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Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Old Aug 26th 2008, 1:09 pm
  #1  
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Default Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Hi

I think I would like a reality check from folks who have removed their rose-tinted specs and are on their way home. Not an invite to life's whingers, but I would REALLY APPRECIATE some honest talking about life over in Canada.

My partner and I both have good jobs - RAF Officer and Environmental Health Officer - with a combined income of £90k. We own our own home outright in Newark Nottinghamshire and have enough money left over each month to be comfortable, but not well-off.

I did some work at Battus Ranges in Canada and started looking at Canada seriously in 2003. Had two 3-week holidays over there in Alberta and BC, and we have another 4-week house exchange to kanmloops in June 2009. But I apreciate that a holiday is just that and doesn't really give you the warts and all.

We were hoping for a 'less-busy' lifestyle. Our own home, without mortgage, with some room around us. Access to the mountains, skiing and outdoor sports. And I can't deny that back in 2004 our house would exchange for a much bigger property in Calgary or BC. With grandious ideas, and hours of drooling on mls.ca, we applied in Oct 2006.

Now the big BUT. More research on this excellent site has highlighted how much things have gone up over there. Our own UK house is worth less, the exchange rate is getting worse so we would not really be gaining anything in terms of size or room in Canada. Car insurance, food and utilitires are also more expensive than we understood. And the real fear - the job. I have re-trained as an electrician to give me a portable skill, but more research has showed me that I needn't have bothered as the Canadian system does not recognise our qualifications!

So all in all, we are both beginning to question whether it is really worth all the hassle and trauma of starting a new life in Canada. We probably still have another 2 or 3 years to wait for a visa anyway, and in that time we are getting older, but feel that we are in Limbo.

If anybody has bothered to read this long post, I appreciate you sticking with it!!

What do you think? Did you leave behind a good life in he UK with Rose-tinted spectacles and big expectations? Is it really that hard to break into Canadian employment? And if space and an easier life (financially too) are our driving force, are we just another couple of dreamers who will end up returning to the UK!!

Appreciate any helpful advice, through a PM if you wish, but could do without the Daily Mail rants that some folks appear to enjoy.

Many thanks for your time.

Last edited by chutley; Aug 26th 2008 at 1:12 pm.
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 1:14 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Maybe you should be thinking in terms of what are you willing to give up in order to become Canadian, rather than in terms of what you might gain materially.
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 1:48 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Originally Posted by chutley View Post
Hi
What do you think? Did you leave behind a good life in he UK with Rose-tinted spectacles and big expectations? Is it really that hard to break into Canadian employment? And if space and an easier life (financially too) are our driving force, are we just another couple of dreamers who will end up returning to the UK!!
If financial security is important to you - and it does seem so from your post -then I think this adventure may not be for you. This is in particular the case if you are not unhappy in the UK and if you think you have a good life there.

The reality is that most people do have to take lower paid jobs to break into the market here. But many are prepared to do so because they simply want to be here and not in the UK. Others think t they were prepared to do so and then realise that it is not really for them to start at the beginning again.

You may get an easier life style in terms of it being more relaxed and laid back here - but financially, I am not convinced that you would.
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 1:58 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

For goodness sake - just go for it and stop being so anal!!

I don't mean that unkindly - you cannot manufacture all circumstances and just have to follow your nose at times.

Might work - might not work - same as staying where you are.
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 3:31 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Originally Posted by JAJ View Post
Maybe you should be thinking in terms of what are you willing to give up in order to become Canadian, rather than in terms of what you might gain materially.

True. If you have nothing to lose, then go for it. But it sounds like you have built up a life in UK that many in Canada would envy. Consider your age as well, friends, family etc. Consider also, that there are many retired Brit RAF and Navy folk who only move to Canada after retirement because of the lifestyle and their fixed incomes go further here (until electricity and fuel prices shot up). But even they move out during the winter months and leave their apartments empty until spring!!. Perhaps whilst you are both still of working age, and if you truly love the Canadian landscape, you can start planning to retire here rather than pull out now.
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 7:22 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

We're not planning on heading back to the UK - but we did think about it.

