29 Aug

My husband and I have been thinking about moving. We currently own a little house in the city. It’s not located in the best area of town but we do have a nice, little pocket of neighbours with lots of kids around. We’re a short distance from Downtown and very close to a new hotspot growing strong in Toronto – the Junction – the latest result of gentrification.

Only 5-10 years ago, the Junction was a pretty shady area, but it has bloomed into a neighbourhood that boasts expensive cafes, organic veggie markets and yoga studios. You can be sure, the rich folk have arrived. (I did hear a rumour that this area still has the highest concentration of pedophiles in Toronto. I hope this isn’t true.)

The Junction was where we hoped to move. Our daughter attends school there already…it’s our way of getting one foot into the neghbourhood, I guess. The thing is, to move there we pretty much have to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, AND be willing to live in an old home, that will have no closets, and will likely need to be renovated. Of course, it’ll have tonnes of character! But, I’m well aware that a big part of my inflated mortgage payment will be going towards the fact that I’ll be close to the cafes, the organic market and the yoga studios.

I like this. I want to be walking distance from these places. I want to live around people who choose to bike ride over driving and who are diverse and open-minded. I just can’t afford it.

What we can afford is a house in the suburbs. Probably a new development. But I fear the suburbs. I fear the hundreds of cookie-cutter homes littering the landscape. I fear the lack of sidewalks since you need to drive to get anywhere. I fear the stripmalls. I really fear the loss of my soul. But most of all? I fear the little 5 year old I saw coming out of a car yesterday in Mississauga – was she really wearing a long, blonde weave and little plastic heals!?!

Perhaps the answer lies in a small town. Neither the city nor the suburbs. Somewhere close to a lake? It sounds kind of dreamy, no? It’s true that the crowded noise of the city has been more annoying than enchanting as of late. The pretenciousness of “coffee art” and downtown hipsters is not lost on me. I am well aware of how much posing one has to do to keep up with their fellow city dwellers. However, I don’t think I’m ready to let it go. Certainly not to trade in for a big house and 3 car garage where I’ll watch TV all day and go to Mandarin for dinner.

It angers me that we have to make this choice. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. A place where a decent home is still available yet you don’t have to give up a more grassroots lifestyle.

In my heart I dream of living on an island, waking to the smell of salty air. I know, I know, don’t we all.But it isn’t luxury I’m after, I promise you. I’m not naïve. And I know there is more to life than location.

So here we are. Back at square one. Any suggestions?

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


8 Responses to “Transition”

  1. Kim 29Aug10 at 13:12 #

    Oh god, just don’t move to Square one!

    I was feeling the same way lately about chucking it all for country living. I live in Parkdale (I am a 5 minute walk so if you need free CNE parking we have some)and it is so busy with all the goings on at this end of the city that I find myself a bit on the angry side.

    I am not quite ready to make the jump to slow speed but am so looking forward to it. Maybe the key is to have your dream and work slowly towards it. You just might surprise yourself at how attainable it may become.

    Don’t subject yourself (in thoughts or dreams) to a life that isn’t you…EVER!

    I am about 5-10 years away from the country/cottage life (I hope) and am going to enjoy the ride until I get there. Enjoy your ride!

    • Snigs 02Sep10 at 17:59 #

      LOL!!! I promise not to move to Square One.

  2. Debbie 29Aug10 at 21:57 #

    I don’t have an answer for you but I do sympathize. My husband I have had the same discussion. If we can’t afford to live IN the city, we would rather move clear out of the city. GTA is not an option.

    Like Kim, we are in Parkdale. Honestly, home ownership is not high on my priority list right now, even with a child. I would actually prefer to rent in a neighbourhood we like and maintain the lifestyle we enjoy. Life just isn’t the same if you’re not walking distance to roti, falafels and americanos. 🙂

    • Snigs 05Sep10 at 07:11 #

      I hear ya! I like to be close to those things too. And I do feel that I cherish lifestyle over possessions. But I am a practical, pragmatic Virgo, after all, and there are times when thoughts of retirement and investments creep into my mind. It is those moments where I think – if I can pass down a paid-off house to my kids, it’s probably a good idea. Then again, in the spirit of Michelle’s favourite quote: we make plans and God laughs!

