Best Country for Immigration: Canada or Germany

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Germany and Canada have both the reputation of the immigrant’s country. In fact, Germany was named the fifth-best country worldwide for immigrants in rankings by US News and World Report. At the same time, Canada holds the first position in all its benefits for foreigners. Nonetheless, both countries have pros and cons for future immigrants that are worth considering.

Choosing Canada or Germany as a country for immigration will totally depend on your preferences. Both Germany and Canada have various benefits and disadvantages when it comes to relocation. However, Canadian immigration law might be less strict for foreigners.

Germany and Canada shared a lot of similarities, such as a stable economy, well-established welfare, high-quality health care, and a high standard of living. Yet, there are several aspects of both nations that are unique to them and which might influence your immigration decision.

Some significant differences between Canada and Germany lie in the location, cost of living, language, and taxes. Let’s take a look at both countries as immigration destinations. Read our comparison between living in Canada vs Switzerland.

Why Germany and Canada are known among immigrants?

No secret that Germany and Canada are some of the favorable countries for immigration in the world and have been for many years.

Some reasons for high popularity among foreigners include:

  • High standard and quality of living
  • Great career opportunities
  • High salaries
  • Good work-life balance
  • Safety
  • Established welfare
  • Free healthcare with excellent quality and facilities
  • Foreigner-welcoming immigration law
  • Availability of various residence permits
  • Post-study residence permit
  • International environment
  • A stable, democratic political system

Apart from the location, which is significantly different, together with climate, wildlife, and nature, what are other differences between Canada and Germany?

Immigration to Germany

Of course, the most significant difference between Germany and Canada is the language! In fact, the language is a major challenge when moving to Germany. Living in Germany without knowledge of the local language is difficult. It starts with finding a job socializing and ends with simple daily tasks.

However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t move to Germany without speaking German; there are still plenty of people who do so. Germany is one of the best places to work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) for non-German speakers.

Here are some reasons to move to Germany over Canada:

  • The fourth-largest economy in the world
  • Lower cost of living
  • Cheap and well developed public transport
  • Beer
  • Handsome men
  • Strong culture
  • Cutting-edge technology
  • Central European location
  • Great work-life balance
  • Employment law gives employees more rights
  • Proximity to all the major European countries
  • Very genuine, helpful, and trustworthy people

Cost of living

Let’s start with the costs, as it might be the most critical factor for many people; Can you afford to live in those countries? Yet, the cost of living in Germany is lower than in Canada, with additional higher purchase power.

The average cost for a family with one child will be around 2,300 EUR – 3,000 EUR per month. Your expenses highly depend on the city, region, and your lifestyle. A family of four will need on average 3,800 EUR per month to live a comfortable life.

Generally, the cost of living is lower in Germany than in Canada, especially rent is more affordable. Food is cheaper too and on average has better quality, thanks to the strict German standards.

The list of the most expensive cities to live in Germany:

  • Munich
  • Hamburg
  • Frankfurt
  • Düsseldorf
  • Berlin
  • Stuttgart
  • Heidelberg

Taxes

Income tax in Germany is progressive. Below you can see German income tax brackets:

BracketTaxable incomeThe marginal rate
1up to EUR 9,4080%
2EUR 9,408 – EUR 57,05114% rising progressively to 42,00%
3EUR 57,051 – EUR 270,50042%
4from EUR 270,50045%

With an average annual income of 40,000 EUR, you will pay 35,58% (14,235 EUR) in tax. This will leave you 2,147 EUR per month for your disposal.

There is a big difference between taxes in Canada and Germany. In Germany, social contributions and insurance will take a large part of total taxes and are deducted together with your income taxes.

For example, health insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, long care insurance all will be paid automatically with your taxes. Besides that, Germany has a solidarity tax and church tax (only for Christians) in addition to income tax.

In Canada, the proportion of social security tax is much lower, where you mostly pay only for healthcare.

Everyone needs a health insurance in Germany. One of the top-rated German insurances for international workers, expats, freelancers, and business owners is Ottonova. Check their offer here.

Curious about salaries in Germany? Learn how much you will make!

Location

Germany offers incredible travel opportunities. If you ever dreamed of visiting each country in Europe, now is the time!

