My husband and I moved back to Nova Scotia after living our entire Life Without Kids overseas. Although I grew up in Halifax, after having lived “away” for so long, I still grapple with the idea that maybe we’re not permanent. Maybe we will go away again. Maybe this isn’t exactly where we belong.
The constant feeling of being unsettled goes deep. My parents and I are immigrants of the 1970’s, and most of our relatives are still all over the other side of the pond. Hubby’s family is unsettled too. In the 1960’s they emigrated from the UK to Australia as “10 pound Poms“, only to return to Blighty 2 years later, jaded and homesick for damp houses and rosy winter cheeks. What was it that made them want to leave England for a “better life”? What drew them back?
Now that we’re back in Halifax, we often visit my sister and her husband in St. Margaret’s Bay. Unlike me, my sister and her husband never left, except to go to Calgary for 6 years, where she spent the whole time complaining that everything in Halifax was better, and he made oodles of money. When they got back, guess what? Everything had been so much better in Calgary (said she)…and my brother-in-law? Well, he traded his cowboy boots for a pair of waders; his Audi for an outboard motor. Finally, they both settled back, as if the whole experience had only been a long, dirty, fairly lucrative weekend.
My brother-in-law is from Cape Breton, and like most Cape Bretoners, he has a house and a family there too, as well as on the mainland. I like spending time with my sister and her husband because, despite their brief affair with Alberta, their Nova Scotia-ness makes me feel connected. With them, I feel vicariously local. Like I belong here.
Last weekend, they took my daughter and her cousin out on the boat, to one of the Islands in St. Margaret’s Bay. The girls spent just under an hour exploring the sandy beach, climbing the rocks, before zooming back home for an evening barbecue. When I saw the day’s photos (see photo above) I knew we made the right decision to bring our children up in Nova Scotia.
And so, as summer arrives, I think of all the reasons we are happy we moved back. Here are the top 5:
1. The Ocean
In Nova Scotia, you’re never more than half an hour away from the sea, so they say. But there’s more than just water. I love our ocean for its sand, its boulders, its fat, brown seaweed. There are many amazing shores in the world, but I want my kids to know these beaches.
2. The People
Like many small places, it does take a little longer to get everything done. And yeah, sometimes I would like to be anonymous. Here, you see someone you know every 3 minutes. But it’s great when your husband stops by Lawton’s to pick up some milk on his way home from work, and the cashier tells him the wife already bought 2 litres of 1% and a litre of the Lactose-free this afternoon, and yes, she bought bread, so he can put that back too.
3. Our Backyard
It’s big, it’s green and it’s usually full of kids. We have about 10 trees, a shed, a play house, a cool hill, and a swing set. Try buying that in Calgary for the same price! The neighbours do not give a hoot how often we mow the grass, and they always talk to us over the chain-link fence, which is so old and damaged, it’s hardly a fence at all. Good fences do not make good neighbours here. Good people do.
4. The Traffic
There is none. The worst you get is a 60 second wait at a set of lights, or possibly some congestion on the bridge, but it’s nothing compared to anywhere else in the world.
5. My Parents
A lot of women move back home when they have kids, dragging their poor husbands along with them, and I am no exception. I don’t know what I would do without my parents. In my twenties, I didn’t care so much about being a travel-orphan, but now that I’m 40 and they’re 70, I am so glad they’re close.
And the number one reason I wonder if we should leave again? It’s pretty simple:
I’m not going to “labour” this point (haha), but since we moved back to Nova Scotia six years ago, neither my husband nor I have been able to get a permanent job. We’re not lazy, we’re not unqualified, we’re not unrealistic and we’re not in the film industry. We’re just in Nova Scotia…and you know what? Life is actually really hard here sometimes. Although we love the ocean, we worry about money every day, and like many other “term” employees, we face uncertainty, and unemployment, every single year.
So, my advice to young families: Come back! Life is great here, and you’ll get a grand house and an enormous backyard for pennies compared to other world cities. But before you return, make sure you tuck away some of that big city cash, because although Nova Scotia has plenty of space and beautiful beaches, there’s no money here.
Did you go away and come back? Are you thinking of coming home? Did you make buckets of cash out West? Please share your experiences. I would love to hear about them.
x East Coast Mum