Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Something’s not quite right

Don’t get me wrong, I love Melbourne. I love its little alleyways with the surprise of gorgeous busy cafes. I love the public transportation (most of the time). I love how the parks and natural. I love its quirks.

But something just doesn’t fit me and never has. Almost as if I’ve married the wrong woman. I love big cities and Melbourne is big enough but feels like it’s on the fringes of the world. It’s also too flat(!) and the natural vegetation aro und here tends towards the dry and dusty the further out you get. I’m more of a hills, forests, ocean kind of girl, really!

Not just that but I feel a little as though once you get out of the city centre, just like anywhere in Australia, there’s a problem of ghettoisation. Ethnic clumps (including WASP ones), areas where there’s only one kind of trendy arty person, rich areas, poor areas. It’s better than Sydney for example, but it gives me pause. I’m of Sri Lankan origin, bisexual, a doctor, I want to raise a family one day and have a house and garden, I want to live close to the city… not all of these things fit and if they do I feel like it is only because of my earning potential- in which case I end up with all the rich yuppies.

Not to mention the lack of support that the government has been known to give ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees, gay people… the conservatism of the general population is at odds with my own core values.

I’m scared to move because I don’t k now that anywhere will be any different. Perhaps it will be xenophobic, difficult to make friends. Perhaps the social welfare system (something which I value highly) will not be good. Then of course the language barrier if I move out of the English-speaking world. Then there’s also the problem of my medical registration and its international applicability (even though I’m a local graduate of a major Australian university).

However, I’m more scared to stay here and never experience the world.

Where on earth should I go (literally)?

sent by Snipergirl from Melbourne, Australia

8 Responses to “Something’s not quite right”

  1. Katherine E. Clark Says:


    I read, with interest, your letter. This is such an interesting idea for a website.
    I fell that you would just love living in Toronto. It is the most multi-cultural city in the world, very liberal, has a large gay population, amazing theatre, art, music and lake Ontario.
    Also, we desperatly need doctors in Ontario.
    Why not take a summer holiday here and see what you think.
    I think it would be an excellent match for you and I am a matchmaker.

    Katherine Clark-www..meant2be.ca

  2. Ian Bailey Says:

    I totally agree with Katherine that you should come to Toronto with respect to multiculturalism, art, decent welfare system, and tolerance of gays. Make sure you can live with a bit of cold, though!

    However, be sure to do your homework before you leave. You must be licensed in Ontario to practice as a doctor here, and that can involve a lot of work preventing you from practicing even after you get here.

    There are some great references on this website:

    There is also a dedicated site for International Medical Graduates:

    Above all, if you plan on practicing in Toronto, you should contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. They are the licensing body for Ontario, and have the last say on what the requirements are for practicing in Ontario.

    Good luck!

  3. Jenn Says:

    As the posts above suggest, try Canada, but I think you might prefer Vancouver to Toronto for the landscape and climate. Vancouver is coastal, has mountains, forests, ocean. It’s a much more beautiful city than Toronto (in my opinion).

    I’m from Sydney, originally, and I can relate to some of the things you’ve mentioned. I love Australia, but have also wanted to find a home closer to the rest of the world. Vancouver & Toronto provide this sense, and Canada has a social system closer to that of Australia. Mind you, even though Australia has become progressively more conservative, you’ll find disappointing influences of the US conservative right in Canada affecting it’s social programs, education access etc.

    Both cities are as multicultural and gay/lesbian/bi-friendly as Sydney and Melbourne. Ghetto-isation still exists though. The biggest difference is that there is much more representation in the media and advertising (try finding more than a couple of non-anglo faces on Australian TV at any time). This bodes well for the future of Canada in terms of acceptance.

    Vancouver has unrelenting rain in the Winter (and Autumn and Spring) and Toronto gets snowy, windy and icy. Vancouver has shocking levels of homelessness which is very upsetting. The theory goes that the homeless gravitate toward Vancouver because of the milder climate – making it easier to survive winter. Perhaps, but it is still something the city should be very ashamed of. The disparity between rich and poor is more pronounced.

    Toronto is a bigger city with a more vibrant creative scene. Vancouver is more outdoorsy with easy access to gorgeous islands, mountain trails. If only the two cities could be merged into one! And having said all of that…I myself would like to try living in Montreal!

  4. Nugget Says:

    Don’t waste your time going to Canada, come to New York. You’ll find the whole world here. NYC is an extremely friendly city and one that easy to settle into. There is so much to do (many of them for free or at very low cost), even if you don’t do all the amazing things that you can do or at least have the option of doing if you choose to do so.

    I’m also from Melbourne and worked in Sydney for years before coming to NYC 6 years ago. Love it, though feel like experiencing another city, but I suspect I’ll still maintain some close connection with NYC going forward. Going to Canada will akin to living in New Zealand – I don’t think u’ll want to do that! Yes being there done that too…In terms of being culturally accepted, NYC just beats most other cities in the world. If you’re good enough, some hard work u can pursue a very fulfilling career and live style in NYC. Furthermore with the E3 visa now available for Australians, it shouldn’t too difficult for you to come across – I know of other Aussie docs who’ve come over recently. Anyway, good luck – what ever decision you make – just do it and make it happen!

  5. Paulette Says:

    I am a 51 year Australian woman living on Martha’s Vineyard – recently married to a man I met while travelling in the US. I really don’t have a suggestion as to where you should live but I would like to encourage you to get moving. I packed up and sold everything (or gave it away) left my three adult children, my parents, the rest of my family and friends, my job, my community as I was not happy in a small country town. I had planned to move in with my boyfriend when I arrived in the States a year ago – this was a good incentive to get moving – but I discovered when I arrived that he was no longer interested and had a 20 year old girlfriend. I travelled the US and Mexico and Guatemala on my own for seven months while is some shock and then met my future husband in Washington DC. I just think that if I – a 51 year old country woman from Australia can make the big move and survive it, so can you. Get going girl, there is big world out here. (I have to say though, I’m not impressed with the lack of health care in the US).Best wishes, Paulette.

  6. Remy Says:

    Melbourne’s the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.

  7. policy shopper Says:

    You are as much in search of a ‘ghetto’ as you claim the majority of people in melbourne live. A ghetto where educated lesbian, ethnic minorities with children can live in harmony with not too many rich yuppies, WASP’s, trendy arty people or poor people. This mythical place you would like to live does not exist. In addition, if you feel the Australian government does not support you, perhaps you should ask yourself how it is you came to be an educated, ethnic and sexual minority living in an advanced western demcracy without persecution, other than from those evil rich yuppies you might have to live near.

  8. Uri Says:

    Hi Snipergirl,

    Just wondering whether you have decided to make a big move yet or not. I am a Sydneysider who has also lived in Perth, Melbourne, Auckland & London. I had similar feelings about Melbourne. While it is a very convenient place it feels boring, especially the landscape. All those cafes sound great hopping from one to the next doesn’t really make for an exciting life. I would suggest you try Auckland, a city with a surprising amount of culture, dotted with volcanoes, surrounded by 2 harbours, an ocean and the Tasman Sea. It can be cosmopolitan but drive 20 mins and you can have some great space all to yourself.

    Good luck.

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