I mentioned in our June Round-Up that it has taken us a while to warm to Toronto. We disembarked at Toronto Pearson Airport giddy with excitement at our new and well overdue adventure but as the weeks rolled on, that initial sparkle we had in our eyes began to fade.
Looking back over the past two months we have spent here, it’s crazy to think how far we have come and how our opinions and mind sets have changed. It’s been interesting to look back at our initial weeks here and evaluate why it took us a while to love our new home. In this post I’m going to work through a couple of factors which contributed both to our struggle with the city and with our eventual reconciliation and love for this place.
A constant comparison with Australia
Toronto was starting off with a major disadvantage, it wasn’t our beloved Brisbane where we had spent 8 months living last year. Toronto can’t possibly compare with the land of beautiful beaches, balmy weather and laidback Sunday sessions. Yet, we were constantly comparing it to Brisbane and Australia in general, Australia seemed so much easier, so much better. When we left Australia in December, we had finally found our stride, we had created a perfect life for ourselves over the two years we spent Down Under and now we were starting from scratch again. We took that out on Toronto.
Leaving the easy life at home
Having spent a lot longer at home than we had intended, we had got into a comfy and easy routine and were constantly surrounded by friends and family. Now, we had decided to uproot and leave that all behind again. It doesn’t get easier no matter how many times you do it. Getting to know people in big cities, or anywhere for that matter, can be really tough so it can be quite lonely when you’re first finding your feet. Here in Toronto we couldn’t just call a friend or spend a lazy evening in front of the TV with our families, we were on our own.
The weather was crap
Toronto christened our arrival with one of the wettest starts to summer, ever. The chilly days and gloomy skies did nothing to combat our wavering feelings towards the city. We were so glad we decided to move in May rather than January which we had previously planned. If we had felt so nonchalant about our new situation paired with driving snow and minus temperatures then I think that it would have taken a lot longer to warm to Toronto (literally).
We didn’t realise how big a city it was
This one is stupid and we realise that now. Coming from Australia where cities are basically just big towns, we had naively thought that Toronto would be the same. However, we quickly found out that Toronto is in fact the 3rd biggest city in North America after LA and New York and with that title comes a massive metropolis filled with skyscrapers and traffic. Who knew, eh?
When we were first considering Canada as a new home base, we envisaged towering mountains, forests of fir trees and deep blue lakes and instead we had landed in a city which could be anywhere in the world. Had these country bumpkins made a massive mistake deciding to dedicate a big chunk of our trip here?
It’s difficult to escape the city
The rail and air network around Canada is sparse and ridiculously expensive. Without the freedom of a car (which are very expensive to insure and register in our province of Ontario) we felt stranded. In Australia we had our beloved car Martin to whisk us off on weekend retreats and new adventures. Even before Martin came into our lives, we were living in Melbourne which was well-connected to the forests and vineyards beyond the city limits. Without a car in Toronto, we felt a bit claustrophobic and instead found ourselves hiding out in the parks and green spaces which are spread across the city. After our first trip from the city we’ve realised how easy it is to hire a car so this will become our go-to escape route in the future.
We couldn’t find anywhere to live
Toronto, as a city, is overbooked. Rentals (especially in our price range) are limited and get snapped up in a heartbeat. We spent our first six weeks bopping around the city staying in Air Bnbs. Although we mainly had great experiences in these places, having to Uber our worldly belongings across town every two weeks became draining. We couldn’t settle and we were so desperate to find a permanent place that our search radius enveloped almost the whole city. This only enhanced our feelings of uncertainty towards Toronto. If we couldn’t find a base then was there much point staying here?
Two months on…
After our initial wobble, this month everything seemed to slot together. We finally took the pressure off ourselves to have a perfect life curated in a matter of weeks, we settled into our new house in one of our favourite areas, began working a steady schedule at work and dived straight in to Toronto life rather than resisting it.
Without the stress of finding accommodation or the constant unfair comparisons to Australia, Toronto has revealed itself to be everything we wanted it to be. With summer coming into full swing, Toronto has come alive with events and is bursting at the seams with life.
We’ve been loving testing out the coffee shops in our local area of Leslieville, playing tourist at weekends in the city and brunching in quirky suburbs. We’ve found some incredible green spaces to ease our lusting for the countryside, from beautiful Withrow Park to the Leslie St Spit with incredible views over the city. We feel proud of where we live and the welcoming nature of our fellow Torontonians. We are finally exactly where we want to be.