Successful Brits in Toronto: Peter Reitano

Peter Reitano

Peter’s answers were so long we couldn’t afford the extra bandwidth for a colour photo

It’s high time we featured another Successful Brit in Toronto. We asked Peter via Twitter, and he was only too happy to give us his take on life for a Brit in Toronto.

This has to be one of the longest ones we’ve done!

(And, yes, we agree with him on the Indian food. Can’t beat a good English curry.)

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?

Long story. I actually moved for my girlfriend (at the time). I had been living in Australia just prior, working for a company in the UK setting them up with a satellite office to target the APAC region.

After that, I moved to Canada — first to Oakville — then to Toronto, where I’ve lived ever since.

The girlfriend didn’t work out … but everything else did. It’s been great from a business and personal perspective and I love the city.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

It was pretty simple for me. I was under 30 when I came over, so I came on a WHP (working holiday permit). When I arrived I applied for very specific senior roles in small agencies that I knew I could help grow into larger businesses.

The WHP lasted two years. I then got a standard work permit for three more years — the LMO was completed by the same company — and then I applied for permanent residency, which I got in January 2016.

One piece of advice: use a lawyer. Mine did a great job and saved me lots of headaches. If anyone needs a hook up, I’d be happy to make an introduction.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Best …

The food selection is incredible; it’s really world class. I do miss a good curry from England though — Toronto can’t compete on Indian food.
The people are very friendly. I’ve found it pretty easy to make friends.
The music and art scene is great; lots happening all over the city.
I love the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s similar to the US in a lot of ways. At home in England it still feels class dominated to a certain extent. Here it’s just about the hustle/skills. The market seems strong too, especially in tech, which is what I do a lot of work in.
Loads of places to play pick up sport. I play five-a-side football and tennis regularly

Worst …

The public transport system could be better. The subway system is tiny, especially compared with other big cities our size around the world.
The winter is brutal. Anything below minus 10 makes going outside a chore to say the least. Definitely invest in a proper winter jacket if you move. You soon learn why people drop $1,000 on a Canada Goose.
I can’t get into the sports: baseball, hockey and basketball. I just can’t. I still tune into the English Premier League to watch some real sport at the weekend.
Way too many Irish people!

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 haven’t made any effort to connect with other Brits. Though I have bumped into a few and enjoy having a chat. I always make sure I have Marmite at home, and Cadbury’s chocolate. Keeps the homesickness at bay.

I also have some family who live outside the city (aunty, uncle and three cousins). They moved over from England quite a while ago.

Two great British pubs: The Oxley and The Queen and Beaver; both gastro pub type places. There’s all the Firkins scattered around the city too.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Research the neighbourhoods in the city. They all have a different vibe and where you live will have a big impact on your quality of life.

I like areas like the Annex, Ossington and Bloor West for example. Living in Yorkville, City Place or The Beaches would be hell for me.

Cheers Peter! Tons of great information for fellow Brits. If anyone out there would like to contact him, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

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