It's been exactly one month since I left home and moved to the "other side" of the country. It's been one month since I had to say goodbye to my everyday: my family, my friends, my lifestyle, my cat, my bed and my love. It's been one month since I've been on the type of adventure where you have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Without getting too deep into it, two of my co-founders got accepted into a founder development entrepreneurship initiative called the Next Canada. It was founded in 2010 to identify and train promising Canadian entrepreneurs. The boys left for Toronto for the summer in May and eventually, we decided that I should join them as well. More on this later.
In the short time that I've been here, I think I have done quite a bit considering I wasn't all that crazy about Toronto before I moved here. And I hate to admit it but ... I don't mind it here. To be fair, I'm not sure if it can be all credited to Toronto itself, I think part of it was that it was an overdue change for me. Either way, the verdict is that Toronto is pretty great. So ... as I go through what I've done, I'm hoping it'll be helpful as a guide for any of you looking to visit or make the transition to the East Coast.
It's pretty much the first thing I thought about even before I moved out. My girlfriend Vickie (also from Vancouver) invited me to play on a beach dodgeball team. Beach dodgeball? Interesting ... but I'm so in. Upon arriving at my first game, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon this massive waterfront sports and entertainment district, also known as Polson Pier or the Docks.
In this complex, you have a drive-in theatre that is also a driving range, outdoor go-karting, Soccerworld, beach volleyball courts (and dodgeball), an outdoor bar that it attached to an arcade, as well as Cabana Pool Bar and Rebel. It's kind of insane actually, but anyway back to sports. If you're looking to join a team as an individual, check out Toronto Sports & Social Club. It's basically the equivalent of Urban Rec in Vancouver (I wonder if Urban Rec is out here?) and they run all your typical sports leagues. If you're a sports geek like me and have no problem playing on any team, there's a "Be a Sub" tab where you can either browse through teams who are looking for a sub or you can set notifications that email you when a team is looking for a specific sports on specific days that you specify. Is that specific enough? Good. So far I'm on two dodgeball teams and a softball team in Scarborough.
This can be tricky, especially if you're looking for a short-term sublet that is furnished where you don't have to sign a long-term lease. You can do your regular rounds on Craigslist or Kijiji (more popular out here) or there's this great Facebook group called Bunz Home Zone. If you know what Community Closet is, it's basically that but for accommodation. People will list what they're offering (room, entire apartment, furnished, unfurnished, pets, etc) and leave it up to people to DM them so they can decide who sounds like the best fit. You can also search for other roommates to find a place with, or post what you're in search of. But the market is super competitive so you have to be on top of it and be the first to reach out with an awesome profile. Do your research, figure out what area you want to live in (there are SO many) and stay on top of your search efforts.
Lastly, be aware of scammers. It's a problem. If the "landlord" says they're not in town or that the price is listed very low because "they just want the home to be well taken care of", run for the hills after you report their ass.
3. Things to do
So far I've been to two concerts: one at Air Canada Centre and one at Echo Beach. About a week or two ago, my girlfriend and I checked out the soft launch of Broadview Hotel (awesome spot, make sure you check it out) and met this super rad guy named Israel. Israel introduced us to Anderson .Paak who turned out to be on tour for J.Cole and was generous enough to give us passes to the concert the following night. If you haven't heard of Anderson .Paak like myself, give him a listen. He's extremely talented and a dope person to be around.
The other concert was the Throw Back Bash hosted by 93.5FM The Move featuring Ginuwine, Brandy and Sean Paul. I HAD to see Brandy. And the queen did not disappoint! Other spots I've been to so far ...
1. Mascot Brewery - Awesome rooftop bar, great vibes.
2. Cold Tea - Impossible to find on your own, hidden gem with hella chill vibes.
3. Sky Yard at the Drake Hotel - You seriously can't mess up rooftop bars.
4. Lavelle - Way too posh for the likes of me but worth the view.
5. Harbourfront Centre - Usually something going on here!
Basically, you won't run out of places to go or find things to do.
