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Life as a new Canadian

Life as a new Canadian

Old May 20th 2020, 5:00 pm
  #1  
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Hi everyone!My husband (27, MChem) and myself (25, BSc) are in the initial planning stages of preparing to emigrate to Alberta. We are long term forecasting with an aim to move 2023 and are currently investigating housing, finances, job market, cost of living, etc. There are plenty of advice bodies regarding the clinical process of emigrating, but we are really looking for some anecdotal experience of living in Canada as a British immigrant. If anyone can answer any of the below, point us in the direction of anywhere we can find these types of experiences, or just give us a general rundown of any experience of your new lives, that would be fantastic!
  • Did you run into any hiccups with the legal paper work side? What was your time from putting in the application to arriving on Canadian soil?
  • What amount of community engagement is normal?
  • Any rules of dog ownership eg. are there places you can/can't walk off lead, how does veterinary care compare, is it considered ok for the dog to be home alone while we work, etc?
  • We currently live in a 3-bed, 1-bath semi-detached house with front and rear gardens- what type of housing would be similar, or is there a really good alternative?
  • Is there a preference for rent or buying homes?
  • Has anyone exported their dog out, and how was that experience?
  • What do you miss?
  • How does the wonderful wintery weather affect any day to day life?
  • We both understand rudimentary (high school) French- would you put much value on learning properly?
  • Is there anything you think we should know that might have helped you at the planning stage?
We are working to the 2023 as we wanted a 5 year plan from our wedding, and this year we are hoping to both sit the IELTS. If anyone has a timeline they would advise for other milestones, that would be fantastic! We are both in stable jobs (Oil chemist and medical devices R&D), own our home and are building on savings. Living in/around Calgary, with regular hiking trips out into the Rockies is our dream- thanks for any help you can give us!
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Old May 20th 2020, 5:09 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Hi, welcome to BE.

Canada is such a vast place that the answers to most of your questions will totally depend on whereabouts people live. Some people may not experience much 'wonderful wintry weather', some may not be able to walk their dogs off leash but others will, in some places French wouldn't be needed at all, others it would - etc, etc! But hopefully those near Calgary will be able to help. Have a search of the forum and the Wiki for info on some things such as transporting pets and people's experiences of life in Canada which will help get you started.

If you're not planning on moving for 5 years, personally I wouldn't get your IELTS done yet, in case it's expired by the time you come to apply. Any particular reason you're not planning on moving for so long? If you're eligible for a visa now, I would recommend you apply sooner rather than later. Things change so often in immigration and it would be awful if you found you weren't eligible to apply by then (example: when CIC completely overhauled the system a decade or so ago and only 29 occupations were eligible to apply!).

Best of luck to you.
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Old May 20th 2020, 5:37 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Here are a couple of threads to get you started.

Dogs in Calgary - Dogs in Calgary

Dog transport to Calgary - Transporting Our Dog to Calgary (From London Heathrow/Gatwick)

HTH.

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Old May 20th 2020, 6:29 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

We might be able to give you a little insight, and the benefit of our experience. We moved over in 2013, we live in Airdrie, just north of Calgary, and we brought two dogs (and two children) with us.

