Moving to a New City in Canada
As challenging as it can be to move to a new city, it can also be exciting: new neighbourhoods to explore, new restaurants to enjoy, new cultural and sports offerings to discover, new people to meet and befriend. Even if the move isn’t your choice – a spouse’s transfer, for example – it can be a wonderful adventure.
The better prepared you are for a move, the smaller the downside. Sure, you’ll miss friends and family, but you’ll also be busy adding to your knowledge of a new place with all of its endearing quirks.
Take some time to do your homework and smooth the path that leads to your new life. These tips should point you in the right direction:
Scout the Territory
If you can visit in advance to get a feel for your new home port, you’ll be able to envision your new life better. You’ll also be able to get a sense of where you might like to live.
If visiting isn’t possible, rely on technology. Google or other search engines are amazing research tools, so learn what you can about the city’s landmarks, economic engines, neighbourhoods, etc. Knowledge is power.
Depending on the housing market in your current city, you may not get good value for your investment, so think about renting your property, rather than selling it. You’ll be able to wait until the market is right, while having a fallback if you decide to return. Conversely, don’t buy a home or condo immediately.
Rent a property for a year while you learn which neighbourhoods have the amenities you’re seeking and feel like home. When you do decide to buy, you’ll be happier with the choice you’ve made.
Settle your Debts
Pay your bills before you and your belongings hit the road, even if they’re not due until after you arrive. You’ll prevent late payments and cross an unnecessary worry off your list.
Be Transfer Ready
Prepare a list of all the important records and documents you’ll need to transfer or move with you, complete with account numbers and contact information. The list should include:
- Contents of your safety deposit box
- Medical records: yours, your spouse’s, your children’s and your pet’s
- Dental records
- School records/transcripts
- Home insurance, extended health coverage
Determine whether or not you’ll need to buy bridging insurance for the period between one employer and the next.
Involve your Children
If you have children, moving can be additionally stressful, because they will face new schools and the challenge of making new friends. Don’t dismiss their concerns, but try to make the moving experience as positive as possible.
Involve them in the search for a new place to live – they’ll enjoy looking at photos online — and discuss how they might like to decorate their bedrooms. Engage them in research about their new city so they can think about things they might like to see and do once they arrive. Host a going-away party so they can make saying goodbye to friends a positive experience.
Query your Friends and Colleagues
Undoubtedly, someone you know or one of their acquaintances has lived or worked in the city that will soon be your home. Arrange to chat with them in advance to get their insights into your new locale and to ask for advice. They will generally be happy to share the names of favourite restaurants, neighbourhoods that are dicey and any other practical information you request.
Once you’ve moved, don’t be shy about asking colleagues and neighbours for their advice and recommendations. They’ll know the best places to get fresh produce, the best ways to avoid heavy traffic and the coolest coffee shops. You can make a list or create a Google document and ask people to add to it.
Be a Tourist
Your move doesn’t automatically make you a local. Spend some time playing tourist in your new city. You can take a guided tour, try out various forms of public transportation and see the prominent local sites. You’ll begin feeling more comfortable while learning about your new home.
Being the newcomer means making a real effort to become part of life in your new city. If you have children, explore the library together and check out the extracurricular programs the community centres and schools have to offer.
Connect with friends of friends who have been recommended to you; you may hit it off, or they may lead you to others you’d like to know. Join a group or two and go regularly. It takes time to get to know people, but doing things together and seeing each other on a regular basis often leads to friendship.
Remember: it may not be easy to leave your comfortable life and familiar routines behind, but a world of new experiences awaits.