Author Topic: Relocating to the UK from Canada!  (Read 2312 times)

BrakeForTurtles

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Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« on: May 02, 2018, 09:26:42 PM »
Well, it's official: DH and I will be relocating to Cambridge from Canada in July/August for his work! I've been lurking on the UK tax board and various journals, but now we have confirmation I feel confident about starting my own relocation thread. I've read through @Kwill's and it was super useful.

A bit about us:
I'm 32, Australian, and a chemical engineer by training, but I haven't had the chance to work in that field. My main working background is in research science (~5 years). I came to Canada on a university exchange in 2014, met a Canadian, fell in love, etc. I went back and forth between Australia and Canada while I finished my degree, then moved over at the end of 2015. We ended up in a town about 4 hours north of Toronto and I've been in survival mode job-wise since then as there isn't much engineering work. I ran a brewery for a year, attempted to be a mechanical engineer (lasted 5 months), worked at a ski hill as a Jill of all trades, and now I have a great little contract with the local cycling advocacy group.

DH is 37, Canadian, and has a cushy job with the government. Of the two of us, I am the frugal one, but he has made admirable progress in being steered towards a less spendy lifestyle. He will be working outside Cambridge, but we are hoping to live closer to downtown and have him ride out to work on the busway. He is a Cyclist (yes, with a capital C) so this commute would be perfect for him. 

We are incredibly fortunate that our living costs in Cambridge will be subsidised, so that lifts a huge cost off our shoulders. At the moment my living expenses are ~$CA1100 a month, so ~#650. I'm really hoping I can manage to live on around #800 a month, and I would be really interested to hear if you think that sounds feasible (or if I can do better!).

I lived in the UK 10 years ago, in London (not Shepherd's Bush!), Edinburgh, and remote northwest Scotland. I worked minimum wage jobs (serving, bar tending, packing smoked salmon, the usual) and was one of those skint Australian backpackers you see taking leftover food off other people's plates and lurking near the Pret dumpsters at closing time (not really; we only ever fantasised about being brave enough to do that). I'm looking forward to experiencing the UK and Europe as a Real Adult with a (slightly) higher disposable income. It will be odd living there as an Australian-who-lives-in-Canada-now, and the question "Where are you from?" will give me some pause. But overall it's an amazing opportunity and Cambridge looks like a great city to live in.

It is a seemingly trivial thing, but I am also really excited to get back to *my language*. Hello boot, footpath, chips, car park! Catch you later trunk, sidewalk, fries and parking lot! I think I have already started to revert because tonight I referred to fries as chips, which I haven't done for years. My brain will have a meltdown when we do return to Canada.

Also, as anyone who has read more than three of my posts will know, I am excited about clotted cream. This amazing product barely exists in Canada, and when it does it's incredibly expensive, is shipped over from the UK, and has an expiry date about 6 months in the future. I'm guessing it's half cream, half plastic.

I think that about covers the basics. I will have a thousand questions over the next few months and I have a feeling this forum will save my bacon. I look forward to chatting with all of you and maybe meeting you on the other side of the pond!

londonstache

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 02:13:28 AM »
Awesome, welcome to the UK!

Sounds as if your money sense skills are already at a high level and you'll need little guidance from us. Perhaps you can give a few of us comfy Brits some lessons in how not to be massive spendypants! If you want some research material ahead of time worth looking at what you can do with the ISA allowances in the UK, however if you think there is a good chance the UK relocation is a temporary move then think carefully about how you use these. You'll see a fair few of us are positive about the LISA (Lifetime ISA) but there is a big catch around withdrawing money before 60.

And clotted cream is sensational. Arguably the full cream tea or a good afternoon tea is the best possible vehicle for it...
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 02:15:21 AM by londonstache »

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 02:18:40 AM »
Welcome! I guess there's quite a few of us in and around Cambridge. It is indeed a nice place to live, apart from the cost of housing and similar issues associated with the rapid growth of the local economy & population. It's certainly a great place for cyclists - almost always the fastest way from A to B. Plenty of Canadians & Aussies here too (along with lots of people from dozens of other countries too.)

Hard to say whether £800 per month is doable - housing really dominates the cost of living here, so it depends on the nature of the subsidized housing you have. One of the things that Aussies/North Americans tend to be shocked by when moving here is that you can fly to 30+ countries from Stansted or Luton for often less than £50, so I've noticed a lot of them tend to end up visiting Prague or Rome or Amsterdam or Paris or wherever every other weekend in the first year or so, which obviously can add up.

Where are you from in Australia? I had a year doing the backpacker thing in Australia in my mid-twenties, before moving here.

