Why are young people converging to the mountains and the sea ?

6 minute read

A lot has been said about millenials. Spoiled, lazy, problems with authority. It has also been deemed as the «burnout generation» by BuzzFeed a year and a half ago. Being a millenial myself, I can say all of the above pretty much makes sense with me, except the spoiled part, but hey!

Another trend millenials are a part of is the urban exodus. Well, not only millenials, but young adults in general. Trust me, it’s stressing me out seeing so many of my friends moving out of Montreal to go live a peaceful life far away. So I turned to a few of them to understand WHY they’d sacrifice their social life for mountain or ocean views.

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Verdure, marées, @corinne_bergeron

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Medicine at the seaside

Last April, Nicolas Bouchard and his girlfriend Corinne Bergeron packed their boxes, bought a dog and took the road to the Baie des Chaleurs, in the Gaspé Peninsula. These two 24-year-old young adults had to choose where they were going to do their medical residency… and they chose the small waterfront municipality of Maria.

“We could go anywhere… but in the remote areas, it was the most interesting,” says Nicolas. “Everything seaside, seafood and all the gastronomic side that comes with that vibe, I think it called us.”

For the next two years, at least, the young couple will wake up by the sea. A landscape slightly different from what they are used to.

“In the beginning, it was impressive every day… what didn’t go through my mind was that I could leave work and go for lunch on the beach, explains Nicolas. I was thinking about my life in Montreal when I took my lunch break in the back of the hospital in a room with no windows. For me, eating on the beach was the biggest ”oh my god” moment.”

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L’apéro, à l’eau. Santé!

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Living in the Gaspé is not very expensive either. Aside from renting their little house, Nicolas and Corinne spend considerably less than they did in Montreal.

“In the restaurants, we spend absolutely nothing and it really doesn’t bother me, says Nicolas. I’m so happy to make myself something to eat at home and eat it on my deck on the water’s edge. As for activities, most of the hikes around here are free!”

Even though they both left friends and family behind in the Montreal area, both expatriates are not to be pitied in terms of social life.

“Where we work, there are a dozen young people who have come to live here in the same environment as us,” explains Nicolas. “That’s how we made a social circle.”

“People here are more open to spontaneous encounters,” adds Corinne. “We walk with our dog and it’s not long that we can chat and make friends. It’s easy to meet people here.”

The two Montrealers still don’t know if Maria will be their home forever. At 24, they still have plenty of time to decide if they will anchor permanently somewhere. But they definitely seem happy to have swapped the city for the seaside.

“We’re ready to be convinced,” is what we tell patients who ask us if we’re going to stay after our two years of residency. The fact remains that for the moment, we have only had the summer season. At least winter remains to be tested before deciding whether we want to stay for the long term.”

Trading Vancouver for Squamish

Michel-André Aubin is a Quebec expatriate in British Columbia since 2017. Upon his arrival in the West, he moved directly to Vancouver, where the company he worked for was based. But he quickly realized that life in the city was not up to his expectations.

After living in the metropolis of British Columbia for over a year, Michel-André and his girlfriend decided to move 60 kilometers away to the beautiful city of Squamish between Vancouver and Whistler.

“As we speak on the phone, my bike is waiting for me in the shed. If I hang up right now, I’m 15 minutes away from the top of the most beautiful mountain bike trail,” said the Quebecer on the phone.

Obviously, the financial aspect is a considerable factor in the young couple’s decision. They are currently living in a 3-bedroom town house for the same price as the one-bedroom apartment they occupied in the Kitsilano neighbourhood in Vancouver. But it was clearly nature and sports that led them to move to the mountains.

“It was a leap of faith because I had contracts in the city and Sophie also works in downtown Vancouver, but we didn’t do it for the job, it was for the lifestyle.  Where we live, people come from Europe, Asia, everywhere just to ride. We are in what we call a bike in, bike out. Next to one of the most beautiful trail networks in the world. The big competition teams live here.”

With lakes in abundance and a beautiful river nearby, Squamish is a delight for outdoor enthusiasts. Then this town is located less than 40 minutes from Whistler and its perfect mountains for skiing and snowboarding.

Except that Michel-André is a very sociable man who was used to 5 to 7 when he lived in Montreal. This change in lifestyle could have an impact on his social life…

“In fact, it’s the other way around,” he says. “I had less social life in the city. So many young people from Vancouver come to Squamish for the lifestyle that it’s easier to build stronger ties here.”

“You arrive here, you meet a Quebecer who introduces you to his gang, next thing you know, you’ve made 15 in your dinners. There are a lot of Quebecers in Squamish, when you walk to the grocery store you always hear French spoken. When you arrive alone in a big city, it’s a little harder to make connections.”

For Michel-André and his girlfriend Sophie, happiness is clearly in Squamish and it would be surprising to see them go back to living in town anytime soon. After all : once you go rural, you never go back.

At Tribu, we are also starting to fall in love with the different regions of Canada. At the time of writing this, we have just returned from the Mauricie region and are in the middle of our trip in Western Canada. We’re preparing a lot of nice surprises that you can unpack before anyone else by subscribing to our newsletter!