Category: moving

Preparing for a trip “home”

Deep Cove
Downtown Deep Cove in North Vancouver gets very busy

Next week we are off to the UK to run our Welcome to Canada Seminars so I am starting to think about going back. I have been back before, and have written about my impressions of the UK.  This time I wanted to look at how impressions of the old country change with time away.

We have been living in Canada now for 8 years, and have put our kids through secondary school, and some through university too. They are Canadians. They speak like Canadians, and think like them too in many ways.

Sue and I don’t speak like Canadians. Our accents are resolutely British. And probably will always be. (My mother was Canadian and in 25 years living outside Canada never entirely lost her accent).

Our heritage is still English, and so a trip back is tinged with nostalgia. Some of it is rose tinted for sure. English village life, with the village green, picturesque pub with welcoming landlord and great beer may exist, but we’ll probably not see it. (I do intend to research this while we’re in England – and Guinness in Dublin too!)

What am I looking forward to on our trip?

Friends and family are the main reasons people have for returning “home”. For some this can be the only reason. And it may even be why they decide to return for good. For us, we know that we’re staying in Canada, so this trip will be a chance to catch up with people we have not seen for a long time. We will not even have time to meet everyone so it will be rather bittersweet – time is too short to pack years of socializing into a few days.

Immigrants, like me, tend to miss the food and drink from their old countries. Some we can get in Vancouver (at a price) and some just don’t travel well. So we will be reminiscing about familiar foods, over dinner with friends – or just grabbing a sarnie (sandwich) from Marks and Sparks.

You know, as I write this now, I cannot think of anything more that I want except perhaps to see old familiar places and marvel at how they’ve changed, or not. Again this can be bittersweet, when somewhere you remember fondly has changed for the worse.

And that brings me to the things I know that I will not enjoy.

Crowds. It is easy to forget that even a big city like Vancouver is small by comparison to many in the UK. The sheer numbers of people on the tube in London, piling onto the bus or just walking down the sidewalk will be more than we’re used to. (Except during the Olympics or Stanley Cup Playoffs when good natured crowds fill the streets)

Rudeness or worse. Canadians are polite. And chatty too. I know from past trips that this can be one of the hardest things to get used to. You get to expect to engage anyone in conversation and it can be a shock when your conversation starter is ignored.

Small cars being driven very fast (and on the wrong side of the narrow roads). Canadian cars tend to be large SUV’s, trucks and vans that fill our wide roads. The standard of driving is not very high, but it tends to be genteel and usually pretty courteous. Driving in London is both aggressive and dangerous to my Canadian eyes!

One of our friends has also recently been back to the UK and her post on that is worth reading too. Perhaps when you too have been in Canada for a while, your views of the old country will be ones you’d like to share with us all.

Storing stuff

Storage boxes
It helps to get boxes that are all the same size

If you’ve never heard George Carlin’s comedy routine about “stuff”, then I highly recommend it because it might help you with the whole process of de-cluttering before you move to Canada.

He talks about how we keep stuff. He says, for example, that “a house is just a place to store stuff”. And after some time you get so much stuff that you have to move to a bigger house to store all that extra stuff.

In fact there is a whole industry devoted to storing and looking after your extra stuff – the stuff you cannot fit in your house, or just don’t want around now. But you might want at some point!

If you are moving from another country you are probably going to be going through your stuff and deciding what to bring and what to leave behind. We thought we were pretty good at de-stuffing, but judging from the groaning shelves in our garage, we weren’t so good. So our advice would be to choose only your best stuff and bring that!

When you get to Canada, your stuff will arrive after you (except the essential stuff you really need with you). Most people probably don’t think about storing their stuff – if anything they’ll be avoiding it. Ideally your container gets delivered to your new home and is unpacked there. However you might want to store some stuff because you want to rent a small, cheaper place while you find work. You can then get your stuff out when you have bought or rented a larger place.

If you decide that you want to store all of your stuff, then your removals firm will be your first port of call. Find out what they offer in terms of storage.

For smaller amounts of stuff – the stuff you don’t need right away, then a self-storage facility might be for you.

