I've already touched on this in the Moving to Iqaluit FAQ, but I think I need to reiterate this in a bit more detail.
Even with the FAQ, I still get emails asking about moving to Nunavut. Which is fine, by the way. I enjoy getting the questions and try to answer all of them to the best of my ability. Because I wish I had someone to ask questions to five years ago when we were in the process of coming up.
But recently I've been getting some questions about the kind of money you can make in Nunavut and what kind of tax breaks there are. About coming to Nunavut for a year to try and make a dent on some debts.
Look, I speak from experience when I say the two following things:
1. I totally understand where you're coming from.
2. It's likely a very bad idea.
Back in 1996 I was out of university for more than a year and me and most of friends were flailing about. We were either not working or working jobs decidedly underneath the level of education we had. It's all right to work crap jobs when you're a teenager or going through university. It starts becoming slightly less acceptable after you're out of university for a year or two, still living at home and have student aid payments rolling in.
For previous generations of Newfoundlanders the solution was to move to Toronto or Vancouver or Calgary. But at that point there was a lure to the far east. Recruiters were hitting the province pretty hard trying to convince recent graduates to move to Japan or South Korea to teach English as a second language. The lure was pretty good. Pay was around $25,000 a year, your return airfare was paid for, your accommodations were paid for and South Korea had a very low personal income tax rate.
So yeah, I went. I had to do something and the money was good. Never mind I barely understood the country (the internet in 1996 was a little different than what you see now), couldn't speak the language and didn't know how to teach. Who cares. I needed the money and needed to do something with my life.
I wasn't alone in doing this...several of my friends also went over. We all had varying degrees of success. I have one friend who is only just now leaving South Korea after spending more than a decade working and living there.
So yes, it is possible to chase after the dollars and have a wonderful experience. However, a lot of the people who went to South Korea and Japan had horrific experiences. I was, well, I won't go so dramatic as to say it was horrific, but it wasn't enjoyable. There wasn't a day over there I wasn't stressed out of mind. I ran face first into a different culture with little preparation for the experience.
I like to think I would do things differently now. And if nothing else, my experience with South Korea taught me that when Cathy and I were moving to Nunavut we were doing it for the right reasons. The reasons certainly involved money. Let's not be completely naive or foolish here. However, we did as much research as we could about Nunavut and decided that, yes, this could be a place we'd like to live. That it will be a challenge, but also something we might love. And we do, despite moments of deep frustration (like the lack of fucking washing machine repair men).
This is a long-winded way of saying that coming to Nunavut chasing the dollars is not unlike what I did in Korea more than 10 years ago. I truly do understand being in the position where you need to make some money and you find yourself considering actions that you might not otherwise. But do be careful about making Nunavut the solution to your problem.
Not just because it might not be an experience you will like and one that will create more problems than it solved. No. One of the things I still remain....mortified over is that I went to Korea and essentially took advantage of a group of people eager....desperate to learn a new language. Because Koreans at that time - and they still might - believed learning English was vital. I went there not to help them with that, but to make money for myself. If they learned English, well, that was a pleasant side-effect because I didn't really have the skills or knowledge to do that properly. Never mind that my boss didn't care that I didn't possess these skills (calling him a scumbag would be insulting to scumbags everywhere) because he just wanted a white person in his school.
I really did try, but after a few months I saw the writing on the wall. I was miserable because I hated a job where I was in it just for the paycheck, but also didn't know what I was doing and felt like I wasn't helping the people I was supposed to help. So I walked. One of the hardest and scariest things I've ever done. I dislike quitting, but I was out of options.
Just be sure before you take the plunge up here. Don't get so glossy eyed at a salary of $100,000 a year that it makes you overlook other important factors, such as will you actually like living and working here. Will taking the money for a year and then running actually do damage to the people who live and are trying to build something here? I would hope you would care about these things.
I truly do understand the lure of the money. But be sure that this is the right thing to do. The money shouldn't be the first question you ask. It should be one of the last...
All from "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire