Posts Tagged "packing"

A Check List For Packing Up Your Life

Posted on Aug 31, 2011 in Canada, England, Living Abroad | 5 comments

You’ve decided to move abroad, what next? Well before you start organizing life in Enland you will have to pack up your life in Canada. I’ve put together a check list to help you get going once you have your visa.

2 to 3 months before departure

  • Cancel memberships/subscriptions you have. Make sure to check on any penalties for early cancellations and if ask if there is a work around (transferring to a friend etc).
  • Notify utility companies of the date of your move.
  • Don’t forget to do the same with any points programs you are signed up for, in fact this may be the time to cash some of those points in for such things as your f light, thank you gifts for those that helped out, a night out to relax from all the stress.
  • Start purging stuff you don’t need.  See my previous post Packing Up Your Life for more on this.
  • If you are shipping or storing your belongings start calling around for quotes.

1 Month before departure.

  • Advise your bank and credit cards of a forwarding address and alternative contact information.
  • Start packing away those things you aren’t taking with you.
  • More purging of stuff you aren’t keeping.
  • Arrange mail redirect with Canada Post to catch anything you forgot to change or update.  Easiest thing to do with this is have it sent to a trusted friend or family member, and have them forward on anything that arrives to you once you are settled.

 Week before departure

  • Register with job agencies in the UK.
  • Test pack the things you want to bring as checked luggage on your flight.  If you are exceeding the checked bag allowance contact your airline to find out the charges for excess baggage (some airlines give you a savings if this is pre-booked on-line, so also check out the airline’s website or ask the agent about this).
  • Make sure you have health insurance in place to cover you in England if you are not on a visa that gives you access to the National Health Service (NHS)  (NHS Entitlement for overseas visitors).
  • If you have a mobile, and it will work in the UK (see previous post on this), have it unlocked by your cell phone provider. Then you will just need a SIM only contracts or pay as you go. SIM only is a good site for comparison.
  • Familiarize yourself with the going mobile/cell phone plans as you will need to sort this out in the first days of arrival.  Great sites for this are: and Carphone Warehouse.
  • Make sure you have one last hurrah (or as they say here, knees up) with your friends.

With the internet it is much easier to stay in contact than in the past, but it is still important to make sure you let people know you are leaving and how they can contact you. As well make sure you have the contact information of those you don’t want to lose touch with.

If you are bringing your cat or dog with you that will be covered in a post coming up in the next month.

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If Alexander Graham Bell Could See Us Now

Posted on Jul 6, 2011 in Canada, England, Living Abroad, Technology | 1 comment

Mobile Phones & Cell Phones


PhoneMobile phones, what would we do with out them? Love them or hate them in a new country if you are job hunting it’s a very important thing to have. You will want to hit the ground running when you arrive in England, getting a mobile phone  is the fastest way to get connected once you are there.

The system in Canada is quite different than in England, in Canada the owner of the phone pays for the outgoing and incoming calls, while in England the person who owns the phone only pays for outgoing calls.  Also the cost of buying and using a mobile phone are a lot less expensive in England.

For Canadians moving to England if you own a high-end smart phone (such as an iPhone) it will most likely work in the UK, but before you leave Canada you will need to call you cell phone provider about getting it unlocked.  This will allow you to buy a pay as you go SIM card once in the UK, and then use it in your Canadian phone.  Most GSM tri-band or quad-band phones will work in the UK. You can find information online, search for your phone model then look under specifications for network  for the details. Also check the charger can handle the voltage range of 110 – 240V and if so, you will just need a plug adaptor for the charger.

If you have a phone that doesn’t have a SIM card or isn’t compatible in the UK, not to worry, there are lots of cheap pay as you go phones easily bought once you arrive, starting from £10. Once you have been in the UK and have been working, for about 5 or 6 months you can try for a pay monthly phone.  This will tie you into a contract, so only really worthwhile for those making the move long term.

I’ve been with O2 the whole time I’ve been in the UK.  I would recommend them highly, I’ve been greatly impressed by them.  They have good coverage, great rates, and I like the bolt on’s (such as more texts, minutes, data etc.) that you can add, or take off month to month keeping things flexible.  Also the year my phone wouldn’t work Christmas Day when I tried to call home to Canada, I called their help line (which is UK based – bonus) got someone on the phone with no wait, they were very pleasant, and helpful (especially for someone working Christmas Day).  As well O2 offer priority ticket buying to their customers, a great perk (you get to buy tickets to concerts before they go on general sale). You can see the plans and phones on offer here

Another good way to check out and compare different phone plans in one place is to check one of the companies that covers a range of mobile phone companies like Carphone Warehouse.

