Living in Toronto is crazy. I don't live there—I was born a bumpkin and by God, I plan to die one—but it's difficult not to hear all about how bad the housing situation is, because a) it is notably fucked up, like it's the sort of thing you hear and it makes you cock your head back like you just saw a dude finish doing ten donuts in the parking lot by slamming his trunk into a building oh my Jesus is he OK?, and b) Toronto is the centre of the universe.
Anyways, it's really expensive to live there. The Toronto Housing Crisis was big when it was just affecting the poor and the marginalized, but now that the city's extortionate housing prices threaten to melt down the national economy and it's also affecting upwardly mobile young professional types in media, we are in absolute Defcon 1. The Ontario government is slapping a 15 percent tax on any homes purchased by foreign nationals and Premier Kathleen Wynne is promising to expand the scope of rent control. Will these plans cool down the smoking-hot housing market in downtown Hogtown, or is it too late to keep the Canadian economy from going up in flames? I don't know, but I am excited to find out.
In the meantime, obviously, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Yes, get the fuck out of Toronto. Canada is a big place and it's got lots of other towns and cities that need some budding young entrepreneurs to found laundry-folding startups or microzines about vegan skateboarding. It's also extremely realistic to suggest people uproot themselves out of their communities and precious, precarious employment and move across the country for no real reason other than cheap, bigger houses. Here are some of those places:
As has long been told going back generations, Montreal is basically a cooler, sexier Toronto. It's got European attitude and North American style and French-Canadian racism. There is also enough Anglo presence that you can go most of the time without having to learn or hear French. It also has a functioning metro. Why don't we all live in Montreal again? OH FUCK THE GUY FROM JOE BEEF SAYS TORONTO HAS THE BETTER FOOD NOW, WE ARE ALL MOVING TO TORONTO AGAIN LIKE IT'S THE 70s. UBISOFT HAS A TORONTO OFFICE!!! AU REVOIR!
(Also, you might work for or be a Hells Angel.)
Edmonton is a beautiful city with a cool atmosphere. It's basically Canada's best-kept secret. But don't just take my word for it, check out what Mordecai Richler had to say about the City of Champions in his 1985 New York Times profile of Wayne Gretzky:
"Edmonton, Edmonton. The capital of Alberta is a city you come from, not a place to visit, unless you happen to have relatives there or an interest in an oil well nearby. On first glance, and even on third, it seems not so much a city as a jumble of a used-building lot, where the spare office towers and box-shaped apartment buildings and cinder-block motels discarded in the construction of real cities have been abandoned to waste away in the cruel prairie winter.
If Canada were not a country, however fragmented, but, instead, a house, Vancouver would be the solarium-cum-playroom, an afterthought of affluence; Toronto, the counting room, where money makes for the most glee; Montreal, the salon; and Edmonton, Edmonton the boiler room. There is hardly a tree to be seen downtown, nothing to delight the eye on Jasper Avenue. On 30-below-zero nights, grim religious zealots loom on street corners, speaking in tongues, and intrepid streetwalkers in miniskirts rap on the windows of cars that have stopped for the traffic lights."
Baytona used to be called Gayside but they changed the name in the 1980s because of homophobia and/or an overpowering desire to sound like a speedboat-racing arena. It is a four-hour drive from Dildo, the other Newfoundland town you use to phone in place-based jokes.
"Berceau de l'Amérique française, Québec est la principale agglomération urbaine de l'est du Québec et l'une des plus importantes au Canada. Située au milieu de la zone habitée du Québec, sur les rives du fleuve Saint-Laurent, elle est fondée en 1608. Ayant été la capitale coloniale de la Nouvelle-France, du Bas-Canada et, pendant une courte période, la capitale du Canada-Uni, la ville est surnommée la Vieille Capitale.
Depuis 2001, Québec est l'une des villes canadiennes les plus prospères économiquement derrière Calgary, Edmonton et Saskatoon. Elle possède le plus bas taux de chômage au pays. Les secteurs en croissance sont les biotechnologies, la manufacture, le tourisme, les sciences de la vie, la santé et la nutrition, les assurances et les technologies appliquées. Québec est aussi un centre portuaire important : en 2011, son port est le second en importance au Canada en termes de tonnages derrière celui de Vancouver. De plus, il reçoit en 2013 près de 162 000 visiteurs par le biais des croisières.
