Mike Muir and Lisa Hemingway were sold on Nanaimo when they were able to trade their Vancouver studio apartment in for a 100-year-old, four-bedroom house in the Old City Quarter.
The couple, both 33-years old, married last August and moved to Nanaimo in May.
Muir is a high school teacher at Vancouver Island University's high school and Hemingway has her own graphic design company called Backyard Creative.
What drew you to Nanaimo? Lisa: We've lived in Vancouver for a while and we really wanted to own a house but we didn't want to be crazy workaholics, so we were looking at affordable places in B.C. Also my twin sister lives here.
Mike: We also like the outdoor activities that the Island offers. It's a place where we hadn't really explored too much previously.
What challenges have you faced in settling here? Mike: I think finding a social network of like-minded people. We had to start from basically knowing only two people in the city, so we've had to get out and be involved in the community because Lisa works for herself and I just got a new job. I'm starting to meet people that way.
Lisa: I often get mistaken for my twin sister, so that's been a bit of a challenge I didn't predict. I think my only challenge really is working from home because I've never done that before. I used to work in a studio with lots of other colleagues.
How have you integrated here and what do you bring to Nanaimo? Mike: We're going to be volunteering in the fall for the Special Olympics. We were involved in that in Vancouver so we got involved again. The curling rink is right next door so we're going to join a league. We volunteered at the community gardens. Lisa's involved in the YPN, Young Professionals of Nanaimo. Lisa: And what do we bring to Nanaimo? Creative energy! Mike: I think creative energy, I think youth, and I think a new perspective on things. We like to sell Nanaimo now to our friends in Vancouver who still work paycheck to paycheck to pay their mortgages.
What has been the most pleasant surprise? Mike: Finding our house has been quite a nice surprise. The neighbours have been very welcoming.
Lisa: Our neighbours have been fantastic actually. They're lending us tools and bringing us food from their gardens. They started the laneway library in their backyard. There's such a nice community in this neighbourhood, that was a really nice surprise. Bowen Park was a really nice surprise too.
Any advice for newcomers? Mike: I think get out and get involved in the community because there are a lot of things to do when you really start looking. Make a point of using the parks or joining a group or volunteering. Explore Nanaimo and find places. For us it was the Old City Quarter.
Lisa: And talk to your neighbours! " If you know anyone new to Nanaimo with an interesting story to share, please call reporter Cara McKenna at 250-729-4230 or email CMcKenna@nanaimodailynews.com
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