I’m Leaving Vancouver

I arrived in Vancouver in late summer of 1995, to come to university. I knew, almost the moment I got off the plane, that this would be home from now on. And until tomorrow, I’ve held to that. And let’s be clear – I love Vancouver. I’ve had the great fortune to travel extensively, and have had several opportunities to choose to go somewhere else – and I keep choosing here.

But that’s changed now – I’m leaving. The reasons are multiple, but the short answer to the unasked why is the same as it is for everything these days: because COVID-19. Since the pandemic hit, I no longer need to go to the office, and people, this is a good thing in my books. Since the pandemic hit, I no longer go to restaurants, or clubs, or concerts, or movies, or anything that feels like it requires a city to do.

The other thing that happened is I kind of reconnected with nature. Early on, I made an effort to get to the forest nearly every day: Pacific Spirit park, Stanley park, all over the North Shore and places beyond. And when it got warmer, I spent more time on and by the water. And all the time spent there really centred me – I found a peace that the focus on day-to-day life in the city that I had forgotten about.

In July, right as restrictions eased, we stayed in a place on the Sunshine Coast, in Secret Cove. And while there, thinking about the perfection of it, the slowness of it, we asked each other – “what if we just lived here?” And so about 6 weeks later we had an accepted offer on a house in Gibsons, had successfully sold our townhouse in Vancouver and in about 12 hours, we’ll be moving in.

This – this is the awkward part to say out loud, but for the most part, the pandemic has been good for me and my family: my work is solid (but busy!) and interesting, we’re spending more time together, we’ve saved money compared to our before-times lifestyle. And this move kind of doubles-down on that idea: we’re buying ourselves more financial freedom, more time together, more access to the things we like to do together: hike, camp, paddle, play games – hang out.

There’s things I’ll miss about Vancouver – and we’ll certainly be tied pretty closely as Leah will be coming back weekly, and I hope to be coming back about monthly for various things. One reason we chose Gibsons is that while it is away, it’s not so far away.

The house we’ve bought has plenty of space indoors and out for safely distanced socializing; and when things settle out in a couple of years, there will even be a ready stand-alone guest suite for people coming out way.

It’s funny – for most of my life, I’ve dreamed only of living in ever-bigger cities. I love the bustle of a crowded subway, milling pedestrians – the vitality of a busy city is amazing. Maybe again in the future I’ll want that but for now? I really feel like I like my city like I like my snow: close enough to get to it easily when I want it, but not all around me all winter long.

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