6 Months of Toronto
We were very fortunate when we first moved to Canada as a wonderful wee woman called Mrs Little, opened her home to us. There is always someone who knows someone who knows someone! It was such a big help to have someone tell you where you need to go to get your SIN card (basically your PPSN number), recommend a bank, tell you about the bus/subway system etc.
If you are thinking of moving abroad, but are a bit weary of the unknown, don’t be afraid to reach out to people. If you happen to know that the person you work with has a second cousin in the town or city you are going to move to, then ask them for their contact info. Most people don’t mind giving advice/meeting you when you first arrive or introducing you to people and places. This is the best way to make friends and even find a job!
Our first couple of months was spent in the Greater Toronto Area call Richmond Hill. A lovely area, but not so lovely when you are working in downtown Toronto like himself was, a ten minute walk, then a 10 minute bus journey, followed by a 20 minute subway journey and lastly a twenty minute streetcar ride. Needless to say it wasn’t long before we made the move to Downtown!
Making the Move Downtown
The actual hunt for somewhere to stay was for us, to be blunt, a massive pain in the arse. This was simply because a week after we landed in Canada, Simon secured a job in Edmonton, Alberta, a four hour flight to the other side of the country. This was fantastic, but we didn’t have a date of when we would be heading off so finding temporary, furnished accommodation that isn’t colossal money in Downtown Toronto, is by no means an easy feat. And a word of warning to anyone looking for somewhere to rent, if it seems too good to be true, well it more than likely is…as we found out…
We used Kijiji, a hugely popular website that sells everything from knitting needles to houses – basically like DoneDeal or Gumtree – and found the perfect place. There were some emails sent back and forth with ‘George’ but then they got more and more ridiculous, with long and the short of it being ‘give us your money and we’ll mail you the keys because we are currently out of the country’…eh ya right! So do be weary of scammers! To be fair this is the only gobshite that we have come across on Kijiji, we have since bought our jeep (SUV if you will) through it and sure enough two and a half years later, our wee jeep is still motoring along!
These type of websites are really good, there is also Craigslist, if you are re-locating somewhere and don’t want to spend a fortune on furniture etc. Just make sure that you are meeting people in public places or at least not going to meet this person on your own!
Home Sweet Home
We found a place not long after this, a place being a room and the use of a communal kitchen and bathroom…we didn’t move to Canada with a lot of money in our pocket so beggars can’t be choosers! It was definitely an interesting place to live and sometimes felt like we were in an episode of Coronation Street!
Our room wasn’t furnished, and as we weren’t planning on staying there for very long, our ‘furniture’ was purchased in Canadian Tire…if you are not familiar with Canadian Tire, well basically they don’t sell furniture as such, unless its patio or camping. As we were buying our blow up bed, camping table and two fold up chairs the nice lady at the till inquired if we were going camping…we just lied and said ‘Yes’.
We actually lived in a good location on Bloor and Bathurst, around the corner from Honest Ed’s, very close to the subway and close to lots of pubs and restaurants and most importantly a Church to catch mass the odd Sunday! We are definitely glad we spent time in Toronto; it is a great city with plenty to see and do and so close to Niagara Falls but as a long term place to live, it just wasn’t for us.
I secured two part jobs in the Eaton Centre – the main shopping centre in Toronto – and was making minimum wage. Minimum wage was then $10.35 an hour and working in clothes shop that gave a 60% discount, well let’s just say that I was coming out with much by the end of the week!
I found these jobs by just walking through the shopping centre. These places had advertisements in the windows, so I just dropped in a CV (resume) and talked with the managers. Really, it was the time of the year I was also applying as I didn’t want anything permanent and a lot of retail businesses hire seasonal staff in October through until early January. So if you are looking for retail work, be sure and bring an armful of CV’s with you and take a stroll through the shopping centres!
Bye Bye Toronno!
We eventually got the notification that Simon was due to start work in Edmonton in the New Year, so we packed up our suitcases said goodbye to the neighbours, even the weird one that wore underpants on his head, and left Toronto on December 21st for Edmonton, Alberta
The decision for us to move to Alberta was mostly a financial one. Toronto is a fantastic City if you are moving abroad permanently, but wages and cost of living and the shear busyness made the decision to move to Alberta easier for us. Plus the Rockies are only down the road from Edmonton!