I always knew that London was going to be the city for me. I didn’t grow up here and I had never lived here before, but my frequent visits since a young age made me appreciate everything this city had to offer, and what Alberta lacked for me.
From the moment I moved from my small town in Alberta to big city Calgary for university, I felt disenfranchised with how people in this city lived. It wasn’t until I moved out of residence into my own apartment that I realized it wasn’t due to a lacking emotional connection to the city, it was because of how costly it was to live a normal life.
Growing up, I had loving parents who were always home and dedicated to giving my sister and I a happy upbringing. When I first went to school, I wanted to be a lawyer, like most political science students. As I grew as a student, I realized that this career wouldn’t allow for me to have the balance I valued in life, like what my parents gave us.
I thought about what my future would look like if I stayed in Calgary. Rent was high, and eventually when I was ready to buy, a house would’ve cost $450,000 and put me so far from the city centre I couldn’t possible be happy. I thought about my career, and instead of thinking about what I wanted to do, I thought about what career I had to have in order to get ahead in this city. Every single personal decision I made was beginning to revolve around money, putting my dreams and happiness on the back burner.
There are a lot of people who really enjoy living in Calgary, as they feel the city has a lot to offer them. It does have many great restaurants, a vibrant art scene, and its proximity to the mountains is enticing, but these are adventures not everyone can afford. By the time all of our necessary costs were paid every month, we did not have the finances to enjoy what Calgary had to offer. In order to afford dinner at a nice restaurant even once a month, I would have to work an extra day every month and hope that some unexpected cost didn’t arise. Let alone a dinner out every month, if you enjoyed art more than cuisine, it would take even more days at the office to afford.
In the summer of 2012, I met the man who would later become my husband. As we grew together as a couple, we realized that we shared the same vision for the future. We wanted a place where we could raise a family, a place where finances didn’t determine our every decision, a place where a starter home wouldn’t break the bank. We decided that our lives in Calgary would be short. On September 5th 2015, we married, and 4 days later, we packed everything we cherished into a small trailer (except the cats, who had the luxury of flying) and drove across our beautiful country for our new home; London.
When we told our friends and family we were leaving Calgary for London, we would be lying to you if we said we received a lot of support. Many close friends and family were sad to see us go, but also applauded us for realizing that we weren’t happy and taking the initiative to change that.
For us, London represents the future we have always dreamed of. We now live in a small city with strong communities and a slower pace of life, our prospects of owning a home are now within reach due to affordable housing prices, when our future gives us children we will feel comfortable allowing them to walk to school, and finally, we can afford to live the life we want while still living within our means. There is no doubt in our minds that we made the right decision. Less than 2 months after our move, we are enjoying our new lives.
London has given us everything Calgary could not. It was not just a smart financial decision to move, but has also given us a quality of life we could have never achieved in Calgary. We get to support great local businesses with every purchase, whether it’s buying your weekly dose of fruits and vegetables at the Western Fair Market on Saturday’s, or relaxing after a long week at The Root Cellar enjoying a seasonal beer from London Brewing Cooperative before heading to another successful event put on by the Old South Community Association. Most importantly, I can now enjoy the company of Diana, my sister, who has lived here for the past few years as she completes her degree.
To thank for this happiness, we have my parents, who gave me a passion for retracing my heritage back to London. My grandparents chose to settle in London after immigrating to Canada following the war, and I see in this city what they must have seen; a prosperous future. Soon, my parents will move back to London, where my mom was raised, because they know it is the best possible place for them to retire.
We will grow, as a couple and eventually as a family, and as we grow we will learn to love London even more than we do now, if that is even possible. London has given us the life we wanted at a price we can afford, and finally settled years of endless disenfranchised feelings of our home. We are happy and at peace with our decision to move to London, and hope our community know how lucky they are to call London home.
About Sarah Palmer
Sarah Palmer is a graduate of Political Science from the University of Calgary who is currently seeking a new opportunity in London. An accomplished young professional with unlimited growth potential, she is also an avid animal lover and trivia buff. In her spare time, she loves volunteering, reading, and cooking with her husband Garrett. She is also the proud mother of two fantastic rescue felines, Deanna and Benedict. Sarah and her husband now reside in London’s Old South, just blocks away from her mom’s childhood home.