Tag Archives: successful brits in toronto

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andrew Mcloughlin

Andrew Mcloughlin

Locked himself out yet again

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle but unless you own Casa Loma that’s not entirely true. So today’s Successful Brit in Toronto — Andrew Mcloughlin — is here to set the record straight as a real estate professional.

“Our house, it has a crowd,” explains Andrew. “There’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud. Our house, in the middle of our street.”

That doesn’t really narrow it down much in a city the size of 630 square kilometres, so we need to find out more about Andrew’s passion for real estate, what brought him here to Toronto, what he’s up to and so on.

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?

Growing up in the North-West of England had a lasting impact on me. It taught me that I needed to strive and plan for my goals if I ever want to achieve them. St. Helens is a great town with some amazingly talented people, but there was a point in my life, when I was around 18 years old that that travel bug bit me … and it bit hard.

A friend and I decided to travel throughout Europe for three months. This experience was transformative. It opened our minds and expanded our world view in the most impactful of ways.

Following that trip, we were hooked and knew we needed to travel more — so, on a whim, we decided that we wanted to work in Canada. We applied for work permits, packed our bags, and off we went!

At that age, everything is an adventure and this was no different. I eventually got a permanent work permit and then, over time pursued Canadian citizenship.

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

It wasn’t the smoothest transition for me. I had some experience in software development and web design but initially I was prepared to work anywhere, doing almost anything; from working at a clothing store in the Eaton Centre to an industrial metal bending factory in Vaughan.

At the time, I thought nothing of waking up at 4:00 a.m. to take the subway and two buses north of the city, because it was all part of the experience! Through these opportunities, I was afforded the chance to meet new people and really getting to know my new city.

I eventually landed permanent roles in web development for marketing agencies and then earned the opportunity to work for a multi-national financial firm in their marketing and analytics department for the last nine years.

I always knew that my passion was in real estate and during my time working in the financial industry, I pursued my real estate goals and became a licensed realtor. As a realtor, I am inspired by the families and investors I am fortunate to partner with.

I am inspired everyday as I introduce clients to their dream homes and support them in turning those dreams into a reality!

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

Culture, diversity, great food — Toronto has it all. I really love this city! I met my wife here — over 10 years ago — and I am not afraid to say that I was punching above my weight when I first asked her out … but this is Toronto … and anything can happen!

The sights also get me every time. Coming from a small town in the UK, I wasn’t used to big cities and I still get a feeling of excitement in my stomach when I drive south on the DVP, on to the Gardiner into the downtown core. It’s great!

I don’t love the traffic, but for a world class city, Toronto feels smaller and more intimate than other big cities.

I feel as though there are so many opportunities here if you are willing to work for them.

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?

It’s by no mistake that my wife, son and I chose a neighbourhood that has one of the largest British demographics in the city!

One of my favourite local spots that has THE BEST fish and chips in Toronto is only a few blocks from our house. If you take anything from this article you must go to the Olde Yorke Fish and Chips in Leaside. Do it now … you won’t regret it!

Andrew very kindly sent along a ton of links at that point, but we countered back and knocked him down a few, thus we shook hands on the deal at that point and here is the piece of Brits in Toronto website real estate he now lauds over forever. Pay him a visit!

https://realestatewithandrew.ca

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-mcloughlin-969637176/https://twitter.com/myagentandrew

https://twitter.com/myagentandrew

https://www.instagram.com/mytorontorealtor

https://www.facebook.com/realestatewithandrew

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Successful Brits in Toronto: Miranda Anthistle

Miranda Anthistle

Look familiar? Then you watch CTV Toronto.

Brits in Toronto got an anonymous news tip the other day (thanks Brian, see you at Scallywags next Saturday?) and not being ones to burn our sources, decided to follow up on the scoop.

Five minutes of hard Googling later we discovered Miranda Anthistle, a Successful Brit in Toronto, who is a reporter at CTV Toronto.

Sometimes those people reporting the news become the news. So much so, in fact, that we requested an exclusive e-mail interview that Miranda happily agreed to … and here’s the result. (Didn’t have time to fact check it because Dufferin Mall was closing and we still had some Crimbo stuff to get, but it looks pretty honest.)

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 didn’t have a choice! It was already a done deal before I was born. My mum grew up in Toronto, while my dad grew up in London which is where they ended up meeting one another through a mutual friend.

