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HomerSampson

Experiences living in London having moved from a big city.

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Hey all,

I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on their experiences living in London, particularly individuals that moved from a major city (e.g. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, etc.).

Did you find that there was a major adjustment period, or did you seamlessly transition to small town life?

Moreover, if anyone could perhaps reflect on the totality of their experiences in London (e.g. good, bad, etc.).

I am aware that a place/school is what you make of it yourself, but I am interested in hearing others perspectives on the matter.

Thanks in advance for any input, and have a great day. 

 

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I moved from Toronto. It is awesome. London has enough amenities (it's not as small as Kingston for instance) so you can find some good places to eat, go to a concert, watch a hockey game, etc. London is really a student town. There's one street with plenty of bars that all have their specials/cheap drinks for practically every day of the week, if you're in the mood to go out. Yes, I agree there isn't as much variety as Toronto, but there's enough while you're here, and don't forget that it's a 5-10 minute uber downtown and back home - pretty much wherever you are in London. I love the fact that I don't have to commute. My walk to class is ten minutes (some people's commute is a bit longer, but typically not over half an hour). All of my friends are within a 10 minute bus ride.

At the end of the day, if you're here for school, you're only spending 3 years here (and you're not here in the summer, for winter break, plus you might do an exchange in 3L). It's really not that much time to get very bored of London. And then you'll be back in the big city (if that's where you want to practice).

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Has the urbanization of Canada progressed to the point that a city with 400,000 people, the third biggest city in Ontario, is now a 'small town'?

I mean, there are fully 5 provinces that don't have any city that big. It has amenities that so much of Canada can only dream of.

Anyway, this is not a criticism of the original poster: if YYZ is what you're used to, then the question is completely legitimate and you are right to ask it! Glad you got a useful response, in addition to my somewhat self-indulgent rant... it's just hard for me to grasp the fact that anyone would consider London 'small'.

I guess it's really just a completely relative concept!

Signed,

The 96-98% of the Canadian Land Mass that is not urbanized. ;)

Edited by GrumpyMountie
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On 12/17/2019 at 12:23 PM, HomerSampson said:

Hey all,

I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on their experiences living in London, particularly individuals that moved from a major city (e.g. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, etc.).

Did you find that there was a major adjustment period, or did you seamlessly transition to small town life?

Moreover, if anyone could perhaps reflect on the totality of their experiences in London (e.g. good, bad, etc.).

I am aware that a place/school is what you make of it yourself, but I am interested in hearing others perspectives on the matter.

Thanks in advance for any input, and have a great day. 

 

Have you consider go and visit London and see for yourself if you have not been there before.

Edited by Luckycharm

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I would go visit Londnn. I haven't spent too much time there, but it seems to be a nice place.With that being said, there appears to be a huge issue with opioids there, which was a bit off-putting. However, it could have just been the area I was in.

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1 hour ago, JK56711 said:

I would go visit Londnn. I haven't spent too much time there, but it seems to be a nice place.With that being said, there appears to be a huge issue with opioids there, which was a bit off-putting. However, it could have just been the area I was in.

Downtown london definitely has a mental health/drug issue which they finally seem to be dealing with... slowly.

As a student though you'd rarely go past the "student bars" and hence never make it to real downtown.  Masonville area covers most needs for students with grocery stores, the mall, theaters etc.  Downtown london caters to people interested in boutique stores and fine dining, generally an older crowd.  Seeing an event at the bud is an exception though.

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On 12/17/2019 at 12:23 PM, HomerSampson said:

Hey all,

I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on their experiences living in London, particularly individuals that moved from a major city (e.g. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, etc.).

Did you find that there was a major adjustment period, or did you seamlessly transition to small town life?

Moreover, if anyone could perhaps reflect on the totality of their experiences in London (e.g. good, bad, etc.).

I am aware that a place/school is what you make of it yourself, but I am interested in hearing others perspectives on the matter.

Thanks in advance for any input, and have a great day. 

 

It's fine, there's plenty of good restaurants, activities, concerts, etc. And Western Law puts a big emphasis on everyone getting trashed together. If you're not into that, you'll quickly find your niche group that do other things.

No transition period needed, it's exactly the same as living in any other city except the entire downtown is walkable in a short time.

Lol "small town", don't worry, plenty of your classmates will have come from real "small towns", go visit with one of them on a weekend or break 🤣

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On 12/17/2019 at 1:15 PM, georgecostanzajr said:

I moved from Toronto. It is awesome. London has enough amenities (it's not as small as Kingston for instance) so you can find some good places to eat, go to a concert, watch a hockey game, etc. London is really a student town. There's one street with plenty of bars that all have their specials/cheap drinks for practically every day of the week, if you're in the mood to go out. Yes, I agree there isn't as much variety as Toronto, but there's enough while you're here, and don't forget that it's a 5-10 minute uber downtown and back home - pretty much wherever you are in London. I love the fact that I don't have to commute. My walk to class is ten minutes (some people's commute is a bit longer, but typically not over half an hour). All of my friends are within a 10 minute bus ride.