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 03:15:26 AM »
Another resident here - Welcome to Cambridge!

As cerat0n1a says, housing costs are the major factor. General cost of living here aside from housing isn't much different to anywhere else (excluding London of course). Traffic in the city centre is awful, but if you cycle then everything is much easier.

Locals tend to moan about the number of tourists in town, but my view is that it's great to live somewhere that people really want to visit and I just stay out of the town centre at the busiest times.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 05:55:44 AM »
Thanks all! Definitely agree we are very lucky in terms of housing costs. I'm yet to get the full details, but it looks like we will pay ~£800/month in housing and his work pays the rest (up to an as yet undefined cap). It still ends up being more expensive than where we are now, but I can't complain!

We've made an informal pact that the first six months will only see us travel around the UK, because European trips are very distracting (and like you say, really add up). One of my regrets from when I was there last was that I did barely any travel around England. I went to Stratford (for a music festival), London, Nottingham....and that's all. So I definitely need to rectify that.

I grew up in Cairns, and also spent a few years in Brisbane and Adelaide, and five years in Melbourne before I left. My sister is still there and I'm trying to convince her to do the working holiday thing and join us over there.

As for ISAs, it seems I will be eligible as I will be considered a resident of the UK for tax purposes. I'll have a work visa for the duration of our time there. I would probably just keep it in cash as I know when I'll be withdrawing it, but the tax free growth is always nice.

And yes, the scone delivery mechanism of clotted cream can't be beat. I think it was in Kwill's journal where people were discussing this, and whoever said you need so much cream on a scone that you dislocate your jaw trying to eat it was spot on.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 07:31:36 AM »
I grew up in Cairns, and also spent a few years in Brisbane

Hmm. Not many banana-bending jobs round here ;-)

Quote
As for ISAs, it seems I will be eligible as I will be considered a resident of the UK for tax purposes. I'll have a work visa for the duration of our time there. I would probably just keep it in cash as I know when I'll be withdrawing it, but the tax free growth is always nice.

I'd question whether you benefit from the ISA in that case. You get earn a certain amount of interest and a certain amount of dividend income and a certain amount of capital gains tax free each year. Unless you accumulate enough in your ISA that you would actually exceed your allowances (or you buy a share that happens to double or triple in price), you don't really need the ISA wrapper.

On the cream tea front, assuming you move here in July/August, one of your first tasks must be to walk or cycle (or punt) along the river to Grantchester and visit the Orchard.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2018, 06:25:51 AM »
The Orchard = added to the list! That sounds delightful.

I see what you mean about the ISA. Maybe the only reason I would have one is because I'll be a dual resident for tax purposes, which means as well as paying UK tax I'll have to pay Canadian tax. It'll only be on the difference between the two tax rates, as Canada has higher taxes than the UK. I wonder if Canada recognizes the tax sheltered wrapper of the ISA, and therefore the interest in that account wouldn't count towards my income. I will have to investigate. Sort of musing out loud here, unfortunately my tax situation will be complex and DH's will be incredibly simple.

We have to find a real estate agent in Cambridge to assist with finding a rental property. Any recommendations, for the Cambridge folk? At this stage I might be jumping the gun a little, because I'm not sure if we have to go through a pre-approved agent. But I'm anxious to get the ball rolling because it feels like we have no time at all. We will get a week there in late June to find a place.

Minnowstache

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2018, 06:53:23 AM »
Yay for clotted cream! I am an Nzer but lived in London for 15 yrs (not Shepherd’s Bush lol). I never did the skint backpacker thing - although I lived in a squat for 2 yrs while trotting down the street in th morning in my heels on the way to my city job. I have friends in Cambridge + it will be fun - and clotted cream....

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2018, 07:14:12 AM »
Oh I have a friend that lived in one of those places, and also worked at a law firm. It was a hilarious dissonance. Living in a 3 bedroom flat (one of the "bedrooms" was the living room) with I think 12 other people, and walking out the front door in a suit and heels every morning.

I never lived in a place that crammed, but in Edinburgh I did live in someone's storage closet they had converted to a single room. No windows, about the size of a single mattress with enough room to the side for a suitcase. I paid £100 a month and it was great. I'm glad those extreme penny pinching days are behind me, but this is why my frugal life now seems relatively luxurious!

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2018, 10:51:35 AM »
We have to find a real estate agent in Cambridge to assist with finding a rental property. Any recommendations, for the Cambridge folk?

