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How I got three job offers while being outside Canada

axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
I was asked by someone how to minimize tax on salary and below is my answer.

Unfortunately there's not much that you can do to save tax on your salary.

Google RRSP and TFSA. TFSA is great and everyone should take advantage of it as much as possible.

RRSP is of dubious value. It is meant for tax deferral and only makes sense in one of the three following situations. (The 2nd and the 3rd are legal ways to abuse RRSP, which is in my opinion not interesting at all unless you abuse it.)

  • You expect much lower income when you are old enough to receive RRSP distributions. (Not sure whether it's 65 or 67. I expect to have higher income through my investments in the future so I couldn't care less. This is also the original purpose of RRSP from the Canadian government's perspective.)
  • You can withdraw 25,000 CAD to purchase your first home. (You cannot take advantage of it if you already have a property somewhere else.) You can then put it back to your RRSP within 15 years. Effectively you are borrowing from the Canadian Revenue Agency interest-free for 15 years, for an amount of 25,000 CAD * [your marginal tax rate]. This can be a good deal if you are not going to buy your first house in the same year when you move to Canada. (You can contribute to RRSP only in 2018 if you move to Canada in 2017. Your annual contribution limit can be found here.)
  • Your employer has RRSP matching. In this case I would just withdraw RRSP immediately and take the 30% penalty, to pocket the employer matching. Of course I would invest the money somewhere instead of spending it. (There are more ways to avoid taxation on investments than on salary or RRSP distributions.)
There are other things you can do if you can persuade your employer to structure your employment contract differently, e.g. by replacing cash salary with stock options, or by working as a contracter instead of a regular employee. But neither is risk-free and your employer will likely refuse your proposal to avoid extra legal and administrative costs.
 
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drewinoakville

Star Member
Jun 13, 2017
59
5
I was asked by someone how to minimize tax on salary and below is my answer.
If you don't plan on retiring in Canada, you can take your RRSP money after you leave the country. Then the tax rate is 25%. This per my accountant. So, the tax deferral is a good deal if you aren't retiring here. As a bonus for me (a US citizen who gets taxed on global income), since Canada would tax it, the US won't under current treaties. So, I put in 1 buck, firm matches 1 buck. Take out 1.50.

On the other hand, US citizens should NOT get a TFSA as the IRS considers it a trust and there is not only no tax savings, but it requires more paperwork (meaning more money to your accountant).

I realize you said you were from Europe but wanted to put it into perspective.
 
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axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
If you don't plan on retiring in Canada, you can take your RRSP money after you leave the country. Then the tax rate is 25%. This per my accountant. So, the tax deferral is a good deal if you aren't retiring here. As a bonus for me (a US citizen who gets taxed on global income), since Canada would tax it, the US won't under current treaties. So, I put in 1 buck, firm matches 1 buck. Take out 1.50.

On the other hand, US citizens should NOT get a TFSA as the IRS considers it a trust and there is not only no tax savings, but it requires more paperwork (meaning more money to your accountant).

I realize you said you were from Europe but wanted to put it into perspective.
Great info! Thanks a lot.

I found this. Obviously it can be further reduced to 15% if you don't withdraw more than 10% a year.

This suddenly makes RRSP much more interesting.
 
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axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
I officially transferred the ownership of most of my liquid assets outside Canada to my mother, who lives in a jurisdiction that has more lenient tax laws on personal wealth. Since I am my parents' only child and there is enough trust between us on financial matters, the assets are expected to become mine again, sooner or later through either gift or inheritance. The purpose is of course to avoid any taxation on capital gains or dividends by the CRA. According to Canadian laws, I will pay zero tax when receiving any gift/inheritance from my mother in the future, and she will also pay zero tax at that moment according to the laws of her country of residence.

In principle, I can also do the same with my future earnings in Canada, although it will become more complicated if I invest in real estates in Canada.
 

SGtoCAD

Hero Member
Jan 27, 2017
425
454
@axolotl your reasons to not settle down in Singapore completely differs from mine and i am a Singaporean. Just wanted to ask. If Singapore was accepting of same sex marriage, would you settle in SG?
 

Mrshaks

Star Member
Sep 1, 2017
51
14
I like your story. If you don't mind I would like to have in my network. About to start my canada PR process, you can dm your contact.

