Does it stay or does it go now?

No bikes

A slight amendment to the title of a popular 1980’s hit by The Clash, but a major dilemma.  When space is limited on a container heading for Canada, how many of the 9 adult-sized mountain bikes currently residing in our UK garage do you select to make the trip with you?

Answer: all of them – according to the gospel that is my good husband.  He likens it to having to choose between his own 3 kids.  Loves them all equally, but given the possibility that some may not be able to come along for the ride, couldn’t possibly be forced to make the selection.  I’m informed that each one is significantly different, performs numerous functions not duplicated on any of the others, rides unlike the other models, and unique in having a specific specialism and use depending on requirements.  To be absolutely honest, I accept I’m an uninformed bystander with no knowledge of the complexities of modern day mountain biking, but if I could offer a humble observation – they all have 2 wheels, handlebars and a seat.  What could be complex about that?  Maybe it’s the compelling proposition placed in niche magazines by clearly articulate and commercially savvy marketing bods sensing a market opportunity?  If so, they’ve hit on magic here.  And it certainly works in our house!!

Maybe it’s like women with handbags and shoes.  Not really something I relate to that well, but I know that for some very good friends of mine, this dilemma will resonate strongly 🙂

Suitcase

Anyhow, the sofas, chairs, dining room table and all electronic equipment has had to be sacrificed and will be remaining in the UK.  I hadn’t realised how much ‘stuff’ accumulates over the years and when forced to make a choice about transporting it 9000 miles east and taking 6 – 8 weeks to get there, how much this concentrates the mind.  Likewise, the sheer practicality kicks in as the majority of electrical goods also won’t work over the pond.  When you look around your house at the number of items this then prevents, you start to realise how dependent on electricity we’ve now become.  For the essentials, I’m going to have to procure Canadian versions upon arrival.

On the plus side, my 19 year old cat will be attempting the journey.  Speaking to a specialist animal carrier company earlier today, and the oldest cat they can remember transporting went from the UK to Australia at 24 years old.  My cat’s up there with some of the oldest veterans so let’s hope we get the ‘green light’ from the vet prior to the flight and there’s no undue turbulence en route!

Then there’s the toys and general ‘mess’ that kids naturally create and festers in their cupboards, drawers and in the far depths of the sofa.  I’m hunting it all down and we’re going to have to be pretty disciplined in whether we bin, bag or box.  The kids are excited about the move but have been brought back to earth with the requirement of a major sort out this next weekend in preparation.

Wine

My domain is the kitchen and all my baking goods and ingredients will now need to be delivered to good homes in the UK as no liquids, foodstuffs, spices are allowed into the country.  Not too bad if you’re only going for 6 months, but I doubt they’ll be in a fit state of consumption after 2 years!  Never mind.  I’ll just have to work my way through the wine stack prior to departure…..

It’s a tough job, but I guess someone has to do it ……. 🙂

It’s a small small world …

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You’ll be relieved to hear that I resisted the strong temptation to download the Disney tune to accompany the title of my blog!  ‘It’s a small small world’ has been a big theme for us this week.

Plans are getting firmed up – there’s a relocation proposal on the table, and we’re in the midst of arranging the flights for our orientation visit to Canada in early August.  One thing has been absolutely staggering to me though throughout the process so far – and that’s how many people I’ve spoken to who have been to Edmonton, have friends/family who have relocated there or thereabouts, or have contacts who are based there.  Without fail, every single one has offered to put us in contact with them, help us in some way, and generally be supportive to us during our relocation.  It’s a fantastic testament to the human species, in their inherent willingness to help others 🙂

Even new acquaintances have offered support with contacts they have out there – and the range of opportunities, skills to draw off and knowledge of what to do and how to do it, gives us encouragement and eliminates any nerves about the impending change of life we’re about to embark upon!

inuit

Let me throw you a few examples.  One of my best friends has family just south of Edmonton and after sending me their details, we’ve been emailing and exchanging thoughts on schools and areas to live in.  A work colleague who has a friend recently having relocated to Edmonton, has given me her details so we can meet up when I’m finally over there.  She’s given me some helpful tips on ‘the things she wished she’d known before moving out there’ so I’m well prepared.  And a client, who upon discovering that I was about to relocate, explained she had also moved there to live before having to return to the UK 2 years ago.  She will put me in contact with her friends and business contacts out there – and gave me superb advice on the best places to live, trucks to drive, and events to attend.

City Hall's main pyramid and fountain. To the ...

Edmonton’s City Hall main pyramid and fountain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then there are examples of the wonderful Canadians who my husband has met over there in the last 2 weeks alone.  He mentioned to one of the Canadian team he’s working with about our oldest ‘kid’ being a competitive swimmer and wanting to make sure she joins a club in Edmonton who trains seriously and competes externally.  It turns out this lady’s husband is a swimming coach in Edmonton, and has coached swimmers in the last 2 Olympics!  What are the chances of that!  Needless to say, she’s kindly passed on his details to us……

Another Canadian gentleman has a brother who is a realtor in Edmonton.  He’s confident that finding a property isn’t going to be a problem and emails have already been exchanged.  A final example, is a Canadian who my husband met during a business meal last night.  He’s a consultant based in Calgary and working in the same field of consultancy as me.  He’s keen to meet up and discuss potential opportunities.  I’ve already sent him my contact details.

 

It’s exciting.  But it has made me marvel at the coincidence of so many people, having so many contacts, in a place so far away.

