- After living in New York City, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, once my visa expired in 2018.
- In the US, there is a better selection of streaming services and grocery-store snacks.
- I miss iconic stores we don’t have in Canada, like Target and Trader Joe’s.
Despite all of the similarities between Canada and the US, Canadians have long prided themselves on being better than their southerly neighbors.
I might be the rare exception — as much as I appreciate universal healthcare and good manners, I quickly fell in love with American culture while living in Brooklyn, New York, until my visa expired in 2018.
Since being sent home to Toronto, here are the things I miss about living in New York City:
I miss all of the 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 watching TV is one of the things they look forward to the most when traveling to the US.
doesn’t have nearly as many options, and CraveTV, a streaming service available in Canada, can be glitchy, but I miss
the most. The affordable streaming service has an unbeatable selection.
US grocery stores offer an impressive selection
I find US grocery stores have a greater variety of affordable, plant-based options. Though, specifically, I miss the sheer selection of single-serve yogurts.
Although Canada has some nondairy alternatives, most yogurt comes in big tubs or multipacks. But NYC caters to the individualistic lifestyle with single-serve cups in an array of unique and dessert-like flavors.
Additionally, Canada may have novelty items like Coffee Crisp and ketchup chips, but the US offers more types of chips, candy, and cereal. Plus the brands we do share typically offer more flavors or have different recipes south of the border.
Anytime I travel to the US with Canadian friends, they run to the candy and cereal aisles to marvel at Oreo flavors and stock up on the slightly sweeter Hershey’s Kisses.
Cell-phone service is much cheaper in the US
Canada has a smaller population than the US and a lot of ground to cover with cellular towers — we’re the second-largest country in the world, after all — but our network still isn’t developed enough to drive down the prices of cell-phone plans.
Canadians pay approximately $5.72 for a gigabyte of mobile data, and Americans typically spend only $3.33 for the same amount.
The US also has a greater selection of cell-phone providers. Without that competition, Canadian cellular companies have no real incentive to reduce rates. We’re too polite to demand change, though, so we begrudgingly schlep out an average $100 a month for our plans.
It feels like everything is always open in NYC
New Yorkers can have pretty much any food they’re craving at any hour. I miss 24-hour bodegas and never having to worry about a store being closed.
I live in the biggest city in Canada, and most of the local grocery stores are closed by 9 p.m.
Although I can work around the inconvenience, I miss the energy that 24-hour shops bring to the street — with everything closed early, my neighborhood is a ghost town by 10 p.m.
Canadians are polite, but Americans are friendlier
From New York to California and Georgia to Texas, I’ve found that Americans are eager to chat.
Although our reputation of being nice holds true — Canadians will stop to talk to someone if they ask for help, for example — we tend to be reserved. I find people prefer to keep to themselves, particularly in Toronto.
As a journalist who lives and travels alone, I thrived off of conversations with friendly Americans in the grocery-store line, on the subway, or down the street.
American service is also friendlier
I find most Americans working in retail and hospitality are extremely courteous, so much so that it can come off unbelievable — I’ve had Canadian friends tell me they’re caught off guard by overly jovial staff.
After spending time on both sides of the border, I’ve realized Canadians have just grown accustomed to a subpar level of customer service in which employees are often grumpy or determined to put in minimal effort.
A later Thanksgiving delays the onslaught of Christmas commercialism
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in early October, but we can get a little too enthusiastic about retail around the holidays — even before the Halloween decorations have come down, the aisles are teeming with tinsel and advent calendars.
I know our winter hits sooner and we need something to look forward to, but eight weeks of Christmas pandemonium feels excessive.
Holiday commercialism also hits hard in the US, especially in NYC, but Thanksgiving breaks up that stretch, and a month feels like a much more reasonable period for sustaining the festive spirit.
New Yorkers know how to keep pedestrian traffic moving 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 they pass someone or pause to let the oncoming person walk by, even when there is plenty of sidewalk real estate.
NYC is the most populated city in the US, yet there is a miraculous order to pedestrian traffic. I miss how people unapologetically command their own space on the sidewalk.
Target is a great chain to have around
When it comes to affordable athleisure and home furnishings, there is no department store like Target.
I miss having a store where you can go for
and walk out with a new chic lamp, irresistibly soft PJs, and a bag of Ghirardelli chocolate, all without breaking the bank.
Canada briefly had its own Target a few years ago, but the chain only lasted two years due to high prices and poor selection.
More than anything, I miss Trader Joe’s
From the friendly staff to the try-anything policy, everything about the quirky shopping experience is delightful. I didn’t mind that the lines in New York City were so long they often snaked around the entire store since it ensured I never missed a shelf.
I miss Trader Joe’s so much that I even paid a few hundred dollars more for an extended layover flight and Airbnb in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a couple of years ago just to shop there.
We have grocery stores here with private-label goods, but they’re not nearly as creative or affordable as Trader Joe’s.
I even know several Canadians who, prior to the border closure, would drive down for a grocery haul of the chain’s one-of-a-kind products.