I wouldn't move to Canada to be a lot worse off financially. I'd move with financial backing, 'buy' yourself a better location and home - and ensure you have the means to maintain it. So that does mean a decent enough paying job. Maybe you won't need $180k between you (and I suspect that is unlikely anyway), but can you find a 'decent' paying job that will not break your spirit?!

If you want to take advantage of the ski-ing, the moutains and other outdoor sports - some of them don't come cheaply. OK, so hiking doesn't cost much apart from a packed lunch - and you can minimise ski costs with all your own stuff and an annual pass. But there is a lot of country here, and a lot of toys one can buy or participate in to enjoy it to it's full.

You don't mention children - but they're expensive little blighters on any side of any ocean .

We have friends in their early 40's who are planning to 'retire' out here in about 5-7 years - they will still work, but will have set themselves up so that the job and the earning potential are not crucial.

You sound very comfortable and pretty happy where you are? We were too - ish. Would Canadian holidays give you the fix? Will you hit 55yrs old and think "bloody hell, I wish we'd done it while we had the chance?" (That was the kick up the bum we had).

However, I do think people dish out the "well, if it all goes wrong, you can come back" a little too freely. This is an expensive hobby It can bring about major changes in your return to the UK - can you suck it up, as they'd say here?

You can plan and plan forever and a day - but one of those days, you need to take a leap of faith. Just which country will that be in?!

I understand your meandering thoughts well - I'm sure we've all had them to some degree. What can you give to Canada, and what can Canada really give to you - that you do not already have access to?
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 8:03 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Well my wife and I were settled in the UK and doing very well financially (UK standards anyway), when we decided to take the plunge and move to Alberta, really just for a change of scenery. Although lots of things were different, we never felt like foreigners and found Albertans in particular very friendly and welcoming (Canadians will soon get tired of you, if you start complaining and telling them they didn't do it like this in the UK and how much better things were/are there!). After about three months in Edmonton, I got a job in Toronto and we moved to live there. We lasted 7 months in Toronto and for some reason we couldn't settle in Toronto (don't ask me why, as I don't know) and seriously thought of moving back to the UK. However, we had enjoyed our time in Alberta, so we decided to give it one more chance and move back to live there. It took us about 2 years to feel fully comfortable and fully at home in Alberta (we purchased a home about 15months after returning from Ontario) and only once or twice during this period did we ever think about returning to the UK. We've been over to the UK on holiday since we moved to Alberta, but to be honest, England is now a country we find difficult to feel fully at home in and we feel far more at home in Alberta and look forward to returning after a few weeks in the UK.

The bottom line is though, I think you have to fit in and accept where you live in order to be happy and contented. Also the place you eventually chose as your home has to match your needs also (culture, environment, people etc). Alberta worked for us, but Ontario didn't. I think if we'd have initially gone to live in Toronto instead of Alberta, we'd probably would have been back in the UK within a couple of years. That was despite our best efforts to fit in with the local culture and customs and that's very important in my opinion, because if you can't do that, you will always be homesick and want to return to the UK and eventually that feeling will be overwhelming, as you will not make any friends and probably become very lonely. For us, we like the western Canadian way of life and the people...simple as that.

One more thing, my UK qualifications were not recognized in Canada, but after I returned to Alberta, my new employer agreed to pay for the upgrade courses that were necessary to have my qualifications recognized. That took about 12 months of night classes. My sister-in-law (who with her family have visited us twice), is now in the process of emigrating to Alberta as a nurse and she too is required to upgrade/enhance her qualifications. However the Calgary Health Region will pay for and support her to do this after she arrives later this year, so she is happy with that.

Not sure if this helps, but good luck with whatever you decide..
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Old Aug 26th 2008, 10:40 pm
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

I think that both ann m and Chi-Nook have given you some very sensible advice.

Moving here will always entail an element of risk - moving anywhere will entail such a risk. I do not want to be presumptious, but reading your post I am thinking that you like security. I have a friend who managed to get a one year sabbatical from work - and she is now going to Ottawa to try and requalify in her profession there. She will also explore whether she wants to live there. Is that something that your employers in the UK might consider - even for only 6 months? If so, how about renting out that house instead of selling it and coming over for a trial run?

