Canada, Two Weeks in

Downtown CalgaryIt’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.Sunset and Purple Mountains
  • 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.

Challenges …

  • 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.
    Clare taking Benjamin for snowy walkies
  • 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 …

Prince's Island ParkPrince's Island ParkPrince's Island ParkPrince's Island Park, Calgary

Why Teleportation is EVIL

Why Teleportation is EVIL
Why Teleportation is EVIL

Click to Zoom

This has been bugging me for a while.

I can’t understand why everyone things teleportation would be cool, to me it is horrifying.

It’s like a fax machine blended with a shredder! Instead of instant transportation a duplicate of you will live out your life while you are killed – dissected into particles and dumped, never to be seen again.

Have I got this wrong?

Jerry Paris, Bug Hunters, Lt. Laww and C+VG

Lieutenant Laww from the C+VG Bug Hunters Comic Strip

Lt. Laww by Jerry Paris

Bug Hunters was a comic strip by Jerry Paris in the back of the old Computer and Video Games Magazine (“C+VG”). While going through our stuff ready for the shipping people to move us to Canada I found some of these old strips and have been going through them.

Lieutenant Laww comic by Jerry Paris in C+VG magazine

Lieut Laww

This dude has serious art skills but I can find precious little about him on the interwebs. I am not sure but this might be his blog.

Bug Hunters comic strip

Lt. Law in Computer & Video Games

These strips, along with the 2000AD ABC Warriors were slightly responsible for me getting a ‘C’ in my Art & Design GCSE – instead of still life drawings and all the other crap we were expected to do, my portfolio was full of warring robots ;)

By searching for the character names I managed to find some scans in Google images, such as this one of “Melissa Ravenflame” (I think):

Computer and Video Games Melissa Ravenflame

Melissa Ravenflame

Would love to know if anyone has more info on these strips or artwork.

Nearly There – 21 Days Until Canada Move

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 :)

Canada Update

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 …