It’s an interesting thing with Canada. I think there is no country in the world about which Europeans have more romantic ideas than Canada (including myself before I immigrated). Before I moved to Canada the first time, I had all these great fantasies of a romantic log home in the forest with a fire in an open fireplace as well. Within the first couple of weeks actually living in Canada I landed really hard on the ground of realities.
Somehow these fantasies are understandable, since especially in Switzerland we live in a very heavily populated country where you become almost claustrophobic. And the more we are daily confronted with consumerism the more we begin to long for a simple and sensible lifestyle.
It’s just human nature to project all of our unfulfilled wishes, desires and dreams into the future in a new place. In television we see Canadians who live far of from any civilization fishing salmon side by side with a bear, then go back to their cozy log cabin and grill their fresh fish over an open fire. That way we develop a false idea about another country and how life should be there. ..definitely much better than in a country like Switzerland where you can’t even turn around without having to look into someone else’s living room.
On top of that we tend to develop unrealistic fantasies when we fall in love with another country during our vacation or by watching a documentary movie. Every country shows tourists their Sunday face, just like hosts show their best face to guests. But when you actually live there, suddenly everything is different and our fantasies have to be replaced by the cold reality.
After five years of living in Guysborough County I have learned that it actually is possible to realize some dreams, wishes and fantasies, because there is not only a lot of space, but also very little bureaucracy that leaves people a lot of room to learn and try out different things. The important thing is that we as Europeans…
- know what we want and HOW to reach those goals (sometimes with some detours)
- don’t try to avoid any personal problems with such a move to another country
- take our time to really get to know the other country and its citizens
We have to be aware of one thing: no matter where we are going to, we are always taking one person with us: ourselves. If we have problems in certain aspects in our own country, we will have the same problems in another country as well, until we will finally transform them. Therefore the goal of escaping something is the worst thing to achieve, if you want to become happy in another country. Neither lack of money, loneliness, depression or problems with the neighbors suddenly and magically disappear in another country. Before we can get rid of such problems and change them we will have to take some real action.
As a side note: there is one exception, though. There will not be any cell phone towers or WiFi bothering us. This is something we can really avoid at Forest Hill.
Although escaping is exactly the same procedure like moving towards something new, the results can differ quite a lot. When we escape, we have our focus on the negative, even if our escape is happening unconsciously. When we are curious to make new experiences and move toward a new life with an open mind, then our focus is on making new life experiences and therefore on something positive. Our inner state makes the whole difference.
We just have to be aware that every country has its perks and disadvantages. And actually I don’t even want to call them “advantages” and “disadvantages”. They are just facts we may or may not like. Whoever wants to immigrate to another country should not do that with the goal to change the other nation so that it will fit into your own perceptions. Even worse are those blood suckers who just want to benefit of the social system of another country. With such a mentality you won’t be lucky in Canada. We have to be realistic.
We as Europeans have to be aware of the fact that nature is much stronger, more powerful and sometimes even merciless in Canada. The pure nature we as Europeans often are dreaming of can quickly become a problem or even a danger in Canada, unless you stick to some tactics and strategies local people learned to apply. For instance, Canadian forests don’t have marked trails you can follow where you always know where you are and where you have to go. So you choose the special hiking trails and the beaches for your walks.
In an earlier article we talked about dealing with fears or new situations. Both fears and fantasies have nothing to do with reality. In this article we would like to introduce you to some realities of a life in Canada, so that you have a better idea of what you can expect and therefore have a solid foundation for making a good decision. That way we are also hopefully eliminating some diffuse fears and uncertainties.
Nature is nature…and since this is exactly what our readers love about Canada, you need to know that there are certain things we can’t change nor even want to change. And one such thing are black flies. In May/June these bugs get active and need blood. I know Europeans who decided to never again travel to Canada because of the black flies. Although I’m allergic to insect bites, I would never make such a decision dependable on an insect. I have personally made the experience that we can reverse an insect allergy without medication. Besides, there are several ways we can protect ourselves. After all, it’s just one month of a whole year. It’s an interesting thing that the longer one lives in Canada, the more the body seems to develop kind of an immunity that keeps black flies away, and on top of that the physical reactions to bites become less from year to year. If somebody still doesn’t want to get bit, there are special nets for the head and great repellents to keep the bugs away.
Thanks to the Gulf stream and the fact that N.S. is on the same elevation like Northern Italy, winters are relatively mild. Nevertheless, you have to know that they still last longer than in Central Europe, that sometimes temperatures can get down -35° Celsius at night, and that when it snows, it snows more at once. The good news is that the snow is very light. And more good news is that in Nova Scotia you never have long bad weather periods like in Europe. The weather changes several times a day, so that even during phases of heavy rains and snow falls, you never feel down because just a few hours later the sun is going to shine again. Those who want to live in Forest Hill all year will need a good heat and a well insulated house. For such tolerance toward nature we will be blessed with the most beautiful pictures of winter wonderland you could wish for. I personally don’t like winters in Europe, but I love them in Nova Scotia. Those who prefer a tropic climate though should not consider living in Canada, unless he has a second home south of the border…or is willing to learn to live with the local circumstances.
