One of the biggest decisions I made in the betterment of myself was to shake up the status quo. Having grown up in a decent sized city in South Western Ontario all of my life, I decided to move to The Big Smoke (a.k.a. Toronto, TO, Tdot, The Six – ok well you get the point!), population 6,054,191. At that time I wanted fun, excitement and a change from what I thought was a boring, same ol’ same ol’, mundane life. Millions enjoy living in Toronto, it’s an amazing city. It has bright lights, culture, history and diversity.
It was a blast for the first 2 years – Toronto is a great, vibrant city with so much to see and do – high end restaurants, cool bars, top of the line lounges, great shopping, tons of concerts, sporting events, live music, comedy festivals and a lot of amenities are 24/7. Like I said, it’s all great … in the beginning. It’s always fun being new to someplace … I remember when I would drive home after being out of town (which was quite regularly as the majority of my family and friends were still back home) and see the CN Tower lit up in all her splendour and think “wow, I still can’t believe I live here”, and honestly, I thought that till the very end. I loved my house, a cute little 1000 sq ft two story I scored while the market was still relatively low and sold 5 years later for a pretty decent return on my investment (less the cost of renovating). Like most houses in Toronto it went into a bidding war and sold over the listing price. I had a large backyard (with a pear tree, raspberry bushes and a massive hydrangea bush), which is very hard to come by (especially in Toronto, not one of its boroughs), I had 3 car parking, when most houses in my neighbourhood had permit street parking.
The reality of living in Canada’s second most expensive city set in after a short while, that is, once the novelty starts wearing off and you have to pick up your big girl pants! Things you don’t know like: there are two land transfer taxes when buying a house in Toronto, the cost of housing is through the roof (purchase or rental), you pay for your garbage bin and you have to pay for extra garbage bags if you go over your limit. The traffic is insane, it’s not uncommon to take 45 minutes to drive 10 kms. Downtown is filled with a ton of one way streets. There’s no parking and no stopping in the core between certain hours or you’ll get towed (yep, got towed one day after a live taping of The Social at Much Music), Event parking is a great price at $25.00. If you don’t have the luxury of having parking at your house or your condo, the cost of a parking spot can cost you as much as $15k to $100k. Congestion and construction are crazy, and there are so many road closures in the summer for either construction or some type of community event (Taste of the Danforth, Salsa on St. Clair, TOLI, Corso Italia to name a few). Factor in the crime rate and that the cost of living is more expensive making it difficult for about 90% of the average Torontonians to live day to day, I felt it was time for a change – for my peace of mind and for my poor pocket book. One of my favourite sayings is “the first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are” (unknown). Pretty basic right? I recognized that I wanted something different; I wanted contentment and financial stability. Ironically, the quest for that change unfolded after a drive to Home Depot that should have taken me 15 minutes took me an hour and a half!
Enter Dauphin, Manitoba. Population 8,200. After what seemed like little or no discussion, my fiancé and I decided to lose the stress and get a better bang for our buck and move to his hometown. Some people said we’d have been better off throwing a dart at the map. It really wasn’t a difficult choice to make. I’ve always been a big believer that we are the creators of our own destinies. If you want something; make the choice to make the change to make it happen. Period. You have to start with identifying your WHY. My why was tranquility, less stress, putting ourselves in a position for financial success, and getting the most out of our lives (I learned the hard way that it taken be taken from you in the blink of an eye, but that blog is for another day). Before moving here, I’d never been, never visited and didn’t know much about it. But, I did know that it was a huge downsize from my 6 million neighbours and that I didn’t have to spend hours driving to the beach (yes, Toronto has beaches, but, you don’t actually swim in them, they’re more for tanning and people watching!) and that within 30 minutes I could be at one of the most beautiful places in Canada (Clear Lake). I’d get to be surrounded by the great outdoors, and it was nestled between two small mountain ranges (what? I had no idea the prairies had mountain ranges!) – the Riding Mountains and the Duck Mountains. So, we loaded the contents of the last 5 years of our lives into a moving truck and set off on a new adventure.
It’s been 13 months since our move and, other than adjusting to some small town idiosyncrasies (like things closing at 6 PM and not being open on Sundays), it has been a change that I would strongly encourage people to make if you’re on the fence on whether or not to do something you’ve been debating about … whatever the change, whatever the reason. The first thing people we meet say when we tell them we’ve moved here from Toronto is “why on God’s green earth would you do that”? and I get it. But, we all have choices to make every single day. Life is all about choices — choosing to feel blessed, choosing to feel grateful, choosing to be thankful, choosing to remaining the in status quo or choosing to make the decision that you need something different and to create a more fulfilling life for yourself. We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is a choice. I consciously chose happiness and went with it. I figured “you can always go back home, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain”. I thought, what if we fall? but quickly replaced that with what if we fly?
We’ve settled in well to our little community. We’ve met some really great friends. For the most part, the folks are friendly. We can get anywhere in about 5 minutes (8 if the train rolls through town lol). We have a much better work-life balance. We purchased a 3000 sq ft home for a fraction of the cost, the cost of living is much more reasonable, we volunteer, we go on hikes after work, go to one of the lakes on the weekend, take a lot more trips now than we ever have and … we even spend time doing nothing! Heck, this year alone .. I’ve kayaked, snowshoed, cross country skied, and saw a real bear, moose and bison all for the first time and I read 9 books!
It is possible to have what you what out of life, you just have to be gutsy enough to challenge the status quo and chose to live YOUR best life.
Although I’m still feeling much love for the Tdot, we are quite enjoying our new life.
If you don’t like where you are change it! You’re not a tree ~Jim Rohn