No personal experience at all, but zoopla & rightmove are both good places to start - try:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/find.html?searchType=RENT&locationIdentifier=REGION%5E274&insId=1&radius=0.0

Kwill

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2018, 03:06:47 PM »
Definitely agree we are very lucky in terms of housing costs. I'm yet to get the full details, but it looks like we will pay ~£800/month in housing and his work pays the rest (up to an as yet undefined cap). It still ends up being more expensive than where we are now, but I can't complain!

That sounds good. If £800 a month represented half the full rent, for example, you could probably get a nice, central two-bedroom flat or a terraced house.

I'm glad my journal could be helpful. Good luck with the move!

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2018, 01:58:35 AM »
Welcome!

Is your £800 a month for your sole costs or for joint costs after housing? Two of us live on that plus a bit of spending money (our house is paid off).

Something that may be different or worth looking in to is what bills are included in the rent. Depending on the arrangement with DH's work you may be able to rent a place with many bills included and have it come out of your housing allowance. There isn't a standard formula for rentals in the UK, some will include all bills others won't include any. In particular look out for Council Tax - it can surprise newcomers.

Cycling the Busway should be an epic commute for a Cyclist.

Kwill

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2018, 02:23:50 AM »
In particular look out for Council Tax - it can surprise newcomers.

Yes. Council tax comes to more than 10% of my rent, and I didn't find out about it until the day I moved in, by which time it was too late to readjust the budget I had planned for accommodation costs. But if you've lived in the UK before, maybe things like that won't be a surprise.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2018, 02:48:04 AM »
Cycling the Busway should be an epic commute for a Cyclist.

Yes, it's completely flat, no cars, perfect cycling surface, well lit. I use it for marathon training sometimes and my only complaint would be that it's pretty dull.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2018, 08:58:54 AM »
Thank PWFUK! £800 would be just for me, and include housing. We keep finances pretty separate because DH is still more spendy then me ("Ooooh look! A tambourine on sale!" *buys tambourine*), but he does subsidize my expenses because he earns much more than me. I'm really intrigued to see how my spending habits will change in the UK. I think groceries will be cheaper, but the sudden influx of available, decent cheese in our lives may increases costs.     

The £800 of housing portion we pay should include council tax and most bills, except probably the TV licence and internet. The time difference leads to a bit of a lag in getting information, but hopefully tomorrow we'll have answers to the pile of questions we asked on Friday, including what our housing allowance is. I've been looking at some beeeautiful Victorian terraces and it would amazing to get something like that. For a joke I even flicked through the photos on this place, which is no doubt *well* outside our financial budget and definitely surpasses our square footage limit. Also we would suffer extreme lifestyle shock from being accustomed to having an orangery then having to downgrade to a regular house when we move back.

And that is good news about the busway! He might have to work late some nights, and was looking at buying a secondhand car and driving for those days, but if the busway is well lit he may still cycle. A nice and smooth surface means he'll be able to zoom along, I'm thinking it will take around the same time as driving.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2018, 08:13:18 PM »
Question time! We are pretty set on the idea of living near downtown Cambridge, or at least in one of the closest villages to the north (Milton, Histon, Girton etc.). DH will be working in St Ives and is stoked about the idea of riding ~25-28km each way to get to work. He used to commute 32km each way in Quebec City and loved it. However, it's still a long ride and I do want to keep my options open in terms of considering closer places to live.

So, for people familiar with the area, what is your general view on St Ives/Huntingdon, or other villages between Cambridge and St Ives? I will most likely find work in Cambridge, and the more lively social and sports scene definitely appeals (and the Victoria terraces!). As you can probably tell, we have really fallen for the idea of living in Cambridge, but I like getting sober second thought on whether that is feasible and worth it.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2018, 01:13:43 AM »
Cool, £800 a month for one person with housing and most bills coming to £400 sounds entirely doable, with a decent cheese and adventure allowance.

Cambridge is utterly lovely (second only to Oxford of course!). The only real thing against it is the price of housing. It's worth a second thought if you dislike narrow streets, tourists, bikes or rivers. St Ives is nice but doesn't have a whole lot to do; it isn't a patch on Cambridge. Huntingdon is ... well connected for getting out of Huntingdon. It has great everyday facilities, (shopping, pubs, green spaces, etc), but there isn't much that you would travel there to visit.

I'd struggle to recommend living away from Cambridge if housing costs were no object. There are so many free activities to do and transport is free, you could end up spending a lot in St Ives to get the same amount of fun that you can get for Cambridge for free.

It's a tighter call between the Cambridge villages, the line for me is when you can cycle home easily and don't need a car.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2018, 03:23:06 AM »
It's a tighter call between the Cambridge villages, the line for me is when you can cycle home easily and don't need a car.

