Moving to a new country can be exciting, fun, complicated, confusing, stressful and wonderful. In fact, there are dozens of words you could use to describe an international relocation, but “easy” is probably not one of them. Even moving to Canada—a country with an exceptionally high quality of living and a notoriously friendly population—can be challenging. And that’s why ARIANNE has been offering Canadian Relocation Services for over two decades.
What are Relocation Services?
Unless you’ve moved to a foreign country before on an international assignment, you may not be familiar with Relocation Services, also known as Destination Services. Individuals seldom take advantage of these services when they move to another country. Most don’t even know about them or realize how valuable and necessary they can be.
Essentially, Relocation Service involves taking our clients by the hand, sometimes quite literally, showing them the lay of the land, and making them feel welcome in their new country. It means that strangers and newcomers have a friend at their side and an advocate they can trust. We see to it that people coming to Canada for the first time can find their way around without feeling lost in a maze. This way they can focus on doing what they came to Canada to do.
Are Relocation Services the same as Immigration Consultants?
No. When we speak of relocation and immigration, we are talking about two different things. Immigration refers to the process of working with government agencies to obtain proper visas, work permits and residency documentation. This is an essential part of moving to Canada, but it’s generally not part of what we do in Relocation.
In providing Relocation Services, we can advise our clients on the wide variety of immigration programs that the Canadian government offers. But if you need legal advice in determining which program is ideal for you, or professional assistance in completing and submitting your visa applications, then you will need to speak with an immigration consultant.
If you do so, be certain that you only hire a consultant who is a licensed RCIC, regulated by the federal government. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous consultants out there who are promising easy entry to Canada to individuals who don’t actually qualify. And they are taking money from them based on fraudulent claims.
Typically our clients already have a job lined up and their immigration documents in order. But when that service is required, we have a licensed immigration attorney that we work with. Otherwise, our services ordinarily begin in the next stage of moving.
Are Relocation Specialists also Job Recruiters?
In some cases, yes. There are relocation agencies who help people immigrate to Canada in order to fill jobs for specific companies. Typically, these headhunter agencies, as they are called, are working directly for the hiring companies. At ARIANNE, our top priority is you, the individual and his/her or family who are coming to Canada. More than a commodity to be shuffled from one corporation to another, our clients are people who need to feel safe, secure and comfortable in their new city. Only when our clients have found a home that they love in a neighbourhood where they feel welcome, and their kids are settling in at their new schools with their new friends, only then do we feel like we’ve done our job.
Are Relocation Services the same as Destination Services?
Yes, this is just another term used in the industry to mean the exact same thing.
What sorts of Relocation Services are available?
The primary task of Relocation Service is to walk you through the many stages of getting settled in Canada. From understanding immigration options and official registrations, to looking at housing, schools, and healthcare, to wrapping your head around the local culture, economics, laws and customs.
At ARIANNE, we took our name from Ariadne of Greek Mythology, who led Theseus out of the fabled labyrinth after he slew the ferocious Minotaur. That’s because we know that moving to a new country can often feel like a byzantine puzzle. Like the Greek heroine, we gladly and confidently lead you out of the maze of relocation, and into paradise, with three different types of services.
ARIANNE Relocation Services for Canada
Our highest level of service is In-Person assistance with a relocation specialist at your side. With this service, you can customize your plan to your own specific needs. Whether you want help shopping for a home or apartment, getting to know local school districts, having your utilities connected, or all of the above. Maybe you’d even like to have someone to meet you at the airport. With this custom-tailored service, you decide how many days you want, and how much time you want to spend on each area.
One of our seasoned Relocation Specialists will work with you to determine how must time you should need, and the best allotment of that time. From there, you’ll be able to see the city through the eyes of a local. And rest assured, our Relocation Specialists always put your interests first. We never have referral agreements with other businesses. That means means we never have a conflict of interest in which we try to push our clients towards one real estate agency over another. Unfortunately, this practice is not uncommon among some relocation companies, especially those who also own rental property in the same city.
We also offer Tele-Consultations where we can talk you through the process and discuss your specific needs and circumstances. This option is especially popular for those who don’t want to pay for In-Person concierge service, but are not 100 percent confident to handle the entire process on their own. But after one or two consultations, our clients can usually manage on their own with the help of our comprehensive Online Relocation Guide.
