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Possible Move to Alberta

Possible Move to Alberta

Old Mar 15th 2007, 12:47 pm
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Default Possible Move to Alberta

Hello to everybody,

I am a 38 year old engineer in the oil and gas industry, and have a wife and 2 children ages 6 and 5. We're all British, althought the kids have never really lived there.

We are 'seasoned expats' and are used to moving to a new country every few years... however, that doesn't mean we still don't appreciate as much advance information as possible!! And also, we have until now stuck to 'hot' countries!

I have the opportunity to move to Alberta this summer for a couple of years, and have the options of (1) Edmonton, (2) Calgary and (3) Ft McMurray.

A quick Google search swiftly ruled out Ft McM as a viable (comfortable) family option, but I'd like to know more about the good and bad points of Edmonton v Calgary.

Any advice you knowledgable lot can give will be hugely appreciated, specifically with regard to the following points:

* Is a rental allowance of CAD 3,000-4,000 per month sufficient for a decent family house in a nice area, and bills, taxes in Edmonton and/or Calgary?

* Is there a reasonable amount of choice available in that sector of the rental market for family homes?

* Are school spaces easily available, or are there waiting lists for popular schools etc?

* I know this is subjective, but do you think the quality of family life better in Calgary or Edmonton, and why?

Thanks in advance for your help, I hope to post more as things firm up.

Jingsmichty
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 12:52 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Originally Posted by Jingsamichty View Post
Hello to everybody,

I am a 38 year old engineer in the oil and gas industry, and have a wife and 2 children ages 6 and 5. We're all British, althought the kids have never really lived there.

We are 'seasoned expats' and are used to moving to a new country every few years... however, that doesn't mean we still don't appreciate as much advance information as possible!! And also, we have until now stuck to 'hot' countries!

I have the opportunity to move to Alberta this summer for a couple of years, and have the options of (1) Edmonton, (2) Calgary and (3) Ft McMurray.

A quick Google search swiftly ruled out Ft McM as a viable (comfortable) family option, but I'd like to know more about the good and bad points of Edmonton v Calgary.

Any advice you knowledgable lot can give will be hugely appreciated, specifically with regard to the following points:

* Is a rental allowance of CAD 3,000-4,000 per month sufficient for a decent family house in a nice area, and bills, taxes in Edmonton and/or Calgary?

* Is there a reasonable amount of choice available in that sector of the rental market for family homes?

* Are school spaces easily available, or are there waiting lists for popular schools etc?

* I know this is subjective, but do you think the quality of family life better in Calgary or Edmonton, and why?

Thanks in advance for your help, I hope to post more as things firm up.

Jingsmichty
Hi hun

I am also going to Alberta. Welcome to the Forum

Just wanted to say HI and wish you the best of luck.

Alberta sure is the best place for oil and gas work. Which route will you going - PR WP or PNP ?

Gay
x
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 1:35 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Originally Posted by Jingsamichty View Post
Hello to everybody,

I am a 38 year old engineer in the oil and gas industry, and have a wife and 2 children ages 6 and 5. We're all British, althought the kids have never really lived there.

We are 'seasoned expats' and are used to moving to a new country every few years... however, that doesn't mean we still don't appreciate as much advance information as possible!! And also, we have until now stuck to 'hot' countries!

I have the opportunity to move to Alberta this summer for a couple of years, and have the options of (1) Edmonton, (2) Calgary and (3) Ft McMurray.

A quick Google search swiftly ruled out Ft McM as a viable (comfortable) family option, but I'd like to know more about the good and bad points of Edmonton v Calgary.

Any advice you knowledgable lot can give will be hugely appreciated, specifically with regard to the following points:

* Is a rental allowance of CAD 3,000-4,000 per month sufficient for a decent family house in a nice area, and bills, taxes in Edmonton and/or Calgary?

* Is there a reasonable amount of choice available in that sector of the rental market for family homes?

* Are school spaces easily available, or are there waiting lists for popular schools etc?

* I know this is subjective, but do you think the quality of family life better in Calgary or Edmonton, and why?

Thanks in advance for your help, I hope to post more as things firm up.

