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Considering emigrating to Canada from britain....Help!!!

(88 Posts)
CanadaCalls Mon 23-Jan-12 01:11:49

Basically, we've had enough of England and where it seems to be going - down the bloody pan, and have started looking into Canada......

Initially, we looked at Australia but then several factors and loads of research, we decided it wasn't for us.

Then we got speaking to a friends wife who is Canadian and she sort of helped us make our minds up, Canada it is!

We would be accepted easily as DP has a very desirable job and in high demand in canada and me and DS would be allowed in on the back of this.

My only concern is, how to cope with being homesick?

I have always been really close with my family, same as DP with his, yet since given birth to my PFB 9 months ago, nothing has made me want to move to pastures new and build a better life for us all.

IMHO, todays generation (by all means I don't mean every person) seem to have no drive for life, motivation, respect or ambition.

I want a better life for my child, I dont want him coming home from nursery and using slang words such as 'dat' instead of 'that' (believe me, its happening, my own nephew is doing it!) I dont want to hear him 'kissing his teeth' at me as they call it, nor do I want to look back in 15 years time when he is hanging about on the streets, getting into trouble and refusing to get a job and think 'why didn't we get out??!!'

Everything makes me think there is no question about it, make the jump, but the other part of me is wondering how i'll cope with being away from my family? I keep telling myself that I have my own family now and they have to come first, but I'm still really struggling with the fact that inevitably I am going to get the phone call from my brother telling me 'Mum's not well' and know that it isnt just a cold this time.

Has anybody else been in the same situation? What made you leave? How did you handle being so far away from family and friends?

All answers would be much appreciated smile

Kenobi Mon 23-Jan-12 16:34:35

You'll still get:
gun crime
racism and ultra right-wing attitudes
kids sucking their teeth at you - it's an american thing, and Canada is much more American than the UK
Massive drinking probs in the cold winters
teenage pregnancy (probably also related to the winters).

I don't blame you for wanting to move to Toronto, we've also considered it, but some of your reasons are pretty naive.

Just don't move to Saskatoon - a native friend once described it as "where boredom goes to die" grin

ChunkyPickle Mon 23-Jan-12 16:38:54

Vancouver has weather very, very much like the UK, but the city feels half-empty - all 3 lane roads, with really very little traffic, the most crowded bits really aren't, and I think it's probably 50% dog (by number, not by volume - they tend to be little dogs). It's obligatory to stride around with a cup of coffee in one hand and a yoga mat in the other wink.

It is very expensive, and mail-order anything seems to come by donkey from Toronto it takes so long.

The pavements are wide, tree-lined (beautifully coloured in winter, dappled shade in Summer), you're a couple of hours from the US for shopping, or Whistler for skiing, canoeing and walking right on your doorstep, and snowy mountain views at the end of city streets - the couple of hours extra on the flight vs. Toronto doesn't make any difference I don't think, might be an option if like me you're not sure how you feel about the ridiculously cold weather in other bits of Canada

Popbiscuit Mon 23-Jan-12 16:43:56

I just snorted water out of my nose at the Saskatoon comment.

No need to elaborate on that grin.

Popbiscuit Mon 23-Jan-12 16:50:36

Vancouver is my idea of heaven. Outdoorsy, oceans, forests, more temperate seasons. We lived there for two years as newlyweds in a revolting, dingy, astronomically dear basement flat in a gorgeous neighbourhood very close to downtown and the beaches etc. I'd love to live there again but it is really, really, really expensive to live near downtown and the suburbs are not as nice as Toronto's. That said, it might be a tradeoff worth making if the proximity to ocean and forest is important to you.

ChunkyPickle Mon 23-Jan-12 17:02:39

Oh yes, fibre to our flat for t'interwebs, healthcare was great, and has hands down the best steak I've ever eaten on 4 continents (I'm told it's even better in Alberta)

but something wasn't right for us, I can't put my finger on why though. I can see that for many people it would be heaven.

wannaBe Mon 23-Jan-12 17:08:01

IMO you need to want to emigrate because you want to live there, not because you don't want to live here.

