My Road to Montréal – Part 4 of 4

[This is part 4 of a 4 part series. In case you missed the first installment, read this first]

In early July 2000, we decided that after five years of engagement that we would finally get married. Although we had been throwing the idea around, we just said “OK, lets do it”. And we decided that it would be in Montreal. Nathalie thought it would be cool to have our ceremony in Notre Dame Cathedral (the chapel actually) in Old Montreal and called to see if it would be possible. We both like the month of October and it turns out they only had one time slot available in the whole month. So we took it. But then there was the rest of the wedding to plan. We tried having family help us with various aspects, but by early August it was apparent that we would have to make a trip. So in a week we managed to pick a reception hall (the cafe at Pointe a Caillere), a florist, a photographer, and a DJ. Luckily it was a small wedding (56 people) so it wasn’t complicated. I mention all of this because it is quite similar to the speed with which our move came about. This trip also marked the first time visiting Montréal during the summer since 1997. And we had a car to get around. The city came alive in comparison to our visits during the winter while using public transportation. Plus we spent much more time actually in the city seeing areas I had never seen before. Usually we only ventured once into the city during our annual visits and it was always to the downtown underground.

Then in January 2002, we decided to try to have a kid. A couple weeks later, the opportunity to have our honeymoon came up, but by the time we booked our trip, Nathalie was pregnant. We had a great time even though she was experiencing some of the fatigue of the first trimester and she couldn’t drink. And in October of 2002 we had our first child.

Now Nathalie had always been suggesting that maybe we could move to Montreal one day, but now that we had a child, that possibility was gaining some merits in my mind. I loved living in Chicago. In the lively neighborhoods with so much available to do and see. But in truth I enjoyed living there as adults without kids. Kids add a whole different dimension to the equation. Since we would both be working, daycare would be incredibly expensive. And finding a place with a private outdoor space in a decent neighborhood would mean being too far from public transportation (meaning driving everyday) or living far outside the city far away from family. And the city is all too often strangled by traffic making weekend getaways difficult at times.

Montreal offered the prospect of living closer to downtown along with cheap daycare. Our kid(s) could learn both of our mother tongues. Although it’s a smaller city, it still offers big city benefits. The countryside is easy to get to and there are mountains to the north and east only an hour away. The US border is less than an hour away to the south.

So in February 2003, we decided we would make the move. I sent out resumes to about a dozen places in Montreal, but only got three interviews for a trip we made over St Patrick’s Day Weekend. A couple weeks later, I accepted a job offer and told them we would be up there in nine weeks to start at the beginning of June. So in those nine weeks we managed to: sell our place and get more than we were asking; pack all of our stuff; entertain a visitor from France; spend a weekend at the Indy 500; and move both ourselves and our stuff to Montreal. Luckily Nathalie was on maternity leave and handled a huge amount of this. I have to say that it wasn’t until the following Christmas that my head stopped spinning.

It was a difficult decision. But given that each of us are from different cities with close families and friends in each, we would end up not seeing one or the other as often. On the up side, each return visit has become a special occasion to see everyone. Our trips are jam packed with people to see and things to do.

Will we move back someday? Who knows? When we moved here, we said it was permanently. That is not to say that something may strongly force or entice us to go back. Never say never. Or something may take us somewhere else even. As evidenced by this series, you never know where your life will take you.

But after four years, we’re quite settled and caught up with kids, our home, and our careers. We’ve seen a lot of this new place, but there is still much much more to discover. And different opportunities for exploration will present themselves as the kids get older. So the road ahead looks to continue here in Montreal.


~ by Frank on July 26, 2007.

9 Responses to “My Road to Montréal – Part 4 of 4”

  1. […] in Montreal Observations, Memoirs, and Opinion « My Road to Montréal – Part 2 of 4 My Road to Montréal – Part 4 of 4 » My Road to Montréal – Part 3 of 4 July 25th, 2007 [This is part 3 of a 4 part […]

  2. Hi Frank
    I want to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about your story — this is one of the main reasons I browse blogs. I especially enjoyed the way you told it — this simple tone, almost understated, with a touch of humor.
    And I think you have inspired me to post mine this time!

  3. Thank you, Bruno. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I got my inspiration for writing it after reading tornwordo’s account of how he came to Montreal from Los Angeles via Hong Kong. I’m interested what brought you here from what many people consider paradise.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story, it was really nice to read. Someday I hope to write a story like that… in a couple years maybe. Sorry I couldn’t make it to the party! See you on Wednesday instead!

  5. I feel there’s a nice mini-meme going on here. I’m totally swamped with work however, so writing the story of my road to Montréal has to wait a little.

  6. mare and vanou, I’d really be interested in hearing your stories also. Even though I kinda know parts of it already from your writings.

  7. Great story, Frank, I enjoyed reading it.

  8. Ha! My boyfriend and I had a long distance relationship. And, I was from Montreal and he was attending UIUC. Since then, he moved to California and I moved here to. We weren’t both Architects-rather, engineers! It’s been 1 year now that we’ve been in the same city living together. And, to top it all off.. I’m hoping we can both move back to Montreal in 5 years! How scary is that!

  9. Kathy S: That’s an amazing coincidence. BTW, I actually switched over from architecture to structural engineering and work as one now.

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