Our decision to land ourselves on the island was one decided for us in a way by circumstance. During our recent 60 Days, 13 Countries, Balkan Tour of Europe (Posts to come), we were looking for things to do or places to go after our trip ended. We knew we couldn’t travel all winter, despite that sounding like a great option, so we were on the look out for interesting jobs or places to live. Every time we discussed an option we would always say, “And if that doesn’t work out, we can just move to Victoria.”
This was half a joke, but as more and more options fell through for various reasons, we began to realize we were moving to Victoria! Some times not having plans work out isn’t a bad thing at all J
We landed in Toronto at the end of October, spent a week and a half in Ontario visiting friends and my family, then another week in Saskatchewan and finally, arrived in Victoria, ready to begin our residence.
Great, story ends there and here we are happy as can be!
But nope… things never go that smoothly. Life is an adventure and ours most definitely is.
The first thing you need to know is I drive a Dodge Caravan. A ‘mom-mobile’ some say… I call mine Sheila. Sheila is a beast, she has driven pretty much coast to coast in Canada, across a lot of the United States, on logging roads in Northern Ontario, up mountainous paces in BC, and has survived a prairie winter. My van is my temporary home each year during work and adventures and the source of my freedom.
Now, that Sheila’s been introduced, picture a regular minivan, back seats removed, loaded up with the items one needs to lightly stock a house with essentials, clothing, work equipment, a keyboard, a single mattresses and bedding, AND 2 people attempting to live and travel in it across Canada. It was a full load. I’ve lived in the van before, and very comfortably, however, this time, not knowing what we would meet and need in BC, it was a tight squeeze. You’ve got to be pretty comfortable with someone to share such small living quarters, let me tell you.
The arrival in Victoria was exciting! Like we had made it to some sort of Mecca or land of opportunity. We had visisted the island for a week during August and camped around Tofino, but we had never even been to Victoria. We didn’t know where to go, anyone to stay with, or how to find a house.
THIS IS WHAT I THRIVE OFF OF
We had also apparently come to the city during its lowest vacancy rate in a long time. Anytime we found a rental apartment, even if we said we wanted it site unseen, it’d be snatched up before we could sign the papers. We weren’t looking for anything nice either. We just needed a roof, having already resolved to sleep on the floor and use the bare minimum of items possible. Where our needs were a little more specific unfortunately was that we needed a 6 month lease or month to month; with it being a sellers market, this was asking to much it seemed.
We ended up living in the van for a full week, sleeping in the parking lot of the Langford Wal Mart. We jokingly say now that we first lived in Langford when we moved here before moving closer to the city. Truthfully it wasn’t a bad place to live. We could get snacks and use the bathroom at the Wal Mart and being in Langford meant it was a lot more quiet then the Wal Mart in Victoria.
Neighbourhood was something as well we were NOT specific about in our desperate housing search. We didn’t know the pros and cons of any area of the city and were hoping that would make us easy customers. We wanted to be able to walk to things like the gym and grocery store but were willing to bus into the city center… or even walk an hour to it; we love walking. We looked in Langford too for places; everything is much cheaper there and the 61 bus goes direct to Victoria’s center.
How we finally ended up finding a place was a Kijiji ad with no photos. Our strategy? To troll Kijiji and UsedVictoria and be the first to contact landlords. It worked! With standards lowered significantly it turned out that a kijiji ad with no photos would be the nicest place we’d look at the during the whole search. We took one look at the place, handed over our references, and received word we’d gotten the main level suite 10 minutes after we left. We were renters!
An uncomfortable wait, but well worth it.