- Clean, fresh air
- Daily mountains and water views
- No snow/polar vortex (This was me – Mike loves the snow)
- Great running
- School full time, work part time
- Finally getting that dog I’ve been dreaming about
- Activities every weekend – hikes, trips to Seattle
- Work/life balance
- Holistic Nutrition school that I wanted to go to (which has a branch in Toronto and a few other Canadian cities, but this was by far the most attractive).
In reality, this is what life in Vancouver was like:
- Running out of money
- No air conditioning + abnormally hot summer = massive eczema break out
- No pet rules
- Running-related Injury after injury
- Desk job, but career pivot
- Lots and lots of scenery
- Hardly ever leaving our Kits/downtown bubble
I was truly shocked at how long it took for us to find work. Both of us have been working professionally for several years, and it is possible to get a job in Toronto within a week. Maybe not “the dream job”, but the industry is small enough that people know the places you’ve worked at and it’s pretty easy to get find work. I hadn’t worked in an office in two years so if I was going to give up my consulting work in exchange for some consistent income, I really wanted it to be the right place. It took both Mike and me months to finally land a job, and the interview process for the one I’m at now was anything from short.
Career-wise, it has actually been a huge jump for me. I’ve never worked at a tech company before, and I’m finally getting exposure to working in an agile environment, and shaping my research practice. It has required a lot of self-educating, additional reading on weekends and evenings, and general learning as I go. It can be stressful because there’s so much to learn, but it’s exciting at the same time. In past jobs, there were already established ways to do things and I was evaluated on how quickly and efficiently I could complete them. Often, the big thinking stuff was left to someone else. I’m the only dedicated researcher in my company which is exciting and terrifying at the same time.
The pet rules here are stupidly restrictive. In Toronto, if you rent an apartment, you are legally allowed to own a dog. The only exception is if the household owner actually lives in the same house as you. Over here? There’s a puzzling amount of support for maintaining no-pet policies. We originally wanted to hold out to find a place that would allow pets before signing a lease, but in the end, we needed a place to live. Our current apartment meets almost all our criteria except the one that I initially wasn’t willing to bend on: no pets. We hesitated on taking it, but it actually is an amazing apartment. Probably the best one I’ve ever lived in. But since it’s not pet friendly, we’ve had to put our dreams of getting a dog on hold… again.
The running stuff deserves a post of its own. I’ll get to it someday. But it hasn’t been good. That’s on me, not Vancouver itself. I’m sad that I haven’t been able to take advantage of the running scene here as much as I wanted to.
Another thing that I’m hoping we can do more of is travel. It doesn’t have to be crazy big trips to Europe or Australia (although both of those places are on our radar in the next 1-2 years). I just mean more shorter trips to Seattle, Tofino, or Whistler. Close by cities that we could visit without having to take much time off work. We’ve been using the fact that we don’t have a car as our main excuse, but we can always rent one or take a bus. We just need to plan it out and make it work.
Moving to Vancouver: would I do it again?
Yes. I firmly believe that movement in life fosters growth. Every new city I visit gives me new perspective that helps shape me as a person. I always want to grow and experience new things. The fact is that I stopped growing in Toronto. Ironically, I’ve come to realize that I actually LIKE to have a little routine in my life, but while we were still living in Toronto, I felt like I was suffocating. I felt trapped and clueless as to what I wanted to do with my life. There isn’t a single day that I don’t miss my friends and family in Toronto. I thought it would have gotten easier by now. In some ways it has – I’ve accepted that I’m across the country and can’t stay up to date on everything. I still try my best. However, I believe that that moving here was the best thing that I could have done for myself. I’m lucky that Mike was so supportive of this. We won’t be able to pick up everything and move like this forever. The more we have to tie us down, the less mobile we become.
Career-wise, coming here has opened up a new path that I never would have imagined for myself. I’ve grown more as a researcher in the last year than I have over the last 7 years. When I was consulting, I was self-employed and working for myself which was great, but I was also still doing the same things I had been doing before. I wasn’t learning anything new, I was just learning how to do more of the same thing with less time. That’s great and all, but I wasn’t particularly passionate about what I was doing, either. Now, I’m actually building a research practice and THAT is pretty damn exciting. I’m not going to lie and say it isn’t stressful, because it is. I’m constantly worrying that I’m not learning fast enough, or doing the right things. But every day I’m trying, and if something isn’t working, I take the steps to iterate on it and improve. The good news is that constantly iterating on your approach to work towards a bigger picture is something that tech companies intentionally do.
So one year later, I’m concluding this by saying that I’m still glad we made this move. It has been far from easy, but it was really important for me to branch out and explore my own limits. The last 12 months have certainly resulted in that. What’s next? I can’t wait to find out…