• Gareth Squance

The Canada Dream

Moving to Canada has been a dream of mine for a long time. I long for cold winters, seasonal autumns and springs. Summers? I am not overly bothered about.

At the beginning of 2019, Lucy, my wife, had a job offer to work in the Greater Toronto Area. The company offered to complete our visa applications. This offer was incredible and too good to not take up.

Previous, during 2018, we had travelled across Canada. We landed in Vancouver and drove to Calgary over a period of 2 weeks. We loved every minute of it. The scenery and the people were superb. Despite the wildfires, the views were stunning.

The visas were successful and we booked flights to formally leave the UK and head to our new home be it temporary or permanent. This was all set for the 12th of August 2019.

We travelled to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) May 2019. The goal was to look at properties and schools for the children. They are 13 years old and 8.

We arrived and got right into it. The first thing we noticed was how busy to roads were. Literally 8 lanes of traffic in either directions. Congestion was not dissimilar to the M25 during rush hour. This was actually a bit of a surprise. I don't mind driving in heavy traffic at all and being an ex response driver, navigation of the roads was relatively easy.

We got to our Airbnb and settled for the night.

Prior to coming to look at properties, we had viewed many online. We had a rough idea of styles and costs.

Our Realtor collected us the next morning. We headed to view the properties. we had a budget between $2500-$4000 for rental.

The first couple of premises we looked at were not right for us. They were unkempt but close to one of the best schools in Oakville. They were priced around the $3000pm mark. We ventured further out and drove for days. We viewed many many properties. Some of them were really nice. The big issue was that both my wife and I love the outdoors. I can hear you already and know exactly what you are thinking. Canada and you don't have access to the outdoors? The properties did off course BUT, as soon as you exit the street you are onto heavy traffic. I am talking 3-5 lanes. Let me add perspective. We currently live in the Cambridgeshire countryside. It does have a single lane road near by. The nearest carriageway or motorway is the A1m. This is about a 15min drive. We have both lived in cities and moved homes a lot. This in itself was not an issue. It just never felt comfortable with a young family having to cross numerous lanes of traffic to get anywhere.

Next up was the costs. We are fortunate enough that we don't worry too much about food, bills or going out. we have both worked hard and made sensible investment choices. The areas were we purchased normal commodities were so expensive. A box of Cornflakes was $10! Silly things like shampoos, pain killers, bread, butter, milk were all way above UK prices. We picked up three bags of shopping and the bill was $115. It wasn't filled with beer and wine as that is only sold from beer and wine shops. I am talking about food for a few days and the odd packet of parma ham. Buying properties was in excess of $1.6m. I am drawing a comparison to what we already have in the UK. Car insurance was quoted between $2000-$3000 per year. Mobile phone data was crazy. We have a teenager so need 3 sim only deals. The quotes were coming in at over $280 per month.

When reality started setting in, I began asking the question. What is quality of life?

The dream was there right in front of us but we both felt that we would be taking a massive step back financially and practically. The children are our priority. We would always make choices based on what they need and what we think the future will hold. Over the space of a few days, we made one of the most defining choices of our lives as parents and adults. We choose to turn down the Canadian dream.

We realised we have something very special in the UK. The weather sucks. Our winters are very meh. British culture is a bit odd BUT, its home. It offers quality of life. What does that mean? Home comforts, family, friends, familiarity not complacency, our house, the ease of going into Cambridge and becoming part of history, the education system, the NHS, fairly priced mobile phone plans, Sky Tv, wine, cheese, the beach and off course #thetree.

There are no right or wrong choices in life. There are only choices. This one one of the hardest ones I have made.

Canada is a wonderful country. I could take photographs all day and all night there. The moment I got home though, I sat in the woods and listened to the sound of the birds. It was then that I realised this is home.

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