Monday, December 19, 2016

First Weeks in Canada

Upon arrival in Vancouver, Clem and I were met simultaenously with the excitement of possibilities and the overwhelming list of things that need to be accomplished within a short time when moving to a new place.

We had temporary accommodation sorted courtesy of Couchsurfing (Shout out to Taz, the best host anyone could ask for) which gave us a bit of freedom in our first few days to get the rest sorted at a relatively leisurely pace.

We were exceptionally lucky with how smoothly everything went for us after our arrival. Our first real day, we stopped in at a Service Canada centre and had our S.I.N's (basically Canada's version of a social security number) sorted in less than an hour, got bank accounts set up through TD who offer 0 fees (North American banks suck for fees, they sting you wherever they can) for the first 6 months on any account for people who are new to Canada and started our search for permanent housing.

After combing through padmapper, kijiji and craiglist for suitable places within our price range that looked to be in accessible areas of the city, we fired off a few messages and setup a couple of viewing times. Everything had been so easy for us so far and everyone had lived up to the stereotype of Canadians being nice that we were beginning to get suspicious. Surely, something had to give sooner or later. It didn't. The first place we viewed was perfect for us. A downstairs but not basement suite with our own bathroom, kitchen and well sized bedroom and our own outdoor access in a house with 5 other people. Basically it was a private space with the option to come and go through our own door without having to go into any of the rest of the house if we didn't want to, but also living with a bunch of great people so plenty of social opportunities too.

The next day we officially moved into our new place which came unfurnished. Again resorting to kijiji and craigslist we quickly found someone who sold ex-display and ex-hotel beds on the cheap and was willing to drop us off a queen mattress and boxspring to our door for about $100. The bed was perfect, the mattress super comfortable and clean and the guy who dropped it off helped us get it set up as well.

With long term accommodation sorted in a spot that was 5 minutes walk from the skytrain (Vancouver's metro train network, basically their version of a subway) and only a handful of stops from downtown, the only thing left to do was get work sorted. Clem and I both signed up to a few recruitment agencies with the hope of finding the odd bit of temp work to pay our bills until we found something long term.

I got in touch with a moving company and as well as a bit of labour work through agencies, I got the odd day on the trucks. Highlights from that experience include moving a multi-millionaire out of a North Vancouver waterfront mansion, and moving a small flying company's gear out of one hangar into another one at Vancouver airport, which involved handling a lot of small aircraft components. Clem also picked up the odd day of work doing various office tasks for different companies.

Before we had left New Zealand, I'd received a message on Couchsurfing regarding work. I'd posted on Couchsurfing the rough details of our trip which is how we managed to get a host for our first few days. Someone had sent me a message telling me to get in touch with them once we were in Vancouver with regards to call centre work. At the time I'd sort of written them off as one of those door to door type direct marketing companies where I'd be stuck cold-calling people all day trying to get them to donate to charity and getting paid by pure commission. They'd left me the name of the company and a brief description of what they were all about. The reason they'd sent me a message was because their call centre serviced their Australian customers and they were after people with Aussie and Kiwi accents for authenticity.

In the end after reading through information about them and hearing about some of the things they offered ($13.50 an hour as a training wage for the first month and $16.50 after the first month plus an incentive structure based on performance, free beer every 2nd friday, only taking inbound calls) I decided to give them a call and started working there in April, approximately one month after arriving. Not long afterwards, Clem was assigned to a job through one of her temp agencies who liked her enough to keep having her back and ended up there full time for the rest of our time in Vancouver. Essentially within our first month, we had everything we needed to be comfortable for the entirety of our 7 month stay in Van, not too shabby.

In our first weeks of Canadian life, we were met with Canadian loveliness in all its glory, managed to get ourselves set up in permanent accommodation with ease and had no trouble finding work. Massive thanks to everyone who helped us out in our early days in Vancouver especially Taz for hosting us in Richmond for our first week, Tyler for being awesome and welcoming us into an awesome house and Brendan along with all of the fantastic work people who made my life in Vancouver very easy.

My next post here will be about call centre life in Vancouver, with the world's largest junk removal company.

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