I think that sums it up for me. I've a number of friends in Histon/Impington, Milton, Girton - and I tend to think of those as the northern suburbs of Cambridge. They're separate villages with their own facilities & community feel, but like Cambridge, lots of people who have moved there from elsewhere and likely to be scientists, engineers, programmers etc. All have decent cycle paths into the city. Remember also that the city centre jobs are more likely to be retail/restaurant unless you work for the University. Other large centres of employment are on the edges (Addenbrooke's hospital, Science Park, much of the University research etc.)

I'd probably avoid Bar Hill; it's basically a housing estate stuck off the A14 (which is a slow moving line of traffic for much of the day between Cambidge & Huntingdon.)

One comment around the cycle commuting to St. Ives (well two in fact.) The area North of Cambridge is fenland (very low-lying & flat) and sometimes the busway floods around Fen Drayton lakes, so there several weeks each year when you can't cycle between Swavesey & Fen Drayton. There are alternative routes round the problem area but they add time and you need to know them.

You're very much going against the flow of traffic (people living in less expensive places and commuting into Cambridge) and although there are marked lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, it might be that  speed is limited by people coming the other way overtaking, or otherwise in the wrong lane. I haven't seen what it's like in morning rush hour, so may be no problem. People using the busway instead of driving is a big part of local transport strategy so the council does try to keep improving the experience for cyclists along there and I believe an elevated section around the flooded area may happen soon.

Kwill

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2018, 01:10:17 PM »
I had to look up St Ives, and it seems awfully far to cycle from Cambridge on a daily basis. I mainly cycle because I'm too lazy to walk and because driving here seems too hard. So listen to some other wise people instead.

If you do live in Cambridge, it'd be good to at least live on the North side so that your husband doesn't have to battle tourists to get out of the city. They like to mill about in large groups in the middle of streets, and it can make it tricky to go through the city centre in nice weather.

The university has ordinary job listings, but it also has a temporary employment service, with which you could register in case something comes up. UK jobs are only advertised for 2 to 4 weeks, so you'd really want to keep up with the ads. It seems strange to me that they don't advertise longer because I also hear complaints about there being less applicants than expected. It seems there's a long process to get to the point of being able to advertise, and by that time, they're in a hurry, especially for things like family leave cover.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2018, 08:26:10 PM »
It's a tighter call between the Cambridge villages, the line for me is when you can cycle home easily and don't need a car.

Yes, definitely! Ideally we would be <5km from the fun stuff. One nice thing about the UK is that there is a pub on every corner so worst case scenario you can stay local and still go out.

One comment around the cycle commuting to St. Ives (well two in fact.) The area North of Cambridge is fenland (very low-lying & flat) and sometimes the busway floods around Fen Drayton lakes, so there several weeks each year when you can't cycle between Swavesey & Fen Drayton. There are alternative routes round the problem area but they add time and you need to know them.

That is good to know! Hopefully by the time that happens we've sorted out a car/how the bus works/carpool.

If you do live in Cambridge, it'd be good to at least live on the North side so that your husband doesn't have to battle tourists to get out of the city. They like to mill about in large groups in the middle of streets, and it can make it tricky to go through the city centre in nice weather.

That's a good point, we probably wouldn't want to be *too* close to downtown, just because of the milling crowds. I think we would stay to the north of the Cam just so there aren't any pinch point bridges to DH's commute. And if I get a job at the science park that would be a really convenient commute for me too.

Cool, £800 a month for one person with housing and most bills coming to £400 sounds entirely doable, with a decent cheese and adventure allowance.

This is excellent news! You watch, I'll be posting a case study in 4 months that will have ridiculous line items for cream tea and cheese and real ale and wild Longhorn meat from this farm. But at least my rent will be cheap!

never give up

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2018, 03:47:39 AM »
Hi BrakeForTurtles. Sorry I’m a bit slow saying hello. I don’t know Cambridge very well but as you can see there is quite a community that know the area well and can help. I hope your preparations for the move are going well, not long now, and I look forward to talking about cream teas with you.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2018, 09:14:14 PM »
Thanks ngu! Preparations are going at treacle's pace (another delightful sweet thing I will soon have access to!), but so far I don't think that's a bad thing. Though I do sometimes look at the ever-diminishing calendar and the ever-increasing to do list and consider curling up under my desk to hide from it all. DH's work does a lot to help us with the move, but that still involves asking someone stupid questions — I'm sure half my questions elicit a disappointed head shake, and maybe a tenth get printed off and put on display in the staff tea room: "Look at what this idiot asked!" On the bright side, every patient answer gets us one step closer to cream tea. I'm going to have to start an entire journal just devoted to cream teas, aren't I?

