Sunday, October 04, 2015

5 years in Canada

Today marks my 5th anniversary in Canada. Almost a decade ago, when I told a close friend that I planned to emigrate, she gave me the T-shirt below.

[Slogan from a T-shirt from the mid-2000's]

Back then, I could not truly appreciate the truth in the T-shirt's slogan, "The brave finds a home in every land". Perhaps I was just foolish, thinking that migration is merely a matter of "filling in the forms, providing the required documents, taking a plane, landing, finding a place to stay and a job, done!"

I remember landing in YVR airport (Vancouver) back in October-2010, going to the immigration officer's counter to present my COPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residence). The officer, let's call him X, typed in something into his computer, gave a puzzled look, and then called his colleague Y over. I began to worry if there was something amiss in my papers as a result of my DIY approach to the immigration process. Together X and Y had some questions for me.

X asked, "Have you been to Canada before?"

I replied, "No."

X asked, "Have you been to the USA or any part of North America before?"

I replied, "No."

X asked, "So you have NEVER been to North America before?" 

By then, both X and Y wore the same astonished look on their faces.

I replied, "Nooooo?" [By then, I was pretty sure that I had probably "screwed-up" in my DIY process.]

X and Y looked at each other, a little stunned. Then they smiled, instructed "make sure you sign WITHIN the box", processed my application, and waved me on. I gathered then that most immigrants under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) would have had prior experience (work or visit)  in Canada and/or USA before landing for permanent residency. Thus, it was a surprise for them to find one doing her PR landing for the first time without any record of prior trips in the immigration clearance system.

That was probably my first Canadian hint that migration would be more than just "filling in the forms, providing the required documents, taking a plane, landing, finding a place to stay and a job, done!"


Looking back, 5 years seem to have passed rather quickly (my adventures as a new migrant are shared in this blog). I have grown a lot in these past 5 years.

Living in Canada has given me experiences that would otherwise be unlikely if I have stayed on in Singapore. For example...
I have also found it easier to "live and let live" “与世无争”。 I do not know the exact causes for this. It could simply be mellowing with age, a slower pace of life, or perhaps Metro Vancouver being less crowded than Singapore in general.

In all, I think ASingaporeanSon summed migration up succinctly with his diagram "Attitude towards migration", so I am going to unabashedly reference his diagram below.

From the above, migration isn't for everyone. I know now how foolish I was (from the mid-2000's to my early years as a new immigrant) to suggest to friends who had complaints about their life in Singapore to consider emigrating. The time, effort and other resources needed to re-build one's comfort zone in a new country is costly indeed.


But if you do take that leap of faith, don't be surprised to meet other Singaporeans along the way.

[Don't be surprised to meet other Singaporeans. 
Ask for the owner* of the above Vancouver cafe]

*Note: I am NOT the owner of the above cafe, I just like the food there, and I happen to have met the owner.


  1. Congrats Winking Doll. You have done well.

  2. Hi WD,

    I've been following ur journey for a long time.

    My spouse and I have been talking about take some time off work and come to stay in Canada with our 3 kids.

    I have to be honest that as of now, we can't say that we are certain that we should move. But there's something deep inside that tells us we should try. That we need to do ourselves and our children a favor by expanding our horizons and worldview.

    No pain no gain.


    1. Hi W,

      If you're aiming for Canada, IMHO it helps to focus your efforts if you narrow down the province and/or area that you wish to relocate to.

      I like your attitude: looking at the benefits of "expanding our horizons and worldview" and willing to acknowledge that "no pain, no gain". I wish your family the very best of luck on your journey.

      Cheers, WD

    2. Hi WD,
      I must admit that I belong to the category of people who have the financial resources to move and not worry about finances for at least 3 years if not 5 years.
      So in that sense, I do not feel as financially stressed and pessimistic as some of the folks who are contemplating the move out of Canada.
      Thus I do not find it hard to let go of my secure job in Singapore as I have enough savings and investments to allow me to explore.
      I know that there will be some who are in my shoes, who will prefer to continue growing their nest. It is about knowing when enough is and to be contented.
      And I have no issue about taking on jobs in the supermarket, fast food. After all, if I move to a country which accords respect to all despite of your job title, why should I still have to esteem myself according to the job I have. Doesn’t make sense.
      We are planning to move to somewhere near Toronto as we have relatives here.

