How to get engaged, entice your company to transfer you, and move to another country, all in a month

Okay, so the engagement took longer than a month and probably some of the preliminary groundwork that enticed my company to transfer me did as well, but moving in with my new fiance in Toronto and transferring to our Waterloo office all happened within a month. I’ve now been here for a bit over a month and am still settling in.

There are a few things about Ontario that are different from the Bay Area, where I’m from, that I think are worth sharing. Toronto is far more international than San Francisco, which I did not know before. There are numerous mixed couples floating about which I was beginning to believe was a thing of the past, until I came here. It makes me and my mix feel very at home. Living in Toronto on a middle class salary is the bomb! Everything is so affordable because of the amazing social infrastructure! Also, we got a dog and found out that anyone can have a dog in any apartment in Ontario. “No Dogs Allowed” clauses are void! Check it out. So if you love your furry beasts and want to live in an amazing metropolitan area, come live in Toronto. Parks are everywhere, and it is totally flat here. I just got a cruiser bike, which would not have been effective on Bernal Hill in San Francisco, for a mere $30.00CAD and it is perfect for running errands and just cruising around. Rollerblading is still ok-to-do here, which also makes me feel good since, I still love to rollerblade. I don’t like being made to feel like I’m stuck in the 80’s just because I love a good thigh and hip workout! The summers are awesome because, in Toronto at least, beer gardens and outdoor patio dining are copiously abundant.

One thing I’m still missing here is the choice of local and organic food I can get in abundance from one grocery store, in California. It seems one must make a choice between eating local and eating organic, in most cases. While I’ve found decent health food stores, I’m still missing a Rainbow Grocery store duplicate in Toronto. In San Francisco I could always find everything in one store, whereas here, I go to two or three stores to get my usual fare. However, with that said, I did just discover St. Lawrence Market, which is a labyrinth of shops offering everything from Montreal bagels to a plethora of cheese to organic fruits and veggies to creative tofu dishes. I still have to discover everything. Just to hint at the enormity of the task, there is a guy who has created 35 flavors of mustard and all flavors are on display and there are clothing stores I still haven’t ventured into. There is also a farmers market across the street which I have yet to explore.

Then there is Kensington Market, which is an amazing artists neighborhood that used to be a labyrinth of shops reminiscent of the bazaar in Old Jerusalem, but some restaurants moved in where stores used to be making it a bit less busy. Nonetheless, it is still an amazing place to find food and trinkets. The neighborhood is known for being a shoppers paradise.

There are some negative things about moving to another country such as, attempting to transfer money to a US bank account. So far the only way I’ve found to do this is through paypal.ca where you can add a US bank account to your account. However, if you already have a US PayPal account, you must delete that account. Similarly, things like personal article insurance has been a huge hassle. I had my policy through State Farm in the US. They have State Farm here too, but completely different policies. I moved to another insurance company after the State Farm representative insisted that I come into the office to show her my ring, which was appraised only three months ago. I truly believe that she did not trust that it existed. In addition, they could not just transfer my policy.

Canadians conduct more business using old-fashioned snail mail and are generally more distrustful of online shopping. On the other hand they seem to think nothing of driving like they are in the Indy 500. While accident rates have decreased in the US, they are going strong in Canada. Though, I am reminded of the “go for it” attitude that makes hockey a thriving national sport. Watch out pedestrians and cyclists, Canadian drivers just don’t care about you!

Ok, so I listed this post as a “how to”, and really the way to do it is to plan waaay in advance and to realize that timing is EVERYTHING! I’m not really going to tell you how to get engaged because there is literature all over the net on that. Just google “how to get engaged” and lots of advice forums will pop up. Follow their advice, I did, and I am engaged. So on to the nitty gritty, “how to get your company to transfer you”, in this economy.

Well, first you have to assess the situation by asking the following questions. What do you do for them that will be difficult to replace? How easy will it be for them to do it? How badly do they need you? Has somebody just quit or is the team really overworked and dreading another firing round? If the latter is the case, then you might have a chance, especially if you can figure out the answer to the first question and make sure everybody knows it! Then, the timing element comes into play. What would make your manager’s life easier? What does your manager want to do for you? Look for a time when he/she is not dealing with a crap load of issues brought on by you or another teammate to propose a transfer-situation. If you are on a project right smack in the middle of the project work phase would be perfect timing because finding and training somebody else is an expensive nightmare for companies. But most importantly, it is important to know what is valued in your company.

For example, my boyfriend, now fiance, moved to Toronto while I lived in San Francisco. I knew that I was valued, but due to budget cuts and promotion freezes, I wasn’t feeling it anymore. So, I began to realize/plan my move to Toronto knowing that I may or may not be transferred. Then Phil asked me to marry him, I said yes, and therefore began to wear a ring to the office, so my manager knew that we were really serious and family is something she values. I let it sink in for a month that I was engaged to someone whose job was across the country, in another country. On a Monday, dreadingly, I went into her office when I sensed that she was in a good mood; after I noticed our stock price went up 20.00. I gave a “soft” resignation, which basically said that I have to move by July 15th, but I don’t want to quit because I know my team needs me. Then, one day later we were essentially bought out by SAP and everyone was happy to finally know why our stock price had risen. I went back to her the following Friday, and asked if she had thought more about transferring me to Waterloo.

This is the part where assessing how easy it would be for her to do me this favor comes in handy. I already knew that as a tech writer, I was NAFTA exempt, making working in another country super easy. I did not need an attorney to get a work permit. It also turns out our Waterloo office was hiring and I was a perfect candidate to just slide into the position after finishing up my current project, of course. My skills were needed elsewhere in the company. Mission accomplished!

When doing all this I highly advise taking at least four weeks off and working to perfect your new life the entire time. I only took 1.5 weeks off and found myself trying to deal with paypal while at work, which means I was a bit distracted for another few weeks. It takes a while to settle in, but it is the beginning of phase one of my plan to take back my life and live on my terms while still excelling in my career. It’s all about the work-life balance. Now I just need to figure out how to limit my commute which is an excruciating four hours a day!

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