With the Trumpocalypse inching ever nearer, Google searches about moving to Canada have spiked in the US.
Following Super Tuesday, one of the most important days so far during the American primaries, there was a spike in the search term "move to Canada" on Google in the US as it became clear that Donald Trump could very likely be the next GOP presidential candidate.
The data editor for Google, Simon Rogers, even tweeted about it: "Searches for 'how can I move to Canada' on Google have spiked +350% in the past four hours." The official Canadian immigration government website was also experiencing delays last night, though it's unconfirmed if this was because of the ridiculous amount of traffic (for a government website) it was likely getting during that time.
As someone who did actually move to Canada in part because of how much I disliked the politics of my home country (admittedly, the other reasoning was I met a hot guy on World of Warcraft), I have a few words of advice for fellow Americans who might find themselves fleeing the Trumpocalypse.
You Can't Just "Move to Canada"
In my initial attempts to come to Canada legally nearly five years ago, I realized the assumption that some Americans seem to make—that you can just come here at the drop of a hat if you fucking feel like it—is completely wrong. Though Americans have the privilege of being able to come to the Great White North for up to six months a year as a visitor without having to file any special paperwork (if we have a passport or extended license), that doesn't mean you can work here or go to school during that time—actually, it's super illegal to do those things, and you can get deported for doing so.
Unless you have a pile of money lying around somewhere to support you while you stay here during those months, you'll have to find other bureaucratic means of coming here legitimately. For me, that meant going to university here—if you have been accepted to a school for a degree program, you can apply for a study permit and stay here year-round while you are in school full-time. Also, tuition is a lot fucking cheaper here than American schools, even when figuring in the fact that you'll have to pay international student rates, so I'd highly recommend doing that if you want to go to school anyway. However, beware that you'll still have to get student loans through the US.
If you don't want to go to post-secondary school up here, then getting a work permit is really fucking hard unless you have experience and qualifications in very specific industries—like in engineering or medicine—or have a job offer up here already. (Hint: These are very hard, if not impossible, for foreign nationals to get in unskilled labor markets. Sorry, millennials.)
You can also marry a Canadian citizen, which I did end up doing (admittedly somewhat prematurely) since I fell in love with one on an MMORPG, but that does not grant you citizenship or even the Canadian equivalent of a green card (a permanent resident card) immediately. If you want to go that route—known as spousal sponsorship—it will currently take you over two years and thousands of dollars and stacks and stacks of paperwork. I wouldn't recommend it until Canada repairs the program, which was altered under our last Conservative government (a complete fucking George W. Bush–esque disaster by the way) because of fears of marriage fraud schemes.
The Canadian Dollar Is Actual Trash Right Now
At this very moment, the Canadian dollar is worth 74 cents on the dollar. In Canada, we're going through an economic downturn in part due to the massive abortion that is the Alberta oil industry. It's actually good news for you if you want to come here and have some money put away. If you're like me, though, you might have tens of thousands of dollars in American student loans that need to be paid, and if you start working in Canada and making Canadian dollars, you're going to be in the deep amount of shit that I'm currently sinking in. You could always become a debt dodger, but that means not going back to the States again, which arguably sucks if you have family or friends there. Just remember that Trump is only going to be in office for a maximum of eight years, but fuck-ups of that caliber on student loans could be everlasting.
Canadians Fucking Hate You
And they're not shy about telling you so. I cannot count the number of times Canadians have responded to finding out I'm American by using it as a platform to vent their seething hatred for my home country. I usually react by looking them directly in the eyes and whispering calmly, "You do realize that if I moved here, I feel the same way, right?"
By the time you go back to America after living in Canada for a while, you'll realize you drank the maple syrup. Growing up, I was able to put up with the alarming conservative politics of certain American friends and family members, but when I went home for Thanksgiving last year and my stepfather told me of his adoration for Donald Trump and promised to vote for him, I felt the mix of hormone-pumped turkey and high-fructose corn syrup–laced cranberry sauce coming back up my esophagus.
After internalizing hatred for yourself and your American friends and family, you'll realize being your nationality is kind of a cool party trick. You get to answer questions about processed cheese, America's special brand of racism, and mass shootings. Since I'm from upstate New York, I get the added benefit of listening to drunk Canadians blabber on about how much they love Manhattan, blatantly unaware that there's an entire state attached to America's largest city. Really, it's thrilling.
Health Care is Not Absolute in Canada
You don't automatically get it just by being here, and even if you do have it, the holes in coverage are plenty: none for prescriptions, dental, and eye care, for starters. Granted, if you are permitted to work here and get a job, it's pretty standard to get great benefits packages that include partial or full coverage for all these things.
If you're sick as fuck and decide to go to a clinic but aren't registered for health care in the province you're in, you have to pay out of pocket just to see a doctor, usually $50–$100 depending on where you go. And in my experience, many of the doctors I've gone to here have sucked, probably because many of the good ones go to the US where they can make more money (thanks again, America).
If you're here as a visitor, you won't have coverage, and even with the work permit I have had since fall of last year, I'm still trying to figure out how I can become registered for the standard provincial health care coverage that Canadians enjoy.
Crossing the Border
Over the past half decade, I've crossed the Canadian-American border countless times in my car and have had some horrifying personal experiences. I've had my relationship ruthlessly criticized by border guards, I've stood outside in a blizzard with no jacket on while my car was X-rayed for no apparent reason, and my husband was essentially strip-searched while a border guard shouted in his face: "You're Canadian, you smoke weed don't you? Admit it!" when he came to visit me in the US once. An American friend of ours was asked to unlock his phone and had the contents of it searched when crossing the border.
Whether it's going back for my grandmother's funeral or to attend my niece's birthday party, I have to ready myself for the special hell of interrogation and panic attacks that is border crossing, despite the fact that I have no criminal history and that all of my paperwork is in order.
The impending Trumpocalypse is far from the first time Americans have threatened to move to Canada—and it wouldn't be the first time they actually have (see: Vietnam War draft dodgers). But if you're going to come this time around, please bring Bernie Sanders.
Follow Allison Elkin on Twitter.