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Nelson, B.C.
Thomas J. Story

Expat Cheat Sheet

Steven Kaup, 42

Moved: From Vail, Colorado, to Nelson, B.C., in 2007
Old life:  Corporate architect in the fast-paced Aspen-Vail-Denver scene
New life: Owner of a small, green architecture firm (
The aha moment: I was working 60 hours a week, but we were still living in a small condo among the mega-wealthy. My wife, Christy, knew Nelson and talked me into a ski trip. The powder was better than anything I’d ever skied. We went back that summer to sea kayak, and when we returned to our hectic lives, I thought, It can be better. It just takes courage. We put our condo on the market, it sold, and we rolled out of town.
What I gave up: Job security. I started my new architecture firm here from scratch. Also, shopping. When you need, say, a couch, there are just a few stores. And traveling in winter. Flights are canceled; snowplows just can’t keep up. So we hunker down, ski our brains out, and have potlucks with friends. We’re big on potlucks in Nelson.
What I gained: Epic skiing, mountain biking, canoeing, plus my dream house—which I designed and built. In Vail or Aspen, it would’ve cost millions—here we spent $686,200.
Take my advice: The immigration process is fairly straightforward: Have a solid background and a reliable prospect for employment, and it should take only about 12 months.
I knew I was a local when: I started curling. Curling is to Canada what golf is to the States. We get dressed up, drink cocktails, and curl.


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