How to Retire to Canada
Always dreamed of spending your retirement in Canada? Here’s how to make it happen.
There are no programs specifically to allow people to retire to Canada. Canada is already facing a large number of baby boomers retiring — as well as the ongoing care of the silent generation. Most immigration programs are designed to bring young professionals to Canada.
However, you may still be able to qualify to move to Canada, especially if you’re excited about embarking on a second career while in Canada.
If none of these options is right for you, there are plenty of other places that are eager to welcome retirees.
How long do you want to stay?
If you’re looking to spend your summers in beautiful Cape Breton, you’re in luck. Visitors can spend up to six months a year in Canada without doing anything special. There’s nothing stopping you from buying a vacation home on Prince Edward Island. Theoretically you can stay for six months, leave the country for a day, and come right back for another six months. I imagine you’d face some extra questions at the border, though.
For those of you looking to stay for longer than six months, there are other options.
Be a perpetual tourist
The easiest option is to extend your tourist visa. You need to do this at least 30 days before your current visitor visa expires. You have implied status while your application is processed, meaning your visa is considered to remain valid while the new application goes through.
If you dream of spending a year exploring Canada before moving back home (or on to your next adventure) this is your best option.
Spend up to two years with your family
The easiest way to spend an extended amount of time in Canada with your children or grandchildren is to get a super visa. You can spend up to two years in Canada with your family. The visa is good for multiple entries, so you can come and go for ten years and stay for up to two years at a time.
You’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you plan on leaving Canada before your visa expires, so if you sell your house be prepared for extra questions.
You’ll also need to pass a basic medical exam and have your own private insurance coverage.
In order to sponsor you, your child or grandchild will need to meet income criteria to show that they can support you during your stay. You would not be eligible to work during this time. Even if you can support yourself while you’re in Canada, your sponsor will need to provide a letter promising to support you.
Go back to school
Have you always dreamed of going back to school to study your passion? You’re never too old to go back to school. You can even apply for a post-graduation work permit after your studies are complete, adding up to three years to your time in Canada.
There are so many immigration pathways and scenarios, it can be confusing to figure out the best choice for you -- or even what programs you qualify for.
Luckily, we have a simple quiz that will help you sort through the options.
Ways retirees can settle in Canada permanently
Use your family ties
If your kids or grandkids are living in Canada, they can sponsor you to move up and join them through the Parent and Grandparent Program. Unfortunately, this program is very competitive — far more people apply each year than there are spots.
In order to qualify to sponsor you for the parent and grandparent program, they’d have to promise to support you for a certain number of years and prove that they meet minimum income requirements. Quebec has its own income requirements.
In addition to the financial requirements, they must be eligible to sponsor someone. This means they can’t have received government financial assistance (other than disability), can’t have defaulted on a court-ordered support (like alimony or child support), can’t be in prison, or be in bankruptcy.
Work for a few more years
Canada’s skilled worker program, Express Entry, is designed to bring young professionals into the country. While it’s relatively easy to qualify if you’re under 35, it’s still possible to qualify into your 40s if you have previous Canadian work experience, speak French, have advanced degrees, and especially if you have a qualifying job offer.
Express Entry awards points for your age. Someone in their 20s gets 100 points. Someone over 45 gets zero. However, you can still get enough points without those 100 points — you only need around 450 points (or less) out of a total of 1200 points. A PhD gets you 140 points.
Use your Canadian ties
You’re not living in Canada now, but if you’ve lived in Canada at any point in your life, this can help you accumulate enough points to qualify for Express Entry.
If your degree is from Canada, you’ll be awarded more points than if your degree is from any other country. You can get up to 30 points.
Have you ever worked in Canada? Five years of Canadian work experience gets you 80 points.
If you have a sibling living in Canada who’s a citizen or permanent resident, you’ll get 15 additional points.
Leverage your expertise to get a job
Getting a job offer can easily get you an invitation to apply. If you’re an experienced professional who can use your network to land a job, this is a great way to get permanent resident status.
A qualifying job offer in skill level 0, A, or B will get you 50 points.
A job offer in high level management will get you 200 points.
Immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur
Many people dream of starting a business once they’ve become financially independent. There are many entrepreneur and investor programs, collectively known as Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).
Have you dreamed of opening up your own consulting firm? A restaurant? A bookstore? Here’s your chance.
Each program is slightly different, but they all require that you become an active managing partner in a business in that province. You don’t have to start a business of your own, you can purchase an existing business or franchise.
In order to qualify, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re financially sound, can contribute a certain amount of equity into the business, and have the experience required to run a business. You’ll also be required to pay a deposit to the province which they’ll hold for a specific amount of time or until you’ve fully executed your business plan. Some of these deposits are interest bearing and guaranteed, others are more speculative.
The amount of capital required varies depending on the province. It can be as low as C$150k, but can reach into the millions. Provinces with smaller economies have requirements that are more realistic for many retirees.
Meeting the basic requirements of the program doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be invited to move to Canada and become a permanent resident. The goal of these programs is to bolster local economies and create jobs for Canadians. They also prioritize business plans that are the most likely to succeed.
Don't take my word for it
Read interviews with other people who successfully moved to Canada from countries around the world.
I moved to Canada without an immigration attorney or consultant and you can, too.
Now that I’ve successfully immigrated to Canada from the US using the Express Entry program, I'm writing the guides I wish I’d had.
If you want the step by step process on how to immigrate to Canada, here it is. I found the book easy to read, inspiring, and very informative.
Useful for getting a general overview of the process all in one place, rather than searching around the internet.
This book is clearly exhaustively-researched. Each section gives detailed information on how to begin the process of moving to Canada, with super informative with real-world examples and step-by-step instructions. I found the section on health care and taxes especially informative!
We are an American couple planning our immigration to Canada through the Express Entry program. This book has been very helpful to aid us in planning and organizing all the steps and timelines for the immigration process. It also has lots of other great information about the actual moving, landing, and transitioning process. If you are a professional looking to navigate through the Canadian immigration program this book is well worth the read. We actually are using it as a reference as well, keeping pages bookmarked and using the spreadsheets and timelines, costs, etc as a model for our own documents.
A lot of the other books about moving to Canada talk about what it’s like to live in Canada, whereas this book talks about how to actually get there. A must have for anybody thinking about immigrating.
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