We usually celebrate Christmas with the family up in Manchester or Birmingham but last year was different. My brother had got a job as part of the conservation team on a luxury resort development on a tropical island off the coast of Cambodia. So instead of heading to Manchester my girlfriend Jen and I, along with my parents, went to visit him and spend Christmas on the beach.
My brother was loving his job on this beautiful island. He would go diving most days and was living in an old fisherman’s hut that was built over the water. Once they finished building the resort, he would have to move into accommodation on the larger island, an 800m boat ride across a sheltered strait. He was planning on buying a kayak and paddling to work in the mornings. It was a far cry from my 10 mile cycle commute on busy London roads.
Some family friends, the same age as me, had quit their long-term London jobs several months before and were in Vietnam as part of a round-the-world trip. They travelled over to Cambodia to join us for Christmas.
After seeing my brother’s life on the island and listening to our friends’ travelling tales, Jen and I started thinking that we needed our own adventure. Neither of us had expected to stay in London as long as we had and we were always discussing trips that we would take ‘one day’.
We couldn’t really afford to take a large chunk of time off from work for a big trip but we felt like we’d had enough of London and could work elsewhere. I knew there was a lot of VFX work going on in Vancouver so it was one of the first options that came to mind.
I’ve never been to Canada but it has always had an appeal to me. The scale of the country, the Canadians I’ve met and everything I’ve heard about the way of life over there makes it easy to imagine it as a Northern Hemisphere version of Australia. I can live with that!
We started thinking about moving to Canada while we were still in Cambodia. When we returned to London I emailed a contact in Vancouver to ask about what work was going on and how hard it would be to get a work permit. The reply came that there was plenty of work and permits were straightforward. My girlfriend could even get a permit just because we’d lived together for over a year. This news meant our idea became much more definite.
I was already committed to being best man for my friend’s wedding in July and one of Jen’s friends has a baby due in August so we decided that if we did go, we should wait until September. This would mean I waited a few more months before I took the next step.
It actually took a job offer from another London company to force me to decide what I wanted. While I am in London, I am happy to stay at Framestore, so I turned down the offer but it made me realise it was time to set the Canada plan in motion.
I had sent a few speculative emails to the main Vancouver companies but didn’t get any replies, so I emailed my contact at MPC again. It was a case of ‘who you know’, because within two days they had arranged a phone interview.
The interview was on a Friday evening and went well. On the Monday evening I received an email offering me a job. Last week, we booked our one way tickets to Vancouver.