By: Jamie Smith

If you pay close attention to American culture, you may be familiar with the tongue-in-cheek threat of “moving to Canada.” Basically, the idea is that when things aren’t going well in the U.S., people joke occasionally about leaving the country altogether and moving north to Canada, where – it’s perceived, anyway – life can be a little simpler and more enjoyable. Usually, that’s about as far as the idea goes, in that it’s light on specifics; it’s more the expression of a feeling than an actual plan.

That said, there are a few reasons some Americans occasionally look to Canada more seriously as an alternative living option. To name just a few:

Health Care: There are numerous differences between U.S. and Canadian health care but the bottom line is that Americans view Canada as having a system closer to being universal and affordable. Now, the U.S. has inched closer to this reality itself, but there’s a long way to go, and as a result health care remains one of the most actively disputed issues in American politics. Thus, there’s some appeal to simply moving to Canada.

Shared Culture: Americans tend to hold their culture quite dear, but there’s also a perception that moving to Canada doesn’t really take that away from them. Canadian actors and musicians are popular in the U.S., the country’s sports teams pay in U.S. leagues, English is the primary language, and all in all there just isn’t a particularly large cultural difference. So, many Americans feel they can feel perfectly at home being Americans in Canada.

Gaming: Specifically, gaming for money is legal in Canada and illegal in most of the U.S. There are real casinos in some of the bigger cities, and there are websites with modern software catering to casino gamers online as well. This in and of itself isn’t much of a reason to move to Canada, but it does account for a lot of visits, and over time can help make Canada more appealing to a U.S. citizen.

Violence: Canada is not immune to violence, and in fact there was technically a mass shooting in Toronto this past summer. However, the country does not suffer from a shooting issue anywhere near like what’s been going on in the U.S. for many years now, nor is it perceived as being quite as much of a target for international terrorism. The truth is that domestic terrorism has been a far bigger problem in the U.S. of late, but either way these factors combine to give many in the U.S. the impression that Canada is simply safer.

You’ll certainly find many in the United States who roll their eyes at each and every one of those ideas. They’ll call the Canadian health care system “socialized” and suggest it’s not as nice as it’s cut out to be; they’ll scoff at the very notion of culture or games mattering much at all; and they’ll go to great lengths to deflect concerns about an increasingly violent U.S. culture. And perhaps it’s because these points are so often countered that they don’t actually drive many Americans to move north. However, one thing might actually be taking an effect: the Trump administration.

Ever since Donald Trump began his presidency, the “move to Canada” threat has become at least somewhat more serious. Per an analysis released this past August, about 2,000 more Americans than usual have moved to Canada since the beginning of Trump’s term. While that’s no mass exodus, it is a meaningfully large number that seems to speak to just how much some Americans object to the current president. We can’t link these numbers directly or precisely to the Trump factor, but the correlation is clear.

It’s an interesting development in the U.S.-Canada relationship, and something that will be fascinating to take a closer look at once we have two (or potentially six) more years of the Trump presidency behind us.