Emma Langham always wanted to do some travelling, so left Cambridge, UK in September 2014 and coaxed along Stewart too. Unfortunately they had to leave behind their two gerbils.
The good news, though, is that they have a travelling companion … a brown bear called Boris. That leads us nicely into the fact that these travelling threesome have set up a blog called Brown Bear Travels where their friends and family — and now you, complete British strangers — can follow their fun adventures around Canada!
We asked Emma to spill the beans on life 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?
We didn’t initially choose Toronto. It was just meant to be the place we spent a few days on our initial trip across Canada to Vancouver, where we planned to set up home.
In the end we didn’t love Vancouver as much as we thought we would and when Stewart was offered a second interview for a job in Toronto we didn’t hesitate to fly across the country for it.
We’ve not looked back!
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
Stewart and I have had very different experiences …
Stewart applied for a job just before we left, didn’t hear back for three months and then just days after we had activated our work permits he got a call offering him an interview. So whilst he got the first job he applied for, it took me nine months to get a job related to my career.
I think the main hindrance has been the sheer number of job hunters in Toronto at the moment — you really need something that makes you stand out.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
The best thing is the diversity and the sheer size of the city means there is always something to do. I love that we can sample food from across the world, go paddling on the lake or relax on a beach without leaving the city.
The one thing that annoys me is how much everyone moans about the TTC. True, it might not be up to London standards in terms of subway coverage but good luck getting anywhere in London for the equivalent of $3!
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?
Not really, although we did run into a couple who were from the same home town as me which was pretty exciting — normally no one has a clue where it is. They told us about the Toronto Brit Meetup Group on meetup.com who host regular pub quizzes with British food as prizes so we plan to check that out at some point.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
Volunteering is a great way to keep up your skills, network and get some Canadian experience, especially if you’re struggling to find work.
Otherwise, get out and enjoy it! Toronto is an amazing city!