Janet Tobin
Janet Tobin, Director of Marketing & Communications

A good friend of mine came to Halifax this summer for their first trip to the East Coast, they were dumbfounded by two things: how much there was to do in the city and that my apartment was three times the size of theirs, at about a ¼ of the cost. They almost called in their resignation and moved here. However reality quickly set in; an investment banker, their industry is predominately in Toronto, and despite the high cost of living there, they’d surely starve trying to do the same work here.

Which got me thinking, what matters more to someone, the ability to find work or quality of life? Does one go to a community that has a great quality of life and look for a good job, or does someone get a good job somewhere and adapt to the quality of life the place has to offer? For me it is the former, but am I the exception, or the rule?

As a young professional working and living in Halifax I sometimes get the impression that people don’t expect me to stay here, thinking like many others before me I’ll flee to the greener pastures of a larger city.  I find I get asked a lot: “Have you ever thought of moving to a Toronto?” and “Why do you stay in Halifax?”

I don’t know if people assume that all young people will move away, or if they are just hinting that they want me to move, but regardless, recently I have been giving these questions a lot of thought.

The first question is pretty easy to answer – of course I’ve thought of moving to a larger city. Throughout university I was sure I’d wind up in Ottawa or Toronto, enjoying the hustle and bustle. But as I watched others who made the move to start their careers, many seemed less than satisfied with what these cities had to offer for recreation and culture, few were making enough money to live in their teeny-tiny bachelor apartments, and what little money they were able to save went towards lengthy trips back home to the East Coast. Bottom line was, while those larger cities may have the hustle and bustle, and tons of entry level jobs –  they lacked a unique culture and comfort – that coupled with a high cost of living makes for a hefty price tag.

So the price tag of bigger cities might have been enough to have me start my career here, but why have I stayed? What is it about Halifax that keeps me here?

For me there is not just one answer, not just one thing that keeps me here. An important piece is the ability to find long-term employment, to feel secure in my job and my home, and to enjoy a competitive cost of living – all things I’ve found in Halifax.

Topping my list might be the hospitality, the smell of the salt water in the air, the small town feel with big city amenities, the rich and vibrant culture, and being able to drive from the ocean to the city centre in under an hour – I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. For me, and people of my generation, we value some of the qualitative elements of life as much, if not more, than the quantitative elements, and when you balance Halifax’s superior quality of life against the lure of big city life – the decision to live here is an easy one.

 ** as appears in Business Voice, November 2010