Why I moved from a charming rural farm to the big bad city

Some people never venture far from home, while others travel far and wander forever. Me, I’m located somewhere left of center. I’ve always lived in Canada, but I’m no stranger to flinging my life and a few cubic cardboard boxes from Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal to British Columbia everyish decade. That’s around 5,000km or 3,100 miles across country if you’re curious. My moving boxes have always held up. My emotional baggage is torn.

Yeppers! I moved from this gorgeous organic farm in British Columbia to Toronto. BTW: This photo is filter-free.

Yeppers! I moved from this gorgeous organic farm in British Columbia to Toronto. BTW: This photo is filter-free.

When I moved to Vancouver from Ottawa 15ish years ago to study computer science (gaw, time flies), I never dreamed I’d stay so long, get married, OMG baby!, and move to an organic farm in the middle of a rural forest in BC’s Okanagan Valley where no one could find me.

Not being found in a forest is great, for a while. Today I’m totally locatable ’cause I moved myself (and my little family) to my birth place — Toronto, Ontario. When I announced my move from a population countable on two hands to Canada’s most populous city on my Squawkfox Facebook Page, the responses really surprised me.

toronto

Most of you wanted to know WHY the heck I’d do such a thing! So I’ll tell you.

why toronto why

downfall toronto

Here are some of your questions with a few housekeeping answers for the money-minded. I get into the big WHY below.

why i moved to toronto

Carl and I kept our cars in British Columbia. Both my Smart Car and Carl’s Subaru Forester are in storage awaiting our BC return, or until we decide that living car-free in Toronto is unfun. We have a tad of storage insurance to protect against vandals and other jerks, but the cost is minimal at under $200 per year for both automobiles.

In Toronto we’ll “Ride the Rocket”, which is weird advertising-speak for using the local transit system. Subways and buses may be our new normal, but we’ve also joined the Zipcar car sharing program for bigger trips, like to Costco. :)

BC property

Yes, we’re keeping our little house on the farm. Our humble home is a mortgage-free dwelling, so our costs are not considerable. Insurance, a bit of heating, power, and rural property taxes are the bigger expenses — I’m sure I’ll be surprised by something new next month. The idea of renting out the place is a possibility, but for now I don’t want anyone living in my lovely house.

In Toronto we’re homeowners who rent. Our new city abode is a two-bedroom apartment near High Park. Rent ain’t cheap, but ditching the cars for the subway footsteps away is a decent money saver.

blogging

Of course I’m still blogging. The only difference is all things frugal will now be transmitted from Toronto. Many have said they loved my rural mindset and are a little saddened about my city move. To these peops I suggest sticking around — you might be surprised with how a new perspective multiplied with new experiences can equal something interesting. No one has ever said I lack “The Interesting” in my writing. If they have, I tend to ignore them.

So WHY did we leave the frugal farm in BC and move to Toronto? The answers shouldn’t surprise you, too much.

Opportunity is a thing I like.

I sometimes get invited to do cool things like speak to groups, squawk on panels, and talk on television, but these things most often happen in Toronto. I’m always choked to say, “Sorry I can’t do it, I live in a BC forest.” Living in the city means I’m able to embrace these opportunities far more often.

work opportunities

Also, the majority of my freelance work — most financial, some technical — is written for organizations and companies located in Toronto. While the internet makes remote work possible, most people like to meet the people they work with. I know I do.

The opportunities for Carl are awesome too. The guy is a computer scientist, so finding challenging work for cooler pay was possible in Toronto. Because compensation (salary + benefits) is often based on location, it’s easier to find work with a competitive salary in larger city centers.

Homesick is a thing I don’t like.

I’ve missed all my reunions, I’ve longed to linger with friends far away, and I have family living in Toronto. I miss the sounds, the smells, and the people living in the big city. I’ve been away in BC for 15 years now, so it’s Toronto time.

lifestylechange adventure

It’s really hard to put a price on “homesick”, but I’m done paying it. I’m home. I guess I have a lot of homes in Canada. Smile.

Adventure is a thing of awesome.

When I first moved to BC eons ago, I did it for the adventure. Big mountains, big sports, big education. I’m not one of those people who grows deep roots or needs to stay put forever. I like to shake things up, sometimes. I can’t think of a more exciting (and challenging) way to boggle my family than to move clear across the country from a farm to a city.

connected

Toronto offers endless places, events, and sights to see. I can’t even begin to list all the city stuff I want to do with my daughter. I’ll probably write about it all later, with a focus on frugality of course.

So there you have it — the BC livin’ Toronto transplant has replanted in Toronto. After announcing my move on Facebook and Twitter I’m super excited about all the coffee dates I’ve been asked on. It’s true I do like coffee, but if you really want to see my fun side then suggest a ‘wine date’ as a get together. Since I’m also from the Okanagan Valley where vineyards are plentiful, I may know a thing or two about tasty bottles, and I always enjoy sipping vino with friends.