Over the weekend DH and I listened to some British cyclist podcasts, including the Bike Show, which is terrific. Listening to all the talk of bike touring destinations made us so excited! I will most certainly be getting DH a copy of the presenter's book (Lost Lanes West) for his birthday. Does anyone have any other suggestions for UK-centric podcasts we can start listening to? Finance, cycling and history would be the biggest hits.

sea_saw

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2018, 12:33:26 PM »
Ooh did someone say podcasts?

I haven't found any UK personal finance ones catch my eye I'm afraid, and I've listened to a few, although would be interested to hear recommendations from this forum. And cycling and history aren't my areas of interest. But I get through about 1 hour of podcasts a day on average. Many of the ones I listen to are American produced, but I can sincerely recommend a few podcasts from the BBC:

The Inquiry: this is a weekly long look into a single topic that's been in the headlines. It tends towards global news, e.g. the ivory trade, North Korea, plastics and the environment, etc. They're 45 minutes long with a really solid, listenable format, and always of stellar quality. I think it's pitched just right IMO.

More or Less (Behind the Stats): these are 10-15 minutes and discuss a handful of stats for usually only a couple of minutes each. Cancer screening, gender pay gaps, abortion rates, Nigel Farage, whatever random factoid has been bandied about recently gets dissected. Fun if you're a data geek who wonders 'exactly how accurately CAN anyone measure (thingy)'.

The Boring Talks: a 20 minute 'talk' about some random topic, and unlike the above two guaranteed to be fairly benign e.g. wooden pallets, lamppost design, model villages, the argos catalogue.

Might not be about your most direct interests but you can certainly pick up UK accents and culture through some of the topics that come up! And the more global ones are of hopefully general interest. I think they're really underrated for the quality they put out.

I did listen to some UK politics ones for a while but it got too depressing and I didn't find any I liked. There was a real tendency towards doing 'let's hear from the tories... ok now from labour... done! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯' (or the equivalent with journos), instead of making any significant effort towards original research/fact checking or impartial analysis, it was only ever people on the shows who had skin in the game themselves. I wish we had an equivalent to 538 in the US!

Jamese20

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2018, 03:35:31 AM »
welcome to the UK

although, being honest I would argue why you would want to come here over a lovely country like Canada :)

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2018, 09:06:22 PM »
Thanks for the podcast recommendations see_saw, I will look all those up!

And yes, jamese, Canada is lovely. We will definitely be moving back (though then the struggle will be deciding between Canada and Australia), but this is a really great opportunity to live and work in a pretty cool spot. The UK seems very exotic and exciting compared to where we're currently living!

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2018, 06:04:45 PM »
Question for the Cambridge folks. Are Arbury/Orchard Park/King's Hedges suitable places to live? Someone has warned us off Orchard Park (they used to live there and say it's a bit dodgy), and I have noticed the houses in those areas are cheaper and built in the dark ages of building design (ie. the 70s versus Victorian or brand new). But there are still pubs and supermarkets around, and those areas are convenient for getting to the busway and downtown. I just want to check they are safe and pleasant enough. Footpaths, parks, I can walk around alone at night without fearing for my life...that sort of thing.

I have started a spreadsheet of potential places and one of my metrics is "Distance to nearest pub". Hole moley, Cambridge has a lot of pubs. Of all the places I had listed the closest is 110m from a pub, and most fall in the <500m range. This is excellent news. Also do people still use miles and feet in everyday life in the UK? Canada certainly uses imperial measurements more than Australia (US influence), but I'm really fond of metric and would prefer to keep using it.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2018, 12:42:04 AM »
Question for the Cambridge folks. Are Arbury/Orchard Park/King's Hedges suitable places to live? Someone has warned us off Orchard Park (they used to live there and say it's a bit dodgy), and I have noticed the houses in those areas are cheaper and built in the dark ages of building design (ie. the 70s versus Victorian or brand new). But there are still pubs and supermarkets around, and those areas are convenient for getting to the busway and downtown. I just want to check they are safe and pleasant enough. Footpaths, parks, I can walk around alone at night without fearing for my life...that sort of thing.

