Would You Rather Live in North Carolina or Vancouver?
I get asked this question all the time: Where would I rather live...North Carolina or Vancouver?
Now that I've lived in the Tar Heel State for six years I feel like I've got more insight to be able to answer this question fairly. But when answering this question, it becomes more than North Carolina versus Vancouver, it automatically becomes the United States versus Canada.
I grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver, I was born and raised in Canada and called it my home for 39 years before meeting my wife and moving down to North Carolina in the winter of 2010, right in the middle of the Winter Olympics when Team Canada beat Team USA for the men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal in Vancouver.
It was difficult leaving Vancouver during their Olympics but when Homeland Security calls you across the country to Montreal for a Visa immigration interview, you don't reschedule, you pack your bags tout de suite and arrive on time.
I became a proud U.S. citizen a few years later when I took the pledge of allegiance in Charlotte, North Carolina in March of 2013.
One of the first official things I did with both kids after they were born was apply for their Canadian citizenship.
It took about 9-12 months for their citizenship certificates to arrive in the mail but their Canadian citizenship will last their lifetimes. Now both of our kids are dual citizens and can choose to live in Canada or the U.S.A. when they're older.
I don't foresee them wanting to move away from North Carolina but just in case they encounter a candidate like Donald Trump (or Clinton) when they're of voting age and consider fleeing to Canada, they can use this post as a valuable resource from their born in Canada Daddy.
Kids, choose wisely!
I was excited to delve in to the American political system when I moved here, I ordered MSNBC and watched Morning Joe every morning to get up to speed and was very excited at the Barack Obama presidency, he promised so much hope and change and led a campaign that will go down in the history books as one of the best ever.
I never want to be considered a low education voter, but sometimes it's hard to follow American politics because the division between the Democrats and Republicans can be intolerable at times.
But the key is to go into it with an open mind. I've got my views and other people have theirs and the important thing is to respect each other's differing viewpoints.
I still watch MSNBC, especially during an election cycle and now I've even started watching FOX News and listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio because I think it's important to hear viewpoints from both sides of the aisle.
Back in Canada I didn't follow politics at all.
In fact, I didn't really understand how the Canadian governmental system worked? I don't remember being taught about Canadian civics in school and whenever my Dad started talking politics with me at the supper table it was usually a one-sided conversation.
To this day, I couldn't tell you how a Canadian Prime Minister is elected and I don't even know what the main political parties are, although Justin Trudeau seems to be getting lots of attention.
The point here is the United States political system is on display here all the time, it's part of the lifestyle. There are TV shows, radio shows and entire cable networks devoted to nothing but politics. A person can choose how much or how little they want to get involved.
It wasn't like that when I grew up in Canada.
If Canada wants their younger generations to become actively involved in their political system, they need to start teaching it in school and offering more options to watch and listen and learn.
The USA wins this one.
Daddy's Rule - Kids, always vote! You need to have your voices heard and you should always vote..I'll be very disappointed if I ever find out you didn't cast your ballot. Promise?
I'm sorry Vancouver and Canada, it's going to seem like I'm beating up on your right off the bat in this post but I'm really not, you'll have your chances to shine soon.
But this debate isn't even close. The United States kicks Canada's you-know-what when it comes to patriotism.
Back in Canada I never would have considered putting a Canadian flag on the front of the house, the only time I maybe saw a Canadian flag waving was on Canada Day, but even then I only saw one or two?
Our American flag flies year round.
I actually just replaced our flag because the windy conditions tattered the other one, but when I was changing it I was sure not to let it touch the ground and when the kids wanted to play with it I wouldn't let them leave it laying around and I explained why.
Now that may seem weird coming from a born and raised Canadian but when I took that Pledge of Allegiance, I meant it.
Everything stops in this house when the American National Anthem comes on during a sporting event. It's just instinctive for both of the kids to stop what they're doing and watch and listen. They absolutely love the Star Spangled Banner!
One time when my Dad was visiting from Vancouver, he was amazed at the way the kids attention shifted to the National Anthem. He remarked that would never happen in Canada.
And I remember before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the Prime Minister had to remind Canadians it was OK to cheer! He actually encouraged Canadians allow themselves an uncharacterisitic outburst of patriotism.
That pretty much ends the debate right there.
The USA wins this one by a landslide.
Daddy's Rule - Kids, never forget where Daddy came from. Always be proud of Canada and be proud of the United States, too. It's pretty cool you're dual citizens, eh?
When I tell people I grew up in Canada, the topic they want to discuss the most is health care.
I'm not going to get too deep into the workings of the health care systems because I'm definitely not an expert, I'm just going to speak from my thankfully limited personal experiences.
Most people already know the Canadian healthcare system is free (if you consider being heavily taxed free) and the United States is based on a newly minted Affordable Care Act so let's just look at my families experiences.
The quality of care in the United States is second-to-none. The best doctors, best nurses and best facilities are right down here in the U.S. of A..
But with that quality of care comes cost. A huge cost!
I was very pleased with the level of care we received when he had both of our kids, the attention to detail and comfort and professionalism we were offered was unbelievable.
But then the bills started to come.
We had insurance but our level of coverage didn't cover the costs for everything, we were still stuck with a big bill and if I'm not mistaken we're still making monthly payments on that and other procedures we've had done in the past seven years.
And just a few short months after giving birth my wife went back to work because her unpaid maternity leave was only three months!
