When we were saying our farewells to our friends and loved ones, a frequent question that always came up is what made us decide to do it. We had good jobs in highly-respected companies, we had a good support structure, and our life was comfortable. We had the means to obtain what we needed, and it seemed like our life was on track and going well. Why leave all that behind?
We first toyed with the notion of migrating back in 2014. While our lives were comfortable, there had always been a sense of dissatisfaction lingering at the back of our minds. We grew weary of the daily grind – spending long hours at work, then more long hours on the commute home. We wished we could spend more time with our kids, who would usually be getting ready for bed by the time we got home (remember the long hours spent at work and in traffic?).
If our projections were right, in a few years, we would be spending more than we earned. It seemed like the increase in our pay was being outpaced by the rise in tuition and other major expenses. What troubled us more was the thought that this same fate would most likely befall our kids. We knew we had to make a change.
It took us some time to take serious steps towards migration, however, since we were constantly haunted by that very same question, people asked us – why leave it all behind? In the end, though, we had many reasons, both major and minor.
Ultimately, I think what appealed to us most was the prospect of having more time for our family, as well as the chance to provide our kids with a wider (and better) variety of opportunities for their future.
And so, in 2016, we started doing a lot of research online on countries that are open to immigrants and the processes and requirements for each country. We attended events of companies promoting studying as a way of getting into these countries, and we got to ask questions and further understand how we could make it work.
Thanks to a lot of encouragement and support from family and relatives, we decided that my wife would study in Canada, which would allow me and our two kids to accompany her for the duration of her studies. During this time, I would be allowed to work while the kids studied (for free)!
My wife left for Toronto in August 2017 to start with her Postgraduate Certificate, and soon after, the kids and I were able to follow in December of that same year. After my wife completed her program in June 2018, we became eligible to apply for permanent resident status. And by October 2018, just 14 months after we left the Philippines, we obtained permanent resident status through the help of a local immigration consultant.
We realized that so much of our time in the Philippines was spent working to earn enough to maintain a certain level of comfort and convenience, to afford to send our kids to good schools and to have enough in case of emergencies. But with education and healthcare having been taken care of for us by the Canadian government, a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders ast we start over. What I find refreshing is that even with the current jobs we have which pay just a little above minimum wage, we are already able to live comfortably and, more importantly, are now making enough again to build up a nice little nest egg for our future.
While we do miss a lot of things about the Philippines — and it hasn’t always been easy — our new home offers great improvements versus what we were used to. Efficient mass transportation gets us where we need to go without the need for a car. Our kids are enjoying borrowing from the vast selection of books in the public library. We spend a lot more of our time outdoors in the many parks and playgrounds near our house. Moreover, we now have a whole new area to explore – new sights to see, new cuisines to try, new people to interact with. Toronto is a great, vibrant, multicultural city that offers so much opportunity for us to learn beyond what we’ve been accustomed to in Manila.
Uprooting the family and starting over has definitely been mentally and emotionally challenging for us. Did we make the right decision? I think it’s still too soon to tell. Ask me again in ten years. Or maybe when the kids become teenagers. So far, though, I’d like to believe we’ve been making good progress. We’re getting what we wanted out of it and making it work.