A Kiwi in Canada – Margeaux Frampton

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Margeaux Frampton is a 27 year old Kiwi chick, who in 2009, made a permanent move from New Zealand to Canada.   A traveler from a young age, Margeaux has visited over 40 countries at last count, and continues to put travelling as a priority in her life.  She moved from Queenstown to Toronto in 2009. While waiting to become a Canadian permanent resident, she moved to South Korea to teach English for a year.  She currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What made you decide to move to Canada?

In mid 2009, my boyfriend and I were living in New Zealand, working in Queenstown for the ski season.  He is Canadian, and at the end of the season we decided to go back to Canada. As he was from Toronto, we moved there in December.  Since then we have moved to Vancouver and I am loving every second of it.  Being close to the mountains again feels like a little bit of New Zealand in Canada.

What was involved in the process of initially moving there?

A working holiday permit to Canada is fairly straight forward, but different for every country.  New Zealand citizens can apply for the Working Holiday Category visa for Canada.  This one-time visa allowed me to obtain a job within Canada for 12 months.  The current requirements include being between the ages of 18 and 35, having the necessary funds to cover your expenses while looking for employment ($2500CAD), a visa fee ($150CAD), and some paperwork.  It was all very quick and straightforward to do.  

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You’ve recently become a permanent resident of the best country in the world.  Can you describe the process involved with that?

I don’t think this blog has the space required to get into the drama that was involved in this process. It was long, expensive and an emotional train wreck.  I applied for my permanent residency by being sponsored by my spouse.  There was a lot of paperwork, medical checks, fees, background checks, not just me, but also for my boyfriend.  This process is different for everyone who applies so its hard to give specific advice on.  The most important part is that it worked and I am now a Canadian and can stay here forever!

 What do you do for work?

I am currently working for a country club and hotel in one of their food and beverage outlets until I go back to school.

Before spending a year in Korea, you lived in Toronto, but after returning, you moved to Vancouver.  What are some key differences you have experienced between the two cities?

I am a small town girl and for me, Vancouver has more of that small town vibe to it.  Toronto is a lot of fun -it’s a big city that always has a lot going on and a lot of cool places to explore.  Vancouver also has more nature outside of the city.  Both are great places, Vancouver is just more for me.

A lot of people spend their gap year (and often beyond) in Canada.  What kind of jobs are available and popular for them? 

Most people who I have met on Working Holiday visas work in the tourism industry.  Particularly in British Columbia, jobs on the ski fields in the winter are primarily filled by travellers.  As a result of this trend, Whistler’s other name is now Whistralia.

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What is the cost of living like in Vancouver?

In 2012, Vancouver took the infamous title in The Economist as the most expensive city in North America, ranking #37 in the world.  Pay is a bit lower than a larger city such as Toronto, and everything costs a bit more.  But living in Vancouver seems to be more of a lifestyle choice.

What are some of the things you like the best about Vancouver or Canada in general?

I love the outdoors, and Canada, particularly British Colombia, has so much to offer in that department.  I love getting out to Whistler on the weekends in the winter, biking through Stanley Park in the summer, and just getting out and enjoying what the city has to offer.

What are some of the things you like the least about Vancouver or Canada?

This probably isn’t just Canada, but all cities in general.  Cities can be very clique-y.  This makes it hard to make friends and integrate.  Joining sports teams, working, and getting out and about of course makes this easier.  But you have to be patient as meeting people backpacking is a lot easier than meeting people when you live in a city.

What do you miss most from home?

It’s not easy to make the trip home, apart from it being expensive, it’s just so far to travel between Canada and New Zealand.  So of course the things I miss the most are my family and friends.  But I also miss my home town, Vegemite, feijoas in April, driving on small country roads in the South Island and a million other little things that always make your home country special.

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Or feijoas for that matter…

Kiwis and Canadians are pretty similar, but there are still a few cultural differences.  What are some of the most significant ones you have encountered, or the most difficult ones that you’ve had to adjust to?

The biggest two for me are going to just sound silly now.  The first one was taking your shoes off when you enter a house.  Oddly this isn’t something I grew up doing.  Now I can’t not do it.  It makes so much sense!  The other one is hugs.  New Zealand isn’t a place where you meet someone for the first time and hug them.  Canadians are huggers.  For a long time I would just stand there stiffly while someone hugged me.  I do it now, but it’s always going to be uncomfortable.

You must have very dirty carpets in New Zealand…

For people who want to visit Vancouver, what in your opinion are the top five must-sees and do’s?

In the winter, head to Whistler for a weekend of skiing.

Explore Stanley Park and visit the Vancouver Aquarium.

Bike the seawall and see Vancouver all the way around the coastal inlet.

Swim at Wreck Beach in the summer.

Conquer the Grouse Grind.

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Let’s talk food. Where would you recommend a visitor to eat when they visit Vancouver?

Well seafood is always a must in Vancouver.  There is so much to offer and its so fresh.

But as for restaurants, Vij’s is a must.  It’s a small Indian fusion restaurant on Granville Island near 11th.  They don’t take reservations, and there is ALWAYS a line up out the door.  But the wait is well worth it.

Where are the best places to get a drink ?

Visiting the bars in Gastown is a must in Vancouver.  But in the summer, find any patio and people watch or sit by the water.

What are some things that a traveler to Vancouver (or Canada) should be aware of beforehand?

Canada is a tipping culture.  This took a while to become engrained into my head.  Also like America, tax is not included in the price.  So when looking on a menu to buy a drink make sure you have enough after 15% tax then a tip on top of that final number.  Also that you have to tip on every service, taxis, delivery, hair cuts.  It sounds silly but I honestly only ever thought you tipped in restaurants.

What is your best travel tip?

Always have travel insurance.  I can’t stress this enough. You may go your entire life travelling and never need to use it.  But the cost of buying it and never using it is minimal compared to that one time you don’t have it and need it.  I had an injury while travelling in the U.S.  My bill to my insurance company was over $30,000US.

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Would you recommend moving to Canada, to others?  If so, what is your best advice for someone wishing to do so?

Working Holiday visas are the easiest way to travel and experience a country while earning money and working.  Unfortunately these are often only available until you turn 30.  I would encourage anyone to take advantage of these programs, not just in Canada, but in any country that has a similar program.  The window of time is short so get out there and do it while you’re young!

A big thank you to Margeaux for sharing her expat experiences in Canada.  Having recently visited British Columbia and Vancouver for the first time, it is clear why she is in love with the place!

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