So my husband and I emigrated to Canada in September 2018. We discovered how awesome and how challenging this life experience would be for us. We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and boy did we learn a lot along the way. I hope this blog will help you prepare and give you an insight into a few things we learnt that may help you too!
You couldn’t pick a more wonderful place to choose to move to. It is still western and has many similarities to the UK so adjusting will be much easier than other places in the world.
The outdoors is what makes it so special. Since arriving, at least once a week we have taken a hike or ski’d. Especially in Ontario where there are endless trails and gorgeous lookout points.
If your an outdoorsy person then Canada is going to have many treats in store for you. The best of all are the seasons. They arrive in all their glory and they each bring something magical. The deep and wonderful autumn leaves, the crazy magical snow storms, the hot humid summer days and the warmth when spring arrives and winter starts to melt.
SHIPPING YOUR STUFF
Deciding what to take wasn’t majorly a challenge as we were allocated a 20 foot container so most of our four bedroom house fit!
The biggest challenge was electronics. We pretty much had to sell everything including my gorgeous new Dyson hoover….wahhhh!
We were just not sure what would and wouldn’t work despite reading endless advice online. So we took a favourite lamp and our keyboard and left the rest. These work fine with adapters however my GHD hairdryer didnt. Booo!
So my advice is unless it’s very sentimental then sell it and put that money towards replacing it with when you arrive or perhaps store them if you plan to return.
You don’t want to be stuck in Canada with loads of stuff that doesn’t work and no one wants to buy.
PACKING YOUR HOUSE
This is the most stressful part of the move in my opinion however not if you get a good company to work with you. We used John Masons and they literally came in and packed and wrapped every single item we owned, meaning that our stuff arrived safely and unbroken. We didn’t have to do a thing, apart from make lots of tea. I’m British….this is something I can do!
On the other end our stuff was placed in the exact room that it had come from and it was all unwrapped for us. They even hung my clothes in the new wardrobe. Amazeballs.
Before you start this process, have a huge clear out. We almost halved the contents of our house and it was very rewarding.
You can’t ship anything dirty so if you have camping, tools or gardening equipment ensure that it is cleaned thoroughly otherwise it won’t get across the border and could be the reason your whole shipment gets returned.
You won’t be able to take any alcoholic drinks with you so ensure you organise a farewell party so you can enjoy getting rid of it or perhaps donate as goodbye presents if your on the more sensible side of life. Don’t panic wine is pretty great especially Ontario.
You also cannot take any food so either get eating or donate to a local food bank.
If your planning on taking your pet then get organised beforehand and go and see the vet. Injections and checks can start well in advance however you will be pleased to know there is no quarantine from UK to Canada.
We brought our little fur baby socks with us and after a traumatic flight he is all settled in. However due to the risk of being eaten by a coyote he’s now a lazy house cat! He’s hit retirement age so we don’t think he minds.
You also have to be careful of walking dogs in the area as Coyotes have been known to snatch them off the footpaths. So check out your new neighbourhood as having a pet in Canada can be different to England. A great help to me was joining local community groups on fb as you can ask questions and also connect with local British people.
GETTING ON THE ROAD
If your able to buy a car outright you should be fine, however you won’t be able to do a PCP deal initially if your on a temporary work permit. Usually even if you plan to stay forever you will begin with a temporary work permit and then apply for permanent residency.
Some companies will however let you do a two year lease, this means very quickly getting on the car hunt when you arrive as they won’t want you to have a contract that expires after you do! Buying a car was a bit of a worry however we got a great deal with a Cadillac XT5
You can get by for a while with your UK licence but you will need to exchange for a Canadian after around a month. We just went to service Ontario and did it there and then however they take your UK one away so be prepared to loose it.
Ensure you get Winter tyres, I just don’t see how it’s possible to survive without them. You will find you don’t want to drive at all when it snows if you don’t and it snows a lot. Ours have been awesome and it makes driving in snow totally fine.
Our biggest Boo boo! Ensure you tick the goods to follow option when you arrive in the county if you have a container following you! We didn’t and had to fight till the death for them to believe us!
Luckily we had a nice lady that felt terrible for us, but seriously if she had wanted to she could have sent our stuff right back where it came from costing us a small fortune.