At the end of the day, if you're here for school, you're only spending 3 years here (and you're not here in the summer, for winter break, plus you might do an exchange in 3L). It's really not that much time to get very bored of London. And then you'll be back in the big city (if that's where you want to practice).

Thanks for the insight, it has put my mind at ease a bit. Also, Happy Festivus!

On 12/21/2019 at 2:38 PM, GrumpyMountie said:

Has the urbanization of Canada progressed to the point that a city with 400,000 people, the third biggest city in Ontario, is now a 'small town'?

I mean, there are fully 5 provinces that don't have any city that big. It has amenities that so much of Canada can only dream of.

Anyway, this is not a criticism of the original poster: if YYZ is what you're used to, then the question is completely legitimate and you are right to ask it! Glad you got a useful response, in addition to my somewhat self-indulgent rant... it's just hard for me to grasp the fact that anyone would consider London 'small'.

I guess it's really just a completely relative concept!

Signed,

The 96-98% of the Canadian Land Mass that is not urbanized. ;)

Coming from downtown Toronto, yes, London is small. 

Additionally, London is not the the third largest city in Toronto (either via Metro or City proper).

But thanks for the input.

On 12/21/2019 at 3:13 PM, Luckycharm said:

Have you consider go and visit London and see for yourself if you have not been there before.

Yes I would like to, but the logistics of it is just not right at the moment (getting time off work is difficult/I don't own a car). Also, I don't think one visit would really tell the whole story anyhow. It seems most individuals that posted have had positive experiences though, which is a good sign. 

15 hours ago, Draken said:

It's fine, there's plenty of good restaurants, activities, concerts, etc. And Western Law puts a big emphasis on everyone getting trashed together. If you're not into that, you'll quickly find your niche group that do other things.

No transition period needed, it's exactly the same as living in any other city except the entire downtown is walkable in a short time.

Lol "small town", don't worry, plenty of your classmates will have come from real "small towns", go visit with one of them on a weekend or break 🤣

How is the gym at Western U?

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I LOVED my time in London. I had a great job, a good flat with a normal roommate, and met up with some pretty great people. London is a humble city. It's a small-town at heart that has grown larger. I did miss some things coming from living downtown Montréal (namely art/museums).

London has a pretty good food scene (quality game not numbers. Only a few good restos), amazing farmers markets, good cafes, Forest City Sports is great for intramurals, nature around, Stratford a short drive away, easy to day trip to Toronto, etc. . I found people living in London very friendly and open to chatting with new people. I only moved back to town for family reasons and was looking to stay in London for a few more years.

There remains significant social issues in London (drugs, mental health, racism) that students can ignore from the Western bubble.

I guess the question is - what is it from the "big city" do you like? Is it access to good cafes? London has it. Good restos? You're fine. Markets? Check. "Luxury shopping" can be done online. Diversity was the bigger issue.

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35 minutes ago, HomerSampson said:

Coming from downtown Toronto, yes, London is small. 

Additionally, London is not the the third largest city in Toronto (either via Metro or City proper).

London is the largest city in Ontario that is not part of the GTHA ot Ottawa, so to me that makes it the third largest urban population area. Obviously, statistics of metro areas are contentious issues - just ask any municipality that is looking for provincial funding for something. So if you want to count Mississauga and Hamilton as separate... then fine, we're both right and London is simultaneously #3 and #6 in Ontario.

In any case, I acknowledged in my initial post that your question was perfectly legitimate in terms of a comparison to Toronto. I just can't believe that anyone in North America would call a city of 400,000 (metro 500,000) a "small town".

In any case, good luck with your search/comparison. I hear great things about Western!

-GM

 

 

Edited by GrumpyMountie

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I have been to London more than 30 times. Never really liked it. Ate at Dragon Court on Oxford street (closed now?) 

Edited by Luckycharm

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I have often heard London referred to as a mid-size city with a small town mind-set. Compared to Toronto it can feel very slow paced. For example, an astounding number of downtown businesses still close on Sundays. Overtime you will discover that despite its definite 'city'-size it seems as though everyone knows everyone and there are a lot of intersecting family connections. Its worth noting you generally don't have the anonymity you would have anywhere in the GTA. Based upon five years of living and working I'd say a lot of Londoners are very proud of where they come from and therefore want nothing to do with Toronto's hustle and diversity.

