Getting around in the Bow Valley.
Move to Canada, Buy a truck…. that’s how it works right? That’s the dream.
For any of you reading this who are in the process of moving then I highly recommend you get your paperwork together before you leave the UK. Although not totally impossible, it is not easy getting yourself a car sorted unless you have as much paperwork as you can possibly muster before even heading in to the insurance office/registry office/car dealership.
One thing that we didn’t realize at all before we moved was how different insurance is here. Basically, if you are new to the country, Canada has no driver history on you. no matter how many years driving experience you have, you are considered a new driver. And here, sometimes ages does not equal reliability.
Henry and I fell in to a high-risk category. In our 30s and new to driving! Basically, in their terms that meant, we are cocky adults who think we know everything even though we have never driven a car before. But we HAVE!! Henry and I have both been driving for over 10 years. But that doesn’t mean shit here! Our insurance premium was gut wrenching! BUT! Don’t despair. If you plan ahead and get a letter/letters from your insurance providers in the UK saying that you have held insurance with them and for however long, that gives you bonus points. No claims certificates do not count, you need to have a nice letter, from a person, basically vouching for you! we didn’t know this and it took months for our UK providers to write back to us. Also, in Canada you are rewarded for sticking with your insurance provider. If you are anything like us then you have jumped around trying to find the best cheapest deal on car insurance in the UK. This does not help you in Canada, this give you a black mark and says you are very naughty and disloyal! Great!
Another thing you should do when you arrive here is go to the registry office, surrender your UK (or where ever) driving license and trade for an Alberta one. The UK and Canada have a reciprocal deal where you can do this and there is no test involved, there is a small fee. About $35. And you have to pay this in either cash or a local debit card. (worth knowing as sometimes you can que for ages and not find out this crucial information until you have gone through all the process.)
As for buying a car/truck/spaceship/hot air balloon on how ever you plan on traveling around, That’s pretty straight forward. There are all the same resources as you have in the UK. I would say though there is FAR more choice in Calgary and often better deals. There are a good few garages in Canmore but I found them to be pricier than the city. You can obviously look on autotrader and ebay and all that as well. Even facebook marketplace has a lot on as well.
Once you have bought your vehicle and insured it you have to register it at the registry office (again! you will learn to love that place) It’s fairly in expensive to register your vehicle and they give you a number plate there and then to put on it. You will likely not be able to take your vehicle away until you have registered it unless you have a nice garage who lend you some trade plates so bare that in mind.
There’s no road tax here like in England. THANK GOD! (Insurance is expensive enough) so that should be all your costs covered. Do bear in mind for Henry and I to be insured on our F-150 (yes, we went full Albertan and went straight for the 150) cost us just under $3000 for the year! Ouch!
Also – if your planning on traveling around and seeing the sights you will need to get a national park pass. You can get one of these from the Banff gates and cost about $150 for the whole year for every national park in Canada. WORTH EVERY PENNY. (It’s $20 a day to go in to Banff if you don’t have a year pass)
I managed to get myself a car later in the year. I didn’t really need one in the summer. I biked everywhere and the buses are free in Canmore and Banff. That is well worth knowing! You can also download the roam app which shows you exactly where the buses are so no waiting out in the elements for one to arrive.
If you are in Canada on a work permit to start, like me and Henry, then you will struggle to get credit on ANYTHING. Remember you are new to the country and they have no history on you. BUT I still managed to get myself financed on my own car. I went through a company called Canada Drives. I highly recommend them. Yes, the interest rates are high but if you are wanting to build your credit, and also get a fairly new(ish) car with a minimum down payment, to help you get around in the winter then they have been great for me. They work with you to find a budget and basically tell you what car they will let you have. I’ve ended up with a Chrysler 200, which wouldn’t be my first choice, but she has been great. Super easy to drive and I know it’s safe for me and Rocket to get to day care in the winter.
If your looking for insurance help then I highly recommend Broker link in town (behind the registry office) Donna there was AMAZING and has set us up with both our car insurance and tenants’ insurance. She has helped us find a company who will support us as new residents and manage our expectations for costs in the future. Check them out.
I hope this helps someone.
Happy car hunting! Once you have your wheels then the world is your oyster. So much beautiful back country to see here, and once you have your wheels your open to it all.