used in the area you will be moving to.

Food

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One of the biggest culture shock creators is typically food. We all get used to a certain food, cooked and served the way we like. What we are used to may just not be the way it is done in another country, and some traditional dishes might take a bit of getting used too.

Ireland is known for simple staple food and dishes like Bacon and Cabbage, Boxty, and Colcannon are common fare in the Emerald Isle they may not suit your palette in the beginning. 

If Ireland is all about the vegetables then Canada, on the other hand, is all about the meat. The latter may provide a wider variety of cuisines from all over the world, especially in the well-populated larger cities.  

Religion

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Whether you are looking to reside in Canada or Ireland you may experience some similarities in the religious makeup of each country. Canada, like Ireland, is predominantly Catholic.

While Canada is made up of many different religions Catholocism is by far the most popular with 68% of Canadian identifying with the religion. 

Ireland is divided into 2 countries. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is firmly Catholic with over 78% of Irish people adhering to the religion. 

Northern Ireland has a lower number of Catholics with numbers at 40%. There are a large number of Presbyterian and Church of Ireland followers in Northern Ireland and these 3 religions combined are accounting for over 70% of the Northern Irish population.

Travel and Transportation

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The country that you are relocating from may play a part in how you view the travel and transportation arrangements in Ireland and Canada. For example, if you are moving from the USA then you may find Canada quite similar to the way you move around and get from point A to point B at home. 

There are varied transportation options in larger cities ranging from buses, trains and, subways. But again, owing to Canada’s overall size it is not uncommon at all to hop on a plane to travel quickly between cities.

Ireland is somewhat smaller, therefore, taking a plane to get from one end of the country to another is not unheard of but using planes as a primary method of transport is less common than in Canada. 

Ireland, like the UK, relies heavily on extensive train systems that can move passengers around the country quickly, and relatively cheaply. A train is often the ‘go-to’ option for Irish people wishing to travel between two locations. 

Within cities, local bus service is common and used as a method of travel for those without a car that wish to get to work or otherwise move around in the city. The bus services are often quite reasonable and even more so if purchasing a daily or weekly pass.

Traditions 

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All countries develop their own traditions and customs over time. Some are widely followed, such as Christmas but others live happily and remain in their country of origin, People moving to Ireland may encounter a variety of traditions that they have never before seen or heard of.

Ireland has its share of local traditions like – 

Little Women’s Christmas – a custom upheld on the 6th of January each year where women and female friends get together for a girls night out

The Wrens Day – held annually this is a traditional Irish festival that almost died out but has seen a renewed interest in recent years.

Bilberry Festival – another festival that has waned over time but is still observed in remote areas.

Other celebrations and festivals may be more familiar even if you are not from Ireland, St Patricks Day and Halloween are widely celebrated in the Emerald Isle and are much the same as other countries the world over that also observe these traditions. 

For newcomers to Canada, you may find yourself faced with annual treats like,

The Quebec Winter Carnival – a huge celebration beginning on the first day of Lent.

The Calgary Stampede – a cowboy and rodeo themed carnival that grew from a small fair.

Grand River Powow– a meeting of almost all of America’s First Nations groups and traditional dance competition.

As with many other items on this list you may find that many events, spectacles, customs, or traditions vary depending on the region you are living in. Some areas hold small local events while some offer larger celebrations that spread over a national scale.

Summary

It is almost impossible to say which country is best to live in between the nations of Canada and Ireland.

As a Canadian, I am obviously biased towards Canada. However, after visiting Ireland and falling in love with it, I could definitely see myself living in Ireland and loving it!

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Summary

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