Ed Lee is a brave chap. I contacted him out of the blue and asked if I could profile him as a successful Brit making it in Toronto. Even though Ed doesn’t know me from Adam, and could have been royally stitched up, he quickly agreed.
Thank you sir — and you have the honour of being the first Successful Brit in Toronto to inspire others who may be living in the city, or contemplating a move here.
Ed is the Senior Director of Social Media at Radar DDB and, in 2009, was named one of Marketing Magazine’s “Ones to Watch” — you can read about that on his Blogging Me, Blogging You blog (do I detect a nod to a certain Alan Partridge there?) and follow his Twitter account.
So, without further ado, here’s Ed’s thoughts on being a Brit in Toronto …
What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?
I moved here for a girl. I initially got a one-year working visa with a small PR shop and when it expired, we couldn’t get it renewed and decided to part ways, but I wasn’t ready to break up with the girl. Thankfully I had started doing “stuff” in social media and I was offered another job with a larger agency which had lawyers who were able to get me a work permit. Then the girl and I got married in 2007 and I became a permanent resident — and a citizen last year.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
I love that the city has the best of what London offered — vibrant night life, sophisticated cultural scene and some beautiful public space and architecture — combined with a smaller footprint, multiculturality (is that a word?) and, well, Canadians. Everyone is so polite.
Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?
I don’t actively seek out other Brits but its always nice to meet a fellow expat — playing footy, at work, at the park with the kid or, like this weekend, at a birthday party. When I moved here I actually spent a lot of time on the Football365 forum in the Toronto thread — that was a big help!
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
When I moved here it was a big shock. I had been here precisely once for two days and then uprooted my life: changing countries, changing jobs and even changing industries. It’s a big change and it takes some time to get used to it. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t feel like you’re getting everything you want all at once. But enjoy this amazing country. My regret is not having done more travelling — I can’t wait to visit the east coast.
Thank you Ed! Here’s his LinkedIn profile if other Brits wanted to connect and get more intel on being a Brit in Toronto.