Lessons Learned While Moving from USA to CANADA

 

  • Moving our employment
  • Moving our things
  • Moving our car
  • Leaving our home

 

 

Moving to Canada

 

In the autumn of 2007, we embarked on a very special chapter of our adventure: a move from Arlington, Virginia (USA), to Vancouver, British Columbia (CANADA).  The opportunity arose through a professional connection of T: why not move to Canada for 2-4 years and live and work “internationally” where we already speak the language?  After many deliberations, we came to a firm agreement and accepted the job offer. 

 

On these pages below, we chronicle some elements of the transition in the hopes that they’ll be fun to read and perhaps even helpful if you are consider making a similar jump.

 

Moving our EMPLOYMENT

 

Working in another country is both easier and harder than you might think.  For citizens of North America, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) offers some advantages (at last!).  As a U.S. citizen, T needed to obtain a WORK PERMIT in order to be paid by his new employer in Canada.  The work permit is a bit scarier than it sounds: in the end, it is a piece of paper that is folded up and stapled inside your U.S. passport.  The Vancouver airport (YVR) office of Canadian customs & immigration is able to provide the work permit.

 

T got his work permit on one of his trips to Vancouver before he started work.  At YVR, he told the immigration official that he was coming to work in Canada. They directed him to collect his luggage, leave it in a loosely defined holding area, and to get in another line to meet with an immigration official.  Arriving on the 11am from Washington, D.C., the line was only about 45 minutes long. At the teller window, T showed his OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT, NEW JOB DESCRIPTION, and U.S. PASSPORT.  The offer of employment had been carefully written by the employer.  When Canadian immigrations looked at it, they decided that since it said the position needed a Ph.D. in physics and other special qualifications, a separate “Labor Opinion” was not needed by the Canadian Labor/Markey Opinion Bureau (?).  That is, if the position didn’t look sufficiently “hard to fill” the Canadian immigrations office would need some separate evidence that hiring U.S. citizen T was really the only way to meet the employer’s needs. 

 

Once the immigration official determined that T’s job was highly specialized, she made a few calls, typed up a few things, and then printed out an official work permit.  She also gave T an invoice that he had to pay at the cashier on the way out of the office ($150 Canadian).  T’s work permit is a shiny piece of paper with a special seal embossed on it that is stapled into his passport. The one catch is that while T's offer of employment specifies a term of three years with an optional fourth year, the immigration office was unable to issue a three-year work permit. As a virgin employee in Canada, they can only trust T with a one-year trial period. In one year, T will be able to reapply and obtain a longer-term work permit.

 

We were told that NAFTA would really help E get her work permit. By virtue of being T’s marital partner, E is, we were told, entitled to a blanket work permit. When we arrived at the border late on a Friday afternoon, the customs & immigration officials at first doubted whether E could be awarded an "open work permit" based on T's. After we spoke with another official, they agreed to run it through the system. We encountered one setback: we didn't have our marriage license and with different last names, we had no way of substantiating our claim that we were legally married! Fortunately, the immigration official decided to give us each a quiz in private and when our answers matched, she concluded that we were as good as married. Thus, after less than 90 minutes, we walked out of the immigration office with a shiny new work permit for E! Her work permit read exactly like T's.

 

The final step was to apply for Social Insurance Numbers, the Canadian equivalent of U.S. Social Security Numbers. To do this, we went to the local office of "Service Canada," stood in line with our passports and work permits, and told the desk that we needed SINs. In a matter of minutes, once our number was called, we answered some questions about place of birth and what not and then we filled out a form that earned us a print-out with a temporary SIN card. Soon thereafter, about a week or so, we received plastic-coated SIN cards in the mail.

 

Moving our THINGS

 

T’s offer of employment included some funds for the reimbursement of moving expenses.  In part because of that clause and partly because we wanted to make the move less taking on ourselves personally, we explored ways to hire someone to help us move.  We learned a variety of lessons in the process.