On a personal level I seem to treat my phone differently than most of my English friends.  I don’t know if this is because I’m Canadian, or because I spent too many years in jobs where I had to answer the phone, but when my phone rings I don’t feel the unignorable urge to answer it.  Sometimes when I’m busy I don’t even look at it to see who it is calling, and when out with friends I’m with them, and unless I am expecting an important call or I’m on call for work, my phone stays away in my bag, that is until they leave the table for the toilet then I probably can be seen checking Twitter ;)

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Should I bring it? Or will it Blow Up?

Posted on May 17, 2011 in Canada, England, Living Abroad | 1 comment

Kraft DinnerShould I bring it with me?

In the previous post Packing Up Your Life I talked about packing up on a large scale.  Hopefully this post will help you when you’re packing and coming across individual items you wonder whether you should or can bring or not.  With electronics, will it work or will it blow up? Can you get your favourite products, treats etc.  in Canada/England?



Electronics (including computers & laptops)

Start with checking the back of the power supply if it says input 100 to 240V it can handle both countries (Canada is on 110V and the UK is on 220V) and all you will need is an adaptor (not a converter) so that the plug will fit into the wall socket.   The good news is most camera battery chargers and laptops these days can handle this.

If you have something electronic you want to bring to England (I brought my wireless earphones) then you can get this handy little converter from Maplin once you arrive in England for those things up to 100watts (it seems to go on sale regularly for about £15).  There are more heavy duty ones as well should you need it.

In Canada you can buy similar items from The Source, or ebay is also a good place to check (search for voltage converter).

Personal Grooming (looking good)

Some hair dryers have a switch for travelling that allow you to switch between 110 and 220 volts.  For most other things the above applies.  Those appliances with the 110/220volt switch don’t always work the same, my hair-dryer went from 3 speeds in Canada to one speed (high) in England, but it did the trick for the interim until I could buy a new one.

For me, as a Canadian I always stock up on deodorant when home, deodorant in England just doesn’t seem to work as well.  (As a side note I found this blog post by an American Expat about the use of spray deodorant amusing: Pffffffttttttt.)  They don’t have Cover Girl make-up in England, so I make sure to have my favourite blush stocked up, though if I made the effort I probably could find one I liked as much in England, there’s no shortage of beauty products here.

If you have something you can’t do without give Boots a check for the UK, and Shoppers Drug Mart for Canada, and you will get a pretty good idea of what is available.


For those moving to Canada it depends where you are moving, but most likely you will have to set aside some funds to buy a decent winter coat once you get to Canada and winter arrives, with the exception of the coastal areas of Southern British Columbia where they have similar weather to most of England.

For those moving to England it is all about layering, some days you can experience 2 or 3 seasons in a day, going from damp and cold, to the sun coming out and it turning warm and sunny. As well houses can be drafty, single panel glass windows are not uncommon.


Dairy can’t be brought into Canada from another country, I sadly found this out when my clotted cream was taken from me by customs on the way into Canada when I was returning from a visit to England (such a waste).

There are some shops (online and storefront) that specialized in selling things to expats, those things that you miss and can’t get at your usual shops. So if you find yourself in a bind with a mad craving for say Fruit Loops (Canadian)or Monster Munch (English) and don’t mind paying for it there are options out there.  Then there is the obvious, friends and family, be sure to ask your visitors to bring a few things with them.

For the Canadians in England, make sure to check out the Caribbean section in the large Tesco’s where you will find Kraft Dinner and Kool Aid at “normal” prices.  As well keep your eyes open for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my personal favourite)  and Pieces, they can be found in local shops (aka corner stores).  If  you come across Budgens they sometimes have the odd random American selection of things not found elsewhere.

For the most part if you make an effort to find it, or have a local see or try out the item from home, there will most likely be an alternative or equivalent for you.  Before you know it you will have new favourites and can’t live without items in your new country.

That leaves, pets and phones (and for the Canadian’s Tim Horton’s), well those are whole other blog posts, and they are soon to be written so stay tuned!

Here are some links to lists of banned and restricted goods:

Information on importing your personal possession when moving to Canada, or England here are the links for that:

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