I have not used a storage facility personally, but I was thinking of this because we helped our friend Candice move some of her “stuff” into storage after she’d sold her house. She went to one of three self-storage facilities in sight of each other in North Vancouver. She’d done some research and chosen the one she liked most. She found that they were all about the same price. (A guide line for this was a 10ft x 10ft x 10ft unit cost about $200 a month).

These places are basically warehouses that have been sub-divided into lockable units of different sizes. Not pretty, but your stuff doesn’t need to be pampered.

If we were in a colder part of Canada, perhaps it would be worth making sure the place was going to be heated adequately. Here dry is good enough.

When you’re shopping around, look for the deals or bonus offers. For example you can often get the first month free or for $1. One place offers 24 hour access and the loan of a small moving van, though their units were a bit more expensive.

Once your stuff is all hidden away in the storage units, you can get on with your new life in Canada. Beware that you will inevitably be adding a whole lot of Canadian stuff to your pile. like skis, snow shoes, bbq’s, and replacements for all the electrical stuff you left behind!


How to save money on your car insurance


Classic car
Classic car

Insuring your vehicle in British Columbia is expensive. I would not be alone in suggesting that the reason for this is the fact that all basic insurance has to come from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). There are other insurance companies but these only provide the optional top up policies. So ICBC has a monopoly on insurance.

If you are moving to British Columbia and want to get a discount on your insurance then you have to convince ICBC of your no-claims record. And to do that you have to do it according to their rules.

The basic requirements are that you provide your claim history record as follows:

  • Be on the insurance company’s letterhead.
  • Show the main driver’s name and the policy number.
  • State the period you had coverage, and the dates of any at-fault claims.

If you have lived in various places, or have shopped around for the best deal every year (as we did in the UK), then you may well have a lot of claims histories to get.

Here are some tips I got from an insurance agent last week.

1. It is definitely worth getting the claim history if you have a good claims record. You will save a lot of money.

2. Phoning works best. He said you’d probably need to call 2-3 times to get what you wanted.

3. Ask the company to fax the claims record, in the correct form, to your Autoplan broker.

4. The ICBC web site says that you have 6 months in which to make your claim for the discount. This is not strictly true. He told me that ICBC will apply your discount but will only back date it up to 6 months. So however long you’ve been in B.C. you can still go back and get some discount applied.

See my page on Car Insurance too.

Immigration seminars in Dublin and London

Welcome to Canada
Welcome to Canada
Introducing our free seminars

Want to know more about immigrating to Canada?

These seminars are a great way of finding out about the whole process from visas to buying your home – and everything in between.

We are pleased to announce that we are participating in a series of seminars:

  • Dublin – 18 June, 2011

    10:00 – 12:00

    13:00 – 15:00

  • London – 19 June, 2011

    10:00 – 12:00

    13:00 – 15:00

In both cities there is the choice of a morning or afternoon event. You may register for tickets below.

Learn from our panel of experts.

Whether you are just starting out, or you are ready to make the move our panel of experts have answers for your questions.

Who will be there?


Chris Willis

Canadian Visa Specialists

CVS is managed by Christopher Willis, a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant (CCIC) who has been practicing immigration since 1995. Here you will learn about the different routes and visas available for you to come and live in Canada.

Removals – London Seminars

John Moynes

PSS International Removals

PSS INTERNATIONAL REMOVALS are proud of the position they have attained in the Overseas Removals industry. They are the UK’s first choice for Moving Overseas and have successfully helped thousands of customers move to many destinations throughout the world.

PSS International removals are a family run company and their desire is to ensure your family receive a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. They have specialised in international removals for over 29 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle they recognise the importance in ensuring that their customers receive the same level of care and attention that they would expect themselves.

Removals – Dublin Seminars

Jim Farrell

CareLine Removal Service – Dublin

Careline International Moving & Storage is one of Ireland’s largest removal companies, with facilities in Dublin and Limerick. They have local removals crews working out of Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. Careline International has a long and very well established record in international removal and relocation service sectors.

Jim will provide information the process of moving your possessions to your new home in Canada.

Foreign Exchange

Seema Dhimer

Halo Financial

Unlike most banks, Halo Financial can save you up to 4% on your currency exchange!! When migrating, it is important that you trade your currency at the right time and at the best exchange rate. Put simply, get it right and you’ll pay less for your currency, get it wrong and you’ll pay more. Halo Financials friendly, proactive and personal service will help guide you through the process of buying currency ensuring you move to Canada with more Dollars. The service is FREE and there is no obligation to use them so learn how the expert consultants at Halo Financial can help you save money!

