Tag Archive | moving house

All Change, All Change, All Change!

The fact that it’s been six weeks since my last post is an indicator of just how busy this summer has been. I had an amazing three weeks with my in-laws from mid-Wales, and enjoyed a whole month without rain. I visited Astoria, Cannon Beach and Gibsons (twice). I hiked the BCMC trail, ate brunch on Main Street and took advantage of Earl’s Mexican Bulldog Mondays – all for the first time.  I continued my summer traditions of reading magazines on the balcony, drinking coffee on the seawall and enjoying a cocktail in the gorgeous Reflections bar. Now Labour Day is here, and it’s time for me to start looking forward into fall. Usually I’d be disappointed that summer is coming to an end, but the last few months of 2013 (and beyond) are just holding way too many fun things for me to even think about the post-sunshine blues. Here’s a taster of what’s in store for me between now and the C word (Christmas, of course…).

1. Reconciliation Week – September 16th – 22nd 

Those of you who read my post on my new job at Reconciliation Canada will know that the week commencing September 16th is a big one in my calendar. Reconciliation Canada is hosting three major events during Reconciliation Week, including a traditional burning ceremony (Monday 16th), a visually stunning canoe gathering (Tuesday 17th), and top top it off, the biggest event of all: the 50,000 participant Walk for Reconciliation & A New Way Forward Celebration (Sunday 22nd). My job has been to lead the recruitment, scheduling, on-boarding and training of almost 1,000 volunteers who will make these events happen. With less than three weeks to go until it’s all over, the busyness starts now. On a related note, today is where my social life ends for a while…see you all on September 23rd (unless you’re someone who believes in renewing relationships among all Canadians, in which case I’ll see you at our Reconciliation Week events, won’t I?)! As I also mentioned in my previous blog post, my contract will be ending at the end of September, and I’ll be looking for another job. I’m not in a huge rush (mainly due to the length of this list), but there are couple of potential options floating around that I’m really excited about. Watch this space.

Join us in the Walk for Reconciliation on September 22nd in Downtown Vancouver

Join us in the Walk for Reconciliation on September 22nd in Downtown Vancouver

2. New Apartment – October 1st

After two years in our beloved Downtown apartment, we’re officially on the hunt for a new home from October 1st. We’re looking to stay in the Downtown core (Yaletown to West End) as we love our location so much, except this time it needs to be a pet friendly building (more to come on that). We’ve been scouring craigslist on the half hour, every half hour, and have a number of viewings lined up this week. We’re hoping to get somewhere sorted in the next week or so while I have evening hours available to look at places, otherwise the madness of Reconciliation Week will kick in and the manfriend will be searching solo. Pet friendly places are generally more rare of than their no-pet counterparts, and the laws of supply and demand have therefore driven the prices up substantially. Saying that, we’re really pleased with the viewings we’ve been able to secure this week, and have everything crossed that we find somewhere soon. We’ll really miss our current place, but are looking forward to moving somewhere unfurnished that we can customize just as we like. Wish us luck!

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Lucky Number 3: Downtown Living

Today’s blog post is slightly momentous (aren’t they all?) as I’m writing it from the living room of apartment number three. Last week we packed up our worldly goods for the fourth time in 10 months and moved across the bridge to Downtown Vancouver.  It turns out I’m building quite the collection of ‘stuff’ as our belongings have gone from filling three suitcases to filling a Ford Escape SUV. With the seats down. This, however, is of little importance to me because we have a walk in closet and a storage locker in the basement, which means I’m allowed to collect all the rubbish I like. So there.

The living room...

Anyway, on with the apartment itself. So we’re living in the heart of Downtown, just around the corner from the main intersection of Robson and Burrard. We’re on the top floor of a seven storey building, and we have a balcony that looks out at a number of apartment buildings and offices. We’re less than a minute’s walk from a supermarket, a Starbucks, a pub and a Cineplex, and we can see into our gym from the living room (now that’s motivation). Most importantly, we’re less than three blocks from the SkyTrain station, which means our office move at the end of the month will slash my morning commute to approximately fifteen minutes. Oh yes.

Back the other way...