Just goes to show.

It’s a small small world 🙂

It’s a slippery slope …… to ruin!

Questions

Minds have now switched to thinking about the costs which we will incur for relocating overseas and the myriad of questions that require some form of an answer.   In fact, even getting any degree of an answer is proving somewhat a challenge but let me explain …

It’s the same company in the UK asking us to relocate as we will be working for in Canada. In thinking about the costs of relocating, it gets you wondering about how we will get paid for work. So, at the top of the list is question number 1: do we get paid in a foreign currency or retain our monthly salary in pounds sterling? Deep intake of breath as the vagaries of foreign exchange rates, host company versus home country start to raise their heads.

Clearly this then leads you to question number 2 and debates on tax. Which is most the appropriate? Do we still pay UK income tax? What about Canadian tax and if we’re living there, well……..

Friends of mine will relish the opportunity to wax lyrical on such a stimulating and clearly complex body of knowledge and opinion (not my ideal topic of choice for a discussion around the dinner table, although give me a bottle of wine and I’ll happily participate whether or not I have any knowledge on the subject whatsoever). That said, give my friends any amount of alcohol and it’s hard to decipher any difference !! (I’m jesting if any of them are reading my blog, honest 🙂 )

 

Get yourself through this minefield – the common characteristics being confusion, complexity and a feeling of being clearly ‘out of my depth’ – and you’re into the whole debate on how do we get paid and into where? We’ve got to set up bank accounts in Canada and payments will need to go into this – from which we’ll need to make no doubt, an endless stream of payments both within Canada and to send back home to the UK (did I mention I have 3 kids, who certainly don’t come cheap).

 

Next on my list is social security/national insurance (now, don’t yawn). Call it what you will, when you boil it right down, all we need to know is – it more or less than we pay now? I’m happy to leave out all the specifics in the quest for a simple response.

Puzzle

To live and work in a different country for any duration of time, there will be costs to making it happen which we’re fully expecting – some of which may be met by the company asking us to relocate, some of which won’t. Once we are there and duly settled, what will be our monthly outgoings and will we be better or worse off? The safest assumption to make at this stage is to plan for failure and assume the worst!

 

Finally – and why my next observation features further down the list than all the other items above I don’t know – but did I mention Edmonton has one of the largest shopping malls in the world? Obviously an opportunity for any female and clearly a key influencer on whether we’ll have any funds remaining during or after our time in Canada. I suspect not.

 

Despite all this, I’m fully anticipating that the lifestyle, quality of life and whole experience which we’ll benefit from will be well worth all the effort, pain and no doubt, cost. Everything comes at a price. Let’s just hope it’s not a slippery slope to ruin!!!!

To Canada – and beyond!

English: Postcard (postmarked 1907) depicting ...

English: Postcard (postmarked 1907) depicting John Bull and Uncle Sam under sign “To Canada” bringing in sacks of money “for investment in Canada” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the issues with moving to Canada for my husband’s work, is ‘what happens to my work’ whilst we’re there?

Three years ago I decided to leave corporate life and set up my own consultancy business after 19 years with the same company.  I love what I do, but the time had come to try something new, push myself into creating opportunities elsewhere and besides, I’d always hankered after setting something up by myself and seeing what happened.  There was also a frustration that after having 3 ‘kids’ and enrolling them in nurseries and link clubs before and after school, I felt they deserved a better quality of life rather than being deposited in various locations either end of the school day.  I wanted to be able to spend quality time with them in the school holidays, and even on a day by day basis, be able to relax, enjoy time with them, talk to them and be there with them.

Well, that was 3 years ago and never a day goes by without me thinking that this was absolutely the right thing to do.  My business is doing well – I work with some really great people, we have an ever growing set of clients and the work has proved stimulating and challenging – just what I love.  Fundamentally though for the most part, I achieve my goals for the kids and yes, have managed to strike a balance between doing stuff that I really enjoy and earning an income from, plus spending quality time with the kids.

So, what’s going to happen when we depart to Canada?

 Trail

The initial thinking is that there should be no reason why the business can’t continue whilst I’m gone.  Fortunately, the business has become more than just me, and the aim is to use others within the team who can deliver to our clients ‘at the coalface’, whilst I remain more in the ‘back room’ – I’ll just be physically 2000 miles away.  I can contribute to a lot of the material and activities we do, and assist in steering the ship from Canada.  There’s also the prospect of starting to grow what we do over in Canada too – but first steps first, let’s get over there and see what happens, get the kids settled and my husband’s work underway.

I’m also mindful that it’s not a permanent move and the plan is to come back.  So, my challenge is to maintain what I’ve built up over the last 3 years whilst we’re in Canada, but be able to pick up again and deliver direct to clients in the UK when I return.  Hopefully it’ll be a smooth transition and everything will go to plan.  And even if it’s not, I’m sure other opportunities will present themselves along the way and take it in directions I’ve not even thought of.  The benefit of living this lifestyle is that the very choice I made 3 years ago has made the prospect of relocating overseas all that much easier.  If I had still been in a corporate, full time, permanent role, I’m sure the thought of relinquishing that would have been much scarier and potentially inhibiting.

I’m quite excited at the prospect of the unknown – I love change, I love challenge and I love trying new things and creating our own trails.  I don’t tend to sit back and wait, but get involved and make things happen.  It’ll be interesting to capture how everything evolves.

As I’m sure it will 🙂