Friday, 11 December 2009


Mrs S on Skype this morning; "I'm bloody freezing!" She complained to me. On the video I could see she was in her day clothes with a jacket and scarf and wrapped up in a duvet. At present she's lodging with youngest for a couple of days before moving on to Mother in Laws for Christmas. I tried not to laugh, much.

Having been a lowly Engineering student in days of yore I can imagine why. Student housing is pretty basic, and English buildings tend towards the poorly insulated and draughty. Energy costs have always been comparatively steep over there as well, so the kids can only afford to have heating on for four or five hours a day. This rather gels with my own experiences of student days gone by when the only heating I had was a two bar electric fire on a coin fed meter. For three years. I like to think of those times (Although I don't try to think too hard about them) as a rite of passage. Shades of Python's 'Four Yorkshiremen' sketch.

For Mrs S, used to Canadian standards of insulation and indoor warmth it's coming as a bit of a culture shock. Where she is at the moment it's one degree Celsius, as it is for me. However, let's do a quick rule of thumb comparison of housing stock. Average British housing: Brick, Cement and Plaster; bloody freezing. Average Canadian housing: Rendered wood and plasterboard (Drywall); toasty and snug. British rooms; small (120-200 Square feet). Canadian rooms; large (270 Square feet and up) even in a small apartment like ours. The new place has a dining (Breakfast) area next to the kitchen of 100 Square feet, and that's the smallest space there is short of one walk in closet.

To give you an idea, the picture below tries to compare your bog standard Canadian House with the closest equivalent in the UK. Each individual property is three bedrooms, and at about the same place in the respective house pricing structure. The little 'Rancher' on the left is fairly typical of most local down town locations, although the yards (Gardens) may be tidier or scruffier. To compare what is called a BC 'Town House' with a typical UK Terraced house just isn't a fair comparison. Nor comparing what I call a 'Barratt box' house with it's Canadian equivalent.

There are times in the immigration process when we've wondered whether we're doing the right thing in switching countries. Especially when yet another bureaucratic hurdle has to be jumped. However, for Mrs S at least, a trip back to the UK freshens the reasons why we left, and strengthens our resolve to make a life here for future generations.

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