[tpm] country hacker, city hacker

arocker at Vex.Net arocker at Vex.Net
Fri Oct 4 08:25:14 PDT 2013

It looks as though the rest of the group have said most of the things I
had considered, so I'll try not to repeat too much. Google Maps and
Steetview are your indispensable tools here. (But use DuckDuckGo for
searching; it's in Perl and not intrusive.)

> I have a 3 year community college diploma titled "Computer
> Programmer/Analyst" and graduated in 2007.

Did that involve staying somewhere other than at home, (the only valuable
part of the student experience for most people)? If it did, you really
shouldn't find it hard to move to The Centre Of The Universe. (An attitude
usually observed in people who have an inferiority complex with respect to
New York.) If not, the adjustment should still be quite painless.

>  Mostly working with Microsoft technologies (and hating every second

An autodidact whose prejudices accord nicely with mine. :-)*

> - Commuting. I've never driven in traffic as heavy as Toronto,

A lot depends on timing. If you insist on doing the same thing at the same
time as everyone else, yes it's congested. (At which time, the traffic's
practically stationary, so it's not hard.) A little creativity with your
timing can reduce the perceived density dramatically. The same is true of
the TTC; it's miserable at peak times, tolerable otherwise.

> I love driving, but I'm genuinely afraid of driving in Toronto. It looks
> like chaos. I can't imagine how people avoid accidents.

You've obviously never seen Montreal traffic. :-)* It's been said that
Toronto drivers would be very good, if they always drove indoors. (Any
moisture, especially in solid form, appears to bewilder them.)
Fender-benders are routine, which is why the insurance rates are so high.

I would suggest leaving both vehicles in the country. (If the car's
something interesting, store it; much cheaper there. If it's just
transport, sell it. You won't want the cycle here in the winter, either.)

If you need a vehicle in the city, car-"sharing" schemes, (actually,
hourly rental), like Zip-Car offer a variety of vehicles. for example, you
might want a convertible for a jaunt on a nice day, and then a pick-up for
schlepping. You can get both from the same outfit.

I'd recommend drawing concentric circles around the office, the inner one
about a kilometre radius, the outer about 3-4km, and look for
accommodation in that torus. It represents a walk to work of 15-45
minutes, which is about right to offset a sedentary job like programming.
It makes you practically indifferent to TTC strikes, storms, traffic
snarls, and other irritations. If the weather's evil, the TTC's probably
there, but coming from Northern Ontario, you'll probably wonder what we
wusses are whining about.

> Taxis are certainly not affordable.

I don't remember the last time I took a taxi. They mostly seem to
transport welfare cases home from the Beer Store because they can't carry
their 2-4.

> - As a side note, I like people, but preferrably from a few feet
> away. In crowds I get anxious and nervous and self-conscious.

Am I actually writing to myself here? See above notes about timing and
density. You might like to read "Quiet":
http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/ There are plenty of parks and
secluded places available in Toronto; just check to see if they're
deserted for a good reason. :-)*

> I don't know the first thing about finding an apartment,

Three words; "Search engine" and "Craigslist". Most big buildings have
their own websites, and even small places are usually referenced online.
You might want to start with a furnished place temporarily. Just a place
to sleep, eat, and park your clothes while you look around. I was going to
suggest sharing an apartment as an option, but it sounds as though, like
me, you would rather live up a tree than with other people.

>  I imagine finding any apartment would be challenging, let alone one
that > I like.

Competition between landlords is quite fierce here. (A lot of overseas
investors have bought condos, which adds to the rental supply downtown.)

> Coordinating resignation at my current job. ... Legalities aside, I
> imagine both companies will be sore about it if I suddenly leave in the
> middle of this "contract". I'm afraid of potentially burning a bridge
> that I may need to fall back on.

You might want to consult a writmonger about your legal responsibilities,
but I agree it's important not to alienate previous employers. (Word gets
around.) If you can, ensure that you've left stuff clean, (documented,
&c., handed over if possible), so they're not mad at you. (You may not be
as significant as you think. :-)* )

> I have to transport two vehicles, and a small amount of large furniture.

I'd leave the stuff in storage for a while. For temporary use, camping or
patio stuff is tolerable, cheap, (especially now), and easily portable.
You won't need anything if you start with a furnished place.

> The truth is that I just have no idea what the cost of living down there
> will be.

Some things will be more expensive, (if only because of choice), but
others will actually be cheaper. (Lower transport costs.) There is a lot
to do that costs nothing, (Perlmongers) or very little, especially around
the University. The library system, for example, is a great asset. If you
opt for the "Bright lights, Big city" scenario of expensive rental company
and nose-candy, you can go through a lot of money, but that's a choice.
(An improbable one, based on what you've written.)

> It seems risky to gamble on it and figure it out when I get there.

> rent could easily be $2000/mo. for example.
That wouldn't be hard, but it would be a pretty nice place. The sky could
be the limit, depending on your definition of "nice".

> What do you guys consider the bare minimum to survive comfortably
> in the city?

It's possible (but not fun) to survive on about $1500/month.

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