I certainly would advise against simply coming here without thinking things through and I actually think your concerns are very valid and you are asking yourself the right questions. Whilst we thought we wanted this move more than anything in the world and we thought we were prepared for it, we took a massive risk chucking in our jobs and coming here. I knew it would be hard to come here and that there would be challenges. What I was not prepared for was how challenging it was. Just by way of example, the competition to qualify here in my profession is already very stiff amongst Canadians in Toronto - there are some 400 plus law students running around Toronto now who invested years in law school and can't get qualified. Foreign-trained lawyers I know of have volunteered to work for free so they can get qualified. How they afford that, I do not know. Had I known this in advance, I would certainly not have left so easily as I am not someone who copes with uncertain situations very well. I am not a risk-taker - and this is one of the few risks I took in my life. I do not really regret it, however, as I learned so much and I would have always wondered "what if"? Would you wonder "what if?", if you did not take the chance?

Do all the research you can. If you are not picky about a province, try to determine where it would be best to go. Not everything can be found out by prior research, so be prepared for some unforeseen challenges if you do decide to come over here. And most of all, really weigh up the reasons for you wanting to come here. As some said previously, you do not sound particularly unhappy where you are - so is there a real reason why you want to move? You mention a slower pace of life - that I have certainly found to be true, even in the biggest city in Canada. You mention the great outdoors. How much do these things mean to you? Enough to take the leap of faith? Or (as ann m says) would a nice Canadian holiday 1-2 a year do the trick?

Good luck with everything.

Last edited by gotoronto; Aug 26th 2008 at 10:42 pm.
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 1:21 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

90 grand a year is a lot of money. I grew up near Newark and you could be a lot worse off than in Newark.

My experience with NZ and Australia is that emigration is a young persons game.
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 1:33 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Originally Posted by chutley View Post
Hi

I think I would like a reality check from folks who have removed their rose-tinted specs and are on their way home. Not an invite to life's whingers, but I would REALLY APPRECIATE some honest talking about life over in Canada.

My partner and I both have good jobs - RAF Officer and Environmental Health Officer - with a combined income of £90k. We own our own home outright in Newark Nottinghamshire and have enough money left over each month to be comfortable, but not well-off.

I did some work at Battus Ranges in Canada and started looking at Canada seriously in 2003. Had two 3-week holidays over there in Alberta and BC, and we have another 4-week house exchange to kanmloops in June 2009. But I apreciate that a holiday is just that and doesn't really give you the warts and all.

We were hoping for a 'less-busy' lifestyle. Our own home, without mortgage, with some room around us. Access to the mountains, skiing and outdoor sports. And I can't deny that back in 2004 our house would exchange for a much bigger property in Calgary or BC. With grandious ideas, and hours of drooling on mls.ca, we applied in Oct 2006.

Now the big BUT. More research on this excellent site has highlighted how much things have gone up over there. Our own UK house is worth less, the exchange rate is getting worse so we would not really be gaining anything in terms of size or room in Canada. Car insurance, food and utilitires are also more expensive than we understood. And the real fear - the job. I have re-trained as an electrician to give me a portable skill, but more research has showed me that I needn't have bothered as the Canadian system does not recognise our qualifications!

So all in all, we are both beginning to question whether it is really worth all the hassle and trauma of starting a new life in Canada. We probably still have another 2 or 3 years to wait for a visa anyway, and in that time we are getting older, but feel that we are in Limbo.

If anybody has bothered to read this long post, I appreciate you sticking with it!!

What do you think? Did you leave behind a good life in he UK with Rose-tinted spectacles and big expectations? Is it really that hard to break into Canadian employment? And if space and an easier life (financially too) are our driving force, are we just another couple of dreamers who will end up returning to the UK!!

Appreciate any helpful advice, through a PM if you wish, but could do without the Daily Mail rants that some folks appear to enjoy.

Many thanks for your time.
Well, we aren't from the west coast of Canada, we live in southern Ontario...

I think if you are happy where u are, and have great jobs in th UK etc...then just come for a holiday. What about the family?

