Once in a while a client comes along who is struggling with making a choice between big city life and country living. Let me start by saying that not every big city is the same and just because one may suit you, it doesn’t mean others will. The same can be said for small towns. In other words, it is a matter of suitability to your personal preferences and lifestyle.
If you are faced with deciding between big city life or small town living, I encourage you to consider a couple of things. Firstly, it takes a while to get to know a big city, such as Toronto and to establish a routine. As a student of urban planning and real estate broker, I can tell you that Toronto has more options to offer for all types of lifestyles than any other city I have visited inside or outside Canada. If you want a laid back lifestyle without crowds, Toronto can provide that. There are some very low density neighbourhoods with lots of green space where a large portion of the pockets have lived there for 30 years or more.
In regards, to Ottawa (Canada’s Capital), It is a city that some people can live in comfortably, but it is certainly not a city I would find interesting, to put it politely. The city is full of politicians, bureaucrats, academics and consultants. Though I do really appreciate the Rideau Canal, especially during winter skating season.
Niagara-on-the-lake provides a very good laid back lifestyle while being accessible to several large cities and the best of both worlds.
I myself, was born in a smaller town in Southern Italy, which is as grass-roots and community-centric as you can get. In fact, to this day it is mostly an agrarian community with a tourism component because it is on the mediterranean ocean. In fact, when I go back to vacation and I have for as much as 2 months at a time, I have enjoyed it immensely. However, I could not stay any longer because of what I was not able to have while there. The high-speed internet, access to social networks of world experts in every field, free medical care, cheap and readily accessible public transportation, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the small community feel and that is why I vacation in non-urban communities. Fortunately, I have been able to find the small community lifestyle within Toronto by making specific life-choices, such as which neighbourhood to live in, which activities to pursue and groups to join.
Here is more to add to the list of what you’re giving up when you choose small town living:
– world class doctors able to give you the best treatment and possibly save your life in different medical situations
– the highest paying jobs
– the largest pool of jobs
– the largest selection of restaurants representing every culture of the world
– sizeable ethnic communities representing every group in the world
– public transit
– huge selection of community centres and resource centres
– thousands of street and inside festivals
– world scale concerts, performances, trade and consumer shows
– police force equipped to help you in any situtation
– large selection of educational institutions (and courses) Toronto has more of these than any other city in Canada and possibly the U.S. (when you consider all the private schools, which explains the tremendous number of foreign students); University of Toronto, York University (where the world renowned Schulich School of Business is based), Ryerson University, Seneca College, Centennial College, George Brown College, and the list just keeps going.
– large selection of shops and the latest in fashion, gadgets and more
– being able to find something to eat within 5 minutes
– huge competition among grocery chains and independent grocers offering great pricing and quality of product
– quick emergency services response
– being able to find something to do 24 hours a day
These are things that are important to many people, but not to all people. In fact, there are lots of people that move out of the large cities. Many of my clients are corporate executives looking to retire and they’re buying country homes in preparation for a move down the road. There are three communities that they seem to be attracted to post-Toronto. However, these people have already made their money, raised their children and used the ‘big city’ for what they needed. Now they are kicking back, doing their fishing, gardening, travelling. Yet, they seem to come back to the city when it is time for health care.