In a period of my life otherwise blighted by less than fantastic days, there has been some good news. After 21 months, we have been given the green light by Canada (yes, all of Canada have approved this) to submit our documents in order to gain residency.
For the uninitiated, Canada has a points-based immigration system. The first step is ascertaining on your own if you have enough points to potentially gain entry. If you do, there is a three page application form to complete, but no other documentation to submit at that time. We were told that that process would take about four years to complete. Our initial impression was that it was horribly long to wait, so now that this letter came through last week in half the time it has thrown us into organisational disarray.
Four years was daunting, but it at least would give us the opportunity to save some money (at least while the pound is still worth something). Our documents - financial, criminal clearance, proof of education and professional experience, etc - are due early in February. It's possible that if we are approved we could be moving in less than a year and I am bloody terrified.
This is the part where it gets a bit embarrassing. I've not spent any more than 3 days in Canada. I once crossed the border from Maine into New Brunswick when I was 12 courtesy of a family road trip. We stayed in a ratty motel in America's Hat, I swam in a frigid pool, and recall an abundance of Twin Peaks-style pine trees. About 7 years ago The Dude and I drove from Philly to Toronto and spent two nights in the city. We loved the drive up there, and enjoyed our time in Toronto considerably. Thus endeth my Canadian Experience.
One may wonder why we want to move 4000 miles away, again, to a country in which we've spent a collection of fleeting moments. Perhaps one has already been driven comatose by this appallingly boring post, in which case, it's doubtless you give a shit whether I choose to live in England, the US, Canada, or Lesotho. Regardless, I shall given you my reasons.
The Dude is British, I am American. It is far too expensive for us to have the lives we want in the UK. We both are educated, have good jobs, and work very hard. The Dude had the good fortune to be left a flat by his nan when she died, so we are even higher up on the property ladder than a lot of people in their early 30s (The Dude is actually in the twilight years of his 30s). Despite this, we will still never be able to afford anything more than a tiny, three bedroom terraced house with a patch of grass masquerading as a garden. Yes, yes, someone will surely point out that in certain areas you can afford more. I lived in a shady part of this city when we first moved here, and I won't compromise that again. A series of broken windows, 8 year olds telling adults to "fuck off", and a dead pigeon thrown on the doormat of my interior door in my block of flats was enough to ruin it for me. Go figure.
In Canada, we can afford a lovely big house with plenty of land for P to explore. I want her to have a childhood like mine - building tree houses, wading in creeks, and collecting bugs. That sort of life cannot be lived by us here. It can be in the States, but even with the promise of a new government it's still too much of a clusterfuck for us to make that gamble. I can't imagine going from nationalised healthcare here, to paying absurd amounts for shoddy coverage in the States.
I think a lot of people will judge us for jumping in blindly, but I'm confident it will all work out. I've spent nearly 7 years living in a different culture, and I'd be lying if I were to pretend that I'm not looking forward to returning to certain aspects of North American living.
Since I am ever-so-slightly clueless, I want to know your opinions on Canada. Our preference is Ontario, as it is close enough to my family without being too close, and since we liked our brief drive through it, it seems the logical place to land. We want to be near a city, Toronto, Ottawa, whatever. We're not keen on extreme rural living, but conversely suburban subdivision hell makes me want to gauge out my eyes with slivers of a rusted tin can. That is to say, I'm not a fan of such places.
Lest you think I'm a complete ignorant asshole, I know all about Canadian real estate thanks to my many years of internet research. My Canadian geography isn't too bad either as a result. Also, yes, I understand that knowing about Canadian houses isn't usually enough to build a life around. I feel I should mention that before some wisenheimer boldly points it out in the comment section.
So Canada...what's it all aboot, eh?