Four Years in Canada: Three Life-Changing Lessons Learned

April 27, 2023

Today, on the 27th of April, I complete four years of living in Canada. This adventure has given me crucial insights into thriving in a new environment and the transformative impact of adopting a growth mindset. Here are my three key learnings:

1. Moving to Canada could be the ‘Refresh’ you wanted:

When I moved to Canada, I saw it as an opportunity to hit ‘refresh.’ I took this chance to reinvent both my personal and professional life. Before moving to Canada, I spent six years living in Nigeria. I loved the experience, but there was a lot to be desired. In short, my overall life there was quite ‘unwholesome.’

snow shoveling in Canada
Turns out, snow shoveling is my secret talent in Canada!

Once in Canada, I invested time and resources in upskilling, which helped me move into a career that I genuinely enjoy. I started reading quite a bit, learning a lot, and trying many things to become more productive, but the most significant unlocks have been meditation and running. All these small steps have added up to make my life more fulfilling and enriched.

2. Success could be waiting Beyond Canadian Borders:

Many new immigrants struggle to land their first jobs when they move to Canada. Most of them have the skills, but they lack “Canadian experience.” I’ve had those rejections too, and today I’m grateful for them.

rejection letter
Rejected (after several rounds of interviews), because I didn’t have Canadian experience.

Do I really need a job in Canada?” I asked myself after all those rejections. Having lived in Nigeria and worked remotely with clients worldwide, I realized I could still thrive by working for clients outside Canadian borders. Embracing this new mindset, I went on UpWork and created a profile!

Within a couple of days, I had my first client from the West Coast, USA. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve never really worked for a Canadian corporation in all this time, and that’s quite good. I did have a couple of Canadian clients on Upwork, but that accounted for just 5% of my freelance earnings.

I always tell new immigrants — don’t think you’re moving to Canada; think you’re moving to the American time zones.

After a year of working on UpWork, one of my clients hired me full time. I have to admit my timing was right because the world opened up to remote workers after the pandemic. However, there were many fully remote companies in the US even before the pandemic.

3. Homeownership is overrated:

Many new immigrants to Canada dream of owning a home and rush into mortgages they can’t afford. In cities like Toronto, it might make more sense to rent, especially in a rent-controlled building. I live in one of the most diverse neighborhoods of Toronto, in a beautiful 100-year-old rent controlled apartment, and I don’t mind being a ‘renter for life’ here.

Before committing to a mortgage, use tools like the New York Times’ rent or buy calculator to make an informed decision.

As I learned from the book The Wealthy Barber, a house is often considered the best investment simply because it’s the only investment people make.

By embracing a growth mindset and exploring opportunities beyond the usual path, you can overcome challenges and find success in your new life chapter in Canada (or any country for that matter).

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