Welcome to the Hotel California

Or rather, the Hotel Snowville. You can check out, but no one will ever let you talk about leaving the city I live in without major amounts of guilt, and a laundry list of reasons you should never live anywhere else.

I should explain. For years, my husband and I set our sights on moving across the world to New Zealand. Recently, our plans changed for various reasons, but we were very very serious about it, and still do have a plan to exit the Edmonton area. However, I doubt we will bother telling anyone around here that we ever plan to leave, as my experience with sharing my plans to move away have been overwhelmingly negative. And uninformed. And they seem to be based in fear.

“Oh, you’re moving? Where to?”
“New Zealand.”
“You shouldn’t move there – it’s REALLY expensive to live there.”

Every. Freaking. Time.

Let me be clear – Edmonton is the fifth most expensive metropolitan area to live in within Canada, so I guess, to me, the “XXX place is too expensive to live” doesn’t hold much water. I have become accustomed to responding “It’s really expensive to live in Edmonton”, which is usually met with a blank stare. Then, the next reason comes out. It’s usually one of these:

  • They have earthquakes there
  • It’s too hot
  • It rains too much
  • They don’t get much sunshine
  • Their winters are way worse than ours
  • Their economy sucks
  • They have weird accents
  • They don’t have a very good healthcare/education system

Some of these reasons are based on opinion, and some are of relative or very little importance, and some are just untrue and based on ignorance. Nonetheless, I answer.

  • We have tornados
  • I prefer hot to cold
  • I like rain
  • I don’t think that’s true
  • Our winters are worse than anywhere – there’s no comparison
  • Their economy isn’t bad
  • You have a weird accent – it’s pronounced OUT, not OAT
  • They have fantastic healthcare and education systems – possibly better than ours

It’s so strange to me that people don’t mind telling you when you’re making a wrong choice, but they hate being disagreed with. I discussed this with a friend once (OK, I discuss this with a lot of friends, fairly regularly – there is a secret society of people who are not opposed to living places other than Edmonton, but most keep quite to avoid the backlash) and she pointed out to me that many people, being afraid of the unknown as they are, don’t actually like to live here, but continue to do so because of fear, and crave to feel validated in doing so by spouting negativity at anyone else who would make another decision. People get so offended when I say that I don’t like Edmonton, but no one ever says “why don’t you just move away then”. They WANT me to stay here and just accept that Edmonton is the perfect place to live, despite the fact that I don’t feel that way.

So the next time a friend tells you he is thinking about moving to Texas, don’t try to discourage him with talk about giant bugs and gun control. And if a colleague says she’s moving to Paris, keep your mouth shut about tiny flats and how “dirty” that place is (even though you’ve never been there). Try to imagine yourself as the poor kid in Zimbabwe who wants to move to Edmonton, whose friends are asking “why would you want to move there? It snows most of the year, is extraordinarily expensive to live, has a horrible bus system, its hospitals are overcrowded, it has among of the highest crime rates in Canada and the cost of flying out of Edmonton is prohibitive to any kind of travel. Oh and it smells terrible because of all the refineries – though I’m sure you’ll stop noticing eventually.”

We’ve made new plans – we’re not staying here forever either. But I’m more hesitant to talk to people about them now, having learned my lesson about people and their adversity to change, and how offended they become when my plans don’t mirror theirs. Interesting, isn’t it?

I believe that anyone can choose to be happy where they are. I also believe that the heart knows what it wants, and mine tells me I want to be able to stand with my feet in the ocean, to take walks in the rain year round, to enjoy the place I live, rather than just tolerate it (or worse). It’s possible to live almost any place – people do it ALL THE TIME. Open your mind, and maybe your heart will follow you somewhere else.

Me on my wedding day

Me on my wedding day

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7 Responses to Welcome to the Hotel California

  1. Speaking my language, sister. I got the same repeated lecture and sideways glances when we moved away from the frantically popular Portland, Oregon. “You’re moving to THE DESERT? There are so many republicans there. You can’t a grow garden. It rains less, but it’s so COLD.” Or my favorite, [silent pause] “Why?!” We made the leap anyway, and haven’t regretted it for a second. And every day I find another member of the secret society of ex-Portlanders who’ve hightailed to a sunnier, slower way of life. (The PDX diaspora is on!) Follow your instincts. You’ll never look back. http://thisbendablelife.com/about/

  2. Go for it! If my parents had listened to family and friends and not fought to come to Canada from Wales when I was 17, I would never have met my hubby. They had to fight me the most, being a selfish seventeen year old, but I love BC and wouldn’t want it any other way. Only you know what is best for you, and even if you don’t know, isn’t finding out the most fun thing in life?
    P.S thanks for liking my post 😉

  3. Vannessa says:

    😉 We had plans to come and see you in NZ next year when we go with the parents. Ah well 5-10 years from now we’ll come see you by the ocean

  4. Colin D. says:

    I’m with you sister. Let’s get oat of here.

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