Canada: A Few Tips
Someone emailed me a little bit ago to say they might be moving to Canada and did I have any advice? I started to compile a list and made myself stop after just a few items because I was having too much fun. So here is the rest of it:
1. Don't lose the piece of paper that comes with your stamped visa. They don't like that.
2. Spell everything with a "u".
3. Canadian drivers are not as polite as you might think.
4. Don't bother looking for a post office as such. Just go to the Shoppers Drug Mart. You will be amazed to find a complete post office in there.
4a. But don't buy anything else at Shoppers. They suck.
4b. Oh, and there is no Saturday postal delivery. The mail carrier didn't just skip you last weekend; s/he didn't come at all.
5. If you are a U.S. Citizen, and you have a child, don't open an RESP for them no matter how much your regular bank tells you it's a great deal. There are terrible tax implications that will hit either you or your child later. Plus you could be arrested or something for having a foreign trust. Rachel said something about this and I didn't quite believe it, but then the guy who did our taxes last year confirmed it.
5a. However, someone else who is not a U.S. citizen can open an RESP for your child, even if they're not related. Just saying. And if you were to quietly funnel them the money to do so, I wouldn't tell anyone.
6. And speaking of taxes: even if you have always prided yourself on doing them yourself, the first year you live in Canada might be a good time to pack it in and go to an accountant. After that, you can consider returning to your old self-sufficient ways.
7. Cream cheese costs $4.00 a package. You aren't reading the label wrong; it really does.
8. Be prepared for lots of Christmas. There is separation of Church and State in Canada, but it doesn't mean exactly the same thing that it does in the U.S.
9. Bring your own screws, or else just buy a new screwdriver. Seriously. The screw-heads are all different here and you won't be able to buy any new screws to fit your Phillips or flathead screwdriver.
10. If you are planning to apply for citizenship later, keep a record of all the time you spend outside Canada, including weekend trips down to the States; you'll need it for calculating your total residency. If you are like me, you will not think to do this for the first couple of years, and then you will wish that you had.
11. There are no public holidays (in BC, anyway) between New Year's and Easter. This makes for a long, dark, work-filled first few months of the year. It's a good time to plan for a short vacation. Or perhaps a short drunken spree.
12. When people ask you why you moved to Canada, don't say "For the health care" (even if it's true, or partly true).
12a. However, "It's just better here" is a perfectly acceptable response.