Our first month in Toronto

The highlights and challenges of our first month in a new city.

The lake front - my favourite place to go running.

The lake front - my favourite place to go running.

Last week marked one month since we arrived in Toronto. Looking back on our first month here, I think we’ve done quite well settling in. We found a place to live, explored lots of different neighbourhoods, bought our winter coats, watched our first game of baseball, tried to be cool, calm and collected when we were freezing, and I signed up for the Toronto half-marathon that’s in October.

Overall it was a great month, but it didn’t come without its challenges. There were times, after ten condo inspections in a day, knowing the only places we liked were pushing the budget or unavailable for another 2 months, that were downright exhausting and frustrating.

I think it’s all part of the process, whether you’re moving domestically or abroad, nothing is ever going to go perfectly to plan but that’s what makes for great stories and adventures! The job search is still underway so hopefully, I’ll have something to report on that very soon. Here’s how things went on our first month in Toronto.

Finding a place to live

Given we decided to move to Canada and pursue work once we arrived, we weren’t the most attractive tenants to landlords. Even with a cover letter, savings, credit reports and a glowing reference from our previous place; competing in the downtown Toronto market is hard. Add this competition to the growing amount of Air BnB properties in the city, and you end up with buildings that have more short-term stays than leases because it’s so lucrative.

When we started our search, our aim was to find a modern downtown condo. For those who don’t know (because we didn’t), a condo building will typically include all your appliances and have amenities such as a gym and swimming pool. We looked at a mix of condos that were direct from the owner and broker represented properties. The broker represented properties were less negotiable requiring between 6 and 12 months of rent upfront if you’re not currently working — something to keep in mind if you're considering a move to Toronto!

We secured a 5-month sublet downtown. It’s in a great location, has nice natural light and is a good starting point for our time in Toronto. It’s also great to have the weight off our shoulders, knowing we have somewhere to call home for a while so we can focus on finding work and enjoying the city.

Getting used to the weather

We arrived in Toronto half-way through spring. “A perfect time to arrive,” and “the city starts to come alive in spring,” are a couple of common things we heard upon our arrival.

While the sunny days have been beautiful for exploring, there’s certainly a chill in the air that we’re only used to experiencing at the height of winter in Brisbane. Although we feel like cold weather newbies at times, having a good indication of what the weather feels like, once wind chill is factored in, is setting our expectations much better each day.

I’ve been using the WeatherBug app (available on Google Play and iTunes) each day to check the weather forecast and “feels like” temperature for the day. Having an accurate “feels like” forecast helps with planning our week and wearing the right clothing when going outside.

Checking out the app, no need to check for rain on this day!

Checking out the app, no need to check for rain on this day!

I also like the tabs across the top of the WeatherBug app allowing you to switch between the current, hourly and ten-day forecasts. It makes planning ahead simple and easy. 

     hourly and ten- day forecast interface and the Doppler weather radar on WeatherBug.

     hourly and ten- day forecast interface and the Doppler weather radar on WeatherBug.

The Doppler Weather Radar within the app also helps with showing where it’s raining in the region or if rain is heading our way ­— super helpful when we’re about to walk somewhere! 

Exploring Toronto

Street art in Dundas west.

Street art in Dundas west.

Our condo hunting adventures led us all over downtown Toronto. It has been great to explore the different atmosphere of each neighbourhood and pick where we want to spend more time. Some of my highlights so far include walking around the polished streets of Yorkville, running along the lakefront, the café culture in Queen West, the nightlife in King West and the amenity of Liberty Village. 

Signing up for the Toronto half-marathon

After weeks of travel and eating out, I was feeling unfit and in need of a fitness goal to keep me on track over the coming months. After doing some research I came across the Scotiabank Toronto half-marathon. 

Checking the Nike+ Run Club app, their half-marathon training program had a maximum 26-week program. When I checked this, there were 27 weeks until race day ‑ it was a sign! I’m at week 4 of training and thoroughly enjoying getting back into fitness while exploring new parts of the city as I train.

Have you done a big move before? How did you settle into your new home? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments below.

This post contains sponsored content but all opinions are my own.