Moving to Texas from Canada has been less of a culture shock than moving to most other places in the world, but there are certainly some notable differences! I thought I’d share some of things that have stuck out to us the most. For reference, we came from Southwestern Ontario and have moved to Northeast Texas.
Moving To Texas: Differences Between Texas and Canada
– My change pocket fills up much quicker in a place where pennies are still in circulation!
– Finding the right paper bill is significantly more time consuming when the increments are not color coded
– Pouring milk out of a jug instead of a bag is fascinating to the kids. It’s much harder to handle a gallon than a liter, but the big jug is convenient for large families.
– There is no recycling in this town and it feels strange not separating paper, plastic, compost, and trash into their own bins!
– Plastic bags are free, and many stores double bag your items. Canada is notably more “environmentally conscious.”
– Everything IS bigger in Texas! The paper towel sheets are twice as big, the Walmart is 3x the size of our previous one, meal/drink portions are bigger, and the bugs are bigger. Thankfully, the mice are not!
– Food prices are *much* cheaper in Texas! Cream cheese is $0.79/brick, bread is $1/loaf, milk is $2.79/gallon. Even with the exchange rate, groceries and gas are significantly more affordable.
– Texans drive FAST! The speed limit for the road we’re on is 75mph (120 kph), and you still get passed, ha! (Fastest speed in Ontario is 100 kph (62mph).
– “Y’all” is such a great word and quickly becoming part of our vocabulary! It’s pretty handy when you’re addressing a mixed group as it encompasses both genders and sounds so much nicer than “you guys.”
– I’m told we’re in one of the most conservative counties in all of Texas, and this is apparent in several ways. It’s normal to be addressed as “Yes, ma’am,” or “Yes, sir,” and nobody thinks twice about whether the other person is anything other than a ma’am or a sir, or if they might be offended by that.
– I’ll take a Texan Winter over a Canadian Winter any day. The fluctuations in temperature are extreme from one day to the next, but I greatly enjoyed having 20 C/sunny days interspersed throughout! However, Spring weather in Texas is much more volatile than in Canada. Warm weather from the Gulf mixes with cold weather from the North, and the atmosphere is much more unstable as Summer is ushered in. I’m grateful that this part of Texas doesn’t typically see many tornadoes.
– There’s no real snow removal here. Snow is rare enough that people can take off work before it melts by the following morning. For traction, *gravel* is spread onto the roads when they’re slippery which has resulted in a few stone chips to our windshield!
– Ice is a different beast than snow, and they get much more of it here than we did in Canada. Snow is much less dangerous and more delightful!
– Right now (end of March), the Northeastern part of Texas is lush and green and looks very similar to Southwestern Ontario in late May. The Bradford pears and Red Buds are at their peak in white and pink blooms, the daffodils have finished, and grape hyacinths are scattered everywhere. We often comment on how similar the forests here look to the ones up North. They’re missing the maples, of course, but there’s a terrific mix of pine, oak, and cedar trees all growing together.
– I’ve still not seen a snake (Hallelujah!), but I’m told they are numerous here. The two venomous ones we look out for in this part of the state are Copperheads and Water Moccasins. The only snake I ever saw in the wild in SW Ontario was a garter snake.
– Vehicles last much longer down here. It’s normal to see pickup trucks from the 1980s in mint body condition. We left our ’07 Dodge Caravan behind in Canada because the body had been rusted through as a result of much harsher Winter conditions and salt on the roads for prolonged periods of the year.
– The houses here have no basements and very few have more than one story. The water table is too high for basements (I think that’s the reason, please feel free to correct me on that!), and it’s 40% more expensive to build up rather than out. As a result, the sprawling house shapes look much larger than the ones you see in Canada, but in reality, the overall square footage is smaller than a house with a full basement.
– There are cattle everywhere. It’s very picturesque to see them grazing all over the place.
– In general, the culture here is very warm and welcoming. I wonder if this is in part because very few people choose to wear a mask. Making eye contact, smiling, tipping your hat, and saying, “Howdy!” to a passing stranger is normal behavior. The three-finger wave over the steering wheel is commonplace to drivers. You can ask a stranger for help in a store and they’ll gladly take you right to what you’re looking for. If I have less groceries than the person in front of me, they let me go ahead of them. One time, I got bumped up by three people in the same line. “Have a blessed day,” is how many people close their voicemails… even businesses!
– There are churches EVERYWHERE and they are full. We are living in the parsonage of a church in town; there is a church on either side of this one, and another three congregations that worship across the road. I have no idea how theologically sound they all are, but there are more churches in one place than I’ve ever seen in my life and I understand now why this is called “The Bible Belt.”
– Almost unfathomable to us are the rules (or lack thereof) surrounding building on land outside of city limits. If you own a piece of land, you can build whatever you want, however you want, wherever you want, whenever you want on that land. We’ve called the city and county multiple times to confirm this as we move forward with putting up a shop. No electrical, HVAC, building permits or the like are required. If you wanted to put up a church, business, house, and barn on the same land, you could do that. There is a great deal of freedom when things are market-regulated rather than government-regulated.
– One trip down a country road here and it’s very apparent why most of the vehicles here are pickup trucks or have a great suspension system. Potholes, bumps, and heaves in the pavement are better than higher taxes, I guess! Some of the county roads are a single lane dirt path. Very few roads have shoulders or sidewalks, and some of them have a 2-foot drop off the side. No U-turns happening with our 12-passenger van!
– Cowboy boots are normal footwear for men (and women). Brad loves his pair and says they’re very comfortable. Three of our kids live in them. I don’t have any yet.
– When we first got here, we were expecting to see more people wearing cowboy hats. A lot of people do, but it’s not as stereotypical as we thought.
– Crawdad mounds in the lawn are an entirely new experience for us. First, we thought they were dog piles or moles. But, nope – we’ve got miniature lobster-looking creatures LIVING UNDER THE GRASS. Their entrance holes are nice and tidy, but when they exit, they make a mound of dirt that looks like a dog pile. Thankfully, these creatures only come out at night, or after it rains. They love meat, so the kids will catch them by putting a piece of chicken or ham at the end of a hole, and wait for them to make an appearance. Some people eat these things in a crawfish boil, but I doubt I’ll ever be brave enough to try it.
– Comparable Texas stores to Canadian stores:
- Atwoods = Canadian Tire
- Walgreens = Shoppers Drug Mart
- Aldi = No Frills/ Food Basics
- Brookshire’s = Zehrs/Sobeys/Fortino’s
- Chik Fil A = No comparison. The closest thing would be Swiss Chalet, I think.
- Sonic = No comparison.
- Hobby Lobby = No comparison. I love this store! Think of an overtly Christian Michael’s Arts and Craft Store.
- Braum’s = Hewitt’s Dairy Bar
- Dunkin Donut’s = Tim Horton’s (if you use your imagination)
– Privatized healthcare is very different than socialized. Thankfully, we’ve only had to use the Emergency Room once so far when our youngest son accidently slipped a stainless steel washer on his finger and we couldn’t get it off! The ER is a separate building than the hospital, as are most other medical departments (radiology, imaging, dialysis, physical therapy, etc.). We were served almost immediately, and the facility was clean and uncrowded. We felt the expense more than when we paid for it through higher taxes, but the service we received was outstanding in comparison.
-There is no state income tax in Texas! Federal taxes and property taxes still apply, but sales tax is also lower at 8% vs. 13% in Ontario.
I’ll keep adding to this list as we note the differences between Canada and Texas. 🙂