Sunday, February 24, 2008


Yesterday the Cornelius and I spent some time looking on MLS for our dream home. Of course, we're not looking in Vancouver since the amount we can afford to pay will barely pay for a bachelor apartment in a crappy location. For awhile we were considering moving to Nelson, BC but housing prices have jumped there in the past year or so. However, if we move across the country to the very east coast (oh yes, the beautiful Maritimes), well, it's a plethora of affordable dream homes with acreage and waterfront! Originally we were thinking of Newfoundland, but figured that it would be pretty isolating what with the expensive 8 hour ferry ride to the mainland. So now we're looking at Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. Cornelius vacationed there as a kid and I've never been, so we're thinking of taking a little vacation there in the next couple of years to check it out.

What I'm wondering is how many people have moved to a place where they didn't know anyone and moved into a much smaller community. Could I really trade in the awesomeness of living in such a vibrant city for a dream home in the country and a new life? Of course, there is Serena's experience of moving to rural Saskatchewan from Vancouver. Any other similar experiences out there? Any thoughts? Valuable advice?

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Blogger Bijoux said...

Wow! the Maritimes!! Beautiful in the summer - bitterly cold and snowy in the winter.
My husband has a friend that is originally from Nova Scotia, he moved to Toronto for many years to teach, then moved back to Nova Scotia to marry and is now living in the Northwest Territories working as a teacher near an Indian reserve...he has sent us e-mails about his experiences there...he feels lonely & isolated...his wife is back in Nova Scotia finishing off school - the cost of food he said is outrageous i.e. a jar of Cheez Whiz cost him $7!! Said he had a hankering and gave in to temptation...anyway, you would have to weight the pros and cons of moving away from your friends and comfortable lifestyle...some days I daydream of moving to the Yukon and then other days I'm so dependent on the city that I can't imagine moving to a smaller town that requires a car to get around and being surrounded by a vast nothingness. Mind you Toronto has definitely lost it's appeal for me and hubbie over the past few years...he loves everything about Vancouver but never being able to own a home there would really bother him in the long run. Nelson B.C. sounds like a quaint town - I had no idea that the cost of houses had gone up there too.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Fawn said...

I've done this a few times, and I think it depends a lot on the culture of the town, as well as your role in it. Having lived in small northern communities, I'd say it's more difficult, for example, for RCMP officers to integrate than some other occupations.

I lived in Fort Frances (pop. 8,000) and found it hard to make friends with kids whose families had been there for generations (I was in Grade 6 at the time - my dad didn't find it a problem at all) but in Iqaluit (pop. 2500 at the time) people were open and friendly and used to seeing new people come in.

There are very few places you can move, though, where you couldn't find a connection somehow. Whether through your blog or through friends of friends, I'll be you can get an introduction to someone almost anywhere you go. And once you know one or two sociable people, things snowball from there.

There are drawbacks to being in small town, but I find the benefits far outweigh them. Life becomes less commercial when you're not constantly bombarded with "buy, buy, buy" messages just being around so much retail. Lots of small places have tons of art and music going on. I could go on, but this is getting long... But take it from someone who has lived in Fort Liard (pop. 600) and Whitehorse (pop. 20,000), too. :)

Bijoux, is your hubby's friend in Hay River? I'm pretty sure that's the only reserve in the NWT... Maybe we can set up some introductions for him. You can get my e-mail from my blog...

9:01 PM  
Blogger sweetsalty kate said...

I'll have to take exception to bijoux on one count - the maritimes (particularly nova scotia) is the second most temperate climate in the country to BC. It's not bitterly cold at all when compared to anywhere else (like ontario, quebec, the prairies). It's colder than Vancouver, but nowhere near as cold as the central provinces. That said, there's a big change between NS and New Brunswick, which lies in a snow belt and is more like Ontario in its climate.

My second point - you need to come and live in Halifax! Just from reading your blog you strike me as a north end girl. Flat-roofed victorian rowhouses, all bright colours.. about five minutes from downtown, walking distance to everywhere, and funky culture all around. If you tell any local real estate agent this, they'll know exactly the area of the city you're referring to.

Regardless of where you land in the area (we live along the south shore about a half-hour drive from the city) it's such a great blend here - the city is really vibrant, tons of cool people, music, art, universities, old heritage, beaches. Definitely search along the south shore, too - Hubbards, St Margaret's Bay, Chester area (not the village, which is pricey). We live outside the city, sure, but we're about a two-minute walk from our mooring and our old little sailboat and we're not whatsoever wealthy.

My husband and I are from Shediac, NB (just outside Moncton) and Halifax respectively, and we lived in Vancouver for eleven glorious years.. so I had to comment. We really, really desperately miss the mountains and our lifestyle there, but of all the other places to be, the maritimes is IT.

It's a big decision, but exciting - good luck in whatever you choose!

11:13 AM  
Blogger sweetsalty kate said...

Oh, and here's a wee taste:

11:15 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

sweetsalty kate - I did not know that...I'm merely going on what the weather network usually informs us about...snow storms in the Maritimes...I guess the entire region gets lumped up together despite climate differences...thanks for the heads up!

4:15 PM  
Blogger kickpleat said...

bijoux, well, a jar of cheez whiz costs the same here..not that i ever buy any, but i did notice it at the store the other day.

fawn, thanks for your insight! it's nice to hear from someone who has small town experience!

sweetsalty, thanks! good to know that ns isn't as cold as ontario!! we'd love to live about 1/2 hr from halifax and it's good to hear your experience. thanks so much for commenting! love the photos too!

5:08 PM  
Blogger Sun Rae said...

