THinking of moving country?
How I moved to Canada, and why it instantly increased my income!
Growing up in Ireland, I always had the ambition to move to a big city. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I loved home, my family and the life I had built for myself. But when I reached my mid-twenties I craved an adventure. If I didn’t take the opportunity to travel now, I knew I would regret it! I would have always wondered what it would have been like to live and work in another country, far from home and family. What would it be like to start fresh and reinvent myself.
There is never a perfect time to make a decision like this. You have to draw a line in the sand, trust your instincts and pick a date. You then have to plan and work back from that date. For me, it was a tricky time to make the decision, my girlfriend was there, my career was going well in Consulting (just got promoted) I was ‘comfortable’ – so why would I leave? Well, the yearning of a foreign land became too strong, and after sitting down and discussing with my partner, we agreed we’d make the plunge together.
Yes great, well done us we made a decision on going, but really didn’t have a clue on how or where to start. So we sat down one Friday night with a bottle of red, and wrote down on paper a few simple questions. If you are considering a similar move I would suggest following the same approach – it worked for us!
“I reached my mid-twenties, I craved an adventure. If I didn’t take the opportunity to travel now, I knew I would regret it”
1) When would we go?
We thought about this for a while (weeks), and after many lengthy conversations (debates) we decided to move to Canada. We discussed it with family and friends, a core support network is so important to guide you through a transition like this. We then picked a date, giving ourselves 9 months to have everything ready to go.
Top tip – ask for advice from anyone you are close to. Don’t underestimate how much planning goes into moving your lives. The more time you give to plan it out, the smoother it should work out.
Something you should also consider as part of the move is a country’s climate, for example, moving to Toronto in the depths of winter can difficult versus summer/fall. Don’t underestimate how hard those first few weeks will be when you land in the new country, you might not know anyone. Toronto can also be covered in ten feet of snow making it hard to navigate if you don’t have the right gear! Trust me, if you can and you are moving to Canada, aim for the April – October period. Not only is it a nicer climate, but also it is a much more happening and exciting place to be, which will make it easier to get to know people through events, sports etc.
2) Where would we go?
This being the most obvious and perhaps most important question. This depends on a whole host of factors for your personal circumstance, such as where you are from? What languages do you speak? For example if you are European you can travel/live/work pretty much anywhere in Europe without a Visa. But we wanted to go further afield, a change in climate and culture was what we desired.
We weighed up the options for about a month and narrowed down our top 3 shortlist as follows:
- United States – e.g. New York, San Francisco, Chicago – I spent a summer there and loved it. Plus the US is pretty much everyone’s dream to live in at some point.
- Singapore – Climate appeal, locality given there are a whole host of really cool countries in close proximity (e.g. Thailand, Bali, Vietnam) plus they offer a super low tax which is a huge pull given my financial freedom goal by age 35.
- Canada – e.g. Vancouver or Toronto, we had a lot of friends recently who moved out there, particularly Vancouver. These cities are also consistently called out as the best cities in the world to live in. Check out the top locations in the world to live in here, Canada dominates the top 10 list. Plus the city living combined with the North American culture and access to really high paid salaries and career opportunities appealed to us both, while having fun along the way of course. You can’t forget the fun!
We went back and forth, but we finally landed on Toronto! Woohoo! One of the biggest factors here was not only that it is an amazing country but also the fact they have huge immigration targets to hit every year (see targets here), in fact they recently announced a target of 400,000 immigrants per year between 2021 – 2023. This of course would make getting a working visa a lot easier, which typically can be the most challenging part of moving to a new country.
Once we decided on a location, the excitement really kicked in. We were doing this! No going back now.
Top Tip: Research the immigration process of your target country carefully!
3) What do we need to get there?
Next up, what would we need to get there – we researched online and found some really useful sites to follow. The best we found is Moving2Canada. They guide you through every step of the journey, from how to get a work permit? How to find a job? Where to live and what to do when you arrive! A complete guide they published is available here, we found it useful.