When my dad proposed, my mum said she would marry him … but only if he promised they would eventually move to Toronto where most of her family still lived.

I was born in London and grew up there until I started primary school.

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

I had to leave the city in order to land my first on-air gig in Toronto!

I started in Medicine Hat, Alberta (which actually has a huge British population due to the nearby army base that houses BATUS: British Army Training Unit Suffield).

From there I worked in Hamilton before moving back to Toronto to work at Bell Media as a reporter.

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

The best part of living in Toronto is that the whole world is right at your doorstep. I grew up with friends from a variety of different cultures which exposed me to so many incredible experiences.

I have the most eclectic taste in music and love all types of food.

And in Toronto it doesn’t matter what mood you’re in — there’s always a dance floor or restaurant nearby to scratch that itch!

The worst part about living in Toronto? Trying to buy property downtown that’s larger than a shoebox without breaking the bank.

And of course, the winter weather. I can’t stand the cold!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it?

I’m always excited to run into British people and usually ask off the top who they support. If it’s Arsenal, I’m terribly disappointed, but I try not to judge! [Editor’s note: feel free to judge away, Miranda, we all do :-)]

My great uncle played for Tottenham and my family have always been Spurs supporters through and through. COME ON YOU SPURS!

Thanks Miranda! If anyone wants to connect, here are her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Successful Brits in Toronto: James Deeley

James Deeley

“Oh yes, I’d say it’s definitely NOT a bull market! Law joke, by the way. Ha!” (But it doesn’t really work, James, because it should be a bear then, not an elephant, mate.)

“I’m the funny Brit on @DownToFlux.”

We spotted that statement from James Deeley and immediately “funny” and “Brit” ticked a lot of boxes for us, but “flux” not so much as we have no idea what that means and probably only appeals to people who dress up as Spock and stand in line for three hours for Gillian Anderson’s autograph at $250 a pop or something.

But then we went down the rabbit hole and actually read his bio and it said, “British guys that play games & talk about stuff.”

We’d say that James has definitely made it in life based on that, and thus, is our latest Successful Brit in Toronto.

We also note that he works for a law firm so have to say that the following is James’s own words and not legal advice in any way apart from the bit where he recommends a British pub that allegedly has the best roast this side of the pond. If you feel that is NOT the case then please get representation and contact James directly and leave us out of it. Ta.

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 had visited Toronto a couple of times on holidays and fell in love with the city straight away, seeing how clean everything was, how friendly and helpful the people were, and just how proud they are of their city. I ended up visiting about five or six times before finally moving out here in June of 2016.

I moved to Toronto with the plan to stay here permanently right from the get go, and nothing I have experienced while living here has made me doubt my choice at all.

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

Because I came over with the intention to stay here permanently, it was tricky to find a job that wasn’t just waiting tables or working in a Tims, jobs that many people on the same type of visa as me (Canadian Working Experience) go for in order to fund their adventures.

I wanted a job with solid career prospects from the start and because I didn’t have Permanent Resident status at this time, it was almost impossible to land a permanent role, so I tried everything to get my foot in the door with even a temporary contract position.

I signed up for LinkedIn, I handed out copies of my resume to anywhere that’d take it, I scoured job sites for hours and hours, and visited about 10 different recruitment agencies, one of which got back to me within a week with an eight-week temporary role in a downtown law firm, helping them move offices.

Luckily for me, my manager liked my work ethic and I’m still in the same firm two years later, just in a permanent position managing teams in both Toronto and Ottawa.

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

I think some of the best aspects of living in Toronto are the same things that made me fall in love with the city during my first visits, and the pride that people have for Toronto and their sports teams really makes you feel a part of something special.

Building on that, there is always something going on and it feels like you can find another hidden gem every time you go out. Toronto has so many different cultures and backgrounds within it, and there are so many fantastic restaurants, bars, music venues etc. to satisfy any craving you may have!

HST has to be one of the less attractive aspects of living in Toronto, or Canada in general. It takes a while to adjust to the fact that everything costs 13% more than the marked price!

Another of the downsides, as I’m sure most Torontonians would agree, is the winter. It’s not as bad as other parts of Canada, but as a Brit who is used to mostly rainy winters with the very occasional snowfall, it’s quite the shock to the system to have everything under a foot of snow for months!

House prices have to be one of the major downsides of living in Toronto. I’m from a little town outside London where house prices were pretty bad anyway, but looking for somewhere in Toronto for a reasonable price is almost hopeless!

