Successful Brits in Toronto: Alysa Kim


“Hello fellow Brit just arriving in Toronto! Need a house in a decent hood? No probs. $1.2 million please!”

A recent study discovered that there are more Successful Brits popping up in Toronto than condos being built, an average increase 27% year on year.

That statistic is absolutely astounding, totally made up by us but a convenient segue for today’s profile: a realtor (North America) or estate agent (Rest of the World).

Apart from discovering Toronto and dealing in real estate, Alysa Kim also likes to blog about great tea finds. So that’s a bonus!

Here’s her thoughts on Toronto … and also a nice “Best of” list further down the page.

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?

My family moved to Toronto for work. My dad was a psychologist at the Hospital for Sick Children and my mum was an art director at Maclean Hunter.

I had a VERY British upbringing. There are so many British Torontonians that there are many things you can find that make it feel like home.

I grew up on toast soldiers with boiled eggs in Bunnykins bowls, and watching All Creatures Great and Small, Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy over fish and chips for tea with my dad. I learned the rules of cricket and how to bake a proper scone.

I feel like Britain is my second home and am looking forward to taking my children next year to introduce them to where their grandparents came from.

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

The best aspects of Toronto are the friendly people and the multiculturalism. My husband is also a first generation Canadian (Korean) and no one has ever asked our three children, “What are you, anyway?” The idea of discrimination is completely foreign to them. That is a beautiful thing.

The worst aspect of Toronto is definitely the cold. The rest of Canada think Torontonians are babies for whinging about the cold when they get -50˚C with the wind chill — Manitoba, and yes that is as cold as Mars — and 222 cm high snow drifts (Charlottetown).

We are definitely not the toughest Canadians but I reserve my right to complain when I clean all the snow from my car only to discover that I just cleaned my neighbour’s SUV because it was so deep in snow and ice I couldn’t tell whose it was.

Also, very few others share my joy and sorrow over Great British Bake Off but that is what Twitter is for.

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 live in Lawrence Park where a lot of Brits seem to settle so I’ve made some lovely friends that way. I also work with the University of Toronto and their relocation services for professors moving to Canada and I’ve met some wonderful families that I just love there too.

The city is so big and has so many wonderful pockets to choose from so it is impossible to pick the best anything … but I’ll do places I love in my neck of the woods or that I’ve stumbled upon and can’t do without.

Best pub: The Caledonian (856 College St.)
Scottish, perfect for Robbie Burns night.

Best afternoon tea: The Old Mill (21 Old Mill Road) I grew up in High Park and we’ve been going here for special treats as long as I can remember. Lovely hotel too.

Best fish and chips: Olde York (96 Laird Dr.)
Go for a late lunch to avoid the lines.

Best curry: Banjara (164 Eglinton Ave. East)
The best veggie curry!

Best British product shop: Uncle John’s Candy Shack (635 Mount Pleasant Rd.)
For Jaffa Cakes and those missing Marks and Sparks.

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

As a realtor, I’d say there are so many great neighbourhoods in Toronto (the city recognizes 140) and the market moves so fast, perhaps consider renting for your first year to get to know the city and where you want to be, before you buy.

Thanks Alysa! For anyone wishing to sell their gaff or purchase a place in their favourite manor, here’s her website.


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