I have been receiving emails from some of you who have already, or are very close to pulling the trigger! Thank you so much for sharing your stories and questions. It’s really encouraging to know that I am not sending my blogs off to outer space. So this blog post is for those of you who are a little further along on your journey and have already been approved for Permanent Residence.
After you receive your PR approval letter, it is time to start planing the move. The months leading up to moving day will probably be some of the most exciting and stressful of this journey. There is so much anticipation and things to do! I can remember time taking a strange quality, where it seemed to go too fast and not fast enough all at the same time.
To help with the waiting aspect, I recommend drinking Canadian beer and watching videos of Canada on YouTube. So, yeah, basically I got nothing on this front. Hang in there!
To help with the anxiety, I recommend planing, preparing, and making a good checklist. Below is a to-do checklist I have complied based on our experience. Although not all inclusive, I think it should give you a good start.
Way way before your move (let’s say before you even get your PR papers):
- Make sure that you do not enter into any long-term contracts. This includes utilities, lease agreements, mortgages, car loans, etc.
- If you already have long-term agreements, look into them and come up with a plan on how to deal with them. For example, if you have a loan on a car for 5 years you may need to sell it or get approval from your lien-holder to take the car to Canada permanently.
3 to 4 moths before:
- Determine if you will be driving or flying. For us, we had initially intended to drive, but we failed to do the proper research and at the last second had to change our plans. Importing a car to Canada can be very difficult and costly. I suggest you research and consider this very carefully. I have added “importing a car” to my list of future posts, so hopefully I can have some more details on this subject soon. For the purposes of this post I will assume you will be flying. But another option, for those of you who live close to the northern border, is U-Haul.
- Start paring down your possessions. Start with things/furniture/clothing you don’t use very often. Keep in mind that you will likely be leaving with only a couple of suit cases. Also, you may be able to get some money from selling your stuff, but remember that selling things takes time an effort. My personal rule was that if I couldn’t sell it for a at least $50 I would just donate it. An app I found super useful for selling my stuff was OfferUp.
2 months before:
- If you rent, you will need to let your landlord know you will be moving out. Most leases require a 30 or 60 day notice even if your lease is ending. It is a good idea to take a look at your lease and understand exactly what your responsibilities are. In our case, we only gave a 30 day notice when our lease required 60 days. As a result we had to pay for another month on an apartment we were no longer occupying. So long story short, make sure you give proper notice.
- Start shopping around for some plane tickets!
- Keep up the good work making your place look like a dedicated minimalist lives there.
1 month before:
- Because you already did your homework you should already be contract-free. So now all you have to do is call all your utility providers to ask them to cancel your service by the end of the month. These include your gym, electric/gas, internet/TV, car insurance, renters insurance, and any other subscriptions you may have.
- Give notice at work, maybe. This will obviously be different for everybody, but the reason I suggest giving your employer so much notice is because you want to leave in the best possible terms. The reason this is important is because when you are looking for a job in Canada you will want your former employer to give you an awesome reference.
- Consolidate bank accounts, preferably to a large national bank. You will be glad you did this when it comes time to move your money.
- Spend time with friends and family and start saying goodbye.
- Have your plane tickets purchased.
- Almost all your furniture should be gone
3 weeks before:
- Book a place to stay for your first couple of weeks. We used Airbnb because it was much cheaper than a hotel. I recommend that you book the place for no less than 2 weeks. Note that a lot of places don’t become available until the first of the month, so plan accordingly.
- Send out job applications, you may even want to start doing this earlier depending on where you are moving.
1 to 2 weeks before: (Just writing this I am getting excited for you!!)
- Purchase Canadian currency. You will need to call your bank to find out what branches have an international teller. We did this through Wells Fargo, and once we placed the order it took 3 business days for them to get the cash. We took $5,000 CAD for both of us, which was plenty.
- While you are at the bank, ask the teller to give you a letter stating the balance in your account. We weren’t asked for this paper when we landed, but it doesn’t hurt to have it.
- Get a bank draft, maybe (some places also call this a “foreign draft”). We did this because we were not sure how we were going to move our money, so to play it safe we got a bank draft for $20k in CAD. This was very expensive and it turned out to be unnecessary once we learned we could transfer money using a company called TransferWise. TransferWise is a much cheaper and faster alternative. I will post a short post on using this service at a later time.
- Buy your extra large suitcases! We each took 2 large ones,1 small suitcase plus a backpack. Each checked bag cost us about $100 (they were both overweight).
- Decide what you are taking with you and what fits into your suitcases; donate everything else (except cleaning supplies as you will need them later).
- Keep a list of the items you are taking with you, as you may be required to show this to the immigration officer. We ended up not needing it, but it’s better to be prepared.
- Line-up some apartment viewings so you can hit the ground running as soon as you land. You can try Craigslist, but Kijiji is more popular in Canada.
- Confirm check-out procedures with your landlord.
The day before:
- Clean your apartment.
- Tie-up any loose ends.
- If you are a master planer and super organized this should be an easy day. If, however, you are like us, your last day will be a mad frenzy and you will be up until the wee hours of the morning sorting everything out. Good luck!
- Make sure you have all the documents you will need when you land easily accessible. These include:
- Landing documents
- Cash and bank letter
- List of personal possessions
- Vacate the apartment and turn in your keys
- Get on that plane!
That’s all for this one, if you feel I have missed anything let me know and we can add it. Keep an eye out for the “After landing checklist”.