  3. Happy new year! Ready to take out your CPF and join the club? :)

    Migration isn't for everyone. People don't understand this. They see people migrating and they queue up to follow, without ever finding out for themselves what the process entails, listening to hearsay, listening to people's opinions rather than understand who they are as a person, what they like, what they want and therefore where they should go, what they should be planning for, etc.

    1. Unfortunately that is the impression I get too -- from reading the potential emigrants' questions on ASingaporeanSon's blog.

      Unfortunately or fortunately, 5 years on, none of my friends who ask me about migrating to Canada has actually moved over.

      Cheers, WD

  4. I would beg to differ from CK & say migration should be considered by every Sg'rean. First, the Sg system doesn't work for everyone. Second, Sg as a small country & high-value focused economy cannot provide all the opportunities for all. If you are intelligent, academically inclined or politically savvy, great. Else, the SMRT jobs are waiting for you (security, McDs, recycler & taxi) before the end of your productive work life. Third, the environment is atrocious & going to get worse with more overcrowding & the haze which nothing can be done. Just not good for health. Everyone is different, need to know themselves & find places in the world suitable for them. The world is not going to stop wanting to come to Sg so we might as well do the same for ourselves. Migration is a global reality, to where the jobs and opportunities are. WD, congrats, you have blazed the way for others to consider & follow.

    1. Hi BigOZBlog,

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion.

      I think CK and you are in agreement to some degree -- as in, sure, give migration a thought. That said, IMHO, the decision to emigrate should be seriously thought through; and the effort required should not be underestimated. And hopefully, not based on hearsay OR a lemmings' attitude.

      For example, even with my limited resources, I did a lot of self-analysis and online research before I made my decision.

      As you've mentioned, "If you are intelligent, academically inclined or politically savvy, great" ... and I can see on Facebook many who seem happy with their lives and/or their children's future in Singapore. [Otherwise, how to explain the 70% vote for same-old, same-old?] So I agree with CK that, "Migration isn't for everyone" (as in the actual move out of that little red dot).

      > The world is not going to stop wanting to come to Sg... Migration is a global reality, to where the jobs and opportunities are

      True. That's why I even suggest to some (young) Canadians who asked me here about working in Singapore to "give it a try" or "to skip it" depending on their specific situation. In fact, there are offsprings of (ex-)Singaporeans who grew up in Canada but chose to work in Singapore -- "to where the jobs and opportunities are" for their specific industries/situations. I will not have any issue if my child decides to do the same.

      Thanks! I hope others who choose to come, do so with realistic attitudes, and hopefully drop their prejudices behind.

      I would like to give thanks to the original trailblazer -- the late Singapore Serf, aka Knight of Pentacles.

      Cheers, WD.

  5. HI Winking doll,

    I have been reading your blog as well as a few others (asingaporeanson, neurotic ramblings, limpehft, etc) and I really admire your courage to take the leap of faith.

    This year I finally decided to take IELTS, submit my education for verification and apply for express entry into Canada. To my disappointment, despite getting good scores for a degree and IELTS, it seems my overall score for express entry is still not really competitive because I don't have relatives living in Canada and don't have an immediate job offer.

    I am not really planning to look for a job in Canada as I plan to start my own business in either trading or e-commerce, but I'd really hope to get a PR first so that I have more certainty (as opposed to getting an entrepreneur pass) before moving half way across the globe.

    Just knowing my score last night has been quite upsetting. I know the next logical step is really to look for a job in Canada which will exponentially increase my chances. However, I am quite reluctant to do so. Just sharing my situation and hope to get some ideas.

    1. Hi Yi Wen,

      Welcome to the blog and thanks for leaving your comment.

      The Canadian immigration system has changed significantly since 9 years ago when I applied for PR.

