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!