Originally Posted by jordanleanne View Post
Hi everyone!My husband (27, MChem) and myself (25, BSc) are in the initial planning stages of preparing to emigrate to Alberta. We are long term forecasting with an aim to move 2023 and are currently investigating housing, finances, job market, cost of living, etc. There are plenty of advice bodies regarding the clinical process of emigrating, but we are really looking for some anecdotal experience of living in Canada as a British immigrant. If anyone can answer any of the below, point us in the direction of anywhere we can find these types of experiences, or just give us a general rundown of any experience of your new lives, that would be fantastic!
  • Did you run into any hiccups with the legal paper work side? Nope, just followed the instructions step-by-step. My wife is Russian, so we had to get plenty of her documents translated and notarised, but that won't affect you. But this was when the system was different, my job was on the list of 29. What was your time from putting in the application to arriving on Canadian soil? For us it was 3.5 years from sending off the first application to actually moving over - we were were issued our confirmation of PR after 2.5 years though, we took a year finalising everything before we moved. The application-to-confirmation process might be potentially a lot quicker now, depending on your points scores.
  • What amount of community engagement is normal? As much or as little as you desire. There seems to be many more opportunities to volunteer in the community here than I noticed in the UK. I'm not the volunteering type though, so maybe it's just more strongly promoted here.
  • Any rules of dog ownership eg. are there places you can/can't walk off lead, how does veterinary care compare, is it considered ok for the dog to be home alone while we work, etc? Where we live, there is a limit of three dogs per household (we have three now) and you need to pay the city for a licence for each one. These are the costs for Airdrie, but each municipality can set their own fees:
  • $70/year for an un-spayed or un-neutered dog
  • $40/year for a spayed or neutered dog
  • $250/year for a vicious dog (I'm not sure how they define a "vicious" dog!)
  • On/Off leash (get used to calling a lead a leash!) - a pet peeve of mine. Here in Airdrie there are designated off-leash parks, those are the only public places where your dog can be off-leash. Any other parks, or neighbourhoods, they are supposed to be on-leash. We obey this strictly, and are happy to, but I see people who don't, and all the more so in the past two months. If you're used to walking your dogs off-leash, get used to changing that habit here unless you go to an off-leash park. In the countryside you can let them off-leash, but it's risky. Even if you think they're well trained, and have never run off before, they've probably never spooked a moose, bear, coyote, cougar or skunk before either. Several of those will not think twice about killing your dog. Then you complain to the authorities, and they are obliged to hunt down said wild animal and perhaps dispatch it, such a shame.
  • Vets - expensive here. Quality of care is perfectly good, at least where we've tried, but insurance is expensive, and treatment is expensive. You have to shop around. We drive our dogs 30 minutes to another town where the services are half the price of those in Airdrie.
  • We currently live in a 3-bed, 1-bath semi-detached house with front and rear gardens- what type of housing would be similar, or is there a really good alternative? A semi would be a "duplex" here, they are common enough. The current favourite of developers here is to build blocks of "townhouses" - closest equivalent would be big, modern terraced homes. Think a 1500sq foot 3 bedroom home with a double garage, but with the same attached to both sides of your house. You'd get a small front garden and a larger back yard, usually. A detached house here is a "single family home", usually a bigger front and back yard. We initially bought a 4 bed townhouse with an unfenced front garden but no back garden, but outgrew it and moved to an older single family home with a fenced back yard.
  • Is there a preference for rent or buying homes? Not really. Common advice here is to rent for a year to see what you think of a particular area. We didn't do that, we bought immediately. House purchases move A LOT faster here. We put an offer in on a place a week after arriving here, and had moved in three weeks later. But we seem to be in the minority of ex-pats that do that. Your choices of rentals will be helpfully reduced from a lot to a few because you'll have dogs.
  • Has anyone exported their dog out, and how was that experience? We brought two out - a middle-aged Airdale terrier and a young Border x Welsh terrier. We did it ourselves, with Air Transat, without the help and cost of a pet travel company. It was easy and the dogs seemed fine.
  • What do you miss? Country pubs and fish & chip shops. Whilst hiking is a big deal here, and is beautiful, it is very difficult to drive to a country pub, park up, go for a 5 mile hike, return to the pub and have a pint of beer and sausage & mash with your dog at your feet by the roaring log fire. There are places, but it's nowhere near as common as in the UK.
  • How does the wonderful wintery weather affect any day to day life? Once you've bought the right clothes & vehicle, it won't affect your day to day routine much. Roads are cleared of snow quickly, schools and public services remain open pretty much whatever the temperature. Life goes on as normal here so long as the temperature stays above -30C, and even below -30C most things will carry on as usual. It's sunny here, so buy good sunglasses. Whether -30 or +30 there's a very good chance of lots of blue sky and sun.
  • We both understand rudimentary (high school) French- would you put much value on learning properly? None, you won't need it in daily life in the Calgary area. Having said that, both our kids are in French Immersion school here, so they should be well armed to settle anywhere in Canada if they choose, and will be in a good position for a government job if that's what they want. Those jobs normally require French and English language skills.
  • Is there anything you think we should know that might have helped you at the planning stage? Hard to say, as we don't know what you know and what you don't know, there are known unknowns, so to speak. Maybe, don't set your heart on a particular area too early, wait until you've actually got the PR before starting to pick out locations and choose houses from online places like realtor.ca.
We are working to the 2023 as we wanted a 5 year plan from our wedding, and this year we are hoping to both sit the IELTS. If anyone has a timeline they would advise for other milestones, that would be fantastic! We are both in stable jobs (Oil chemist and medical devices R&D), own our home and are building on savings. Living in/around Calgary, with regular hiking trips out into the Rockies is our dream- thanks for any help you can give us!
It is beautiful here, we ski most weekends from mid November to late April - apart from this year, of course! We don't hike as much as we might, but when we do, you can find yourself in some breathtaking scenery within a 2 hour drive. You'll get into "camping", which has a different meaning here. "Tenting" is what you do with poles and flysheets and pegs. "Camping" involves a caravan ("trailer" here) with two TVs, a fridge the size of a small car and cooking giant steaks over an open fire. It all has to be done with a decent amount of common sense, there are dangers here that aren't present in the UK, though don't expect to bump into bears, moose and cougars every weekend.
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Old May 20th 2020, 11:20 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Hi