      • Debbie 29Sep10 at 22:34 #

        So true. HE laughs. The future is an illusion. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. I try to enjoy today and if I’m able to make some smart moves for “the future” hooray. If not, so be it.

  3. AlvaREZ 02Sep10 at 16:21 #

    Hello Virgo.

    I have been meaning to respond to this post for a while because this is also an issue that I widdle and widdle in my mind. My spousal unit (lol) and I are nowhere near purchasing ANYTHING! FOR A LONG TIME! But I often wonder where I desire to live (for the rest of our lives). This topic has come to the forefront as of late by 2 events:

    1. My spousal unit’s cousin just purchased a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, fully finished basement in the Whitby/Ajax area.

    2. We have just watched the movie ‘No Impact Man’…a documentary about a Manhattan Family that is deciding to conscienciously reduce their carbon footprint impact to essentially zero. Very interesting. I recommend that you see it.

    The one striking comment that I remember from the movie is that most people decide not to care for the environment/world because of a non-connection to the sense of COMMUNITY. Which I do feel that this is the very reason why we seem to like to ‘live downtown’. As you’ve explained, you like the coffee shops, the boutiques, the odd shops which you wonder how they stay in business, selling dollies and trinkets.

    I can tell you personally that I LOVE the odd places because it provides a sense of realism. It helps me feel connected to the world which makes me feel safe. These places give us hope that there is a culture to which we are perhaps in a very remote way contributing. This will sound even weirder but I like the fact that my daughter sees homeless people and asks me why they are there? Because I tell her, and she will grow up feeling, hopefully, in a very subconscience way that a CHANGE is necessary. That we SHOULD help eachother.

    That to me is my biggest gripe about the suburbs (more than the cookie-cutter ness)is the lack of community. The only culture is consumerism. Now, some would argue, that the downtown coffee shops are there to sell too. Yes, but there is *more* going on there. It’s not so transparently obvious that the goal is to get you to buy. I don’t know. The whole thing stinks : it’s like I eat McDonalds, I like Hollister, I watch American Idol…It’s like sheep being herded to the slaughterhouse. I can tell you that the *kids* that we know who have had little to no exposure to city life are completely disconnected. Their parents are concerned with keeping them safe. But I think the kids need to be shaken up a little and given a dose of realism, CONTEXT.

    The second thing that struck me about the film is some comments made by a gentleman who’s name is Mayor (ex-hippie from the 60s)and his feedback on what No Impact Man was trying to achieve. His comments were something to the effect ” When I was 17, my peers and I KNEW that we were going to END the War and put PEOPLE before PROFIT, then we thought we would all settle down in our 30s, get married and live sustainably”… They KNEW they were going to END the War. There was none of this semi-convictions that our generation now has – like maybe I’ll try to eat organic for a month, or I’ll TRY to not buy ziploc bags. Our generation is certainly lacking CONVICTION on the values that we want to see manifest in the world.

    With that I say, maybe moving to Ajax/Whitby would not be so bad if I were the CREATOR of the Community that I so enjoy being part of. It takes more work but perhaps this would be more rewarding in the long-run, instead of just partaking. We all know there are intellectual communities outside of the City (like Guelph, Stratford)…maybe there is still hope for Whitby. It just starts with one idea and some elbow grease. Then maybe everyone would want to live there and be part of the hipster mom and eco-sustainable community.

    You know that it will all be okay in the end no matter what you decide. Just promise me you’ll stay near the middle…I don’t ever want to see you in tights and sequence on a Saturday afternoon leaving your minivan OR in Skinny black jeans with turquoise converse and shoulder padded blouses…lol.

    Peace out!!!(said with conviction)

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