I personally just love the Nova Scotian woods. Since I have experienced first hand how unspoiled forests can look like I don’t feel attracted by those cleaned European forests anymore. Forests in Nova Scotia even smell stronger what is a another good sign of unspoiled nature. Although we don’t find those large trees in Nova Scotia that grow in Western Canada, the forests are much more natural. The odors are simply spectacular. On the other side you will not find road signs in forests. You really have to know very well where you are and where you have to go to find your way home. As European it’s important to know that you first have to get used to the environment and only use paths you know. 70% of the Guysborough County is wooded and at some point all lakes look exactly the same, which makes it real easy to lose your orientation. So don’t be a fool and use your common sense when you’re new in Forest Hill.
The biggest fear Europeans have is of bears, although in Nova Scotia you only find black bears and those are so shy that they run away the moment they smell a human being. In five years I have only seen one black bear…from behind running away. I personally have much more respect of skunks and porcupines. Because of the coyotes nobody should take a walk in the woods at night alone before one has gained some certainty and knowledge how to handle an unexpected meeting with some of these animals. As a foreigner one should be wise enough to first take some time and become familiar with the animals and their habits. We can’t expect the animals to adjust to us. For instance, we need to know how certain animals defend their babies. In Forest Hill all animals have exactly the same rights to live like we humans have. So man needs to come up with enough wisdom about and an understanding for our furry inhabitants. Besides, when animals get aggressive then this is a reaction to the aggressions of humans.
Like nature also the weather in Nova Scotia can be more powerful. There are no long bad weather phases in Nova Scotia, yet there are some weather conditions that force humans to stay at home. Many Europeans and other visitors from large cities still tend to underestimate the snow falls and snow storms in Nova Scotia. It can snow a lot within a short time and you better be at home before your vehicle gets stuck in the snow. In places like Guysborough County the snow plow comes by once per day…if at all. This is even more important with snow storms, which happen a couple of times every winter. Snow storms will always be announced at the radio, and then the locals stay at home or take a hotel room when on the road for a very good reason. It would be naive to go far from the house when a snow storm is coming. The same goes for hurricanes because during such a storm it can happen that you might be hit by a fallen tree (yet I have personally experienced a storm-free zone around my house while the worst hurricane Nova Scotia has ever seen was roaring just outside of my property – no fallen trees or telephone poles on my property). On such days Canadians stay at home, sometimes visit their closest neighbors, make music together and grill marshmallows. Every local person always has some extra food in their pantries for bad weather.
The people in Guysborough are very friendly and helpful. This helpfulness is their survival strategy, especially in the country where people simply depend on each other. If you have won a friend, you have a friend for life. Like in every other country there are good and bad people in Canada, and often those who come first when immigrants move in, these may not always be the good ones. Since the unemployment rate in Nova Scotia is very high, theft and burglary can happen, especially for vacation homes. Local people tend to think that all Europeans have a lot of money and that they would not mind to buy new stuff from time to time (these are their fantasies they have about us). If you need a trades man it can happen that you pay more when you have an accent. But these are all things you can prevent yourself from. The most important thing is that you don’t move blue eyed and naively without knowing the situation. Especially at the beginning you better stick to people you know. That’s why we will have a care taker in Forest Hill and a gate. In Canada we have made the best as well as the worst experiences with locals. That way we have learned a lot, and we have learned who to trust, who our real friends are and to relate to those friends when we need a craftsman for a fair rate.
September is hunting season when almost every Nova Scotian guy shoulders his gun. On our property hunting is not allowed, however most of our future inhabitants don’t just want to stay on our property all month. Therefore it’s important to wear a special orange jacket for men, dogs, and cats during the hunting season. You can find those jackets in every hardware store.
It is not our intention to scare you off with these examples because millions of Canadians and hundreds of thousands of Europeans are living a great life in that beautiful country. You can have your romantic log house – for very low costs and very little bureaucracy. You just need to know who you can hire and who you should not hire. We will tell you. You can spend your evenings in front of a cozy fire in your fire place, you just need to know where to get dry fire wood (what you can’t take for granted, if you hire the wrong person).
The important thing is that you prepare yourself very well and that you know what you are willing to live with and what not. The second most important thing is to stick with people you can trust until you are more familiar with local habits. Most of our negative experiences we made, you will never have to make in Forest Hill because this will be a gated community and because we can help you find the good contractors. And if you stick with the craftsmen we use for ourselves, you’ll always pay nothing more than local people pay. It’s also very important to decide for yourself what is more important to you.
No country in the entire world fulfills all of your wishes, dreams and fantasies. We have to adjust to the country we want to live in and to nature in that country. And thank goodness nature in Canada is just great and beautiful and also a little bit unpredictable for us Europeans. For all those reasons and to find out, if you fit well to that great country we recommend that you communicate with us first so that we can answer your questions.
It requires wisdom, compassion and the willingness to adjust to the nature in the new country. It requires some realistic thoughts and knowledge of our own needs. Then one can become very happy there and enjoy all the advantages of the country and the blessings of mother nature.
Whenever you’ll be ready to take such a move into consideration we recommend to reserve your favorite plots.
Please post your questions and comments in the comment field below. We will answer them all.