IELTS is only valid for 2 years, so don't bother until you are closer to when you wish to apply.
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Old May 21st 2020, 12:49 am
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Hi. Dog bylaws are different depending on where you live. For example you need a license for The city of red deer but not red deer county.you can allow your dog off leash at the dog parks but on leash elsewhere. I leave my puppy home alone. I work part time. She hates me leaving. I need to be a stay at home dog mum.

The wonderful winter weather is great until you realize it happens every year. Different parts of the Province suffers to different degrees. I'd be happy to never see snow again.

If your hobbies are more fair weather hobbies you need to reconsider your destination. I've been here 15 years now. I won't grow old in this Province. I need less winter.

It's not worth learning French unless you want a government job, you would be better off learning Filipino in Red Deer lol.
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Old May 22nd 2020, 9:19 am
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Originally Posted by christmasoompa View Post
If you're not planning on moving for 5 years, personally I wouldn't get your IELTS done yet, in case it's expired by the time you come to apply. Any particular reason you're not planning on moving for so long? .
Hi, thanks for replying so quickly! We're planning on moving in 2023, so 3 years off. We needed some time to build savings, and to decide whether to sell or rent out our property here, as that will determine if we will have our equity as a down payment for a property over in Calgary. We thought it would be beneficial to have a bit more employment history too, and we wanted to make the most of a bit of time to do all we want to here in the UK. My husband is more family orientated so we didn't want to just up sticks and leave straight after the wedding!
Also, thanks for the links regarding dogs and their transport- it's really great to see the secret camera footage!
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Old May 22nd 2020, 5:30 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Hi Bucks_Family, thank you for sharing, there's loads of really helpful info there. We actually just skirted around Airdrie when we drove Edmonton to Calgary a couple of years ago, so it has come up in our discussion of placed to live- do you commute into the city? How about out to the mountains?
  • 3.5 years to move is a bit longer that I had envisioned, even the 2.5 years for your confirmation. Maybe we need to put in the application sooner that be had 'budgeted', the reports I'd previously seen were 6-24 months, would you suggest this is unrealistic?
  • That's really interesting about the licencing for dogs, I've never come across anything like that. We don't have issue following leash rules, we currently walk any towns and family parks on leash and let him roam off leash in open countryside, but he's never out of site/isn't prey driven. I'm as concerned with the dogs safety regarding predators as I am with following rules, so we will err on the side of caution anyway. I'm curious about the dog parks, as it's not something we've experienced here, are they secured from wildlife getting in? Is there any supervision if the dogs were to get into a fight? Do groups of people ever hang out there without dogs/ is there much risk of dog theft? I've seen/heard that the National/Provincial parks have leash rules too, and of course we want to preserve the scenery and wildlife that we're coming over to enjoy!
  • I find vets here expensive, though we have insurance and haven't had to pay out besides routine flea/tick/vaccinations and consultation costs- do you mean it is even more expensive?
  • We don't mind starting in a townhouse, assuming they're bigger than our terraced houses! Eventually we would like a 'single family' home, out more in the Rockies, ideally Canmore, but that's more a retirement plan! Is it usual to have fenced yards (dog safety), or do you need planning permission to put fencing in?
  • The rent/buy as an initial move will be kind of dependent on if we well or let out, which will be discussed with a financial advisor, but it's good to know that the market isn't swayed on way or the other we wouldn't mind buying immediately as we spend 3 weeks in Alberta and saw some areas, and I've heard houses sell much quicker should we need to move on.
  • We're either of your dogs 'emotionally sensitive'? Maui is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and the breed are notoriously anxious and uptight, so we want to limit stress for him as much as possible. I'll be speaking to as many people as possible regarding what accommodations we can make to moving him.
  • We do like a pub lunch while out hiking! We'll just have to get used to meals out and hiking being separate events
  • Weather isn't a problem then, we'll just take advice on a suitable car. We're also aiming for a home with a garage too- losing our car in the overnight snow on the hotel car park already warned us to that one!
  • I think with the dog(s), we will take more to the Canadian camping style, as one of the biggest drives for our move is the outdoors, so we might as well make it comfortable

Thank you so much for this information! It's great food for thought, and things we need to keep an eye out for.
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Old May 22nd 2020, 5:32 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Originally Posted by PMM View Post
Hi

IELTS is only valid for 2 years, so don't bother until you are closer to when you wish to apply.
Thank you- quick question if you know, can your test date be (no more than ) 2 years when you start your application, or by time they come to approve it?
I had got in my head it was valid for 3 years, so thanks for the heads up there. Depending on application approval times, we might put in a little sooner than previously thought.
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Old May 22nd 2020, 6:53 pm
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HI

