When planning a move to Canada, we talk a lot about settling in to your new surroundings, and how to make the most of your new home.
One area that’s often overlooked is how to round off, however temporarily, your existing life in your home country.
From work, to bills, there are lots of things you can do to make that part of the process easier. The last thing you want is to be chasing things from many time zones away, or getting up in the middle of the night to ring a call centre during their office hours.
Here are our tips to help you wrap up your life back home. You should also take a look at this essential checklist for things you can do pre-departure that will give you a head-start in your new life once you arrive in Canada.
We also highly recommend you keep up-to-date with latest immigration developments – as anyone will tell you, changes happen regularly that can affect your move.
You can do this by downloading our Getting Started Guide to get our free immigration and settlement guide, which will opt you in for free, relevant updates into your inbox.
1. Selling your car? Put the wheels in motion early
Up to four months before leaving
You’re probably going to want to sell your car for the highest price possible. Every extra dollar is another opportunity to have fun when you’re travelling.
To do this, you’re going to need to attempt to sell it as early as possible. Allow a few months if you can, to give yourself every opportunity to get a good price for it. You can always slowly lower it as your departure becomes closer.
Remember: the only way you’ll sell it quickly is by selling it for way less than it’s worth. Try to avoid putting yourself in this situation.
2. Get rid of your things gradually to avoid stress
Up to three months before leaving
Have lots of clothes you won’t be taking with you? Can’t find a family member to mind your 42-inch TV? No longer have a need for your PS4?
Don’t leave getting rid of all of this until the last minute. It can sometimes take a few attempts to get a stall at a flea market to sell your clothes, accessories and DVDs. It can also take time to find a genuine buyer for your goods online.
Ignacio, on our Facebook page, writes:
“Don’t be afraid to get rid of tons of useless stuff – 95pc of what we own is disposable. The rest can be given to friends or put in a storeroom. When I came back, I realised most of what I kept was just as useless as what I had thrown away. I blame nostalgia.”
Put aside some time each weekend to tend to all of this. Not only will it ease the number of cars you’ll fill when you eventually have to pack up and move out of your home, but your bank balance will hopefully be much better off for it too.
3. Ask for your tax forms
30 days before leaving
Gather any tax forms relating to the termination of your employment (e.g. a P45 in the UK and Ireland). You can request these from your employer.
This will prove useful if you’ve overpaid income tax and need to claim this back at the end of the tax year.
For example, an employee who’s paid monthly may have had their annual tax credit divided by 12 and had this amount deducted from their tax liability each month.
So if this employee left their job in July, they may have overpaid tax as five months of their tax credits were never applied.
Having these tax forms organised and in your luggage will make claiming back over-payments much easier, when the end of the tax year comes around.
You should also call your local tax authority, or consult a professional accountant, before your departure to discuss any questions you might have relating to your specific circumstance. It’s easier to do this while at home than from Canada.
4. Cancel subscriptions – all of them!
30 days before leaving
You’ll likely cancel the obvious utilities, like electricity and gas, and your internet and TV subscriptions. That part is easy. Do bear in mind though that some of these will require advance notice, such as 30 days.
Are you as likely to remember the smaller subscriptions, like the annual charge for your local public bike scheme, or Netflix? Possibly not.
It’s a good idea to go through your bank statements and look carefully for any subscriptions you may have overlooked.
If you’re keeping your home bank account open, the last thing you want is to check in out of curiosity six months into your trip, and discover you’ve been running a costly overdraft for services you haven’t been using.
5. Sort out your mobile phone
20 days before leaving
If you’re on contract with your mobile phone operator, you may need to give them 30 days of notice that you intend to cancel.
Consider allowing ten days or so to get yourself set up in Canada with a bank account and a mobile phone, as you may need to have a bank account sorted to set up a direct debit to get the phone.
Look into what roaming offers your home provider can give you for your first few days in Canada. For example, Vodafone in Ireland have a plan whereby €2.99 a day gets you access to unlimited minutes and texts, and 200MB of data.
So call them 20 days or so before you leave, and tell them you’d like to switch to pay as you go. This means you can keep your number at home, bearing in mind that you may need a nominal top-up every six months just to keep the number active.
Also – if your phone needs to be unblocked by your network, bear in mind that this can take around ten days. To save yourself the hassle of potential follow-up calls from abroad, arrange this while you’re calling them 20 days before you leave.
If you’ve an old phone lying around, bring this with you so you can put your home SIM into it and check for messages periodically without having to take SIMs in and out of your main phone. Alternatively, you’ll get cheap dual SIM ones on Amazon.ca for around CA$20.
6. Redirect your post
Seven days before leaving
Make arrangements so that essential mail isn’t missed. If you’ve overlooked some utilities, if there are issues with your tax, or if your bank needs to contact you, it’s likely they’ll use the postal service to do so.
If friends or family are taking over your rented accommodation, ask them to keep an eye out for any letters that may arrive for you.
Alternatively, you may want to consider postal redirection. Your local postal service can arrange this for you, usually for a fee.
For any utilities that you’ll be keeping while you’re abroad, for example your home bank account, make sure you update your address to one of a trusted friend or family member.
Other advice from the Moving2Canada community
We asked the Moving2Canada community on Facebook to share their advice. Here are some of the tips they told us.
Phoebe: “Leave all your paper work in a file with mother! Bills, banks, car insurance, certificates, medical info, insurance, employment history, tax info etc.”
Cathy: “Tell the Student Loans Company and Inland Revenue too.”
Lucas: “Keep very good records of your superannuation.”
Eilidh: “Definitely sort out financial things, such as transferring pensions you have paid into or student loans you are still paying off.”
Blanaid: “I left everything last minute and it was the most stressful experience ever! Start a few months before – not weeks!”
Siobhan: “Don’t bring anyone to the airport.”
Remember: these are guidelines – all information, including timeframes, will depend on your individual circumstance. We encourage you to contact relevant third-parties for specific, individual advice.