Monday, July 15, 2013

Lily's Top 10 Must-Haves for Living in Nunavut

If you do any search for tips on living in Nunavut/the arctic, etc. you'll find any number of lists of essentials that you'll need. We've talked about them here, and I'm sure there's nothing on that list that is going to be a surprise. Everyone knows they need to buy a good parka and stock up on all the food they can possibly pack...but what about the other things? What about the things that you don't necessarily realize how awesome it is to have until you've already shipped off your belongings?

Well, I was thinking about this the other day as I was using some of my top items that make my life better here, and decided I'd share with you my list of the top 10 things I didn't think would be important, but have turned into items I use almost on a daily basis.

Hopefully it helps you to think of what your list would entail if you were to move to the north! :)

Lily's Top 10 Must-Haves for Life in Nunavut

1. Blackout Curtains
When we first moved to Nunavut and went through the 24 hours of daylight phase, we didn't have anything covering our windows. We actually cut a cardboard box and lifted on/off every day so we could make it dark enough to sleep. It wasn't pretty, but it did the job. This year, we not only have blackout/sound-out curtains, we have a cheaper set of dark regular curtains behind it, and blinds. It still doesn't block out all the noise, but at least the room is dark and we can sleep until morning!

2. Sodastream
We love our Sodastream machine - enough that we tout its benefits to anyone who will listen.We have converted many people we know onto the Sodastream train, and it's been a huge cost savings to us while we're here. With beverages being so expensive here (over $3 per CAN of pop), having this machine is awesome. We can make carbonated drinks for guests, parties, etc. I typically like having soda water with a splash of lime and I don't have to pay for an expensive bottle of Perrier every time. We can't say enough good things about it!

3. Uggs
I found a pair on sale I actually liked, and fell in love. These are great all-year boots because they're comfortable with thick rubber soles. With rocky roads in summer and icy roads in winter, it's hard to wear shoes without grip. I wear these for every season except when it's really cold out. I actually wore them this past week! In July!!

 4. Fans
You wouldn't think it, but it gets HOT here in Nunavut in the summer months. It comes and goes though (last week it was 33 degrees, and this week it didn't get warmer than it certainly fluctuates!) Since most places don't have air conditioners, and opening the windows doesn't help unless there is wind (which also means you're letting in a lot of dust, ugh.) - you need fans to keep you cool and get the flow of air going through the house. Trust me.

5. Freezer
Jeff's talked about my crazy fear of used freezers before (it's a valid concern!) and we tried to bring ours up from the south when we were moving, but we were over our weight limit (boo). Having one is essential to our food budgeting since we use it to stretch our dollars a little further, and it's been incredibly helpful since we brought ours home.

6. Flash Drives & External Hard Drives
It's always a good idea to keep regular backups of your computer - we've both lost precious things because we weren't diligent about backing up and we regretted our negligence. Don't be like us! In addition to backing your data, it's also handy to have these devices since most people here have a lot of movies, books, TV shows, etc. and are generally willing to share. We have an exchange circle with friends and it's a handy way to share files back and forth.

7. Portable (Filtered) Water Bottles
Our water here isn't always great - it's perfectly drinkable straight from the tap, but it's not as processed as it is at home. We buy the big jugs for our water dispenser and use that at home, but having these portable filters when we're out has been really handy too. (ex. Sometimes at work the water dispenser is out of service so I can fill the bottle with tap water and still get filtered water whenever I want.)

8. Water-Resistant, Hooded Coat
Having an all-season coat has been really helpful since you never know what the weather will be like. Mine is lightly lined in fleece, but is also water resistant and has a fitted hood that snaps on/off. Make sure it's long enough to cover your behind since you can get pretty muddy from the roads and wind. Mine is thin enough I can wear a hoodie under it on colder days, but thick enough that it protects me from bugs and other things. I wear mine almost daily when it's not parka weather.

9. Exercise Equipment
You'd think with so few distractions up here, it'd be easier to stay motivated and be more active. Nope! We were talking to friends and we all agreed that it's actually harder to find the drive to get up and do something other than plop on the couch when it's cold and blustery out. We bought an elliptical before we came up and it's been good for me. It makes me work out without using the excuse that the weather is yucky outside and I actually use it. Find something that will motivate you and make yourself get up and go!

10. E-Reader
We both read a lot, but shipping up a lot of books is really heavy and takes up a lot of room. We could buy books, but some places have stopped their free shipping - and we're stuck with having to ship it home when we're ready to leave as well. Having an e-reader definitely helps since it holds so many books on one tiny device. I love mine; I have a Kobo Mini and it's small enough to fit in my purse so it's perfect for my needs.

So there you have it. My current top 10 of things that make my life here much easier and more enjoyable. I use the majority of these items every day - there are other things of course, like my computer and my camera, etc., but these are things that you may not think about when you're planning on moving yourself. Food for thought!



  1. Thank you for this post! I am moving to Baker Lake in six weeks, and I was just wondering this morning whether or not to bring up my elliptical. I'm assuming there's no gym in Baker Lake?


    1. 6 weeks will fly by and you'll be here before you know it! :) There is a small gym here that opened in the past year and it's got some decent equipment. It also doesn't seem to get overly busy, which is good since there's a maximum of 6 people allowed in at once!

      You might want something for when the weather is bad and you don't want to brave the elements to get to the gym.

  2. I have really enjoyed following your journey in Nunavut :) Thanks for your blog I really like it!

  3. Glad you're enjoying it! Feel free to let us know if there are any things in particular you'd like us to write about! :)


  4. Hi there! Great advice about living in the north. I just wondered where/how you get your SodaStream canisters. My husband is in Iqaluit and I am trying to source the cannisters for him. First Air says they will ship them in, with a $55 surcharge for dangerous goods. If you are in Baker Lake the co-op sells them though. What do you do?

    1. Hi! The Co-Op here doesn't actually sell them (I know the SS site says they do, but they don't have any idea what I'm talking about when I got into the store to ask)

      There are a number of options for us/our neighbours that we have gone with:

      1. We order up a bunch on the sealift in the summer and ration it throughout the year
      2. One of the convenience stores here sells them for relatively inexpensive ($40/canister)
      3. When we are south, we buy them and ship them up via cargo and split the dangerous good surcharge with others in town - or we pay for it and load up with a bunch of them. (it's a one-time fee with no limit, so we just stock up to make the charge worthwhile)
      4. Pack a canister or two in our luggage when we are flying (we definitely take our empties home when we fly home since there's no issue with that)
      5. Sodastream will ship them to you but I don't know what the cost will be - you can call their toll-free number and ask them directly

      Hope that helps!