Yesterday I was catching up with a bit of reading on the British Expats site. This is a great website, with a lot of links to good blogs about moving to and living in Canada, and every one of them gets a reaction from me. Yesterday, it was the turn of “10 Years And A Change Of Heart”, written by a couple who had moved in their 40s to the west coast of Vancouver Island, looking for the idyllic lifestyle of the holiday retreat. Guess what they found? First, there is no employment in idyllic rural retreats, unless you are a fisherman, writer or connected to the tourist industry. Second, there is no-one to make friends with. Third, there is nothing to do. I guess everyone dreams of the quiet life. We all imagine living on the land, going to back to basics, and sometimes we find ourselves in a place where we really imagine it can work, but usually we are on our holidays and reality is a little warped. The lesson I took from this blog was, Be Careful What You Wish For.
Before emigrating to your dream retreat, consider the following: What are you going to do for money? What are you going to do for company? What are you going to do for entertainment? When I told my husband about the blog, he was speechless. Then he said “Nothing to do? In Vancouver?” No, not Vancouver. Vancouver Island. A space as large as the UK with the population of Cardiff. A place where families travel every summer to their cabins, where they spend blissful months living the basic, uncomplicated life before returning to the bustle of real life. One of the things we love about living here in Vancouver is that, if you want to get away from it all, you can. A quick ferry ride to an island or a slow drive into the interior, and here are towns with a population of 1,000, where you can live for 20 years and still be the outsider, where the best excitement all year is when the local constable shot the cougar that had dragged a deer carcass under the next-door neighbour’s deck (this happened to a friend of mine, the day she moved to her new house with her new baby and her 2 year-old son, from the sophistication of Vancouver to the Wild West in one day).
Some days, like yesterday, when I have dropped off the youngest child at her Musical Theatre class and I am making a quick dash to the Art & Craft store for a gift card for the friend of the middle child, who must be dropped off at her party before I go to a jewellry party at my friend’s house, stopping to collect a friend of the eldest child who is coming to sleepover, but I can’t do any of these things because I am stuck in Saturday shopping traffic, nose to tail around the Mall, and I’m already late to collect the youngest… these are the times I wonder whether we are really any better off than if we lived in England. But yesterday morning we were at the peak of Mount Seymour, playing in a pure white snowdrift and planning our next skiing trip, and this morning we were downtown, walking the seawall from Science World to Yaletown for coffee and pizza and seal-spotting. The eldest and her friend took themselves off into the chaos of Chinatown to see the New Year Parade, to buy steamed pineapple buns and lemon triangle cake from the street vendors. To get there, the two 14-year olds walked through the poorest area of Vancouver, and I did not feel a moment of worry for their safety.
We do not find ourselves outsiders, because in this multicultural melting pot, pretty much everyone is an outsider and we all enjoy our differences. As Vancouver feels more and more like home, and the UK becomes a distant memory, we sometimes take our life here for granted and find ourselves grumbling. The comforting thing is that we are grumbling about real life issues, because we are living life to the full.
Where do you dream of moving to, and is it a realistic dream?