You’re far better off looking for somewhere a little outside of the city, or just renting until you’re a millionaire!

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?

Most of the people I met when I first came over were through an organization called SWAP Working Holidays, who help people who come to Canada on IEC visas to adjust to Canadian life and meet people. They host lots of social events and it’s through these that I met many of my friends, who are largely fellow Brits (Maybe it’s the same sense of humour?).

Whilst some of these friends have now moved back home to Blighty, a few of them chose the path to Permanent Residency like myself, and we meet up pretty regularly, and also try to meet new people of any nationality! It just so seems that our interests tend to guide us towards Brit-heavy things!

Talking of Brit-heavy things, the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Team play out of Lamport Stadium in Liberty Village, and not only is going to a game a great day out, but it’s a good way to meet other people as most of the crowd are Rugby fans, mainly Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, with a smattering of Canadians for good measure!

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

If you’re moving to Toronto and have heard about the winter weather, it is not a joke! It’s a far better option to wait until you get here to buy some winter clothes because it’s pretty unlikely that your winter gear from home will be up to the job. Plus it saves plenty of room in your suitcase!

For those of you, like myself, that really do get a craving for a good old Sunday roast, The Queen and Beaver on Elm street is a British-style pub that serves the best roast I have had so far this side of the Atlantic!

A good way to meet other Brits in Toronto, I’d suggest doing it through the Meetup app, or through Facebook. On both I am a member of groups called Brits in Toronto (funnily enough) and there is always people posting advice, events and other useful stuff.

If anyone if after any information about anything more specific, I’d encourage them to reach out to me directly (Twitter) and I’ll do my best to help them out! It’s a big deal moving countries, but you are in good company in Toronto.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Katya Garipova

Katya Garipova

Katya used to sound British but now she sounds like a Russian Australian … a Braustralian, if you will

Pete Beale from EastEnders was the loveable market trader that constantly tried to flog spuds to punters as they wandered around Albert Square. Who can forget his cheeky Cockney banter and shout of, “Awight tweacle?!” to Sharon, or Kath. We can’t recall who, but he was a sales legend.

Katya Garipova also tries to flog her wares, but because this is not 1985 EastEnders, now has the power of the Internet to help her. In fact, we first spotted her on Facebook in a Brit-expat group and offered her a slot as our next Successful Brit in Toronto.

Katya is a British illustrator, designer and art director living in Toronto. Her family is still living in Berkshire, Leeds and some in South Wales.

We’re not sure which part of South Wales, but probably not Pontypridd.

That’s a bloody shame because here’s some fun facts about Pontypridd we featured a while back:

  • 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.

So, let’s DRAW some ARTful answers from these following questions to ILLUSTRATE why Katya is successful …

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 was not originally intending to stay in Toronto or even Canada permanently, but things changed a lot and now I’m a permanent resident! Initially I came to visit on holiday eight years ago and loved everything about the city, so I applied through the BUNAC program to live and work in Toronto for an extended period after graduating with BA from Winchester School of Art.

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

I started doing freelance graphic design work for a small Canadian company while still in the UK to have something to show on my resume when I came to Toronto. Skype and e-mail was my best friend.

Before I arrived, I made sure to research. I applied to some job postings before arriving and told them when I will be arriving, to which a few replied with, “Sure, get in contact when you’re here” — which I did.

When I arrived, I immediately started to apply to more places and doing interviews from the connections I built before coming. That in turn landed me my first proper Canadian job in a multimedia design and production studio.

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

It took some time to get used to not being able to walk over to any ATM and take out money for free. (Your bank, only!) Or not having free bank accounts here in general.

Also, the added 13% tax on everything still throws me off at times! And the tipping took getting used to, definitely.

However, the best would be the friendliness of people, the incredible mix of cultures and backgrounds of everyone around you. Almost everyone you meet is from somewhere else, and made Canada home.

There is also so much great food here it’s ridiculous. I have never been so adventurous with food until I came here.

People are very open minded, and supportive. This city is also probably the most influential in the country. When it comes to the art, design and advertising industries, it’s the most buzzing with opportunity. And it’s growing like crazy.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it?

I actually don’t know any other British people here! Although many of my colleagues have family in the UK. Over the years I have made a lot of great friends through work and hobby-based meet up groups or events.

Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

To be honest, the only places I would advise if you’re craving some Twiglets and such would be British themed sweet shops in downtown Toronto, which there are a bunch (expensive, though!). There are also many British-style pubs.

