My partner and I have spent the last 8 years moving around Canada, looking for the ideal spot to plant roots. Call me an idealist, but i’ve been on the hunt for somewhere with a smallish, eco-conscious, socially-focussed community, with affordable land (no more than $200k for a small home + small acreage) and other kids for my child to make friends with. SO far, we’ve lived in 7 different villages/cities; my child is 6, and he lived in 4. All that we’ve learned is that there is no ideal spot. Some cities have better communities than villages, but no land. Some villages have land, but no community.
Our last adventure was to move from Montreal to Haida Gwaii where we bought a little house on an acre by the ocean. A big part of moving here, was for the close-to-nature community, and the notion that there was a good homeschool community (which there used to be). It turns out, the community isn’t very inclusive, and the homeschool community/programs are no longer. This place is so remote, and the grey can get very depressing. We lived in Vancouver for several years, and so are used to it - but the lack of community (and friends) and social interaction has been extremely difficult. We also kind of moved here on a whim, because it was a romantic small house on the ocean. At this point, we’re regretting leaving Quebec, and are considering buying some (very affordable) property over there, and moving back.
Needless to say, my personal wish is to commit to somewhere, and make it ours however possible. I want to put all my permaculture practice (from rentals and our current property) and learning to permanent, long-term use. I’m worried that we will go back to Quebec (where the grass is greener) and my partner will want to move again.
Are you where you want to be? How did you decide that was the spot? Did you know it was the spot, or did you make it yours?
Hi! I'm a bit south of you on Pender Island and I mostly like the place but it's not perfect.
Some things I like about it here:
- In Canada (no fussing with visas/immigration since we are citizens, relatively decent human rights record, universal healthcare/social safety net, etc)
- Relatively close to extended family (meaning we can go over there for a weekend or some such)
- Relatively warm (one of the warmest parts of Canada -- I don't like snow)
- Good annual rainfall
- Fairly eco-conscious/socially-conscious community, including a fair number of permie types
- Close to nature with good local environmental protections
- Fairly close-knit community
- Internet service is good enough that my partner and I can work remotely
Some things I don't like:
- Affordability is not the best -- better than Vancouver/Victoria but there are definitely cheaper places in BC to find an acreage + small house
- Tied into the above, it's a small island so many of the lots are small. We are not on an acreage currently.
- Close-knit community means it's a bit tougher to break in and make friends than other places, as a "newcomer". Some people say it takes 20 years to become a "local".
- Community skews a bit older so many community events/activities are only accessible to people without day jobs
- Also lots of winter greys here -- we asked a local friend what she did to work around them and she said, leave. She snowbirds every year and so do a lot of other otherwise-full-time residents.
- Summer drought
Social isolation and the winter blahs have definitely hit hard for us, and I wish I had more land to play with, but looking at my list of things I'm missing here, it would be very hard to find a property that's better in one way without sacrificing in a different way. If we found a "perfect" place, it would be "perfect" for a lot of other people too, which would drive the price right up. Otherwise, we could just buy 50 acres of ALR land in Richmond. So currently, I'm doing my best to mitigate the problems with our current place while saving up in case a place nearby with more land opens up. Getting outside, planting winter-blooming flowers, socializing as much as possible and certain supplements can all help with the winter blahs. I also regularly look for community events that I'm interested in and am able to attend so that if I do end up staying in this community for 20+ years (on this property or another one), the other locals will recognize me as one of their own. And while more land would be great, I still haven't gotten anywhere close to restoring the land that I do have to its full potential, so it does keep me as busy as I want to be. 🤷
Thanks for the reply Meg. I agree with everything you’ve said. We have the same issues here with “becoming a local”, which has made it super hard, especially for our child! Also, I’ve camped on Pender a couple times and it’s amazing!
For us, Montreal had the community, and growing a ton of plants in the tiny balcony, with a bit of guerilla gardening on the side was pretty awesome, but the city life is hardly relaxing.
In the year we’ve been here (Northwest BC) we haven’t made any ties, and we’ve drastically improved the house we bought, with our property value growing 40% since we bought it - so at least we can get a return if we do sell/move.
In conclusion, we figure we may as well go full-on homestead (we want orchard and sheep and chickens), and Quebec is beautiful, has a good climate, lots of permie folk (in certain places), and has affordable land/homes; unlike the sought-after places in BC (real estate prices show that actually most of BC is sought-after even though the mainland is burning every summer!).
This move will be my last for many years, I swear! I’m puttin’ down roots!