Canada appealed to us as it has a reputation for being a great place to raise a family and has a stable economy. Toronto was an obvious choice for us as it's the main hub for marketing agency work for me and mobile operators for Rob.
It's also one flight from Dublin, which is a big plus and makes living away a little easier. It's pretty much a city within a park and the lifestyle we have here with a small child is exceptional. There is a perception that Toronto is the Holy Grail of endless employment and opportunity but that's not necessarily the case. I had spent six months prior to arriving here making contacts and networking, which meant I had secured my current role within three weeks of arriving.
It's not the 'raising kids' part that makes people leave a country -- it's the 'what kind of life you want for them' part that results in you making decisions like emigrating.
For us, the upside of raising Tess in Toronto is the lifestyle -- she sledges, dog sleighs and thinks nothing of playing outside in minus-20 temperatures in the winter and she swims every day at a free city subsidised pool at the end of our street in the summer. Tess also attends programmes run by the city for dance, swimming and gymnastics that cost less than €30 a year and she thinks it's normal to have squirrels and racoons in her yard.
Creches are expensive -- full-time daycare for one child is roughly about $1,600 (€1,250) a month. There are home daycares, but again these can be hard to come by. We have heard of people who are waiting 17 months for a daycare place.
If you are not working, there are lots of free drop-in playgroups run by the city, which are really great and a great way of meeting people.
Going out can be expensive. As an expat with no granny around the corner for free babysitting -- a sitter at $15 (€12) an hour -- and a paid taxi home can make a night out pretty pricey!
It's a big decision to come out here and can be a lonely road with no family support -- for some it's a last resort, so it has to work.
In terms of the visa, if only one of you has a visa, don't think the partner without the visa will pick up work and a visa.
It took almost a year for Rob's visa to come through and only then through sponsorship. That said, it's a great place.