Natalie is a British expat who moved to Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children for better opportunities for the family. Although she misses her family and friends back home, she is enjoying small-town life and feels safer than she was in London.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: London, England.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.
Q: How long have you lived in Cambridge, Ontario?
A: We’ve been here in Cambridge for 21 months now.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: Yes, my husband and two kids aged 17 and 5 years old
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: Mainly, we moved to Cambridge because of better opportunities for our children.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Cambridge? How is the quality of life?
A: Most of all Cambridge feels much safer than the streets of London, England and it is also small enough to get around easily.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Cambridge is a bit of a small town sometimes but I generally I like it most of the time. I miss my family and friends, the carvery and the cost of basic groceries being lower in the UK.
Q: Is Cambridge safe?
A: Yes Cambridge is very safe.
About living in Canada
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Cambridge as an expat?
A: I am not too sure but I think it depends on what the individual is looking for and at what stage of life they are at. The suburbs are great for a family like us.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Cambridge?
A: Our home in Cambridge is lovely. It is a three bedroom, two bathroom house in a nice cul-de-sac. It is very comfortable compared to where we lived in England.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Cambridge compared to London? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Costs are about the same. I find that essentials like a roof over your head are more reasonably priced but luxuries like cell phones and cable TV are expensive. Also car insurance is a killer – it is like being 17 again.
Q: What are the locals like in Ontario; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: We love the locals here in Cambridge. They are very friendly especially if you have children – they love kids here and hold them high esteem.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends in Cambridge?
A: Yes, but we did have to put ourselves out there otherwise no one would have known who we were. We started to meet people by going to church and it has been great from there on.
About working in Canada
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit for Canada?
A: We got our permanent residence before we got here but it took three years, which was enough time to finish our studies, sell the house and get used to the idea of leaving England.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city is there plenty of work?
A: There is work out there but not as many opportunities as you would like. You can get a job but you may just be over qualified for it.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: I often feel like I am living in a time warp here as it is about 15-20 years behind London. Some systems here in Canada are ancient so it can be frustrating at times.
Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: No. We did everything for the move to Canada ourselves.
Family and children
Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home here in Cambridge?
A: Not really. He loved the adventure of moving to a new place.
Q: Did your children settle in easily to life in Cambridge?
A: Yes they did. I am pleasantly surprised.
Q: What are the schools like here in Canada - any particular suggestions?
A: The schools here in Canada seem good but I don’t really have any advice. My five year old attends full time kindergarten from 9am-3pn and then goes to an after-school club until 6pm which makes it convenient for us as we can get there after work.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Canada?
A: So far the healthcare in Canada has been OK and pretty much the same as in the UK. The isn’t much difference except that I hear you have to pay for the ambulance if you need to call one out in an emergency.
Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals to Canada?
A: Yes. It can take a while to settle here in Canada and the road can be rocky, but stay the course if you can. I hear it takes three to five years to really settle down and find your feet. We are still newbies and miss our family and friends a lot, especially when times seem tough. Also make sure you have a healthy bank balance if you are not walking into a job and support – life is not cheap here in Ontario at all. We are now trying to save the money we used to make the move and settle in Cambridge – we spent a lot. Good Luck and it is worth the adventure – well it was for us anyway!
~ Interviewed July 2012