Originally Posted by jordanleanne View Post
Thank you- quick question if you know, can your test date be (no more than ) 2 years when you start your application, or by time they come to approve it?
I had got in my head it was valid for 3 years, so thanks for the heads up there. Depending on application approval times, we might put in a little sooner than previously thought.
1. It has to be valid on the date that you submit your application after you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) not when you submit an Expression of Interest to the EE process.
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Old May 22nd 2020, 7:59 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Originally Posted by jordanleanne View Post
Hi Bucks_Family, thank you for sharing, there's loads of really helpful info there. We actually just skirted around Airdrie when we drove Edmonton to Calgary a couple of years ago, so it has come up in our discussion of placed to live- do you commute into the city? My wife and I work from home, so no commuting needed. If we did commute, it's 30 minutes to downtown Calgary at quiet times, but more like double that at rush hour, and you can guarantee 3 days out of 5 there will be a crash on the main highway into Calgary, regardless of weather conditions. It's a bit of a generalisation, but the locals are not great drivers, and hence insurance rates are way higher than the UK. How about out to the mountains? We ski at Nakiska regularly, in Kananaskis Country, it's 1.25 hours from our home, and a very easy drive so long as it's not in a middle of a winter storm. About the same to Canmore, add another 15 minutes to get to Banff, and another 45 minutes from there to get to Lake Louise.
  • 3.5 years to move is a bit longer that I had envisioned, even the 2.5 years for your confirmation. Maybe we need to put in the application sooner that be had 'budgeted', the reports I'd previously seen were 6-24 months, would you suggest this is unrealistic? I believe the system is quicker now, so long as you achieve the necessary point thresholds set by the government, PR can be achieved in months rather than years.
  • That's really interesting about the licencing for dogs, I've never come across anything like that. We don't have issue following leash rules, we currently walk any towns and family parks on leash and let him roam off leash in open countryside, but he's never out of site/isn't prey driven. I'm as concerned with the dogs safety regarding predators as I am with following rules, so we will err on the side of caution anyway. I'm curious about the dog parks, as it's not something we've experienced here, are they secured from wildlife getting in? They are secured in so much as they have a four-foot chain link fence all around. A coyote could easily jump it if it really wanted to, but I've not heard of such occurrences. The police here did have to shoot a coyote that was getting into back yards, it killed one or two dogs before they got it. Is there any supervision if the dogs were to get into a fight? The only supervision is provided by the owners, there it no-one patrolling the areas from the city. Do groups of people ever hang out there without dogs/ is there much risk of dog theft? I've never seen anyone there without dogs, and haven't read any stories about dog theft. Doesn't mean it couldn't happen, of course! I've seen/heard that the National/Provincial parks have leash rules too, and of course we want to preserve the scenery and wildlife that we're coming over to enjoy! Banff NP is on-leash, here are the regulations https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/ban...gs/chiens-dogs. These are the Provincial park guidelines https://www.albertaparks.ca/media/50...n_the_park.pdf - note they frown on the use of extending leashes.
