This might not be news to you if you know me in the real world, but I’ve been planning to move away from Winnipeg since basically the moment I returned home from Thailand last year. Now that I think of it, I’ve been “planning” since I was a kid with an inexplicable dream of living next to the ocean. But now it’s official: in a month and a half, I will depart on a one-way flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia. There are two questions I want this post to answer: “Why leave?” and “Why Halifax?”.
Home is often hard to leave behind because of ties to work, friends, and family, but that inertia just isn’t there for me. I’m lucky enough to have a job that lets me work from anywhere, but even if I didn’t work remotely, I’d have more career success in a tech hub like Seattle. Speaking of which, a lot of my friends have already moved away for work, which makes me even more inclined to leave myself. And of course, I’ll miss my family, but having already spent some time living abroad, I’m quite comfortable on my own. And since I’m staying in Canada, visiting from time to time is not particularly hard.
I could spout some uninspired garbage about Winnipeg being a frozen shithole, but honestly, it’s not a bad place. I don’t dislike the city as a whole, I just think that there are better places.
Winnipeg is undeniably car-dependent. Public transit is lackluster, bicycle lanes are either non-existent or insufficient, and the suburban sprawl expands evermore. Hell, you can’t even cross the street downtown. Having lived without a vehicle in Cambridge and Bangkok, I really can’t wait to get rid of my car.
And as someone with a number of outdoor hobbies, Manitoba’s climate sucks. A +30°C summer day is great for the beach, but it’s not great for running, hiking, cycling, or playing soccer. And a -30°C winter day is not great for doing anything except laying in bed with a hot cup of tea and a good book.
I could probably move to a denser neighbourhood in Winnipeg and be reasonably capable of walking everywhere. And I still get outside despite the weather, so even that’s not a show-stopper. But because I can live anywhere, I feel somewhat obligated to find a place that feels like a perfect fit, instead of a place that’s just “good enough”.
Given my desire for a more temperate climate and my propensity for the ocean, Vancouver and Halifax, being the largest cities on their respective coasts, were the most likely candidates. Vancouver might seem like the obvious choice, seeing as it’s the most walkable city in Canada and British Columbia’s climate is often considered the best in the country, but I decided against it for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s really expensive; Halifax’s downtown is much more affordable. Second, the gigantic size of a city like Vancouver is a bit intimidating. I really liked the vibes of Cambridge, which is a smallish university city not so unlike Halifax, whereas I have an easier time comparing Vancouver to a big, anonymous place like Bangkok (this comparison sucks because Bangkok dwarfs Vancouver, but hopefully you get the point). It also helps that I’ve actually been to Halifax, so I know at least a little bit about what I’m getting into (I’ve also been to Vancouver, but I was six so I don’t think it counts).
Halifax is growing really quickly, and seems poised to continue to do so in the post-COVID world, so I’m excited to see what that brings to the city. Nova Scotia also appears to be becoming a popular destination for remote workers. The province has even started advertising themselves as such (but for the record, I had set my sights on Halifax long before the ads came out!), and I can see why.
People say that life in the Maritimes is slow, but slow doesn’t sound so bad. I can spend my weeks working at the Halifax Central Library, walking along the waterfront, and running in Point Pleasant Park. Come the weekend, I can go swimming in the ocean or rent a car and drive to Prince Edward Island. It sounds like a satisfactory existence to me.
Okay, But… Why?#
Aside from leaving Winnipeg specifically, or choosing Halifax specifically, or even just generally moving, a large part of me just wants change. I feel like I’ve reached the edge of Real Adulthood™, and staying in the place I grew up, in my old habits and patterns, feels somehow limiting to becoming a Real Adult™. This feels like the right time to go do my own thing, to be independent, to discover myself, to reinvent myself. Or, you know, whatever other pseudo-philosophical self-actualization motto you care to apply.
Or maybe I’m just having a quarter-life crisis.