With a German residence permit/visa, you can access every country in the EU very easily by taking a train, bus, or a short flight. The longest flight time you can take is maybe 2,5 hours, to Portugal or Greece.

Additionally, world-class public transportation gives you easy access to all the cities in Germany, so you can also travel within the country easily! Usually, you don’t need a car while living in Germany, unless you reside in some village or middle of nowhere.

Education

Germany is the third most popular destination among international students in the world and the most popular in Europe.

More than 12% of students at German universities come from abroad. Germany is an attractive place to study, and German university degrees are highly respected by employers worldwide.

Moreover, schools and universities are free from charge for all nationalities. It tells us how strong the German economy is to be able to finance over 380 universities and 32 thousand schools.

The cost of living for students in Germany is attractive and comes to around 10,000 EUR per year.

Some people who have experience studying in both countries say that the quality of education in Germany is significantly higher than in Canada.

Both theory and practice are essential in Germany. German universities provide outstanding academic programs focusing on research, while universities of applied sciences offer a range of attractive, practice-oriented degrees.

Many study programs combine theory and practice. In fact, universities of applied sciences always have connections with local businesses, so their graduates get to know future employers in the early stage.

Internships and semesters abroad are often a part of the degree program. That all will significantly facilitate your career start.

In Germany, you can make the most of yourself. Here, you can freely develop your intellectual abilities and personal skills and reach your full potential. If you are out to achieve great things, you will find determination, motivation, and commitment to open many doors – both during your studies and after your studies.

Nonetheless, English bachelor programs aren’t widespread in Germany. Students often will need to pay high fees to access an English-speaking degree. Yet, there are plenty of master’s programs available in English!

Read the difference between universities and universities of applied sciences in Germany.

Work

Working in Germany is rewarding. While pursuing your career, you will have great benefits, such as full social, free healthcare, five weeks of vacation, no overtime, etc. If some issue arises at work, the German government is always on the employee’s side.

Employee benefits include: health insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, long care insurance and are paid half by the employer and half by the worker.

Moreover, Germany’s unemployment rate is lower (3,1%) than in Canada (5,7%).

In fact, Germany needs many foreign workers, from experienced high qualified expats to regular workers. The biggest opportunities with the highest salaries can be found in engineering, research, medicine, and IT.

German employers pay half of the costs for health insurance, sometimes also monthly cards for public transportation, gym, and even food service at work.

Read more about employee benefits in Germany.

Besides, working in Germany with the EU-Blue Card will open doors to pursue a career in any European country. You can easily transition to another EU state.

Read about the high-demand jobs in Germany in 2021, so you can get a job for sure.

Visa, residence and work permit

If you decide to study in Germany, you can apply for a post-study work permit valid for 18 months. During this time, you will need to find a job matching with qualifications. Based on that, an application for a working residence permit can be made.

STEM graduates have the best chance of obtaining a job and settling in Germany. Even if you graduated from another country, you could apply for a Germany Job seeker visa to come to Germany in order to find a job.

The EU-Blue Card is another option for highly skilled professionals to move to Germany. However, you will need to have significant working experience and a minimum salary of 56,400 EUR (2022) per year or 43,992 EUR if your job is in a STEM area. T

The EU Blue Card will be granted for four years with an option to extend/reapply.

If you’ve been living in Germany for 5 years on a working residence permit or other, you can apply for a permanent residence permit. It will allow you to stay unlimited time in Germany and do what you want.

Read more about Permanent Residence Permit in Germany.

After 8 years of living there, you will be eligible to apply for German citizenship.

Immigration to Canada

Here are some reasons to move to Canada over Germany:

  • Free (paid with taxes) healthcare
  • People are friendly and welcoming
  • No racism
  • Tolerant society towards other cultures
  • Good education
  • Lower taxes
  • English and French language
  • Jobs are’t dependent on the language
  • Proximity to the USA
  • More affordable property

What is Canada known for as a country in general? It’s indeed famous for its beautiful geographical features and natural diversity. The landscape and climate zones vary significantly. You won’t see something similar in “pretty boring” Germany.

Canadian nature includes beautiful and serene lakes and rivers, glorious mountains, valleys covered in forests, and rolling hills. It’s indeed a perfect destination for anyone who wants to live in a country with access to untouched nature.