Jingsmichty
Hello Jingsmichty- welcome

We are not seasoned! But are hoping to move out to Calgary this summer - have a reccie trip there next friday! We are me (hoping to work pt), OH (engineer non oil and gas) who will secure the job and son (4 1/2) and daughter (2)

So bearing in mind I haven't been yet and have no expereince of Clagary I can give you some ideas about

rental property
schooling as I have been looking for similar

I would say rental allowance will be great! I understand rental to be quite bouyant and so needs to be arranged once there. With your allowance you should be able to pick exactly where you want to live although some areas are harder to get rental than others (easier in newer areas). Try the rentfaster link.

Schooling is quite complex subject and I would read judy's wiki on the subject - which is a great place to start. Schools can be very over subscribed and its pretty difficult to get into a school which isn't your local school. They seem to on the whole take all kids in the catchment schools in the catchment schools and they seem to pledge this. So , even in oversubscribed schools its possible to get in just by moving to the area - BUT there are exceptions (I know Edgemont is one who won't take new kids into grade 1 and above who live in area BUT will take kg kids at entry level). This site:

http://www.calgaryarea.com/schools/schoolsnw.htm

will tell you which schools are designated for which catchments, and its difficult to deviate from these.

Your 5 year old may only go in KG which is part-time. This may be a bit of a shock! it does depend how old he/she is. Most elementary schools are pretty large by UK standards, eg they tend to be 400-700, a small school is 200.


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Old Mar 15th 2007, 1:55 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Thank you both for your replies, I will look at the links you posted, Gryphea.

No matter whether you are a seasoned expat or a first-timer, in my experience the key to avoiding unpleasant surprises is to be as informed as possible - forewarned is forearmed!!

I am very fortunate in that Canada is only one option of several that I have to consider, but I must admit, the idea is rapidly becoming one that won't leave my head.

When we lived in the Middle East, the kids were restricted to indoor activities for about 4 months of the year because of the ferocious heat. Having the same again because of the cold is probably the only major difficulty we'd have with Alberta. Is it really that bad? (he asked in the most naive way!!!)
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 2:02 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Sorry Gay, I forgot to answer your question.

Truth is I don't know yet. I am not looking to emigrate, just work as a contractor/consultant for 2 years and then clear off to the next job (somewhere warm to thaw out?!!!!). So I should guess that is the Work Permit route? Anyway, I expect the client company will sort all that out for me, and all I have to do is turn up.

From scanning the millions of posts in this forum, it seems as though 99.9% are looking to emigrate/become permanent residents. Does anybody have any experience with coming to Canada only for a contract? Would love to hear about the practicalities of how that process works.

Cheers,

Jingsamichty
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 2:03 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Originally Posted by Jingsamichty View Post
Thank you both for your replies, I will look at the links you posted, Gryphea.

No matter whether you are a seasoned expat or a first-timer, in my experience the key to avoiding unpleasant surprises is to be as informed as possible - forewarned is forearmed!!

I am very fortunate in that Canada is only one option of several that I have to consider, but I must admit, the idea is rapidly becoming one that won't leave my head.

When we lived in the Middle East, the kids were restricted to indoor activities for about 4 months of the year because of the ferocious heat. Having the same again because of the cold is probably the only major difficulty we'd have with Alberta. Is it really that bad? (he asked in the most naive way!!!)

Ahhh but the cold means skiing................., wintersports, skating and very odd things like ice fishing??!!! I think it can be very very cold - but the Calgary chinook makes it easier and the dryness does to I think. But then I haven't lived there. The bunch already over there will be waking up soon and may help....... I think either would probably be great places for kids for a few years and calgary would have the edge if you are dedicated skiers!
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 2:13 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Hi Gryphea

No we are not 'dedicated' skiers at all... I haven't had the planks on for many years!! And the kids have only seen snow for one or two days... ever!!

It was funny when they saw it the first time here in Korea, they were SO excited. After two minutes of playing in it, they realised it was COLD!! It was all gone the next day though, so I know that AB winters will be a long and perhaps difficult time for us.

By the way, does the chinook happen in all of Alberta just Calgary? That must be weird when it happens!
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 2:23 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Oops, I just read the guidelines for "Meet and Greet" and it seems like I've ventured off-path already.

Will post another in the main site.
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 3:42 pm
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Smile Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Just wanted to say hi and welcome. We are moving to Calgary in the summer on a work permit initially with my husband's job. We had the chance to go to either Edmonton or Calgary but chose Calgary, partly because we have friends there and have visited there before and partly for other reasons such as it being a bit nearer the mountains and it has the chinook winds so the temperatures are a bit more variable. But obviously each to their own, so I hope you find the answers you want as there is certainly such a lot of information on here.