Every country has issues, so what you might have here you won't abroad and vice versa. And there is no country without crime/teenage kids hanging out on the streets, unless you want to go and live out in the middle of nowhere (and believe me in a country like Canada the middle of nowhere is much more remote than here).

What you also need to think about is your own children and their relationship with their extended family, and how a move abroad will change that. Yes there is skype now and that does make things easier, but in truth you don't really realize what the impact is until you are older and can think it through.

I grew up abroad and while it was exciting to talk to grandparents and aunts etc on the phone, telephone communication just isn't the same as face to face, and when we returned to the UK I found that in fact I had nothing in common with any of my extended family and in truth they meant fvery little to me and neither did I to them - that relationship just isn't there, but I didn't really realize it until I had dc of my own.

And while it's easy to sit here and say that you can always fly home, the reality is that the thought is far easier than the reality - ok so it's a nine hour or so flight back, but at the cost of probably a couple of grand a time (for all of you) that is something that you may well find you can't necessarily afford on a regular basis, and family may either not want to or be able to afford to come and visit you.

And don't rely on companies saying they have a job - if it was that simple people would be going there in their droves - it really isn't that easy.

My neighbours emigrated to Canada and it took four years for the visas to come through, and he was on the list of desired occupations, so don't kid yourself that you'll be ready to go in eighteen months or so - things will proceed according to their timings, not yours.

I would go and live abroad again tomorrow, but it wouldn't be because I want to get out of here, it would be because I wanted to experience new places etc.

If you're desperate to get out of London then get out of London. There is far more to the UK than London, and moving to another big city isn't going to change anything apart from on an emotional level..

lottiegb Mon 23-Jan-12 17:09:03

I don't understand your idea that London is the only city in the UK either. Are your jobs so specialised that they can only be done in London? Really? Not Bristol, Exeter, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff or Edinburgh? You can find lovely communities, schools and teenagers all over the place if that's what you want.

On Canada, my parents came here from there (London was considered quite excting in the 60s. They then settled in a lovely northern town), I've visited many times and my younger half-siblings grew up there.

Some scattered thoughts:

Teenagers can be crap everywhere. I once travelled by bus from Vancouver to Ottawa and everywhere, especially the small places with the most intriguing names (Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw) the one consistent feature was the 'bored bus stop kids' just hanging about, exactly as they do in every town and village in the UK.

My own observation has always been that Canadian kids are very self-confident and talk in a very equal way to adults, though, especially when a (reserved British) teenager myself, I've sometimes wondered what it is that they have to be so self-confident about - healthy self-esteem perhaps bordering on bumptious entitlement.

There is a more egalitarian, meritocratic, pragmatic society there. Less of the tradition, red-tape and class-based 'who you know' networks that still affect some fields of work and life here.

Society generally is also more right-wing, economically if not always socially, taking what we'd see as Tory ideas about free markets, enterprise and self-reliance completely for granted so that everything is very commercial, and viewing what we'd see as mainstream left of centre as raging socialism. It's a lovely place to be if you're well-off but you wouldn't want to have to fall back on state support in any way.

Schools and health provision are generally very good though and hardly anyone goes to private schools, which contributes to making the state schools good and, as people just seem to go to the nearest one, much more dependent on their neighbourhood for general standards. Secondary education is more broad-based, less specialised, so the school-leaving standard is lower, university takes longer and you have to pay for it, though that's no longer a difference.

There is an odd cultural mix between brash, commercial, uber-confident American and repressive Scottish protestant (early eastern settlers), so that films on TV can have endless violence but no nudity and alcohol can only be bought from government-run liquor stores and was wrapped in anonymous brown paper bags until about 15 years ago.

I once asked my brother whether he'd ever regretted or even thought about growing up there rather than here. He looked quite horrified and said no and why would he since he was able to grow up skiing (including at school, like swimming lessons) and spending summer weekends at people’s lakeside cottages, as if wanting to be in the UK was the most ridiculous idea ever.

Think about how you'll cope with long winters at -10 to -20, followed by a long, muddy, grotty thaw. Toronto isn't the coldest place, but will be gloomy and cold in winter.

How's your French? If you work in the public sector you will have to undertake to improve it and, above a certain level, will have to be able to work in both official languages.