The apartment itself is really, really lovely.  Although I’m going to miss living in our beloved beachside community of Kits, I won’t miss old buildings with water issues and broken elevators. Our new building isn’t super new, but the apartment is very recently refurbished with a brand new kitchen and bathroom. The last lick of paint went on the ceiling the day we moved in, and it’s so exciting to be living in a new and modern environment. It’s a one bedroom, but the open plan living/kitchen area means that it still feels spacious, and it’s great to finally have a dining table with actual chairs!

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Home Is Where The Beach Is

July 1st 2011 marked my first Canada Day in Vancouver, but it also marked the end of our 6 month sublet and the day we moved apartments.  It was with a formidable sense of déjà vu that we packed our belongings at the end of June as July 1stis moving day for students back in Southampton, and the day that I’ve moved house for the past six years. This particular move went very smoothly, thanks to the help of my Guardian Angel/friend who turned up with her surprisingly roomy car to transport our worldly possessions to our new place three blocks over.

Our building - The Green Monster as it's known to locals!

Our prized belongings contain largely clothes, so it was essential that we found somewhere fully furnished to move into. Bed linen, plates, pans…you name it, we need it. We struggled to find somewhere in the area that we wanted (i.e. the beach) at first, but 10 days before we were due to be made homeless we found a three month sublet in a very large and imposing building on the edge of Kits Point, and at the bottom of the bridge to Downtown. It’s definitely a little more cosy than our last apartment, but the bright and colourful interior and proximity to the beach more than make up for it.

The 'beach style' living room

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Maple Milestone: The Three Month Mark

This week marks the three month anniversary of my arrival in Canada, which seems about the right time for a general update – a ‘maple musing’ if you will. The realisation that I’ve been in Vancouver for a quarter of a year already has come as somewhat of a surprise, as time seems to move at an entirely different speed here. On one hand, I cannot believe the time has flown by so quickly. A quarter of a year? Mid April? Really? It seems like just yesterday I was standing at the airport, laden with luggage and saying goodbyes. On the other hand, I cannot believe it’s only been three months, as the longer I live here the longer it feels like I’ve been here forever. And that I could be here forever.

As they say, forever is a long time, and perhaps too strong a word at this stage in the game, but it’s definitely safe to say that I’m very much enjoying my time in Vancouver and that I have no plans to run back to Blighty for the time being. I have a great job, great apartment and I live a minute’s walk away from a great beach. I’ve done some great things and had some great experiences, including a Canucks hockey game, a trip to Seattle, an Olympic anniversary celebration and day trips to the ski slopes. I’ve met some great people, particularly in my team at work, and I’ve planned a lot more great things to come, such as a weekend in Whistler.

Even if it is a bit cloudy, who wouldn't want to live here?

That’s not to suggest that everything has been, well, great. At least not totally, all the time. I wouldn’t say I’ve been homesick as such, but I do miss my family and can’t wait for them to come and visit. Three months is long enough for my trip away to be more than just a trip, and I’ve been here for the right amount of time to miss my British friends but not to make Canadian ones. My fellow BUNACers from the group flight are starting to head back home one by one, and by the summer I’ll be one of the only few remaining. The cost of living in Vancouver is much higher than I anticipated, making my dream West End apartment with gym and pool seem even further out of reach.  With my new job I can now afford to travel to the places I read about in my guide book, but I no longer have the time to. And don’t even get me started on the banking system.

Of course, all of these annoyances pale into insignificance when thinking about what I’d be doing now if I was still in Southampton. My point is, since arriving in Vancouver there have been far more downs than I thought there would be (making new friends is proving difficult) but far more ups too (fantastic job, lovely apartment). Moving to another country definitely hasn’t been easy, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t take it back. So much so that my second Working Holiday Visa has been applied for and conditionally approved, and it looks like I’ll be staying for an extra year. In 2012 the world might be flocking to London, but I’ll be heading straight back to Vancouver.

The Long Goodbye

So, chapter one of my Canadian adventure is over – I’ve finished work, moved out of the flat I shared with my boyfriend and driven out of Southampton for the last time for a very long time, if not ever.  I’m now well into chapter two, which is living with my parents over Christmas and new year until the start of chapter three, which will see me leaving the country on January 11th (assuming there’s no snow on the runway of course).  What happens when I land is a currently a source of panic, anxiety and extreme fear which doesn’t bear thinking about, at least until the last of the cold turkey sandwiches have been eaten.

