Making the Move to Live Abroad

Making the Move to Live Abroad

This blog post is a little bit different. We want to share with you our journey on how we became Canadian citizens. We never thought we would maintain flourishing careers while living in another country. A lot of people ask us how we ended up here, and we always say, “We came to Canada for work.”

The next question is what we do for work and we always reply, “We work in post-production in the film industry.” The third question follows, “How can I get a job in the film industry?”You can check out our post on How to Work Abroad in Visual Effects

In this post, we will explain why and how we immigrated to Canada. Please note: this post is based on our experience as Americans moving abroad. We will provide resources below to Facebook groups for Americans who want to move abroad.

image by @weareglobetrekkers

The Beginning

In 2012, Ty’s employer Sony Pictures Imageworks closed their office in Albuquerque. N.M. U.S.A. Ty had to decide whether to take a position in their Canadian office or look for work elsewhere in the United States. We were both hesitant. We just came back to the United States only a few months ago after spending half of 2011 working in VFX in Australia. We weren’t sure if we were ready to move again, especially for a permanent position in a different country. We knew nothing about Vancouver, B.C., and already had successful interviews with a film studio in Florida. 

We decided to check out a few videos to see what Vancouver was all about. We instantly fell in love with what the city had to offer; beaches, mountains, high-rises, and a walkable city. We really thought our move to Vancouver would last for about 2-3 years and then we would continue our journey working somewhere else. Wow, we were wrong! Fast forward to the present day and we are now Canadian citizens! It just kind of happened. 

image by @weareglobetrekkers

Why We Decided To Stay

Vancouver’s film industry has been growing non-stop. The demand for experienced professionals is very high which is why we have been steadily employed. We have been so blessed to have steady work in the film industry. We made a lot of good friendships and started a new part-time job teaching dance cardio! We had little out of pocket expenses going towards healthcare and we loved the relaxed vibes of Vancouver.  Having both grown up in a tough neighborhood in in Brooklyn, N.Y., we experienced no adversity, hardship, racism, or harassment during our time in Canada. In fact, we received a lot of attention. Strangers would come up to us and compliment us or wanted to know more about where we were from. We became a part of the dance community in town and were constantly being asked to attend events. We kind of became pop stars in town, we would never get this status in NYC! We really felt like Vancouver was our new home and that we belonged.

image by @weareglobetrekkers

Road To Citizenship

When our work visa was coming close to expiring, instead of doing a border run to renew the visa, we contacted an immigration lawyer to see if we qualified for permanent residency. We qualified under the skilled immigrant category. Due to our crazy work hours, we decided it was best to work with an immigration lawyer to apply for residency. It was so helpful to have someone look over our paperwork and to make sure everything was submitted in a timely fashion. In 2015, after 3 years of living in Canada, we were officially permanent residents! When the Prime Minister announced that the timeline to apply for citizenship was reduced, we contacted our lawyer again to see if we could apply. We qualified after having our permanent residency for only 1.5 years. Having a steady job helped us to qualify.

Getting our citizenship seemed pretty easy. Most of the paperwork needed was already completed for our permanent residency. We used the same immigration lawyer to file on our behalf. We did have a few hiccups along the way, our American passports expired and Shay moved to Montreal to work for a few months. But our lawyer got everything sorted out and our citizenship ceremony took place on Valentine’s Day 2019! We will never forget this moment.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on


So if you are thinking of moving abroad, our advice would be to find a predominantly English speaking country with universal healthcare, it will make the transition much easier. Remember, you can always try living abroad in a country for a few weeks and can go back home if it doesn’t work out for you. Another tip is to have a family member or friend in the country you want to move too. We already have a lot of friends including former co-workers living in Vancouver. We also have extended family in Toronto. Having them around was a huge help in making the leap abroad, and they will be your best resource on how you can make the move. If you have a specific question, feel free to shoot us a message. If you would like more resources on how you can make the leap to start a new life abroad, check out the links below. Until next time, happy trekking! – Ty & Shay

Americans Moving Abroad:

U.S. State Department for Careers Abroad:

USA Job Search Abroad:

Expat Abroad (Netherlands):

How to Move Abroad:

Moving Abroad Checklist:

Thriving Abroad Support Group:

Trailing Spouse Network:

Meet Up Groups for Ex-Pats:



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