Living and working in Canada

Old Jun 13th, 2007, 07:16 PM
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Living and working in Canada

Hi All,

I am from Sydney, Australia and I have been given an opportunity to work in either the US or Canada for 6 months next year.

The cities in Canada I can choose from are Toronto and Calgary.

I have never been to Canada and I don't really know much about each city. I guess I'm looking for the overall "Canada experience" (whatever that may be) and I thought you all might be able to offer me some pro's and con's of each city and where you would work, given the same choice.

Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated

Aurora XX
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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I think that I would choose Toronto because it is a multicultural mosiac that is more centrally located to see all that Canada is about. You could easily travel to east or west coast Canada from Toronto to see all the wonderful and diverse places like Vancouver Montreal/Quebec and Halifax areas. If you go to Calgary you will not likely get to see the eastern part of Canada.
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 07:53 PM
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Hi,

It really depends on both your worldview and what you, immediately, want from your placement.

The overall trend in the US is more rightwing than Canada but there are still many progressive/leftwing communities in the US.

I'm not objective ... I live in Canada and very much enjoy the multicultural communities....

Up to you to decide what the most crucial aspects are in your temporary community.

CanadaKate

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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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Well, being a Calgarian, I'd have to vote for Calgary.

I've never lived in Toronto, so can't give any first hand comparisons between the two. Hopefully somebody who has lived in both cities will post and give their opinions.

Both are large cities and will offer most large city amenities (e.g. theatre, shopping, etc.). Calgary is multi-cultural as well (as are most/all cities in Canada).

My advice would be to look at your hobbies and choose the location that suits them best. If you like to do outdoorsy stuff that are mountain related (skiing in winter, climbing, hiking etc. in summer) Calgary is a good choice. I don't know what opportunities there are for that in easy reach of Toronto. I'm sure there's stuff that's convenient in Toronto, I'm just not aware of it.

As for being centrally located, Canada is big. It doesn't matter where you are, you're going to be close to something, but farther away from more. And actually, Winnipeg is considered the geographic center, Toronto just likes to think it is.

If you have an interest in visiting a coast, it's a one hour flight to Vancouver from Calgary compared to a 2 hour flight from Toronto to Halifax. Vancouver and the west coast may be something you'd be interested in visiting.

If you're interested in visiting other parts of Ontario and maybe Quebec, Toronto is the better place.

You might also want to look at climates. Calgary is a very dry climate, not much humidity at all. Southern Ontario is extremely humid in the summers (this I know first-hand from summers spent in Kingston and Borden). Some people love humidity, others (like me) don't.

Oh yeah, Toronto also has smog warnings in the summertime, Calgary doesn't.
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Not an easy choice.

How old are you, how much of a career development opportunity is this (i.e. are you supp[osed to learn a lot about international business so you can go home and get promoted, or is this just an Aussie-sees-the-world opportunity whhere you put your career sort of on hold for half a year?

I have the impression Australians are more worldly than Canadians, and love these opportunities, no matter what level the business activity is.

If you are looking for serious buusiness development in something other than oil and gas, come to Toronto. It really is the business heart of the country.

Otherwise... what months of the year? If you like outdoor winter sports, Calgary is the city, an hour away from the mountains with downhioll and cross country sking, hiking, very often beautiful clear bright -- perhaps cold, perhaps not that cold, really -- weather.

When I lived in Calgary, we were in the mountains almost every weekend.

Spring - summer - early fall? There's no getting around the beauty of Calgary and the Rocky Mountains, but Toronto has more in the way of cultuyre/Culture, from opera with a capital C to reb fests.

The hot months in both cities, and the time children are out of school, are July and August.

Shorthand -- Calgary is an outdoor city with a fair bit to do inside. Second tier busienss city.

Toronto is an indoor city, with a fair bit to do outside. First tier business city.