She cried when she had to leave her kids with me on the weekends. And it wasn't because they were being left alone with a new Daddy, she was genuinely upset to have to be separated from her children so soon.
In Canada it's totally different.
Now I will say this about the Canadian health care system, it can be very frustrating because of the long wait times. My Dad had his knee replaced and waited months to get it done. Months! And he shared his recovery room with 10 or so other patients.
Here in the United States I could probably get my knee replaced next week if I needed to, but i'd be paying for it for the next few years.
My Dad is walking around like a teenager again up in Canada and how much did the knee replacement cost him? Nothing.
So the debate becomes cost of care versus timeliness of care.
In my profession here in North Carolina, I've seen families absolutely decimated with the cost of medical bills. Creditors calling when unpaid bills get sent to collections agencies and hard earned life savings squandered when unexpected illnesses arise.
Canada takes this one easily.
Daddy's Rule - Kids, if you choose to live in the United States, I don't want there to ever be a day when you don't have insurance coverage. Trust me on this. Buy insurance or I'll buy it for you!
The other day a friend of mine asked me why I moved away from Canada? He said he's watching a show on Netflix filmed in Vancouver and it's absolutely gorgeous!
Yes, it is.
There were countless times when I'd be driving home over the Second Narrows Bridge and see views of the North Shore Mountains similar to this one.
When people ask me what Vancouver is like I tell them it's like San Francisco, only better.
Vancouver is surrounded by bluish-green waters and has tall, majestic mountains looking down over the Pacific Ocean. It's one of the only places I know of where a person can kayak in the morning and snow ski in the afternoon.
One of my favorite pics of Randa and I is from the seawall in West Vancouver, I promised myself right then and there that when we have kids one day I would take them back to this spot so they could see where Daddy grew up. I totally look forward to that day.
Beyond just the beautiful scenery, Vancouver is a literal smorgasbord of things to see and do.
When Randa would come to visit once a month before I moved to the States I had a hard time deciding on what to show her in my hometown.
We went to suspension bridges, whale watched in Tofino, paddled kayaks in Deep Cove, took a sea taxi in the Burrard Inlet, visited Stanley Park, rode the ferry to Vancouver Island and went on a bunch of different nature hikes.
There was just so much to do, we had a blast every month she came to visit!
North Carolina has its beauty too, it just doesn't last all year round.
The deciduous trees in Western North Carolina lose their leaves in the Fall and the landscape turns grey and brown, it can be quite depressing. And I've said this many times before, but Western North Carolina has more of a winter than Vancouver does. I used to golf year round in Vancouver, here in WNC I take a break between November and April.
But before the leaves fall in North Carolina, the sky and leaves are some of the prettiest colors you've ever seen. There's a reason why Lynyrd Skynrd wrote about the skies being so blue in the South-Land.
I haven't been back to Vancouver since I moved to North Carolina six years ago...life happens, money gets spent elsewhere and we usually go to the Outer Banks every summer, but one of these years we'll take our kids back to see where Daddy grew up and walk the West Vancouver seawall.
Vancouver, and by default, Canada wins this category.
Daddy's Rule - Kids if you're ever in Vancouver, you have to try a White Spot Triple-O cheeseburger. Your mama and I talk about those burgers all the time!
I guess I could have chosen a bunch of different categories as the tiebreaker but this is my post and this is my perspective so I chose sports and the sports I play. Deal with it.
The other tiebreaker choice I was going to use was all you can eat buffets, and we know who would win that one!
The Vancouver Canucks were my team growing up, and they still are my team although they're getting harder and harder to follow live because of the time difference. For the first couple of years here I bought NHL Center Ice but I can't stay up to watch 10PM games anymore here on the East Coast, so I usually just watch the YouTube highlights in the morning.
I've got Canucks hats, shirts, stickers and grill covers. My Dad and I love the Canucks and our daughter calls them the Vancouver Bluefishes, she may even be a fan too.
But they aren't enough to sway me to want to live in Vancouver because beyond the Canucks there was a huge professional sports void for me. I didn't follow the BC Lions or the CFL.
When I was still living in Vancouver I used to travel down to Seattle when the Boston Red Sox were in town against the Seattle Mariners but that was only a once a year thing.
North Carolina has the Carolina Hurricanes, Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets and you can take your pick on which college team you want to follow...the North Carolina Tar Heels, NC State Wolfpack, Wake Forest Demon Deacons and if you're really desperate for a college team to follow you could always choose the Duke Blue Devils (Don't).
And don't forget the high school football every Friday night. It's huge down here in NC!
Even though my golf season is shortened the quality of golf here in North Carolina more than makes up for it. Every year my Dad comes down to visit and we go as a family to Myrtle Beach to take advantage of the lower rates and less crowded beaches. That trip is definitely one of the trips I look forward to most each year.
Some of the best courses I ever played are down in the Grand Strand of South Carolina.
When I first moved down to North Carolina, Randa had fears that I would try and persuade the kids to live in Canada when they got older. She's afraid they'll eventually move away from us.
I'll never try to persuade our kids to live anywhere, all I want for them is to be happy. If that means North Carolina, Vancouver or Sydney, Australia...I just want them to be as happy as they can be and always let us know they're safe.
I've never been happier in my lifetime. I've got a great wife and two awesome kids and we're a very happy family of four living in North Carolina.
That isn't going to change anytime soon...3 flags to 2 proves it.