 

CHOOSING

 

First off, moving internationally is different than moving across town and even moving across country.  We quickly found ourselves working with the big van lines (Allied, United, Bekins, Mayflower, and so on).  There was an internet moving service that we submitted a request to, and we got back numerous phone calls and e-mails from companies based in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere that were eager to help us.  We didn’t know how to evaluate such companies that were so far offshore, so we ended up ignoring them.

 

The big van lines share several features in common.

 

·         Franchises.  The big moving companies are really conglomerations of retail franchises that sell space on the big trucks.  Each little franchise has a relationship with one of the big companies, but they will employ their own unique sales peoples, packers of boxes, and packers of the moving truck.  Thus, when you are shopping around for the best moving company, your experiences will be heavily colored by the local people with whom you deal.  BUT as soon as your good get on the truck, the “driver” becomes the key party and when they arrive at the final destination, it’s some other franchise that will unload your goods and distribute them into your house.  This franchise-like business model means that the promises and expectations about how the move will take place are…compartmentalized.  We learned the hard way that the sales person, the packing team, the moving team, the driving team, and the unloading team all have different experiences, different policies, and they don’t all talk to one another.  We found it most successful to deal with the version of events presented by each person within their own expertise.  Thus, although the sales person told that all of our stuff, including full boxes from the basement would be repacked by the packing team, when the packing team told us they don’t do that without an extra day’s work and a lot of special fees, we said, “Okay, you guys are the experts!”  This local-version of reality can be trying, but its really how the business runs.  You’ll never be able to convince the driver, for instance, to do things the way the sales person told you it would happen: because the driver knows a helluva lot more about her/his job than the sale person! 

·         Estimating.  Every company worth its salt will talk to you over the phone, toss around some numbers, and then offer to make a personal visit to your home to develop a written estimate of the actual costs.  This is ESSENTIAL.  No one can tell you how much stuff you have, how much it weighs, and therefore how much it will cost UNLESS they actually see it in person.  We had three different companies visit the house and develop written estimates.  Since we weren’t taking every single thing with us, it was important to try and point to the same set of items with each estimator.  United Van Lines never sent us a final written estimate; they claimed that they had to wait for some input from their Canadian-shipping office.  Never happened, so we dropped them.  We competed Bekins and Allied against one another by reviewing the weight and box-count from each and requesting a revised that used the same set of input parameters.  Not surprisingly, the final price quotes came out quite similarly.

 

We chose to work with Allied Van Lines and their northern Virginia franchise office “Victory Van Corporation.”  Our sales dude Gregg convinced us to choose his company for two reasons.  (1) He promised us that he could make a drop-off date that was far enough away from the pick-up date for us to completer our vacation in Acadia Nat’l Park and then get to Vancouver.  (2) He is personally certified to perform something that Allied calls an “exact quote down to the penny.”  As a result, his estimate became the fixed-price for the move, aside from SIGNIFICANT deviations like adding the car to the moving list and so forth.  In our experience, his exact-quote was an advantage: we ended up having a lot more to pack because of a lot of glassware than he estimated, but that didn’t affect the price.

 

Of course, after we had signed the initial contract, we got a call from Gregg saying, “Geeze, although we are going to take your money, we cannot make the delivery date that we proposed in the written estimate without unloading the truck at our warehouse and holding your stuff from  a couple of days in Virginia. In fact, we’re going to have to charge you $700 more for this.”  We were pretty pissed but couldn’t find any other options.  In order for our stuff to arrive in Vancouver no sooner than WE would, it had to stall somewhere.  Erggh!

 

PACKING

 

We were scheduled to be packed on Thursday and loaded onto the truck on Friday.  On the Monday beforehand, we got busy, trying to separate out all the stuff which we wanted to take with us to Vancouver and all the stuff we wanted to leave in Arlington.  We put all the “stay” stuff in the basement and moved any “go” stuff from the basement to the main floor of the house. 

