Kim Kuchenbecker and Adam Volker are an American couple who have recently moved to Montreal from Dallas, Texas. Kim is a freelance animation concept artist, as well as an illustrator of children’s books, while Adam works as a creative director at a Montreal-based gaming studio. We recently spoke with Kim and Adam about their move to Montreal and what life is like for Americans in Canada.
Moving2Canada (M2C): Hi guys, and thanks for taking the time to speak with us. First of all, have you lived in any other country, other than the US before moving to Montreal?
Kim Kuchenbecker (KK): We have only lived in the United States up until relocating to Montreal.
M2C: OK, Could you tell me why you decided to move to Montreal?
Adam Volker (AV): It was time for our company to grow. There is an established gaming industry here in Montreal, and our company was looking to be a part of it. We came because the timing made sense for us to open up a shop inside their offices.
M2C: So, would you agree with the perception that Montreal is a hub for visual effects and gaming right now?
AV: For sure, Montreal’s film/gaming/VFX community is healthy and large! We felt like putting roots down here would allow us access to talent and the culture that already existed.
M2C: What type of work-life balance have you experienced in Montreal?
AV: I’m part of a small team, and we make our own hours. However, we work a lot, and often when I’m at home I’m still drawing stuff for work. In Montreal though, there is so much to do and see and eat!! We feel like we get to do a lot of things around the city that inspire us to keep creating.
KK: I work from home and it’s so nice to just walk outside to a coffee shop, everything is so close by. We live by the canal and I love to go there to reflect and collect my thoughts when I’m trying to figure out a design or if I just need a break. It’s much easier to take advantage of restaurants and bars because everything is so accessible. We love hiking up Mont Royal as well.
M2C: What, if any, are the major work and life differences in Canada versus the USA?
AV: The workplaces seem very similar, there are company functions, and production schedules, and weekly routines. From my observation of the larger entity, it seems pretty similar.
KK: There are so many community activities here and free festivals to attend. I’m sure every city in the US is different, but Montreal does seem to offer more opportunities to participate than other cities I’ve lived in.
M2C: Which Canadian immigration program did you apply to? Did you find the process tricky?
AV: My wife and I are here on NAFTA work permits, the application process was a breeze. We found everything to be very straightforward and clear.
M2C: Was NAFTA one of the deciding factors in your decision to move here?
AV: It wasn’t a deciding factor, it just happened to be the path we chose to go down.
M2C: Are you concerned about recent threats by President Trump to change or cease NAFTA entirely?
AV: We’re not taking anything the President says seriously.
M2C: Did you encounter any issues at the border regarding immigration?
M2C: Did you fly or drive to Montreal from the United States?
KK: We flew.
M2C: Did you have any of your belongings shipped to Canada?If so, what customs did you have to pay?
KK: We shipped some of our furniture, but few of our belongings fit into the taxable categories, so it was very little.
M2C: Did you bring your car with you?
KK: No, we had heard that Montreal has a great transit system and we were eager to try life without a car for a while. So far, it’s been great. The few times we’ve needed a car, we easily rented one and we don’t have to worry about oil changes and car insurance and upkeep during the winter.