Now that we have been in Nanaimo for a while, a certain question has emerged as a very popular conversation starter.
“How are you liking Nanaimo so far?”
Great question! My short answer is “It’s an easy place to like, and it feels like home already.”
Lucky for you, I will now also share my long answer.
First off, to get it out of the way, we love the weather. I am so thankful we did not have to endure this past winter in the prairies. The winter that just would not quit. I remember our first winter in Edmonton was like that too. Not a great welcome to the province. Here in Nanaimo we get a perfect mix of sunshine and rain. Spring comes early and takes its time. Summers and winters are generally mild. It’s just great all around.
The size of this city is perfect. Large enough to have a Costco, but small enough that I bump into somebody I know or at least recognize at that Costco most of the time. I really don’t know that many people here (I know families from church and school, of which there is a significant overlap, and attend a book club, also with a decent overlap with church people), but apparently it’s enough. I was with the kids at McDonalds once when Tim was out of town. Victor needed to go to the bathroom, and I recognized a family in the play area from school, so instead of having to take everybody with us, I asked the mom if she wouldn’t mind watching Erika in the highchair. The other day, our family was walking through a parking lot at the mall the other day and somebody drives by and yells my name out of the window. I waved then turned to Tim and said “I love living here.” It made me feel so at home.
Before Nanaimo became our home, we thought we were going to live in the Fraser Valley on the mainland. Every time we go back there to visit my family, I’m reminded of one huge reason I’m glad we don’t live there (don’t worry, this isn’t headed in the direction it just sounded like it’s heading): traffic congestion. Vancouver all the way to Chilliwack is just booming. The more people who live there, the more traffic there is on the roads and highways. It’s not quick to get anywhere. Even residential areas are packed with vehicles parked on the roads. All the new residential complexes are usually duplexes or single homes, each with their own income suite, lined up neatly in tight little rows. That’s a lot of people with too many vehicles in a small area. That’s not the kind of neighbourhood we’d like to call home.
We get to call Vancouver Island our home. I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t want that? Everybody loves the island. I loved living here when I lived in Victoria. I loved coming back to visit Tim’s family. It’s beautiful. It’s a destination. It adheres strongly to the idea of “island living”, being casual and laid-back. I don’t think you’ll ever catch me turning my watch to Island Time (punctuality is pretty much my love language), but I fully appreciate a culture that doesn’t expect too much of me. This leads directly into my last point…
There are fewer expectations here. When we lived in Edmonton, I can’t count how many times people said I had to visit certain establishments to purchase certain food items or kids stuff. I have to say I never did go to that bakery or that deli. The more you tell me I should do something, the more I don’t want to do it. Sorry influencers, you don’t work on me. When I was in highschool a huge movie theater opened up in my neighbourhood and for years I refused to go see a movie there just because it was the cool thing to do. That, my friends, is a real indie hipster person. Ha!
I feel there is a certain aesthetic to life these days. You or your space have to look a certain way or you can’t be part of the club. For instance, My brother’s church in Langley meets in a school gym, so they have to pack up everything they need for a Sunday morning in a trailer. They dedicate space in that trailer for a rug and backdrop for their coffee station. I happen to know a lot of people at this church and know that it would be just as awesome of a place of worship without these frills, but people expect these frills these days. I’m not a frilly person. Nanaimo is not a frilly place. One of my friends labelled it as unpretentious. I know myself to know that I don’t bend to the ways of pop culture, but that doesn’t mean that I can just ignore it. I don’t like being told what to do, where to go, what to spend my money on. I don’t follow influencers on social media (okay, maybe a couple, but it’s because I like them as a person). I have yet to see a spec of any of this here in Nanaimo, and I love it.
So there you have it. What I love about Nanaimo. And don’t forget, we have a guest room if you want to experience this all for yourselves temporarily. :)