Other useful sources included Facebook groups (one example group called ‘Irish and New in Toronto’ was a godsend for useful tips and addressing questions) along with reaching out to anyone you know who has moved there, no matter how vague the relationship.
Top Tip: Use your network! People who have been through the process are typically more than happy to help and share their experience.
- Visa: We documented all of the details we would need to secure a work permit (see link above). Having someone to do this with really helped to share the work and research. My girlfriend is way more organized than I am, which massively helped us gather everything.
Top tip: Start the application process as early as you can, and get a head start of gathering all the required documents you need to support the work permit application.
Top tip: Partner with someone and go through the process together.
- Short Term Rental: Once you get the permit, you will need to decide on where you are going to live. We booked an Airbnb for 3 weeks before flying to get set up and view condos, we landed a condo in our second week and moved in a couple of days later.
Top Tip: Get a good Real Estate agent, they are free (in Canada) if you are searching.
- Job: Once you sort the visa, at the earliest possible point – start looking for jobs! Again Moving2Canada is a great place to start. But use standard recruiting resources like LinkedIn to find roles in your target city, don’t be afraid to reach out to Recruiters and Companies directly – it worked for me.
Top tip: If your current employer has offices in your target country, look for an internal transfer, they may also pay to relocate you!
Personally, I work in Strategy Consulting which has a lot of global opportunities. Companies in this space are generally large with offices all over the world. I had two options, look to transfer with my current company to their Toronto office or option 2 being; finding a new job in a new firm. But, I felt if I was moving to another country I might as well move to a new job too. Not so sure about that logic looking back. But thankfully it worked out really well, having reached out to a Recruiter of that company directly I managed to land a meeting. Seven interviews (yes seven!, you read that correctly) I landed a job in a slightly more specialized role in Strategy Consulting. We were on our way!
Other than the big bucket items noted above, look to getting organized around what you’re going to bring with you (e.g. clothes, furniture, luggage etc.) be mindful of costs of shipping versus just starting fresh. We opted for the latter, I left Ireland with one suitcase and 2 suits! Flights and transport are another consideration which we will cover in the costs below.
4) How much would it cost?
The cost will really depend on your individual circumstance and whether or not you already have a job lined up. I would generally say for an individual you should have at a minimum 3 months living costs saved up if you don’t have a job – roughly about $12,000. Preferably, 6 months if you can. You should have enough to cover your rent, food, transport, new furniture etc. This really adds up quickly. It will also be quite stressful worrying about money when you are trying to land a job at the same time so if you can, get employed before you land!
In my situation I had started saving/investing long before I decided to move so I had a nest egg built up to fall back on. This reduced our stress levels significantly. The biggest costs for me apart from the visa where:
- Flights ($800 one way)
- First and last month’s rent ($5000, split between 2)
- Phone/Internet set up ($250)
- Furniture ($2200, split between 2),
Top Tip: Most condos are unfurnished in Canada, so factor in the costs of fitting out your new apartment/townhouse!
If you follow and plan across these 4 big bucket questions you will be well on your way for any city you plan on moving too.
Personally for me, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I have enjoyed huge benefits professionally such as increase in pay, career progression, bigger/more interesting projects, my salary increased dramatically simply by moving to a different city. But also personally, I feel I have grown as a person and built resilience by having to start over somewhere new. Nobody knows you, it’s liberating to craft your story all over again. It’s given me the push to start this blog too, and zone in on my goal of financial freedom by 35 (now 30).
I’m also motivated to share my story and let everyone out there know you don’t have to slave away in the Corporate rat race for 40 years, tied to your desk. There is another way! I’m hoping to get there and I hope you will follow along for the ride, the up’s (hopefully there will be many) and the downs.
The Unknown. That’s what makes life exciting right. So what are you waiting for?
Let me know in the comments where you are planning on relocating to, or maybe you might have already moved. I’m interested to hear different perspectives and additional top tips that everyone can gain from.
As always, if you would like to follow along on my journey, I keep my net worth updated here. Leave a comment and subscribe to my newsletter joining other Millennial Money Masters to stay in the loop on how I am getting on and to be notified of my upcoming posts.