Expat Partner Diaries, June Edition: Toronto Thoughts

I’ve been itching to write the June entry for my expat diary for ages but I really wanted to give good news – so I have been waiting.

And, I am kind of typing this with a beaming smile on my face because I can FINALLY give good news!

So after what feels like years, but has actually been just over 3 months, I can confidently say I am starting a new job on Friday. It is still temping work, but it is in the organisation I want to work for. I am seeing it as a way to get my foot in the door.

You may remember me saying I got this job weeks ago. Which was true. But I have only just been given my first assignment and an actual start date.

So now my main concern is, what do you wear to work when the weather is so warm?!

On top of that, our shipping boxes from England are on Canadian soil and we are going to collect them tomorrow. I am so excited. It feels like Christmas, as I can’t even remember what we packed.

It’s strange how you can spend so long waiting for good news, and then it all comes along at once.

steamwhistle on the balcony
Celebrating with a Steamwhistle Beer in the sun!

Yard Sales

I had my first taste of the Toronto yard sale last week. A lady I worked with when I was temping at the hospital called me up and asked if I would like to help out. She moved over to Toronto from Liverpool, UK about 40 years ago – and seems to have taken it upon herself to be my surrogate mother.

Anyway, I went along and was just amazed and also quite touched by the community spirit. The yard sale was to raise money for a charity. I remember back when I was at the hospital, flyers being handed out asking for donations. There was SO much stuff. Lots of staff from the hospital had come along to help set up too, so it was great to be able to catch-up.

We spent the morning under the baking sun sorting through piles of donations, organising into mounds such as ‘children’s games’ and ‘kitchen stuff’. I even manged to get myself a few bargain cake tins and oven dishes. One person had provided a buffet lunch for everyone and another had brought along drinks. Even though I’m sure it’s the ‘norm’ for Canadian, I found it a lovely and warming thing to be part of.

Month Number four

Transit tokens
I just love these little tokens that are used for public transit here! They are about the size of a five pence piece, and consequently very easy to lose in your purse

A lot of the boring admin associated with moving to a new country is now out of the way. And I am starting to find my way around the city without having mild panic attacks every-time I have to get on the subway or streetcar.

Buses are still a little daunting – I will get there!

With the scary first three months settling period now over, I find it a little easier to chuckle at the differences between Toronto and home….

 Public ‘washrooms’


It may seem a bit bizarre, but one of the more novel differences between Toronto and home I have noticed are the public washrooms.

Firstly, I have had to train myself to ask for the ‘washroom’ rather than the toilet – to avoid horrified or confused looks.

Public toilet doors. Why are the doors so small? They give me flashbacks of the ones we used to have at primary school. They are short enough that with a very minor amount of tiptoe effort anyone could peer over the top. Plus they have a gap so large at the bottom anyone could crawl under.

I always feel a little of edge if there’s a toddler with their mother in the cubicle next to me. Just in case they decide to re-enact the great escape.

Just to add to the general privacy issue, there is also a nice inch of space between the door and the frame.

toilet door Toronto
Washrooms in Toronto seem to all have a gap in the door.

You would think it is pretty obvious whether there is someone in a cubicle or not (due to the lack of door). Apparently not. I have been subject to the most unfortunate of instances where a lady has stuck her head under the door to check whether the cubicle was free.

A little unnecessary in my opinion.


bags of milk
No matter how hard I try, I still find it so bizarre to buy milk in bags

One of the things I found most difficult when I first arrived in Toronto, was getting to know my way around the supermarket again.

I realise that makes me sound a bit odd. But I take so much pleasure in cooking and planning meals, that when I went shopping and realised I can’t buy exactly what I want here, I had a little meltdown.

There is nothing vastly different food wise between Toronto and UK – but there’s the little things you wouldn’t even notice until you come to buy it and realise you can’t. Squash is a big one, I’ve now also discovered prawn crackers and Oxo cubes are on the list.

A lot of Toronto’s fresh fruit and vegetables are very expensive. I imagine this is because they are largely imported. However, prices do seem to go up and down with the time of the year way more than they do at home.

When we very first went food shopping here, I was shocked to see the price of a cucumber was about 3.99 CAD. Following that, when exploring new places to shop, I got into a strange habit of always looking at the price of a cucumber. It was like my way of comparing whether a supermarket was good value or not.

Anyway, I am happy to say cucumbers have now gone down in price to about 99 cents.

I’ll leave it at those two quirks today. However, my point I suppose is I can now look at those things and smile. I appreciate the differences rather than being put off by them.

I see myself entering phase two of my expat journey: the post three month climb. And things are definitely looking up!

Are you an expat partner? What advice do you have?


6 thoughts on “Expat Partner Diaries, June Edition: Toronto Thoughts

    1. Hi, there’s the CN tower which feels like a must do for a day in Toronto. However, I would say St Lawrence Market/ Kings Street area is nice to walk around. I love the distillery distract. Also Kensington Market is good for little independent shops, streetfood and bars/ cafes. If you have time also try to get out onto Lake Ontario to see the Toronto skyline. Have a great visit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Congratulations on the job, that is fantastic news!

    I agree with you re the toilets, I still have to stop myself every single time from asking for the toilet. Don’t even get me started on the gap in the door, I have noticed that sometimes the toilet door will have the coat or bag hook not in the middle and closer to the crack. This was great over winter with a big coat as it would block it but with summer no such luck. It’s really bad when you are at a busy sporting event like the baseball or Ice Hockey and a big line of people just outside your cubicle and they can all see inside the crack.

    I still don’t get the milk in bag. When we arrived I wrote an entire blog post on the frustration of trying to buy milk. It also seems to have the most ridiculous shelf life, much longer than we have in Australia for “fresh dairy”.

    I have found the same thing when buying fruit and vegetables, in Australia the prices seem to be consistent throughout the year but they do seem to increase or decrease here dramatically depending on the season. I have started to shop and cook a little more seasonally than I previously did. I also find meat more expensive here than in Australia but Seafood much cheaper. We live downtown and it’s a short stroll to Chinatown, lately I have discovered a couple of independent stores in Chinatown that are much cheaper than the supermarkets for fresh fruit and vegetables. One in particular is near the AGO on the corner of Dundas West and Beverley Street called the Lucky Moose. They also sell meat and fresh seafood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha I have been trying the bag on the back of the door trick too! It gives a little cover.

      Great advice on Chinatown – unfortunately its quite far for us to go just for fruit and veg – but my new job is kinda close to there so I may start picking up a few things on the way home !


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