With Monday’s extended Covid-19 lock-down, combined with the dreary outdoor weather, combined with the short days leading up to the winter solstice, combined with the cancelled preparations for what is normally the most festive time of the year, one would be forgiven for feeling gloomy and depressed.

Indeed, it might make many of us want to get out of here, find a nicer place to live (once we can again).

But where would we go? Is it really better anywhere else?

That’s what Remitly (an international money transfer company) sought to find out, in a study they entitled “Where the World Wants to Work: the most popular countries for moving abroad.” Noting that internet searches for “how to move abroad” had increased dramatically in this pandemic year, they analysed the millions of searches, segregating them by country. [Such a study is probably more accurate than simply asking people which country they’d most like to move to if they could, because it measures people who actually took some action on it, not just wishful musing.]

So which country was the first choice for Canadians? Perhaps a sunny, palm-treed southern clime? Perhaps a country that shared our culture or language, to minimize adaptation?

Nope! Canadians chose Japan, a country that shares much of our climate and little of our culture or language.

Japan was, in fact, a very popular choice, coming in second overall, chosen most by 13 of the 101 countries in the study (about half the world’s countries—those with enough data to analyse). It was also chosen by Americans, as well as Australians and most Southeast Asians.

Personally, I’d have chosen Colombia or a Central American country, for the climate, the culture, the Spanish language (which I’m trying to learn), and the proximity, being not many time zones removed. Japan is not near the top of my list. But I guess I’m an outlier, not representative of Canadians.

Spain came in just behind Japan, with 12 countries choosing it, mostly from Central and South America, and Scandinavia.

So which country came in first? You’ve probably guessed it by now. Canada! By a whopping margin, in fact: 30 of the 101 countries picked Canada as their destination of choice. We were favoured by people from Britain, Ireland, France, Belgium, India, Pakistan, Mexico, all but three of the African nations in the study, all but one of the Caribbean countries, Qatar, and even the Azerbaijanese.

Evidently, weather is not the main draw for people!

So what is the main draw? Safety, job opportunities, high immigration options, friendliness of the people, and beautiful scenery.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Last January Canada took the #2 spot overall by a U.S. News and World Report study of the best places to live (behind Switzerland), in a study based on people’s perceptions only. We were #1 for the variables “transparency,” “quality of life,” and “political stability.”

Others in the top ten (in the current study): 4. Germany (8 countries); 5. Qatar (6); 6. Australia (5); 7. Switzerland (4); 8. Portugal (3); 9-tie. U.S. and U.K. (2). (For your gloating pleasure: only the Russians and Norwegians wanted most to move to the U.S.)

So, there you have it: we’re the best! Some of us are looking to move, with Japan being the most favoured destination. But, ask the world, and we’ve got it pretty darn good here, notwithstanding covid-19, cancelled Christmas, our weather and our short days. We’ve got it better than most.

So, let’s gripe a little, just to get it off our chests, and then let’s savour the goodness that we have.

And, that includes the spectacular scenery that attracts many people from around the world. You likely didn’t know that the Canadian Rockies were chosen by Lonely Planet in the Blue List, 2006-07, as the “World’s #1 most spectacular natural attraction.” And those Rockies haven’t really changed in the intervening years.

So, since this Friday, December 11, is “International Mountain Day,” I present to you the most iconic of Canadian images (a photo I personally took this summer), to honour this special day, to understand why we’re such a favoured destination for people from around the globe, to lift our spirits, and to offer an attraction that travel restrictions won’t prevent us visiting after January 8.