Just like McDonald’s milkshakes, the Successful Brits in Toronto are now coming thick and fast. And thanks to Kathy Smart who sent out some intro e-mails to her friends — because we’re now a charity case who can’t find our own — today we have Emma Jones stepping up to the plate.
Emma is originally from Pontypridd, Wales, UK and has been in Toronto for seven years.
Here’s some fun facts about Pontypridd:
- Pontypridd is twinned with Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and Mbale, Uganda.
- Notable people from Pontypridd include Tom Jones, Indie-folk band Climbing Trees and the drummer for AC/DC.
- Pontypridd has its very own community radio station GTFM 107.9 run by a voluntary management committee.
Enough about amazing Pontypridd though. Let’s hear from Emma …
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 partner is Canadian, from North Bay, Ontario, and we met while travelling in New Zealand. I originally came to Toronto with him to visit family. We had flights booked to go on to Australia, but for one reason or another, we kept extending our stay in Canada. That was more than seven years ago now!
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
For maybe my first four years in Toronto, my roles were mostly contract based because I enjoyed the freedom of being able to work remotely and travel back and forth to the UK. I think I felt the most homesick during those first few years so didn’t really want to commit to Canada through a permanent position.
I don’t think a lack of Canadian experience hindered me in securing work because a UK education and background is pretty well regarded. With that, I realize that I had advantages that may not exist for a large majority of newcomers to Canada and my immigrant experience is not necessarily representative of the majority.
I first worked for LexisNexis and then Microsoft Canada, with whom I stayed for over three years as a digital producer. After that I moved into marketing, working at an agency, DAC Group, and fintech startup, Quandl.
Recently I started a new role as a Senior Marketing Manager at RBC, which is proving to be a fantastic opportunity as I get to work on early stage start-ups and innovations that go beyond banking.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
The best aspect of living in Toronto is how multicultural the city is. I love that every weekend in the summer has a different festival celebrating ethnic diversity.
I also love the summer weather and cottage lifestyle, which is like a levelled-up version of going to the caravan for the weekend in the UK, only with less rain and a few more bugs [that’s “insects” for those Brits who have been here less than seven years].
I think there’s a pretty strong consensus that the worst thing about living in Toronto is the house prices. I’m from a small town in Wales and, when I look at what I could buy there for the price of a small condo in Toronto, it really makes you question your decision.
Other than that, I dream about good cheese, cheap flights, carveries and Boots meal deals!
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 usually meet fellow Brits when chance allows, but I do have a tendency to gravitate towards them at events. It’s like a strange Union Jack honing beacon, but it’s rare that I meet fellow Welsh people.
Even during Six Nations or the football World Cup — the one that Wales actually did well in — I’d watch at the pub (the Rose and Crown at Yonge/Eglinton) and would never see other Welsh folk.
As for recommended eateries for homesick Brits, I don’t think you can really beat a good British Indian, but Banjara (Bloor and Yonge/Eglinton) does a pretty kick-ass [that’s “arse” for those Brits who have been here less than seven years] butter chicken.
For fish and chips, Len Duckworth’s on the Danforth is the closest place to home.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
My best piece of advice for Brits moving to Toronto is to learn to ski or take up some kind of snow sport because the winters here can be long.
Also be prepared to get a lot of stick from people back home when you start dropping the second “t” in “Toronto.” That’s when you officially know that you’ve become a local!
Great stuff, Emma from Pontypridd. If anyone wants to connect here’s her LinkedIn profile.