Operation Relocation: Vancouver

Whew, what a crazy month August has been!  As noted in my previous post (Migrating North) I’ve recently relocated back to Canada from San Francisco.  Specifically I’ve chosen Vancouver, BC as my new home.

While it’s only been a few short weeks that I’ve been back, it’s clear that this is the right city for me at this point in my life.  Being able to reconnect with old friends and family members has been one of the most awesome parts of the past couple of weeks back at home.  Knowing that these people are within a walk/drive away, rather than a 2 hour flight, is extremely exciting.

In addition, the city of Vancouver is a fast-paced city much like San Francisco but offers more outdoor activities and (in my opinion) a cleaner and safer environment.  It’s clear that the tech scene here is bustling and there is a lot of excitement in the air.  Vancouver is a big city so I have a lot of exploring to do in the coming months.  Returning home during the summer has also made a great impression on me, although I do understand that winter is coming quickly!

Relocating back to Canada was a fairly painless process.  I came across the Moving Back to Canada site maintained by Paul Kurucz which had a wealth of information that was helpful in planning my relocation.  In addition, I wanted to share some tips and things to think about for anyone else in another country who might be returning home to Canada in the future.

  • Hire a moving company - I can’t say enough good things about Atlas Van Lines and their team that helped relocate my things back to BC.  It takes the stress out of having to drive all of your stuff across the boarder, deal with customs, rent trucks, etc.  It’s worth the extra cash to hire movers in my opinion.
  • Do your paperwork early - There’s a bunch of customs forms that you need to fill out and present when you re-enter Canada, and additionally when you go to clear your goods at the border.  In particular Canada customs wants to see an inventory of your stuff.  Having a clear, organized inventory will impress customs officials and will give you minimal headaches when crossing the border.
  • Get travellers insurance - If you’ve severed residential ties with Canada and are returning, there is a 3 month waiting period until MSP kicks in.  If you don’t have a job lined up and aren’t covered, be sure to get travellers insurance to cover you for your first 3 months.  Blue Cross has specific packages for returning Canadians at a reasonable price.
  • Find a sublet - Our timing worked out perfect as a friend of mine was leaving Vancouver for a few months and we were lucky enough to sublet her place.  This took away the stress of finding an apartment before our goods arrived across the boarder, and allows us to explore Vancouver’s many neighbourhoods to see which suits us.
  • Start building credit - When you sever residential ties with Canada you basically wipe out any and all credit history.  When you return it’s important to start building this up again.  Sign up for cable/internet and make your payments on time, purchase a cheap cell phone to use to connect and make sure to pay your bill, etc.
  • Be prepared to spend money - Relocation isn’t cheap, and shaking up your life usually requires you to get out of your rhythm.  Be prepared to pay for hotels, rental cars, etc. for the first week or so until you get settled.  Create a budget and plan ahead to ensure you have enough cash in the bank to get settled.  Use Google Docs to create a spreadsheet of expenses and use Mint.com to track your purchases.
  • Try to have some fun - Moving can be extremely stressful on yourself and on your bank account.  It’s important to take breaks, reconnect with people and enjoy your new surroundings before you get back into your rhythm.

The next steps is finding a house or apartment to call home and a new, exciting company to join.  I’ll be posting about these in the coming weeks.  Until then, time to enjoy the city!

Migrating North

Nearly 2.5 years into my time in San Francisco, I’ve decided to head back to Canada.  This hasn’t been an easy decision for me as I’ve loved my time here.  But, I’m excited for the future and for new opportunities.

I posted a few times when I first arrived about my experiences in SF.  I would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to work abroad to do it.  It’s an awesome way to learn, gain perspective and have experiences you might not have in your home country.

Leaving a great organization like Atlassian is also a difficult choice, but ultimately the right one for the long term.  I’m going to miss working and such an innovative company with awesome people.

San Francisco is an amazing place and I hope to come back and visit regularly.  In particular I’m going to miss the great food and cheap, quality beer here.  I don’t think there’s another city in the world that offers such excellent grub.

Surprisingly, I’m also going to miss baseball.  I never really followed before I came to SF and now I’m a huge Giants fan.  I guess I’ll be getting an MLB.tv account for next summer.

That all being said, I’m extremely pumped to give Vancouver as a try as my new home city.  To be close to friends, family and of course the Canucks is going to be an amazing experience!  I’m looking forward to finding my next professional team to join and to make an impact in a great organization.

Codecademy

Looking to brush up on your coding skills?  Learn a new programming language?  Just getting started at coding?  If any of these apply to you, I’d highly recommend trying out Codecademy.

Codecademy is a website that will guide you through the basics of coding.  There are a number of modules, including basics of software development to JQuery and JavaScript tutorials.  They’re a lot of fun and some of them can be surprisingly challenging.  There’s a great Q&A community that can help if you get stuck during any stage.  There’s also a badge system that gives you an added sense of pride when finishing challenges.

Codecademy also launched Code Year in January, a service that sends out coding exercises via email and encourages weekly participation in lessons.

I’ve recently getting my hands dirty with code again in my spare time and Codecademy is a great way to get in touch with a new language.  Best of all, it’s a free service and new content is being added regularly.  Check it out!