It definitely exists but you have to go for a bit of a drive if you want to get deep into it. A few weekends ago, a big group of us went up to Parry Sound in Cottage Country and got an awesome Airbnb house. MAKE SURE YOU PUT ON BUG SPRAY and you're welcome for not posting photos of my bug bites.
If you chase waterfalls like myself, Hamilton is where you want to go. Apparently it's the Waterfall Capital of the World with over one hundred waterfalls minutes from the downtown core. That's where I'll be headed sometime in the near future. Also on my list is the Bruce Peninsula Grotto.
Daily Hive has lots of articles on where to go:
1. Cheltenham Badlands
2. 12 Day Trips from Toronto
3. Niagara Falls White Water Walk
4. 6 Rivers for Summer Tubing
5. Best Hiking Trails
6. Elora Gorge Beachside Dinner
5. Sweat yourself sane
Coming back from a bad ankle injury, I was going stir-crazy not being able to work out and sweat. But with a little bit of research, friends and recommendations, I was able to find gyms and studios that kicked my ass back into shape (still working on it).
1. Elle Fitness Studio - Amaaaaazing female-only group classes that seriously shed some "softness" while jamming out to awesome beats. I loved classes with Alicia and Gill - Bodies by Elle and Hard Ass were lots of fun. You can get a free week trial to test the waters before you fully commit. But trust me, you'll want to stay.
2. Academy of Lions - This is a Crossfit gym and I'm going to give credit to my friend Patrick Leung for bringing me and almost having me killed (in a good way). My childhood memories of skipping rope for fun is now forever ruined by double unders. Try a free class if you want to lose the use of your legs.
3. Myodetox Performance - Myodetox is a physiotherapy clinic that just merged with Vancouver's Physio Room. If you need to fix yourself in Vancouver, make sure you find Nick and give him a friendly punch from me. If it weren't for him and my friend Jari, I would probably still have a swollen ankle. With a free week trial at their gym, you'll be sure to find those abs that have been hiding from you your entire your life in no time.
Indecisive? Welcome to the rest of us. Class Pass has a promo that lets you try it for two weeks for only $9. You'll have access to thousands of classes that range from yoga to Lagree.
6. Everything Else
1. Blue Jays Fan? Make sure you download Vivid Seats - an app where you can get nosebleeds as low as $2 US. If you're not a Jays fan yet, google Josh Donaldson or Kevin Pillar and you will be.
2. Getting around - It's $3.25 for transit fare so you can buy tokens, carry change or get a Presto Card that you can reload at a machine or online. Lots of busses, streetcars and subways to get you around but if you hate people, Uber will save the day. PS, motorcycle parking is free and if you need a temporary residential parking permit, those are also free! (Wish I knew this $90 in parking tickets sooner ...)
3. Food - Where do I even begin? I can't so I won't. But if you want to enjoy food from the comfort of your home/office, there are apps like Uber Eats and Ritual. If you get homesick, there's always a familiar taste of home at Cactus Club, the Local, Joey's and probably other spots I haven't heard of yet.
4. Montreal - Three days after landing in Toronto, I took my "new" bike on my first ever solo road trip to Montreal. It was kind of nerve-wracking doing my first trip alone on a bike I only rode for the first time two days before. Going from a Ninja 250 to a 1986 Honda Shadow 750 was a bit of an adjustment. The worst part is that the bike doesn't have a gas gauge. PS, the universal distress signal for motorcyclists is putting your helmet on the ground behind your bike. If you can, Montreal is a must.
People have been asking if I like Toronto or Vancouver better and although the answer will always be home, it's not easily that comparable. I find them to be reverse images of each other. While Vancouver has beautiful surroundings and lots of nature within reach, the city itself is alright. Toronto, however, has an incredible city but you have to put in effort and miles to get to nature. So ... there you have it. I picked up my essentials and moved to Toronto temporarily in pursuit of my company's growth and begin a chapter that will surely shape the rest of my life. If you have any questions or know of any places to visit or things to do, or you just want to be friends, let me know. I've literally met 100 people since I've been here and they have all been amazing. I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store! Thank you Toronto for being great to me my first month here. :)