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Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Old Jun 6th 2010, 10:18 am
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Default Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Hello there!

So i'm after some advice please! from all you helpful and knowledgeable people!

Myself and my Wife (who is canadian) are looking to immigrate to the west coast of Canada (BC or Alberta). We much prefer the west coast, the mountains, open space etc and it fits quite well with the other halfs family now living in the states in Montana (far enough away but not to far :-))

So at the moment all were doing is saving money - I would like to be able to move and then survive for up-to a year if needed without work. As were married i believe the visa is pretty quick to get through for me, so we will probably apply for that in November / December this year, put the house on the market in April and plan to physically move around July 2011. Sound feasible?

Anyway in terms of us.

I work in the telecoms industry have plenty of IT skills, a degree in Computing Science and 10 years experience. My wife works in sales within the food industry, with 5 years experience and is currently taking a business degree with the open university as at the moment her formal education is unto high school and from what we have seen it appears its almost mandatory to have a degree to get a job in the sales field in Canada!

Probably combined we earn around £80K in the UK have a pretty good standard of living and would hopefully look to maintain that when we move

So questions and advice

1. Location:

So currently the thinking is that we will need to stay close to a major city as then were more likely to find work. So were considering Vancouver (suburbs probably Burnaby etc), Calgary, Edmonton maybe Victoria?

Anyone any opinions on the differences between these cities do they have radically different living conditions? Is Vancouver the only city with good prospects for IT related jobs

Any ideas on the cost of living between the various cities, I've heard Vancouver is very expensive - will it be like twice as much to live in Vancouver than Calgary for example?

Anywhere were missing? Were going to do a reccy trip at the end of this year so any suggested places we should look at?

2. Jobs

Were not expecting to fall straight into work (hence the saving…) but I would of hoped that within 3 months we would have a good chance of being in employment … any views? realistic / unrealistic? does one city give us much more of a chance than another?

3. Costs

Were looking to come over to Canada with upto £40K - £50K in the bank - it is reasonable to be able to live for year on that do you think? Obviously we will rent for at least 6 months and till we have good jobs.

Also the exchange rate isn't so hot at the moment - what do people do with funds - leave in the UK and only use what you need or transfer the whole lot? Anyone any ideas if the exchange rate is ever likely to get back to the 2 to 1 ratio of a few years ago!

4. Standard of living

One of the main reasons were looking to move is obviously to try and find a better life, not particularly related to more money but having more time and enjoying that time - being able to spend weekends in the mountains etc. Whats the views on this? Pipe dream or possible reality? I understand that for a while it could actually be more difficult but I would like to think that eventually when we settle we would be able to enjoy what we love about Canada (the outside lifestyle)

5. Moving Costs

Is it cheaper to just sell everything here and literally arrive with a couple of bags or shall we look to get a container and ship stuff across ?


Think thats it for the moment :-) Sorry the long post .. and thanks to anyone that takes their time to help out !!
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Old Jun 6th 2010, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

$60-75k is survivable for a year, but there won't be much left at the end for a buffer.

Not sure about the better life and more time bit. Quality of life is what you make of it. Living in Canada is pretty much the same as living anywhere, just different surroundings. Vacation time is often two weeks, some jobs offer more, but not all. Had you figured out how you were going to get more time?
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Old Jun 6th 2010, 4:10 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Hi there and welcome to BE.

Firstly, in answer to where to live/cost of property etc. I would say the first thing to do is check out the MLS website - a database of lots of properties currently on the market countrywide. http://www.realtor.ca is a great place to start to get a feel for how much property costs in the various locations that you're considering.
I can only really speak from our own experience, but when we came on a recce trip 5 years ago, we were also undecided between BC and Alberta, so made sure we spent some time in each province to get a feel for what we wanted (and what we could afford!)
I don't know how much your current house is worth, but we quickly discovered that we couldn't afford Vancouver or the suburbs, unless we lived a couple of hours outside Van. That pretty much sealed the deal for us and we decided on Alberta instead.
No doubt others from the other cities you mentioned will be along to give you some advice. We live just south of Calgary in a satellite town, but equally liked the south west, south east and north west of Calgary itself - there are some great communities in these areas too. It depends on whether you prefer to be close to the city or in a smaller town. There are several satellite towns to choose from around Calgary and all are very well thought of.

As far as securing jobs....networking, meeting lots of people, getting out there in person to talk to potential employers, and also being prepared to take a less well paid/less qualified position at first may be things you want to consider. Lots of new immigrants complain that equivalent employment is far from easy to find straight away. That said, if you're willing to put in the leg work and perhaps take a paycut or do something a little less qualified for a while, then opportunities will come along. It could take several months or even years though, so to come with savings behind you as a safety net is definitely a wise move.

We managed to live for a year well within the amount of money you're looking at bringing with you. It wasn't a walk in the park and we made lots of sacrifices and lived very carefully, but it can be done, especially when there's just the two of you. We were a family of 4!

