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Moving from England to Calgary this summer

(7 Posts)
karamina Sun 22-May-11 09:59:03

Any Canadian or expat Mumsnetters out there want to offer some tips? I am having one of those 'don't know where to start' days. We have 4 children (11, 9, 7 and 4) and we're moving over the summer. Just waiting for contract details to be ironed out, which seems to be taking forever!

karamina Sun 22-May-11 19:12:33

bumping for Canadian Sunday afternoon readers

DrMuffy Wed 25-May-11 02:45:38

Hi there,
I'm in Ontario but I used to live in Edmonton. That was a while ago though so I'm trying to think.

I would say your number 1 priority is to find somewhere to live. Calgary is pretty expensive and my understanding is that there aren't a lot of properties available so you might want to start looking now. If you are buying, you can check for listings, and for renting I would check the local paper (Calgary Herald I think?) or kijiji ( Kijiji can also be a source for cheap(er) furniture and vehicles when you first get here as well.

I have 4 children as well and I have found it very difficult to find houses with enough bedrooms so that everyone gets their own! Most houses here seem to only have 3 bedrooms and you'd be lucky to get 4. 'Tis weird!

Health care is covered by the province so each one is different. There will likely be a 3 month waiting period between the time you arrive and the time your health care coverage kicks in, so during that time if you need to see a doctor you will have to pay out of pocket. After that it will be covered. Again, each province is different so not sure what exactly will be covered for you. You may also need to pay for the health care coverage (in Ontario it's based on your earnings, on a sliding scale). Bottom line - if you have any ongoing prescriptions make sure you bring enough with you to last until you can see a doctor!

Not sure how Alberta is but here in Ontario we have a shortage of family doctors so you may not get a family doctor right away.

The school year starts the Tuesday after Labour Day, which is the first Monday in September. Likely there won't be anyone in the schools until the last two weeks in August so you will need to wait until then to register. If it's like Ontario, you won't have a choice of what school to use, it will be the one closest to your home. School runs September to June, 2 week break at Christmas, 1 week off in March, and assorted single days off here and there.

Not sure what else to tell you?

Oh, when you are buying something in a shop, the price on the shelf is not the price you will pay at the till! Tax is added at the till so you need to do some math, in Ontario it's 13% but that is a combined provincial and federal tax, in Alberta they only pay GST which is 5%.

I will check the thread later so feel free to ask me something! Good luck with your move!

howcomes Thu 26-May-11 16:07:36

We're moving to Toronto shortly, has been a helpful site to look at properties to rent as it pulls in information from Craigslist and Kijiji etc.

Calgary is a lovely, friendly, city (though I've only been on holiday there. I did live in Vancouver for a while and I can second DrMuffy that you will probably have a waiting period for your health insurance to kick in. In the past I've used CanadaSure to cover us for the first 90 days and will do this again (they can also include one way insurance which is otherwise only offered by a handful of insurers such as the Post Office or Direct Travel). Another helpful site (although sometimes responses are sarcastic) is the British Expat Canada site:

If you're investigating shipping companies I can recommend GBliners - no I don't work for them, I've just used them in the past and will again as they were really helpful.

One thing I found was that prices in Canada seemed a lot dearer than in the UK, especially for food and furniture. I would advise shipping as much as you can afford as it will be cheaper in the long run. Even IKEA is dearer over there sad Car insurance is meant to be much more expensive, think 4 or 5 times the price as you pay in the UK, so look at taking proof of your no claims to try and lower the cost. If I think of anything else I'll post back.

roary Fri 27-May-11 15:41:07

If you are moving permanently, I would strongly disagree that things are more expensive in Canada - I buy things in Alberta and bring them back here! The exchange rate can mess with your thinking because it is so much less favourable for those spending pounds that it was. Most things like car insurance, internet, mobiles etc ARE more expensive because population density makes them cheap in the UK. Any ready-meal type thing is more expensive and less nice for the same reason but I find that generally groceries are cheaper (especially fruit and veg).

Do you have any more specific questions? I am from Edmonton and go back to Alberta frequently. You are moving to one of the finest education systems in the world, truly, so that should make things easier (you will get a good school essentially wherever you live). Kids don't start school till age 5, and that is usually a half-day (kindergarten, roughly equivalent to reception) so your 4 year old will be at home and you may wish to look in to pre-school (for which you have to pay). Finding a GP can be difficult in Alberta and if you know any doctors you should ask them to help you with contacts, or your husband's work. Prescription medicine is NOT free so you should stock up on any expensive prescriptions you get before you leave.

Employers sometimes provide private health insurance, which will cover dental, eyes, and prescriptions to varying degrees. There is no private system in Canada so everyone uses the public system but your health insurance can get you a private room in hospital.

There are fantastic summer programs offered for older kids by the City of Calgary here and that might be a great way for your kids to settle in the summer and meet people while you get some time to organize your living arrangements.

Alberta summers are usually gorgeous, sunny and dry and not too hot. Which will, ahem, prepare you for winter....set aside some time in the fall to go buy snow boots and gear for the kids as it can snow in October in Alberta and you don't want to get caught out with nothing. Get snow tires for your car (ESSENTIAL) and take a winter driving lesson through the AMA.

madwomanintheattic Tue 31-May-11 05:02:43

missed this the other day - we live an hour outside of calgary and dh works in town. smile mine are 11, 9 and 7, too. grin

feel free to ask any q's. as i said, we don't live in town so can't do specifics about schools etc. loads of brits head towards okotoks (little britain) and the calgary police is about 70% british. <maybe a small exaggeration, but y'know>

what is dh doing?

oh, on the subject of snow, we had more on fri/ sat. grin always get some at the end of may, and the ski resorts will be open again in november. they are discussing whether to re-open sunshine for canada day as they still have plenty.

anyway, ask away or pm. grin

madwomanintheattic Tue 31-May-11 05:03:38

realise it may be you waiting for contract btw, rather than dh. shame on me. blush

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