Those areas are definitely less attractive (and definitely cheaper) and may well be considered by locals as a bit rough. The reality, however, is that Cambridge is so expensive that those places are full of middle-class professionals who would not live in places that look like that anywhere else in the country. Anybody coming from a big city elsewhere in the country would laugh if they experienced what is considered rough in Cambridge.  In general, I would not consider anywhere in Cambridge unsafe. There are one or two specific streets or blocks of flats I would avoid (the northern end of Fen Road in Chesterton, Ditton Fields) but generally you can get a good feel from the estate agents pictures/google maps. Obviously you could be a victim of crime anywhere, usual common sense applies etc.

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I have started a spreadsheet of potential places and one of my metrics is "Distance to nearest pub". Hole moley, Cambridge has a lot of pubs. Of all the places I had listed the closest is 110m from a pub, and most fall in the <500m range. This is excellent news.

Pubs have been closing in the UK at a fair old rate, but I think the only way you can live more than a few hundred metres from one is to be in a small village, or a large new housing estate where the developers were allowed to get away without providing many facilities, or (rarely) on an estate where quakers or some other religious group left a covenant about alcohol 100+ years ago (e.g. Eggbuckland in Plymouth.)

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Also do people still use miles and feet in everyday life in the UK? Canada certainly uses imperial measurements more than Australia (US influence), but I'm really fond of metric and would prefer to keep using it.

We have an odd mix. Anybody under the age of about 50 will have learnt metric at school. Legally, we use metric except a few things like road distances, signs & speed limits (miles, yards) and pints of beer. However, most people still give their height in feet and weight in stones & pounds (even if the doctor records it in metres and kg.) And even where we do use metric, it's often in a half-hearted way. So a packet of butter is typically 454g (i.e a pound), for example.

I'd say there are plenty of people who don't really understand either system. I think about running distances in km (I'd say to a friend that I did 5k on Saturday and 20k on Sunday, for example) but I think about my car's fuel economy in Imperial measures (I averaged 61 miles per gallon so far in May) - even though fuel prices have been in litres since well before I learned to drive.

Kwill

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2018, 01:45:17 AM »
I've had the metric vs other system conversation a few times recently. Did you know the US doesn't use the Imperial system? US ounces and pints and so forth are  all slightly different than UK ones. I don't know about Canada but would think it used Imperial rather than US. I suppose it probably affects recipes but otherwise doesn't make a huge difference. httpsn.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_the_imperial_and_US_customary_measurement_systems

I have heard mixed things about Arbury, but it is not likely to be terrible. A lot of Cambridge is mixed between people who moved in when it was a normal town with affordable places to live and people who moved in recently.

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2018, 06:16:35 AM »
Thanks cerat0n1a and Kwill, that is hugely helpful! I figured "Cambridge rough" would be a bit different to "everywhere else rough". I think in the Mustachian cities thread someone talks about Minneapolis being a bit like that, where the "rough" neighbourhoods are really just multicultural.

And the metric/Imperial thing sounds a lot like Canada. Pounds for human weight and for advertised prices of produce in supermarket, kilos for most other weights, and also how they actually weigh the produce. This definitely caught me out the first few times. "On the sign it said $1/kg, why is it scanning at $2.2/kg"....*goes back to sign, sees it's in pounds, shakes fist*. I imagine we use US measurements, but I'm not sure. For instance, Canadian pints are 20 oz, US pints are 16 oz. But do we use US oz or Imperial oz? If we use US, then our pints are actually slightly bigger than Imperial pints.

ANYWAY this is one of the selling points of living in Australia some day, where everything is metric and I am never confused. (Except don't ask about the difference in beer serving sizes between all of our states. I guess we're not so perfect after all.)

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2018, 06:49:23 AM »
Pounds for human weight and for advertised prices of produce in supermarket

It's (in general) illegal to sell things in non-metric units, with the exceptions of draught cider & beer, milk in returnable containers (i.e. glass milk bottles), jewellery/precious metals and land (in acres.)

Things that are sold by "description" can be in non-metric units e.g. I can buy a 4x4 (inches) piece of wood, or a 6ft fence panel, but if the dimensions are specified (they usually are) that would be in metric. 

Also, in general, everywhere in Cambridge is "multi-cultural" in some sense - England has a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than any of Canada, USA or Australia and Cambridge is well above average in that regard. Rougher places round here tend very much to be those which are not inhabited by migrants...

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #30 on: June 17, 2018, 01:25:56 PM »
Ok, the wheels are in motion! We fly out tonight for our two-week house hunting trip, which I am very excited about! So far I've only booked one viewing appointment, because none of the other letting agents responded to me. I guess they think I'm a Canadian scammer? So I will call them while I'm on the ground.

