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scared kitty

fido_one in canadian_yank

Hey all,

Long story short, I'm an American who has about 6-8 months of independent working and school work to do, mostly over the Internet. I'll be ending up in the North-East of the states but have decided to spend 3-6 months in Canada to get a feel for the country. I won't be needing a work permit, just a furnished, cheap apartment/share with a short lease term and an Internet connection, which, according to the Interweb, seem to be in abundance.

I'm interested in the East Region of Canada. Cities are fine, but I like to lean towards a town-like/scenic atmosphere. This is going to come off wrong, but I'm hoping for someplace that has some life too it - I say that as I've been living in a cruddy little place for about 9 months with narry a soul to hang out with. It doesn't have to be a big party town by any means, I'm just hoping for some place where it's easy to meet people.

I've been to Montreal and Quebec and enjoyed both immensely. Montreal is currently on the top of my list.

Do y'all have any opinions on:

-Montreal
-Quebec
-Halifax
-Ottawa
-Toronto
-London
-Niagara Falls
-Other areas in the East
-Screw the East of Canada - you need to go to ________, even if it'll be a big, big pain in the ass for you.
?

Any thoughts and recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I'm a certified idiot so I need things spelled out for me - for example, what are good districts in Montreal if I'm looking for a sublet?

A thousand thanks... I'm going to cross-post this in a couple of Canadian themed communities, so pardon the duplicates if they pop up.

Comments

Depends on the time of year, partially.

I lived in Quebec for some time, but it is definitely a different (and far less enjoyable) experience in the winter. It can get very, very cold (and this is coming from someone who has lived in one of the snow capitals of the Northeast).

Montreal has an extensive underground network – and a subway – which makes it better for the winter. However you mention wanting to be able to hang out with people and such, and I'm not entirely sure Montréal would offer that. Others may disagree, but I've never found people there to be particularly approachable...


Ottawa I feel combines the best of both worlds and is a fairly accessible city (although no subway). However it can also get very cold in the winter (very windy), and housing may be expensive because of high demand for places. I would say people in Ottawa are more approachable overall, but I also think it's what you make of it. I would avoid living in the downtown area or near U of O just because your housing prices would be a lot higher there, even though it would technically put you in closer proximity of things to do.

I've never been to Halifax, but I have lived in Nova Scotia...if you're looking for scenic, it can't be beat. Also, Halifax has a fair amount of partying/fun going on, and of course the East Coast music scene. People are very friendly and approachable, I've found, in most parts of Nova Scotia....not sure if this would also apply to Halifax.

Toronto is Toronto – it's personally one of my favorite places, but a lot of people would disagree with that. If you're not from Toronto, you probably don't like it much. There is tons to do here, though, and it can be more affordable than you might think for such a large city. In terms of having people to hang out with, I know some people who have moved there and had problems with this, but I think that is something that can happen in a city of this size. Toronto, however, would not provide much scenery...although some sections can feel rather residential and don't feel very city.

Never been to London. And Niagara Falls...in a word, NO.
I was just in Halifax (and the rest of NS!) on vacation last week. Really charming and fun! The only thing keeping me from moving out there right now is that jobs are scarce. Rent's probably cheap as a result, though. Nova Scotians are really darn friendly, too.

I live in Ottawa, which is a fine little city, but I wouldn't say people are all that approachable. It's more of a "stare at your shoes in the elevator" kind of town.
That's great to hear as I think Halifax may be the destination, according to the responses I have been getting. Fortunately I don't have to worry about work in the 'find-a-job-in-the-area' sense - I'll be very busy, but mostly at a computer with an Internet connection.

Did you get any feel for how difficult it will be to find a place? Craigslist says there are some furnished, short term leases available - all I need is one, but it will be difficult, I assume as it does need to be a rather open ended lease and I won't be wanting to buy a bed/etc.

Thanks a million...
You're welcome! I don't know much about the rental market, but check out Halifax's weekly paper to get a better idea of what's happening there:
http://www.thecoast.ca
Great. Just what I need. Thanks.
Great advice bonnevoix, I appreciate it.

I have been to Montreal and Quebec in the dead of winter and loved both of them very much, even Quebec, when it meant falling on me arse and sliding down a quarter mile of icy, bumpy road while trying to walk about. Unfortunately my skills at French are non-existant which would make getting to know people in Montreal a little difficult and in Quebec quite hard.

Everyone has been singing the praises of Hallifax so that may very well be it.

Again... thanks!

Ottawa's great

Okay, I can only talk about Ottawa since that is the only place on your list I have lived.

I personally love it. Everyone is friendly, but they do not randomly come up to you and start conversations you can't get out of (here they do, and sometimes I just want to go about my day but anyway...).

Since you are in the Capital, the services cannot be beat. The National Capital Commission keeps the place looking beautiful, and there is decent entertainment. The buses run for the entire night (in most areas-be sure to check the bus times beforeyou move into an area).

I don't think the prices are that bad, except downtown and right near the universities. I pay more here in Peterborough than I did in Ottawa, and only Statistics Canada and PeterPatch kids think this place is a city.

It's hard to sum up a city you love, so I'll just say I high reccommend it.

Re: Ottawa's great

That's good to hear. I've been hearing a lot of good things about Halifax but not too many people have mentioned Ottawa.

I'm used to the 'try-to-get-out-of-conversations-you-don't-want-to-be-in' thing as I live rather deep in the south of the U.S., so I've built up a pretty big tolerance.

