• Moving to Quebec, Canada

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 11, 2014

    Quebec, CanadaMost people know Quebec as the “French” part of Canada. As the only province that has French as the official language (and with a primarily French-speaking population), life here isn’t quite like anywhere else in Canada and the United States. However, because it borders Ontario, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, it’s very much a modern North American location.

    With a decidedly European flair, a rich history that’s evident in the architecture and the culture, and the wide green spaces and friendliness Canada is known for, Quebec is a one-of-a-kind place to live. Although you’ll need to know (or start learning) French in order to settle down in the country long-term, those who live and work here know there’s nowhere else on earth they’d rather be.

    Living and Working in Quebec

    In addition to being unique for its language and culture, Quebec is the second-largest province in terms of population. The majority of people live in the metropolitan areas (Montreal and Quebec City, primarily), although you’ll find smaller towns scattered throughout the southern regions.

    Because of this focus on urban living, Quebec has strong economic centers in its cities. Although most people live in single-family homes in neighborhoods outside the main city centers, you’ll also find a fair number of residents in apartments, condos, and townhomes. These downtown “pocket neighborhoods” have a decidedly European feel, with a focus on historical buildings, city parks, public transportation, small bistros and shops, and a strong sense of community.

    The jobs here are just as diverse as the people. Leading industries in Quebec have a strong high-tech foundation (aerospace, information technology, and communication technologies), and there’s also a focus on health care (biotechnology and pharmaceutics). The service industry is also quite strong within the cities. As you move outward toward smaller towns, you’ll find more jobs related to mining, as Quebec has an abundance of natural resources.

    Fun and Entertainment in Quebec

    One of the best reasons to move to Quebec is for the culture. Because of its strong French influence, the arts community here is alive and active, and you’ll find entertainment for the whole family. Theater troubles, ballets, symphonies, music venues, and an active literary community exist here, as well as street art and performance art more typical in a European setting.

    The province is also very activity-friendly, which means everyone is encouraged to get outside and enjoy the wide-open spaces—especially in the winter, when skiing is popular. Public parks are well-tended and promote getting fresh air with biking, jogging, and recreational sports. There’s also a strong walking culture, especially as you move closer to the city centers. And of course it’s impossible to talk about any Canadian province without mentioning the collective love of hockey.

    Welcome to Quebec!

    If you’re new to the French language, life in Quebec will be a bit of a change from your usual routine. Although over half of the population speaks English in addition to French, it’s generally frowned upon for residents and visitors to assume service workers will speak English to accommodate them.

    As long as you prepare to adapt and to enjoy an entirely different way of life, moving to Quebec can be an incredible change. Get ready to immerse yourself in a new culture and enjoy a high-quality style of living while you do it!

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  • Preparing your Vehicle for a Cross-Country Relocation

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 10, 2014

    Open RoadIf you’re driving your vehicle across the country or over a long distance as part of your move, it’s a good idea to do a little prep work first. Just as you’re taking the time to properly sort and pack your belongings, so too do you want to make sure your car or truck gets to its destination in one piece.

    Since most of us fall behind on annual car tune-ups anyway, now is an ideal time to get under the hood and make sure everything is ready to start fresh in your new home.

    > Top off the Fluids: All your fluids should be full and clean. Oil, windshield wiping fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluid…either evacuate and replace them, or fill the existing reservoirs.

    > Change Oil/Air Filter: If it’s been a while since you changed your oil (or if you’re due for an oil change soon anyway), now is a good time to get it done.

    > Gauge Tire Pressure: A tire that is too full could rupture on the road. A tire that is partially flat could cause balance problems or go all the way flat mid-journey. Look at your user manual to determine the right pressure for your vehicle (if you’re moving somewhere snowy, you might also need to look into snow tires or all-purpose tires).

    > Check the Spare Tire: Although checking tire pressure should help extend the life of your tires, accidents can still happen. Double-check the spare tire to make sure it’s in good, drivable condition.