As far as having time to enjoy life....bear in mind that Canadians get less annual paid leave than in the UK. Between 2-4 weeks I believe. That said, there are lots of long weekends and lots of people just venture off into the mountains for short breaks. They work hard but play hard too!

Whether to ship all your belongings across the Atlantic or not is up to you. We filled a 20ft container and got an international removal firm to pack and ship it all, then unpack it this end. It was painless and very well organised, but it isn't cheap and will cost you a few thousand pounds. Many people just bring a few suitcases and start fresh here. It's up to you to decide what you treasure/can't live without etc.

Hope this helps. There's lots of helpful stuff in the Wiki section on this site too so make sure to check it out. Good luck!
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Old Jun 6th 2010, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Originally Posted by fasea View Post
Probably combined we earn around £80K in the UK have a pretty good standard of living and would hopefully look to maintain that when we move
Although renting in and around Vancouver is reasonably affordable buying can get very expensive. Especially if you want to be close to downtown or live in an exclusive area. Spending $1M on a house in Vancouver is not that remarkable any more. Detached houses in the suburbs cost $500,000 and up. Of course there are cheaper options such as apartments and townhouses.

What I am trying to get at is that your lifestyle (aka disposable income) will depend on how much you chose to spend on housing.

That said, £80,000 is probably about $150,000 a year. Two people earning $75,000 each? That is not impossible for people who bring skills, education and experience with them.

So questions and advice

1. Location:

So currently the thinking is that we will need to stay close to a major city as then were more likely to find work. So were considering Vancouver (suburbs probably Burnaby etc), Calgary, Edmonton maybe Victoria?
For sure. Major city = more chance of finding work.

I haven't lived in any of the other cities so I can't make comparisons. However, think which climate will suit you best. Calgary/Edmonton are drier and sunnier, but can get very cold in the winter. Vancouver/Victoria have a more British climate. Warm summers and mild winters - but it does rain a lot in the fall/winter.

Any ideas on the cost of living between the various cities, I've heard Vancouver is very expensive - will it be like twice as much to live in Vancouver than Calgary for example?
Buying a house in Vancouver can be very expensive. I don't think other living costs will vary all that much.

2. Jobs

Were not expecting to fall straight into work (hence the saving…) but I would of hoped that within 3 months we would have a good chance of being in employment … any views? realistic / unrealistic? does one city give us much more of a chance than another?
Realistic I think, provided that you are prepared to be flexible. Especially keep in mind that with no Canadian experience you are less attractive to an employer than a similarly qualified local. Many people have to accept a more junior and lower paid job than they want to get a foot in the door. If you are any good at your job you'll soon work your way up to the appropriate level.

My motto was that it was better to be gaining the valuable Canadian experience for a modest salary than sitting at home doing nothing except spending a bigger one.

Read all the wiki articles on job hunting. Recommendation and referrals are very important if you are looking for work in the private sector. Getting yourself known in the right places can open up more opportunities than adverts and agencies can provide.

3. Costs

Were looking to come over to Canada with upto £40K - £50K in the bank - it is reasonable to be able to live for year on that do you think? Obviously we will rent for at least 6 months and till we have good jobs.

It depends on how much you want to spend. We could live very comfortably for a year on that. (But see below ...)

4. Standard of living

One of the main reasons were looking to move is obviously to try and find a better life, not particularly related to more money but having more time and enjoying that time - being able to spend weekends in the mountains etc. Whats the views on this? Pipe dream or possible reality?
If you live in Vancouver it is almost compulsory.

5. Moving Costs

Is it cheaper to just sell everything here and literally arrive with a couple of bags or shall we look to get a container and ship stuff across ?
My opinion is bring everything except white goods. You will be surprised how much it costs to replace all the bits and pieces you need. Especially as you won't know where to shop for good value. I said that we could live very comfortably for a year on £40,000 but this assumes we don't need to buy a lot of new stuff.
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Old Jun 6th 2010, 6:30 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Well thanks for the information so far from everyone will definitely take a look at the realtor website.

In terms of the more time bit, I think our view was not that we would necessarily have more time - but that we would be able to do more with it - were both very outside type people and I think the west coast of Canada has an awful lot more to offer then the UK. Thats all based on holidays so I appreciate I might have a bit of a rose'er view than reality.

Also whats the general rule on a working day? is the culture a we do the hours that need to be done or is it a more - 5pm time to go home type of thing?

So what is the normal annual leave situation like for a skilled worker? Is it almost impossible to get 4+ weeks of annual leave? for example I currently work for Vodafone in the UK and before that O2, i've always had at least 4 weeks of leave, and actually have more than that now ... going to 2 weeks would be a struggle i think :-(

Definitely prepared to do a less senior job, I think you just have to accept a level of proving yourself and hopefully do well and move up!

Please the more views the merrier - your experiences / responses are definitely opening up our eyes!