 

We were told to ask for a seasoned team of international packers.  We made the request to our sales dude and he responded by saying, “Yes, I’ve requested one of our best teams.”  No idea how to verify or know if that worked! When the team of two packers arrived, they took one look around and said that Gregg’s estimate was already bogus.  For instance, in a room full of bookcases and books, Gregg had suggested only two small cartons for books would be needed. After a phone call with Gregg, we were able to convince everyone that it didn’t matter: the “exact quote to the penny” meant that the packers would have to adjust their plans to our reality but it wouldn’t affect our price.  The packers spent about 12 hours at our place.  They filled more than 45 boxes, many with books, many with dishes and glassware from the kitchen. 

 

As described above, the packers ended up NOT re-packing any boxes that we had filled earlier and wanted to take with us.  This was a compromise on our part to allow the packing work to be completed in one day and because the packing skills of the team were not that superior to our own.  We also decided to pack our own electronics because we had the original boxes, Styrofoam inserts, and plastic bags.  This turned out to be helpful because it appeared that our experience with how to arrange each piece in its box was greater than theirs.  We did have the packers pack our laptop computer, docking station, cables, keyboard, and so on. 

 

During this ferocious Thursday, we spent most of our time trying to finalize the set of what goes and what stays.  We then had to pack a number of unusual shaped items that the packers seemed to be avoiding.  So although the packers were supposed to pack “everything,” we probably packed a good 15% on of the final shipment ourselves on Thursday.  Including the set of things that we packed ourselves in advance, we probably packed closer to 30% of the final shipment.  We again judged this to be a reasonable compromise; being anal with the packing team about packing every last item would’ve irritated them and we didn’t want that.  As well, since we were flurrying about trying to decide what to bring and what not to bring, we were making their jobs difficult.  So we tried to give them a bit of a break.

 

T had to work his last day in the office on Friday, the day the truck was loaded.  E and brother T supervised the truck loading.  It was smooth, immensely efficient, and very fast.  A special feature was the loading of our heirloom piano.

 

TRANSIT

 

The truck pulled away on Friday before lunch.  The story of how our move was supposed to go then took more departures from the sales person’s promises.  We again tried to grit our teeth and hang on because we needed the trust and respect from every other person down the line in the process. 

 

First, the loading team told us the stuff would be stored only one day in the local warehouse and then would board the truck to drive to Canada.  Thus, we were paying $750 for our stuff to be loaded, unloaded, and then loaded again in order to gain 24 hours of delay so that the goods would arrive after we did.  This seemed a bit silly!  (Your stuff is at greatest risk in the loading/unloading process.) 

 

Second, when we were on our vacation between the day our stuff left and the day we arrived in Canada, the truck driver called us.  A week before we were to arrive!  He told us that the goods had arrived in Vancouver and would we be able to go to customs the next day to clear them!  So not only had we paid $750 for nothing (our goods had arrived early anyway), but we had suffer an initial extra load/unload. And now that our goods beat us to Vancouver, they would have to be loaded/unloaded yet again because they couldn’t stay on the truck!  They had us over a barrel.  What could we do but agree to have them wait for us to arrive?  Our travel plans were already fixed.

 

CLEARING CANADIAN CUSTOMS

 

After we ourselves arrived in Canada, we made an appointment to visit Canadian customs. Or rather, the moving company gave us an address and a timeslot and made the appointment themselves. We went to the Canadian Border Services Agency on Dunsmuir in downtown Vancouver.  We brought our passports, work permits, our copy of the packing lists, and our notes on the whole affair.  Arriving on Monday morning at 10am, we registered at the front desk and were called within a few minutes. The border agent had a copy of the bill of lading and some customs forms from when our stuff had literally crossed the border.  Turns out that there was some error in the paperwork.  We were told that the error had to be fixed by the moving company and that we should go back home.  Somehow the transfer of the “customs-sealed” truck from the border-crossing jurisdiction (near Calgary) to the arrival jurisdiction (Vancouver) had an inconsistency.  We went back home and traded phone calls with the moving company.  Having started on a Monday, this all got sorted out 8 days later. Apparently the error was introduced by the first Canadian customs office and therefore it wasn’t anybody’s fault.

