Moving to a new country can be difficult. You need to adapt to a new culture, you would need to find a place to stay and you might need a job. We spoke to Dozie Anyaegbunam, a Nigerian who has navigated the process so well, he landed a job six weeks into his arrival in Canada. He tells us how he did it and how much it cost.
When did you leave Nigeria?
I left last year. In the first week of February.
What motivated you to leave?
The aftermath of the END SARS protest.
Yes. I was never keen on leaving because I love Nigeria but that episode traumatised my wife and me. It made us realise Nigeria isn’t where we’d love to raise our kids. Luckily, we already had a permanent residency in Canada, so it was easy to japa.
You got your work permit before 2021?
Didn’t you say you weren’t keen on leaving Nigeria prior to 2021?
I wasn’t. But some factors made my wife and I consider getting a permanent residency .
Tell me about these factors.
The major one has to be the time I spent working at Abuja. Working close to the Civil Service exposed me to the many issues that plague the Nigerian State. That was the nudge.
It’s calmer than countries like the US and UK. The immigration route is also pretty straightforward. It’s cold though!
Interesting. How much did the travel process, excluding flight, cost?
We spent ₦150,000 on IELTS (₦75,000 per person) and ₦200,000 on WES (World Education Service) evaluation. After qualifying for the permanent residency, the proof of funds showed ₦5 million funds — our biggest expense. Lastly, we spent over ₦1m on police clearance, health checks, PR cards, and application fees.
Did reality meet your expectations when you landed in Canada?
I think so because I landed a job in six weeks.
That’s a feat!
Yeah. I was lucky. But I had also been prepping for an international job two years prior to leaving, even before we considered moving to Canada.
Two years before?
Yes. As far back as 2018, I had started taking marketing courses and doing international internships. I had pitched my services to agencies in the US. Doing these helped me develop a deep understanding of the Western market. I also became more confident in my skill set and how to communicate my value.
In addition, I applied for the Social & Content Strategy program at the Miami Ad School Toronto shortly before leaving Nigeria. Asides from learning a ton about social and content, I also learned the art of informational interviews. That is, reaching out to those in my desired industries and asking them relevant questions around upskilling, landing a job and climbing the job ladder.
How did it help?
By the time I arrived in Canada, I had already spoken with over 20 professionals, some of whom helped with warm intros. I also had a clear career path in mind. After four weeks of applications and interviews, I landed my first job at a startup, where I worked there for a month before moving to another B2B SaaS company.
Is living in Canada more expensive than staying in Nigeria?
Yes. But it’s worth it.
What do you mean?
On average, you’ll need around CAD$60,000 to live in most provinces. This is 28 million in naira, but the quality of life you’ll get in Canada is incomparable to the one in Nigeria. I mean, even houses in a Canadian slum are sometimes better than the ones in Ajah. As a Canadian resident, you get what you pay for.
I’m sure people back home must think you’re swimming in money.
They do! [laughs]
How are you navigating the black tax burden that comes with that assumption?
Well, I’ve come to accept that I can’t control black tax. I can only control my reaction to it. And so, I do my best when I have the resources. When I don’t, I explain and don’t feel guilty about my decision.
What’s the downside of japa no one seems to talk about?
What advice would you give to someone trying to japa?
Have a clear career path in mind before leaving Nigeria. Once you figure your desired path, upskill accordingly and book informational interviews, too. When you get to your dream country, don’t forget to connect with fellow Nigerians. It will help you cope with the loneliness.