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Thinking about moving to Canada - thoughts and experiences please!

(49 Posts)
lazyhen Sun 20-Jul-08 21:42:35

My DH and I have a 6 month old DD. I have been to Canada twice, and he's been once on honeymoon. We both love it and DH is desperate to move. Objectively I think it's a great idea but worried about homesickness etc...

Think we'll plan to do a proper research trip next year to look at nurseries, and I can shadow someone who does my job out there. Also thinking we'd actually shop in the grocery store, look at leisure facilities etc (i.e. not just touristy holiday things).

What else could/should we be doing? How do you know when you're absolutely sure?

Many thanks!

sunnydelight Sun 20-Jul-08 23:41:16

I guess, will you be able to get in is the first question. I know the immigration process for Canada takes a long time (I think it can be something like 5 years though I'm sure people have done it in less). Friends of ours here (Australia) originally wanted to move to Canada, he's in IT so they were able to put in the application but they got fed up with waiting, came here instead, and have been here now for over two years with no decision on Canada.

If you have an easy way in then I would say the things to look at are jobs, areas you would like - and could afford - to live in, schools, transport and think about how close you are to your family and how often you would be able to return to the UK/have family to visit if it's important to you.

alipiggie Sun 20-Jul-08 23:45:08

If you are serious the best way to go is to use an Immigration consultant/lawyer they can get you in far quicker. Also if you don't speak French learn it fast. I have a friend who emigrated at the same time I moved to the US. They now live near Calgary and love it. Her husband was maybe is a truck driver and she re-did her nursing exams and is qualified to work over there. They had permanent residency in roughly two years.

shubiedoo Mon 21-Jul-08 03:11:37

I'm Canadian but lived in Ireland for years before moving back here, we love it, the quality of life is great.

Have you ever visited in the winter? Because unless you live in BC, it really is six months long, something to consider. Plan your research trip sometime between November and March so you know what you're in for!

I live in Halifax, on the east coast; if you're thinking of this area, I'd be happy to give you some ideas. There are direct flights from here to London and Glasgow, very quick.

Lots of Brits move here and love it, I'm sure you would too.

nooka Mon 21-Jul-08 03:35:48

I think you have to start by narrowing it down. Canada is huge country and the provinces are very different. It is also worth looking at which occupations are in shortage in which provinces, as you can apply in a variety of different ways, for example provincial nominations are usually shorter, and if you fall into a shortage category you can speed the process up considerably. Finally I would absolutely agree with shubiedoo, visit in more than one season. A friend of ours in Manatoba has snow from Halloween until April, and it gets to -40 degrees below. So very very cold! We loved BC, and I would have happily moved there, but dh got offered a transfer to Toronto or New York, and we found Toronto boring and Ontario a bit bleak, so are now sweltering in NYC

hellish Mon 21-Jul-08 03:49:30

Hi, I'm in Ottawa, moved here 2 years ago and love it.
Can't post a lot now as I need to go to bed, but feel free to ask any questions.

lazyhen Mon 21-Jul-08 07:06:12

That's great, thanks everybody. I'm an occupational therapist, so have made initial enquiries and shouldn't have trouble getting a visa. We're looking at West side of Canada in BC. I loved Ontario/Montreal/Quebec but would really prefer not to have language difficulties on top of everything else! I think the plan would be to find an area based on MY work and then DH can find a job from there. Interesting about length of time to get out there.

So exciting!

One thing I wondered is about Annual leave - I have about 28 days a year here but don't think I'll get that in Canada. Do people find that a problem - squeezing in time to entertain visitors or getting the time to fly back to the UK?

wannaBe Mon 21-Jul-08 07:27:07

the average time to get into Canada is 4 years. It is one of the most difficult countries to emigrate to.

One of the teachers at my ds' school is emigrating in the holidays, it took her 5 years to get her visa. Also my neighbour took 4 years to get their visa. His wife and children went over last year and he stayed behind to wind up his business and sell the house. A year on they have been unable to sell the house (due to market) so sadly they are having to give up the dream and she and the kids are coming back in the next few weeks.

And my sister's boss was refused entry even though she actually updated her qualifications to become qualified for something that is saught after iykwim. She was rejected on the grounds her daughter has some signifficant health problems.