We have a hire car (siiiigh), which is going to be a huge PITA, I can just feel it. I foolishly booked a place downtown Cambridge without even *thinking* about parking, so now we have to find a place to park it for five days and literally not touch it during that time, because we'll be walking and biking instead. I've looked at JustPark, and the Cambridge council car parks, but it's hard to tell if we can keep the car there for multiple days. Anyway, I'm sure we'll find something.

I want to pick up a SIM card for my phone and tablet, but it's really tricky because I *also* want to take advantage of that free month offer from Smarty from the referral thread. We get our phone costs covered while on our short trip, so I may as well get that reimbursed, then use the free month when we move over. Yes this is how cheap I am, DH is torn between loving it and being driven crazy!

So, I'm packed, I've got our stack of paperwork, a handful of pounds and pence from my international change collection, I think we're ready to rock and roll! I'm sure I will have a thousand more questions over the next week or so once we're on the ground. At least a lot of things are already familiar to me; one of the pieces of advice we were given was to google "roundabouts" so we would know how to tackle them when we arrive. That made me chuckle. It will be weird having everything back on the other side of the road though.

never give up

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #31 on: June 17, 2018, 02:01:28 PM »
Have a safe trip and I hope your visit is successful. At the very least I hope you have time for a cream tea.

Izzs

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #32 on: June 17, 2018, 03:37:47 PM »
Hi BrakeForTurtles. I just spotted this thread, I'm also a Cambridge person (there seems to be an awful lot of us) so thought I'd say hello.
Good luck with the search, sounds like you've got a good idea of what and where you're looking. I bought a place here about a year ago and I think I cycled half the roads in Cambridge checking out areas. There are some rougher spots, as you'd expect in most cities, but I'd say most of the city is fine and any rougher areas tend to be easy to spot. I wasn't massively impressed with Orchard Park, but I think this was more because it seemed to have nothing going for it i.e. no community/pubs/shops (this may have changed now though). I've got quite a few friends in Kings Hedges, they're all on lovely roads although I've found a couple of spots I wouldn't choose to live. I live in the other area you mentioned and love it, it covers a pretty wide range of areas.
 
For parking, I don't know any overnight car parks but there's quite a lot of Cambridge just outside of the centre that doesn't have restrictions for on-road parking. Obviously some will be really congested but you should be able to find a quieter road. This is a map of areas that are considering starting restrictions so should be possible (check for signs though). https://ccc-live.storage.googleapis.com/upload/www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/Parking%20consult%20banners%20%28004%29.pdf?inline=true

Enjoy your trip! Cambridge is a bit bizarre this week as all the students are having summer balls, there's not usually so many fancily dressed people drinking champagne.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #33 on: June 18, 2018, 01:20:58 AM »
I've looked at JustPark, and the Cambridge council car parks, but it's hard to tell if we can keep the car there for multiple days.

You can park for multiple days in the council run ones - except in the small number of car parks that have a time limit. You might find it cheaper just to buy a new car each time you want to use one though ;-)

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; one of the pieces of advice we were given was to google "roundabouts" so we would know how to tackle them when we arrive.

We're getting a couple of "Dutch" roundabouts soon (essentially, there's an outer roundabout for cyclists and an inner one for cars, so cars have to first give way to bikes & pedestrians before proceeding) which I predict is going to cause some confusion to visitors.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 09:24:37 AM by cerat0n1a »

Minnowstache

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2018, 06:51:50 AM »
I once had to go on this roundabout when I visited the UK about 5 years ago https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Roundabout_(Hemel_Hempstead)

cerat0n1a

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2018, 09:27:19 AM »
I once had to go on this roundabout when I visited the UK about 5 years ago https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Roundabout_(Hemel_Hempstead)

The equivalent in Swindon is better, because the inner roundabout works the opposite way round to the outer ones, just to make it more fun. It works because everyone is scared enough to drive very, very slowly.

melanie2008

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #36 on: June 23, 2018, 06:23:07 AM »
Ok, the wheels are in motion! We fly out tonight for our two-week house hunting trip, which I am very excited about! So far I've only booked one viewing appointment, because none of the other letting agents responded to me. I guess they think I'm a Canadian scammer? So I will call them while I'm on the ground.

We have a hire car (siiiigh), which is going to be a huge PITA, I can just feel it. I foolishly booked a place downtown Cambridge without even *thinking* about parking, so now we have to find a place to park it for five days and literally not touch it during that time, because we'll be walking and biking instead. I've looked at JustPark, and the Cambridge council car parks, but it's hard to tell if we can keep the car there for multiple days. Anyway, I'm sure we'll find something.

