How to adjust to life as a Canadian in the UK


Making the trip from Canada to the UK is a popular move.

In fact, it's estimated that there are some 82,000 Canadians currently residing in the UK. It's not that surprising - we all speak the same language (kinda, eh?) and have a love for terrible weather - although Canada's is probably more extreme.

So, we grabbed some Canadian Wise customers and team members for a chat to find out what their biggest surprises were when they moved to the UK. From roundabouts to not getting burnt when you wash your hands - here are some obstacles you'll meet as a Canadian in the UK:


You'd probably heard tales of roundabouts before you arrived. Like junctions. But circular. And confusing.

The Brits love a roundabout. They have them everywhere. They even put roundabouts inside roundabouts.

Check out the video above. Ridiculous.

Everything is smaller. Everything.

Here's one response we got:

In North America everything is big. Houses, cars, roads, you name it. I feel like it is literally the exact opposite over here. The first flat I lived in here was literally the size of my parent's living room, and it was a 3-bedroom.

The scariest is probably driving though. I still find myself from just closing my eyes when I'm driving down a narrow road (note: not advised!) and a car is coming from the opposite direction, driving like a hooligan and way too fast. Why can't other drivers just wait at the end of the road and let cars go past? Instead I have had multiple mini heart attacks and lost several wing mirrors because I just can't help but close my eyes and pray that they don't hit me.

Also, the fridges are tiny - like beer fridges - but that's all you get for your whole flat. Where is the food supposed to live once the beers are in?

What the faucet?

It's the classic complaint. Why does the UK have separate taps for their hot and cold water?

Do they like getting scalded? Or frozen? It's unclear, something to do with 'period charm' apparently. One suggestion from our team was to quickly wash your hands under the hot tap before the water hits full temperature. (And if you get burnt, use the cold tap to remedy the situation). Practical.

Drinking. In public.

In most areas of Canada drinking in public = hefty fine. In the UK? Go for it.

It'll seem terrifying at first. But before you know it you'll be cracking open the beers in the park, at BBQs on the beach - even walking to the beach. Yep - going to the park for a picnic just got a whole load more fun. Pimms, anyone?

Opening a bank account? Good luck.

The biggest pet hate of all of those we asked.

"You can't open a bank account without an address. You can't get an address without a bank account." Banks make you jump through plenty of hoops when getting setup in the UK. If you've just moved (or plan to), check out our one-stop guide to opening a bank account in the UK.

What's with the lack of heating and AC?!

We'll let one of the Canadians we spoke to tell this one:

I had never seen a radiator in my life before moving here. Seriously. We have central heating everywhere in Canada. Our houses and building are always warm. I really did not understand this whole 'keep the sitting room door closed so the heat doesn't escape into the hallway' thing.

What happens when I need to walk through the hallway to use the toilet? Then when I get to the toilet and I freeze my butt off because the only source of heat in the toilet is the towel rack. Why Northern England hasn't more readily adapted heating their toilets is beyond me. Also - the lack of air conditioners. In London. Why? London actually gets summer. I understand the rest of the country not really needing air conditioners (or AC units as we like to call them) but my first summer in London the temperatures were over 30 degrees.

Not only did my house not have AC, my office didn't have AC and my car didn't come with AC. It's like it was just generally accepted that everyone had a layer of shiny sweat and always smelled a little bit like they had just gone for a run. Not to mention the state of the tube during rush hour in summer.

Late night TV - hilarious

British late night TV is brilliant. The stuff they do and say would never be allowed in Canada. The talk shows are hilarious - tune in to Celebrity Juice and you'll see what we mean.

Riding the tube? Silence please.

While there's plenty of overcrowding during rush-hour, Londoner's just aren't up for a chat on the tube.

Apparently they just like to keep to themselves. Unless they're saying sorry, they say that a lot - we have that in common. Eye contact best avoided...

Don't get stung sending money home

You've bagged a great job in the UK, but you still have bills or a mortgage to pay in Canada. Using the banks or PayPal to send money can cost you up to 5%. That's expensive.

Sending or receiving money from abroad? Wise is the fast, fair new way - this is how it works.

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