  • I find vets here expensive, though we have insurance and haven't had to pay out besides routine flea/tick/vaccinations and consultation costs- do you mean it is even more expensive? Two of our dogs are older, the third is a puppy, I know when we take the older ones for an annual check up and to have any meds resupplied the bill per dog is measured in a few hundred dollars rather than a few tens of dollars. It seems cheaper where we go now than when we used Airdrie vets. I do know we looked at pet insurance premiums when we first moved over and were shocked, to the extent that we didn't get any.
  • We don't mind starting in a townhouse, assuming they're bigger than our terraced houses! Eventually we would like a 'single family' home, out more in the Rockies, ideally Canmore, but that's more a retirement plan! Is it usual to have fenced yards (dog safety), or do you need planning permission to put fencing in? You would need to inform the city but so long as it was in keeping with the neighbouring yards, and not, say, a 12-foot high brick wall with razor wire, there shouldn't be an issue from the city. More houses than not would have a fenced back yard already, particularly single family homes. Developers might put one long fence in for a row of townhouses at the back of the yard area, but they won't necessarily put in a "side" fence to delimit your yard from your neighbour's. You'd have to discuss a solution with your neighbours in such cases.
    Canmore is lovely, but super-expensive to buy a house.
  • The rent/buy as an initial move will be kind of dependent on if we well or let out, which will be discussed with a financial advisor, but it's good to know that the market isn't swayed on way or the other we wouldn't mind buying immediately as we spend 3 weeks in Alberta and saw some areas, and I've heard houses sell much quicker should we need to move on. We sold up in the UK as soon as we were granted PR, and then rented in the UK for a year before moving over. We needed the cash for a deposit here, didn't want the potential hassle of having to deal with renters, even through a management company, from such a distance, Also we wanted to jump into the move 100% and felt that if we had a property to come back to in the UK, it might make it too easy to give up here and return to the UK. Cutting those kinds of ties with the UK meant we were more determined than ever to settle here (and we have).
  • We're either of your dogs 'emotionally sensitive'? Maui is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and the breed are notoriously anxious and uptight, so we want to limit stress for him as much as possible. I'll be speaking to as many people as possible regarding what accommodations we can make to moving him. Our dogs are tough as old boots and emotionally chilled, so the move presented no issues for them or us. We boarded them in kennels for the first month here as we couldn't keep them in the basement flat we rented before we moved into our first house.
  • We do like a pub lunch while out hiking! We'll just have to get used to meals out and hiking being separate events That's the attitude :-) We regularly go to Kananaskis Country (1.25 to 1.5 hours drive from home) and the whole "hike then food and a pint" can be done there, you just end up hiking from - and returning to - a nice hotel complex and having food and drink there (https://www.marriott.com/hotels/trav...ph-collection/) You can, of course, start and finish your hikes in Banff or Canmore but so will hundreds or thousands of other people on a nice weekend.
  • Weather isn't a problem then, we'll just take advice on a suitable car. We're also aiming for a home with a garage too- losing our car in the overnight snow on the hotel car park already warned us to that one! A garage is very helpful, not just for keeping all your crap in, and protecting from the snow and cold temperatures (look up what a "block heater" is) but also from hail storms from late May to early July. It's not unusual for hail damage to cause cars to be written off.
  • I think with the dog(s), we will take more to the Canadian camping style, as one of the biggest drives for our move is the outdoors, so we might as well make it comfortable The whole outdoors thing was one of the big drivers for us to move here too.

