Warning: Keep in mind that this comparison is based on my very personal experience and not on statistically reliable data; plus, there are exceptions in everything. If this post sounds like an outrageous overgeneralization... well, it's probably because it is one. :-) Also keep in mind that when I speak of Quebec, I speak of the regions surrounding the main cities. It might be different in remote, northern parts of Quebec.
In any case, I love both places, and more importantly, I love people in both places.
Six and a half years ago, we moved from our natal Quebec to Nova Scotia. More precisely, we moved from 1.6 million populated Montreal to the - wooden - suburbs of Halifax. We had never been there, apart from a job interview and a few days of house hunting. We didn't know what it would be like. Similar? Different? Better? Worse? We had no idea.
Was it a crazy move? Probably. But what move isn't?
Today I'm putting together the "Best Of" each city/province. You can go ahead and share with us what you think of both areas, and/or of other ones you know.
MontrealAt one point I had an apartment with a similar view
HalifaxOur - backyard - view now
Best of Nova Scotia
- Mild summers; no need for air conditioning, and pleasant sleep even in the middle of July.
- Mild winters, with way less extremely cold days; today, for example, the windchill gives -33 Celsius in Quebec but a "comfortable" -20 Celsius here in Halifax! (yuck).
- The ocean.
- Less ragweed (hay fever anyone?).
- Less pretentious individuals. I find that Maritimers are less "intimidating", not constantly trying to spread the extent of their culture, not constantly trying to knock you down with their knowledge or accomplishments.
- A (perceived) peaceful cohabitation of French and English; tons of Anglos send their kids to French immersion, and are all excited to practice speaking it. They also think it's a sexy language. Francophones from Quebec usually don't feel that way about English, for understandable historical and oppression-related reasons. (Now the Acadian question would deserve a post to itself, but from what I observe, it gives in to English more, as opposed to the fiery Quebecois attitude toward English... in Quebec, the French population has taken the bull by the horns and truly fights to save its language and culture. It might be easier to function without English in Quebec than it is in Nova Scotia; the official language here is English, and there are way more "interlinguistic" marriages - Please remember this is an overgeneralization though!)
- More community support and generosity: everyone knows everyone and is willing to lend a hand at a moment's notice; less individualistic approach to life.
- Following from the previous point, handymen, craftywomen and successful hunters on every corner, who are willing to make others benefit from their ability (If you don't like the gender stereotype inherent to this point, keep reading).
- Many small home-based businesses supported by the community, and that support each other; nice networking opportunities.
- From what I understand, better medical service. It IS possible to see a doctor within reasonable time in Nova Scotia, as opposed to Quebec.
- Nice hair (many women here have irreproachable hair; it's only in Nova Scotia that I finally adopted a "real" haircut)
- Differential, environmentally-friendly garbage cans in public places (recyclables, organics, trash, etc.)
- Lobster (and all other fresh and affordable seafood).
- Possibility to use - and improve - our English (2nd language) on a daily basis.
- Everyone calling you "sweetheart", "honey" and "malove".
- Less pressure to accomplish things, more leisurely lifestyle.
- The sound of silence, peace and quiet.
Beautiful voice of Nova Scotia
Best of Québec
- Hot summers (with a short and t-shirt season worthy of the name).
- Cold winters (without the outdoor rinks constantly melting).
- Better ski (a couple great mountains, plus the ones in Vermont).
- Lively political, intellectual, cultural, and generally speaking ideological scene, mostly explained by the sheer size of the population, but maybe also by the Latin blood and the mix of ethnic/religious/linguistic origins maybe? Quebec is both more populated and more heterogeneous than the Maritimes.
- More options in terms of food and drink, for the same population reasons. I was discussing the variety of cheeses offered in Halifax with someone who insisted there are a lot. Well, yes, if you forget the fact that half of them are different types of Gouda!
- Speaking of cheese... cheese curds. The ones that "squeesh" between the teeth. Unbeatable. Unequaled. Yum.
- Affordable booze.
- More people to appreciate and discuss cheese and wine with.
- Affordable groceries, with way more variety and choice and "ethnic" products offered.
- Less traditional gender roles, less gender segregation (read: men and women share the load more equally, gender identity is more flexible).
- More open-minded and progressive mentality (applies to everything).
- Subsidized daycare ($7 a day for all, yes, yes, I'm not kidding you!).
- More studying opportunities, followed by more career opportunities.
- Nicer clothes, great sense of style, more stores, more designers.
- Ikea. (What?).
- Family is there.
Visit Montreal with a famous Quebecois song
Questions for the road:
- What are the pros and cons of the place you live in?
- How do they compare to the pros and cons of another place you've lived in?
- Do you think friendship within the same gender is stronger in cultures where there is more gender segregation/where friendship between genders is less common?
- Do you think the new, less traditional gender roles come at the expense of traditional abilities? (e.g. men who readily change diapers but who cannot change a light bulb, or women who can chop wood but who burn water in the kitchen?) (To take with a grain of salt hey!)