The purpose of this post is two-fold. It tries to answer the following questions.
  • How to find a job while you are outside Canada?
  • What kind of salary can you realistically expect?
Context

Everything is based on my personal experience. Please decide for yourself whether anything applies to your own situation or not. For this purpose, I will first give some context so that you can compare your own situation to mine.
  • Education: Master in Computer Science from the Netherlands and Wharton MBA from the US.
  • Work experience: I had several jobs. I worked as a management consultant, a quant, and an equity analyst in the Netherlands, did my internship at Google during the MBA, and was hired fulltime as a Data Scientist at Twitter in San Francisco for one year, before moving to Singapore after H1B lottery non-selection in September 2016. The agreement back then between Twitter and me was for Twitter to apply for H1B again in 2017 and move me back to San Francisco after one year’s (or potentially a bit longer) working in Singapore.
  • On 6 January 2017, I learned from Twitter that they would not sponsor my H1B this year. I was pissed off as an L1 visa would be tied to Twitter and I would be screwed if I got laid off in the US.
  • On 8 January, I decided to apply for Canada PR after some investigation on Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. At that time, assuming my IELTS would fall under the highest band, I would have 443 for myself (by choosing to have my partner as non-accompanying) or 419 for my partner and me together. I considered two possibilities to raise my CRS: a) improving my French, which I could read pretty well already, and b) getting a job offer.
  • On 21 January, I took IELTS and got the results two weeks later. I had 9.0/8.5/9.0/8.5 for reading/writing/listening/speaking.
  • On 2 February, I had my first private lesson to improve my spoken French. (I had it twice a week and eventually it turned out that I did not need French as the CRS requirement went down.)
Motivation

My motivation of moving to Canada is as follows. (These were also the motivations that I gave during my job interviews.)
  • Singapore, or rather Asia in general, is not the right place for my partner and me to settle down. Same-sex relationships are not recognised and we plan to have children.
  • North America is in my opinion the best place for tech.
  • As a very pro-EU person, I am concerned about the rise of populism in Europe. I can always move back to Europe if the EU exists. On the other hand, I would not want to move back to Europe should the EU disintegrate eventually.
  • Donald Trump has made the US even less attractive for foreigners. (I am rather right-leaning on economic issues so I am not necessarily anti-Trump. But he seems too unpredictable.)
Job Hunting

I started sending my CV on websites like indeed.ca and tried to contact recruiters on LinkedIn. I thought it would be easy given my academic and professional background. But I got virtually no response. It seemed that Canadian companies did not want to waste time on me.

I changed my strategy and started contacting Wharton alumni working in Canada. On 31 January 2017, I talked to an alumnus who was active in the startup community in Toronto. He introduced me to another extremely well-connected Wharton alumnus, with whom I talked on 14 February. The second alumnus suggested that I should focus on my Computer Science or Data Science background rather than the MBA. He sent out emails directly to the founders/CEOs of more than 20 Toronto-based startups and VCs. The response rate to his introduction email was above 90%. My calendar was filled with Hangouts interviews between 21 February and 17 March. (I was focusing on startups because I was frankly fed up with the politics and bureaucracy at big firms. Also, financially I wouldn't worry much if I am out of job for the rest of my life.)

With most firms, both sides decided not proceed after the first interview. A few other companies were very interested in me but it was too early for them to hire a data scientist. Eventually I got three job offers from firms that would like to hire me immediately.
  • Company A: I had my first interview directly with the CEO on 4 March and got their official job offer on 17 March. The company had about 20 people and had just finished their seed funding. I would be reporting directly to the CEO. The job responsibilities were not clearly defined and would most likely be a mixture of data science, product, and business.
  • Company B: I had the first interview on 21 February and got an initial job offer orally on 27 March. (They sent me the official offer later.) The company had about 20 people and was pre-seed. My job would be more about software engineering than about data science.
  • Company C: I had the first interview on 22 February and got the official offer on 15 April. (The process took much longer because I took a two-week vacation back in Holland.) The company had been around for about 10 years and had about 200 people. It was still pre-IPO. The job was about machine learning and I would report to a data science manager in a team of about 10 people.
I eventually took the offer from Company A.

Compensation

My cash salary was 120,000 USD in San Francisco, was adjusted to 130,000 SGD when I moved to Singapore in September 2016, and raised to 145,000 SGD in April 2017. The three Canadian firms offered between 100,000 CAD and 130,000 CAD. I am not including any equity compensations here since they are difficult to value any way.

Financially Canada is rather disadvantageous compared to what I have in Singapore, where the income tax is about 10% instead of the 30% in Ontario. But as I explained earlier, Canada is for me also an insurance policy which will pay off if Europe goes to hell. I consider the loss of net income my insurance premium.

