The move went very smoothly – we got the keys at lunchtime on Monday and moved most of our stuff (including a bed frame, which traveled on the roof of our car) on Monday afternoon and evening.
We were in the house by 8am yesterday ready for Rogers to come to connect the Internet and phone and for our bed and a lazy-boy type sofa (for our media/family room) to be delivered. The piles of packaging grew and grew . . .
What a lot of empty boxes!
Then it was off to the Mall, spending courageously as my mother used to put it!
Paul had an event to go to in the evening, so I was forced into driving as he picked up the subway on the way home – it wasn’t far and I felt about ready to start getting over my nervousness at adjusting to controls on the opposite side and city driving all at the same time! This also meant I could go off to the supermarket to frighten myself at the cost of stocking up with all the essential staples, toiletries etc. – it”s easy to forget the initial outlay of starting from scratch with food, cleaning materials etc!
After two long and busy days, I really feel for Paul trying to find the energy and concentration to get back to his Tyco work. There are still a thousand and one small things to do, which he has to let go in working hours, as well as some re-design of badly sited switches and lighting (we have an electrician working on a quote) to be sorted before our furniture arrives from the UK around 15 December (it’s due to reach port in Montreal on 11th). We also discovered that the house has been plumbed for a central vacuum cleaner and anticipate getting this fitted as soon as possible.
I thought it might be interesting to try to record some of the things that have struck us as ‘different’ coming from the UK to Canada whilst these are still fresh. So far, these include:
- The relative ease and speed of the house-buying process – mortgage confirmed and contracts exchanged within 4 days of seeing our house and completion within around a month.
- The fact that it is still the norm in Canada to pay for Banking services (e.g. Cashline/Interac withdrawals, cheque books, etc), though we have chosen to pay a monthly charge which covers these and also provides additional benefits (Royal Bank of Canada’s VIP Account).
- No glass between you and the bank teller and a really friendly, personal level of service.
- Rental hot water tanks.
- Hot air furnaces rather than boilers and radiators, with air conditioning for the summer heat.
- Kettles take longer to boil (110 v 240 volts!) . . .
- . . . but there’s no lime scale furring up the element.
- That you can’t automatically assume the right to park in an off-road space in front of your house (driveway or hardstanding) – these are licensed by the City. And you must always park on the street in the direction of the traffic flow.
- Being able to turn right on a red light (if the road is clear) and rarely, if ever, encountering roundabouts.
- The high cost of motor insurance, though this does include cover for loss of earnings and medical costs, so the policies are not like for like.
- The need for winter tires (though people have different views on this).
- That the prices you see in shops do not include tax – you need to remember that what you pay at the till will be more than you expect!
- That alcohol has to come through the government warehouse and is not sold from supermarket shelves, though there may be an outlet on the same premises.
- Fruit and vegetables come in all shapes, colours and sizes rather than the conformist regularity that dominates the UK supermarket.
- Tins, cartons and packs all tend to be bigger than in the UK, not always helpful when shopping for two!
- Most people buy their milk in bags, dropping the bag into a specifically designed plastic jug – there’s an art to cutting off just the right amount at the corner so the milk doesn’t slop everywhere!
- Streetcars (trams).
- Toronto is big on recycling; as well as garden refuse sacks, we have three bins, one for organics, one for recyclables and one for waste. All these, as well as old furniture, are automatically collected by the City. There are also recycling bins everywhere you go.
- Alongside this, people put things out ahead of time and encourage others to take anything useful. There is also a real trend for ‘repurposing’.
- The light – the more southerly latitude of Toronto (8 degrees south of London, on a par with St Tropez), means that the sun really is more intense. So far, it has also been much sunnier than the UK!
I’m sure we’ll encounter and think of many more!
As an incomer, it’s also very strange not to know what the best brand of anything is nor where to find it at the keenest price! But gradually names like Loblaws (supermarket), Canadian Tire (most things apart from food, including glasses, cookware, paint, electrical items, lights, mats for the car, bicycles, skates), The Bay (department store derived from the Hudson Bay Company), Rona (DIY), The Brick (furniture), begin to fall into place.