Our most economic option is to provide you with a city-specific Online Relocation Guide that covers 20 chapters of relocation topics in meticulous detail, allowing you to navigate the course on your own. Because we believe that everyone is entitled to this life-saving resource, and Relocation Service should not be an exclusive luxury reserved for the executives and VIPs.
Our massive Guides are both comprehensive and easy to use. City-specific, filled with local information for each major city in Canada, the Guides address all your most pressing issues. They even answer a multitude of critical questions before you’ve had a chance to think of them. Instead of spending hours scouring the internet and going through website after website of outdated and often contradictory information, our guides deliver easy, up-to-date answers. Hundreds of links will direct you to websites for local businesses and government agencies when necessary, for forms and applications.
In making these exclusive Relocation Guides, we compiled our knowledge and expertise from more than 20 years of helping families and professional relocate to Canada. We know all the most important questions, and we have the answers. And if it’s ever too much, you can contact us or schedule a Tele-Consultation at any time.
Where do we go from here?
Additional Documents and Registration
After securing a visa and establishing residency in Canada, you might feel like the hardest work is done, and now you can just relax and settle in. In fact, there’s a still a series of registrations you need to perform, and that is something we can help with.
One of the very first things you’ll need to do upon arrival is to register for healthcare. This process varies from province to province, and it’s not terribly difficult, but as a non-Canadian, it will involve some unfamiliar procedures. Then you will need a Social Insurance (SIN) card. You’ll probably also want to obtain a local driver’s license and open a Canadian bank account.
Hunting for Housing
Once you’ve gotten your paperwork and registrations in order, now you can start to get settled. One of your top priorities will be to arrange housing. A Relocation Service specialist can help familiarize you with the different neighbourhoods, which can be very diverse, and help you select the one that’s best for you.
We also give you a realistic idea of how much you’ll have to spend to get the the type of house you want in the neighborhood you prefer. Maybe a small condo or townhouse in the suburbs will suffice, or maybe your budget will permit something more upscale in the city center. In any case, there are countless factors to consider, and without a Relocation Specialist, you might end up making a costly and ill-informed decision, or spending an unimaginable number of hours conducting your own independent research.
Obviously you need an internet connection. First things first. And eventually you’ll also want running water and electricity. But seriously, setting up your utilities can be confusing. Different providers are available in certain cities and neighbourhoods, and sometimes you only have one option. Some utilities are public, and others are private. It’s not rocket science, but it could require more tedious, time-consuming research. So again, it pays to have a local on your team.
Schooling and Daycare
If you’re moving to Canada with your family, schools and daycare options will be another high priority. Again, without Relocation Services, it could take you years to get to know all the school districts and neighbourhoods, whether you want a public school or a private school, an English or French-language education, and so on.
Having a professional on your side, you are empowered with local knowledge and able to make well-informed decisions that could have long-term and far-reaching consequences.
Registering for healthcare coverage is one thing, but finding a family doctor, dentist, or other specialist is a whole other process. And where do you go when you get sick? Do you need to call ahead? What if it’s an emergency?
Understanding how healthcare is provided and obtained can be like a long walk in a dark maze. And when you’re under the weather, the last thing you need is to get lost in a labyrinth. Somewhere on the internet, all your questions can be answered. But how much time can you spend Googling walk-in clinics and private vs public insurance?
Once again, the small cost of hiring a Relocation Specialist can save you untold hours and heaps of money in the long run.
The pyramid of needs
There’s nothing like moving to a new country to help you really understand Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs. When you land, you rush to get your basic needs met. Get a roof over your head and try not to run afoul of the law. Then find schools, doctors and daycare for your family. Everyone’s order may differ somewhat, but the process will really put your priorities into perspective.
Eventually you work your way up to the items of secondary and tertiary importance. Maybe it’s time to shop for a car, and you need to understand the pros and cons of buying a used car, buying a new car, or leasing one. Maybe you’re desperate to find a health food store that can supply all the ingredients for your kimchi. Perhaps you’re ready to sign up for swing dancing and yoga classes.
There are thousands of little things to get know about your new country and city. And part of the fun can be the adventure of discovering them for yourself. But it never hurts to get a little head start with some reliable inside information. A good Relocation Specialist can help you every step of the way, with as much or as little help as you desire, from the bottom of the pyramid nearly to the top. (You’re on your own when it comes time for self-actualization, although perhaps they can recommend a good tantric guru in the area.)
