I was going to do an update at 6 months, then I was going to do one at 7 months, but finally here is the 8 month update since we moved to Canada 🙂
One big reason for the delay is we were waiting until we could announce that we bought a house! There is another, much sadder reason also. My Uncle died and it wasn’t the kind of thing I wanted to write about at the time.
So taking the sad stuff first, my Uncle Marian had been unwell for a while, but still came as a shock at the end. He was an awesome guy and we feel grateful we got to spend the time we did. My Aunt is doing well considering.
On the more positive side, we are very close to having everything sorted on our new house paperwork. It’s very cool that we did this on our Anniversary – 13th wedding anniversary today! We came close to buying a different house but the deal just wasn’t right so we backed out. This decision feels much better, more “us”.
The expectation is the build will complete at the end of August, or maybe beginning of September. Will be nice to be in the home before our daughter’s birthday.
As you can see in the mosaic image above, we have been up to a lot since we got here. It’s been very very cool, and not just the weather!
- Snow mobiling
- Ice skating at Lake Louise
- Soaked in Banff springs
- Going to see the Calgary Flames live several times (and saw their playoff hopes dashed)
- Took in the view from the mouth of the world’s biggest dinosaur
- Kiddo went skiing with school (we will have to catch up with her level of prowess next season)
In between all these activities we shut down the business in the UK, set up here, and sorted our Canadian and international taxes out. Oh, and I had a few business trips to Vegas, Texas and Chicago etc.
Bottom line is we are loving it here. The school is great, we have made some lovely friends, and have started to venture out to explore this fine country!
We have now been living in Canada for three calendar months!
They say time flies when you are having fun and it certainly seems true in our case. We have seen and done things we only dreamed about, and it is all the more amazing when you think back to how long this was in the making 🙂
The best thing is the people who have helped us settle in and enjoy being here.
We arrived here on 24th of October. Today is 25th November so we have been here a month. Time for an update 🙂
First let’s tick off stuff from last time:
- The UK business is still as it was, but our Canadian business is now incorporated and we have an accountant. Unfortunately the Canadian business was spelled wrong by our paralegal on some of the paperwork so hopefully he will correct that.
- We both have phone plans and I am now paying the princely sum of $8 a month so I can get caller ID. Ripoff or what?
- It was touch and go for a while but we did manage to get a car. A new Dodge Journey. We get winter tires fitted Dec 6th hopefully. Not something we had even thought of, we were actually looking at Fords, but they were they only people willing to get us financed along with our bank, Scotiabank. The loan is in Clare’s name because I, as yet, still don’t exist. We took my birth certificate in again to Service Canada to try and get a SIN and we will have to continue waiting. This car finance hopefully means we are starting to build a credit history for when we come to buy a house.
- The weather dipped to -30c for a week or so and we had a couple of nights of 15cm snow. At one point the media was telling us Calgary was the second coldest place on earth. Even with the cold, without wind or damp it doesn’t feel bad at all (unless you take your gloves off), in fact the sun can be really nice even when it is freezing at the same time. It’s now back up to a balmy 1c and feels really really warm in comparison. Possibly due to what I suspect is an oncoming Chinook. Thankfully the weather was clear the day the shipping container arrived.
- I still haven’t had a steak, haven’t found a decent curry, but I did manage to get a really nice Burrito (Mucho Burrito) 🙂
It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas …
It’s too early to give a real update. We have had longer vacations. BUT so many people have asked, I thought I would share a little of our experience and get everyone up to speed.
Also, geek that I am, this will allow my future self to look back and say “Oh yeah, I remember that”.
First, some points to keep in mind just so we are all on the same page:
- Our situation is a fair bit different to most who do this. My daughter and I are Canadian citizens, only my wife had to apply for permanent resident status (for my daughter we applied for her citizenship). This is because I was born in Canada but raised in England. We can’t really advise other people who want to move here because we didn’t go through the same procedure. That said while I have a Canadian birth certificate I am having a full immigration experience because I have never tried to live and work here before as an adult, even if my paperwork implies otherwise!
- That said, we did visit the country quite a lot so it is not perhaps the alien environment many other immigrants face. We knew how to drive here, work with the currency, and what to order at Tim Hortons 😉
- While we have been here two weeks, our “stuff” has not yet got here. We are sleeping on air beds. The shipping container ought to be on rail rather than sea right now, but Canada is a bloomin’ big place so we hope for receiving our belongings later in the week (fingers crossed).
- I have been working all the time I have been here, there hasn’t been any time to stop and take stock really. First on my laptop, then on the greatly delayed air freighted iMacs.