It was a minor mistake we made whilst exhausted after a long haul flight but a top tip to remember NOT to do!
We shipped our stuff a week before we left the UK and it landed 4 weeks later in Ontario. I would estimate at least a month. We lived in a hotel for the month whilst we waited for our furniture to join us.
BANKING AND FINANCE
Canada is behind the UK in many ways when it comes to money! There is still a lot of cheques! You can cash these cheques on banking apps from your home which helps, but we still feel they are not as digital as the British yet. I don’t know anyone that gets paid by cheque in the UK.
Interac Transfer is a popular way for transferring money here which uses just your email address.
We went with TD Bank however we were surprised to find that everyone pays for a bank account here, even just a current account. Your looking at about $15 CAN per month.
Leave some money in the UK if you can, even just a few hundred pounds, as soon as we left we always found there was little bits and pieces to pay for. Contracts that we had closed that had final bills, ordering presents and cards for family and friends on their bdays or other occasions. It’s much easier to order it from the uk and pay for it there than be sending stuff from Canada.
We managed to totally fluke our way past this! Mike has a great job so the bank gave us credit cards instantly and we were advised to use them and pay them off as often as possible to start to build our score. However when you arrive you won’t have a financial footprint which may make the first few months hard.
Luckily when it came to renting our house our landlords accepted our UK Experian credit scores as proof of our good credit and Mikes work contract but this is quite unusual. Still take a copy with you as it may save you.
GET KITTED OUT
You will need the right gear for the winter. I would really advise investing in some good snow boots. The most populars here are Sorell’s. However if you don’t want to spend that much then take a visit to Mountain Warehouse and pick yourself up an affordable pair which will do the job absolutely fine.
Get some glove liners! Your fingers will not last two minutes once you hit those minus temperatures. The trick is to have inner liners to go inside your waterproof gloves. I got a snazzy pair for when we’re skiing!
Get some good socks, don’t layer! My advice is to get good quality Murino wool socks. Don’t think that wearing 20 layers of socks on your feet will be warmer.
Get a good winter coat and go long! I quickly learned that having a coat that covered my butt was a must! Or bum as the British say. I went for a gorgeous Rudsak cost, it wasn’t cheap but I have NEVER felt cold. Investing in a good winter coat that can withstand the -30 windchills days is vital.
You may also find you need a car coat! It’s a bit too hot to drive in your warm coat and also hard to drive, some coats are adaptable and have zips to make the transition from outside to the car easier. All things to consider when your coat shopping
The biggest shock for us was the cost of grocery’s! We did the supermarket carousel when we first arrived and tried every single one! Our weekly food shop went from $300 down to $180 after lots of trial and error!
We found Fortinos and Sobeys awesome shops for yummy food and the best shopping experience but the most expensive of them all and similar to Waitrose or Marks and Spencer’s. Not really practical for an every week shop.
No frills is a more affordable option but we didn’t feel as much choice, similar to Aldi or Lidl.
The best for affordability and also great meats and fresh food was FRESHCO and this has become our go too. It took us a a couple of months to discover this so I hope this helps you save some cash immediately.
I have fell in love with a couple of high street stores since arriving, my favourite of all is Aerie because of their gorgeous range of leggings and comfy options! You also can’t really go about your life without a pair of lulu lemon leggings and a Roots Hoodie.
Don’t panic you can get almost all your favourite things! Most supermarkets have a British aisle. You can get gravy, dairy milk, custard and stuffing amongst others.
Our local village Waterdown also has a local British shop called Leylands! It is full of British favourites. However you will of course pay 3 times the price. But when it comes to Robinson Apple and Blackcurran juice. It’s worth it.
EMBRACE IT ALL
It’s easy to forget what a totally awesome opportunity this is! You will find it’s a huge adventure. If you focus on the excitement of immersing yourself in this wonderful county then you will adapt quickly. There will be things you miss about England but in the same breathe there will be something new to fall in love with in Canada.
Emigrating is a life experience, I am so grateful we got to have an adventure like this. Best of Luck if you decide to do it and let us know your story!
Love and Happy Travels
Don’t leave the world waiting too long