Where does all the time go?

bear-on-a-log

I admit it.  In amidst all the preparations for relocating to Canada from the UK, and as we arrived and were getting ourselves ensconced; I was quietly of the view that it would be an opportunity to select a lower gear in life and be able to take the foot slightly off the gas.  Have a bit of a rest.  You know what I mean?

I wasn’t completely misguided.  I did recognise the gaping gap of having no immediate family or long term friends to call on in emergencies, or even, helping me out with life in general and the management of 3 excitable kids.  That said, I couldn’t help but suspect that life may be slightly less busy.  Slightly less manic.  Slightly less ‘full on’.

Relax-sign

Well, my analysis complete, I can safely tell you that after 6 months of being here, life is just the same as it ever was before.  How on earth diaries and schedules fill up I’ll never know, but they do.  The kids are in school, but with the variety and numerous ‘before and after’ school activities to ferry them to, plus getting homework sorted and basics like ‘feeding them’ – which they seem to insist on in ever increasing frequencies and quantities; time literally disappears.

Then there’s my work which needs to get done in amongst all the shenanigans, and if I’m honest, it’s the time when I can concentrate on really interesting stuff and get my innovative and creative juices flowing.  The delights of modern technology and ‘virtual working’ mean that I’m as productive over here as I ever was at home – if not more so, and I relish and look forward to the highlights of the week which are often conference calls with the UK team on a project, the jovial banter and the fact that I’m having conversations with other human beings – other than my kids and the cat (yes, she’s still here …….!)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m making lots of friends and new acquaintances over on this side of the pond too – the challenge is fitting everything into a normal day!

Time

Volunteering here is much bigger than it is in the UK – and more rewarding too.  I’m now assisting with the Kindergarten Reading Programme at the school once a week, sorting and organising the books for the 5/6 year olds to read the following day.  My youngest kid loves the fact that I’m in the school longer than just the usual dropping off and reading a story before her afternoon classes commence.  Then there’s volunteering as a swimming judge during the competitive ‘meets’ for the Edmonton club my oldest kid swims for.  I took it up in the UK as a means to understand and be able to articulate the rules around each of the swimming strokes to my kids.  Also, during a ‘Meet’, it’s a better way to keep occupied and involved by being on poolside, being active, and ensuring the rules are adhered and complied to by all competing swimmers.  My oldest kid loves the fact that I’m there and involved.  I’ve now completed a variety of modules ‘on-line’ for Swim Alberta, have become registered and will be commencing my judging duties in a few weekends time during one of the major competitions.  It’s good fun and thoroughly enjoyable.   I’m looking forward to it.  The sight nuances and variations between requirements in both countries is interesting and I’m ever keen to take on a challenge!

Swimmng

In the meantime, additional things arrive completely ‘out of the blue’ and time has to be found to sort them out.  Over the last week or so, we’ve suddenly realised that all Canadians have to complete a self-assessment form and submit it to the Canadian Revenue Agency (like the Inland Revenue or HMRC in the UK), by 31 March.  It’s for the previous calendar year and all income – whether earnt in Canada or elsewhere in the World – has to be declared otherwise penalties are applied.  The good news is that we discovered this prior to 31 March so have approximately 13 days left to get it sorted.  The bad news is, I’ve had to instigate emergency protocols and source a Canadian tax specialist who is familiar with ex-patriate income, first submissions by newcomers to Canada, and quite frankly, can navigate their way around what we can and can’t declare – plus what we can claim for and what we can’t.  Life is never simple and our circumstances are not the easiest to decipher and make transparent.  On the plus side, there’s less than 2 weeks of pain to pull all the documentation together and sit down with the tax specialist for her to submit on our behalf, and we’ll be on an even keel again.  No doubt something else will emerge that we have or haven’t done in the meantime!  How on earth they reconcile completely different tax years between countries I’ll never know, and quite frankly, just tell me what the answer is after everything has been thrown in the mix and let’s be done with it.  God help us when we’re doing it the other way and upon our return to the UK.  Another delight to look forward to!!

images

It’s all fun.  It’s all learning and it’s part of life’s great experience.  And that’s what we wanted, that’s what we’re getting and that’s what we’re loving.

🙂

(Big thanks for Google images this week for the selection of pics……!)

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!!!!