TORONTO, ON, CANADA (WIVB) – Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are relocating to the land up north, making Canada their new home.
“Our government is very strong for our people,” said Stephen Lukawski, a Century 21 real estate owner in Niagara on the Lake. “We have social assistance program, affordable housing and best of all, free healthcare.”
“I think that there is an interest in Canada because Canada is a unique place,” said Toni Mori, a homeowner right across the border. “They feel safe.”
Mori and Lukawski are both Canadians. They’re among many who believe those reasons are just a few as to why people, especially Americans, are looking across the border. Another reason, they believe, has to do with this year’s election.
“We look at what is the thing that pushes people over the edge or gets them looking and absolutely politics is getting them looking at Canada,” said Paul Baron, a Toronto based real estate agent.
People show people are looking. According to Google Trends, following Super Tuesday, the number of American searching ‘How to Move to Canada’ spiked and was at an all-time high.
Baron said there are inquiries from Americans about how to make the move.
“Realistically there are other factors that come into play but it certainly gets them looking and talking,” said Baron.
Baron said Toronto’s real estate market has been hot for several years now, adding 12% of their buyers are international.
“Immigrants look at Canada as a safe alternative than maybe buying in the U.S.,” said Baron.
“Real Estate prices are quite high now,” said Doug Patrick, a new resident to Toronto.
Patrick is an IT consultant who moved to Toronto from Pittsburgh a few months ago.
“I do feel like, at least the job market in Toronto is pretty stable,” said Patrick. “There are a lot of young professionals getting jobs and choosing to live and work in Toronto because of that reason.”
“We’ve seen a big interest in investment opportunity,” said Lukawski, the Niagara on the Lake real estate owner. “We’re seeing more people coming in because of the election. I feel personally, there’s more interest from Americans to invest.”
Some people, like Toni Mori, selling real estate right across the border in Niagara on the Lake are hopeful the political climate will encourage more Americans to look at properties.
“The U.S. market – it’s open,” said Mori. “People are looking at it that way but locally not so much. It’s an investment.”
Mori’s cottage-style home is listed for $2.9million Canadian dollars. Due to the conversion rate, that’s around $2.34 million American. Mori says she has seen a number of inquiries about her property especially from New Yorkers.
“It’s a unique house so it’ll attract a unique buyer,” said Mori.
“We welcome Americans,” said Lukawski. “They’re our friends; our allies. We welcome their investment dollars because the more money that comes in, the better the environment and I also feel, the better the quality of people.”
One person who is banking on a good quality of welcoming people is Julie Algubani.
“It’s either that or we could have ID cards and numbers on us – what are your alternatives at this point,” said Algubani, a Muslim woman born and raised in Western New York.
She tells News 4, over the last few months, since things started heating up in the political arena and immigration became a hot topic among candidates, she has felt threatened.
“It definitely makes me nervous,” said Algubani. “It makes me nervous that I’m not sure how clear the process is to move to Canada.”
We sat down with Michael Berger, a Buffalo-based immigration lawyer, to find out what it does take for someone to make the move and live in Canada but hold a job in the Western New York area, what Algubani said she would like to do.
“People coming in better have the best petitions,” said Berger who has been doing immigration legal work for four decades. “[They] better come prepared and [with] properly prepared petitions in order to get into the United States or into Canada.”
Berger said it can take anywhere from a few months to several years to receive a visa.
He said, especially recently, it hasn’t become uncommon for him to hear about people, especially those who are minorities, wanting to leave the United States due to how they’re being treated.
“They don’t want to face the hostilities of coming here; the discrimination they face coming here,” said Berger who adds it frustrates and saddens him hearing about what some of his clients go through and how other treat them.
Although she isn’t an immigrant, Algubani says she is already facing discrimination and fears it’ll worsen pending the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
“That, in itself, is enough for me to start researching where we could go to be safe,” said the visibly shaken woman.