While Canada is infamous for its long, harsh winters, Florida is known worldwide as the Sunshine State. That is precisely why around 10,000 Canadians leave their homeland to relocate to Florida each year. On top of that, Canadian investors hold the largest share of the US real estate market among foreigners (over 5,5 billion in market value), and Florida is one of their favorite places to buy property. So, we can tell that moving to Florida from Canada has been a trend for a while.
So if you’re a fellow Canadian who wishes to spend your retirement on Florida’s sunny beaches or invest in an out-of-state property, you’ll need to plan ahead.
In this article, we will cover everything Canadians need to do to move to Florida and start their life (or retirement) there. But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s first see why this state is so popular among Canadian citizens.
Is It Worth Moving to Florida from Canada?
If you’re considering moving to Florida from Canada, that decision is entirely subjective. Some people do it to replace harsh Canadian winters with sunny beaches, while others do it to give themselves a relaxing retirement.
However, some people have other reasons for moving to Florida from Canada, and one of the most common is its lower real estate prices. While the average property price in Canada is around $536,000, in Florida, it’s just $392,000. That’s why many Canadians are moving to Florida from Canada to settle down or invest in short-term rentals.
Another reason Florida appeals to so many Canadians is its lower tax rates for mid-income residents. While middle-class Canadians pay 20%-29% tax, in Florida, the tax rates are 12%–24%. These and many other benefits make Florida an excellent destination for both investors and families looking to move to a sunnier state, which is why many end up moving to Florida from Canada.
|(All Values Shown in USD)
|$63,700 / year
|$59,300 / year
|Average Real Estate Price
|$1,790 / month
|$1,870 / month
|Average Tax Rate
|Costs of Living
|$2,900–$3,700 / month
|$3100–$3580 / month
What Cities in Florida Are the Most Popular With Canadians?
Although you can find Canadians all across Florida due to the state’s excellent climate and sunny beaches, you may find more of your countrymen in some cities than others. The most popular ones among Canadian immigrants are the following:
- Fort Lauderdale
- Cape Coral
- Fort Myers
These cities have large Canadian communities, and most are popular tourist destinations. However, sunshine and company aren’t the only factors you’ll need to consider when moving to Florida from Canada. Due to their difference in size and popularity, the costs of living in each of these cities may vary drastically. So always take that into account when deciding where to move.
Moving to Florida from Canada in 4 Steps
Once you’ve found your dream destination in the Sunshine State, you’ll need to cover many bases before you’re finally ready to relocate. Here are the key things you’ll need to do:
1. Collect the Necessary Documentation
Even though Canadians don’t need a visa to enter the US, they will require one when looking to relocate. And the first step to getting an immigration visa is to prepare the necessary documents to apply for one. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Valid passport;
- Birth certificate;
- Marriage certificate (if you’re relocating with your partner);
- Medical examination report;
- Two passport-style photographs;
- Police clearance certificate (from every country you’ve resided in over the last 365 days);
- WHTI travel document (If you’re entering Florida by land or sea);
- Proof of financial independence (e.g., bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs);
- Employment authorization document (when entering Florida with a work-based visa);
- Other visa-specific documentation;
Once you’ve collected all of the above, you must fill out an appropriate visa application form and take it to the nearest US embassy or consulate. Depending on the type of visa you’re applying for, you’ll need to fill in one of the following three forms:
- ETA-750 — This is an electronic document that authorizes you to enter the US. You will need this regardless of whether you’re relocating or just visiting.
- I-140 — Also known as Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, the I-140 form will allow you to apply for permanent residency in Florida with a work visa.
- I-485 — Also known as Application to Register Permanent Residence, the I-485 form is for applying for permanent residence or Adjust status once you’re already living in the US.
2. Apply for and Secure a Visa
Once you have all the documentation ready and up to date, you’ll need to choose a visa to apply for. As a Canadian national, you have five different options when looking to move to Florida:
- Student Visa
- Work Visa
- Family Visa
- Investor Visa
- Diversity Visa
- H1B Visa Lottery
Each of these visas comes with different requirements and opportunities, so you should apply only for the ones that suit you the most. Here is a short overview of each of these visa categories and specific visas available to Canadians:
|F-1 Visa (Student Visa)
|This visa is issued to Canadian nationals who enroll in an educational program at one of Florida’s universities.
|M-1 Visa (Vocational Studies Visa)
|This visa is issued to Canadians who pursue vocational studies in Florida.
|J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitor Visa)
|This visa is reserved for students participating in student exchange programs with the US.
Student visas aren’t particularly difficult to get, but they only last for the duration of your studies. That’s why they aren’t a particularly good solution if you’re looking to relocate to Florida permanently. However, they can help you get your foot through the door and earn additional visa opportunities in the future.
|TN NAFTA Visa (NAFTA Work Permit)
|This visa is issued to Canadian nationals who are looking to enter Florida’s workforce under the North America Free Trade Agreement. This visa doesn’t require an application at a U.S. consulate.
|E-1 / E-2 Visa (Treaty Trader/Business Visa)
|This visa is reserved for Canadians who engage in substantial trading with or investing in the State of Florida.
|H-1B Visa (Temporary Work Visa)
|This work visa allows Canadians to work temporarily in Florida, usually for up to three years.
|O-1 Visa (Extraordinary Abilities Visa)
|This visa is issued to Canadian nationals with extraordinary talents in the fields like business, arts, sciences, or athletics.
|L-1 Visa (Intra-Company Transfer Visa)
|This visa is awarded to Canadians relocating to Florida to work in a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate branch of a company they’re already employed at outside of the US.