The eastern side is only seven hours or so from here and there is a low cost airline with rtn flights for approx £500 rather than £750 on AC or BA. So, if you have the money, you can get back in an emergency.

The things I always notice on coming back to the UK are (in summer) how green it is compared to their wilted foliage but with so little urban green-space and how much dog shit there is everywhere – Canadians have picked up consciencously for years.

I'd agree with trying it for a year, there's so much you won't know until you get there.

wannaBe Mon 23-Jan-12 17:19:48

tbh I think the answer to why it has to be London probably comes down to money. I'm guessing but of course could be wrong, that the op's dh probably works in either IT/law/the financial sector, in which case the salaries that are commanded in London are much, much higher than anywhere else in the UK.

But you don't have to live in the centre of London to work there - we've recently moved to what my sat nav describes as greater London (bromley area) and although it isn't cheap it's a nice area and isn't the hustle and bustle of mainstream London.

lottiegb Mon 23-Jan-12 17:32:11

I think you're proabbly right wannaBe but I also know people who work in law, IT and accountancy and have chosen to live well outside the south east because they value the quality of life available, housing is cheaper to the extent that, in many ways, they can live as well but without the commute, they aren't surrounded by people who spend money like water so feeling any need to keep up, thus feeling their life over-all is better than if they were making a much bigger salary in London. I think that's a lifestyle choice.

CanadaCalls Mon 23-Jan-12 21:35:30

How did I know it wouldn't be long before the word 'racist' came into it fregley!!

RACISM has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it am I'm amazed that somehow you've been able to extract something from my OP and turn it into a "racist' view.

Sort it out

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 23-Jan-12 21:38:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lottiegb Mon 23-Jan-12 21:41:56

Actually trying to answer your question OP, on homesickness and family, well... I think it was significant that my maternal grandmother was a tyrant whose rare visits here were difficult and my mother was quite happy to put some distance between herself and her parents for a few years at least. They didn't really mean to stay here for more than a few years though, it just worked out that way.

Similarly when my Dad went back with his second, English, wife they didn't mean to be there for more than ten years, almost thirty years ago. She is close to her family and very good at phoning, visits once a year and has recently been through the decline of elderly parents phase, which meant at least four visits in a year for illness, funeral, relocation to a home and house sale.

So I suppose my answer is, skype, e-mail etc are great but, to see people regularly, either by flying them to you or visiting here, money really helps, as does willingness to allocate a chunk of each year's holiday for the purpose.

n.b. holiday allocation in Canada is really poor, people start on two weeks and might make it to five by the end of a successful career.

lottiegb Mon 23-Jan-12 21:43:20

No, paternal GM, not that it's important!

CanadaCalls Mon 23-Jan-12 21:49:39

Because Stewie its what happens, mention a way of speech and people jump on the band wagon and start pointing fingers and assuming.....Fregley has proved my point. Anyway, I'm not getting into it as its a ridiculous accusation and one which i'm not prepared to spend any more time on.

Speaking with DP tonight, he has corrected me, its Alberta he was looking into. I really appreciate all your comments and insights, DP will sit down and have a read of it all when he has a moment.

There is a hell of a lot to think about and a lot more research to be done. As I said, we aren't looking to go anytime soon, for exactly the reasons you have all put forward, there's a lot to be done and thought about before anything is set in stone.

Its not just that we want to get out of London, there are probably a million and one other nice part of the UK that we haven't even given a thought to, we would just like to live overseas and enjo the experience, if it works for us and we're all happy, then we wont have any regrets.

I dont think there is anything wrong with wanting a better life for your family, be it abroad or at home.

Thank you so much to everybody who has contributed to the thread, you've all been an enormous help grin

momnipotent Mon 23-Jan-12 22:08:26

[Am in Canada]

Where in Alberta? I would do Calgary in a heartbeat but I would think twice about Edmonton (I used to live there). Alberta is very 'red-necky' in general. And they hate people from Ontario I found out!

If you're looking for other people's perspectives, I would consult the forums at Not just the Moving to Canada section, but the Moving Back to the UK section also.

We considered moving back to the UK last year but for various reasons it wasn't practical. If it was just DH and I we'd go in a heartbeat.