All of this can be good or bad depending upon your perspective, but it may be a bit jarring coming from some parts of Toronto. My major criticisms would be the practical implications of the small-town mentality: London has failed to build an adequate transit system to service a growing city/University - https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/londons-north-end-city-councillors-push-for-better-transit-after-being-cut-from-brt - and, arguably, it's not the best place to be a racialized person - https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/xd7z5a/london-ontario-was-a-racist-asshole-to-me-152

Most of what I just said doesn't apply to the University bubble. The campus is a fair distance from the downtown and is (almost) entirely cut off from the life of the city except a strip of bars on the North side. Many people who study at Western have no idea whats going on in the city and only see "a lot of homeless" when they drive through. The downtown has a lot of quality restaurants, bars etc. and is on the upswing. I suggest checking out the new flex street on Dundas which was just completed.

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1 hour ago, GrumpyMountie said:

London is the largest city in Ontario that is not part of the GTHA ot Ottawa, so to me that makes it the third largest urban population area. Obviously, statistics of metro areas are contentious issues - just ask any municipality that is looking for provincial funding for something. So if you want to count Mississauga and Hamilton as separate... then fine, we're both right and London is simultaneously #3 and #6 in Ontario.

In any case, I acknowledged in my initial post that your question was perfectly legitimate in terms of a comparison to Toronto. I just can't believe that anyone in North America would call a city of 400,000 (metro 500,000) a "small town".

In any case, good luck with your search/comparison. I hear great things about Western!

-GM

 

 

I live in London and I can tell you it is the world's largest small town. ;) 

As others have pointed out there are many amenities here. There are some great restaurants, bars and entertainment/sports options. There are also other amenities that most students don't think about, London has world class medical facilities. 

However, it is very provincial. From the mentality of city hall to the citizens lack of vision. While other cities in Ontario are putting in LRTs and trying to attract younger professionals, London can't get it's act together to get decent bus service. And people bitch and moan about any change or disruption. Most of this won't matter to someone spending 3 school years in town. But you definitely do not get a "city" vibe in London. 

On the plus side, the real estate prices are super affordable. 

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7 minutes ago, Owen said:

I have often heard London referred to as a mid-size city with a small town mind-set. Compared to Toronto it can feel very slow paced. For example, an astounding number of downtown businesses still close on Sundays. Overtime you will discover that despite its definite 'city'-size it seems as though everyone knows everyone and there are a lot of intersecting family connections. Its worth noting you generally don't have the anonymity you would have anywhere in the GTA. Based upon five years of living and working I'd say a lot of Londoners are very proud of where they come from and therefore want nothing to do with Toronto's hustle and diversity.

All of this can be good or bad depending upon your perspective, but it may be a bit jarring coming from some parts of Toronto. My major criticisms would be the practical implications of the small-town mentality: London has failed to build an adequate transit system to service a growing city/University - https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/londons-north-end-city-councillors-push-for-better-transit-after-being-cut-from-brt - and, arguably, it's not the best place to be a racialized person - https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/xd7z5a/london-ontario-was-a-racist-asshole-to-me-152

Most of what I just said doesn't apply to the University bubble. The campus is a fair distance from the downtown and is (almost) entirely cut off from the life of the city except a strip of bars on the North side. Many people who study at Western have no idea whats going on in the city and only see "a lot of homeless" when they drive through. The downtown has a lot of quality restaurants, bars etc. and is on the upswing. I suggest checking out the new flex street on Dundas which was just completed.

You beat me to the punch. 

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2 minutes ago, OWH said:

I live in London and I can tell you it is the world's largest small town. ;) 

You know what? I think it's time for me to bow to the consensus of current and former Londoners here - if y'all agree that there is a very provincial/closed/(even) small-town vibe in London, then I withdraw my initial point as wrong-headed.

I was mainly talking demographically. I grew up between the GTA and Montreal, but have been living in the much 'emptier' part of Canada for ten years. I currently live in a town of about 3000, which is considered a relatively large centre in this part of the country - people come from about 60 km around to shop here. And I just got back from a 'big-city' weekend in a city with 80,000 people, which is considered the regional centre for this part of the province. Out here, you're a 'city' starting at around 8k-10k population.

But if, being in the shadow of the 5-6M GTHA, YXU legitimately end up feeling small and closed, then so be it! More power to you all for figuring out what's the best fit for you. As for me, my top 4 choices of Law School next year are all in cities much smaller than London! :)

-GM

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27 minutes ago, GrumpyMountie said:

You know what? I think it's time for me to bow to the consensus of current and former Londoners here - if y'all agree that there is a very provincial/closed/(even) small-town vibe in London, then I withdraw my initial point as wrong-headed.

I was mainly talking demographically. I grew up between the GTA and Montreal, but have been living in the much 'emptier' part of Canada for ten years. I currently live in a town of about 3000, which is considered a relatively large centre in this part of the country - people come from about 60 km around to shop here. And I just got back from a 'big-city' weekend in a city with 80,000 people, which is considered the regional centre for this part of the province. Out here, you're a 'city' starting at around 8k-10k population.