 

We showed up the following Tuesday with another appointment.  We again brought all the relevant paperwork. This time it worked. The agent looked through the packing list, asked if we had any meats or fresh plants/fruits/vegetables or alcohol and tobacco, flipped through every page, and then stamped some forms.  We got a copy of the stamped stuff and we were told that we had cleared.  Excellent!  No import duties applied.

 

UNLOADING

 

We then called the local arm of the moving company and told them that we had just cleared customs.  We scheduled a date for them to deliver the goods to our apartment.  We had one complication that reminded them of: the rented apartment was small enough that some of the stuff we had trucked would have to go into a storage unite we had rented across town. They said that would be fine.

 

On the morning of the delivery day, we get a call from the Virginia side of the Allied moving company, the folks who had “sold” the move to us. They tell us that because the apartment is on a busy street, they cannot park the full semi truck alongside the road and do the unloading. Therefore, they will have to load a smaller truck, called a shuttle, and that that will cost $700 more.  We think this is crazy—they are re-loading all of our things onto a truck from the warehouse ANYWAY, so why not just choose the smaller truck?!  We finally get in touch with the sales guy who is on way to a meeting.  We argue with him that this is ridiculous. He tells us that he remembers us assuring him that there was space to get the semi alongside the apartment.  This is patently false as we have an e-mail record of exactly the opposite—us asking THEM about how to get the goods into the house and we have explicit memory of us asking THEM about what happens if regulations don’t permit the big truck to park outside the front door.  Furthermore,  we already $750 for nothing!  The sales guy says he’ll authorize the unloading, he’ll look into the paperwork, and that he’ll get back to us.  Three weeks later, we still haven’t been charged for the $700 so perhaps we won the argument.

 

Finally, unloading can happen. A team of three guys comes with the smaller moving truck and they efficiently move everything upstairs.  They have a record of all the number-labels they put on in Virginia.  As each item goes inside, I cross it off the list. Unloading more than 200 items goes pretty fast, actually!  We uncover a few things that are obviously broken: the front brake of my bicycle is shorn off; the legs of a small plant stand are broken; a book shelf has a heavy gouge in it. But beyond that, stuff looks fantastic!  The apartment fills to the ceiling with boxes and furniture.

 

We do a run-down of the packing list and conclude that we have EVERYTHING!  The moving crew drives over to the storage unit with us in hot pursuit.  They unload the remaining goodies into the storage locker and then shake our hands and vanish…WOW.  The total unloading, in two places, took less than 6 hours.

 

It then took us about three more weeks and two more trips to the storage unit to really feel unpacked.

 

 

Moving our CAR

 

Moving our 2004 Toyota Prius (nicknamed Penelope) to Canada became a real experience.  There are some great internet resources out there, however, that slowly taught us what to do.  For many new autos, it is considerably cheaper for Canadians to travel down to the USA to purchase a new car and then drive it back home.  This steady stream of business helps keeps the internet up-to-date with advice on how to “import” your car into Canada.

 

·         Overview of the process

·         A comparable narrative blog about the process at Mobile.net

 

Many people advised us to personally transport the car across the border rather than entrusting an automobile transportation service.  In retrospect, we think was SUPERB advice. Not only was it cheaper (the shipping service would have charged a lot to do it), but it also allowed us to personally ensure that everything went smoothly.  We therefore looked for an auto shipping company that would transport our little baby from Arlington to Seattle, Washington.

 

The process broke into several steps which—after the fact—made some modest sense. 