      As far as I understand, the Express Entry grants significant points for those who already have job offers. On the other hand, it doesn't mean that you won't be offered PR if you don't already have a job offer. Check out the blog by Gobbledegook who blogged that their family obtained their PR offer but they do not have a job offer yet.

      Alternatively, if you have the moolah to do a 8 months long (preferably 2 years or more) post-secondary course in Canada, you can stay in Canada via Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, get a job in Canada and then eventually qualify to apply for PR under the Canadian Experience Class. I blogged about the student visa route back in 2013.

      I advised the same to someone who is planning to move over. In her case, she has her youth on her side, the maximum points for age.

      Good luck!

      Cheers, WD.

  6. Hi WD

    Thanks for the advice :) Will definitely check out gobbledegook and maybe consider a graduate course.

    Love reading your blog, keep sharing and take care!

  7. Hi, I'm thinking of migrating to Canada to work as a nurse .

    1. Hi Unknown,

      Thanks for visiting. Firstly, I strongly recommend that you think carefully about the "why" of migration. If you know clearly why, the reasons can serve as motivation when the chips are down as migration is often not a smooth sailing process.

      If after thinking about the "whys" of migration, you are still keen to migrate to Canada; then I suggest checking out the CIC website to figure out for yourself how to make your goal a reality.

      Below is a link to CIC's most recent report on Express Entry cutoff for Permanent Residency applications.

      Only you can decide what's best for your future. Good luck!

      Cheers, WD.

    2. Oops, forgot the CIC link.

  8. Hi! Came across your blog here cos I was researching on ways to increase my chances of migrating to Canada (aiming for Vancouver). Hope to meet up with ex-Singaporeans like you if I succeed! ����

    1. Hi Zenov,

      Good on you for doing your research for migration yourself. Good luck in your pursuit.

      Btw, I checked out your blog briefly, and I love what you wrote in the piece on Passion vs Professionalism. So true, but so many lose sight of it, not just the millennials.

      Based on the piece, I extrapolate that you have your head firmly screwed on your shoulders, and are able to discern between BS and reality. It will serve you well on your migration process.

      Cheers, WD.

  9. Hi WD,

    I have been a reader of your blog for years, but this is the first time I am leaving a comment. I would like to say thank you as reading your blog was a great source of encouragement to me and a very useful resource.

    I have recently given serious thought of migrating to Canada via the student visa route by studying to be an LPN. I am going to be 40 soon and degree qualified but I do not have any nursing background. I feel that the likelihood that I will be admitted to an LPN programme is greater than that of an accelerated BSN and that the learning curve will not be as steep, but these are just my assumptions.

    I would appreciate any comments from you and any school recommendations for LPN courses in BC if possible. I do understand that you are not giving expert advice and will not hold you responsible for any error.

    Thanks again!


    1. Hi Male Nurse Wannabe,

      The career opportunities between RN and LPN are different. If you are keen on working in acute care hospitals, then your ultimate aim should be RN, because there are very limited positions for LPN in acute care settings here. But if you prefer community care (like I do) or residential care, then it may not matter as much.

      Besides the job scope, there is about a $10/hour difference in the pay, which adds up if you include stuff like overtime/holiday multipliers. You can check the link below to download BC Nurses Union NBA wage grids.

      I agree with your observation that entry into accelerated BSN (to become RN) is very competitive, so it may be hard to get into. If application cost and time isn't a concern, consider applying for BSN. In the worst case you get rejected, but at least you have tried, no regrets thereafter. Below are some of the BSN courses in the Lower Mainland, BC.

      For a full list of accredited courses, you can check the BCCNP website (BC College of Nursing Professionals). When you look at the list, my preference is to avoid private colleges, including those colleges (usually private) that pair up "with" an accredited university to offer a program.

      University of BC - In Vancouver

      University of BC - In Okanagan

      BC Institute of Technology

      Douglas College

      Kwantlen Polytechnic University

      Langara College

      Vancouver Community College

      Vancouver Island University

      Thompson Rivers University

      University of the Fraser Valley

      As for LPN courses in BC, my preferences for the LPN courses from any of the above publicly funded educational institutions too.

      Hope the above offers you some directions to look into. Good luck!

      Cheers, WD.