Psychological stages of relocation
One more aspect of moving overseas that people fail to consider, is the psychological process. Again, it’s is different for everyone, but there is a general pattern of ups and downs that most transferees and expats go through.
At first, excitement is the prevailing emotion. The idea of moving to another country fills you with visions of adventure, romance and exotic lands. That feeling may continue and even soar higher when you arrive in the new country. But at some point a sense of reality sets in, as you are confronted by cultural and logistical obstacles. Getting settled in a new house and within a new community can be a daunting task when you don’t know the ropes.
Many expats also go through a period of loneliness, missing their friends and family from back home. This can be especially difficult for the spouse of a transferee. When one partner moves to a new office in a foreign country, s/he still has a sense of security that comes from the stable work environment and company culture. But the spouse may be home alone in a strange country without the social support group they are accustomed to.
Children will also face a unique set of challenges, going to a new school and making new friends. In some cases the children, who tend to be more adaptable, will have an easier time adjusting than their parents. Again, a lot of it comes down to individual personalities. In any case, it’s critically important to speak openly about the relocation process, and make sure everyone is feeling OK and getting the support they need.
As time goes by, the new country begins to feel more and more comfortable, more and more like home. And once you’re settled in you new life, it all just feels like the new normal. The process of settling in a new country can be incredible. When you begin to take on a new nationality, without losing your old identity, you can truly grow as an individual and as a citizen of the world.
What is the alternative to Relocation Services?
It is possible to move to Canada without a Relocation Specialist. People try it all the time. And we ending hearing from a lot of them. But I can tell you that it’s usually much easier for both of us if they contact us from the beginning.
Even in a country like Canada, with a fairly transparent legal system, the government bureaucracy can still get cumbersome. And frankly, most people simply underestimate the small differences between countries in how daily business is conducted. In fact, some of most difficult relocations have been with British and American families. They assumed that because everyone was still speaking English, everything else would be done the same also. But the subtle cultural differences sometime end up being the most difficult to overcome.
And it’s rare in Canada, but even here, there are those who will take advantage of the naive foreigner. Whether you’re buying a car or signing a rental contract on an apartment, no one knows what to watch out for like a local.
So in the end, a qualified Relocation Specialist can really save you a lot of time, money and unwanted stress.
Check out our directory of Resources for Moving to Canada for more helpful ideas.
When we talk about relocation, we like to use the nautical analogy, because moving from one country to another is a lot like crossing from one side of the sea to another. Imagine swimming across the English Channel. It’s not impossible. In fact, it’s been done many times. But it’s not easy, and if you have the option of bringing a raft or a life preserver, you’d be wise to take it.
Relocation Services are a lot like a life preserver. In the midst of one of your greatest adventures, you would hate to spend all your time and energy just treading water. But that’s how it feels if you don’t know the ins and outs of the local bureaucracy or the local economy. You’re vulnerable to stormy seas, unpredictable calms, and hungry sharks.
Meanwhile, a dependable Relocation Specialist can pull you out of the water and dry you off. Whether you want to take the helm or delegate that responsibility to someone more familiar with the local winds and currents, that’s up to you. The point is, don’t let your pride turn you into the next Captain Ahab. Turn to the help of a local expert before your move to Canada winds up a complete shipwreck.
Or, as we like to say: Let ARIANNE put the wind in your sails and bring you into port on time. Because your safe passage is our number one concern!
Are Relocation Services available to individuals or just corporate clients?
The majority of Relocation clients come from the corporate sector. But that’s only because large, multinational companies are relocating staff members on a regular basis. They rely on Relocation Specialists to make their transfers run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, with minimal disruption to business. Over time, they’ve learned that the best way to do that, for the sake of their business and the comfort of their transferees, was to outsource it to the experts.
But part of ARIANNE’s goal is to see the democratization of Relocation Services. We don’t believe that this service should be reserved for corporate executives. Anyone moving to a foreign country should have access to this service. After all, when delivered properly, Relocation Services will save you time and money, whether you’re the head of an HR department or just a young family looking for a fresh start with a big tech firm in Toronto.
To learn more about how ARIANNE Relocation can make your move to Canada as easy as can be, be sure to visit our Let’s Get Started page.
PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian Relocation (Unsplash)