canada vs other countries

Canadian explains why she prefers being back home after 11 years living abroad

When Yvonne Ivanescu left Canada over a decade ago, it was in search of better opportunities. Now, she's back after living abroad and has found "more possibilities" at home.

As more Canadians leave for other countries, put off by the high cost of living, her decision goes against the grain. In Ivanescu's TikTok videos, she is open and honest about her views about living abroad and being back in Canada.

"If we're going to remove foreign income off the table — Portugal, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Holland, wherever — there is a crisis everywhere," she states in her video.

@yvonneivanescu Replying to @user8168821193883 #livingincanada #movingbacktocanada #movingtocanada🇨🇦 #movingtotoronto #lifeintoronto #lifeinontario #costoflivingcrisis #canadianabroad ♬ original sound - yvonne ✈️ life • travel

But after living in Belgium, Brazil, and Portugal, she found that Canada had better opportunities for her.

"I still have so much to do and accomplish at this stage of my life," she said in an interview. "I felt like I could accomplish it faster here in Canada."

A fresh start

Ivanescu is self-employed and wears "multiple hats": she works as a freelancer, a content writer and a digital marketer. She also manages two travel blogs (Now in Rio and Now in Portugal), teaches at a college in Mississauga, Ontario, and is launching her swimwear business, Now in Rio Swimwear, in Canada.

"I originally left in 2014," Ivanescu explained in an interview. "I moved because I had just graduated from a master's program and couldn't find a job. I was frustrated and decided that I wanted to start fresh in another country."

So, with no job and around $3,000, she flew to Belgium, where she stayed with a family friend until she figured out her situation. A couple of things also worked in Ivanescu's favour: she speaks French, and since she has dual citizenship (thanks to her Polish mom), work permits and visas weren't an issue.

Moving to Brazil and Portugal

While in Brussels, she started a PhD program focusing on Brazil. Because of her research, she moved to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; she finished her PhD in 2018.

"Then, in 2020, amid a pandemic, my Brazilian husband and I moved to Portugal," she said.

Ivanescu wanted to start a business but eventually found Portugal "wasn't too entrepreneur-friendly."

One factor that worked against her was her lack of credit history. The country's lower income levels also limited her earning potential as a business owner. According to Portugal News, the average monthly salary as of 2024 is $1,041 Euros (C$1,521.70).

Ivanescu and her husband moved around, renting a place in a beach town in Portugal before buying a fixer-upper in a village because they "wanted a slower life."

But after they moved, they decided to move to Canada after a year.

So, after being away for over a decade, Ivanescu returned in November 2023.

In addition to the fact that her husband can find better job opportunities in Canada, she said that business owners have more support in Canada than in her experience abroad.

"More opportunities to sell, changes to get funding, communities to join, etc.," she said. "Working with manufacturers was also incredibly hard in Portugal."

She added that navigating bureaucracy was more difficult in other countries than Canada, even though she spoke the local language.

In one video, she said the amount she's accomplished in Canada in just a few months is "staggering."

@yvonneivanescu Replying to @demi #movingtocanada #movingtocanada🇨🇦 #movingtotoronto #livingincanada #lifeincanada #lifeinontario #lifeintoronto ♬ original sound - yvonne ✈️ life • travel

"I think that we take for granted how easy things are in Canada," she said. "I'm talking about bureaucracy in terms of getting things done. Yes, it might not seem easy in Canada, but things can be so much harder in other countries."

The work culture is also completely different abroad.

In Brussels, she said overtime "was not a thing" and would only work six hours daily. However, she often experienced sexism "without fear of reprimand." While working in the social media department at the European Commission, she was expected to always be online and on call and wouldn't be paid for the extra hours.

And teaching in Lisbon versus Mississauga is like "night and day."

In comparison, she said she earns "more than double" as a college instructor in Canada, and the college she works for focuses on ensuring that teachers are as prepared as possible. As a freelance instructor in Lisbon, she found herself doing a lot of "free" work. She was expected to put together the syllabus, materials, and tests but was only paid for teaching hours.

However, living in Canada does come with trade-offs.

"Housing is incredibly expensive here, and I probably will never own an apartment or house in Canada," she said. "I'm also aware of how high the rent and groceries are here, and that has been quite a strong culture shock for me coming from Europe."

Despite the cost of living, Ivanescu is happy to be back for now.

Looking back

"I've learned that the grass can always seem greener, but there's no place like home at the end of the day," she said. "At the same time, I'm hyper-aware that I am still in the honeymoon phase. I am realistic in terms of understanding that maybe my opinions or my experience will change, and I will have a different idea of my life in Canada in one year."

She understands why Canadians are leaving "to experience a better life," which can include a slower and simpler lifestyle.

For those considering moving abroad, she suggests identifying your needs because "visiting and living are two different things."

"So many people visit a country or a city for a short while, but living there for more than six months can rapidly change what you think or how you feel in a place," explained Ivanescu.

Her advice for those who want to move abroad: don't listen to people on social media.

"A lot of people are trying to sell you things or sell you a dream," she said. "A lot of people are not in the same space as you or have the same wants or needs as you. A lot of people earn foreign income. Be patient. Try out different things. Be open-minded."

Lead photo by

Yvonne Ivanescu

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