June 29, 2016

Things to consider...


I guess my second post about us deciding to move to the UK should be about the things we considered in making that big decision.

If you have been following my blog, you are well aware of us wanting to move to Europe (specifically Switzerland) for a number of years now (going on four!). We have sacrificed a lot to get to this point and have done extensive research. When we first decided to move overseas, we gave up our house in NB, sold most of our furniture, packed the rest in storage and moved to ON and rented out half of my mom's house while Justin went back to school to get his teaching degree. Ever since he graduated, he has been applying to international schools in Switzerland....and later we included Germany as well. The full time teaching jobs in ON are very hard to come by if you don't speak French...and you are lucky to get on the supply list at this moment in time. We were even up for moving to the Yukon. England entered our world a couple of years ago when Justin got an offer for supply work in London (that we turned down). That offer though, made us research the UK and be open to it if the right opportunity came along....which it did! :)

Hey, at least now we are in easier (and cheaper!) travel distance to Switzerland ;)

Once we were given the details of where exactly we would be living, I went on an internet research binge....thank you internet...you are a handy dandy machine!

I researched the area extensively...even found a blog from a fellow Canadian that recently moved to the area we would be living! I emailed her and she was ever so kind and helpful...answered all my questions and more! It was really helpful to get an actual insiders perspective on the area.

So here is my list, in no particular order, of what we researched before deciding to take the plunge and move to the UK that you might find useful in your plans:

* Research the area extensively....Find the city online newspaper, try to find blogs about it, instagram users...anyone that might be able to give you an insiders perspective about living there. Use common sense, you will come across the tourist page which will paint the area in nothing but a positive light, and you will come across the jaded people as well. Find the balance of what is important to you in an area and take everything with a grain of salt!

* We already knew about the school, so we didn't overly have to research that part for the kids, something to keep in mind though! We also looked at the daycare available in the area.

* What amenities are in the area? Swimming pools, grocery stores etc....

* Transportation....Is everything easily accessible without a car (since we will not have one over there).

* Are there houses/apartments for rent regularly in the area (and the average cost of those)?  I LOVE Rightmove UK ! It has come in so handy!

* Will groceries and things in general be affordable? Check what grocery stores are around your area and look them up online....check their flyers and maybe do an online grocery shop to find out what your weekly grocery bill might be.

* We checked online about basic costs of utilities, phones, taxes, etc... The UK GOV website was beyond helpful with tax information and all that other fun stuff adults have to know.

Basically we wanted to know if we could live on the income that Justin will be bringing home until I am able to find some part time work. It was really important to us to not dip into our savings at all with the move, and with all our planning, we wont have to. The sale of our car and the relocation money that the school is providing us with, should cover all our costs: (which is another thing to consider when moving overseas).

-Flights & train tickets
-Shipping over a few things (12 boxes to be exact)
-Up front rent (rental fees and first and last month and any extra costs)
-Start up utility costs
-New phones
-First large grocery trip to restock all the essentials
-Felix's school uniform (we need one for him right away...and note, in England even public schools have uniforms!)
-Basic furniture (we checked if the Ikea delivers to our area (it doesn't :( ) but there is an awesome second hand furniture store right in town and also Asda)
-Stocking up again on all the electronic basics (iron, computer cord, toaster, coffeee maker, vacuum etc)

It can all add up very quickly!!! It is crazy when you start to write it all down.
I hope this has helped you a bit if you are planning a big move overseas, or was at least a bit interesting even if you are not! :)

In the next post, I plan on writing about how we have been preparing for the move over the last little while, steps you can take to prepare for a big overseas move to make it go smoother. 

May 14, 2016

It is official!




I can finally say it out loud (and write about it!)...we are moving to England!

We are moving this August to a seaside town in Lincolnshire county, about five hours outside of London. Justin signed a two year full time teaching contract with an awesome school.

We are over the moon excited and have been preparing for this move for a few months now. I think I will break up a big blog post into a few covering different aspects of the move and applying for a permit/visa for Justin etc and the whole process in general. I think that would be best, instead of having one epic blog post that has way too much information in it :)

I guess I will start with how this all came about!

