For those of you who have subscribed to the relocation2bc newsletters for some time, this may be familiar as it originally appeared in February 2007. (Yes, I’ve been writing these since 2004). I have updated the tips somewhat.
So here are my list of tips.
OK, I probably don’t need to tell you this again. It is probably my major theme. Sadly some people choose Canada simply based on the belief that it is better than their current home. This may be true, but there will be specific things that are not as good.
Our friends who left this week (back in 2007) had done a lot of research and had made their plans based on their assessment of different areas and the housing costs. Their internet research was a good start but they found that there was no substitute for visiting the areas in person. They were disappointed by a number of the low cost housing areas they visited and this contributed to their decision to return to the UK.
They had underestimated how far places were apart for one thing and were horrified that they could not get around easily by public transport. You do need a car for most areas in Vancouver, the exception being the downtown core, where you can walk to everything.
Do not emigrate without doing a research trip. I know it will cost you money but a couple of airplane fares and hotel costs are minimal compared to the costly mistake of having to return home.
PLAN ON NOT WORKING
OK, most of us will need to work eventually. Of course the ideal is to find a job in advance but that is not always possible. And it can take longer than you think to get a job. How will you manage? Are you prepared to re-train, even if only to get necessary qualifications in your own profession? Would you be able to take a position that is not as senior or as well paid as your current job just to get Canadian experience? Are you flexible enough to try something different? Our observation is that being flexible and determined will net you a job and from there promotion or the next job is that much easier.
ADAPT YOUR JOB HUNTING TO CANADIAN WAYS
Make sure that your resume (CV) is in Canadian format and terms unfamiliar to Canadians are translated (eg your professional qualifications). Get advice from the many job resources available.
Network, network and network. It is definitely what works best and you will meet a lot of people – some of whom could become your friends!
THE INTERNET IS NOT REAL LIFE
Too many people get hooked on what they see or read on the internet. Houses are represented in the best possible light, with flattering photos and descriptions and certainly will not show the view overlooking the breakers yard, gas station or highway slip road. Try checking out the area using google earth and getting a bird’s eye view of the neighbourhood you are thinking about.
Take chat room advice with a pinch of salt too. It is useful to get a range of other people’s views but nothing can beat first hand experience and your own impressions. Some other clients told us this week that they thought some publications painted too rosy a picture of what life is like here.
YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO TAKE THE ROAD TEST
This is one thing that has changed since 2007, at least for people from the UK. You can now swap your British driving licence for a BC one. I would recommend at the very least going that extra mile (kilometre) and reading up on the rules of the road. There are different things that you will find here, such as the 4 Way Stop, that take a bit of getting used to. Canadians, on the other hand, are only just coming to grips with the roundabout.
THINK THROUGH THE RENTING / BUYING IDEAS
Most people probably will start out renting. This is usually the best if you are not sure of areas and particularly if you are not sure of where you might be working. Bear in mind that unfurnished rentals almost always require a one year lease. Best to start off in a furnished rental, which can be for a few weeks, until your plans become clearer and your effects arrive from overseas.
A few people do buy right away. If you are thinking of doing that then it is important to be sure that your home is one that works for you in at least the medium term. You will want to get settled and put down some roots. We, as realtors, are able to advise on this and with our partners across BC can help you pretty much wherever you are headed.
Preparation is the key ingredient in making your move to Canada a success. With preparation you can make realistic plans and the adjustments you make to your new life are mostly ones that you expect and want. Life in Canada is going to be different – if it weren’t you wouldn’t be making the move at all.