In this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=157350
I asked people about Toronto. I thought I’d let all of the helpful people there know that I did in fact move here, and wanted to thank everyone again for the information. Sorry about the length of this response; there was a lot to say.
ResIspaLoquitor, presumably speaking for himself, commented on the freeways. I have to admit, whenever I feel homesick for Los Angeles, I drive on the 401 at rush hour. It isn’t quite as intense as the 10 at the same time, mainly because the drivers are Canadian and are therefore unlikely to shoot me, but also because the traffic is moving at a slower pace than I would expect. It is still tight, quick moving and congested, but not as fast as the 10 freeway through down town. The collector lanes do make things interesting, causing me every single time to have to cross four lanes of traffic in half a kilometer to get to my exit.
Weary, in case you were curious, it is a great place for kids – better, I think, than Los Angeles. I can’t get the “eh” right, although my wife is doing pretty well. Multicultural understates the degree to which TO is, well, multicultural.
Mnemosyne I was given a copy of the book when I moved here, and was pleased to get many, although not all, of the inside jokes. What I find interesting about the traffic isn’t the traffic per se, but the parking. Toronto, the city were parking is illegal. I was on Queen St. with not one but two lawyers in the car (and I’m a software developer, reasonably good at deciphering complex instructions) and each alleged parking place required a five minute discussion to determine if it was, in fact, legal to park there. Matt_mcl makes much of the fact that Canada has the least-subsidized mass-transit system in North America. This no longer impresses me; I mean, what’s plan B, to drive? Ha, you can drive (although as far as I can tell, gas costs about $2.80 a gallon), but you can’t park when you get there, now can you? Sorry, this isn’t even a pet peeve, I just find it amusing.
I still haven’t really gotten used to the LCBO, mainly because, well, I drink a lot of wine, and we have a lot of it in California. On the other hand, I’ve found I’m now addicted to Tim Horton’s. I can’t figure it out; I typically drink coffee black, but every time we’re out, I want to get a double-double and a box of timbits. I’m pretty sure one of those “doubles” includes opium.
I wound up moving to what I’m pretty well convinced at the sticks (Eglinton and Keele, in case anyone is curious). Housing costs are a fraction of what they are in LA, even for the Very Nice Areas. There are areas that are a little hard on the eyes, but none that feel anywhere near as dangerous as some of the better areas in LA. My real estate agent (born and raised in Toronto) warned us that this area was so dangerous that he wouldn’t walk around after dark, and I have absolutely no concerns about it, other than the general prudence one has in a large city of any sort. I couldn’t believe that single murders actually made the front page of the paper; they simply aren’t that big news in LA.
I can’t even begin to address RickJay’s post, other than by saying I seem to agree with him in all areas that I am familiar with. Toronto has areas that aren’t beautiful, some that are, and it is cleaner than any major city I’ve seen in the States, with the possible exception of Seattle. I would point out that the housing prices you mentioned were before the Looney decided to climb against the Greenback; I managed to buy about half way up that climb. The only bad taxes, really, is that killer double sales tax (15% vs. the 8.25 I’m used to), and the levy on gasoline (which I happen to agree with).
The weather, while a definite switch from LA, hasn’t been that bad, since I discovered military surplus trench coats, and thermal underwear. And not going outside, of course. I rode a motorcycle for a very long time, and driving in snow is not unlike riding a bike in the rain; the same type a degree of caution make survival a lot more likely. I have been here a short enough time that I still find the snow pretty and pleasant, but I recognize that they didn’t have to call in the army to move it this year, either.
In case anyone is curious, I am currently a seasonal resident (I still spend time in the States and have a house in LA), but am planning on actually immigrating, thanks to the lowering of required points. Oddly, there is more work here in my field than there was in LA, and they give a break to high-tech workers when it comes to getting a work permit, making my life even easier when I do go job searching.
Toronto is a nice city, very cosmopolitan, much better organized than LA (which is not much of a compliment, I’m afraid), although not entirely unlike the City of the Angels. The one thing I will say may or may not make sense. While it is perhaps true that the Canadian friendliness and niceness are a myth, the country and Toronto seem to be in a collectively better mood than the States and Los Angeles. In a way that’s difficult to describe, the people take themselves less seriously, they seem to be less worried and less snappy than those in LA and the States. Obviously, this isn’t universally true; there are still high-strung jerks here, but collectively, the place just seems happier.
I’ve seen and learned to be afraid of the black squirrels, but have yet to discover snow snakes.
cowgirl gave a lot of useful information for which I am terribly grateful. As it happens, I live in the neighborhood described as “a pleasant change from the generally flat Toronto”, a phrase written by someone who hasn’t tried climbing those hills after the snow has turned to ice. The only thing I don’t like is that I’m about two miles from the subway station, but it’s an easy walk or quick bus ride, and the subways are nice here; convenient, quick, and they go more or less to the places I’d like to go. I’m actually more of a bookstore person than a music/films person, but seem to have found the areas that are lousy with bookstores, so life is looking up.
I would comment on politics, but I’m afraid I still don’t get it. There seem to be five or six parties, all of them fairly liberal from my point of view, with the Liberals predominating. I still find the East/West conflict and the Quebec/everyone else conflict confusing, even after the Conan thread in the Pit.
Thanks again everyone.