We had literally 24 hours beforehand accepted our fate of spending at least another year (or two) here in town (which wasn't bad, just not what we wanted, since there are no full time teaching positions to be had for a newly non-french speaking teacher in Ontario). We had even discussed finally giving in and buying a television (ours broke a year ago or so and we never replaced it, watching most things we like on the laptop). I think in our minds, buying a brand new electronic was like finally admitting that we were not leaving Canada any time soon.

The very next morning, Justin had an email waiting for him from a recruitment agency from the UK. He has his profile set as public on the teacher list in ON and has "interested in working internationally" checked off. The recruitment lady mentioned teaching in the UK and that if he was interested he could email her back and they could set up a phone chat.
He was going to delete the email, when I said that he should maybe do the phone call for practice. It might be good to start getting use to phone interviews.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember almost three years ago now that he was offered a position in London that he turned down. That is why he was going to delete the email right away, we thought that it was going to be a similar offer (no relocation, supply work, expensive London). Turns out, the interview went amazingly and the offer was completely different...everything we could hope for! :) Relocation help, full time in one class (over summer pay as well), two years, small seaside town far away from expensive London. Don't get me wrong, we are so excited to visit London and I have always thought it was amazing, but after researching the cost of living there, it was not feasible for us to live there.

The whole opportunity just fit us as a family perfectly. The fact that Justin will get a chance to finally teach, and teach full time is absolutely major.
To say that we are excited is an understatement!

I will sign off for now and continue the next blog post on the things we considered before accepting the teaching offer and relocating to the UK.


February 10, 2016

This moment...


This moment I am...

:: Excited & nervous for what might come...

:: Ready for change...

:: Organizing and donating a lot of things around the house...

:: Feeling good about cleansing our living space...

:: Trying to not be so hard on myself...

:: At peace with the decision we made...

:: Finding a balance...

:: Taking a moment to breathe and take it all in...

:: Nursing a very sick little Uli bear....crazy high fevers are no fun!

:: Being patient with our newly five!!! year old...do they ever stop talking incessantly? ;)

January 13, 2016

Little ways we save money...Part Two...


My previous post about the little ways we save money was quite popular, so I thought I would share another...or more so a continuation of what we do daily/weekly/monthly to save money. These are in no particular order...just what sprang to my mind at the moment...

~cloth diapering & diapering in general...we use both cloth and disposables. The cloth I had from when Felix was a baby and some were given to us second hand and some as gifts. I like one particular brand especially (Applecheeks) since Felix was a baby. They have great re-sale value (as in, I made more money back selling them than I did buying them new!). I don't want to turn this into a cloth diapering post though...but I should mention that we rent and don't pay for water...so cloth diapering is even cheaper for us. The disposables that we do buy, we buy no name brands/store brands. They aren't as pretty and as sturdy looking as the name brand one's, but they are soooo much cheaper in the long run. You might score a great sale on the name brand diapers sometimes, but do make sure to compare the price to the store brand one's first...they usually are still cheaper, even when there is a sale. Same goes with baby wipes...no name/store brand. They are fine to use, we have had no leak issues! :)

...which brings me to the next point...

~When grocery shopping we usually buy store brand/no name brands. There are only about a handful of products I refuse to budge on and still buy name brand for (Heinz ketchup...it has to be!). It might seem like no big deal...but an extra ten cents here and there will add up!

~We are part of a points program with our grocery store (President's Choice)...it doesn't cost a penny and you earn points every time you shop there. It goes towards your groceries. Every 1,000 points I believe is a dollar. They will have deals on for certain products to give you for example 3,000 points etc. They will also email you weekly deals to upload to your card...and they usually use products that you already purchase regularly (which I really like!). We used our points (over a $100!) in the Fall on our groceries, and we already have almost $85 saved up again to use towards groceries! I should mention that particular store also sells home products and clothes etc...so you can always use your free money towards that too!

~Speaking of President's Choice...we also use their banking. Absolutely no monthly/yearly fees and free cheques! We were with a different bank before that was charging us almost $13 a month each for our chequing accounts! That is a lot of money going down the drain a month! 13x2=26...26x12=312...$312 that could be saved a year...by just switching to a no fee bank!

