Thu. May 26th, 2022

  • After living in New York City, I moved back to Toronto, Canada when my visa expired in 2018.
  • In the United States, there is a better selection of streaming services and grocery stores.
  • I miss iconic stores we do not have in Canada, such as Target and Trader Joe’s.

Despite all the similarities between Canada and the United States, Canadians have long prided themselves on being better than their southern neighbors.

I may be the rare exception – as much as I appreciate universal health care and good manners, I quickly fell in love with American culture while living in Brooklyn, New York, until my visa expired in 2018.

Since I was sent home to Toronto, here are the things I miss about living in New York City:

I miss all TV streaming services

Although Canada now has major streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV +, Amazon Prime and Crave, the selection pales in comparison – so much so that my Canadian friends tell me that watching TV is one of the things they look forward to most when they travel to the United States.

Canadian

Netflix
does not have nearly as many options, and CraveTV, a streaming service available in Canada, may be error-free, but I miss

Hulu
mostly. The affordable streaming service has an unmatched selection.

American grocery stores offer an impressive selection

Grocery shelves with rows of several varieties of Lay's potato chips

Snack brands often offer more variety in the United States.

OLOZANO / Shuttershock


I find that U.S. grocery stores have a wider range of affordable, plant-based options. Although I specifically miss the large selection of single-serve yogurt.

Although Canada has some non-dairy products, most yogurts come in large tubs or multi-packs. But NYC caters to the individualistic lifestyle with single-serve cups in a variety of unique and dessert-like flavors.

In addition, Canada may have news items such as Coffee Crisp and ketchup chips, but the United States offers several types of chips, candy, and cereals. Plus the brands we share typically offer multiple varieties or have different recipes south of the border.

Whenever I travel to the US with Canadian friends, they run to sweets and cornbreads to marvel at the taste of Oreo and offer the slightly sweeter Hershey kisses.

Mobile phone service is much cheaper in the US

Canada has a smaller population than the United States and a lot of land to cover with cell phone towers — we are, after all, the second largest country in the world — but our network is still not developed enough to bring down the prices of cell phones.

Canadians pay about $ 5.72 for a gigabyte of mobile data, and Americans typically spend only $ 3.33 for the same amount.

The United States also has a larger selection of cell phone providers. Without that competition, Canadian mobile carriers have no real incentive to reduce rates. However, we are too polite to demand change, so we reluctantly take an average of $ 100 a month for our plans.

It feels like everything is always open in NYC

The author takes a selfie from his balcony in New York overlooking the busy street

It made the streets feel lively.

Anna Haines


New Yorkers can have just about any food they feel like at any time. I miss 24-hour bodegas and never have to worry about a store closing.

I live in the largest city in Canada and most of the local grocery stores are closed by 9pm

Although I can get around the disadvantage, I miss the energy that 24-hour shops bring to the street — with everything closed early, my neighborhood is a ghost town at 10 p.m.

Canadians are polite, but Americans are kinder

From New York to California and Georgia to Texas, I have found that Americans are eager to chat.

While our reputation for being nice is true – Canadians, for example, stop talking to anyone if they ask for help – we tend to be reserved. I think people prefer to keep to themselves, especially in Toronto.

As a journalist living and traveling alone, I thrived on conversations with friendly Americans in the grocery store, on the subway, or down the street.

American service is also friendlier

I think most Americans who work in retail and hospitality are extremely polite, so much so that it can be unbelievable – I have had Canadian friends tell me that they have been overseen by overly jovial staff.

After spending time on both sides of the border, I have realized that Canadians have just gotten used to a subordinate level of customer service, where employees are often laughed at or determined to make minimal effort.

A later Thanksgiving delays the onslaught of Christmas commercialism

Mall decor decorated with Christmas trees

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in early October.

pryzmat / Shuttershock


Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in early October, but we can get a little too excited about retail around the holidays – even before the Halloween decorations have fallen down, the hallways abound with glitter and Advent calendars.

I know our winter is hitting faster and we need something to look forward to, but eight weeks of Christmas pandemonium feels excessive.

Holiday commercialism is also hitting hard in the U.S., especially in NYC, but Thanksgiving breaks that stretch, and a month feels like a much more reasonable period to maintain the party mood.

New Yorkers know how to keep pedestrian traffic going on a sidewalk

Maybe it’s because the pace of life is slower, or that there are fewer people here, but sometimes it feels like Canadians don’t know how to share the sidewalk.

Canadians will often apologize when passing someone or pausing to let the oncoming car pass, even when there are lots of sidewalk properties.

NYC is the most populous city in the United States, yet there is a miraculous order for pedestrian traffic. I miss how people unapologetically master their own space on the sidewalk.

Target is a good chain to have around

When it comes to affordable athleisure and home decor, there is no department store like Target.

I miss having a store where you can go

toilet paper
and go out with a new chic lamp, irresistibly soft PJs and a bag of Ghirardelli chocolates, all without breaking the bank.

Canada briefly had its own Target a few years ago, but the chain lasted only two years due to high prices and poor selection.

More than anything else, I miss Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's

There is not a Trader Joe’s in Canada.

Shoshy Ciment / Business Insider


From the friendly staff to the politics of trying everything, everything about the whimsical shopping experience is delightful. I did not mind that the queues in New York City were so long that they often snuck around the whole store, as it ensured that I never missed a shelf.

I miss Trader Joe’s so much that I even paid a few hundred dollars more for an extended stopover flight and Airbnb in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a few years ago just to shop there.

We have grocery stores here with private label items, but they are not nearly as creative or affordable as Trader Joe’s.

I know even more Canadians who before the border closure would run down for a grocery store with the chain’s unique products.

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