Lisa
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 3:53 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Hi there.

Here is the Wiki about Calgary's neighbourhoods and schools that gryphea mentioned.

Here's a tip for searching for information about Edmonton on the forum. If you use Edmonton as the search word, you get zillions of general threads in which Edmonton has been mentioned in passing (along with Toronto, Vancouver, etc.).

If you use Stony Plain as your search term, you will bring up threads that are specifically about Edmonton. Stony Plain is a satellite community just outside of Edmonton, and its name invariably is included in the list of good neighbourhoods to consider.
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 5:29 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

In many ways Calgary and Edmonton are quite similar. Both of their populations are around the one million mark, and there are many other similarities.

I live in Calgary. I have friends in Edmonton, currently work with several people who grew up in Edmonton, and have visited Edmonton, but have not lived there.

As I see it, the two cities' respective advantages are:

Calgary
  • Close enough to the mountains that going there and back in one day for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter is a realistic option -- although it's easier if you make a weekend of it and overnight in the mountains.

  • The Chinook effect is a lot stronger in Calgary than it is in Edmonton. Hence Calgary gets more significant breaks from winter weather. That, in turn, makes winters easier to take (unless you happen to belong to the small minority of people who get migraine headaches from the Chinook winds).

  • Calgary is home to the head offices of the oil companies. Compared with other North American cities of its size, it has a high proportion of university educated residents. It also has an entrepreneurial culture. (But there are some people who find that the “lean” business culture also is a “mean” culture. For a city that is experiencing as exciting an economic boom as Calgary is experiencing, it has a shockingly high level of homelessness.)

Edmonton
  • Edmonton’s river valley is wider and prettier than Calgary’s.

  • Edmonton has more culture (music festivals and things of that nature) than Calgary has (although Calgary has improved in that regard in recent years).

  • Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and, compared with Calgary, has more industries that provide services for the oil industry. So, compared with Calgary, Edmonton has a higher proportion of government employees and blue collar workers. This means that Edmonton has a slightly “kinder, gentler” culture than Calgary has. I list this amongst Edmonton’s advantages, but some conservative Calgarians refer to it as Redmonton, and claim that it is too bureaucratic and union-oriented.

  • There are some people who consider Edmonton’s greater distance from the mountains to be an advantage. It really isn’t feasible to go skiing for a day. You pretty much have to make a weekend of it. But, as I say, there are some people who actually put that on the plus side of the ledger. It “forces” you to take a proper break. I have heard that flying to Comox on Vancouver Island and skiing at nearby Mount Washington has become quite popular amongst Edmontonians. Apparently the time investment is similar to driving to Jasper.

  • Although Edmonton also is growing at a phenomenal rate, its house prices are not quite as ridiculous as Calgary’s are. My intuitive guess is that the strains on Edmonton’s infrastructure are not as significant as the strains on Calgary’s infrastructure (roads, public transportation, medical system and school system) are.

Living in Canada temporarily

You said that most people on this forum wanted to migrate permanently. You were curious to know what it was like to live in Canada for a couple of years and then move on.

I’m a migrant to Canada, and have lived here for 30 years. I’ve done the temporary expat thing in the USA and Australia.

I know quite a few people who have lived in Calgary for a year or two or five and then moved on.

The largest number of temporary expats whom I’ve known have been Americans. Often they have come to Calgary on company transfers, and then have been transferred elsewhere. However, I know a fair number of British people who have done that, a few Australians, and so on.

From what I have seen, there is no problem in moving to Canada temporarily. I think it’s fair to say that it’s similar to moving to the Australia or the USA temporarily. What I mean by that is that it’s an English-speaking country. So an English-speaking expat lives in the host country’s mainstream society. You don’t live in an expat compound, as would be the case in some foreign countries. Your kids attend local schools rather than attending a special school for expat kids.

The only flag I would raise is that, as your kids get into the last few years of high school, it becomes increasingly complicated to move them around. For starters it’s a time of life when their peer group is important to them. Some teenagers do not take kindly to losing one set of friends after another. If kids have only ever known an expat lifestyle, they sometimes are willing to accept it throughout their teenage years as well. However, some kids who accepted that way of life when they were younger dig in their heels when they become teenagers.