Surnommée La vieille capitale, Québec est connu pour son histoire visible, ses nombreux musées et ses institutions culturelles. Le quartier historique, le Vieux-Québec, dont les fortifications qui l'entourent subsistent toujours, font de Québec la seule ville fortifiée d'Amérique au nord du Mexique.
Les expressions à Québec et de Québec sont utilisées pour parler de la ville, et au Québec et du Québec pour parler de la province ou de la nation québécoise en général."
Moving from Toronto to Ottawa is the responsible thing to do. It's very grown up. Your parents are proud of you. You finally took out that septum ring and you wear a tie to work now and you're hitting the gym regularly and you've really cut back on the red meat. You still go out for a few drinks with the crew after work, but nothing too raucous, not like the old days when you used to hop the river to Hull to get some tall boys at that grocery store, you're back from the pub by 9 now and snuggled into bed by 10 and the city is asleep by 12. Yeah, Ottawa's cool. Deadly shawarma though..
Why #wethenorth when you could #bethenorth, am I right? The North is the fabric of Canada's psychic tapestry. It costs $30 for a wilted head of lettuce and it's dark for six months of the year, but that's OK because the government will pay you to live there. Bring all the books you have ever wanted to read. Try not to think too hard about your role at the frontlines of Canadian colonialism's eternal attempt to gentrify the North and subjugate its Indigenous peoples. Pack a warm jacket.
St. John's is awesome. You get to be as prohibitively far away from the rest of the country as the North but with 130 days of misery incarnated into precipitation for every one where the sun comes out for longer than 10 minutes. Downtown looks like it was hit by a hurricane and the roads are like they've been shelled. People are friendly though. Newfoundlanders love come-from-aways! You will be welcomed with open arms and big smiles and then gradually polite avoidance and disgusted muttering as people wonder why you didn't leave with the rest of the tourists. If you're the hypothetical Toronto youth who likes to spend $600 a month on clubbing, you'll never find a better place to drink yourself to death than George Street.
Halifax is like St. John's except good, and therefore inauthentic. Accept no substitutions.
SYDNEY, CAPE BRETON
Do you want to buy a house for the price of a used two-door sedan? Do you want access to the world's most gorgeous scenery, the country's nicest people, and an abundant supply of prescription opiates? Well Sydney, Cape Breton is the place for you. Ravaged by decades of declining industry and political incompetence, the city's economy relies mostly on EI payouts and payday loan stores—which makes it a prime location for some young come-from-away with a pocket full of $20s to basically run this town.
Written by Justin Ling, former resident of Sydney, Cape Breton.
New Brunswick was settled by the nerds who lost the American Revolution. More like No Funswick, amiright? Sorry, I don't have any very specific jokes about New Brunswick but I have never been there for longer than 5 hours, I don't know anyone who has ever been there and my editor assures me "it's just the place you drive through as fast as possible to get to PEI or Nova Scotia." Acadia is sort of cool, allegedly?
It's only two hellish hours away from Toronto.
Calgary is Edmonton's richer, younger brother. Sure it's more successful and flashier, but it's the heart that counts, right? Edmonton might look like a pile of hideous post-industrial trash on the outside, but it's got a heart of gold. Calgary is Ted Bundy in a business suit. Nenshi is cool though.
One time a buddy of mine was in Sudbury stopped over on a drive across Ontario (because why else would you be in Sudbury) and he was packing up his car and he just laid his cup of Tim's on the shitty truck parked next to his for a second to open his trunk and the guy in the truck got out and wordlessly attempted to sucker punch him and failed. This is the one story I have about Sudbury that doesn't come from that (extremely good) Stompin' Tom song and I feel like it perfectly captures the essence of Nickel City.
Pros: best town name in the country, beautiful location in the Laurentian valley
Cons: if you speak English to the guy at the gas station he will cut you
Lloydminster is a magical mystery town that is both in Alberta and Saskatchewan. If you're tired of paying Saskatchewan sales tax to build new Roughriders stadiums or if you want to buy alcohol after 9 P.M. you can hope the border to enter Alberta, the magical land where all your dreams come true. I have no idea what happens in that town when daylight savings kicks in and half the clocks get fucked up but I assume it involves a lot of street battles where dudes are wailing on each other with those big Flava Flav clocks like medieval flails and shit. This is definitely more exciting than whatever life is actually like in Lloydminster.
There are plenty of places you can live here where a condo doesn't cost $1,800 on average. There's one small caveat: You will be in America, and the nation itself could burn to the ground at any moment.
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