 

·         Finding a company to transport the car to the Seattle area.

·         Trying to understand the paperwork side of the process.

·         Registering to “export” the car from the United States.

·         Meeting the car in Seattle and driving north to the U.S.-Canadian border.

·         Exporting the car from the USA.

·         Crossing the border and “importing” the car into Canada.

·         Arriving in Vancouver and “importing” the car into British Columbia, which means getting it inspected, registered, and insured within 30 days.

 

The first thing we learned was that our car needed to be “importable” to Canada.  This meant that not only did we need to confirm with the Canadian RIV that our year, model, and make of car would be acceptable on Canadian roads, but that we would need to have it inspected and approved upon arrival for compliance with Canadian safety laws.  The most important of these included the miles/kilometers readings for the odometer and speedometer and required automatic daytime running lights.  T heard from some people that having these “modifications” done to the Prius would be expensive but web research later indicated that depending on how it all went down, the changes might not only cost a few hundred dollars U.S. 

 

The next thing we learned is that the provinces of Canada all have different procedures and policies regarding the import of personal vehicles.  So, for the record, this story chronicles what we did to move a personally owned (and bought-and-paid for) 2004 Toyota Prius from Arlington, Virginia, to Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

SHIPPING YOUR CAR

 

We poked around the internet and spoke with a couple of our candidate moving companies.  Some recommended the company A to Z Auto Shipping and after reading a number of reviews on the web (most notably at www.TransportReviews.com ) and entertaining a couple of estimates, we went with them. 

 

There are a few things to realize about shipping your car.  The auto shipping industry consists of hundreds of independent truck drivers with auto/car trailers and dozens of brokers.  The brokers/distributors are the companies that you deal with at the “retail” level, but all they REALLY do is find a driver who is scheduling a trip that includes your route and has space.  Then its really up to you and the driver to make sure it all works out!

 

There is a website that will give you online estimates, but they’re a bit flimsy.  We found that shipping the car between Arlington and Seattle cost about $1,100 with an initial deposit of 10-15% that is payable by credit card. 

 

PREPARING AND THEN CROSSING THE BORDER

 

A couple of things to do in advance.

 

·         Locate the title of your vehicle.  We had lost ours, or rather, after we paid off the loan to buy the car, the bank had never sent us the title.  A phone call to the bank fixed this and we even got a formal letter stating that car was paid off and the bank had no hold on it whatsoever.

·         Talk to your U.S. insurance agent.  Be a bit careful; you would like U.S. auto insurance to cover you until you have Canadian auto insurance; the latter won’t happen until at least a few days after you drive into Canada.  So you don’t necessarily want your U.S. policy to terminate on the day you and the car leave the country.

·         Read all the paperwork and war stories in advance!

 

We hadn’t realized this, but in order to import your car into Canada, you need first to export it from the United States!  To export your car, you need to notify U.S. Customs at least 72 hours in advance of the intended export date.  For many Vancouver-bound individuals, the natural place to do the border crossing is Blaine, Washington, a little town sitting at the U.S. side of the U.S.-Canadian border.  Fortunately, the U.S. Customs office in Blaine is used to exporting cars and they have some useful information on the web.  These include a worksheet and special instructions.

 

T learned that the best way to “inform U.S. Customs at least 72 hours in advance of the export” was to fill out the Blaine/Customs forms and to scan them into a file along with the vehicle title.  He then e-mailed them to the Blaine/Customs e-mail address on Tuesday morning with a planned “export” for Friday.  The Blaine/Customs website also provides a form that you can use by e-mail to get an update on the status of your request.  We received an e-mail confirmation about 24 hours after our e-mail submission; whew.