I find it very difficult to 'fit in' here and it has never felt like home to me. We haven't been back to the UK for 12 years because we can't afford the flights. The paternal grandparents come and see us about once every 2 years, my kids have never met their cousins.

Holiday allocation here is 2 weeks. That is to include Christmas, etc, so throughout the entire year you can have 2 weeks off. If you are heading to the UK that more or less takes your entire vacation allowance for the year. It takes 5 years before you make it up to 3 weeks! This doesn't sound like a big deal but it grinds you down, you work work work work work and there is just no break to it.

School holidays also suck I think! School goes September to June, 2 weeks off at Christmas, 1 week off in March, then about 10 weeks off in the summer. The breaks during the school year are too short and the break in the summer is too long! There are no options regarding what school you go to - you go to the school whose catchment area you are in.

It isn't cheap to live here at all. And there are not a lot of jobs around. The health care system is free but not very efficient. You can easily wait months for a specialist appointment. My DD was on a waiting list for speech therapy for 18 months and during that wait we paid for private therapy. Same for DS needing OT and an ed psych assessment - it was a 4 YEAR wait to do it through the school so we paid privately for that also.

Seriously, read the expat forums and especially the posts from the people that want to move back. And really THINK about what they're saying.

momnipotent Mon 23-Jan-12 22:10:00

Oh and whoever said it is familiar but slightly wrong is dead on. I think you (general you, not you specifically) expect it to be the same because everyone speaks English but it isn't the same. At all.

Thumbwitch Mon 23-Jan-12 22:21:41

That's the same in Australia as well, momni and pickle. It's even worse here (possibly) because we drive on the LHS of the road, same as the UK - so you could occasionally forget you are in a different country. But the people, the attitudes, the way things work are all subtly different and it can be hard to get to grips with it. I have been incredibly lucky, considering I am not in an Australian city - nearly all the friends I have here have a strong connection to the UK, either family or working there themselves. So they are less "strangery" than some of the others, iyswim - they know more about the UK culture and are more open to differences.

Imperfectionist Mon 23-Jan-12 22:46:27

Why not view it as a gap year (or gap-two-years) or something, rather than emigrating. At least initially - many people go to work abroad for a fixed period and end up settling. But there is less pressure on you now to make a big decision. When your child is a baby, and you don't seem to be tied to a career as well as your DH, it's a good time to go.

But to be honest, emigrating has got to be REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY worth it for expats to be happy away from their home country. And yes, the UK always will be home to you (but not your son). Also, once you go abroad, your family relationships will inevitably deteriorate. You can spend a lot of money and time and energy fighting that deterioration, but you will never be as close as you were when you lived in the UK. Think about the implications of that for your son.

And finally, as an expat who has lived all over and has friends who have emigrated to Oz and the like - the golden rule is that when you're mulling this over with friends and family, and they vow to visit you, do not believe them. Once you're further away than Europe only one in every ten promised visits usually materialises, especially in a recession.

Good luck!

roary Tue 24-Jan-12 03:17:52

Alberta is great. I am from Alberta and just to clarify some of the points that have come up so far:

1. I disagree about the social safety net - it is very similar to that provided in the UK, with some parts better and some parts worse (ie, fab education, but no NHS-subsidized prescription medicine). Like many things it is swings and roundabouts.
2. In Canada health and education provision vary by province, so you have to know where you are going to live to do a comparison.
3. Alberta's school system is routinely ranked in the top three of OECD countries. In Edmonton, it is an open boundary system so you can go to any school you want (no catchments). THere are effectively no private schools (some religious ones) as the state system is so strong.

Periodically when I visit my family in Alberta I have massive moving home fantasies. I think Edmonton is actually a lovely city, with great cultural opportunities (NOrth America's largest fringe festival, for example), huge parks, cross country skiing and skating in the the long summer school holidays there are free rec programs put on for kids at local parks and amazing daycamps (paid but cheap) run by the city throughout the river valley where kids can learn outdoor skills, mountain bike, do drama camp, all sorts of things. Excellent health care.