Work visas are the most common visas Canadians apply for and for a good reason. These visas enable you to stay in Florida longer than student visas, for example, and may sometimes even allow for permanent relocation. However, most of these visas require an employer to vouch for you and extend an invitation, so they are not so easy to get.
|K-1 Visa (Fiance Visa)
|This visa is issued to Canadian nationals planning to marry a Florida resident within 90 days of application.
|IR-1 / IR-2 / IR-3 Visas
|These visas are issued to Canadians who have family members living in Florida and would like to relocate to be with them.
|F-2A / F-3 / F-4 Visas
|These visas are issued to Canadian citizens joining family members who have already established themselves in Florida.
Family visas are the most reliable way to get US citizenship and permanent residency in Florida. However, these are only issued in niche cases, and you cannot apply for them in any other circumstances. So if you’re thinking about moving to Florida from Canada quickly, these visas are unlikely to be a fit for you unless you have close family there.
|E-2 Visa (Treaty Investor Visa)
|This visa is issued to Canadian nationals planning to invest a large amount of capital into a US business.
|EB-5 Visa (Immigrant Investor Visa)
|This visa is issued to any foreigner who invests between $900k and $1,8mil in a US business that employs at least ten people.
Investor visas are one of the best visa options Canadians have, but they’re also the most difficult to get. These visas give nonresident investors the full right to relocate to Florida, but you must invest a large amount of money into a US-based business, which not many people will be able to do.
Diversity Visa Lottery
Another option all foreigners have, including Canadians, is to participate in the US Diversity Visa Lottery. This program selects 50,000 individuals each year and grants them permanent US citizenship.
Although having this visa will meet all your needs if you’re looking to relocate to Florida, you’ll need to be lucky to get it. The reason is that the winners are drawn randomly each year, and there is high demand for this visa worldwide.
Still, if you’d like to apply and try your luck, you can do so at the official US State Government website.
3. Find a Place to Live in Florida
After you identify the right visa to apply for, the next thing you’ll need is to find a place to live in Florida. Although cities like Fort Lauderdale, Cape Coral, and Tampa have a lot of Canadian immigrants, they may not be the best fit for everyone.
The reason is that prices, opportunities, and amenities differ from town to town. And just because some people can afford to buy a house in Florida’s largest metropolises doesn’t mean everyone can. With that in mind, you should do thorough research before deciding where you’ll end up moving to Florida from Canada.
Here are the things you should take into account when searching:
- Home prices
- Work opportunities
- Costs of living
- Local amenities (e.g., beaches, landmarks)
- Neighborhood safety
Once you find the right place for your dream home, there’s only one thing left to do — organize the move.
4. Moving To Florida From Canada
Organizing a cross-country relocation can be incredibly stressful and time-consuming. However, you can make the process easier if you hire a moving company to handle the process for you. Although that will come at an extra cost in moving fees, it will make relocating less stressful.
At the end of the day, it will be up to you to decide whether you’ll hire help or do everything yourself. Either way, moving to Florida from Canada will cost you anywhere between $1,500 and $8,000. The final prices will depend on several factors:
- How much stuff you’re transporting;
- How many people are moving with you;
- Whether you’re organizing the move yourself or have hired a moving agency.
What to Do Once You Finish Moving To Florida From Canada?
After you have all the necessary papers and have organized your move, you’re almost ready to start your life in Florida. But before you do that, you’ll probably want to take care of a few finishing touches:
- Take Out a Social Security Number (SSN) — This number is a unique ID as long as you are in the US. You will also need an SSN to turn in your taxes, which will also give you access to various government benefits. But even if you can’t get your hands on an SSN, you can always take out an ITIN to handle your taxation needs.
- Open a US Bank Account — If you want to live a normal life in Florida, you’ll need to open a private US bank account. That will make your everyday life much easier than relying on international banking from your home country.
- Start Building Credit Score — The sooner you start building your credit score, the better. If you ever decide to take out a loan, you’ll need your credit score as high as possible to get the best conditions.
- Figure Out Your Taxes — If you spend over six months in the US, you will need to pay taxes like a US citizen. However, tax calculation and management in the US is nothing like in Canada, so that will probably be the most challenging aspect of your new life in Florida. Learning to properly file your taxes on time is better than doing it at the last moment’s notice. Alternatively, you could also hire a professional CPA to handle your taxes for you.
- Work Toward Earning Full Citizenship — US citizenship will allow you to stay in Florida indefinitely and earn you all the rights of a full-fledged US resident. Keep working toward this end goal to build a future for yourself in Florida.
Need Help Finding the Perfect Home in Florida as a Canadian?
If you can’t wait to start your new life chapter in Florida but haven’t yet found the right home for you and your family, why not get help? Here at NRI, we help nonresidents find and buy a perfect home in the US, guiding them through the entire process. Whether you’d like to treat yourself to a cozy retirement alongside Florida’s beaches or are a Canadian investor who wishes to leverage Florida’s lucrative real estate market, our experts will help you find real estate at the best prices or secure a US mortgage loan as a Canadian even without a high credit score. Besides that, we made a whole guide on moving to US, if you want to check it out.
Our CEO, Luka Malkovich, is a nonresident investor with years of experience who has already helped dozens of Canadians buy properties across the States. If you need help finding the best property in Florida, why not jump on a free 15-minute discovery call with Luka and tell him more about what you’re looking for?
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