I want to pick up a SIM card for my phone and tablet, but it's really tricky because I *also* want to take advantage of that free month offer from Smarty from the referral thread. We get our phone costs covered while on our short trip, so I may as well get that reimbursed, then use the free month when we move over. Yes this is how cheap I am, DH is torn between loving it and being driven crazy!

So, I'm packed, I've got our stack of paperwork, a handful of pounds and pence from my international change collection, I think we're ready to rock and roll! I'm sure I will have a thousand more questions over the next week or so once we're on the ground. At least a lot of things are already familiar to me; one of the pieces of advice we were given was to google "roundabouts" so we would know how to tackle them when we arrive. That made me chuckle. It will be weird having everything back on the other side of the road though.

You can get giffgaff to ship you a sim card in Canada so you will have it when you get there. Very cheap. Not sure how long it will take to get to you though. https://www.giffgaff.com/

BrakeForTurtles

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2018, 05:58:57 AM »
Hi Izzs and melaniesuzanne, thanks for those tips! I totally agree with you about Orchard Park, Izzs. The places I was looking at were perfectly nice apartments, but the area seemed a bit sterile and the nearest supermarkets and pubs were far enough that you would have to plan trips around them.

We ended up applying for the first place we saw, which was the first place I made an appointment for because it ticks all our boxes (except a gas hob, but that was just a nice-to-have) and the location is fantastic. It took a week for everything to be finalised, so I'm reallly glad we extended our house hunting trip for DH to do his handover at work.

Cambridge has been truly delightful. We walked all over, popping into pubs everywhere along the way. I met up with a university friend of mine who has been here for a few years, and met a bunch of her friends at a party. So it's nice to get to know some people already. We had some interesting discussions about the "bubble" that is Cambridge, which I imagine spreads out from the university and permeates a lot of the city.

Some new questions:
1. Is there a place that sells bulk food, like dried beans, oats, flour etc? I'm really used to buying all my non-perishable pantry items in bulk and it's much cheaper. Hopefully there's an equivalent here.
2. Best place for buying garden items, like reasonably sized pots of lavender and herbs? We have a little courtyard that I'm looking forward to making into a mini garden. Also I would LOVE to get an allotment, but that is definitely something to wrap my head around once we move.
3. Are Charlie Wells and Greene King evil giant corporations that should be shunned? Or is this just the model under which traditional pubs in the UK have to survive? I prefer independent places, but also acknowledge those have been closing down at rapid rates, so if they have to be taken over to stay open I prefer that.
4. It seems like our house already has utility providers lined up, and we have to let the agent know if we change any of these. Is this a standard set up for a rental? I know Virgin is the preferred supplier for the internet, so hopefully their plans are on par with some of the cheaper ones I've seen.

I think that is all for now. We'll be doing the actual move at the start of August, so there's sure to be more questions then. So far it has been a fantastic experience, and we're both really excited!

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: Relocating to the UK from Canada!
« Reply #38 on: June 26, 2018, 02:12:24 PM »
Glad you like Cambridge.

....
Some new questions:
1. Is there a place that sells bulk food, like dried beans, oats, flour etc? I'm really used to buying all my non-perishable pantry items in bulk and it's much cheaper. Hopefully there's an equivalent here.
2. Best place for buying garden items, like reasonably sized pots of lavender and herbs? We have a little courtyard that I'm looking forward to making into a mini garden. Also I would LOVE to get an allotment, but that is definitely something to wrap my head around once we move. Scottsdales garden centre Great Shelford is a big one: https://scotsdalegardencentre.co.uk/
3. Are Charlie Wells and Greene King evil giant corporations that should be shunned? Or is this just the model under which traditional pubs in the UK have to survive? I prefer independent places, but also acknowledge those have been closing down at rapid rates, so if they have to be taken over to stay open I prefer that. It's just how it is, they are big chains, but the beer can still be good. There are also quite a few good independents in Cambridge - e.g. The Cambridge Blue on Gwydir street.
4. It seems like our house already has utility providers lined up, and we have to let the agent know if we change any of these. Is this a standard set up for a rental? I know Virgin is the preferred supplier for the internet, so hopefully their plans are on par with some of the cheaper ones I've seen. I don't know about that rental condition. You can play Virgin and BT (and the many providers that use the openreach infrastructure) off against each other and haggle the price down a bit I think. I have poor BT line quality so I am stuck with Virgin. The service is good, but I've never got phone+50Mb unlimited below £30pm. It's £33pm at the moment after recently complaining when they tried to bump it to almost £40pm again.

I think that is all for now. We'll be doing the actual move at the start of August, so there's sure to be more questions then. So far it has been a fantastic experience, and we're both really excited!