A new chapter

I didn’t bother doing a year-end wrap up blog post for 2018. I haven’t been journalling much at all, and it was a pretty quiet year for the most part. Plus, those kinds of posts have always felt forced, as if I should have something profound to say as the calendar flips, but often really don’t. Particularly in 2018, I didn’t read, write or train as much as I’d have liked, and I didn’t race at all.

However, as 2018 closed, we actually ended up with some pretty big news, but didn’t want to say anything until everything was confirmed. This was also amidst some family challenges for Connie, which I won’t go into in this post. With regard to the news, though, it was pretty difficult to keep quiet, as I knew about it just after Boxing Day. And, it’ll mean 2019 is bringing us the most positive change we’ve had in our lives in about twenty years. The fact we’re doing this won’t come as a big surprise to some who know us, as we’ve been talking about it for a while.

A new gig

I’ve accepted a job with the provincial government and we’ll be moving to Victoria in short order. Just getting to a confirmed offer was no small feat. This was government, after all. There was the application, pre-interview written piece, the actual remote panel interview, the reference checks, the phone call with the verbal offer, the online written offer, the mandatory five day waiting period, the criminal record background check and then the confirmation of employment. Toss in the Christmas holidays and the whole process was over a month long.

In truth, I’d been looking for opportunities in Victoria throughout 2018 and focused my search on the provincial government a fair bit for a number of reasons. Being in my fifties I’m not remotely interested in most startup or agency culture, and the government has a fairly strong focus on experience and service design, and has good opportunities in the type of work I do. Specifically I’ll be working out of their Innovation Lab on Douglas Street and leading UX efforts on application design for BC Registry Services.

Finally, though, I have actually only taken a leave from my old job. I can do a one year leave, renewable by me for up to two more years, and have it guaranteed upon return. It’s a sweet benefit and my thinking is, it’s not bad to have something in my back pocket just in case the Victoria move doesn’t work out the way we hope it will.

Why Victoria?

To back up a little, the Victoria bug bit us a few years ago and we’ve been smitten ever since. Frequent visits have only deepened the romance. Everything from the size, to the scenery, to the vibe, to solid running and cycling … it’s seemingly perfect for us.

While still expensive, a housing market that’s typically 15-20% cheaper in a city we actually like better than Vancouver also played a big part in our decision to move. Ultimately, we found the downsize we made to Kitsilano ended up having a little too much down in it for us, so we also knew we’d be selling and moving again. As such, it may well have been the ‘burbs or take a real stab at this Victoria thing.

Admittedly, I may also have pushed things a bit harder in the past few months, as I’d become increasingly disenchanted with work and really felt something had to change in 2019. My focused search didn’t create the job offer, of course, but I was determined that I was either going to change jobs or perhaps we’d take a long leave and do some extensive travel. We couldn’t bare to re-home Brody, so the travel idea didn’t last too long. I’m still hoping that’s an option before we’re much older, but we simply don’t abandon animals to which we commit.

An aggressive timeline

It’s always a bit of a dance setting your start date for a new job. My preference is to have a week between gigs to reset, read, exercise and just let the old job wash off me before I tackle something new. I’ll have no such luck in this case.

Our initial agreement was for January 21st, but I’ve pushed that back a couple days and will be starting on January 23rd. If I lived where my new job was, it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, even though we’re only moving across the Strait of Georgia, this development has necessitated some pretty rapid decision-making and some huge to-do lists. I’ve got a whopping five days of time between my last and first days of work.

So far …

  • right after the verbal offer, in early January I booked an Airbnb for the 19th through the 31st, so I’d have somewhere to live to start my job
  • we began an intense housing search for rentals (no small thing, with a ferry ride to view places and having a dog), poring over listings every day
  • we went to Victoria last weekend and saw seven or eight units, with a couple decent options catching our eye
  • we made a serious move on one pet-friendly unit last Monday
  • we went back to Victoria last Tuesday so the building manager could meet the dog, and signed a lease for that unit for January 15th
  • I cancelled my Airbnb booking
  • we met with our realtor/friend today to discuss staging and listing our Kits condo in early February, and will meet the stager next Tuesday

Phew! However, we are considering ourselves truly lucky to have found a place to rent for the first year so quickly, given our animal status. Renting with a dog typically removes 60-70% of available units from consideration. It’s an older building, but the unit’s been decently updated and they’re fine with the pooch, so we’re pretty happy.

Oh, and while it wasn’t remotely a focus of our search, we ended up in James Bay, six blocks from my office with a five minute stroll to the Inner Harbour and Dallas Road. We also have a tenth story view of the water, with Beacon Hill Park directly outside our building’s front door. I’m not sure I could design a more perfect location if I tried.

What’s next?

I won’t even go into the minutiae of all the stuff we have to do now, but it involves ferry day trips, address changes, some little condo touchups, and a few weeks of constant upheaval. I’m just writing off my running and cycling for January and will squeeze in what I can. I’ll be living there as of January 22nd with the following two weekends in Vancouver, and Connie will join me as of February 3rd. It’ll be a little while after that before we have all of our furniture with us, since some of it has to remain in Vancouver to stage the condo.

Are we called Victorians now?