Teenagers’ social lives are not the only consideration. When they reach high school, constant moving really does complicate their education. Each country counts grades towards high school graduation differently. Our family’s moves from Canada to the USA to Australia and back to Canada took place during that rather crucial phase, and it really did complicate things. However, if your kids are good academic achievers, one potential solution is to enroll them in a school that offers the International Baccalaureate program.

Hope that helps.
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 5:33 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Originally Posted by Jingsamichty View Post
Hello to everybody,

I am a 38 year old engineer in the oil and gas industry, and have a wife and 2 children ages 6 and 5. We're all British, althought the kids have never really lived there.

We are 'seasoned expats' and are used to moving to a new country every few years... however, that doesn't mean we still don't appreciate as much advance information as possible!! And also, we have until now stuck to 'hot' countries!

I have the opportunity to move to Alberta this summer for a couple of years, and have the options of (1) Edmonton, (2) Calgary and (3) Ft McMurray.

A quick Google search swiftly ruled out Ft McM as a viable (comfortable) family option, but I'd like to know more about the good and bad points of Edmonton v Calgary.

Any advice you knowledgable lot can give will be hugely appreciated, specifically with regard to the following points:

* Is a rental allowance of CAD 3,000-4,000 per month sufficient for a decent family house in a nice area, and bills, taxes in Edmonton and/or Calgary?

* Is there a reasonable amount of choice available in that sector of the rental market for family homes?

* Are school spaces easily available, or are there waiting lists for popular schools etc?

* I know this is subjective, but do you think the quality of family life better in Calgary or Edmonton, and why?

Thanks in advance for your help, I hope to post more as things firm up.

Jingsmichty
Hi, firstly that rental allowance should get you a very nice family home around Edmonton. A nice home in our lovely family community of Sherwood Park would maybe set you back $1500 - $2000 per month I would have thought. Local newspaper websites are a good source of homes available to rent. Usually a fair few to choose from.
If you pick an place with a good number of schools in the locality I think you may get your children in without too many problems. I know our school has just welcomed yet another English family, mid school year.

Wether you go for Calgary or Edmonton is very personal. We are further from the Mountains here and don't get the full effect of the Chinooks, although they do happen. But I find Edmontons River Valley stunning , full of trees, and find the city much easier to get around than Calgary. More of a grid system. I like both cities !

Friends of ours moved here from Dubai, 3 yrs ago with his job, and didn't have too much trouble adjusting from the heat to the cold. And it isn't really as bad as some make out here in AB. You get some days that dip to minus 25 and granted, that IS taters, but quite often it will be around -6 or 7 and that feels no worse than a nippy day in England (if you can remember those)

There is SO much to do here for children. The provision of activities is phenomemal. You don't see kids hanging around street corners bored, they all seem to be invloved in something.

I hop eyou enjoy your time in Alberta, and I would recommend gettting to those Mountains as often as you can. They are amazing
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Old Mar 15th 2007, 7:54 pm
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Wow,

Judy and R2D2, what can I say? You have given exactly the information I was looking (and hoping) for... I cannot thank you enough,

Maybe I will know your friends from Dubai

What a fantastic resource this forum is. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of all you peeople.

With sincere thanks,

J
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Old Mar 16th 2007, 1:46 am
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Pleasure......glad to help in any small way.
Any other inquiries you have about Edmonton area just fire away. There are a lot of us living up here on this forum, so you should get a number of perspectives.

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Old Mar 16th 2007, 2:50 am
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Default Re: Possible Move to Alberta

Welcome to the forum.

As others have said, you certainly are not confined to the house for 4 months of the year in Calgary, (probably not in Edmonton either, but not sure about Fort McMurray!!)

Pick a "Lake Community" and there are all sorts of activities going on all year round. I know I keep on about Lake communities, but I think for families with young children they are a dream come true!

The really cold weather below say -15 can be a bit much but really only if there is a wind blowing, and the Chinook can raise the temperature by 20 degrees or more in a few hours here in Calgary!

I have friends where the husband is a chemical engineer in the oilfields, and they lived all over the world until their kids reached high school age and mum said "STOP". Guess where they settled? Yep Alberta!

They applied for permanent residency after they got here on a work permit, and now have citizenship here, and my mate's parents have moved out to live here too! Her hubby got itchy feet again after a while though, and now works away for a month at a time in Azer-baijan (or somewhere?), but even so, he really loves living here, the skiing and his husky team!
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