One of the big fallacies is that VFX is going to “cheap” places like India and China. It makes sense at first: The cost of living is extremely low in emerging markets and therefore the cost of labor is cheap. However we haven’t really seen a dramatic presence there.
What I have observed is that VFX is going to places where the cost of living is very expensive: London, Vancouver, Sydney, Singapore. Of course there is New Zealand which is relatively cheap but ironically Weta pays some of the highest rates in the biz. Of course I argue the reason for all of this is subsidies that the US studios want to take advantage of.
Many here in California are asked (okay, coerced) to make the move. A reader sent me an email going over some of the costs of living in Vancouver. It’s not cheap:
1- Vancouver Canada has the highest cost of living in North America.
Cost of living index:(higher is more expensive)
Los Angeles: 94.4
Vancouver’s cost of living is substantially higher than New York City (score is 100) and San Fransisco. Los Angeles is dirt cheap in comparison. Once again, it is the most expensive city in North America.
2- Salary and Taxes:
Taxes on Salaries under 100k will be roughly the same as California Taxes, however you cannot make nice tax deductions like you can in the states.
Tax on Salaries over 100k will be taxed at 41% (only portion of income over 100k is taxed at this rate)
Tax on Salaries over 130k will be taxed at 44% (only portion of income over 130k is taxed at this rate)
So if you have a good year with lots of OT, it will be taxed heavily.
Breakdown of sliding tax rate:
Tax Calculator: See how much you pay in taxes, weekly, yearly, etc. (Make sure to check British Columbia)
The Overtime pay structure is very different in Vancouver. It is not mandatory for companies to pay OT over 40 hours the same way they do in California. Some do, some don’t, some pay 1.25 OT instead of 1.5. Every company is different and it must be looked into.
4-401k and 401k match:
There is no 401k and certainly no 401k match. There is something called RSP that is a sort of retirement plan. I’m not sure how it gets taxed when you take if back to the US.
5-You will want a Canadian bank account
Using a US based account in Canada could accrue a 1-3% foreign transaction fee per transaction on top of currency exchange rates.
7-Auto insurance is very costly.
Here is the breakdown: http://thesecretsofvancouver.com/wordpress/vancouver-car-insurance-now/all-about-vancouver
8-Gas based on the current Vancouver average of $1.41 per liter would equal $5.32 per gallon.
9-Parking in the downtown area ranges from $5 if you’re lucky to $10 and even $20 per day.
11-You could pay heating cost in your apartment for up to 8 months a year.