BAK
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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Since I suspect you'll be renting a place to live, choose Toronto. Rents and housing costs are much lower than Calgary where there are lots of well-paying jobs but greedy landlords are doubling rents and making it very difficult to even find a place to hang your hat.
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 12:25 PM
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>>>>>>I guess I'm looking for the overall "Canada experience" (whatever that may be) and I thought you all might be able to offer me some pro's and con's of each city and where you would work, given the same choice.<<<<<<

Asking whether Calgary or Toronto would give you the overall Canadian experience is a big ask. It's a little bit like an American saying he/she has a choice of working in Darwin or Adelaide and wanting to know which provides the overall Australian experience. But I'm sure you're aware of that.

You haven't mentioned which American cities you would have the choice of moving to. I would want to know that before I passed an opinion on the USA vs Canada. However, in the absence of clarifying information, I'd be inclined (in general) to vote for spending the time in Canada.

The information that other posters have given you about Toronto and Calgary is accurate. Calgary is a tremendous base for outdoor activities. But, unfortunately, what SallyCanuck has said about accommodation also is true. There are indeed well-paying jobs in Calgary, especially if you work for the oil industry or an industry that services the oil industry. But jobs in the hospitality and retail industries don't pay enough for people to live. Unbelievable as it sounds, a good percentage of the people in our city's homeless shelters are employed.
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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What a hard question! I lived in Toronto for 30 years and my brother has lived in Calgary for 25 years. Both cities are great!
Deciding factor for me would be time of year and your lifestyle.
Winter for me in Calgary, is out of the question. Way too cold! It can be cold in Toronto, but nothing like Calgary.
Calgary certainly does offer dozens of outdoor activites of all kinds very close to the city and spectacular scenery. Yet Calgary is in western Canada and they do have the Stampede much more of a cowboy rugged vibe.
Toronto is more metro/cosmo. Large city with all that that offers from sports to theater etc.
Being from Sydney, Toronto is going to be much more like where you are coming from, Calgary is not like the outback but is is more that way, if that makes any sense?
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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Hi All,
Thanks for your feedback so far. A little more information:

I'm 24years old, I'm an accountant, so I'd be doing accounting work in US and Canada.
The choice of American cities/states I have are Minneapolis in Minnesota and Florida (not too sure which city, I think it might be Orlando)
I would be arriving in late December and working through till mid May.

Thanks heaps
Aurora
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Oh my goodness. You are coming over the winter. My concern would be that you won't be used to the cold weather. Have you experienced cold weather? It gets really really cold in Toronto, Calgary and Minneapolis.
I'm thinking Florida , for the weather if no other reason.

Good luck..
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 07:42 PM
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<<
I'm thinking Florida , for the weather if no other reason.
>>

But I was thinking if she hasn't experienced winter, then what a great opportunity to. I personally love winter!
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Old Jun 14th, 2007, 07:44 PM
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Wow - late December to Canada!!! What a shock it'll be coming from summer in Australia!!!!!

Toronto is a huge city, lots of concrete and skyscrapers, and cold but humid winters with occasional blizzards that shut the city down (and during at least one of those blizzards the mayor of the city called in the armed forces to help it deal with the snow!!!). Summers in Toronto are unbearably humid and hot (yes, I've lived in Toronto so I speak from experience).
On the other hand, if you are looking for variety of cultural/arts events and a multicultural (multi-national) society, Toronto is the place to be.

If you like nature and outdoorsy stuff (as someone else mentioned), it won't be easy to find from Toronto.
Plus the traffic is hell.

What I didn't like in Toronto when I lived there was that most of the apartments (flats) seemed to be infested with cockroaches, and I'm not talking about the low end places either. I was never so glad as to leave and come west to Alberta.

Calgary has occasional frigidly cold spells but has no-where near the amount of snow that can fall on Toronto at one time, and also has chinooks (warm winds off the Rocky Mountains) that can change winter to spring in a matter of an hour. The air is very dry, which means that you don't feel the cold as much as you do in Toronto.

Calgary is an enthusiastic exciting booming "young" city. In my mind it is perfect for any young person. The city itself is attractive and very liveable. The natural attractions are withing easy reach - the Rocky Mountains are but an hour (driving) away, and Vancouver and the west coast are just over an hour (flying). In my mind Calgary is most advantageously situated to experience the best of western Canada.

Whichever city you choose - good luck!!