I would definitely go on a fact-finding mission to see what it's really like out there, and make a definite decision on where abouts you want to emigrate to, but do also bear in mind that your now 6 month old baby will be a school age child by the time you go, and how moving away from family she has formed bonds with will affect her.

muppetgirl Mon 21-Jul-08 07:41:20

Both my brothers have emograted out there. One works for The Royal Bank of Canada and had done for years so they helped hiom get a Visa but he has only just (after 3 1/2 years of being there) got his 'can stay for good' or whatever it's called. He left as it was an opportunity and his life in london involved hours of commuting and he'd just come through a divorce. He found the work ethic very different, he was expected to take a lunch hour and leave, more or less, on time every day so found he had his evenings back. He's bought a flat and met a girlie. He did find the climate hard to adjust to (he's in Toronto) as it's very hot in summer and very cold in winter and he developed a prickly heat type rash durung the winter as he's very thin and tall so bad circulation.

The other brother married a Canadian so entry was easier. He's set up his own business. SIL (Canadian) doesn't like Toronto as she says it's just like London but is very happy with the schools/nurseries etc.

We miss them desperately but they try to come over once a year but we are now trying to meet up abroad for a hoilday to make the children (cousins) know each other. We are also setting up email addresses so the kids get used to talking to each other over the computer and are used to it.

muppetgirl Mon 21-Jul-08 07:44:56

...oh, the snow gets so bad the older brother had to dig his car out as it was completely buried.(It was a stupid sportscar though)So the weather is really quite extreme in Toronto.

lazyhen Mon 21-Jul-08 08:48:42

Wow - interesting stories. Feel so sad for WannaBe's neighbour having to give up the dream so far in to the process.

I think I had really underestimated the weather extremes (let's face it the UK grinds to a halt after a bit of sleet). We'll either visit in January or March so that should give us a good idea of the climate at it's worst.

I wonder why people move abroad and then return to the UK - unrealistic expectations, homesickness..? And whether all the preparation in the world can ever prevent this?

wannaBe Mon 21-Jul-08 09:57:34

I don't think it's necessarily a case of too much expectation, more that every country has its own individual problems and what we may like about one country we may not get in another and vice versa.

I grew up in South Africa which has a fantastic climate. When i remember living there I remember the sun, bbq's every weekend, swimming outdoors, wearing shorts and t-shirts throughout the summer and so it goes on. Being back here it's the thing I miss most about there because the weather here is so shit. But the thing i do have here that I don't have there is a sense of greater security. Yes there are issues with yob culture and knife crime, but compared to South Africa it really isn't that big a deal. I would never walk out alone at night there, ever. I would never use public transport over there because it just isn't safe. I would live in a house with bars on the windows and safety gates and probably a large dog and a gun.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, every country has its good bits, but equally every country has its crap bits. And once you get past the wow factor of the good bits, the you start to notice the not so good bits.

Plus people return to the UK because they can - it's not like when you emigrate and you have to jump through hoops to get there, if you don't like it or are homesick you just get on a plane and you're home, iyswim?

lazyhen Mon 21-Jul-08 12:07:04

Yeah - see what you mean WannaBe. I think also it's sensible to remember that wherever you are the bins need to be put out, lawn needs to be mown, things breakdown etc...

I had an Aunt who emigrated to Oz and to begin with the emails home were very 'showy' so lots of swimming with dolphins, BBQs on the beach etc and the attitude of us being mad living in the UK. As time went on they got sick of some of the things that drew them out there in the first place and ended up coming back to the UK.

I shall continue the research!

nooka Mon 21-Jul-08 13:43:22

BC is fantastic! As an OT you should be able to get a work permit relatively easily, and then apply for permanent residency from within Canada, and so avoid the long wait. The key thing is to check that your qualifications are valid (I would suspect contacting the equivalent professional body is the way to go). If your employer can show that they have not found a Canadian for a post advertised for a certain amount of time then they can offer it to a foreigner. They then have to do the paperwork for you, but certainly if you apply for jobs in the public sector they should be used to that, given the amount of doctors and nurses who move around the world. All the health jobs are advertised on the internet, and most of the health bodies have good web sites too.

turtle23 Mon 21-Jul-08 13:55:32

BC is fab. My family emigrated to Vancouver from the UK and they are still there. It's a fantastic place, the summers are rubbish just like the UK but it rarely snows in winter, except up on the mountains which are STUNNING! If you ski you really should do Whistler/Blackcomb when you go.
It is a lot of paperwork, but if you fit the right criteria it isn't that difficult.

lazyhen Mon 21-Jul-08 14:16:41

Thanks - that's good to hear such positive stories. I know I'd have to do an exam to qualify for working abroad, but I'm sure I could scape through!

Kitsilano Mon 21-Jul-08 14:32:52

I lived in Vancouver for 3 years. It is a wonderful place.