Most of the milestones in the journey so far have come and gone just as I imagined, with the major exception of saying goodbye to friends (I haven’t got onto family just yet).  I didn’t quite anticipate just how many people there were to go for dinner, drinks or both with, and how busy I would be in my last few weeks before I left, to the extent that I can count the number of times my boyfriend and I cooked in our own flat in December.  Even then there were people I didn’t get to see, and people I still have yet to meet up with over the holidays (get me – I sound Canadian already!).


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about my social life suddenly rocketing through the roof, but there are definitely pro’s and con’s to an endless string of leaving do’s.  The more time I spend going out for lunch, drinks and dinner the more food and alcohol I consume, the more money I spend, and the less time I have to go to the gym to burn off the food and alcohol I’m consuming, which I’m also still spending money on a monthly fee for.  A vicious circle if ever I knew one.

Despite losing pounds and gaining pounds (geddit?) at such an alarming rate, it’s been fantastic to see so many friends for one last time before I go.  Making an effort to get up and get out of the flat every evening when all I want to do is curl up after an exhausting day of handover at work was definitely worth it, as I have that many more memories to take with me.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that the most important thing isn’t how you feel at the time (tired, stressed, panicked), but how you’ll feel weeks and months down the line when you look back on the long goodbye with happiness or regret.  For me it’s definitely happiness, and I’m already planning what I’m going to say in my first postcards home.

There’s no place like home…

This is definitely one post I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to write just yet, but I’m pleased to announce to the big wide blogosphere that I leave the country in five weeks and five days, and in five weeks and six days I will be moving into my very own (well, for six months anyway) Vancouver apartment.  More specifically, a third floor, hardwood floored, third floor in a walk up heritage building, in Kitsilano, with all utilities included Vancouver apartment.

Kitsilano is just south west of Downtown

For those of you who haven’t been religiously studying maps, guidebooks and reviews of Vancouver neighbourhoods for the past 18 months, Kitsilano, or Kits as the locals (soon to be me!) call it, is a laid back, trendy, former hippy enclave south west of Downtown.  As Lonely Planet aptly put it ‘the hybrid SUV was invented for the kind of people who live here’ – better buy some ‘yoga pants’ then[1].

Our building…check out the sea to the right (via Google Street View)

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The To-Do List of all To-Do Lists

With seven weeks and two days left until I leave the country, and three weeks and two days until I leave my flat and job to go and stay with my parents for Christmas (not that I’m counting of course), it’s about time I started doing things.  I’m a great believer in lists (ticking off accomplished tasks makes me feel better about having lots to do), and a move such as this requires the ultimate of to-do lists.

I’m sure this list will change dramatically in the next month as unforeseen things get added and unnecessary tasks get removed, but here is version 1.0, nicely divided into areas of my life:

My Flat

  • Hand in written notice to lettings agent one month prior to move-out date (tick)
  • Get reference from lettings agent (scan and save)
  • Get reference from previous landlord/housemates (scan and save)
  • Cancel electricity (tick)
  • Cancel council tax (tick)
  • Cancel TV license (and get refund)
  • Cancel Sky (TV and internet) (tick)
  • Cancel BT line rental (tick)
  • Cancel contents insurance
  • Book professional cleaning

My Car (actually my boyfriend’s, so I don’t have to do much in this section)

  • Sell or store car (decide which!)
  • Book service/MOT
  • Cancel car insurance

My Job

  • Hand in written notice to line manager (tick)
  • Get reference from manager and other partners I’ve worked with
  • Make a note of contact details for key work contacts
  • Write my Canadian resume (more than one, tailored to job areas)
  • Send CV to recruitment agencies in Vancouver, and arrange appointment for January
  • Search and apply for jobs
  • Send off speculative applications to companies I’d like to work for

Every list has to start somewhere...