Furthermore, due to the high influx of immigrants, the Canadian nation happens to be one of the most multicultural countries in the world. 

Cost of living

If you plan to move to Canada, the cost of living is one of the first things you should consider. Usually, foragers immigrate to Canada via work and study programs, where your income can vary drastically.

Read a detailed guide on cost of living for a family in Canada.

As a student, be prepared to sustain your lifestyle without additional earnings while employees have a large room to play.

In Canada, the average household expenses are about CAD$7,400 per month, of which approximately CAD$1,600 goes to housing, CAD$1,300 for taxes, CAD$1,030 for transportation (private), CAD$730 for food, and CAD$188 for education. A family of four will need at least CAD$7,000 (4,500 EUR) per month.

Entertainment and free-time activities aren’t included in this list.

Yet, the average costs for a family in Canada are hard to estimate. Numbers can fluctuate significantly depending on the province, region, city, or even neighborhood in which you live. 

Example of some monthly expenses in Toronto:

  • Phone and Internet: CAD$127.50
  • Public transportation: CAD$176.25
  • Groceries: CAD$383.60
  • Insurance: CAD$52

The list of the most expensive cities to live in Canada:

  • Toronto in Ontario
  • Vancouver in British Columbia
  • Victoria in British Columbia
  • Hamilton-Burlington in Ontario
  • Calgary in Alberta

For example, in Vancouver, you will pay more than everywhere for the rent of a two-bedroom apartment – CAD$3,200 per month. Food and groceries will cost you more in Toronto, about CAD$400-520 per month.

Healthcare costs range between CAD$60-120 in all main cities. Public transportation is the most expensive in Toronto – CAD$145 per month. Entaintenment comes to at least CAD$500 per month.

However, real estate is less expensive in Canada than in Germany. You will pay around 2,719 EUR per square meter on average, while in Germany, it will be 3,572 EUR.

Similar to Germany, Canada also has a free universal healthcare system.

Consequently, the cost of living for a middle-class family of four is higher in Canada than in Germany. Moreover, car and home insurance can take a considerable bite out of your income. Property taxes and mortgages are also increasing annually in Canada.

Taxes

Canadian federal tax rates (CAD):

  • 15% on the first $45,916 of taxable income, +
  • 20.5% on the next $45,915 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $45,916 up to $91,831), +
  • 26% on the next $50,522 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $91,831 up to $142,353), +
  • 29% on the next $60,447 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $142,353 up to $202,800), +
  • 33% of taxable income over $202,800

Additionally, you will need to pay a provincial tax in some cases. A provincial sales tax (PST) is imposed on consumers of goods and particular services in many Canadian provinces.

With an average annual income of CAD$52,600, you will pay 21,46% ($11,288) in taxes. It will leave you CAD$3,442 (2,221 EUR) per month in disposable income.

Keep in mind other expenses such as health insurance. In Germany, the employer pays 50% for it.

Foreigners in Canada noticed that saving is almost impossible when working a regular job, only highly paid professionals can do so.

Education

Firstly, the cost factor – the undergraduate program in Canada will cost you between CAD$6,000 and CAD$35,000 per year. In contrast, education is free in Germany.

The cost of living for students in Canada ranges between CAD$10,000 and CAD$12,000 per year.

Despite the cost, Canada is also one of the favorite destinations for students who aim to study abroad. Students prefer it for various reasons, e.g., quality, campus life, high quality of living, research and job opportunities, etc.

Canadian education has its quality

Canadian universities ranked in place 18 in the global ranking when the first German university appeared on the spot 98. There are a total of 26 universities in Canada, of which 4 are in the world’s top 100.

The highest-ranking universities in Canada are the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Northern British Columbia, and others.

Thousands of students each year come to Canada from abroad. Last year, it was 642,480 international students. With time, amount of international students has increased in Canada. In 2000 it was just 100,000.

Germany, on the other hand, welcomes around 350,000 students annually.

A degree obtained at a Canadian university has high value and can compete with the degree received at a university in the USA, Australia, or from some European country.