But if, being in the shadow of the 5-6M GTHA, YXU legitimately end up feeling small and closed, then so be it! More power to you all for figuring out what's the best fit for you. As for me, my top 4 choices of Law School next year are all in cities much smaller than London! :)

-GM

What are your top choices if you don't mind me asking?

46 minutes ago, Owen said:

I have often heard London referred to as a mid-size city with a small town mind-set. Compared to Toronto it can feel very slow paced. For example, an astounding number of downtown businesses still close on Sundays. Overtime you will discover that despite its definite 'city'-size it seems as though everyone knows everyone and there are a lot of intersecting family connections. Its worth noting you generally don't have the anonymity you would have anywhere in the GTA. Based upon five years of living and working I'd say a lot of Londoners are very proud of where they come from and therefore want nothing to do with Toronto's hustle and diversity.

All of this can be good or bad depending upon your perspective, but it may be a bit jarring coming from some parts of Toronto. My major criticisms would be the practical implications of the small-town mentality: London has failed to build an adequate transit system to service a growing city/University - https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/londons-north-end-city-councillors-push-for-better-transit-after-being-cut-from-brt - and, arguably, it's not the best place to be a racialized person - https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/xd7z5a/london-ontario-was-a-racist-asshole-to-me-152

Most of what I just said doesn't apply to the University bubble. The campus is a fair distance from the downtown and is (almost) entirely cut off from the life of the city except a strip of bars on the North side. Many people who study at Western have no idea whats going on in the city and only see "a lot of homeless" when they drive through. The downtown has a lot of quality restaurants, bars etc. and is on the upswing. I suggest checking out the new flex street on Dundas which was just completed.

Yes I have heard about the racism. I had a friend go work in London as a police officer and he left after 6 months due to the racism of the city/police force (he is asian). Certainly, I think diversity is a major strength of Toronto and something I truly love about the City. 

42 minutes ago, OWH said:

I live in London and I can tell you it is the world's largest small town. ;) 

As others have pointed out there are many amenities here. There are some great restaurants, bars and entertainment/sports options. There are also other amenities that most students don't think about, London has world class medical facilities. 

However, it is very provincial. From the mentality of city hall to the citizens lack of vision. While other cities in Ontario are putting in LRTs and trying to attract younger professionals, London can't get it's act together to get decent bus service. And people bitch and moan about any change or disruption. Most of this won't matter to someone spending 3 school years in town. But you definitely do not get a "city" vibe in London. 

On the plus side, the real estate prices are super affordable. 

How long would it take to get downtown from the University district via public transit? I personally hate the unreliability of the TTC but it can still get you anyway reasonably fast. 

 

I'm getting the vibe that most people that attended Western rarely, if ever, left the University district of London. 

 

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Plenty of law students live downtown. It’s a 15 minute bus ride or so from downtown to campus. London is pretty crappy but it’s fine for three years. The market is quite nice and rent is cheap.

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27 minutes ago, HomerSampson said:

What are your top choices if you don't mind me asking?

Yes I have heard about the racism. I had a friend go work in London as a police officer and he left after 6 months due to the racism of the city/police force (he is asian). Certainly, I think diversity is a major strength of Toronto and something I truly love about the City. 

How long would it take to get downtown from the University district via public transit? I personally hate the unreliability of the TTC but it can still get you anyway reasonably fast. 

 

I'm getting the vibe that most people that attended Western rarely, if ever, left the University district of London. 

 

I'm not sure what you call the "University district of London", I've never heard anyone else use that term. I live in London but it has been a while since I attended Western as a student. I know there are a lot more housing options on campus than there were when I attended, but in fairness we had to dodge dinosaurs to get to class. I suppose you could stay on campus your entire time at Western, but I don't know that you would want to. 

From the law school (or Alumni Hall where the bus stops) it would take you about 20 to 25 minutes to get right downtown (Richmond and Dundas).  

 

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London is fine. People who think it's a small town have never ventured outside the GTA.

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On 12/23/2019 at 9:56 AM, HomerSampson said:

What are your top choices if you don't mind me asking?

No problem!

  1. UVic (Victoria's population is under 100k, but the metro area is a little over 300k).
  2. USask (~225k in Saskatoon)
  3. Lakehead (90-125k, depending on how you count)
  4. Queen's (~125k, though of course you're reasonably close to lots of other cities).

I realize this is a sort of random list, not geographically clustered, and with wide variety of *ahem* "prestige". More a matter of just personal preference for communities that are a good fit at this point for both work and life. We are all looking for different things, except for the 70% or so who are looking for Bay Street! ;)

-GM

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