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Spotlight on Canada A posting to British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), Canada can be exciting, scary and positive – one size doesn’t fit all. We highlight the pros and cons...

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ANY soldiers go to BATUS on exercise and love it, so they want to head there on posting. The reality of everyday life can be very different for families, but it can still be a great experience if you’re prepared to make the most of it.

about living here.” Schoolteacher Jenny Otter added: “Moving from Cyprus has been a completely different adventure, but everyone has been extremely welcoming and I can’t wait to experience everything Canada has to offer.”

Bring your thermals

Where will we be living?

The first thing you’ll need to get used to is the weather – snow, snow and more snow. It can arrive in October and still be around in May and the temperatures can drop to -30 degrees. The flipside is that summers are hot, so you’ll need to pack your shorts as well as your snow boots. Army spouse Sarah said: “The outdoor activities – horse riding, skiing, walking and camping – are the best things

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BATUS is the main working area and most families are housed in nearby Ralston village and the town of Medicine Hat, with a few in Cochrane and a smaller group in Calgary. Ralston is the only location where Service Family Accommodation is provided on a Canadian military patch. In all the other areas you’ll be housed in private rentals in the

local community. Houses are allocated on family size. They all have basements, are fully furnished and have plenty of outside space. Houses in town are different but equally suitable for families with or without children or pets. For some families, it’s a great environment to live in but for others the transient nature of postings takes its toll. Kim said: “I hate the transition and turnaround of families in the village. You make friends and then they or you leave.”

It’s a big country

Distance and time spent travelling are major factors of life in Canada. Ralston is twoand-a-half hour’s drive away from Calgary, where you can get direct flights to the UK.

It’s 45 minutes from Ralston to Medicine Hat with only a limited bus network, so if you’re able to drive it’s a massive bonus. Most vehicles are SUVs or 4x4s to cope with the weather – insurance and breakdown cover can be very costly though. Foreign and Commonwealth families should be aware that there are additional costs to obtain visas required to travel to the USA, and the Get You Home (Overseas) (GYH(O)) allowance can only be used for the UK if you have British citizenship.

Money matters

Lots of things are more expensive – food, clothes, TV packages, mobiles and additional items you’ll need such as cold-weather gear and

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Army&You Spring 2019