 

We hoped to meet Penelope in Seattle.  Our train arrived at the Seattle train station on time and we took a cab down south to the “terminal” where the car was supposed to be.  On the backside of a nondescript building was a large fenced in parking lot.  Once we dug up a real person, they quickly brought the car around and let us take a look.  By coincidence, the driver who picked up the car was there, too!  The car was in great shape and the only visible change was that it was dirtier.  We then learned that we had pay the balance in CASH.  They wouldn’t take travelers checques which is really weird since they are supposed to be like cash!  Fortunately, there was a Bank of America only a few miles away.  We jumped in the car with a rep from the company, drove over to the bank, and made a cash withdrawal at the teller window and handed the money over to the guy.  We dropped him back off and then were free!

 

It was great to be re-united with our car…

 

We drove north on Highway 1 and eventually reached signs for a border crossing in Blaine, Washington.  We followed a long stream of nearly stalled traffic as we approached the U.S. side of the border.  Using our directions from the Blaine customs web site, we parked the car and walked inside with our title.  We found a short line by a window and waited for 3 minutes.  The guy took the title, pulled a file out of a drawer to compare something, and then stamped the title. That was it!  Now we were ready to “export” the car.

 

We got back in the car drove “into Canada.”  Here we told them that we were moving to Canada and bringing the car with us.  They put us in a lane of parked cars and told us to go inside.  Without any clear lines, we took a number and read some paperwork.  Eventually, we were called by someone after about a 1-hour wait.  The officer told us that since we were “temporary workers” or “non-resident workers” in Canada, we would be exempt from the Canadian national “sales” (import) tax. Wahoo!  We just had to sign the Form 1 and let him note that we had an exemption. We also got some sort of federal inspection certificate that said it was okay not to have the car meet Canadian federal standards because it was going to leave Canada with us in a finite amount of time.  After handling the other immigration issues for E (see above), ,we rode off with Penelope into our first Canadian sunset.

 

“ARRIVING” IN VANCOUVER

 

The next step was getting the car “into” British Columbia.  We visited the BC branch of the AAA and made some phone calls and learned the following.  BC requires you to register your car in the province if its there for more than 30 days.  However, we didn’t need to get Canadian drivers licenses as long as we went back to the USA every six months to renew the period of validity.  We also learned that since we didn’t own any property in BC and weren’t operating a visit, we would be exempt from provincial “sales” (import) tax.  

 

E took the car to a shop recommended by BCAA, Axel Alley, near downtown Vancouver.  There they could do the provincial inspection which would allow the car to be registered in BC.  Penelope passed EXCEPT that she needed daytime-running lights.  To get those, E made an appointment at Jim Pattison Toyota which was also a very respectable and friendly outfit.  Pattison charged us about C$350 to install daytime-running lights, which essentially means that the headlights are now always on when the car is on.  From the Toyota service shop, E and Penelope returned to Axel Alley.  There she got an inspection-passed sticker on the windshield and some forms.  

 

The next step was to get the provincial exemption from sales tax.  That involved a trip to some obscure consumer-tax office in the back of the downtown library.  E signed a hand-written letter that the officer prepared that said we did not own any BC property, were not drawing any medical benefits other than the ones that we were (?! We didn’t know what this meant, but okay), and that we would leave Canada.  The infamous Form1 was then filled out and stamped by the BC tax person.  T was also required to fax over copies of his offer of employment, work permit, and passport.

 

From there, E and Penelope picked up T and returned to BCAA.  In BC, the legally required liability side of car insurance is run by the state, so that’s the same everywhere. Comprehensive and collision insurance (so-called “private” insurance) is sold by the individual lender.  We chose to go with BCAA because we had good experiences with AAA in the USA and it seemed easier to do everything in one spot.  Working for an hour with the BCAA person, we were able to get the car registered and insured. We had to say when the car arrived, we had to surrender our Virginia state license plates, and we had to surrender the title to the car.  What we got in exchange were plain BC license plates, a printed out “registration and title” piece of paper, and a sticker saying we had paid through one year.  

