I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I have some exciting news to share… I’m moving to Toronto! That’s right: on the 2nd September I will be flying across the Atlantic Ocean with nothing but suitcases full of clothes and shoes, waiting to see what happens.
In all fairness, this has been a long time coming. After University, I moved to Leeds for a year, and then back to Manchester (my favourite city in the UK) for seven months. The timing just wasn’t right though: I hated my job, was on a pitiful wage, and just couldn’t afford to be there. had to accept the fact that if I ever wanted to save any money, I’d have to move back in with my parents. So at the age of 22, that’s exactly what I did.
However, I moved home with a clear goal in mind: I was going to save enough money to move to Scandinavia. It’s no secret that Copenhagen is my favourite city, and it seemed that finding a job there would be easier if I was living in the city, as opposed to applying for jobs from the UK.
I’ve managed to save a fair bit of money over the last two and a half years (alongside the countless trips to Scandinavia – and further afield – endless shopping trips, and my Miu Miu splurge, otherwise known as one of the defining moments of my life).
Back in 2017, I started applying for jobs in Copenhagen. However, feedback from the companies was that although my application was strong, they weren’t willing to take a chance on a British person, what with the ridiculousness of Brexit.
I was so angry: my whole life I’d wanted to live in Scandinavia, and it was ruined by something that was totally out of my control. But then I realised that I just had to make a new plan instead: move somewhere outside the EU. Anywhere but the UK, because I just didn’t want to be here anymore.
So the question was, where to move to? Australia and New Zealand were both a straight up no: I’m not a fan of year-round sun, and it’s just too far from the UK. The USA was a definite no too – I’m so not a fan of their all work, no life balance.
… This led me to such a clear answer: Canada. A beautiful country full of friendly people, and a great base to explore north and south America. Plus, with the cold winters, warm summers and sheer amount of nature; it seemed like the natural alternative to Scandinavia. It was as close to Scandinavia as I could get without being in Scandinavia.
So it was decided: I would move to Canada.
Applying For My Visa
I spent a lot of time researching into a possible move. Whilst it’s not as easy as it is to obtain a visa for Australia, it’s certainly more realistic than the USA.
As a British citizen under 30, the Working Holiday International Experience Canada (IEC) visa was the most appropriate option for me. It’s a two year visa that can be used up to a year after your application has been accepted. Once those two years are up, you can either move home, or apply for permanent residency.
I submitted my application back in June 2017, pretty sure that I wasn’t going to hear anything for a while. At the time I applied, there were 5,000 visas available for UK citizens, with the pool opening in October 2016, running for a year. By the time I submitted my application, there were just 11 visas left. I would track the number of available visas every week, which you can find here.
I received no news for a couple of months. And then, one day in August, an extra 1,000 visas were added to the UK pool. A week after that, I received an email saying that I had been invited to apply for one of those visas!
I’d just started a new job at the time, so the timing wasn’t perfect, but there was no way that I was going to turn the opportunity down! Once I’d accepted the invitation, I had to act fast, sorting out all of the necessary paperwork, including applying for a police certificate, and getting some passport-style pictures taken.
Once I’d submitted all of my documents, I had to wait a month to receive an email to confirm that my visa request had been successful. I was able to move and work in Canada for two years.
With my last available date of entry being the 11th of September, I cut it fine; booking my one way ticket to Toronto for Sunday 2nd September 2018.
My motives behind gaining a Canadian visa were always clear: I wanted to move into a city that I could settle in and find a good job. Then, if I liked it enough, I could apply for permanent residency (and if not… well hopefully the whole Brexit situation would have blown over so I could finally make the move to Copenhagen!).
The IEC visa allows you to work or travel, and whilst I want to see Canada and the US, I wasn’t into the idea of taking up part time work, or bar and shop jobs. I wanted to continue my career in digital marketing.