We are pretty much in the same boat as you I think. We live in a great co-op in Kits and we're half planning on moving to Nelson but watching MLS for the last couple of years or so we've seen the prices just go up and up. My husband would move back east in an instant - he wants frozen lakes to play hockey on - but we have young kids and they're in school and I just don't know how I feel about uprooting them. I've only spent a week or so on a French exchange in Quebec when I was 15 and other than that I'm a BC girl born and bred. But the housing prices! Rec property is also rapidly diminishing. I just don't know....

5:33 PM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

Fawn - my hubbie's friend is actually in Kugaaruk (formerly Pelly Bay) an Inuit community - sorry - I didn't know all the details and had to get them from my husband.

Kickpleat - really?! - you saw Cheez Whiz at the store for $7? Well, I'll be a monkeys uncle...I never would have guessed that fake cheez product costs so much...I don;t buy it either and actually have never been curious to see what it sells for but our pal in the NWT was shocked when he found out...he also mentioned that a can of pop was $3...anyway, I guess it just implies that there is a high profit margin for remote areas because of the demand, people will be willing to pay the price.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Fawn said...

Bijoux - it's not about high profit margins at all. It costs an arm and a leg to SHIP things to remote communities. Not only is it a long way to go (fuel costs) but small communities don't have the volume to be able to order large quantities, so there are few economies of scale. Many of the stores in small communities operate at a loss year after year and only continue operating through (territorial) government subsidies because not having a store would be a hardship for the community.

Sun Rae, you know your kids best, but having moved a couple of times while in school was a great experience for me. Actually, the first time we moved was a horrible experience, but I think it taught me a lot about life and about compassion, seriously. The second time we moved was much better - partly because I'd had an attitude adjustment and partly because of the culture of the place.

Sorry for getting off-topic, Kickpleat!

8:58 AM  
Anonymous leslie said...

Hi, I found your post intriguing and felt compelled to comment. I am a coast-to-coast transplant, born and raised in Vancouver who now makes halifax home with my partner and kidlet on the way. We lived in Tasmania for a few years and when it was time to come back to Canada, we ended up in halifax so i could pursue graduate studies. That was 4.5 years ago. We didn't think we would stay so long but the east coast has a subtle way of growing on you. We just bought a house in Dartmouth, across the harbour from Halifax, and love it. We have found it fairly easy to cultivate community and connections here (we knew one person when we arrived -and he`s moved back to Vancouver!). Halifax has a latent energy waiting to burst and there are many groups to tap into.

As for the winter comments, love winter here too. It`s not that cold here. At the same time, you can't skating on a perfect glassy black ice lake for kilometres, within walking distance of your house, in Van. Nor can you bring deck chairs and beers onto a snow covered lake that you spent the day skiing on to watch a lunar eclipse. And then swim and canoe these lakes during the rest of the year. I still miss the mountains and evergreen scent of the west coast, but it`s a pretty good life out here as well. here are some more east coast pics:
best wishes for your dreaming :)

10:08 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:07 PM  
Blogger fiftyfinally said...

Moved from Kootenays (Castlegar) to the big city of Penticton, then to the west end of Vanc (a great place in the late 70's) then to South Oak STreet (forget what that area's called). Moved to North Van just before the seatrain started. Then to North Burnaby. Bought a house in Aldergrove for next to nothing back then that was moving to someplace affordable. In the 80's just before the real estate crash we sold up and moved back to the Kootenays and spent a year building a house. (nice place to raise a family but pretty much Boooooring otherwise) My husband was going through mid life and decided it would be nice to live around my family in a small town. That lasted about a year and a half. MOved back to north burnaby, then Ioco. Then stangely enough, back to the Kootenays, In the midst of this moving I had three children. Vaseaux Lake after that, (on the lake in the winter, god it was cold and the sun setting on the lake blinded us every evening) then to Naramata. Just because. Edmonton after that (husband got transfered) Stayed there for some years. Kamloops, then Oliver then Penticton. Crescent Valley ( I should have had my head examined on this one). Then back to Castlegar only because I wanted my children to go to a high school that I knew they would enjoy and be around most of my family. WHen ever my children are asked "where are you from" they always say "Castlegar" I've moved back 4 times and still the places bores me to tears. But it was a great place to raise teenagers. Everything they wanted to do and join was affordable. Dance, hockey, soccer, golf, etc. I'm in Calgary now since my kids have grown up. I"ve followed one daughter to calgary, my son still lives in castlegar. We go back often to visit grandchild. If you are an outdoorsey person, ski, golf, fish, hike, bike, it's a great area. But you better hurry prices are over the top. I have never figured out what the attraction to Nelson is. You might make it work there, because there are alot of home based business and the regional district is very accomadating towards small businesses. I've never lived in a small town as just a couple, always with kids. I've always thought that Greenwood or Rock Creek would be a nice place after I won my lottery. But you should know that a car is essential in a small town. You couldn't do without. sorry for being so long winded

5:27 PM  
Blogger Rina Larina said...

Hi! I'm a lurker but had to come out of my cave to say that I live in Abbotsford but my hubby and I have always harbored a dream to move to Nelson - we went there on our honeymoon and love love love it. It's so beautiful and I'm totally content with living in a small town. I like this coast...not sure how I feel about the east though!

PS - LOVE the site, it's awesome.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous jen said...

I moved from Edinburgh to small-town Ireland. It's not quite the same scale move as you're talking about but I miss being able to find everything within easy walking/bus trip distance. You really need a car round here and that irks me. And I miss the buzz of being in a city (although the city is half an hour up the road, that's not quite the same thing).

But it depends where you're moving to, the kind of community there is there and how willing you are to actively establish connections when you move. Definitely a conscious effort!

8:19 AM  
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