I had a comment on my blog recently asking for information, help or advice on emigration. Rather than reply individually I decided to write the how’s and why’s to share my experience of how we got here and why we chose the method we did and our experiences so far. This page will be updated constantly as we discover new things.
How we started
The research began the day we decided to make the move with a trip to WH Smith to buy magazines. There are a few emigrating/living abroad magazines out there where people can share their experiences and companies who specialise in moving abroad advertise their services. We also discovered there was a road show held by www.emigrate2.co.uk and immediately bought tickets to their next available show and booked ourselves into one of the presentations that took place on the visa application process. The whole day was an invaluable source of information and I can’t recommend the experience enough to anyone starting the process.
Our second source of information was, of course, the Internet. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada Website describes all the different categories to apply under and you can apply directly from there. There are many categories and the requirements differ by the province you are applying to.
The site has all the forms you need to make your application you can track your application progress online.
Online Forums such as Britishexpats.com are also full to bursting with help, guidance and information. These forums are constantly updated to keep up with the rapidly changing Visa application process.
Having researched all the choices we chose the Skilled Worker Category as my husband had qualifications in Mechanical Engineering. We decided to apply for permanent residency (PR) while we were still in the UK as we thought it unfair to move the boys (aged 16 & 10 when we moved) while on a work permit. We were willing to wait out our time on the UK while preparing to emigrate but with the knowledge that once we had our PR visas and landed in Canada we could stay here permanently regardless of whether we had jobs or not (providing we didn’t turn into mass murders or something!) However many people come on a work permit and then apply for residency when they arrive, a process which takes about 18 months at the moment. The downside of this way is that your residency is dependent on your employment and if that changes you may have to leave the country. We simply didn’t want to take that chance with the boys but had we not had a family to consider we probably would have opted for this route.
Immigration Lawyers and Agents
We chose not to use an agent because our application was relatively straight forward and simple and I was happy to carry out the paperwork myself. Citizenship and Immigration Canada do not process the application any differently regardless or if you use an agent or not, it wont happen and quicker but would cost you a more to use an agent so unless you have to there really is no need to pay someone to do it for you.
Cost of Living and Work Life Balance
Questions that always come up when contemplating a move are what is the cost of living, how is the job market and what is the work-life balance like. You need to know if the upheaval will be worth it right? Well here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area we are in somewhat of a bubble that is different from much of the rest of the country. Prices are generally higher here than elsewhere. There are some general rules though that are the same country wide. We have found the cost of living is similar to the UK however we spend our money on different things. For example housing, household bills, fuel and clothing are cheaper here but food, alcohol, car insurance, mobile phone and internet costs are more expensive.
Canadians love education and Degrees are hugely important. Many jobs openings require degrees even for very junior positions. If you are qualified or have a trade, work is relatively easy to come by but if you do not have a niche or skill it can be difficult to get yourself noticed amongst hundreds of other applicants. Generally unemployment here is low but Canadian work experience is deemed important so finding work as a newcomer can be challenging.
Work life balance
Without a doubt life here is less stressful than the UK, the work/life balance is much better. The average work day is shorter than in the UK and commuting times are shorter.
Links to My Experiences
Companies I used to emigrate: