My name is Sandra Cardenas and I’m from Mexico. I’ve been living in Canada for almost 15 years, my first 10 years in Vancouver and my last 5 years in Prince George. When I meet people, the first question they ask is: Why on earth would you move to Prince George from Mexico??? Well, let’s start from the beginning…
I moved to Vancouver in 2002 after graduating from university in Mexico because I wanted to improve my English skills. That was a simple goal I wanted to achieve and the whole purpose of my trip. My program was a two month business English course plus a two month internship at a Canadian company. After completing my program, I got a job offer and of course, the opportunity to stay in Vancouver for a bit longer. Vancouver is a beautiful city and I was happy there! It has so much to offer: great places to visit, wonderful restaurants, shopping and entertainment. But of course, it all comes with a price! Living in Vancouver is expensive and getting started in my career with an average income and trying to get ahead was pretty much impossible. And when we talk about real estate costs…WOW that is another story! For my family (common-law spouse and daughter), buying the place we wanted would cost us millions, which we didn’t have, so we rented for a long time (over $150K in rent over a period of 10 years – which would have been equity if we had bought a place). And the commute times… another story! I spent two hours commuting every day! A regular day consisted on leaving to work early in the morning, then leaving work around 5:00 pm to pick up my daughter at daycare just to get home to have dinner and sleep. Not much time for exercise, hobbies, family time, etc.
In 2012, we got an opportunity to move to Prince George with a job transfer. When we told our friends about our plans, we were asked many times: “Why Prince George? You are going to be so bored there!” Well, I can now say that this move was the BEST decision we’ve made. First of all,
we bought a beautiful house after 10 months of living here! We wasted 10 years of rent in Vancouver and here we were able to buy a place in 10 MONTHS!!! We both got great jobs and we have plenty of time to pursue other passions, which for me include teaching Zumba. This was a dream of mine since I was in Vancouver, but how could I find the time back then? I got certified in 2013 and teach four classes a week, on top of working full time hours, I also have time to spend with my family, walk our dog, take our daughter to her multiple extra-curricular activities and enjoy wonderful weekends in the outdoors! My regular days are no longer a routine and we do many fun things. To me, this is quality of life.
I love Prince George and I’ve lived in many different places before, including big cities (Mexico City!) and smaller cities in Mexico (under a million in population), so I know we have a great thing going on here!