Update: How Healthcare Works When You Leave Canada

A happy update to this post! Thanks to a lovely friend, I found an insurance service that will allow me to buy travel insurance as a non-resident Canadian citizen.

It’s a bit less than the amount I would’ve paid MSP/month and then I would’ve had to pay for travel insurance on top of that – so overall, it looks as though my poorly researched decision turned out to be a good one.

To recap:

If you are a Canadian resident moving from Canada, you have two options (specific to BC but I imagine similar to other provinces):

1) Contact MSP to arrange to continue paying the $69.25/month Medical Services Plan premium for up to 24 months. Acquire travel/medical insurance on top of that, whether paid for by yourself or through your new foreign workplace.

You should definitely keep MSP if you are eligible for any of these three options for MSP assistance:

2) Register yourself as permanently leaving British Columbia. Rely on whatever insurance your new foreign workplace provides or purchase insurance from this insurance service.


Celebratory balloons




The Costs of Kazakhstan


Here are a couple of pieces that I wrote for The Billfold. I’m a big fan of any site that breaks down complex/scary topics into digestible information.

The Costs of Moving to Kazakhstan

The Costs of Living in Kazakhstan

Feeling muchly flattered by the kind comments. Thank you!

An addendum of some things I learned since sending in the last piece: the coffee at the hairdresser actually isn’t good, wine is more like $4/bottle, and drugstore brand face/hair stuff is comparable to the cost back home, which is good news for static-control.


The 11 Stages of Moving to Kazakhstan

  1. Reluctance. See the job posting. Tell yourself how crazy it is.
  2. Intrigue. Keep thinking about said job posting.
  3. Research. Spend the majority of your free time looking up information on Central Asia and the organization that posted the job.
  4. Confidence. You have now invested so much time and thought into your knowledge of this area, that you’ve decided you want the job and are determined to go. Your heartbreak at not getting the job would be comparable to that of a promising 3 month-long relationship ending.
  5. 60 Seconds of Extreme Happiness Followed by a Night of Panic. You’ve been offered and have accepted the position. What have you done?!
  6. Living Your Life (LYL). Drink a lot of drinks and eat a lot of good meals with all of your friends. Be generous, especially in emotion and kindness. Remember that George Saunders speech? You’ll want to leave good memories before you go. LYL even while you go through the other phases.
  7. Zen/Denial. You have so many things to do that you can’t individually stress about, otherwise you would go crazy. It’s like The Simpsons episode when a doctor tells Mr. Burns he’s indestructible because he has every disease known to man. Attribute sudden jolts of panic to eating too many kale salads.
  8. Sadness. Start having last moments. Moments in which you realize this is the last time you’ll go to Sushiyama or the last time you’ll see your friend whom you really care about but somehow don’t manage to see more than once every two months. This is a good time to buy $200 jeans that you have to try on during the peak of summer at a place with no air conditioning, while on your period.
  9. Ugly Crying. Do one thing wrong, which leads to a complete meltdown over everything.
  10. Combine #6-8. The combination looks something like this: sitting on the kitchen floor by yourself with a glass of red wine and a bag of Munchies, picking the sticker off the front of your oven (which you only half took off after the landlord bought and installed it), while watching Celebrity Masterchef UK.

I imagine #10 will continue, with #9 thrown in again (Will it be at the airport? When you’re on a two-day vacation with your best friends? Who knows?!). Let’s insert  some periodic crankiness. And then I predict #11 will occur once on the airplane:

      11.  Relief. My goodness. It’s all done and out of your hands now. Interrupt your sleep only for the layovers and the Bits & Bites/Cookies handouts.





No cat today because I’m really into this side car camel. Look how content she is!

To Do:

cancel phone plan, figure out how double taxation works, breathe a sigh of relief that your sister-in-law reminded you to cancel MSP because you wouldn’t have thought of that on your own, give notice at work, give notice for apartment, clean for apartment showings, say yes to every social obligation to make the most of the rest of the time here, decide what to keep, what to donate, what to throw away, what to sell and then deal with all of the annoyances of selling things on Craigslist, buy all the clothes and makeup that you’ll need for two years, get a criminal record check, get immunizations, use up all of your dental benefits, which means five appointments and a lot of fillings, get orthotics, just because they’re covered and you can and who knows, maybe they’re good for running, return cat fostering supplies, cancel your internet and find out you were supposed to give 30 not 20 days’ notice, drop off the modem, drop off that varnish at Canadian Tire instead of throwing it out because it’s got linseed oil in it and it could spontaneously combust, get your diploma authenticated, which is a weird process you don’t really know how to do and you realize later you should’ve hired a service instead of doing it yourself, answer the same questions over and over again but appreciate how much people are excited for you and interested in what you’re doing, continue working full-time and doing all those daily life things you do, get your shoes repaired and finally take those clothes to the tailor, figure out your finances and budget, brush up on your Russian, go out of town three weekends in a row to make sure you see friends/family before leaving, buy suitcases but make sure they won’t exceed the airlines’ size restrictions and remember that sometimes the airlines bust you by counting the wheels in the measurements, buy a one-way plane ticket and make sure that it’s with the same airline for the whole journey so you don’t get charged the excess baggage fees twice, so many emails, etc. etc. etc., forever and ever and ever.


MOST IMPORTANTLY: don’t feel guilty about lying on the couch, rewatching the entire Mad Men series, drinking rosé, and eating Whole Foods’ version of smarties during any spare moment you get.

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