Mercer Quality of Living Survey 2009 – City Rankings and Scores
- Vancouver – 4 (107.6)
- Toronto – 15 (105.3)
- London – 38 (101.6)
The Economist’s World’s Most Liveable Cities – City Rankings and Scores
- Vancouver – 1 (98)
- Toronto – 4 (97.2)
- Calgary – 5 (96.6)
(Ottawa and Montreal also ranked within the top 25)
UN Human Development Index 2009
Canada sits at number 4 in the UN Human Development Index of quality of life, whilst the UK languishes at 21. (Wikepedia)
This study ranked the UK last in a survey of 21 nations for child quality of life, its children reporting as amongst the unhappiest in the developed world. Although not at the top of the list, Canada ranked in the middle, coming 9th when looking at subjective wellbeing.
In September 2009, the Scotsman reported that nearly 25% of British workers (11 million) want to emigrate. Scanning the web, this reflects a steady increase over the last five years or so.
Hooray! Our PR (Permanent Resident) Cards arrived today.
This means we can now leave Canada and get back in without problems or further paperwork. It’s the nearest we will get to having Canadian passports for at least the next three years.
We will be able to apply for citizenship when we have spent a full three years out of four in Canada (this does not include any time we spend out of the country vacationing, on business or visiting the UK). We don’t have to apply for citizenship at this point; you can just have your PR card renewed every five years. But, of course, there are rights that citizenship confers that do not form part of resident status.
Until the last couple of days, I have not managed to keep our blog updated quite as well as I hoped. There’s a good reason for this; our feet haven’t touched the ground and my poor brain has been struggling to catch up with input overload, not to mention the change in time-zone and existing layer of fatigue!
Milestones to date include:
- Arriving in Canada as landed immigrants (June 2009)
- Setting up Bank Accounts
- Getting a Rogers SIM for our mobile
- Finding a Realtor (more than an Estate Agent – as buyers, we need a Realtor working for us and helping us negotiate a house purchase)
- Meeting with a mortgage advisor
- Getting our SINs (Social Insurance Numbers) – also in June (we are still waiting for our cards to arrive, forwarded by relatives to whom we had them sent)
- Organizing a UPS mailbox as our initial address will be temporary (backed up by six months re-direction from the UK)
- Arriving finally to begin life in Toronto (October 2009)
- Meeting our Bank Account Manager and Branch Manager and sorting out the services we need (Canadian Banks still charge clients for various services, so it is important to set up the right kind of account and charging agreement)
- Getting a safety deposit box at the Bank
- Getting Library cards for our local library in the Beach
- Paul’s first day at Tyco’s Markham (North Toronto) office – mostly he will work from home, but he has a hot-desk here. Markham is not realistically possible by public transport from here, so this first trip involved a hire car. The journey is similar to Paul’s commute from Wootton Bassett to Dorcan when he was in the UK.
- Visiting Service Ontario to swap over out UK driving licenses for Ontario ones
- Still at Service Ontario, using our new driving licences to provide the evidence of where we are living so as to register for OHIP (Ontario Health) coverage, which, for immigrants, comes in force three months (not 90 days) after landing.
- Getting a new mobile phone because it was cheaper than buying a second SIM!
- Looking for and buying a car (we pick this up tonight!)
- Arranging auto insurance (horrendously expensive and without the benefit our UK insurance record, which we knew), with tenant insurance thrown in
- Paul’s first Canadian conference a Stack Overflow Dev Day, for which he volunteered as a helper
- Getting our first credit card (from the Bank) – this has surprised us as we had been given to understand that it is initially very difficult. We should have a further card shortly once American Express have checked out our UK history – they are the only credit card provider who will transfer such history from one country to another. Building a credit history as an incomer is important, so this is very helpful.
Hopefully life will now slow down a little and we can begin to explore what Toronto has to offer alongside moving our lives forward!