Moving to Los Angeles From Canada Improved Social Life, Brought Financial Challenges

Estimated read time 5 min read
  • A millennial said moving from Vancouver to Los Angeles had a “life-changing” impact on his social life. 
  • He said the move hasn’t helped his finances much due to high rent and food costs.
  • The most “most anxiety-inducing” part of the move was transitioning to the US healthcare system. 

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Stuart Martin wanted to try living somewhere new, but the idea of starting over always seemed daunting.

After all, his entire personal and professional life had been in Vancouver, Canada, the 33-year-old told Business Insider via email. But in April of last year, an opportunity arose: His company was expanding to the US, and as part of a promotion, Martin was asked to lead these efforts in Los Angeles.

Last October, after several months of splitting his time between Canada and LA, Martin and his husband secured visas and moved from their Vancouver suburb to West Hollywood.

While he’s not a fan of LA’s rent costs and the US healthcare system, he said the move has had a “life-changing” impact on one thing: his social life.

“Given the distance we used to be from the city, it was always tricky to meet new people, make friends, and have people go out to lunch, grab a drink, or go for dinner,” he said. “Being in the hustle and bustle of West Hollywood has completely shifted my quality of life regarding friends. I am meeting more people than I ever have before.”

While many people have moved out of California in recent years, the state still has its fair share of newcomers. Roughly 818,000 people left the state between 2021 and 2022, and about 476,000 moved in, according to the Census Bureau’s tabulation of American Community Survey data. Between July 2022 and July 2023, only Louisiana, West Virginia, Hawaii, Illinois, and New York saw their populations decline at a higher rate than California. Factors like a high cost of living have nudged some people out of the state, while others, like warm weather, have drawn movers in.

Business Insider asked Martin what the biggest pros and cons have been of his Canada-to-California move, and whether the improvement to his social life has offset the downsides.

He’s not saving money on rent, food, or healthcare

While his promotion came with a raise, Martin said moving to LA hasn’t positively impacted his finances.

First, he said he’s not saving any money on rent. While the typical two-bedroom apartment is more affordable in LA than Vancouver, according to Zillow, the typical two-bedroom in Vancouver has roughly the same monthly rent as West Hollywood, where Martin and his husband live: $3,850.

Martin said his grocery bill seems to be a bit lower in Los Angeles, but it usually costs him more to go out for food or drinks.

“In Vancouver, a nice meal would run you about $25 to $40, whereas LA is $35 to $70,” he said.

In 2022, Americans spent over 11% of their disposable income on food, the highest share since 1991, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Department of Agriculture data. High labor costs and shortages of some ingredients like cocoa are among the factors pushing prices upwards.

While high rent and food costs have been inconvenient, Martin said the prospect of paying for healthcare was the “most anxiety-inducing part of moving.”

While living in Canada, which has a universal healthcare system funded by taxes, he said he rarely had to think about healthcare bills. He said his doctor and hospital visits were always fully covered. In the US, people tend to be on the hook for a larger portion of their medical bills.

“In Canada, it feels like we have systems in place to catch you, and in the US, there are systems to make you trip.”

Two expenses that have been significantly cheaper for him in the US are cellphone and internet bills. He said he’s paying nearly half of what he used to for unlimited data and roaming.

Martin said there are a few other financial factors Canadians should consider before moving to the States.

First, exchange rates can impact one’s financial situation. Martin, whose company pays him in US dollars, said his grocery bill wouldn’t feel so affordable if he was still using Canadian currency. One Canadian dollar is worth about $0.74 USD.

Additionally, he said none of his credit history carried over during his move, which created an obstacle when he was looking for housing.

“When we finally found our apartment, we needed a US-based guarantor who had to make four-times our rent a month,” he said.

The social perks of LA have offset the financial challenges

Despite some of the financial downsides, Martin said he thinks living in the US could boost his chances of growing his income over time.

“The ceiling to grow your salary is double to triple in LA as compared to the Canadian market,” he said.

On the whole, Martin said moving to LA has been a “fantastic opportunity and decision” for him and his husband. If his company’s US operations develop as he hopes they will — and they can get their visas renewed — he said he envisions them sticking around for at least another four years.

Their social life is a big reason why. In the typical week, Martin said he spends three-to-four evenings out networking, meeting people, and experiencing the city. He said he’s made friends with several other Canadian movers.

“It’s very easy to connect with others who have recently moved to the city,” he said. “As we get more engrained into LA, right now it’s hard to think about wanting to live anywhere else.”

Have you recently moved to a new state and are willing to share your story? Reach out to this reporter at