Almost 2 years ago, I moved from Chile to Vancouver, BC. It was not a hard decision. Both my wife and I wanted some change.
We always looked at Canada as a place to migrate, especially for the quality of education and life. We saved up some money and we took a bet for 2 months in this beautiful city.
Well, not that beautiful and exciting in winter. But we thought, if we can bare and like this city's winter, we can definitely think more seriously to make the switch.
Lots of friends ask me how are we dealing with the cold. The great thing is that Vancouver is sort of an oasis in Canada. It has great and mild weather. Winter is not that cold. Summer is not that hot.
Forgetting about material stuff
One funny that happened around our first year in, was that we started forgetting about our material belongings. We own a house in Chile and we left it with lots of furniture, electronics and generic possessions. Some of them, with emotional attachment.
We had this thought about going back, but we soon realize we were here for the long term. That process was not painful, but I can see some people struggling here.
By the first year, we decided to sell all our stuff (except our house) and don't look back. It was a relief to think that stuff was not waiting for us there. It made me realize my important material belongings could fit in a bag, and that whenever we want, we can go back and start over again.
One amazing thing that happened over the past year, is that we had our second daughter, Dominga.
Having the first one, seems you have entered the twilight zone. Priorities change, you become a zombie in need for constant caffeine and wow, there's a human being that relies 100% on you.
Well, the second should be easier, right?
Not in a country that's not your own.
Being surrounded by family and friends that love and care for your kids, is priceless. This is the biggest drawback from living in another country, away from family.
I've been thinking about this a lot. My wife 10 times more. There's definitely some mental fitness and balance work to overcome this.
Aside from that, and because of the not so small gap between my two daughters (7 years), having the second one feels great and I think our parenting style has changed a lot, which in my opinion is good. I've learned quite a lot with my first one and the gap has given me time to process and come with different approaches.
In our 2 month trial time, I was lucky enough to meet my friends from TTT Studios. To be honest, I was just seeking for some freelance gigs and expand my network. I soon got a work offer and it was the detonator for the big decision.
It's hard to summarize these 2 years (in a good sense!). I've worked in so many great initiatives with awesome mates. I've expanded my tech skills to a broader set of frameworks and languages. I travelled to different cities and countries because of conferences and projects.
I've also recently become Director of Engineering and I feel there are just so few too many challenges to come. From the technical and cultural aspect.
There's definitely a cultural gap compared to Latin America. And even with the States. People seem to be calmer, respectful of your time and opinions. There's a sense of caring and accountability that's hard to find somewhere else.
Work is completely separated from your personal life and everyone lives around that. If you're a workaholic, society forces you to feel guilty about not putting enough time in your quality of life.
Migration is a tricky thing. It can play with your mind and set invisible blockers.
One surprising thing is that being a Chilean has a lot of benefits. Canada and Chile have commercial treaties that make things so much smoother (ever heard of NAFTA?).
After getting a job offer, I got my work visa in 3 days. People rage about how old and slow the Canadian government system is, but in this case, it was pretty good.
(Still, in some other migration applications, you have to mail stuff in. Yep, mail as in a letter in an envelope).
At this point, we're moving on with our permanent residency. Wish us luck.
Life in general
In all, moving to a different country has been an amazing experience. Being by ourselves, 12,000 km. away from home, has made us more attached as a family.
Another good payoff is education. Sadly, Canadian education is miles away from Chilean one, based on our preferences. My first daughter is 8 years old and there's still a sense of playing in school. No tests yet or big loads of tasks.
As I wrote before, Canadian society pushes you to have a great quality of life (Vancouver is in the top 10 worldwide). Being surrounded by mountains, huge parks and nature, makes it even easier.
We've been able to do more travelling, around places that felt so far away before, and to us, that's fuel for our lives. And especially a legacy I like to leave to both our daughters. Understanding different cultures, people and create empathy is certainly a missing skill in our society these days.
I cannot complain about Vancouver though in that sense. Almost 50% the population is from China. Followed by people from India, Korea, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. I love the fact that walking downtown, you can hear at least 3 languages spoken at once.
In general, it's been a good experience to experience risk, get out of the comfort zone and not know what will come after.