    > Ensure the Battery is in Good Repair: If your battery is old or shows signs of buildup on the terminals, you may want to replace it or clean it prior to the move.

    > Lights, Tires, Brakes: Make sure all these items are in working order. A headlight that’s out will need to be replaced. Worn tires should be updated for safety. And brakes that squeak or are hard to press should be looked at by a professional.

    > Take it to a Mechanic: If time (and automotive expertise) isn’t something you have on your hands, consider taking your vehicle to a mechanic and have them do a tune-up and road trip prep. They’ll do many of the tasks listed above for you. You can also have them do any major repairs you’ve been putting off, since nothing is worse than a car that breaks down halfway to your new home.

    > Call Your Insurance: Chances are your insurance is up-to-date and fine, but now is a good time to check your policy to make sure it covers everything you need (and that your insurance company is aware of the upcoming move). Have your insurance card stored with the registration in case you get pulled over.

    > Join AAA: You may want to join AAA or another car repair service before the move. These companies will come unlock your car, provide towing services, and offer maps for long-distance drives.

    > Clean the Interior: You can either do a deep clean yourself or hire a company to do the detailing—either way, it’s a good idea to start your trip with a clean, nice-smelling car.

    Before you leave, you may also want to pack an emergency kit. Although you should never drive with a gas can filled up in the back, buy an empty one and store it in the vehicle. You can also stock up on emergency supplies like a first aid kit, road flares, flashlights, and emergency food supplies. It’s a good idea to always travel with these things anyway

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  • Favorite Retirement Destinations

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 05, 2014

    Beach RetirementFlorida, Arizona, Mexico…when you think about settling down for retirement, there are a few locations that tend to crop up more often than others. With warm climates year-round and fairly low costs of living, these parts of the world see more than their fair share of snowbirds and retirees.

    Although there’s no limit to where you can (and should) retire, here is a list of five of some of our favorite retirement destinations.

    > Samana, Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic has long been considered an ideal place for expats to live affordably while enjoying a uniquely tropical location. Samana isn’t the most popular city in the country, but it is one of the most secluded and serene—making ideal when you just want to kick back and relax.

    > Mercer Island, Washington: If money is no object, consider a location like Mercer Island, located near Seattle. This incredibly pricey island (just a little over 6 square miles in size) is found on Lake Washington, and offers beautiful views and instant access to the city center. It’s also where you’ll find the homes of notable figures like Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft).

    > Cayo, Belize: This Central American country is an anomaly because the national language is English, and a large portion of the population is made up of retirees, expats, and other people from around the world hoping to enjoy life at a slower pace. Your money goes further here (and you might not have to exchange it, as U.S. dollars tend to be accepted almost anywhere). Cayo is widely accepted as one of the top exptat/retiree locations here.

    > Santa Fe, New Mexico: As the capital city of New Mexico, Santa Fe is a little bigger and busier than most of the locations on the list…but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. If you aren’t ready to give up the U.S. infrastructure, access to healthcare, and amenities, Santa Fe is a good place to capture the low-cost, low-key lifestyle without leaving the country.

    > Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand isn’t as warm and balmy as Belize or the Dominican Republic, and the cost of living is actually a bit higher here than it is in the United States (especially when it comes to real estate), but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a retirement here. If you want beautiful scenery, comparable quality of living, good health care, and a more laid-back lifestyle, Auckland offers the complete package.

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  • Moving from the United States to Canada: What to Know

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 03, 2014

    CanadaMost people who relocate internationally are prepared for drastic changes. Moving to Germany? Better brush up on your German and get used to public transportation. Heading to the Dominican Republic? You’ll need Spanish and less reliance on the technology and amenities you’re used to. Going to Canada? Well…have fun.

    When you move to a new country that’s similar to your own, you’re less likely to think your upcoming changes will require hard work. After all, Canada is very much like the United States, with a similar culture, similar infrastructure, and even a similar government system. However, that doesn’t mean Canada and the United States are the same. In fact, if you’re relocating to our northern neighbors, you can expect quite a few changes.