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Marika Stone July 22nd, 2013

    Cheers on a gutsy move! I am looking forward to reading about frugal living in the big city, Canadian style. Hey, if No Impact Man could…

  2. Hollie Pollard July 22nd, 2013

    Since your apartment is in my neighbourhood (walking distance to High Park and I am the local frugal blogger if you want some assistance in finding the best in the hood let me know)..as we definitely do not live in a cheap neighbourhood.

  3. David McKenna July 22nd, 2013

    Welcome to Toronto! The city all of Canada loves to hate :)

    It’s a smart move to rent now. The real estate market is a bit silly here, although nothing compared to Vancouver. There’s even been some outrageous phony bidding wars.

    http://www.findingoptimal.com/2013/07/phony-real-estate-bidding-wars-change.html

  4. Andrew Moizer July 22nd, 2013

    I’m sure you’ll make the best of things in TO. Plus the dynamic is different when you have a family. Looking back, we figured that living on the farm (which we enjoy now) wouldn’t have been as good when the boys were young (and not so young). Adapting (quickly) to a “new normal” is always a good idea, if hard to do sometimes.

    cheers,
    Andrew

    PS. Hopefully you can find a source of farm fresh eggs too.

  5. Simon Elstad July 22nd, 2013

    Congrats on the move. Am especially fascinated by your reasons for moving: Opportunities, relationships and adventure…sounds like an awesome combination. I think once in a while a change of scenery is okay to help us change direction, get out of comfort zones and expand our horizons. Cheerz

  6. Rob July 22nd, 2013

    Congrats on your move. I could never live in a city again, but they do have lots of interesting things. And good cell service so you’ll never feel any need for the 20th century relic of a land line!

  7. Samantha July 22nd, 2013

    Crazy. I love your blog and your book. Now we’ll be neighbours. Looking forward to a few Toronto specifc tips! PS: Free yoga in High Park every Sunday morning at 10am for the summer! I’m sure that fits into your budget :)

  8. Carla July 22nd, 2013

    I love your blog. I teach financial education at a battered women’s shelter and your information is much appreciated. Good luck in your new home!

  9. Kelly {the Centsible Life} July 22nd, 2013

    Congrats on the move! Excited to see where this new journey takes you, and looking forward to seeing your frugal content take a more urban shift. :)

  10. Reinita July 22nd, 2013

    We look forward to keeping track of the free and reasonable things you find to so that when we B.C.ers go to visit we have a tidy list saved up of things to do. Enjoy you new adventure land. (And we know you’ll be back!)

  11. Wendi July 22nd, 2013

    Excellent! I think you and Cassie Howard (aka MrsJanuary.com) should get together. Both of your families are young and both of you are frugal money savers.

  12. Anne F July 22nd, 2013

    First off I would like to say as an American, I still find your Canadian frugualness, just a relevant here as I am sure it is there.

    Secondly, congrats on the move. Due to my husband’s career path we have moved several times and I have lived all over the U.S.. Currently, we live in a rural area. I grew up in a metro area. Both have their plus and minus. I can tell you, when I live in the big city, I dream of the country. And when I am in the country, I dream of the big city.

  13. Liz Mackay July 22nd, 2013

    Have loved your posts since I found them after buying your book about 3 months ago .. Am sure they will continue to be entertaining, fun, and educational!! We live in Victoria BC and have no intention of going ANYWHERE else but then we are in a different age group as are over 50 and very active with business and pleasure incl lots of time in the FREE great outdoors .. Will send you our list of frugal living tips as soon as I have time !! Keep up the good work and Congrats on a gutsy move !!

  14. md July 22nd, 2013

    Being closer to family so your daughter could get to know them wasn’t a factor?

  15. Theresa July 22nd, 2013

    Congratulations! Moving close to family, especially while raising a child. is a wise choice.

    You seriously should consider a housing co-operative as a viable, safe, and very affordable option when living in a big city. I live in a housing co-op in downtown Vancouver, where I have raised my three children (youngest is 11). No car, I walk to work, the kids have bus passes.

    Good luck in Toronto. I almost got a job there, and I think it would have been wonderful. My friends and family in Vancouver of course disagree, and are glad I ended up staying. With the perfect summer weather in Vancouver, I have to agree.

  16. Janice D'Amico July 22nd, 2013

    When I stumbled across your blog a couple of years ago I was pleasantly surprised you were living in Vernon. I too had left the big city (Vancouver) and moved to Vernon (Coldstream actually) in 1993. I launched two businesses, got married, and lost my mother in law to breast cancer, and got divorced during the 10 years I spent there. I too longed for home. I finally decided to move back to Vancouver when my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Now it is 11 years later and although I have re-married and am very happy in that respect, I really miss the Okanagan! I wish I had been able to keep my home in Coldstream like you did. I really think that was a wise decision on your part. The Okanagan has a way of calling you back after a couple of years away! But, no matter where you are Kerry I will continue to follow your blog. I hope you find what you are looking for.