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Useful Resources #3 – The Sensible Girl’s Guide to Emigrating Elegantly

Sally Corner, The Sensible Girl’s Guide to Emigrating Elegantly (London: A & C Black, 2010)

The Sensible Girl’s Guide to Emigrating Elegantly is genuinely unique in its approach to emigration, focussing on the ‘fun, fabulous and feminine’ aspects in addition to the decidedly less so.  As the title suggests it’s written for females, and covers key emigration issues such as what to do if your friends react badly to your leaving, what to wear to the airport and how to deal with homesickness when you arrive.  Of course there is all the practical information about visas and red tape, how to tie up loose ends before you go and what to take with you to YNC (Your New Country), but the extra advice about the less documented, emotional side of moving abroad is honest and refreshing.

The book is set out in a chronological style, taking the reader all the way from choosing a country to move to, to making friends when you’ve settled in.  Quizzes, check lists and questionnaires are interspersed by the author’s own real-life emigration fairy tale (complete with happy Australia based ending) and some funny, original illustrations.  It covers all the little details that you might not think of otherwise (like what to include in your hand luggage), but that really make a difference to the emigration process.  Regardless of where in the world you’re moving to, this book will prove indispensable at every stage of the journey.


The Sensible Girl's Guide to Emigrating Elegantly


Where can I find it? A range of book shops (including Waterstones), however I purchased mine from Amazon  for £7.49.

Good Points: Everything about this book is fantastic, however the checklists are particularly useful.  Whether it’s what to pack, how to sort out your healthcare or what you should have sorted two weeks before you go, they’re incredibly comprehensive and you will definitely use them.

Bad Points: If you’re a girl, none. If you’re a boy you will probably consider this book confusing, unnecessary and downright bizarre; that’s why it’s not for you.

My life in colour coded categories

I’ve been adamant all week that this weekend would be a productive one, and if keeping my own promises wasn’t enough to spur me on the sudden realisation that I’m moving out of my flat in 11 weeks today has succeeded in whirling me into a cleaning, sorting frenzy (think Monica from friends but replace the extreme organisation with extreme panic).

My plans for the holiday season are as follows: Move out of flat on Sunday 19th December with help from parents who will be transporting my worldly goods to their house for storage; stay with friends from Sunday 19th until Thursday 23rd December, during which time I need to go to work; leave work for Christmas (and for good!) on the 23rd and get the train to parents house; stay at parents house until January 11th when I will arrive at London Heathrow suitably packed with everything I need (and nothing more) for my working holiday.

I’m going to make somewhat of a large generalisation and assume that the vast majority of 18-30 year olds in possession of a working holiday visa are either living with parents or in private rented accommodation (like me), which means that moving out in itself is relatively easy.  All I have to do is give my lettings agency one month’s notice in writing, which is a doddle compared to the stress of having to sell/rent out a house had I been in the position to own one (which I most definitely am not).

Modern, two bed flat for rent, fully furnished including one disorganised traveller...

The only niggle in my plan stems from the fact that successfully departing from my flat, sending my belongings home to my parent’s attic, and staying with friends for my last week at work all require me to have sorted my belongings into the following categories:

a)      Things I don’t want or need, that nobody else will want or need either, and are therefore destined for the rubbish bin (skip loads).

b)      Things I don’t want or need, but may have some small financial value and can attempt to sell via a bar boot sale/ebay/gumtree (a good few boxes).

c)       Things I definitely want and need, but am not intending to take to Canada with me so will pack up for storage at my parent’s house (boxes, bags and overflowing bin liners).

d)      Things I cannot live without and will be lugging with me on the plane (two suitcases).

e)      Things I may not be taking with me but will need when I stay at a friend’s house for a week, and also taking home on the train (small holdall).

A friend suggested I apply to go on Cash in the Attic, which sounded like a great idea except I don’t have an attic, everything in my modern, two bed flat is less than five years old, and I imagine they have a turnaround time of more than 11 weeks per episode.

Alas, there is nothing for it but to embrace my inner Monica, invest in some seriously strong bin liners and start the sorting process.  I am more than a bit of an organisation freak, so if it all gets too much I’ll concentrate instead on making pretty, colour-coded labels for each of my categorised boxes until the panic subsides and I can continue pulling long lost treasures from under my bed. I think I’ll start with the spare room. Deep breath now…!