Our world is becoming ever more connected. Technology has increased our mobility and the options each of us has in building a life. As globalization’s web grows ever more complex, more career and life choices are becoming available to more people. We can live and work almost anywhere we choose—and that bevy of choices creates an interesting dilemma. These days, deciding where you want to BE can be one of the most life-affecting choices you’ll ever have to make.
When it comes to careers, the atmosphere and dynamic of where you choose to live is integral to consider. For example, most of us would agree that for young Canadians pursuing high-level business, financial or legal careers, Toronto is the natural choice. As Ontario’s capital and the largest city in Canada, Toronto is the hub of the nation’s business dealings. With the majority of Canada’s corporations headquartered there and a massive population able to support interconnected networks of different business interests, it’s an absolute hotbed of employment activity for Canada (and North America).
Of course, the atmosphere of a bustling metropolis is not for everyone, and personal taste is an extremely important factor to consider. Canada is a vast country, and the variations in culture and lifestyle among provinces and regions can be great—nowhere is this more evident than our cities. For those who want the big city lifestyle but don’t fit well with the fast-paced concrete jungle of Toronto’s Bay Street, cities like Montreal or Vancouver make more sense. as Canada’s political, economic and social fabric shifts, the western parts of the country are becoming increasingly desirable places to live. The unique mix of options and sensibilities, the cultural and linguistic particularities, all contribute to whether or not we are happy with where we live. Considering lifestyle choices, and personal elements like proximity to family or preferred recreation, plays a big part in the suitability of where you live.
Even if you choose to pursue your studies further, the choices are similarly endless. Many people prefer to start their education at smaller, lesser-known schools for a variety of reasons, whether for smaller class sizes, specialized programs, or a more community-oriented atmosphere overall. However, to pursue research and more work-oriented academic pursuits, it becomes imperative to explore larger, better-known (and better funded) institutions—and these are almost always in larger cities.
Think of some of the largest and most respected universities in Canada: University of Toronto, McGill, University of Ottawa and so on. All are located in relatively large urban centres with large, diverse populations. Those institutions have unique opportunities within a few select fields, and varying social networks to complement and facilitate students’ pursuits. Beyond that, there are also the highly respected institutions to consider in countries like the United States and UK, all renowned within certain fields (and extremely well-endowed financially).
Adding to the complexity of these decisions are important components like quality of life and affordability. Although a large city may be appealing, cities are always expensive places to live. For those carrying heavy student or consumer debt, it may be more practical for a time to live and work in a smaller city or town where costs of living are lower. Taking the time to save money means that when the time comes to move, you’re doing so with more financial stability.
As well, you have to consider what sort of future you envision for yourself. Do you want to marry and/or have children? If you have a spouse or partner, do you share the same general ideas of how you want your future together to look, and are their tastes and potential employment opportunities suited to the same location? These are all components of the larger puzzle that goes into deciding where you live.
Before you let the pressure get to you, it’s important to remember that nothing is written in stone. Just as many people decide to radically change career direction, many others move to a new place to gain a fresh start. Sometimes it’s for a different job, a matter of familial or personal obligation, or maybe just a change of pace. Indeed, one of the greatest benefits to come from the increasing mobility of society is the ability to change our minds—we can and should do the things that make us happy.
Regardless of the reason for a move, the expense and technicalities often pale in comparison to the enriching experience such a life change can provide. The opportunity to build and establish new connections with people, maybe learn a new language, or explore academic or professional routes that were either unavailable in other locations or hadn’t been considered: all these and more can make a change of residence exciting deeply fulfilling experience. We live in exciting and challenging times; in the great game of life, the boards we can choose to play on are more varied and interchangeable than ever before.