So now we are clear, here are the nuggets of news to bring us up to today. The good stuff …
- Everyone has been super nice, even the immigration people at the airport. The one guy who dealt with Clare’s papers looked like the dude from Terminator 2, same unblinking robotic stare, at least he did right up until he was super nice and smilingwhen he found out we were not a bunch of trouble makers and he saw my Calgary flames sweatshirt 🙂 I mean it, everyone has been really cool so far. Family have been great. Our Realtor, Eamonn has been great. And Ben of course who has helped out in many ways (see below).
- Kiddo has now had one full week of her new school and is enjoying it so far. She has made one good friend and had chats with other kids.
- While most of our worldly possessions are still on their way, we did buy a TV, a desk, a sofa and some chairs. We got Shaw cable (who have been awesome after I whined on Twitter – they listened and helped us out very nicely). So we have a landline telephone, internets and digital TV.
- We got here just before Halloween so got to join in some of the festivities. There were dozens of kids trick or treating and they were surprisingly polite.
- While we miss family and friends (of course), Skype has been very useful and calling UK only costs us $0.04 / minute which is surprisingly cheap even though we don’t have a long-distance plan.
- Although I told everyone we were moving to Calgary, we didn’t move to the city itself. I’m not going to put on this public website where exactly we moved to but suffice to say we are on the edge of rural while still having two Starbucks in walking distance. In fact, when walking the dog we can see countryside all around us, and even the Rocky mountains on the horizon on a clear day.
- I still need to sort out the UK business and get everything set up here.
- Cell plans are expensive and a bit rubbish. We did get SIM cards, but Clare used her $20 pre-pay credit within a couple of days because she didn’t realize receiving calls cost the recipient money here. My Rogers account is ok, $65/mo and includes 1gb of data and tethering, but I paid $2 a month to get caller ID (you have to pay for caller id) which still doesn’t work so I get charged for accepting telemarketer calls. Grrr.
- Unfortunately we used to visit a lot when the exchange rate was as good as CAD$2.42 to the £1, whereas now it is $1.52 to the £1, and everything seems to have gotten way more expensive even without that.
- We have been renting a car for most of our time so far but that was getting beyond reasonable expense, and thankfully for last couple of days we have loaned a car from Ben who has been very kind and generous. As yet nobody will give us a car loan because we don’t have jobs or a credit rating. I don’t even have my Social Insurance Number because I don’t exist in the official computer system until some archivist can dig out my records. We don’t really want to blow our savings and we need to start building that credit history so we can get a mortgage, so we are looking into what financial voodoo can be done.
- As yet we have not had to worry about weather, it has been beautiful. We had a couple of tiny flurries of white stuff that disappeared after a day or so. Right now we are bracing ourselves for proper snow, hopefully after the moving guys shift our stuff into the house.
- Other than family, Clare is missing galaxy chocolate and x-factor.
- Everything is bloody expensive. Did I say that already?
Some more pics to show off the autumn/fall colours before the white stuff arrives for the winter …
A couple of people asked for another update with our Canada move so here we are.
We move on 24th October. This is both exciting and scary. Hopefully we will settle in before the seriously challenging weather kicks in. I hear it was 30c yesterday but the snow is imminent.
Initially we are renting until our house in the UK sells. Six months to begin with.
This is what the rental home looks like:
As well as being around twice the size, it has a couple of features our current house doesn’t have. First it has a double garage which is useful as our current garage is full of junk. Secondly it has a basement (unfinished). The best part though is it is the same as the new build houses we were excited about earlier in the year when we visited so it is almost like having a trial run. Hopefully when all the finances are sorted and it comes time to buy they will still be building them!
This is going to be expensive, hopefully the house will sell quickly! When I land I need to seriously get the business back on track. Originally I considered renting out the house in the UK but we need the equity for a deposit as the house prices and exchange rates are working against us. (See diagram below).
The pets are flying out with us and all our stuff is going in a shipping container. Yes, this means we will have a couple of weeks in the UK with no furniture and the same on the other side. Inflatable beds FTW!
I’m lucky in that I will be in Vegas for a week, I get some respite from the in-house camping situation, but at the same time I have to give six talks in front of a large audience so I doubt I will be getting sleep in those comfy beds.
Still to do a lot of stuff like bank accounts, set up my business in Canada (and some clients would be good!), get an accountant, get a car … *shudder*.
We have been up and down with the nerves. When they hit we have to remind ourselves we are going to this …
I’m looking forward to exploring the country when we get there. There is so much we have never seen, especially Jasper, Montreal, the Maritimes … exciting stuff 🙂
Anyone who has been following this saga from the beginning knows how hard we have worked to get to this point and even so we are only 90% of the way there.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it is easy moving your family and business to another country. Well, it might be if you are a millionaire.
We have spent the last 6 or so years making very slow progress. What with medical emergencies, change of career and business, panic attacks, legal red tape, more health issues, and a real estate bubble burst, it has been quite a challenge.
It feels closer than it ever has, but I am sure it will only feel actually real when we are there.
And that is when the real challenge begins …