When I moved to the US from Canada 25 years ago, my employer Northern Telecom took care of all the immigration details. That made it relatively easy.
Now we wanted to move back to Canada and immigrate to Nova Scotia — and this time it was all up to us.
Part one of the story: Why we decided to move (again!)
There were a number of emigration and immigration details we needed to learn about — and quickly:
- How to document the possessions we planned to import for Canadian border agents,
- How to put together a quarantine plan, absolutely required when you cross (we moved in Jan-2021) – where you’ll stay, how you’ll get groceries, etc.
- How to export/import our cars. When you immigrate to Nova Scotia, there’s paperwork you must do to export the cars from the US and to import the cars into Canada. If you get it wrong there may be vehicle trouble down the road. The Canadian citizen (me, in this case) is allowed up to $10K per item before you need to pay duty. Fortunately both our aging vehicles fell into the less than $10K category.
- How to get permanent residency and a work permit for Jackie. It’s important to get this right, so we hired an immigration lawyer here in Nova Scotia. There was a lot for us to do and very little time to do it — one mistake in the application might have resulted in rejection and a delay of up to a year in getting her approval. And you know what they say about a happy, stress-free wife…
- How to get registered in the provincial medical system.
Thankfully between the immigration lawyer and a Facebook page called “Canadians living in the US with an exit plan” (which caters to people actually moving or intending to move), we had a lot of support and help to immigrate to Nova Scotia.
As I’ve mentioned, we planned to downsize big-time. There were two reasons for this:
- first, to cross into Canada with as little as possible and reduce the bureaucratic complexity at the border,
- second, to ensure we could complete the move in just one trip. If we had to make multiple trips, we’d have had to quarantine after each trip for 14 days. That just wouldn’t have worked on many levels.
And to ensure we kept our downsizing commitment, we rented a 20-foot truck. If it didn’t fit, it wasn’t going with us — at least, that was the plan.
You’ll need a complete list of all possessions you’re importing to immigrate to Nova Scotia
We started packing in October as soon as Red Hat, my employer, approved our transfer to Red Hat Canada.
We opened a Google spreadsheet that we could share between our devices and each time we filled a new box, we noted the box number and contents in the spreadsheet. It allowed both of us to add detail concurrently and reduce the time taken to produce the paperwork. (By the time we were done, we had 364 boxes noted on the spreadsheet, which printed out at 11 pages — and we needed three copies of it!)
It was probably more than we needed to do, but I think the sheer volume of printed pages and the detail was enough to help convince the border folks that we were sincere and organized.
Unknown to them, our kitties Mikey and Mango, were going to immigrate to Nova Scotia with us. They watched the packing with curiosity.
By December packing was getting more frantic, furniture was disappearing (we were selling a lot of it), their toys were being packed into a box and nothing looked like it used to. You could tell they were getting a bit worried and distressed.
In the final few days, Mango found the only “hiding” place left in the entire house: beneath the drapes hanging in the corner of the master bedroom closet. The poor little fella looked so pitiful.
Soon Mikey joined him — I think as much to reassure him as to feel reassured himself. I was getting worried about how they’d take the 1400-mile, three-day journey.
The last few days of packing and loading got even more frantic. The 20-foot truck accepted less than we thought it would and we activated plan B — a trailer on the back of the Subaru.
At some point during all this, I became aware of plan C — there were still a few things that Jackie REALLY didn’t want to part with and they ended up in a small storage unit near Washington NC, which will necessitate another journey to pick things up when we can travel again.
Good friends and neighbors are indispensible
Even then, there was lots left over and neighbors and friends took a lot of free things off our hands. Some of them were very happy to see us show up with bottles of alcohol that we couldn’t take with us…
Other neighbors helped with loading the truck, both from the house and from Jackie’s studio. It wasn’t the most organized of moves because we weren’t sure what would fit in the truck and what we’d have to leave behind. I really appreciated their generosity and patience.
Our next-door neighbor, Mary, kept feeding us in spite of our unpredictable hectic schedule. I’m sure we would have been a lot worse for wear if it hadn’t been for Mary and Ernie.
Our house buyer was MORE than patient with us. He allowed us a few more days to get ready since they weren’t planning to move in right after closing. There was a lot left in the garage when we left, which was to be picked up the following Tuesday. We had a lot to thank them for in the end.
Actually, we had a lot to thank a LOT of people for — this move would not have been possible or successful without all the support of our North Carolina friends and neighbors.