My favourite option has always been to have my family mail me or bring me my favourite things during holidays or visits.

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

For students: As far as I’ve found, people in the art, design and advertising industries here don’t really care about your schooling or educational background … it’s not something they’re familiar with; GCSEs or A-Levels is gibberish.

So if your work is solid and you’re willing to go out of your comfort zone and meet people, you can become successful.

It’s always going to be tough to leave everything you know behind and start a new life elsewhere. You have to want to it to make it work. The amount of growth as a person you experience from doing something like that is immeasurable.

You’ll need to adjust to the language and slang for sure, but it’s not a big deal.

Expect for everyone to tell you how exotic and amazing your accent is. They love it here.

After some time away, your British accent will probably morph and you will become a foreigner to your own people back home. There will be laughs. After seven years of living in Canada, people here can no longer pinpoint what I am — I get Australian a lot! — and my South-England British accent is now permanently tainted with Canadian intonations, “Rolling-rrr’s” and unintended “‘eh’s.”

There’s also hints of Russian in there. But that’s just more exotic, I suppose!

Brilliant stuff. Katya’s art is also very good and you can see an extensive selection of her wares at these following fine Internet establishments:

Etsy
Instagram
Facebook
LinkedIn

Successful Brits in Toronto: Roanna Cochrane

Roanna Cochrane

If the BBC ever wants to green light “Posh Spice: My Tumultuous Times on Top Of The Pops” … just saying

Just like we predicted, it’s been drier than a hedgehog’s chuffer on the Successful Brits in Toronto front — and then similar to Toronto’s TTC buses, three come along at once.

But we’re not complaining. Just glad to be in this great city of Toronto. And actress Roanna Cochrane is too.

You remember that scene in the recent Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water, filmed in Toronto, where the cleaning lady tries to help the fish-man-creature in the tank? Yeah, we do too … it was really moving. Really well done. The actress caught the moment.

Anyway, back to Roanna.

This Successful Brit in Toronto’s credits include Vikings, Murdoch Mysteries and Saving Hope. She’s also done tons of voice over work for the very popular video games series Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed.

Here’s her showreel:

So, let’s find out more about Roanna’s 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?

Vikings, a Canadian-Irish co-production I worked on made me think about Toronto, which has an emerging international film and TV market with many productions now filming here each year.

It seemed that a lot of my friends in LA were auditioning for series shooting on location in Toronto, so I thought why not just move there instead. Also TIFF’s popularity has really put the city on the industry’s map.

I initially arrived thinking let’s give it three or so years and go from there. Now I’m planning on going for citizenship.

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

Before making the big move, I flew over to find a good agent which helped a great deal. Within weeks of moving here I landed my first job, a regular in a new animated series for Amazon Prime, Wishenpoof. I was very fortunate to land work quickly which has certainly helped the momentum for further bookings.

The Canadian experience has just made me work harder. And being British provides something different for casting directors which has helped me stand out a bit.

My first TV role over here was in Saving Hope for CTV and it was for a Canadian role but they ended up casting me instead which was a real win.

What are the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Toronto is a cheaper city to live in than London which makes it more affordable for artists to live in. Torontonians always laugh at this as it is one of the most expensive Canadian cities but the cost of living in London is just that much higher!

I also love living in the downtown core as everything you need is nearby and the city is very walkable.

The worst aspects? Probably being away from family and friends. You get used to it but you miss out on important events and that’s hard.

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 didn’t set out to meet other Brits but one of the first Ubisoft video games I worked on was Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate which was set in London so most of the actors working on it were ex-pats. Some of them have become my closest friends. We’ll all be cheering on England together throughout the World Cup!

Oh, and one of my pet peeves in Toronto are those cliche British pubs with tacky Tube maps and Beatles posters all over the walls. I can’t stand them! They are nothing like a cosy, atmospheric British pub.

However, I do rather like House on Parliament in Cabbagetown which feels the closest thing to a genuine British pub. They have Fullers beer on tap! And The Ceili Cottage in Leslieville is a lovely Irish pub with a great patio.

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

My advice to Brits moving to Toronto is this: get on WhatsApp and FaceTime so you can stay instantly connected to everyone back home which makes the distance much easier. Making new friends as adults can be a bit like dating but put yourself out there and you never know who is going to be your next lifer!