My husband has just been laid off his job, he is a cnd, worked 24yrs in this firm...I quess there is no guaranties, with jobs...If you have a GOOD job. then I would think long and hard what's really important. Its a tough road here as well.. survival of the fittest. Not really any greener over the fence!
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 1:38 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Originally Posted by bjddavies View Post
My experience with NZ and Australia is that emigration is a young persons game.

You may be right, but my sister-in-law is 46 and her husband is 51 and after 2 visits to Calgary (one in the winter and one in the summer), they've applied for work visa's and hope to move here by the end of September (she needs to pass a medical exam even for work visa, as she's a nurse).

They also have children of 14 and 15 years old. Their primary reasons for coming to Calgary is that they like the city, love the Rocky Mountains (they all ski), especially Banff and Lake Louise and also they believe Alberta will be a better place for their children.

Again not sure if this helps you though...
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 2:10 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

I would not give up £90k and good careers in the UK, for a maybe. I should qualify this statement to say that I took the risk and gave up a good career in the UK, a home in London, friends and access to Europe for "a new life" Canada. To say that I regret that decision, and have had to live with the consequences from that decision, is an understatement.
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 2:25 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

I think the title of this thread tends to attract responses from people who are unhappy with life outside the UK or can't fit in with life in a new country.

So in my opinion the responses would not tend to be representative of the experiences of people who emigrate from the UK. But maybe that's what you wanted, but not sure why as you'll get a skewed view of life in another country primarily from those people who regret leaving the UK and want to return for whatever reason (personal, economic, social, etc).

Not sure I should have posted anything on this thread, as I don't fit that category, so I don't think my posts are necessarily helpful to to you in what information you are seeking.

All the same best of luck with whatever you decide to do...
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 3:00 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Originally Posted by Chi_Nook View Post
I think the title of this thread tends to attract responses from people who are unhappy with life outside the UK or can't fit in with life in a new country.

So in my opinion the responses would not tend to be representative of the experiences of people who emigrate from the UK. But maybe that's what you wanted, but not sure why as you'll get a skewed view of life in another country primarily from those people who regret leaving the UK and want to return for whatever reason (personal, economic, social, etc).

Not sure I should have posted anything on this thread, as I don't fit that category, so I don't think my posts are necessarily helpful to to you in what information you are seeking.

All the same best of luck with whatever you decide to do...
The reality is that many of those who have not succeeded in Canada do not post on the board because they are either embarrassed to come back after their dream failed or they are scared to be shot down that they did not try hard enough.

While the title does invite those who are returning to post in this thread, maybe that is precisely because it is rare to find people actually sharing the details of their stories if it was not too positive and successful. Instead, usually people only say they are unhappy and homesick - but do not go into the minute details of what went wrong. I actually received a flood of PM`s a while back from people who have not succeeded and went home - as they were too scared or embarrassed to post their personal stories on here publicly.

Of course everything that one reads on here must be taken with a pinch of salt. It`s a bunch of experiences - but if OP takes the time to read it all, he will get a bunch of different opinions. He will have to still make up his mind at the end of the day.
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Old Aug 27th 2008, 4:30 am
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Default Re: Honest Advice from those returning from Canada

Originally Posted by Chi_Nook View Post
You may be right, but my sister-in-law is 46 and her husband is 51 and after 2 visits to Calgary (one in the winter and one in the summer), they've applied for work visa's and hope to move here by the end of September (she needs to pass a medical exam even for work visa, as she's a nurse).

They also have children of 14 and 15 years old. Their primary reasons for coming to Calgary is that they like the city, love the Rocky Mountains (they all ski), especially Banff and Lake Louise and also they believe Alberta will be a better place for their children.
Yes. Forgot about the people who are moving for the sake of the children. I still think that if you are well into a career then a move overseas which isn't sponsored by an employer is a big risk and you could end up retraining.

You will need a lot of cash to move overseas and support yourself for a long period of time if you don't have a job offer. I think the OP may be on a forces pension by the sounds of it so maybe money isn't much of an issue.

Moving overseas just for the skiing isn't a good enough reason to emigrate IMHO.
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