Vacation provision varies massively by job, so you'd have to look in to that. Most white-collar employers provide excellent supplemental health insurance, which will cover prescriptions, dental, glasses etc.

Winter is cold and long but tends to be sunny. SNow is more fun than rain and Canadians do tend to have better facilities for outdoor play on dark days - there are lots of lit skating rinks, or floodlit skiing trails or toboganning hills. Easier to be outside in many ways than SE England where everything is completely dark at 4 and nothing outdoors to do - but then it is not -30!

I am trying to give a positive view but there WILL be culture shock, it is inevitable. I have found the UK very different from Canada but have enjoyed living in both places, and would live in either place. At the moment, with two young DCs, the quality of free education would sway me completely. I also really don't think that the school leaving quality in the UK is better. I'd say it's quite a lot worse than Alberta/BC and a bit worse than Ontario (and I say this as someone who has taught in universities in both countries). Of course this depends on the school a bit.

Definitely go for a visit in winter if you can - summer is lovely, lovely, lovely but it is shorter than winter! Alberta only has three frost free months a year.

nooka Tue 24-Jan-12 04:24:45

I wouldn't move to Toronto personally, we didn't like it very much when we visited and having moved from one big city to another (we did London to New York before moving to Canada) I don't think that it's different enough to justify the huge cost and upheaval of moving. Essentially life in one big city is pretty much like life in another, and the traffic around Toronto is really not much different to the M25. Plus I think you can get more homesick over subtle difference than big ones.

Calgary on the other hand is really quite a small city, and it's only two hours away from the Rockies, which are fantastic. I think that life there would be quite different. Plus Alberta is the boom province right now, so jobs are more likely. Please do bear in mind though that it is not unusual for Canadians to tell you that something is quite possible but then find in practice it isn't at all - they are an optimistic lot grin so don't take that 'no problem' totally at face value, although if someone does want your dh then that's fantastic obviously (get them to pay for your move and your start in Canada will be a great deal easier)

Otherwise I think lotteigb has really said much of what I would say, and I agree losing holiday entitlement is a really bummer. The only mitigating factor where I live is that I can get away every weekend in the summer, as you only have to drive for half an hour or so to get to a beautiful lake in the wilderness. Or in the winter 45 mins to gte onto a ski mountain, and driving here really is a pleasure.

nooka Tue 24-Jan-12 04:30:00

roary we are in BC and the education is one of the main reasons for us to stay (apart from the privileged of living in beautiful British Columbia that is smile) the fact that no one here worries about the school their child is about to go to is just so nice - my dd and ds are at the top of elementary and it's just not something people really even talk about, virtually all the children I know go to their local catchment school and whilst people have their niggles it really isn't a source of angst at all. Where I lived in London it was a very different matter.

ggirl Tue 24-Jan-12 09:27:57

OP ; ' IMHO, todays generation (by all means I don't mean every person) seem to have no drive for life, motivation, respect or ambition.'

as a parent of a teen I find this quite an insulting statement.

I grew up in Canada , have canadian citizenship and my family all live there. I never get why people want to emigrate there.Bores the pants off me when I go back.

CanadaCalls Tue 24-Jan-12 09:30:19


I'm sorry you find it insulting, as I said I don't mean every brit teen is of the same disposition, just the majority, there's no denying it i'm afraid.

CanadaCalls Tue 24-Jan-12 09:32:46


Thanks for the insight, a lot of the info has been on the down side so its nice to hear some positives. Not that I dismiss the inevitable truth that it will be hard, it's just nice to know that some people do actually see the possible move a positive thing.

I have taken all thats been said on board and I really appreciate everybody's help smile

ivykaty44 Tue 24-Jan-12 09:41:30

If you are the type of person that thinks a country is going down the pan - then possibly think about the type of person that is needed in the country to stop it going down the pan. If you are not the type of person to stop it going down the pan...then best move somewhere else.

As for your problem of being homesick - what exactly are you going to be homesick for? As you said the country is awful.

You make the life you want to if you come on to a forum and insult a countries inhabitants then you are likely to be given negative comments.

I adore Canada, well the west coast, it is one country I could see myself living a good life and feel at home. There are still problems within the country it is just their problems are different from USA and UK

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