~Since we live in an apartment, we have washers and dryers in the basement...that you have to pay for...Our landlord is awesome and allowed us a portable washer for our cloth diapers. We very rarely, if ever, use the dryers downstairs. They are $1.50 per cycle...again, seems like a little bit of money, but in the long run adds up...if we dried our laundry twice a week at two cycles each...equals $6 a week....$288 a year...on just drying clothes. So we hang everything up to dry. We bought two fold up drying racks from Ikea and they are always in use. It honestly takes usually less than a day to dry. We have gotten so use to it. We can even pat ourselves on our backs for being environmentally friendly! :)

That is all my brain can think of at the moment...I'm sure I will come up with more...so stay tuned for a part three! Happy saving!


January 3, 2016

Hello 2016...

This is the first new year that I officially have no idea what it will bring...I hope for good things...I have my fingers and toes crossed.

We celebrated New Year's eve with copious amounts of Chinese food and watching "Back to the Future" while both little one's slept...it was a good night. The next day we headed to the Toronto zoo...which started out a bit rough, but ended with a lovely thick snowflake winter wonderland...which was absolutely lovely and calming...perfect really.







I am excited and scared of what the new year will bring us. Last year, I feel, was all about getting our money in order. The last few years (since we moved to NB and then back to ON) our finances took a big hit...we had a rough three plus years. This past year we finally feel in control again and have been able to set up not one, but two saving accounts. I feel very proud of us, and it feels good to be back in control of everything. We lost a lot that first year being new parents, with Justin going back to school, with moving provinces, not once, but twice! It's been hard staying in one place, but financially we are better for it. We built a nest egg that we hope to add to for years to come...and damn it, we sacrificed (still are) for it and worked our butts off! (like I said, I am proud of us :) )

I don't know where we will be at the end of this year...still in this apartment at the same work places? Still in this apartment and Justin being on the supply list finally? Yukon? Germany?
Having more knowledge about the international teaching world, it is a far fetch for us to be in Germany at the end of the Summer, but one can still dream and apply for teaching positions when they come up. The more than likely scenario is right here...with hopefully some supply work added to the mix. Another year or two to save up a bigger nest egg and lay low and safe doesn't sound as stifling as it use to. We have connections here now, friends, family, familiar places we grew up around, routines we enjoy...living in the now (and enjoying it), but never stopping the daydreaming.

I am not huge on New Year's resolutions, but I do want to make a couple things happen this year...

~take more photos (and be in them too)
~blog more (it makes me feel good)
~keep saving!
~finally take care of myself better and get rid of those few little pounds that weigh my mind & confidence down so heavily

I hope you had a good start to the new year...I hope that you are filled with good thoughts and excitement for the coming year too!

November 30, 2015

One!

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Uli's first birthday...just a small family gathering....


Our tradition (one I grew up with) of having a birthday table (always with some fresh flowers) has continued...since we have had Felix and Uli, we have also added the tradition of a balloon bouquet...always a hit with the kids :)


 Her cake was pumpkin with cream cheese icing...we kept the decorating minimal...I like to make cakes reflect what the kids are into...for his second birthday cake, Felix had a Thomas the train one, third was Curious George...and last year it was a construction site :) This year I might do a hot wheels cake...it's always so much fun...I am by no means a professional cake decorator...and they do not look like it either ha ha...but the kids love it and they taste good...always a plus!




When we first had Felix we sent out a birth announcement bookmark card...we never did anything like that for Uli...which I felt bad about. So a few months ago, we decided that we would do a special printed card for her first birthday instead...that way each of the kids will have a special print announcement card in their memory boxes. This was made by the Twisted Sister Etsy shop...and we LOVE it...we had a print done on the back as well.

All in all, it was a special day...Happy Birthday Uli Bear! <3


November 4, 2015

This moment...


This moment I am...

:: Trying to be patient with learning a new crochet project (beginner here and having a heck of a time figuring out instructions!)

:: Excited for this Friday...a day with Justin.

:: Sleepy, but happy.

:: Planning a 1st! birthday...already!?

:: Wanting to steal more chocolate from Felix's Halloween haul...but restraining myself...

:: Being patient with my little one while he learns to print his letters...


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