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Due to its large landmass, Canada’s weather is highly variable depending on the location. The country stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and extends across six time zones.
That said, most expats living in Canada will find themselves residing within a few hundred miles of the United States border and in a more temperate climate (except for those living in Calgary and Edmonton). Only a small percentage of the population chooses to withstand the harsh conditions in the northern territories, just south of the Arctic Circle.
Though the weather extremes in Canada are fairly fluid across different regions, the four distinct seasons are similar throughout the country. Winters tend to be long and cold, while expats can expect hot but short summers. Weather on Canada's west coast of British Columbia and its east coast of Newfoundland is milder, a direct result of the maritime influence, but these areas also experience more rainfall.
The interior of the country is generally flat and, for this reason, absorbs the cold currents and sweeping winds coming from the Canadian Arctic. The prairies in Canada also experience drastic weather changes from season to season. Some of the hottest and coldest temperatures in the country occur here.
►Canada's Weather – What it's Really Like provides more detailed information on the country's complex climate
"The biggest adjustments here involved the drastically different climate. Coming from sunny South Africa to snowy Canada can be quite a shock to the system. Winters are very cold and with the snow you need lots of layers, jackets, mittens and boots, and this was a huge adjustment for our kids, who were used to running around barefoot most of the year. It’s also quite a challenge to learn to drive safely in the winter conditions." Learn more about how to prepare for the Canadian climate in our interview with Catherine.
Are you an expat living in Canada?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Canada. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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