Four years in Canada: Advice from the Professional Working Holiday-ers

This month marks four years since I left the UK for beautiful Vancouver. In some ways January 2011 seems so long ago, but in other ways the time has absolutely flown. My first Canada-versary was very special as one year living abroad was a huge achievement and a pretty big deal, if I do say so myself. My second Canada-versary was important as I was beginning to feel much more settled and was starting to see what my future life here would actually be like. My third Canada-versary was huge in that I was actually starting to live that future, what with my Permanent Residence and permanent puppy. My fourth Canada-versay feels….pretty much the same as last year. I’m still very settled, I still love living here, and I still don’t see myself moving home any time soon (sorry parents). I also still don’t have a Canadian accent, I still don’t watch CFL (or NFL) and I still haven’t been to the Rockies. Ho hum.

Celebrating with my amazing BUNAC-ers <3

Celebrating with my amazing BUNAC-ers ❤

I celebrated my fourth Canada-versary with my fellow BUNAC ’11 crew. There are six of us who met on the BUNAC group flight from LHR to YVR on January 11, 2011, who are still living in Vancouver today. Three of us are Permanent Residents, two are going through the PR application process and one found out she’s actually a Canadian citizen (jealous!). Booking that group flight remains the best decision of my entire life, and it’s fun to reconnect and remember that day with people who were there with me. We had some dinner and drinks at Brown’s Social House in Kits, where we spent a lot of time when we first arrived.

The girls. Just because.

The girls. Just because.

This year I decided my obligatory Canada-versary blog post should be a bit more interesting than just this bla bla about me, so I asked my working holiday companions what advice they would give to others who are planning or thinking about planning a move abroad. I waited until the end of the night to ask this and then recorded the conversation on my phone…the evidence of which I’ll keep just in case any of them any become famous some day. The short, clean tips are below:

  • Be prepared to take whatever work you can to get by. Living abroad is an experience in itself, and starting off with a less than ideal job still beats not living abroad. Think of it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things
  • Save, save and save some more. The more money you can bring with you, the better your experience will be. The minimum guidelines really are a minimum – you’ll be surprised how quickly a cellphone, deposit, first month’s rent and initial socializing and sightseeing will drain your support funds
  • Leave your expectations at home. Keep an open mind and try not to plan too much or set unrealistic goals. Living abroad is probably going to be nothing like you think it’s going to be
  • Celebrate your successes. Everyone has hard days when they move away from home, whether it’s missing family and friends or failing to meet any of the unrealistic goals you set yourself (see above). If it feels like things aren’t going right, just remember what an amazing achievement living abroad actually is. You did something AMAZING and it’s OK if every little thing doesn’t go right all the time
  • Say yes as much as possible. Moving countries is a life changing experience, and you’ll be surprised at how many other new opportunities come your way just from being open to them
  • Work hard. Whether you are trying to carve out a long term career or just save money for travels and beer, put your head down when you can and you’ll reap the rewards
  • Play up your accent! Sounding different to everyone else can be unnerving, but it can also help you stand out in a good way. When it comes to job interviews, meeting new people or just ordering take-out,you ALWAYS have a talking point, and being memorable is never a bad thing

There you have it folks, advice from the professionals. Good luck to all of you brave souls considering a move abroad, and here’s to my fifth year in Canada. Bring it on, 2015!


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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

8 responses to “Four years in Canada: Advice from the Professional Working Holiday-ers”

  1. bethrebeccawilson says :

    You may not have thought it, but this post is actually extremely helpful to me! I’m hoping to move to Australia one day! Why? Aussie boyfriend, beautiful country, different career opportunities etc etc haha. I know I’m only 17, but I also know it’s what I want do to, it’s what we (Jay – boyfriend) want to do, and you’re kind of like the person I look to with it all as I’ve been following your blog for ages now, and you’re doing what I want to do, just in a different country! Hehe Happy Fourth Canada-versary! 😛 xx

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Thanks Beth! Moving abroad is definitely something I recommend, and it’s never too early to plan! The better prepared you can be the better 🙂 I’ll be jealous of all the sunshine in Australia!! x

      • bethrebeccawilson says :

        You’re welcome 😛 Haha I’m glad you think so, I didn’t want to sound like a crazy person! That’s what I thought 🙂 Hehe well you’ll have come to out there and visit me one day; I know I want to come and see you in Canada for some proper snow! xx

  2. MarmitetoMaple says :

    Well you’re welcome any time, but I can’t promise much in terms of snow…all the local mountains in North Vancouver are closed as it’s 12 degrees here! Luckily you only have to drive a few hours to find the real stuff 🙂 xx

  3. Paul says :

    Happy 4 year anniversary! As a fellow immigrant and permanent resident (became a PR before I emigrated), I just celebrated my 1 year anniversary in Canada back in mid December. I know you mentioned you arrived in early 2011 and got PR in mid 2013 – do you plan on applying for citizenship this April? I know they’ll give you credit for the time you were here prior to being a PR.

    I plan to but I’m not entirely sure if the rules will be the same in 2 years when I’m eligible. Have you seen the proposed/planned change to the citizenship guidelines that will require 4 years residency in Canada as a PR before applying for citizenship? I keep seeing it but it hasn’t actually shown up yet on CIC’s website, which still lists the 3 year requirement (and under the old requirement, only 2 years need to be as a PR and 1yr can be here under another visa, whereas under the new rules it’s supposedly 4yrs as a PR). So right now I’m not entirely sure if I have 2 years or 3 left before I’m eligible 🙂

  4. MarmitetoMaple says :

    Hi Paul, thanks for the comment and happy 1 year anniversary in Canada! Yes, I am definitely going to apply for citizenship! Unfortunately even though I will have been a PR for two years in April, I’ve spent a fair amount of time out of the country which means that as of now I won’t actually meet the residence requirement of 1,066 days until October this year. And I have some more trips planned this year which will push it back to December probably.

    Unfortunately I do know about the rules and from what I have read in the news they are set to change in June, which is too late for me! So I’ll have to wait another two years. The timing really sucks as another few months and I would have been eligible, but now it’ll likely be into 2018. D’oh! Oh well, I’m not going anywhere so will have to hold tight!

  5. Matt says :

    Hi Lizzie. Long time no speak. Wow, well done on your four years in Canada. We spoke briefly last year just before me and my Girlfriend moved over to Vancouver in October 2014. You gave us some fantastic advice and we really took it on board.

    Sadly we returned home after only 10 months and I have now started to get itchy feet again about maybe returning.

    I really enjoyed Vancouver, but feel like we didn’t give it our best shot.

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Hey Matt, great to hear from you! I’m really glad you enjoyed your time in Vancouver, but sorry to hear that you went back home again so soon. It’s not always easy to get everything right the first time and maybe you needed to experience it for a short time to get more of a sense of what you want and how you’d do it again. Let me know if you decide to come back again, Vancouver is always here and always beautiful! 🙂

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