So, I started to think about which city I would move to. Jobs in Montreal and Quebec require you to speak fluent French (which I don’t)… and whilst I’d heard of other cities like Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa, I wasn’t really sure what they were like, and if there was much happening in them.
That narrowed it down to Toronto and Vancouver. Being a smaller city more focused on nature, Vancouver just didn’t appeal to me as much as Toronto. I wanted to move to a big city where there would be so many things to do and see, the shopping would be good, the nightlife great… and of course, I wanted somewhere with opportunities to progress in my career.
And where else would fulfil that criteria other than Toronto? Plus, it’s a seven hour flight from the UK so I can still see family and friends; and just two hours from New York… like I’d need any more convincing!
It was never not going to be Toronto.
Finding out I’d gotten my visa a year before I was due to leave meant I was excited, but it still felt like something that was happening in the very distant future. It didn’t seem real. Coincidentally, one of my closest friends Danielle had planned to go long-term travelling with her boyfriend the same time I was moving to Toronto. In fact, our flights are just a week apart, so it meant that every time we met up, we’d always be like “this time next year….”
And now that time’s come by, and it’s crazy how real it is. I’ve handed my notice in at work (which was kind of sad!), so I feel like I can talk about it properly without having to watch what I say. Sneakily, I’d booked a week’s holiday off work so I could say I was going on holiday to Toronto, but the amount of times I nearly let slip that I was moving, was increasing. It was definitely becoming a secret that was too hard to keep.
See You Later, UK!
My plan is this: on the 1st September my family and I will be driving to Manchester, to go out one last time (dinner at Tattu, of course). We’ll probs have drinks at Alchemist too, just because. Weirdly, we’re booked into a hotel that’s opposite my halls of residence I lived in during my first year of Uni… so there’s gonna be a lot of nostalgia.
Then, at 9.25am on Sunday morning, I’ll be catching my one way flight over to Toronto. I have an Airbnb booked for two weeks in Long Branch, half an hour outside of Toronto. It’s right by Lake Ontario, and I read that the weather will be warm when I move over, so I’ll be spending a fair bit of time at the park by the lake sunbathing. Or on the roof terrace of my Airbnb (my choice may have been slightly swayed by the fact that there’s two cats at the flat!).
However, I guess I won’t be doing too much sunbathing – after all, I’ll need to get a move on finding a job, and a long-term place to live.
It’s crazy, moving to Toronto is the scariest thing I’ve ever done: I have no job, no home, and I don’t know anyone who lives there. But I need to do it. If I don’t, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.
Of course, I’m going to miss all of my family and my friends in the UK, but who knows how the future will plan out. I may live in Toronto for ever, I may move to Scandinavia… or I may return to the UK. Even if I don’t live in the UK again though, I’ll still be visiting regularly to see family and friends (and hopefully they’ll come and see me too!). My parents and brother have already booked their flights over to Toronto for Christmas and New Year, so that’ll be fun.
I’m really going to miss my cat ☹ I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do without Poppy, having seen her pretty much every day for the last two and a half years. I wish she could come to Toronto with me. I just hope she doesn’t forget me.
… But anyway, now my announcement is out, this feels so much more real. In just over a month, I will be in Toronto. And one of the difficult things for me will be deciding which clothes to take with me because actually, two suitcases isn’t that much.
If anyone has any recommendations about things to do, places to check out – or even if you live in the city and want to meet up, I’d love to hear from you. I’m genuinely excited about exploring Toronto, because despite having never been there before, I feel like I’m really going to like it.
I’ve already checked out ballet classes, flight costs to New York, bars (hellooooo Pravda! Gotta get my Soviet fix somewhere), and how many Urban Outfitters there are in the city (sadly, Weekday doesn’t ship to Canada, so I’ll have to get my orders delivered to the UK, so my parents can post them over to me).
So, I guess I’ll see you later, UK!
*All these pictures are from Pixabay… with exception of my beautiful Princess Popsy. Next time, they’ll be my own pictures!*