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08/22/2006: "the Sunshine Coast beckons"

Funny how one phone call can have an immediate effect on your life. The other day I got a call from a recruiter. No big deal, right? Typically they're trying to fill a position that's either a huge commute or a move towards Toronto, neither of which are really appealing. This one is different. The position itself isn't entirely spectacular (I'm qualified for it, I've done the work before and enjoyed it), but the location is oddly extremely tempting: Nanaimo, B.C.

Don't freak out, we're not moving... yet.

Jannette was the one that took the original call. As she related to me when she took down the phone number and it started with 604 (the Vancouver area code), her first thought was, "This is it, our chance to start over!" It's not that our life here is horrendous by any means, but there is appeal in a fresh start too.

I called the recruiter back, and he told me that a forestry equipment company on Vancouver Island is hiring. Well, this is exactly the kind of work I did in Woodstock, so I'm highly qualified for the position. Of course, it *is* an industry that I decided didn't really hold all that much appeal to me. As I've stated before, I'd really like to align my career with renewable energy and conservational technologies. Forestry products? Meh.

At the same time, when I think back to my time in Woodstock, that was a pretty rewarding work experience. The work itself didn't matter, but I found what I was doing there to be enjoyable. (Being able to play with big machines that can pick up a tree and throw it probably helped, too.) Now that may have as much to do with the company and my co-workers as it did the industry, but the precedent is there in any case. So I can't really dismiss this opportunity out-of-hand. After all, it would provide us with something we haven't had in nearly two years (or plan to have over the next two years); a steady, full-time job. Stability is VERY enticing.

So job-wise, it's a decent opening. Stability is great. However, it also means moving away from the university here, which means essentially giving up my MBET program. Hmmm... the options just got a bit fuzzier. Of course, MBET will eventually re-launch their aborted distance education offering, which I could take no matter where I am, so there's always that down the road a few years. Going back to doing the part-time program would be stressful, but it would sure save us from having to rack up a whack of debt for my year off doing the full-time program. Call this one a draw.

Of all the places in Canada that I'd ever agree to, the West Coast is certainly one of them. Why? I've only ever been there once, but it holds some appeal to me that I haven't been able to place. Perhaps it's the more earthy vibe that B.C. gives off. One thing is for sure, if I'm looking to eventually get into renewable energy, I'd be far, FAR better off having a go of it on Vancouver Island than I would here in South-Western Ontario. Compared to where I am right now, where I can count the number of "green technology" companies on one hand, being within ferry distance of Vancouver would be a positive jackpot of potential. (And yes, I realize I'm already plotting a career move after the one I'm considering. That hasn't been lost on me.)

Now, the icing on the Nanaimo bar is the fact that Nanaimo has their own co-housing group. In fact, they've been active since the early 1990's. They have members, they meet regularily, they have land, they have legal structure, AND they are planning a community with the exact feature that I was planning for our new cohousing development - a glass-enclosed pedestrian walkway. In essence, I can move away from here, and just about move into the exact community I want to create, out in a more temperate climate with more renewable energy opportunities. Ooooohhhh, SO tempting!!!

Of course, reality sets in eventually. Moving means, well, moving. Packing the whole damned house (which we're just approaching having "done"), sticking two kids and three cats on an airplane, and moving three time zones away. We'd be nominally closer to Jannette's dad, and we'd be VERY close to her Grandmother living in Surrey, but my parents and other family would be left behind. And that would be a huge loss, new co-housing community or not. We'd be a bit closer to my brother in Calgary, but in practical terms he'd still be equally visitable as he is from here.

I've looked up real estate prices (which hasn't told me much other than there's a helluva lot of condominium townhouses in Nanaimo), and found a couple of relocation salary calculators that say the cost of living will be approximately the same there as it is here. I've looked up the City of Nanaimo website, I'm still meaning to figure out what kind of culture they've got going on there, I've looked at the city census data from Stats Canada... Heck, I've even determined that the co-housing development is less than 9km from where I'd be working - a relatively straightforward bike commute.

At this point, neither of us are saying, "Yes! Let's pursue this!", but at the same time we're not dismissing it outright, either. Right now we're asking each other questions, developing a list of questions both for the recruiter and the hiring company (how quickly can you find out which company it is?), and just kind of waffling. We want to go, but at the same time, we don't want to go. There's not going to be an easy answer on this one.

So, be a devil's advocate - for whichever side you choose. Tell me why I should stay. Tell me why I should go. Ask the dealbreaking question that I haven't discovered yet.

Meanwhile, I'm going to keep Googling for answers. I'm not sure what I'm looking for, but I have to keep looking - something needs to tip the scale one way or the other.

Replies: 4 Comments

on Wednesday, August 23rd, Bob said

Some random thoughts:

Forestry can be renewable. Just don't hack down old-growth.

If you're considering west coast, why not look for a company there that *does* interest you while you're still here, instead of after you've moved to Nanaimo?

Is there something like an MBET in Vancouver or Victoria?

on Wednesday, August 23rd, Zalgon 26 McGee said

hmm... would the provincial politics have a bearing on your situation? I remember that there were some brouhahas of one sort or another out yonder.

you could talk to the hiring company about your aspirations to wanting to be involved in renewable energy and conservational technologies - maybe they have some programs directly related to that you didn't even know about

Taxes. find out what their taxes are like.

one reeely big reason you don't want to move is that you'll never get to go to any of my games parties again. :)

hmm.. i'm tapped, but i'll keep thinking tho. good luck, sir

on Wednesday, August 23rd, Zalgon 26 McGee said

Vancouver isn't much of a sunshine province you know? it's raiiiiny. very very wet. but the winters are warmer there than here.

on Wednesday, August 23rd, Jerry said

You know, if the opportunity is solid (and make sure it is -- sometimes recruiters can, uhhh, be a little optimistic), I'd say go for it, if the rest of your family is behind you.

It seems the last four or five years I've talked to you Andrew, you've always been looking for something, something that you haven't found here in Ontario. I'm not sure what that something is, and I'm not sure you'd find it in B.C. either -- but, it may be a change of scenery might give you that chance to find it, whatever it is that you're not finding here.

Whichever way you go man, good luck and Godspeed. Let me know if you need help moving stuff if/when the time comes. And, if nothing else, I still owe you another visit at some point. Assuming I can get my own life into any sort of order. (8-)


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