How did we get here? Part 2 – Househunting and packing

I had no idea how hard that first post about how we got to Calgary would be for me to write.  Even when I was trying to do it with little emotion, it was surprising to me how much of that is still so fresh. The rest of the story is different and not as difficult, but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write it out until now. Looking back, it was just such a stressful time for both of us.

We had visited Calgary for Ken’s interview, he loved the company, we did lots of driving around Calgary and found we liked the city.  Then we flew home to wait for their offer.

At that point, we had no idea if they would make him an offer that would really make it feasible to move to Calgary.  It seemed to take forever and it was like being in a sort of limbo, when in reality, it probably only took about 2 weeks. And I’ll just say that when they finally sent him their offer, he finally felt like someone recognized and respected his experience, education, and what he could bring to the table. We were both so happy that something finally seemed to be going our way, and he accepted immediately.

I started searching online to find information about moving to Canada, and it seemed like I found conflicting information everywhere.  Eventually, I did find what I needed, but it was all so confusing Apparently, you can pay people to help you, but of course, we never take the easy road on anything.  I was most concerned when I found a page saying that there was a limit to how much yarn you could bring with you.  That was the first time I really panicked about the whole move!

I called to make sure and (thank goodness!) that rule about yarn didn’t apply to “Settlers”, according to the agent I spoke to.  She called us “Settlers”!

We were SETTLERS!

I can’t even tell you how happy that made me!  I was suddenly Laura Ingalls Wilder moving to an unknown wilderness!

Of course, I knew that Calgary was a modern city, but it was still a new adventure for me.  Thinking of it that way made the whole thing much more thrilling for me and considering all of the forms I would have to fill out in the process, I needed that perspective.  I’m sure she never had to fill out declaration forms for unaccompanied items, but I felt we were kindred spirits anyway. It took me back to the Girl Scout trip I took in high school crossing North Dakota on a wagon train.

Our first order of business was finding a place to live.  We couldn’t afford to fly up again to look, so we had to do everything online.  Thank goodness for Google Maps and street view!  It actually took a lot of hunting to find something we liked that was in our price range. Calgary is an expensive place to live, but again, it was worth the wait.  We found a house to rent with a beautifully landscaped yard, a fantastic sun room, and even a jacuzzi tub (whee!)! And the owners are the nicest people, who even supplied us with firewood to last all winter and told us we could plant anything we wanted in the yard!

The hardest part though, was the packing.  It’s always the packing.

I hate packing. Hate it.  I cry at some point over all the packing every single time we move.

We hadn’t unpacked from when we moved at the beginning of April.  And at first, we thought that would make it easier.  But it turned out that we had to unpack and repack every box because one of the forms I found was an inventory of our belongings.

That’s right…according to the forms and the website, we had to itemize everything we owned in order to bring it with us.

Oh. My. God.

It felt never ending.  It also makes you think twice, and sometimes three or four times, about each and every item you own.  Do we really need this Avon beer stein?!  How about this lone, broken bookend?  Yeah…you see what I mean?  Things you accumulate over the years and never even notice, quickly become ridiculous millstones around your neck.

Luckily, this was another point where I called to make sure and no, we didn’t have to actually list 20 pairs women’s socks, 22 pairs men’s socks, etc….we were told we could list x boxes of clothes, x boxes of books, and so on.

But, when you know a customs agent has every right to open every box and look through all of your belongings?

I’m okay with that agent seeing my 15 bins of yarn and assorted unfinished knitted items, really…I am.  But that box labeled “Junk” filled with random, shorted out cords, broken off pieces of things we no longer owned, that weird plastic thing you’re sure you’ll need someday, and other equally useful things?  Well, that thought was too humiliating to bear, so out it all went.  There’s nothing like moving to another country to make you prioritize!

Yarn first, everything else after!

We shopped around for moving companies, but they were all crazy expensive. I almost thought it would cost less to just dump everything we owned that didn’t have sentimental value and then re-buy it all when we moved. At last we decided on using PODS. It meant we had to load and unload everything ourselves, but it was so much cheaper.

In the end, it took us about a week longer to get everything unpacked, re-packed, itemized, and then loaded into the POD, but it was done. Finally. There was a lot of swearing and a lot of crying. Mostly from me.  Okay, pretty much ALL from me, but it was done and packed up and ready to go. And all that was left was to clean up the apartment, pack up the car and be on our way.

To Be Continued in Part 3 – Heading to Calgary.

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7 thoughts on “How did we get here? Part 2 – Househunting and packing

  1. Great post! I too moved from the US to Canada and I love it here in Calgary! Climate wise it is close to that of Colorado where I am from so I didnt have too much to adjust to. I had to laugh about your itemizing everything story as I had to do that too only I didnt realize I had to do that until the day we left-So as we packed it all in the UHaul I was typing up the list and much to my surprise when we arrived at the border in a snow storm of course…The border cops didnt even check my belongings but at least I was prepared as I did have to give them my list. Good Luck with everything! 🙂

    1. Thanks! Yeah, we wrote it all out as we packed and so I was typing it all up as we were driving from Denver to the border. There’s so much more to moving across a border than I would have ever dreamed. It got much funnier when we were turned back at the border because I trusted Ken to take care of the guns…but, that’s a story for another day, hahaha!

    1. It turned out that there isn’t a limit on the amount that Settlers can bring. You just have to itemize and list a value for everything. As long as everything is on that list, you can bring it and not have to pay duty. If it isn’t on the list, you might have to pay duty on it. The limits I found that confused me were on the things that people import for sale.

      Oh, there are limits on certain things like alcohol and tobacco, though. If you go over, you would have to pay a duty on that, too. It isn’t terribly much, though. It’s actually cheaper to buy some alcohol in the US and then pay the duty on it when you come into Canada than it is to just buy it here in the first place.

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