Pros:
Great, healthy lifestyle with lots of leisure options
Ski during the week on Grouse Mountain
Beautiful scenery everywhere
Mild winters in Vancouver(no worse than the UK)
Great food
Reasonable working hours
Friendly people

Cons:
High rate of taxation
RAIN!!!! It rains much more than the UK - the winter can be long and very grey. Do not go to BC if you suffer from SAD.
Long way from the UK if you want to visit
Only 2-3 weeks annual leave unless you can negotiate more
Lots of homeless people in vancouver as it has the warmest winter in Canada - can be quite oppressive

I returned to the UK because I was single at the time, wanted to buy a property and settle down and knew that I could earn more in London. I wanted to be closer to my family. Also missed the British sense of humour, Radio 4, newspapers and being with people who "got" me. That might not be so much of an issue as part of a couple.

hellish Mon 21-Jul-08 14:51:34

Hi, If you find an employer before you go, you can get a temporary work permit ( can be up to 3 years and poss to extend), then apply for permanant residence once you are in Canada.
- This is what we did.

Weather on the west coast is much like UK (I think) Here in Ottawa, we have fab hot, sunny summers (we have a pool in the garden) and loads of snow in Winter. I love the winter although it's cold there's lots to do, we ski and skate every weekend.

Poster above was right about normal life, there are still boring everyday things to do, still school issues and life is certainly not cheaper here (except for property prices)

BUT, I think quality of life is much better for children and adults - mostly that people expect to have leisure time and fun, even 30+ mums play sports/ join clubs as a matter of course.

brimfull Mon 21-Jul-08 15:03:38

I grew up in Canada,have lived in UK for 25 yrs now and don't think I'd ever go back.

It's a lovely country but I love the uk more.
I do love the space there though.

I lived in Ontario and do find it a bit dull when I go back.One of my brothers lives in Vancouver and loves it there.Property prices are sky high there compared to Ontario.

If I was going to go back I would choose
Ottowa,BC or the east coast.

Annual leave is miniscule as well.My brothers get 2 weeks a yr shock

lazyhen Mon 21-Jul-08 17:04:06

Kitsilano - really interesting to see the pro's and cons laid out like that.

hellish - I love the idea of skiing and skating at the weekends - that is a really good thing to do with your time off.

ggirl - what brought you to the UK, and what do you prefer about being here?

I think the 2 weeks a year annual leave really worries me.

brimfull Mon 21-Jul-08 17:16:32

lazyhen- I came to do my nurse training,was born in Scotland emigrated to Canada when I was 7 so was entitled to come back.Loved it here and met dh so have never gone back.

Things I love about GB that I would miss in Canada:
friends

british sense of humour

beautiful countryside that is easy to get to (Canada is a big country and beautiful mountains and lakes can be hours away)

fantastic shopping,supermarkets and clothing

easy access to europe and 5 weeks annual leave

good weather compared to Ontario

beautiful cities with loads of culture and history

the cohesiveness of living in a small country-hard to explain

All these things don't sound much really but I love it here.I live in New Forest so am lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country.

MrsSprat Mon 21-Jul-08 17:35:04

I'm in Toronto at the moment and really like it. I've heard the boring comments too, but as I have a 7 mo, 'boring' is just fine at the moment and actually it doesn't feel much different to my life in the UK, apart from being a bit more upscale.

Lifestyle is a considerable improvement on London, food shopping is about one-third cheaper, and restaurants half London rates. Clothes shopping not much cheaper, unless you hop down to the US.

I would also second the idea of coming on a temporary work permit too, as it's secure enough and seems to ease the red tape and if you decide to go back to the UK, no big deal.

My DH has one through work and I have a spousal permit for as long as he stays, although still enjoying maternity leave right now.

Childcare-wise, I've not researched hugely, but nurseries here only seem to be interested in over-2s. I suspect child-minders are the option until then, if you want to work.

Kitsilano Mon 21-Jul-08 22:55:23

Also, not sure if you would want to work full or part time but my company in vancouver had absolutely NO part time workers. If you came back to work after having a child it was full time, no exceptions. Not sure if that is universal though...

hellish Tue 22-Jul-08 03:58:04

Hmm, interesting. Kitsilano, my sister lived in Kitsilano for a year, she loved it.

I have 2 dc in school in Ontario, the system is quite different and I think has different strengths and weaknesses to UK schooling. So far it's coming out pretty much even, (we had a great school in UK).

I know loads of mums who work part time here, depends what type of job I suppose.

There really is a lot to do here, in all seasons, people really know how to make the best of the cold weather.

brimfull Tue 22-Jul-08 08:42:43

hellish-where do you live?
I grew up In Dundas ,Ontario.Do you know it?

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