Conclusion

Below are the most important lessons that I learned.
  • Websites like indeed.ca or the Job Bank are useless, at least for someone like me who is currently outside Canda. In fact, some of the job postings are in some sense fake. For example, both Company A and Company B posted a vacancy to fulfil the LMIA requirement for me. They wrote the job description to fit me and had no immediate intention to hire someone else. (Eventually I no longer need an LMIA as the CRS requirement kept declining. But it will still be nice as it will waive the requirement of proof of funds.)
  • Use your personal network. If you can find someone who connects you directly to the CEO, the chance for you to get an offer will be very high.
  • Expect lower compensation if you are used to Silicon Valley salaries.
 

axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
@axolotl your reasons to not settle down in Singapore completely differs from mine and i am a Singaporean. Just wanted to ask. If Singapore was accepting of same sex marriage, would you settle in SG?
Probably not.

The non-acceptance of same sex marriage in Singapore seems to me more like a symptom than the problem itself. Certain values that I consider fundamental, such as individual freedom or equality, seem not to be shared by the SG government or the SG society. I really liked many Singaporeans on an individual level. But at the same time, Singapore is the most racist country that I have visited and the lack of transparency regarding immigration makes it very hard for foreigners to have a long-term plan. (It is an open secret one's ethnicity, or what is called "race" in Singapore, is a key factor for one's chance of getting SG PR or citizenship. This is just one example of what I mean by racism and lack of transparency.)

It is not my intention to offend anyone. But I would rather share my honest opinion than sugarcoat things.
 
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SGtoCAD

Hero Member
Jan 27, 2017
425
454
Probably not.

The non-acceptance of same sex marriage in Singapore seems to me more like a symptom than the problem itself. Certain values that I consider fundamental, such as individual freedom or equality, seem not to be shared by the SG government or the SG society. I really liked many Singaporeans on an individual level. But at the same time, Singapore is the most racist country that I have visited and the lack of transparency regarding immigration makes it very hard for foreigners to have a long-term plan. (It is an open secret one's ethnicity, or what is called "race" in Singapore, is a key factor for one's chance of getting SG PR or citizenship. This is just one example of what I mean by racism and lack of transparency.)

It is not my intention to offend anyone. But I would rather share my honest opinion than sugarcoat things.
With regards to your opinion on transparency and racism, i agree with you. I have friends of a "different race" who are more qualified but I see get their applications rejected more times than I can count. and I see others of a "certain race" obtaining PR or citizenship with just 1 try and these are the people who most probably wouldn't even qualify for EE. And sadly I see a lot of cases where couples bring a baby into this world just to obtain some kind of resident status here but even there life is so unpredictable cause immigrations could just decide not to renew the visa once it expires.

Disclaimer: I'm just posting what i observe.
 

axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
Last weekend was a Labor Day long weekend. I went to Killarney Regional Park with five other people, four of which were my colleagues. We left at 5am on Saturday and got back at 4am on Tuesday. The trip was physically exhausting but we had fun.

It was a portage trip, meaning that we had to paddle the canoe a bit, carry them overland, and paddle again, and carry overland again, etc. We got two canoes and had a lot of weight to carry. The longest portage was 3 kilometers and we had to walk the same distance three times to carry over all our stuff. In retrospect, we were too ambitious and the distance should be covered in at least six days instead of three. Also, we had too much food, and certain useless stuff (such as a fishing rod + fishing kit). I carried a backpack of about 50 kilos. But we ate very well (barbecue and Thai green curry). It is also good to know that I am still in good shape physically. Also, I found some really good oyster mushrooms which I ate/will eat yesterday and today.

On Tuesday I used the same vehicle to move some furniture that I got for free from another colleague, to my new apartment. I got a table, a couch, a vacuum cleaner, and a lot of other smaller things. I also borrowed an inflatable airbed from him. The minivan that I rented turned out to be insufficient and his wife and parents in law came with me in another vehicle. His father in law was very helpful in moving the couch to my apartment on the 2nd floor. Really nice people to whom I will be for ever grateful!

After the move, I returned the vehicle and showed up at the office around 7pm :D

I have learned that moving costs to Canada can be tax deductible, but the benefits will be rather limited since my marginal tax rate will be only 30% for 2017 because I moved here in July. I talked to the CEO and asked him whether it would be possible to get some of my 2018 income advanced to 2017 to maximize the tax benefit. He said he did not see any problem although he would have to confirm with someone else. This kind of flexibility is a huge advantage of working at a startup.
 
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axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
Finally I landed as a permanent resident by crossing the border at Peace Bridge. My colleague L went there together with me.

Nothing really special. I told the US border agent that my intent was to do flag-poling and I got an administrative refusal, even though I did not need a visa for the US. The wait on the US side was a bit long and later I learned that I should have said that I just wanted to have lunch in the US and that would have been faster.