  17. Mike Holman July 22nd, 2013

    Welcome back! I’m sure you’ll be happy in High Park.

    Once your daughter gets a bit older, you should look up the (other) TTC and show them what a real Ironman looks like. ;)

  18. Sharon July 22nd, 2013

    Congratulations. I moved to TO from Nelson via Regina, and can relate to the transition. I miss
    West Coast culture, but Toronto trades on its own multi-cultural assets, so there are benefits. Best of luck on the re-connection.

  19. The witch July 22nd, 2013

    All the best to you and your family.
    Since you are originally from T.O. you will find some things different for sure. But the restaurants, wines and the amazing everyday stuff to do won’t keep you bored. Some can be found for free which I’m sure you will tel us all about.
    I lived in T.O. for over 20 years before moving to Anne’s land as everyone call’s it. (I actually hate that saying.)
    But I do miss all the cultural and architectural events, exhibits and the EX, that Toronto has to offer.
    Good luck and I can’t wait to see some new post of your family’s new start on life in Toronto.

  20. sunshine July 22nd, 2013

    As long as your choice makes you happy- they say that is what counts. I grew up in a somewhat rural area and while city living has many advantages I have to admit I still do enjoy the outdoors. In the future I hope to move to a more rural area (small town) that does not have too many inconveniences. And its nice to have people around, too.

  21. Sue July 22nd, 2013

    …and you brought your dog also, I hope!

  22. jill July 22nd, 2013

    Hi There

    I am thinking of moving back to Toronto myself My family is there and I am getting homesick after being out here for a decade. Any tips on moving across the country without spending a fortune? I was lucky moving out here – the company relocated me and paid all expenses – different going back

    Best

  23. Lesley July 22nd, 2013

    I can fully understand and wish you many blessings. When I moved to Kamloops from Manchester U.K. many moons ago, I thought I had gone back in time. Kamloops was so innocent and culture – well forget it. Soon moved to Vancouver and now live in Surrey and wouldn’t change things for the world. Toronto I don’t know much about but wouldn’t be as beautiful as Vancouver, although less expensive I think.

  24. Daniella Ivette July 23rd, 2013

    Aw, I’ve grown used to reading your rural frugal lifestyle, looking to fit your tips into my city gal life.
    I’m kinda thrilled now, because you blogging from the city might be more relatable to me, and maybe many of us here!
    Can’t wait for your next post!

  25. mohamed saidi July 24th, 2013

    I have really benefitted from your articles.
    the least i can do for you , is to wish you and your family a very happy and great stay in toronto. i pray to god to give you what you are looking for. God bless you for all you have given us
    Mohamed saidi

  26. Alicia July 24th, 2013

    Congrats on the big life move. Looking forward to your blogs from a big city perspective (though I never really found your previous posts obviously rural).

  27. Ann July 26th, 2013

    When my children were babies we moved from the city I loved back to the city I had run away from so they could know their extended family. Best move we made. And in time I have come to love the city I ran away from. Enjoy the change!

  28. Ruth Cooke July 26th, 2013

    I fully understand, having done the move both ways. I’m back in the city now (not Toronto, where I too grew up, but close enough for a day trip), and I think I’m here to stay. The country SOUNDS cheap, since you can grow at least some of your own food and land is definitely cheaper the farther you get from the big city, but all that cheap is offset by the cost of gas and the fact that jobs are scarce to non-existant.

  29. Vikki July 27th, 2013

    I look forward to your continued blogs…I’m in America, but many of your tips are universal & I can’t wait to hear about your new journeys!
    Blog On!

  30. Pauline August 5th, 2013

    Hope your Toronto move will bring much happiness for you and your family. Pl let your readers know what happened to your beautiful dog. Thank you

  31. Barak August 8th, 2013

    Hey welcome to Toronto! I live in Toronto and it’s a great choice moving here! I love your blogs. Wish you all the best!

  32. Raquel August 12th, 2013

    Wahoo!
    New follower, that just posted on your wedding post.
    Excited to hear you are in Toronto, ON. I am also living in Toronto,..well, actually just moved to the suburbs (Woodbrdige to be exact) about a month ago. Was born and raised in Toronto, and it is a great city! Love to see that your blog posts will be pertaining to Toronto.
    All the best wishes to you and your family!
    xx

  33. Sue August 15th, 2013

    Welcome back to Toronto! We are glad to have you back!!

  34. Mary August 21st, 2013

    Hope your move went well. After living in BC for 20 years I also moved from BC back to ON a few years back. It did take some getting used to, a lot more things different than you’d think, but as I moved to Oshawa to live closer to my Mum well worth it! Oh and if you ever do find you want your car I found shipping it via train was quite reasonable. Good luck in your new home.

  35. Rose May 15th, 2014

    Hi,

    I’m moving from BC to TO too. Did you use movers to get your stuff to TO?
    Could you recommend any?

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