Learning to ease into the island living wasn’t exactly smooth, but it was worth the growing pains.

If I could write a letter to my 2015 self, these are the words of advice I would share with that girl looking for change and lessons in island chilling.

Here are the 17 things I wish I knew before moving to Victoria:

1. You will never just “hop over” to Vancouver, unless you have a couple hundred bucks to throw away.

2. A lot of people are in relationships here. A lot.

3. If you dress up, friends and strangers will comment. “You look so great – I’m just in a sweater and birkenstocks! I should know to dress up when I’m going out with you.” You may also be labelled as “fancy”.

4. The 72 bus to the ferry is a waste of time. You’ll get there, but you’ll be motion sick and frustrated. May we suggest saving yourself the headache and plan to take the 70X.

5. It’s a big town, not a small city and everyone thanks the bus driver when they exit the bus. Isn’t that nice?

6. All drivers here will challenge you. Parking lots are not as safe as you think they are and the one-way streets make for a not-so-fun lesson in how to be a more observant driver.

7. The crosswalks are not suggestions and the “pedestrians have the right-away” is not just a saying. Again, lessons in being observant and not hurting anyone.

8. People are willing to stand in line for brunch. Try arguing with a group of friends that Jam Cafe’s Charlie Bowl (crumbed biscuit, hash browns, diced ham green onions, cheddar and sausage topped with two sunny side eggs) may not be worth the wasted 45 minutes. You won’t win. Just be the hero and grab coffee for the group on your way to the pre-brunch, outdoor gathering.

9. You’ll have to camp. Don’t fight it. At some point, you’ll borrow that small tent, sleeping bag and hand-pump air mattress. You’ll hike out to some remote location “up island”, drink more Blue Buck than necessary, make great memories and post too many Instagram photos (if and when you get reception) to prove you’ve shed your east coast/city skin and you’re being super adventurous on the best coast.

10. Your composting and recycling skills will go up another level.

11. Stores, shops, cafes and everything else not chainstore owned have bizarre hours. There are cafes closed on Sunday and Monday. Seriously.

12. You’ll get to have a party on the beach with a fire and you’ve always wanted to do that.

13. You’ll never get comfortable with the cooler summer evenings. Bring the damn coat.

14. You’ll never regret buying a quality raincoat and waterproof boots. Do not try and tough it out with the rain-resistant coat. Also, on a related note, at some point you’ll be that person dressed for a torrential downpour and it will inevitably clear up by early afternoon with a warm, bright sun shining down and you will still be dressed for that mass flood.

15. You’ll never be tough enough to swim in the freezing Pacific. This isn’t Hawaii. You can keep trying and give yourself points for persistence.

16. Ask yourself, can you survive without a car or bike? The answer is likely no.

17. You can’t surf. Please don’t try.


Also, remember, you’ll find the best and less-than-best parts of yourself in the side steps on this gypsy-life, island journey. A friend once told me, “The mountains and ocean will make up for anything you leave behind.” I knew that was true.