We are back! We landed in Canada the end of June and have been busy settling in. I would have to say, this was the first time traveling that we were a little anxious to get back. Two and a half months was a long time to wait to see our precious granddaughter Margot, and it was harder than we thought to be away. Plus our new home was waiting for us! After being nomads after 8 months of traveling or Airbnb’ing in Vancouver, were ready to settle down again.
Our flight from Copenhagen to Vancouver (with a stop on Toronto) was pure luxury for us thanks to our oldest son, Jordan. He graciously used some of his Air Canada points to fly us back in Premium Economy class. This gave us roomier seats in a quieter cabin, free meals and bevies, and priority check-in. AC lounge access at both airports was a surprise perk and made for relaxing pre-flights. Thanks again Jordan! The minute we landed in Toronto though, we stopped for one of these, as missed our old friends.
Once back in Vancouver, we stayed in a hotel one night and got up to enjoy a visit with Margot before heading to Chilliwack. It was so wonderful to see her and the kids of course. Margot grew a whole bunch!
You may recall the story of how we purchased our Chilliwack condo; such a whirlwind! After house shopping the entire lower mainland, we found a special neighbourhood in Chilliwack called Garrison and knew this was where we wanted to be. Surrounded by mountains and water, we loved the outdoor lifestyle we saw here. We are 10 minutes from Cultus Lake and 30 minutes from the border and Abbotsford Airport. The drive from Chilliwack to Vancouver is just over an hour, on good days, going against traffic, and that added to the attraction. Of course the Vancouver area would have been preferable to live but with condo prices around $850k – $1 million + and townhouses can go over $2 million, it was sadly out of the question.
So Chilliwack it was. By the time we found the perfect condo, we were 3 weeks away from leaving on our trip to Europe. We made a low ball offer with a possession date of just two weeks away, knowing the sellers were moving soon anyways. To our great surprise, they snapped it up without hesitation. Sold! This allowed us to move all our ‘in-storage belongings’, into the condo before we went away; saving storage fees too. We hired movers and they literally dumped everything inside, we locked the doors and left for London 2 days later. We also hired a contractor that day and arranged to have the place painted, a few reno’s done and the kitchen cleaned while we travelled. Brilliant! Yes, and no….
So with eager anticipation and some jet lag, we arrived back at our condo. Boxes were still everywhere because the unpacking ferries never arrived haha. But sadly, the renos were not complete. Both bathrooms were still covered in plastic and the walls required filling and painting. The cleaning wasn’t done either, even though I was assured it had been. I was pissed. So pissed. I fired off some nasty texts to them in the first five minutes. Unfortunately for us, it was the Saturday of a long weekend so nothing could be done until the Tuesday. Needless to say I spent a good part of that first day cleaning the kitchen. I still haven’t submitted my review of the contractor but believe me, I have been composing it for awhile.
It took us about a month to really feel settled in. This condo is just under 1000 ft, about 400 ft smaller than our Kelowna condo and about 1600 ft smaller than our West Kelowna home! So even after two major purges, we purged more. We had very little furniture left so were able to buy smaller, lighter pieces to make the space feel less crowded. The master en-suite is so small, when we first looked at the place, I saw it, made a u-turn and said no way Jose. I actual ruled this place out because of the itsy bitsy bathroom (and kitchen for that matter!) but Joe charmed me into thinking we could make it work and we have! There are two bathrooms and only room for one person in the kitchen, so I wave to Joe often from the deck, with a cocktail, as he is slaving away in there. Hello charming!
We made lots of trips to IKEA and Joe spent a great deal of time on his knees with an Allen Wrench in his hand. I put lots of space saving tricks to good use and we now actually have quite a bit of storage space – even in the bathroom.
We love our neighbourhood! Joe and Jordan both said it looks like a little Whistler; and it does have a village feel. Our condo building has mostly seniors; townhouses and houses nearby are filled with young families and empty nesters. We can walk to Save On, several restaurants, a liquor store, hair salon/barbers other stores! We can see the Rec Centre from here that has a pool, gym and lots of courts and activity centres. The high walking score is definitely a real bonus. About half a km away is the Chilliwack River with an extensive walking trail that we hit almost every day. We are up to a 9km morning walk or 13k Fitbit steps. We keep challenging ourselves to go further and faster so that will improve soon. Fellow walkers are friendly and always exchange a good morning. Nice to see such an active community. Right now we are fascinated by the geese as they are flying south for the winter but seem to have a few resting points along the river.
To get to the river we have to walk through Canada Education Park. This is a huge training area for RCMP, border patrols agents and firemen; there’s a university and the Justice Institute, to name a few things! So far we’ve seen firemen training and the RCMP film crew training with a drone. It’s pretty cool!
Retirement has been pretty relaxing so far. After being so busy with jobs and the record store, we are learning to release any guilt for relaxing, reading, napping or staring into space. We are only about 2.5 hours from Kelowna so whipped out there for a visit a few weeks ago. We go into Vancouver at least once a week to see Margot and keep ourselves fairly busy otherwise. Wednesday we are heading to the East Coast for two weeks and we will be happy to be on the road again! Finally – a Canadian dollar vacay! That being said, I just saw a news flash about Hurricane Dorian gaining strength as it heads into Canada. Of course we hope for the best for the Maritimes, as that has been a brutal storm and we are sure things will be fine by Wednesday.
I plan to enjoy this lifestyle until after Christmas but then will look for some part time work to keep myself busy and the bank account flowing. Joe is investigating small businesses for sale as has been bitten by the entrepreneur bug and would like to do something again. There are some interesting possibilities available that we spend a great deal of time talking about and researching, so you just never know….
Sorry to ramble so much and hope we didn’t lose you. Stay tuned for the Maritimes next week! And then, come for a visit – we’d love to have you! Paula and Joe