Tuesday, October 4, 2011

YK Living Details, Details... for my anonymous friend

Yes, my husband is an RCAF pilot and he enjoys his job here, a lot depends on the people you end up working with. For your wife it will be a different story. She can get a job easily, no guarantee of what kind will be available, but any job or volunteer work would be recommended for the express and primary reason that it will be potentially diverting for her and provide the potential for making friends and keeping her in a routine. Without that she may spiral for all the reasons I've written about. If you come here with a plan and stick to it, be regimented about it - but allow yourselves grace if you need it to get by, then you may navigate this posting well, come out ahead and maybe even like it. If you are on a strict financial plan you may save 50% of what you were actually hoping for, but many people leave here in greater debt than they came, unfortunately. Buying a house is expensive and everyone underestimates the cost of heat. Everything here is expensive, costs more (than down south), if it's even available. Women's (or men's for that matter!) clothing is not really available here (Reitmans, Marks Work Wearhouse, Walmart, Bootlegger, and Jean Warehouse - yay!) so become experts in online shopping. Gap/Old Navy ship for free up here if you spend more than $50. There is also a Sears Catalogue outlet.

More info off the top of my head...

The winter is long, spring and fall are short and so is summer. The summers used to be hot and dry, not anymore. Now you get quite a bit of rain, so, the summer is not very rewarding after the long winter. There is an insect issue here, not extreme in the city, but anywhere else (vegetation = bugs) so bug spray or actual bug nets if you'll be in the back 40. If its hot in the summer you have to decide between lack of sleep due to heat or lack of sleep due to light (because you had to open your window and thus your black-out blinds). A fan in every room is essential, as the heat does come and now even with a touch of humidity (a new development). The vintage style, chrome fans by NOMA from Canadian Tire are good for bedrooms and look nice. Black-out blinds that overlap your window on all sides are recommended (mine overlap by 8 inches each side, even top), Ikea sells black or white that can be adjusted to size. Ikea does not ship here for a reasonable cost, do a big Ikea trip (everything you may need: rugs, window coverings, lamps, inexpensive decor, and furniture, 100% cotton bedding, down duvets etc.!) before they come to estimate your F&E weight for your move. I mentioned a car starter (essential to a more comfortable Northern experience) in one of the blogs. This is over and above your block and battery heater. If you have an oil pan heater too that is good. It is normal to start and run your vehicle for 20 minutes before you can scrape the ice off the windows (late Fall and early winter especially, the ice is impossible to scrape, due to moisture still in the air). Below -20C your vehicle should be plugged in or you are doing damage to it if you cold start. You will get frost bite if it's colder than -25 and you stay outside for any length of time with exposed skin. You will need quality high fill down parkas with fur (real or fake) around the hood to help keep your face warm. Canada Goose Parkas are available up here and are the standard, but North Face will do the job. I have an Eddie Bauer 600 fill euro goose down parka that does well too. In the depth of winter you still have to layer everything. That said, if you zip from house to pre-heated vehicle to office/shop you can get away with almost "normal clothing, but have emergency gear in your vehicle. Both of you will need local provider cell phones, the power, phones (that run on electricity) and cable go out fairly often. A totally preventable issue, but negligence due to power provider's GAF factor has caused this, there is a court case going on about it and hopefully things will get back on track. The city has generators in the event of a serious outage, so we shouldn't all freeze to death. You will need to take a vitamin D supplement so you don't turn into sleepwalkers, at least 1000 IU, also cod liver oil tablets are good and contain D, A and Omega 3s. It is hard to wake up in the dark and not see light until after 10am, if your bio clock's are getting really messed up or feel S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) coming on, invest in a S.A.D. Lamp and shine it on yourself for 10-15 minutes in the morning (no later than 9am). The dark gets long by November, longest in December and by mid January you are starting to see longer days again. You will rejoice at each 7 minutes of extra daylight you get day by day in mid Jan.

Housing: PMQs, no guarantee of availability, carpet may be old, but heat is a cheap fixed rate, which is worth a huge bag of $$$$$ and you won't have to tell your wife to wear 3 sweaters in the house to save money - you will be warm and snug. If you don't have kids I am not sure what kind of a unit you would qualify for.

Buying a house. A rip off that may save your sanity and thus be worth it, or if you buy a mobile home in the wrong park (Norseman Drive area has sewer issues BIG time), cause insanity. A small, but decent mobile runs $450,000 - $480,000. But keep in mind you may have all kinds of neighbours in any trailer park in town. Houses here are usually cold, because heating them adequately costs too much, unless the place is newer (still no guarantee), on a crawl or has a good wood or pellet stove. Some of the Modular houses near Niven Gate are built on an old dump or swamp and so there are settling issues. A modest house in the vicinity of 52nd Ave between 52nd St and 56th St (even in that general south end of town) could be a good deal. Range Lake area is a mix of high and low. Niven is where rich people live and you can actually pretend you don't live in Yellowknife, Old town is lovely, but $$$$$$. School Draw Ave is a high/low niche.

If you have anymore questions let me know.


  1. Thank you so much for your response. We have been doing a lot of research and finally after reading your reply have decided to not include yellowknife in my posting preferences. I love the twin otter and i think the north would be beautiful, but i need sunlight in the morning. It's funny how things turn out. Thank you so much and god bless you and your family. =) and try to convince your husband to get a posting to comox! ahdahhaha you don't have to worry about cold starts out there! =) thanks again

  2. All the best! Re: Comox - been there, done that :o) we prefer southeastern Ontario though... Happy trails!

  3. Finally, a blog about Yellowknife from a southerner's perspective. Moved here in 2010 from Toronto because husband found a job here. I felt everything you said --- the questions, the depression, the battle. What is keeping me until now is trusting that God has a plan for me and that I can't break my husband's heart.

  4. Thank you. We have been "released" from Yellowknife this June. In reflecting back on the last 3 years I see that God used the time to take me deeper in knowing His character, I believe He has used it to prepare me for the next season of my life. I think an important aspect is not to try and anaesthetize your heart in any way, but take the raw feelings before God, give Him a chance to reveal Himself to those places that are crying out, there is always a reason and He alone has answers that bring life. I have written more about the spiritual aspects of living up north in my other blog site ('Exhortations, Epiphanies & Meditations', see my profile page to link).
    God bless you and keep you!