Managing the Cross-Country Move

Relocating to a new city across the country isn’t easy, but following these four tips should make that move much easier on the whole family.

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Every year, thousands of Canadians move themselves and their families to another city, whether for work or family reasons. It’s hard enough to relocate within the same city, but moving halfway across the country is stressful to say the least.

I would know – a few years ago, my husband got a new job and we moved our young family across the country, from Toronto to Calgary. A year later we moved again, back to Toronto.

The first relocation was a no-brainer: We had friends and family out west, the job was a step forward in my husband’s career and the moving costs were on the company. We moved back for personal reasons, and because we missed Toronto more than we had thought we would.

After moving a total of about 7,000 kilometres in roughly 12 months, my family knows first-hand what it takes to make a relocation run smoothly. Here are four tips to keep in mind when you make your next big move.

Spend time helping your family members settle in, too. Find groups to join, or counselling services that can help your spouse find a job.

Spousal support

If you are the person who’s starting the new job, you will most likely have the easiest time settling in – you have something to focus on, you’re getting out every day and meeting new people. You need to make sure you spend time helping your other family members settle in, too. Find groups to join, or counselling services that can help your spouse find a job. And be on the lookout for kid-friendly activities, such as local festivals and neighbourhood meet-ups, that will help the whole family make new friends and connect with their new city.

Settling-in services

Ideally, your company will offer services that can help you settle in. These might include anything from pamphlets with information about city attractions to a list of walk-in clinics, website resources or a meeting with a relocation consultant. Even if you are a pretty good Googler, I recommend taking advantage of these services. We learned things, like how to find a family doctor and register for city-run programs, that are best explained by a local. If this service isn’t available through your company, ask if you can have a chat with someone internally who can give you the lay of the land.

Tax advantages

If you move for a new job, or to run a business, and your new home is at least 40 kilometres closer to your place of work, you can deduct some of your moving expenses from your income. This doesn’t include what your company pays for, of course, but anything that’s coming out of your own pocket can be subtracted from the income earned at the new location, lowering your taxable income. Expenses like moving trucks, meals and temporary accommodations are all tax-deductible, but be sure to hold onto all your receipts and keep impeccable records, in case you get audited. The tax benefits can be significant if you’re financing the move largely on your own: One year, we actually decreased our family income to the point where we were suddenly eligible for child tax benefits that we didn’t qualify for before.

Consider renting

It can be tempting to rush into buying a house when you’re moving to a new city, but the yearning to feel settled can sometimes lead to hasty decisions. Buying a house is obviously a huge investment, and the choice of neighbourhood can make or break your family’s happiness. Consider renting a condo or a house until you get a better feel for the city. This short-term pain will lead to long-term gain when you’re finally settling into a new neighbourhood that’s perfectly suited to your family.

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