Russ and Sarah are a British couple with two small kids who moved to Canada in 2015 to a small town called Squamish, British Columbia, an hour outside Vancouver. Here we ask them why they chose Canada, what their biggest expectations and challenges were, and what they love about their new life here.
Why did you choose Canada?
Many reasons… Family connections to the place (my grandfather was Canadian so I have family dispersed across the country). Also, we had lived here from 2003 to 2006 and always felt it wasn’t a long enough period to appreciate the country. When the opportunity to launch our online business presented itself, we took it.
Aside from the opportunity the main reason was for the way of life, cultural attitudes and outstanding natural environment. We’re an “outdoorsy” family and Canada offers us that, and more. Four spectacular seasons, endless outdoors activities and pursuits, plus a safe place for our kids to grow up in. It was a no-brainer.
What were your biggest expectations when moving to Canada?
That we would be able to achieve all of the things highlighted above, plus create a family home here. We knew that Canada could offer an incredible lifestyle experience, and for the most part, it has proved true. My wife and I hike, ski, mountain bike, trail run. Our kids are learning the same – enrolled in ski school, learning to ride the trails, exploring the great outdoors.
Has your experience so far matched expectations?
Our expectations have been met and, if anything, the reality of life here is better than we hoped for. We have a lovely home and live in a community that has exceeded our expectations in terms of the people, lifestyle and the way it is developing. Our business is growing, we’re putting down roots, we see family on a fairly regular basis, and we’re creating new experiences every day.
What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Leaving a home and network that we had built over the years. Even though we knew the relocation would be a positive one, we were moving internationally with two kids under the age of five and it was difficult without that support in the early months, particularly as we arrived at the tail end of winter.
Also, launching the business here proved harder than we realised, as people didn’t know about us and we were time-poor because of buying a new home, looking after the kids, basically integrating into the community. We didn’t have the time to network in Vancouver and the surrounding communities so the business struggled in the early months and our finances took an unexpected hit.
What would you have done differently?
Ideally, we might have moved in the Canadian summer, rather than winter. It’s a better time of year, the kids have free reign outside, and people are generally more active. It might have been an easier time to move and without the immediate cold and flu scenarios!
Also, we might have waited until our youngest (six months old when we moved) was slightly older and then the transition could have been easier. While we weren’t under any time pressures when moving, we did want to get out here ASAP and took a chance on moving with her at that young age.
What do you love about your new life here?
The fact we live in an outdoor adventure playground! There are literally so many activities you can get involved in here and there’s no chance of ever being bored. I think back to former lives and places I lived and wonder how I ever survived the monotony and boredom of the routine we had. We have a beautiful multi-cultural city situated only 45 mins away along one of the world’s most scenic highways, and we can jump on a plane and be in Hawaii or Mexico in a matter of hours.
Another great aspect to life here is the attitude of the people. They are adventurous, open to opportunity, passionate about life, welcoming, and devoted to their families and friends. There are like-minded people all around us.