On the Canadian side it was the same waiting game. When the guy handling my case said "Congratulations! You are now a permanent resident", I actually felt "What a waste of time!", because the whole thing (driving from Toronto to Peace Bridge and the wait at both sides) had taken more than six hours! The agent was quite funny when he explained that I was not "supposed" to leave and come back to Canada by air until I had got the PR card. He then said "it's not really because of us. It's the airlines that will refuse you boarding when you say you are a PR and show them the COPR, which they don't consider secure enough. But on the other hand, since you already have an eTA and there is no visa in your passport, if you don't say anything about the PR, they won't be able to know. I am not suggesting that you should do anything but you can figure it out. But I can tell you that Canada does not refuse entry to citizens and PRs." I guess this is a useful piece of information for people from visa-free countries.

After that we had a nice lunch at Wind Sushi and I drove back to Toronto. The traffic was horrible!

Today I got a new SIN and opened a second Tangerine account. I already had one with my old SIN. So I referred the new me with the new SIN and both of me will get $50. HAHA!

Please feel free to use this Orange Key (50249261S1) if you also want to open an account at Tangerine. It's completely free and you will get 50 CAD when you have deposited 200 CAD and kept it there fore 24 hours. It also offers 2.4% interest rate for its savings account.

Also, if anyone's interested in other referrals (Turo, Questrade, Airbnb), let me know!
 
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axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
Forgot to mention that I have been airbnb-ing my 2-bedroom apartment. I already have a roommate and that lowers my rental cost from 1,700 CAD to 750 CAD. I also offer my own bedroom for 80 CAD a night - a rather high price because I still plan to sleep in my bed for most of the time - as well as a single bed in the living room for 30 CAD a night. The demand for the latter is really high. As for the former, if someone is willing to pay 80 CAD a night, I do mind sharing my roommate's bed or sleeping at my colleague L's place or in the office.

I did have to invest about 2,500 CAD to furnish both bedrooms. (I got the single bed and most other furniture for the living room for free.) I also have a profit-sharing scheme with my roommate so that she is also incentivized to welcome airbnb guests and to share her bed with me.

Also, I have got quite a few LinkedIn inquiries from companies in Canada, including Foodies and Shopify. It seems that once you are in Canada, finding a job can be very easy.
 
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sabharishj

Star Member
Aug 8, 2017
64
9
I have a doubt... I am at the stage of getting my ECA... I've my Masters in Computer science and Engg from a reputed institution in India. I've 1 yr experience in Software Engineering and 3 yrs experience in Banking. I don't have my MBA. Will it be difficult to find a job related to banking and finance in Canada???
 

axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
I have a doubt... I am at the stage of getting my ECA... I've my Masters in Computer science and Engg from a reputed institution in India. I've 1 yr experience in Software Engineering and 3 yrs experience in Banking. I don't have my MBA. Will it be difficult to find a job related to banking and finance in Canada???
Not sure about banking or finance. The demand for people with coding skills is high enough though.
 
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kirribilliCN

Star Member
Aug 23, 2017
107
36
Finally I landed as a permanent resident by crossing the border at Peace Bridge. My colleague L went there together with me.

Nothing really special. I told the US border agent that my intent was to do flag-poling and I got an administrative refusal, even though I did not need a visa for the US. The wait on the US side was a bit long and later I learned that I should have said that I just wanted to have lunch in the US and that would have been faster.

On the Canadian side it was the same waiting game. When the guy handling my case said "Congratulations! You are now a permanent resident", I actually felt "What a waste of time!", because the whole thing (driving from Toronto to Peace Bridge and the wait at both sides) had taken more than six hours! The agent was quite funny when he explained that I was not "supposed" to leave and come back to Canada by air until I had got the PR card. He then said "it's not really because of us. It's the airlines that will refuse you boarding when you say you are a PR and show them the COPR, which they don't consider secure enough. But on the other hand, since you already have an eTA and there is no visa in your passport, if you don't say anything about the PR, they won't be able to know. I am not suggesting that you should do anything but you can figure it out. But I can tell you that Canada does not refuse entry to citizens and PRs." I guess this is a useful piece of information for people from visa-free countries.

After that we had a nice lunch at Wind Sushi and I drove back to Toronto. The traffic was horrible!

Today I got a new SIN and opened a second Tangerine account. I already had one with my old SIN. So I referred the new me with the new SIN and both of me will get $50. HAHA!

Please feel free to use this Orange Key (50249261S1) if you also want to open an account at Tangerine. It's completely free and you will get 50 CAD when you have deposited 200 CAD and kept it there fore 24 hours. It also offers 2.4% interest rate for its savings account.

Also, if anyone's interested in other referrals (Turo, Questrade, Airbnb), let me know!
Congratulations! @axolotl. I found this post via your signature from your CPC Ottawa thread. Your posts are a great read and refreshing take. Congratulations again.
 
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