Thanks again
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Old Jun 6th 2010, 7:35 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

There are sweat shops in Vancouver - EA Sports is an example - but most people work eight hours a day, five days a week and nothing more. They value their leisure time. Some workplaces offer four days at ten hours a day so every weekend is a long weekend.

As snoopster said, you make the most of your weekend. In winter the ski slopes are on your doorstep (or at most a couple of hours drive away). You can ski every evening and every weekend so why of you need to take a ski holiday?

In the summer you can camp/hike/fish/sail or whatever every weekend - none of it more than an hour or two away. People stream out of town on a Friday evening and pile back in late on Sunday.

Two weeks holiday plus stats (bank holidays) is the legal minimum but for management level positions it is negotiable.
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Old Jun 6th 2010, 8:48 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

H fasea

Can't comment on how much money you need to live comfortably for a year because we don't move until 18 July. In terms of shipping goods vs selling, we debated for quite a while before deciding to ship most of our possessions. We used Robinsons International - actually came on Thursday and Friday (now in storage until we find a place to live) - house being rented out from tomorrow so camping at our sons. Anyway, enough waffling, it cost £4235 for a 20ft container (sole use) from West Yorkshire to Calgary. Must say, it was a first class service and reduced the amount of stress involved with moving - well worth the money so far (reserve judgement until furniture in our home in Canada) but would not hesitate to recommend them.

Goodluck

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Old Jun 7th 2010, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

Hi there. Can't comment on Vancouver as have never been. Like Snoopster, we too live in one of the satellite towns to Calgary and are more than happy here. For us, we like the convenience of being close enough to a city for my husband's job etc, but also close to the mountains and all that that has to offer. We are only a 30-45 minute drive away.

I wouldn't say that we are necessarily financially better off here than we were in the UK. Cost of living here compared to the UK is swings and roundabouts; some things are cheaper and some more expensive.

We do, however, make more of our free time here. We spend a fair bit of time up in the mountains, whether it be skiing, hiking, camping etc.

As far as what to bring, we chose to bring just about everything, apart from electrical stuff. Even after paying the shipping costs, it still works out a lot cheaper than having to replace everything once you get here. However, some people chose to replace everything - fresh start and all that. Just comes down to personal preference I guess.

Anyway, best of luck with everything.
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Old Jun 7th 2010, 4:58 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

I cant comment on Vancouver as i live in Toronto. However on the job front, note that public sector seem to offer better vacation time for some reason. I currently work in public sector and get 3 weeks vacation plus 3 float days. I am currently looking for other work. I have noticed some private sector companies also offer 3 weeks. I even found a company that offered 4 weesk recently which was shocked about! It was public sector though, it is called SunnyBrook.

Anyway find below a useful website that i found. It is quite good because you can compare different companies and the benefits offered. I hope it helps.

Click the relevant radio button and then select find jobs. When the job list appears select the employer. It will give you the profile of that employer including benefits.

http://www.eluta.ca/search_top_employers


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Old Mar 2nd 2011, 6:49 pm
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Default Re: Advice on moving to BC / Alberta in 2011

I would recommend Vancouver over Edmonton or Calgary. Vancouver is more like England, weather and culture. Public transport is better and there is more opportunity for travel, outdoor activity, live entertainment, etc. Vancouver Island is beautiful, as are the mountains and, depending on your lifestyle, more accessible. I presently live in Edmonton, and have for the past 32 years. I was born in Vancouver and have always longed to go back. Alberta is snow bound for a minimum of 5 months a year. If you are into snow sports it is great, otherwise, you require a car to drive everywhere. Alberta is generally sunnier but colder and culturally, there is more of a small town attitude in the people who live here. As far as affordability, again, that is subjective depending on your lifestyle. You don't necessarily need a car in Vancouver to get around, but it is pretty much vital in Edmonton or Calgary, as their public transport system is sub-standard. Job prospect-wise, Vancouver is more of an IT hub. My boyfriend is in IT and the jobs in Edmonton are limited for his pay scale and abilities. A job in an IT field where there is no chance for advancement is common here, but Vancouver has a growth industry in IT. As far as living costs, if you are planning to rent for a year, that is a good idea. The outskirts of Vancouver are more affordable, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, etc., will be more affordable than living closer to the city centre, but that is like most cities. The person who suggested MLS was spot on. If you want to see what the market for housing is like in the different areas, it gives you pictures and descriptions of the area. This will help you decide on an area and size of property, based on your income and desire. As far as cost of living, it is more expensive in Vancouver, but you get more out of it. Our present home income is approximately $110, 000 combined but after cost of living, car/petrol costs, mortgage, etc., we find we spend a larger portion of money on entertainment during the winter months, heating for the frigid cold, and such. Edmonton tends to be a hybernation city for non-winter sport people like us. The cold is as depressing to us as the rain is to others. I hope this helps, good luck to you both!

Last edited by edpost; Mar 2nd 2011 at 7:15 pm.
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