Enjoy the ride — it doesn’t have to be a forever move, just see how it goes and take things from there one step at a time …

And finally, what can we see you in this year?

I’m voicing a Cockney fox in a new animated series for PBS Kids called Let’s Go Luna which comes out in the fall. I mean, autumn. Yikes — listen to me. Someone pass me a tea and a Hobnob!

And … CUT! Thanks Roanna, brilliant stuff.

You can stay up-to-date with her work on IMDB, Twitter and Instagram.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Emma Jones

Emma Jones

From Pontypridd to Toronto: One woman’s journey

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.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Kathy Smart

Kathy Smart 2

And only then did Kathy realize it wasn’t a Canadian fish and chip shop

Back in 2016 Kathy Smart was looking for a job, and then she found a job, and heaven knows she’s not miserable now because she became a manager, then a senior manager, then a director.

We take full and utter credit for that.

Moving on, now that Kathy is a successful mover and shaker in Toronto, let’s catch up and find out what she’s up to now and how life is as a Successful Brit 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?

Roughly seven years ago I lived in Vancouver, working on an IEC visa. I absolutely loved it. Vancouver is beautiful, outdoorsy and a great experience but, having moved from London, I found it a tad too chilled for long-term living so after six months chose to head back.

Fast forward to 2016 and the opportunity arose to move internationally with my husband’s company. We looked at options in San Francisco, Sydney and New York, but there was something about Canada (maple syrup, bears, baseball, beavers and checked shirts maybe?) that kept calling us back, so we chose Toronto.

We landed with a three-year visa. Eighteen months later we applied for permanent residency. We love it.

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

After 12 years of working in different facets of recruitment in the UK I was pretty confident I would secure work quickly. I expected that my knowledge of recruitment processes would give me the edge. I was wrong. My thorough understanding of the London market did not map across AT ALL here.

I was applying to jobs online, taking time to tailor my CV and cover letter for each one, then following up with phone calls and emails. I got zero traction. It was horribly frustrating, humbling and mind-numbingly boring.

After six weeks I decided to hit the networking loop. I checked out Eventbrite and Meetup and attended anything that looked like it even loosely could help me meet people in my field.

It was through networking and meeting people and asking that I finally got interviews, and from there ended up with two job offers. Lack of Canadian experience did indeed affect my application.

It meant I had to take a job two steps down from the one I had in London, but then, once in the role, I was promoted quickly, so 16 months after starting had worked my way back up from Manager, to Senior Manager to Director.

Not a perfect system but manageable once you know how to negotiate it.

Key suggestions:
– Go to networking events. Meet people, follow up, chase, talk to people about your experience;
– Be prepared to step down and work your way back up.

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

Best:

1. Living effectively in a village, but being a 45-minute walk to work in one direction and a 45-minute walk to the beach in the other.
2. There’s a sense of community here without being claustrophobic.
3. Lots of opportunity to get involved, am part of a Dragon Boating club, I volunteer for Lean In Canada and Merit Award.
4. Genuine work/life balance even for senior staff.
5. After-work summer activities like kayaking, biking, baseball.
6. After-work winter activities like ice skating, sledding, snow shoeing.

Worst:

1. Being so far from home; it’s particularly hard with older parents.
2. There’s no “beer after work culture here” so very hard to make friends with your colleagues.
3. The traffic.
4. Generally, Canadians are very polite, reserved and avoid confrontation … it’s sometimes hard to know where you stand or how your idea is being received.

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?

Absolutely! I love working with Canadians Mon-Fri but on the weekends it’s nice to hang out with other Brits, mainly for the sense of humour and the similarity of situation.

I have Canadian friends as well but they’re a little less available on weekends as they have family commitments and well-established friendship groups, which can understandably be difficult to join.

In the first few months of being here, we collected all the waifs and strays together from every event we went to and now have an awesome group made up of Brits/Americans/Irish/Kiwis for games of baseball and the like.

Would heavily recommend joining the Brits in Toronto Facebook group — it’s awesome for finding other Brits, finding cheap furniture (from people moving in and out of the city) and hearing about events.

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

[KATHY — YOU LEFT THIS QUESTION BLANK OR COULDN’T BE ARSED TO ANSWER.]

So there you have it. One woman’s dream to arrive in Toronto and make a go it it. The pure epitomy of a Successful Brit in Toronto.

Thanks Kathy … and here’s her LinkedIn profile if you want to endorse her for dragon boating.