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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 06:58 AM
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Most of the apartments in Toronto are infested with cockroaches....what codswallop!
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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Hi, Toronto really doesn't get a lot of snow most winters - the 'army' occasion was several years back and extremely unusual. I've lived here over 25 years.

Winters are cold here but generally not as cold as Calgary experiences.
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 09:16 AM
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"Most of the apartments in Toronto are infested with cockroaches....what codswallop!"

Exactly!!! I have lived in T.O. for over 30 years and have encountered EXACTLY ONE apartment that had roaches.

However back to OP's original question.
Both Toronto and Calgary would be interesting cities to spend time in.

Toronto
Pro's:
Probably the most mult-cultural city in Canada.
Milder winters than out west but yes we have been know to get freezing weather and even blizzards
Very central - if you want to travel elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. - especially by air - direct flights nearly everywhere.
Culturally - everything you could want to do - Many theatres, museums, art galleries, EXCELLENT ethnic dining of all kinds
Lovely parks and green spaces
Very good transit system
Cons
It takes an effort to get out of the city and into the local countryside - it really is a BIG city and covers a lot of territory.

Calgary
Pros:
If you want mountains and nature and winter, Calgary has it all or it is very nearby.
Cons:
Not as central as Toronto.
More expensive to live in.

Basically I would say if you want the outdoors and spectacular beauty nearby, pick Calgary. If you want a more urban experience, tons of cultual stuff and an easy to travel elsewhere place, pick Toronto.
Both cities have a lot to offer.




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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Here's another consideration to add to the mix. Transportation - will you be provided any? I believe that Toronto has a much better transit system than Calgary. Your choice of locales for renting accomodations will be much wider in Toronto. I think downtown Calgary would be a depressing place to be in the winter - the core empties out at night. If you were to choose Calgary the younger, more hip and vibrant inner city areas with access to amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, etc are limited (Kensington, 4th st, Marda Loop). I honestly think that Toronto has more to offer you in terms of an urban experience.

I live in Calgary and love it but given that you are from Sydney, I would think Toronto will be closer to what you are used to. (that's a total assumption - I've never been to Sydney however, have discussed it with friends who have visited).
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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While Toronto will give you loads to offer in terms of nightlife, restaurants, public transportation, neat neighbourhoods, etc... it's not particularly scenic or surrounded by scenic countryside. And while Calgary is immediately surrounded by flat agricultural prairie, the Rockies are on the horizon and only an hour's drive away.
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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I have to agree about the Rockies! But not far outside Toronto, while not mountainous, there's still plenty of places worth seeing.

The Bruce Trail club offers cheap ($16 round trip bus, $13 if a member) hikes out of the city all year round. http://www.brucetrail.org/
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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Also, there are hikes within the city ( of Toronto) in beautiful valleys .. The Don River and the Humber River offer beautiful park lands and trails.

My concern for you being too cold in Canada is because I have a friend who came from Adelaide and just could not believe the cold and it was a real shock to her.

Good luck.
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 08:59 PM
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Echoing what a couple of other posters said, your housing situation is the critical factor here. If you are on your own to find and pay for a rental, Calgary could very well be a nightmare. Calgary has been the "it" city for a couple of years now ($$$), and could be very interesting in that respect, but having never lived there I can't offer any first hand advice.

Toronto I've lived in for years. I don't know how it compares to Calgary, Minneapolis, or Orlando. I can offer some thoughts on Toronto, though.

Toronto is closest out of the four to Montreal, Quebec City, and New York City. There are frequent cheap flights to these cities.

Toronto is the most multi-cultural/ethnic city in the world.

Toronto is gay positive and has the second largest pride parade in North America.

Toronto has a decent if expensive subway system, good if you live and work on the subway line.

Rent in Toronto reasonable right now.

Toronto has a low crime rate.

If you come to Toronto, you will be here during Leafs season. If you think it's funny to hear Torontonians complain about the weather, wait until you hear the bile and bitterness after the Leafs get shut out of the Stanley Cup playoffs (both Calgary and Toronto will provide you with a rigorous education in hockey)
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