Take lessons from our personal experience of packing for moving abroad. Here are tips and list for packing for relocating to Toronto.
The chaos, on the day we were to take our flight to Canada, was unreal. It was completely in contrast to what we had imagined that day to be. Our bags and suitcases were just off the mark in terms of the required 23 kg weight. Several re-arrangements later, we realized we had forgotten to pack our baby’s bottle sterilizer. Consequently, many items had to denied the visa for travelling with us! And to this day, we wonder how we left some of the items we thought were absolutely essential while we got so many things that we could have easily purchased from here.
This was after so much planning had gone in months before that day. Several lists were prepared, and shopping done in advance. With the kind of effort put in, we were certain we’d be relaxed on the last day.
So where did we go wrong? Firstly, we misinterpreted the weather for the month we were landing in. We had visa validity till March but chose to travel by October end or November because we knew January and February are extreme winter months in Canada. However, while preparing ourselves for the move, we were told it had already started snowing in October. Since we were travelling with a one-year-old, we panicked and started shopping for things like ready-to-eat breakfast options, soap & detergent, mustard oil (as home remedy if baby catches cold!), loads (and loads) of medicine etc. We got all of this stuff thinking it would be difficult for us to step out with the baby initially. Consequently, we were left entirely confused as to what all we must carry and what all is avoidable. And when we arrived here, we found out that the weather wasn’t as bad as we were imagining it to be. It hadn’t started snowing yet; there were only couple of isolated instances of what is known as flurry (lighter version of snow basically). We were easily able to go out with our daughter, after purchasing a stroller from Walmart here.
If I were to put all of the stuff we needn’t have carried, we’d have at least one full suitcase of all the redundant items! We could have instead carried so many things which have emotional value to us, and we could have traveled much lighter.
Hoping it helps anyone in our position, here’s a packing list for moving to Toronto whilst telling you which items are avoidable since they are easily available here at a cheaper price!:
Your passport and CoPR are the most important documents. Keep them handy. Other than these, make sure you keep these documents (whatever is applicable) with you:
- Employment Records
- Education Diplomas & Degrees
- Marriage Certificate (not necessary really but we kept it just in case)
- Birth Certificate of your kid(s),
- Passport pics
- Job offer letter, resume,
- Prescriptions (if necessary)
- Vaccination booklet for your baby
- Get a Driving License Extract for speeding up the process of getting license here
- Make an excel sheet of all the jewellery items you plan to get later on along with their pictures (this is essential if you plan to get expensive jewellery later on; will save you import duty then. Read more about this here)
2. Cash & Cards
We carried a small amount of cash in the form of Canadian Dollars while we got a decent amount via HDFC Travel Forex Card. I wasn’t too happy with the bank’s service in getting the card and later communicating with them for queries. But some of my friends have had a smooth experience with them. Read up reviews and take a call on which bank’s travel card to buy. The card comes in handy in the initial days.
While you must have already been tipped about buying winter clothes from Canada itself, I’d recommend buying one jacket from Decathalon. (This is not a promotion tip; haven’t got a penny from the brand for writing this!). We bought a jacket that’s good enough for -15 degrees, for Abhinav, assuming he’d have to do all the running around as I would be inside with the baby. Although it’s a funny neon-ish colour (it was a last-minute decision and no other color was available), it has been a savior. We bought a coat each from here, but our jackets from India have been working well with layering.
- Carry your business suits and office wear along with tie and formal shoes
- Indian summer clothes work well for indoors as all houses (even basements) are well heated.
- Thermals and woolen socks (A warm legging I bought from Decathlon is quite good)
- Carry a comfortable pair of shoes for ease in travel and walking around here; later it’s advisable to buy snow shoes from here itself.
- We’re glad we kept our swimming costumes too. If you plan to stay in a condo, you’d most probably have access to a heated swimming pool.
Carry basic utensils especially if you travelling with a kid. We carried 2 cookers, 2 pans, saucepans, 4 steel plates, bowls, glasses, and spoons. Now, all of these (yes, cooker too at prices almost at par with Indian prices) are easily available in stores nearby. Dollarama has a decent quality of spoons, glasses, containers, et al. I’d recommend keeping a few of the basic utensils, but if weight is an issue do not fret over having to take any of these out since they are easily available here. (Also, it depends on which part of Canada you’re moving to. I can’t say about other places but Brampton has a lot of Indian stores offering everything Indian you might be looking for).
- Laptop & electronics
- Chargers and power plug converter
- Bed sheets and comforter (My cousin invested heavily in a blanket when she came here. She finds it an unnecessary expenditure now because a) you do not need thick blankets inside b) you get them much cheaper here
- Medicines (Disprin, D-cold, painkillers, volini, and such. Remember to keep allergy pills. An acquaintance spent a large sum of money for getting something as basic as Citrizen as she developed some allergy upon landing in Canada.) and small first-aid kit.
- Basic toiletries, a pack or two of sanitary pads, sunscreen.
- Flip flops
- Food items: No need to carry lentils, spices, etc. You get these easily at Walmart or other grocery stores. There are dedicated ‘Indian food’ sections here. It is, however, a good idea to keep a few things for initial days for the time till you get your credit card here.
- Sentimental Items: I carried some pictures of our parents and small items that remind us of home.
- If you have a kid, pack in some of her favourite toys and items she is familiar with.
- Baby stuff: clothes, shoes, sterilizer, bottles, formula milk, diapers, wipes, snacks, sanitizer, bibs, diaper bag, stroller.
- Kitchen cloth and dust cloths: though you get those here, you wouldn’t want to spend dollars on waste cloths initially 😉
- Your go-to cosmetics and accessories
- Nail cutter and small scissors
- Toothbrush and paste
- Basic face wash and pack (if you are a facepack-freak like me! Although the store near our place has multani mitti (Fuller’s earth) and other desi packs.
- Hair dryer and straightener
- Download books, movies, and songs in your laptop
Refer to the image above for some handy packing tips. Check the weight of your bags according to your airline, at least a day before you’re leaving. Keep the final day to just relax. I wish we had done that!