7.11.2004

the first visit

We're moving to a city we've never been to before! But then, immigrants have been doing that for centuries. At least, thanks to modern communications, we're not imagining the streets are paved with gold.

We went to Toronto for 4 days in April. You can fly from NY to Buffalo very cheaply on JetBlue, and since we would need a car anyway, that's what we did. Buffalo is a little farther from Toronto than advertised, but hey, it worked.

I got a great deal at a hotel two steps from downtown and a short subway ride from the Skydome. Of course the trip was timed to coincide with one of our teams being in town, and it happened to be the Red Sox.

We met in person a few people I knew online, saw two baseball games (Sox won both), looked at apartments and a few neighborhoods, and met with two legal staffing agencies.

The people. Now we know some people in the area! Two really great women and the male partner of one of the women. Their politics are just like ours, so we are immediately comfortable with them. Will there be a time when that will no longer be noteworthy?

The baseball. Indoors. On turf. This is bad. Easy to get tickets, both our teams in town a lot (because of the accent on divisional play), and extremely easy to get to from the suburbs where we will probably live. This is good. Turf is gross, but the balance is definitely more good than bad.

The Blue Jays-Red Sox games was like being in Little Fenway. Red Sox fans who can't get tickets to Fenway go to see them on the road, and they were at Skydome in great numbers. Mid-week, it was mostly moms with kids, so everyone was very friendly and good-natured. We are accustomed to getting comments about our opposing team gear, but in Canada, I heard this for the first time: "Wow, you two must really be in love." :)

The apartments. We saw some disgusting apartments, and some fantastic ones.

We think it will come down to a terrific apartment in the suburbs or a not-so-terrific place in a city neighborhood. This was really bothering me at first. More on this later.

The apartment we have our eye on is in the Meadowvale section of Mississauga, a sprawling suburb of Toronto. It is huge - two bedrooms plus a "solarium" (that's what they call it up there), so we would each have our own office (yippee!), tons of closets, beautiful new kitchen (dishwasher!) and bathroom, balcony, fireplace, in an immaculately maintained building with a fitness room, a pool, a parking spot for $50/month (you can't park a tire for $50 in NYC), and it's a stone's throw from the train. And yes, they allow dogs! It was amazing. Did I mention there was a fireplace?!

It's pretty far out from the city, but it seems like a decent commute on a nice train.

The jobs. This was surely the highlight of the trip. (Even better than Pedro vs. Halladay.) The previous week, I had emailed the two biggest legal staffing agencies in Toronto with a short note and our resumes, then called when we got to town. We scheduled them both on our last day there. It could not have gone better.

First, they were helpful, forthright and open - three traits you do not find in temp agencies in New York City. They answered all our questions, told us exactly what we could expect to earn, what the job market is like, even gave us pointers on apartment hunting!

More importantly, they were practically salivating over our resumes. It sounds like we'll be able to start temping immediately while interviewing for good positions. The two firms are competitors, and I think they'll be vying to see who can get us the best deal.

All our questions were answered in the affirmative: Toronto law firms have word-processing centers, they use non-traditional hours like evenings, weekends, 12-hour days, and we're entering at the most senior level. Another plus: the big firms are all located within walking distance of Union Station, where all the suburban trains ("GO trains") feed into.

We left feeling pretty good.

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