    Differences between Canada and the United States

    Overall, Canada is like a more relaxed, socially-conscious country than the United States. Whether you look at their universal healthcare coverage, their generally friendly outlook toward visitors, their ban on firearms, their year-long maternity leave policy, or their more affordable college education, the focus here is on the people first and foremost.

    For those from the United States, this can seem like a dream come true. After all, a country that looks after its people with such care is sure to be a great place to live. And for the most part, it is—but all these features come at a cost. Life in Canada is considerably more expensive than life in the United States, especially if you factor in the taxes required to support all these social systems. Jobs are also hard to come by, and unless you have something lined up before you arrive, you may find that employment is first offered to residents of the country (as opposed to expats).

    City Life versus Country Living

    Depending on where you’re moving (and where you’re moving from), you may experience a bit of culture shock inside the cities. Canada is a proud multicultural place, especially if you look at larger cities or the province of Quebec, where the way of life is much more European in style and French is the most common language spoken.

    You’ll also find that Canada is a vast country with more wide open spaces than you’re used to. The majority of people live in the cities, and if you head out expecting to drive to the nearest town, you may be surprised at how remote some areas of the country can be (especially if you head north).

    Outside of cities, you might also find it more difficult to access things like cell phone service, high-speed internet, and public transportation. This isn’t a reflection on the culture of the country so much as it is the remoteness of some of the areas.

    Making the Transition to Canada

    Moving to Canada isn’t likely to change your life the way a relocation to Europe or South America might, but that doesn’t mean things will be exactly the same. Although you can still enjoy a cup of coffee every morning (at Tim Horton’s instead of Starbucks) and access the same quality of life, the subtle differences in the way residents view the world means you may need to take things slow and start thinking about how you fit in the larger framework of a socially- and eco-conscious country.

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  • Moving to Australia 5 Favorite Expat Resources

    by Patrick Redmond | Nov 28, 2014

    Friday_Favorites-MovingtoAustraliaAn international move is a big undertaking, but that doesn’t stop thousands of Americans from taking the leap every year. From exotic tropical locations to stable EU countries with great job opportunities, moving to a new country is a great way to see the world and enjoy a bright future.

    Moving to Australia comes with quite a few perks, as well. With a growing economy, a young and multicultural population, and some of the most beautiful natural settings in the world, it’s no wonder so many people plan to put down roots here. If you’ll be making the move in the next few months, it’s a good idea to start acquainting yourself with the Australian expat experience. Here are five great websites to bookmark so you can make the most out of your time here.

    > Live in Australia: Before you start enjoying yourself, you’ll need to make sure you fill out all the proper paperwork and follow all the necessary steps to set yourself up as an expat. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection offers this page to help you sort out Visa and residency issues.

    > Working in Australia: One of the biggest reasons to move to Australia is the strong (and growing) economy. Both the IT and healthcare industries are always looking for new recruits, and you may be able to line up a job before you even arrive. This website is also full of helpful information about housing, schools, family, taxes, and banking.

    > Australia News: Get to know your new home with an online newspaper that covers everything from politics and sports to pop culture. Although you might be interested in a more regional paper once you start settling in, this nationwide paper provides a good overview without being overwhelming.

    > Aussie Relocation: This relocation website is useful because it breaks Australia down into regions. If you know the area you’ll be heading and want to learn more about specific moving information, this is a good site to bookmark and start exploring. (Moving to Australia is another good one to take a look at.)

    > Sofia na Australia: For a more personalized look at life in Australia, try a blog like this one. This website recounts the adventures of young woman who not only moved to the land down under, but spends her time exploring all the different regions and activities here.

    No matter why you intend to move to Australia, it will probably take some time to settle in. With these helpful expat guides to show you the way, you can hit the ground running and start enjoying yourself that much sooner!



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