 

The insurance was quite expensive; we pay about $850 in the USA per year.  In Canada, the equivalent coverage was about C$2,200!  Apparently part of it is because the liability requirements are higher and the rest is because Vancouver is the car capital of the world.  We paid for the whole thing on an American Express card to avoid the month-by-month finance charges.  We also learned that the “four year history of no claims” that we had requested form our USA agent gave us only a bit of a discount.  The BCAA person told us that eight years of claim-free history, on former insurance company letterhead, would entitle us to a 40% discount on SOME of the insurance.  We picked up a form that would help us request the proper letter from Allstate.

 

At long last, our car was legally registered and insured in British Columbia, Canada!  We called our Allstate agent in the USA the next day and told them to cancel our policy.  

 

 

Leaving our HOME

 

We decided as part of our commitment to a short-term (2-4 year) stay in Canada, we would NOT sell our home in Virginia. Rather, we chose to rent it out.  This process broke into several major steps:

 

·         MAKING THE HOUSE RENTABLE.  Repairing and improving the house and property so that not only was it as attractive as possible, but also to ensure that it would serve our tenants faithfully and reliably. We ended up doing the following:

o       Converting a first-floor half bathroom into a full bathroom with a full-size standup shower stall.

o       Replacing the aging water heater.

o       Replacing an aging kitchen gas range.

o       Replacing the kitchen faucet.

o       Touch-up painting on walls and baseboard and especially the risers of the stairs which had been marked up during refinishing work of the oak treads.

o       Scraping and re-painting about half of the exterior of the house where the previous owner’s paint job was badly cracked and peeling.

o       Replacing malfunctioning smoke detectors.

o       Repairing water-damaged ceiling tiles and window-frame boards in a one-story addition that had a past roof leak.

o       Carpeting a downstairs hallway and bedroom.

o       Trimming all the trees and bushes on the property with the assistance of a professional crew.

o       Replacing window screening on windows where the screen was either torn or old, fragile, and dirty.

·         FINDING TENANTS.  We chose to work with a professional real-estate agent to help rent out the house. We saw an advantage in having a professional involved because they would bring experience that we didn’t have, because they might be able to manage the property while we are away, and because we wanted access to the higher-paying crowd of tenants who would be working with agencies to find housing.  We interviewed two agents, chatted with our neighbor who is also a real-estate agent but doesn’t do rentals, and made our selection. 

·         LEAVING.  This was perhaps the hardest part!

·         “MOVING” OUR PLACE OF MAIL/FINANCIAL ACTIVITY TO CANADA.  This was perhaps the most annoying part of the whole process.  Nearly every single bank account, credit card, and so on that allowed us online access to the account would NOT ALLOW a mailing address outside the United States.  Some of these institutions would allow us call them and they would either use a backdoor (some sort of hack to squeeze the information into a U.S.-address-based set of fields) or would say that they could store it properly but couldn’t display it properly on the website.  Once we changed everything over to the new mailing address, we realized we’d made a mistake.  We no longer had a U.S.-based credit card with which to buy things on the web from vendors who don’t allow non-USA billing addresses!  ERGGHH.  So we changed one U.S.$ credit cad back to a U.S. mailing address, one of our parents.  This way we could still buy and pay for online order that, for instance, we were shipping to other people as gifts.  Forwarding our mail to Canada was even worse.  Not only did the US Postal Service tell us that they could not forward mail “overseas,” but only first-class mail is forwarded. GREAT.  We had our stuff forwarded to a friend in Virginia and gave him pre-addressed priority mail envelopes with customs declarations.  It turns out that we needed to insist on tracking services because there is simply no incentive for the USPS and the CanadaPost to work together…one envelope of mail took three weeks to get from Virginia to Vancouver and no one knew where it had been or why.  And they didn’t care!

 

Anyway, in summary, the move required a lot of planning and coordination and elements were certainly stressful  But we owe tremendous thanks to many people for making it such a success.  THANK YOU!!