Thanks a lot for the info!
Spending 3 to 6 months in Ottawa will give you a feel for... Ottawa. 3 to 6 months for Quebec will give you a feel for Quebec. Toronto thinks it's the center of the universe, so it has it's own feel. A small town in southern Ontario... something else again.

What I'm trying to say is, Canada is a big place. I've lived in Alberta and Ontario for years, visited the maritimes, the prairies, and especially British Columbia. Alberta is VERY different from Ontario, and BC is different from both.

So, what are the differences? Where do I start...

Climate

-The east is hot and humid in the summer like the northeast of the US, and gets a lot more snow than the cities in the west. It gets down to very slightly colder temperatures in the west, but it's dryer and doesn't feel as cold, and there are often gushes of warm air from the Pacific (called "Chinooks") that warm up southwestern Alberta during the winter.

-Winnipeg has an evil climate. They get heat and humidity like the east in summer, and worse cold than Alberta in the winter, and no Chinooks. They also have clouds of mosquitos the size of ultralights, biting blackflies, and spring floods.

-The climate of the west coast of BC is wonderful, but a bit wet in the winter. BC climates also vary a LOT around the province. Victoria, on Vancouver Island, gets about twice the precipitation as Edmonton during a year, but most of it is winter rain from October through May. Vancouver gets about twice as much rain as Victoria in turn... it's temperate rain forest of fir and cedar. The west coast gets very little snow.

Politics

-Alberta is the redneck conservative heartland, usually in a minority in Canada. We're still slightly more liberal than your US Democratic party.

-Ontario and Quebec are used to running the country, and pretty much have it Gerrymandered in their favour. They are Canadian Liberals, which you have no equivalent of in the US... very government oriented, mixed economy, Politically Correct folks.

-BC has polarized politics, between the Conservatives (like your Democrats) and the NDP (like European Socialists).

-Quebec refuses to settle the question of whether they will actually remain part of Canada, which gives them all kids of opportunity to blackmail the Liberal power base in Ontario to extract concessions. It's... something amazing to watch.

Ethnic Background

-You'll find the ethnic makeup of Canada quite different than the US. We have VASTLY larger populations of Oriental, East Indian, and Native North American people than you are used to. We have fewer African Americans and fewer Hispanics.

-While the balances are always changing, the west tends to have more Oriental and East Indian people. There are entire malls and shopping districts in Vancouver ("Hong-couver"?) signed in Chinese... kinda cool!

-I think there's a very large Jamaican community in Toronto.

Language

-If you really want to experience French in Canada, don't go west of Ottawa. It's rarely spoken out here in Alberta or BC, where you're more likely to encounter Mandarin, Hindi, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Dutch, German, Tagalog, Spanish, or Cree. It's still on all the cereal boxes and product labels, and the signs in the National Parks.

Scenery

-BC and Alberta have it all over the east for natural wonders. Banff and Jasper National Parks are world famous and amazing. The forested mountains of the BC coast and Vancouver Island are a snow capped green wonder. The Okanagan Valley of the BC interior is a warm, dry fruit growing area. The Badlands of Alberta, around Drumheller, are famous for dinosaur bones. The Banff-Jasper highway is probably the most spectacularly beautiful stretch of road in the world.

Economy

-The west is based on agriculture, forestry, and of course oil. The east does manufacturing. There are scattered pockets of research and high tech activities, as well as mining, all over.

-------------

I guess what I'm trying to communicate in a long winded way is, you can't get a feel for Canada by staying in one place, any more than you'd understand California by living in Alabama.

Any questions?

: )
Wow! That's great. You provided all sorts of info that no-one else did, which I really appreciate. At this point I'm leaning towards Halifax as it sounds like a good size - but I may travel around for a week or two and see if anything else suits me.

Hell, this info is so helpful I may just copy it onto a piece of paper before I go.

I don't mind focusing on one place, even if it isn't representative of the whole. I plan on touring Canada at some point in the future, but right now I need a place to live and indipendently work for 3-6 months and Canada is much more tempting than the states.

Thanks a lot .
As an American living in Halifax, and having lived a few places in the US, I'm honstly impressed with the city here.

All in all the crime rate is low, we're staying in a HUGE four-bedroom house for 850 $CAN (includes W/D, dishwasher) the public transit system is pretty good, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

The crime rate is rather low, I find it amusing they have to report on things outside the city and province to fill up the news. (that or the news ia just different up here...) The city has a definate small town feel to it in comparison to any of the cities I've ever lived in. Most everything is condensed down to a small area, so you won't have very far to go, unless you live far outside of town.

You'll want to shoot for close to the Armdale Rotary area, Quinpool Road, Clayton Park, Bayers Lake, etc for good stable places to live. Avoid Spryfield, Highfield, and Gottegen Street as they can be the more 'ghettoish' areas. (though it's infinately hilarious to watch people dress up and try to act like 'gangstas' around here..it just...isn't right.)
Tenchan - that is perfect advice!

Given all the responses Halifax has shot to my number one choice - it really does, from what you and everyone else has said, sound like a city that is right up my alley.

I'll still be somewhat restricted as no-where has a lot of choice in places when you're looking for a furnished/short term lease apartment/share... but what you listed is *exactly* the type of information I'll need.

How is it during the Winter? I don't mind rough weather, but I'm rather ignorant of the climate, being so far north yet so close to the pacific.

Mind if I contact you via livejournal if I do decide to hit Halifax with another question or two as the time gets closer? If I do make it there, consider letting me treat you and a friend to a beer in thanks.