“…because you can’t vote here yet.”

That was the (inadvertent?) kicker I was told earlier this week that got me thinking about considerations of settling in Toronto. I have already had this notion creeping around in the back of my head, but more in the context of settling in Canada, not specifically Toronto. Toronto originally struck me as too metropolitan in scope & scale, but living here has changed that misconception.

I have been living in Toronto nearly six months now. Since then, I’ve learned that the metropolitan scale of the city is greatly reduced in obviousness when I’m not trying to drive everywhere. Cycling, walking, and transit reduce the apparent size of the city much more to something Buffalo-sized or smaller1. Even with that pseudo-bubble setup around me, I’ve solidified some stances about the city.

  • Much like Buffalo, Toronto has an amazing food scene. However, the scene here is so much more diverse than what Buffalo has right now.
  • I have had some pretty amazing espresso & cappuccinos in Toronto; the coffee shops (mostly) know their brews, with little faltering in drink-to-drink variations. I honestly can’t think of a single café in Buffalo that came close with espresso-based drinks. Drip coffee, however, they do stack up well against.
  • Beer prices are just insane compared to the US. Not to mention the quality of the brews just does not compare to the microbrew scene going on in the US right now. I can only hope that the provincial laws on liquor sales will change in the future (for the Ontario citizens’ sake), and that microbreweries really have some room to develop and grow here.
  • Cycling to/fro work is very amenable from the Corso Italia/St. Clair West neighborhoods. Really, any neighborhood that has some dedicated cycling lanes really lends to the ease of cycling in this city.
  • Rent is not cheap. Similarly, the real estate seen is also not cheap.
  • The politics scene seems to be an even worse case of “why would I give a damn about this if it doesn’t impact me now” scenario. Between that, and the utter indecision & stagnation with any major project, politics would be a frustrating ordeal2.

What would be needed to keep me in Toronto long-term? Frankly put, a solid job offer when I finish with my postdoc (duh), and enough physical attachments/relationships (read: social circle) to give me a vested interest in staying3. The cost of living would be less of an issue with a properly full-fledged position of more permanence. However, those aren’t the true answers.

I have to find a solid job position.

I have to enrich, nurture, and maintain those social connections.

Toronto has no obligation to provide that to me, no matter what degree I appreciate it. It owes me nothing; I have to earn my own keep if I want to stay. So, the next two and a half years will be interesting. What additional gems (or rotten eggs) will I find in that time? Food & coffee clearly are doing well for gems. I pray I find some beer ones4, to at least let me indulge locally to some extent. Socially, it’s been very slow. I’ve lucked out and kept an amazing person or two around, however I’m anxious to (hopefully) mold them into something more. Patience, however! I’m the newbie to the community; I won’t go shoving myself into everyone else’s business5. I’ll eventually mesh into other people’s social lives as time permits. I was not conditioned to believe that injecting myself into others’ lives was a good way to make good friends; instead I tend to strive for integration from their side before I start proposing more to involve myself. Anyhow. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by other gems I didn’t even know were possible yet?

Oh, and the more obvious things in the next two and a half years! Don’t get run over & don’t get doored. Don’t get deported. Aaaaaaaaaaand maybe move after this first lease is up; residual cigarette smoke coming through the HVAC return from the landlord’s son’s bedroom is starting to become a nuisance. If this keeps up throughout the winter, I will most definitely be trying to find a new place (despite how much of a steal it is, unfortunately).

1Whenever I take a trip outside of the city, however, I quickly realize again just how expansive the greater Toronto area is; when you’re driving an hour or longer in steady, well-moving traffic just to get out of the city & suburbs, you might just be in a metropolis.
2Once I have civic privileges, then we could see if this situation would improve for me or not.
3Clearly, work can’t be the sole reason I stay. That would be a pretty shitty reason to settle, unless I intend to die as a senile old man rocking away his days on the front porch yelling at kids to get off my damn lawn, instead of still entertaining dinner parties, cookouts, and (board & card) game nights with friends.
4I have a short list of establishments that aim to wow. I just need to drag my ass down to them yet!
5It’s like a bizarre form of social suffocation when you don’t have regular social interactions. Being in such a small laboratory now, it’s quite the shift from my PhD lab; I used to eat lunch in lab & chat with my coworkers (despite their immaturity most days). Now, I eat completely separated from the lab; they never come to the lunch room on the floor (just eat in the hall outside the lab instead), ergo I have to find my social interaction from others in the department

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