The government and universities continuously strive to support students to pursue their studies effectively. Compared to some other countries, the fees for international students are still acceptable. There are also few scholarship opportunities that reduce the burden of expenses.

Campus life

Unfortunately, Germany doesn’t practice campusing for students. Often universities and dormitories are in totally different parts of the town.

In Canada, many cultural and social events happen in the university. There is a unique lifestyle and fun attached to studying in Canada.

Research

Germany is focusing strongly on practice, Canada is more on research. The universities provide excellent support to the students who have the best research ideas and sometimes award some scholarships.

Higher education in Canada helps many researchers to utilize their knowledge in various disciplines. Students can do research in any given field, and they are supported by lecturers and professors of the university. When the idea is good, industries and the government take over the cost of the research.

There are many good universities in Canada. The most popular Canadian provinces for international students are Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, which are home to many of the top universities in Canada.

Work

In Canada, employees enjoy only two weeks of paid holidays and almost the same as in Germany social benefits. Employees receive employment insurance, family benefits, pension insurance, education and training, housing, maternity, and paternity leave.

Germany, for instance, doesn’t offer housing benefits to its employees. Only in rare cases, when someone is relocating because of a job.

In general, if you are a highly skilled worker, you will find many job opportunities in Canada. With over 41,500 tech companies, IT specialists have the best chances of employment.

Apart from IT, manufacturing, various services, real estate, and communications are important sectors in Canada and have been growing continuously. Hence, growth requires more employees.

For the next two years, Canada is ready to invite more immigrants. Especially people who can fill the gaps in IT, medicine, engineering, oil, and gas industries are welcomed.

British Columbia and Ontario even introduced Tech Specific Draws (immigration law), inviting highly skilled and experienced foreign tech professionals to live and work in Canada. 

Keep in mind that Canada has two major languages, English and French. French is mainly required to live and work in the province of Quebec, and the provincial authorities require language skills if you plan on settling there.

You could get away with knowing English as a tourist, but you need to know French for every other major thing. Therefore, you need to learn English and French to live in a particular part of Canada.

Visa, residence and work permit

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The countries like the USA and the UK have made their immigration rules and requirements stringent in the last couple of years. At the same time, Canada and Germany eased their immigration rules and requirements to allow more immigrants into the country.

Generally, Canada follows the points-based immigration system.

A post-study work permit is valid for 3 years in Canada, longer than in Germany.

Graduates can apply for permanent residence in line with the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). It’s pretty common to receive PR (permanent residency) in Canada compared to most other countries. As the country is thinly populated, there is a gap of highly-skilled workers.

Moreover, a Canadian passport can be obtained already after 5 years of residence.

In contrast to Germany, you don’t necessarily need to have a job to come to Canada. You can apply for a residence permit through Canada’s Express Entry without a concrete offer; however, having a job offer will increase your chances.

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system is points-based; the more points, the better chances. You get points for your age, education, work experience, and knowledge of English or French, among other things.

57% of all Canadian immigrants gain entry as skilled workers or business-class immigrants under this points system. The vast majority of remaining immigrants arrive in Canada as refugees or join families already living in Canada.

Altogether Canada welcomes more immigrants per capita than any other developed country, for a total of about 300,000 per year.

For highly-skilled workers of in-demand trades immigration to Germany might be easier.

Express Entry is Canada’s immigration program for skilled workers. The program aims to welcome new immigrants in 6 months or less.

Before you fill out an Express Entry profile, determine if you’d be eligible under one of the federal programs for skilled workers.

Keep in mind that to complete your Express Entry, you’ll need to take a language test and have your education credentials and experience assessed. However, not all people succeed in moving to Canada. Read more about the prozess and success rates.

Finally, it can be challenging to choose between so similar yet completely different countries. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

I hope this article will give you more understanding of the benefits of living and working/studying in Germany over Canada and what Canada has to offer, but Germany doesn’t.

Other top countries for immigrants

Other top countries for immigrants are:

  1. The US
  2. Switzerland
  3. Australia
  4. UAE – Dubai
  5. Sweden
  6. Singapore
  7. China
  8. The UK
  9. Saudi Arabia

Anna

Anna is an enthusiastic expatriate with experience of living in Germany, Austria and Greece. She shares her passion for living abroad on this website.

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