Thank you so much for this information! It's great food for thought, and things we need to keep an eye out for.
No problem, happy to help.
Chris.
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Old May 26th 2020, 2:09 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Originally Posted by PMM View Post
HI



1. It has to be valid on the date that you submit your application after you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) not when you submit an Expression of Interest to the EE process.
That makes sense, do you also need the valid test to submit the expression of interest, or can you test once you receive the ITA?
We have looked at the application process (a bit baffled by all of the options!), and we can't really do a 'mock' run through without the IELTS score to gauge our viability.
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Old May 26th 2020, 2:12 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Originally Posted by jordanleanne View Post
That makes sense, do you also need the valid test to submit the expression of interest, or can you test once you receive the ITA?
We have looked at the application process (a bit baffled by all of the options!), and we can't really do a 'mock' run through without the IELTS score to gauge our viability.
You need the IELTS to be able to apply to enter the EE pool. But for now just guess at your points to let you know what you'd be scoring on the CRS and if it would be enough - no point in spending money on ECA's/IELTS if you don't score enough anyway. Assume max points for now as native speakers to give you an idea.

HTH.
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Old May 26th 2020, 3:55 pm
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Default Re: Life as a new Canadian

Thank you, that's alleviated some of our queries! Travel times sound fine, we regularly drive 3 hours now for a scenic walk/day out, and at least double that for a stay over. Do the highway accidents cause much time lost, or are there enough lanes things keep moving fairly well?
We haven't really looked into motoring at all so we'll price up an overall comparison to costs here. We are running 2 second hand cars with the intention they will see us through until we move and then be sold/scrapped, so we will need to look at the actual buying a car too (a weather suitable type).
I'm not going to worry too much about the dog parks, it just niggles at me a bit since I don't have any similar experience here. We might give them a go once we're there, but hopefully we'll get enough hiking in we don't need the off lead run arounds. I've never been a fan or extendable leashes anyway, so that isn't an issue. Again, with vets and pet insurance we'll do a quick compare to see how it would cost us. A lot of people we know here just have a savings account earmarked for veterinary expenses that they pay into monthly as an insurance bill would go out, so that might be our best option.
I'm glad to hear about the availability/flexibility of fences, when I've had a quick scout of homes for sale I've seen quite a few without enclosed areas. Also, these house searches are why we've relegated Canmore to retirement and day trips! We' had wondered about Cochrane as it seemed like a good mid-point, somewhat cheaper, and we drove through it on our 2018 trip.

We're at a point where every decision we make now, we're asking ourselves about how it'll fit with emigrating, so it may come around sooner than planned!
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