We have a LOT to thank Robin Brown for. A lot. Not enough to reward him financially in any way, but just enough to link to him again.
You see, a while ago, by the wizardry that is Twitter, we put out a call for more Successful Brits in Toronto volunteers. Tumbleweeds and chirping crickets.
Was just about to press “Delete Blog” and go for a pint, but … like a last-minute strike from Rooney to win the upcoming June 14 England vs. Italy World Cup game … Robin e-mailed us a tip. And that tip was Nick Drew.
Thank you Robin, and take it away Nick …
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 guess I kind of fell into it. After 10 years of living in London my girlfriend and I had a general feeling of, “There must be more out there than this.” She was offered a transfer to Toronto within her company, so we thought why not?!
“Permanent” sounds quite final, though; I think after four years we’re still in the “trying it and seeing how it goes” stage.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
It was actually relatively straightforward: I worked out pretty quickly that multinationals are more amenable to hiring expats than domestic firms, and went for a few interviews. I’m lucky to work in a role in which international experience is a valuable asset — and an industry where an English accent is still regarded as a desirable trait!
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
For me, the quality of life is far and away the biggest difference from the U.K. It’s a combination of so many things … but hot sunny summers and cold sunny winters are a big factor. Cost of living can be more expensive here (i.e. mobile phone, groceries), but being able to live three miles from the downtown core in a house with a garden is something you could only dream of in London!
As for the worst aspects, Toronto infrastructure has to be up there on the list. Construction on the Gardiner and across the city; TTC reliability apart from the subway; even the waste water system is in desperate need of overhaul. It’s such a shame, because I think it’s what keeps Toronto from being among the absolute best cities to live in.
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?
A lot of my best friends here are Brits, but it’s really not intentional — I just keep kinda running into them. It’s probably something to do with a worldview, and having similar context and experiences. For pubs, The Queen and Beaver and The Oxley are excellent tastes of home: they even have cask ales!
Amaya comes closest to a British curry that I’ve found, although I’m always keen to try others (any suggestions?). And for meeting other Brits, we’ve found the sports leagues to be a good starting point: the football (soccer) leagues are great, and for the younger crowd (20s and 30s), the ski club is a great way to meet expats.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
One of those clichéd inspirational quotes comes to mind: “It’s not the destination that’s important, it’s the journey” — and when it comes to deciding where to live, that’s so true. Spending even a few years in Toronto is excellent, just to experience the change.
And for sheer excitement, seeing someone you don’t know in the office, or on your street, or just in a café, and having them give you a cheery, “Hello, where are you from?” can’t be beaten!
Thanks Nick! If any other Brits out there want to connect or recommend a good portrait photographer to Nick, here’s his LinkedIn profile.
*Update: Nick e-mailed us today and apologized for forgetting to send a photo of himself, and included the one below of him and the famous pug from Men In Black, the one that the special effects guys made say, “Kiss my furry little butt!”