Mortgage Broker

Keith Baker

Dominion Lending Centres

Keith Baker’s role as a mortgage consultant is first and foremost, to provide you with exceptional personal service. It is his job to walk you through the mortgage process and to tailor-make your mortgage to best suit your specific financial needs. In doing so, you will be well equipped to make an informed decision as to your choice of mortgage product and financial institution.

Keith will give you insight into the Canadian mortgage market, what Lenders are looking for when qualifying Newcomers to Canada, the mortgage process and things you should be doing prior to you moving and which will assist you greatly with the mortgage process.

Real Estate – Ontario

Renate Penkett (Re/Max Aboutowne Realty Corp)

Renate Penkett has worked as a full time Realtor since 1987, therefore gaining extensive experience in many different market conditions. She is an award winning realtor and has consistently ranked among the top producers in the industry. Her career has been dedicated to international and local relocation. She has attended and participated in symposia related to Real Estate relocation, travelled extensively and has diverse connections worldwide. A global perspective and networking capabilities have resulted in relationships which have paid key roles in relocation and housing transactions.

Renate Penkett will provide information on how the real estate market works, with particular emphasis on Ontario.

Real Estate – British Columbia

Sue Gerryts (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)

Sue Gerryts works as a realtor in Vancouver and has developed global connections as well as local experience.  She has also worked in corporate relocation in a number of international companies, so she is ideally placed to help anyone who is relocating to Vancouver and buying a home there. Frank, her husband, helps in the business and runs a relocation service for people moving to Vancouver:

Sue will be talking about the real estate market with an emphasis on British Columbia.

If your destination in Canada is not Ontario or British Columbia, we can still help you through one of our partners in other provinces.

How to register

Use the links below to register for either the morning or afternoon seminar in either city. You will get your tickets via email.

Dublin Seminars – 18 June, 2011

London Seminars – 19 June, 2011

Hope to meet you in Dublin, London or Vancouver!

Is this the right area for me?

Maple Ridge
New home development in Maple Ridge

This week we have three families over here in B.C. on their research trips so it made me wonder how people make the decision about what area is right for them. That is a pretty big question, isn’t it?


As an example of how not to do it, I am borrowing from a client from a few years ago. Before we met them Charles and Camilla [not their real names] had been out on a research trip. They did this all themselves.

Camilla had done most of the research on the internet. She and Charles ended up with a short list of areas they thought might suit.

Charles told me that the research trip ended up being more of a holiday than a research trip. They did hire a car and drive around the areas on their list, but Charles said it was “like being on a bus tour, only without the commentary”. They drove along pretty streets, saw some ugly areas, passed shopping areas and schools but knew nothing much about any of them.

In the end Charles and Camilla spent most of their time just being tourists. They enjoyed the trip but when their visas arrived, and they finally contacted us, they were no wiser about where they wanted to live.

By contrast Kate and Wills [also not their real names!] were here a couple of weeks ago. They’d been in touch before hand and we’d talked on the phone. This helped because we came up with a rough idea of the areas that would work given their budget for a home to buy. Even though they don’t expect to buy immediately they wanted to rent in an area that they could afford when they were ready to buy.

Kate and Wills thought that Maple Ridge or Langley would be the best fit for their budget. Neither of these areas are ones that I know well, but that’s where our local experts come in! I referred Kate and Wills out to our partner in Maple Ridge. [We have 15 partners covering all the major areas in B.C. from Victoria, Greater Vancouver and into the Okanagan]

The tour that Kate and Wills had took them around Maple Ridge and Langley. They went to see a few homes in both areas that were in their price range. Kate particularly liked this because, as she said, “the pictures on the internet don’t tell the whole story”. Kate liked some of what she saw and both of them know a lot more about what kind of homes and areas might work for them.

More importantly, to borrow from Charles, their tour came with a commentary. And both Kate and Wills were able to get answers to questions that they didn’t even know they had until they saw the areas from a local’s view point.

So imagine that you’ve used two weeks of your precious holiday entitlement, plus a load of money, on your research trip. Would you prefer to be Charles and Camilla or Kate and Wills?


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