“Are you prepared for your move to Toronto?”
I was asked this question so many times ahead of my move from Australia to Toronto in 2017. Of course, with me being me, I would always answer:
“Of course I am. I know everything! It’s cold and Drake is from there!”
It turns out, I really didn’t know much. It also turns out that this little Aussie girl from the country tends to stand out like a stick in the mud in Canada!
Are you an Aussie planning on moving to Toronto? Firstly, YAY! There is so much to see and do here! Secondly, you must read this list of five things that I wish I knew about Toronto before making the move. As a fellow Aussie, I want you to learn from my mistakes!
- Want to connect with some Aussies living in Toronto? Check out the Aussies in Toronto group on Facebook!
#1 – Toronto is extremely cold in the winter.
I am told that Toronto weather is nowhere near as intense as in Canada’s other provinces. Despite this fact, my little Australian bones still find the winter temperatures EXTREMELY cold.
Prior to living in Toronto, the coldest winter days that I had ever experienced were around the 15-degree mark. During those Aussie winters, I would whine and complain about being cold.
Thinking back on my whining now cracks me up. I mean, 15 degrees is basically bikini weather in Canada! In the real depths of winter it can get as chilly as minus 20 in Toronto (with a windchill of minus 30!).
If you’re planning on bringing your Australian winter clothes over here, don’t even bother. I quickly learned that my very thin puffer vest that I lugged with me from Australia was far from appropriate for a Toronto winter.
150% make sure that you invest in a proper winter coat and winter boots if you plan to be here for the cooler seasons. I legitimately thought I had frostbite the first time that I went out in minus 10 without the correct attire.
#2 – Jays, Leafs, and Raptors are life.
You could be Australia’s biggest AFL or NRL fan, but very few people in Toronto will care. If you want to up your friend-making game you should learn (or at least fake!) a basic level of knowledge about the Jays, Leafs, and Raptors. These teams are the only professional baseball, hockey and basketball teams in Toronto, so they are a huge deal.
The atmosphere at all of the games is so different to Australia. There is so much that goes on apart from the game itself, so it’s easy to have fun even if you don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
After living in Toronto for almost three years, I would say that I understand about half of the rules collectively. Despite this, I still go to the games as much as I can. When I’m not sure what’s going on, I just cheer, cry, and get angry when everyone else does – it’s worked so far!
#3 – If a Torontonian asks if you take “The Path” they don’t mean the footpath.
Whenever someone asked me this when I first arrived in Toronto, I would look at them like they were so stupid. Obviously, I take the path, I don’t want to walk on the road and die!
It took me a couple of months to figure out that:
- A footpath is called a sidewalk here.
- “The Path” is actually a (not-so-secret) underground world in Toronto.
The Path is used to link up all of the downtown subway stations. It is literally an underground world, full of shops and cafes. Toronto folk love the path because it means that they don’t have to go outside during the freezing Toronto winters.
I recommend navigating The Path with a local the first few times. I have gotten lost down there more times than I care to admit.
#4 – Toronto has its own slang that is very different from Aussie slang.
You would think that because we all speak English, Toronto folk would understand our Aussie slang, but no. Unless you want to be constantly explaining yourself, I would quit shortening all of your words and pronounce them as they are spelled.
So, what language does fly in Toronto?
Slang for Toronto, like:
- The6 – Because Toronto was originally split up into six cities.
- TO – Pronounced “tee-oh”.
- 416 – The first three numbers in the Toronto phone network area code.
Pronouncing your words correctly and in full length:
In other words, no servo, bottlo and smoko and definitely no warda, budda, and chuna. (You just said all of these in your head and realized how bad our Aussie pronunciation is, right?)
I know how obvious these words seem to us but TRUST ME, they don’t fly here! You will get numerous confused looks from would-be conversationalists.
I once spent ten minutes in a restaurant asking for warda and getting mad when the waitress was not bringing it to me. Turns out the poor girl was running around the back end of the restaurant asking her colleagues if they could understand my request. I now clearly and slowly ask for water, accentuating the “T”. Who knew words were supposed to be pronounced how they are written?!
#5 – A coffee is a black coffee, no fancy lattes here.
Similar to Australia, coffee is life in Toronto. But! It’s far from what you’re used to when you request your morning cup of caffeinated goodness.
When I arrived in Toronto, I ordered a “coffee” and was handed a large black cup of joe, which I immediately spat out. This was so unlike the double latte with extra foam and unicorn dust that I (and every other millennial Australian) was given each morning in Oz when I simply requested a coffee.
Although lattes and other speciality coffees are available, black coffee is definitely the most common coffee in Toronto. If you would like your fancy foamy drink, be sure to specify.
So, my fellow Aussie’s, are you ready for TO? TO is definitely ready for you! Come and join me! Maybe we can even meet up for some vegemite toast and have a chat about Steve Irwin!
Chelsea Lyndon is an Australian Expat currently based in Toronto, Canada. Her main goal in life is to explore as much of the world as possible and have no regrets. Check out more of Chelsea’s writing on her blog, BRB Busy Living Life!