Wednesday, May 21, 2008


On Thursday (May 15), after almost missing the train (!) to Vancouver in the morning, [oh, and yes, FOB = Fresh Off the Boat, which is an expression, and FOT = Fresh Off the Train, which I made up for Alan and me], MISSION ACCOMPLISHED (and for real, not like that lying S.O.S.): We signed a lease on an apartment!

It's in the building where I had contacted management over the phone and she said that they would have no problem getting our U.S. credit report. Here's the funny thing: I came "armed" with copies of our U.S. credit reports, printed information on contacting our current apartment management, printed information on verifying our current employment, bank statements, personal references ... you get the idea ... and she barely looked at any of it. I think that because I had everything so prepared and was eager to share it, she had a good impression. And rather than our coming from outside counting against us, I think it helped. She seemed to know that we couldn't have been accepted as P.R.s unless we were financially prepared and ready to get employment. And I think that our being from the States impressed her, which I felt a little guilty about.

The down-sides: signed for June 1 so paying rent on two places for the same month, smaller apartment, no washer/dryer in unit, rent 20% more, high-rise building

The up-sides: cats can come with! management is way cool! corner apartment = more light and cross-breeze! and .... location, location, location!

When we had scouted around in the past to see where we might want to live, we picked a neighborhood. We even centered on an intersection that we would measure distance from in looking at prospective places. OUR NEW BUILDING IS STEPS AWAY FROM THAT INTERSECTION.

If you live the carless lifestyle, you understand that blocks matter. I can and do walk miles every day; I like it and it helps keep my weight (and psyche) under control. But schlepping groceries and pet supplies is another story; each block adds a point to the misery index when repeated day in and day out. We will be living next to a supermarket, London Drugs, and pet supply store. Our post office and bank branch are only a few blocks away. In terms of recreation, we're just blocks away from water/beach, Stanley Park, and tons of shops, bars and eateries.

The West End is a diverse (lots of young people, lots of old people, lots of Asians, South Asians, gays) neighborhood on the downtown peninsula. It's full of life and we're very excited to be living there.

And, of course, we'll be neighbours (I'm getting used to the "U"s; give me time) of "West End Bob" and "drf."

We're going with a local Vancouver mover who is willing to haul out to Seattle and back (same-day move). It won't be cheap, but it is in the range we expected. We're looking at June 20 as the last day at our jobs in Seattle and June 25 as moving day.

Can you believe this?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I feel a little childish being so excited about this: We have our Permanent Resident cards in hand! They actually arrived in Vancouver two or three weeks ago, but last night we could touch and stare at them (which I have done a lot). I know that in the official process, this isn't really a milestone, but emotionally it really feels like one. It's hard evidence that we've achieved what we've been working on for almost three years.

The cards are amazing technologically; I've never seen so many and so high-tech features. There are engravings, holograms, micro-writing, overlapping text/design, redundancies and a mag strip that seems very different from the ones on our credit cards. The photo (oddly, in black and white ??) is copied on the back of the card twice -- once on the mag strip itself. The name and date of birth appear in multiple locations. Many items can only be seen when held at a certain angle. There's so much going on, like images of the flags of all 13 provinces/territories are on the mag strip! Anyway, the cards are way cool. Woo hoo!

We're running up to Vancouver for the day on Thursday to look at apartments and maybe even sign a lease. One building in particular is in a perfect location and it will allow our cats. It will be a whirlwind tour as we're both still working and just taking the day off. We'll spend more time on the train than in the city. If we make progress in finding housing, it will be well worth it.

I was very anxious about who would rent to us, given that we have no history in Canada. After speaking with the management of one of the buildings, I was relieved. She is able to run a U.S. credit check and our being F.O.B. (or F.O.T. in our case) didn't seem to phase her at all. I had gotten it into my head that somehow we'd really have to fight and plead; it seems more like they want to rent to good tenants than they're looking to reject people capriciously.

Still, we're going in prepared: copies of our U.S. credit reports, bank statements, information on how to verify our current employment and reference from our rental management company of the past ten years in Seattle. (We even dug up a letter from our last landlord in New Orleans, but I think that's a bit much -- and we're not really sure how to reach him any more or even if he's still kicking.) While it's difficult juggling between two cities, I feel so much more confident and secure looking at rentals while we still have jobs and a place to live.

One of the units we're hoping to look at is available July 1; that would work great. Still, if it looks like the right thing to do, we will sign a lease starting June 1 and live with the overlap. I'm not thrilled at paying rent on two places for the same month, but knowing we have a fixed home in Vancouver is worth it. (Repeat to self ten times.)

A week ago Saturday, I mailed the application for the (post B.A.) college program that will get me my Canadian teaching credentials; it starts July 7.

I spent a day calling movers. There are four categories: local company Seattle or Vancouver (1 & 2) and national affiliate U.S. or Canada (3 & 4). Even though I tried to weed them out before calling, some movers didn't want the job. (They hate crossing the border. One didn't say they wouldn't do it, they just gave me a really high quote to make me go away.) Also, there are three different approaches: same-day, next-day, and consolidated (multi-household) it-will-take-weeks. Cost estimates vary wildly, from what we expected to twice what we expected and maybe we should just ditch everything and start over.

As of now, the local Vancouver company wins hands down. Their quote was reasonable (what we expected, although he thought it would give me a heart attack), same-day move, and willing to meet us at the border for customs (in fact, very pleased that we're willing). Plus, I really do prefer to work with a locally-based operation as opposed to national affiliate and with a company whose home is where we're going (not where we're from -- in case there are any problems, it seems like it would be better). Once we have a destination address, we can book a move date and give a deposit. I was worried at giving the movers less than three months' notice -- but he was thrilled at the prospect of getting three weeks. (I guess a lot of folks are last minute?)

I don't know if you can read between the lines, but there's a lot of, um, freaking out you're not seeing (reading). I really had built things up in my mind and I think this can be an "I told you so" moment for L-girl: I think part of it was reading negative stories on the immigration lists. Once I got started (breathe, breathe) making calls and such, I realized the (Canadian) world was not out to get me. This move can happen and maybe without the trials of Hercules. (I think I'm mixing my metaphors and mythology). So, I'm calmer. That's a relative term. I still have the occasional panic attack in the wee AM hours.

Right now, I can't believe how fortunate we are. Horrible, terrible things are going on in the world, some (most?) human-caused, some not -- and we're healthy, educated U.S. citizens moving to Canada. I feel spoiled. And I want to work, albeit in some very small way, to help makes things better. I've been thinking about where I'd like to put my energy in that regard once we're settled Vancouverites. That's another post.

Thanks for reading.