Should You Move To Toronto?

by Alexandra Molotkow


Believe it or not, Haley and I meet a lot of Americans who say they want to move to Toronto. When we first talked subletting in New York, we ran into more than one sublettee who seemed pleased with the fact that we were from Toronto. They probably figured Canadians would be less likely to pogo on the end table or throw ketchup at the wall, but also, they were artists, and they loved Drake and How Should A Person Be? In their minds, Toronto was a neat place where you could make a living as an artist while maintaining productive friendships with other artists. And it… is! In pockets, at least.

From Stuart Berman’s recent profile of Toronto band/all-around nice people Fucked Up:

What’s not so visible to fans outside Toronto is that Fucked Up are not simply a band — they’re more like a community cooperative, events-production team, charity organization, and mentorship program all rolled into one. The more their profile abroad has risen, the more committed they’ve become to improving the quality of life in their hometown, by reinvesting their rewards back into the city’s cultural stream. While most bands strive to leave behind a musical legacy, Fucked Up are just as busy building a social one.

Toronto isn’t utopia, but it is a city of boosters. And within its creative scene — well, that’s just it, you can talk about a Toronto “creative scene” because there aren’t really enough people around to sustain separate creative factions, or isolate disciplines, or preserve echelons by accomplishment. People sort of just mix together, and lots of people are novelist/singer/playwright/comedians. Torontonians aren’t that gregarious, but generally they’re not going to not invite you.

If you’re the kind of person who’d rather get your own thing off the ground than be slotted into someone else’s project, the city is an exciting cipher, because there’s not a whole lot there to feel intimidated by, creatively speaking. Not that there aren’t great artists working in Toronto — there are, that’s my point! — but, historically, there are no real traditions to observe or standards of excellence to uphold. It’s all a work in progress.

Have I sold you on Toronto yet? Great! So Toronto is actually fantastically expensive, like nearly as bad as New York on a day-to-day basis (our transit system sucks and our cabs are twice as costly). The housing market is fucked, relative to most other cities. Torontonians talk about leaving Toronto all the time — usually to New York (that’s another thing, Toronto has an irritating New York complex that almost every Torontonian is susceptible to), but often to nearby Hamilton, a city you’re almost definitely never going to move to, or Montreal, which is basically Canada’s clit, or would that be Nova Scotia? Anyway, Montreal is paradise and I’d move there in a second if I could speak French and handle horrible winters and debilitating loneliness, since everyone I know from there has moved to a city you don’t have to speak French to live in. (Mostly Toronto, and Brooklyn.)

My point is that you probably won’t move to Toronto, but Moving To Toronto is a great stress fantasy.