“I didn’t want to live with regrets…”: Eleanor’s story about moving to the Big Apple

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One of the things I loved about being a recruiter was hearing people’s stories. For me, it is always incredibly fascinating to learn about the different lives people lead and what drives them.

My friend Eleanor* moved to New York City a while back and her story is truly an inspirational one for anyone who has a hunger inside that they have been suppressing because it isn’t practical or it’s off the beaten path.

I am pleased to share my conversation with Eleanor about her experience. The takeaway? Don’t put things off. Do it today!

CocoWhat made you want to move to New York?

Eleanor: I visited New York in 1988 with my family and I remember being immediately fascinated. Already at a young age, I loved the arts. My family and I went for a walk in Greenwich Village and I remember noticing that this was where the artists hung out. Every time I visited since then, I felt at home. While I love being Canadian, I always felt I identified with New York and I felt like I blended in easier there: it’s such a liberal-minded place and it’s so multicultural, so diverse. It’s such a global city that is still close to home.

What I love about New York now is that you can sense the motivation here; that everyone is driven to accomplish what they set out to do. There is a sense of getting the results of having high expectations, and it forces you to question yourself and reinvent yourself when the situation calls for it.

CWhen did you start the process to move to NYC?

E: I started having thoughts about the move at the end of 2013, but I only made the decision in the summer of 2014. That spring, I had my employee evaluation with my director and we had previously discussed my desire to leave Montreal and move to NY. I’m lucky because he took that into account and wanted to help me pursue that dream. So he allowed me to work remotely for a stint to see how I’d actually feel about being in NY longer than just a holiday weekend. And it kind of all fell into place because I knew someone in NY who happened to be subletting their place for a month, so that actually helped me to do it then – that summer.

CHow did you find out about the process to obtain a visa?

E: I heard from a friend that my career fell within the boundaries of NAFTA, and when I did the research, I discovered that this was in fact the case. This definitely helped me to make my decision.

CHow did you select your immigration lawyer?

E: It was through the referral of a friend of a friend who was living in NY at the time. It’s immigration stuff. You want someone who knows what they’re doing. It was reassuring to know that they successfully helped out someone I knew.

CHow did you find your job?

E: (Laughs) I actually saw the job posting on LinkedIn! I applied directly and they called me for a phone interview. Then about a week later for an in-person interview.

CWhat would you recommend for someone who has recently moved to get settled and make friends?

E: Take classes! Get out of your comfort zone. You will invariably make friends through work, but that may not be enough – you don’t want to necessarily share your personal life with all your colleagues. I would definitely say get out there and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

CDo you ever miss Montréal?

E: Of course I do! I miss my friends, and cheap rent, obviously (laughs). But you stay in touch with your old friends and I always see them when I come back.

CWhat would you say is the most positive thing about your experience?

E: You learn things about yourself and it tests your level of adaptability. I do think that for anyone, you realize that you are more adaptable than you think you are. Knowing that I did this – that I can survive and learn a new culture – learning about how real estate brokers work, how things work with the IRS – it’s given me a new level of confidence.

CWhat would you say is the most difficult thing about your experience?

E: Immigration and sorting out visa paperwork, and quickly getting up to speed on real estate brokers, international tax accounting, and of course, adapting to the new job. It’s a definite test of mental strength and adaptability like we discussed in the previous question. Sometimes it’s hard to always stay positive but I see it as the universe’s way of seeing how much you want something.

CWhat advice would you have for anyone thinking about making a big move?

E: Don’t put it off! So many people say “Oh, I’ll do it one day…” but why put it off for another day? Do it today. Part of it may have been an age thing – maybe it would have been easier if I had made this type of move when I was in my 20s. But I have had regrets in the past, and I didn’t want to look back when I am older and have regrets about this – I mean, what if I am hugely successful? A lot of people tend to focus on catastrophes and reasons why it won’t work. I had friends throughout the process who said that Montréal is already great and the grass isn’t always greener… (pauses) Maybe the grass won’t be greener but how will I know if I don’t go and find out for myself? That would be what I would say to someone considering a big move – just do it!

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual