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April 14, 2013 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about living in Winnipeg, Canada. All the good, the bad and the ugly. Low salary and in scientific research and a foreign worker....what did you like and hate about it? For someone who loves being out in the sun, walking/hiking outside a couple of times a week, is this going to be hard to navigate, if its an option at all that is? Or am I going to freeze inside with boredom in my apartment for most of the year and get seasonal depression and what not? I have never lived anywhere where it snows but I love winter. However, I am not sure if I am considering the Tundra here... It is especially important for me right now, at the point where I am in life, to be able to go out and about and walk, as silly as that may sound. Thanks in advance!
posted by xm to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You don't have to go on suicide watch in your apartment over the winter. Yes, you'll get sick of the snow and the cold and the short daylight hours. That said, you get sunny days, which count for a lot, and there's no reason you can't be active outdoors, walking at least, in quite cold temperatures if you just prepare for it. Get long underwear, take up cross-country skiing.
posted by fatbird at 7:38 PM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: I'm Canadian and wouldn't want to live in Winnipeg primarily because of the weather. They don't call it windypeg for no reason... -18C is ok, but add the incessant windchill onto that? You're looking at it feeling like -25C or worse on a lot of days for several weeks at a time. I wouldn't recommend that someone who "loves winter", but has never lived in a snowy place and wants to get out for a daily walk move there. It's bearable if you dress well, and you can certainly walk if you want, but most people wouldn't do that just for leisure in the middle of January/February, imo.

Sorry, just an opinion.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:01 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]






Portage Place
My Winnipeg
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 8:11 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just to give you a horrible yet timely example, it's supposed to snow tonight/tomorrow here in Winnipeg, though this winter's been odd and lingering (The previous winter was unseasonably mild and nice, which probably makes this one seem that much worse.)

Here are a couple of resources regarding trails and active living in Winnipeg. If you're a skier or a skater (Or interested in becoming one) there are opportunities to get out and about in winter as well, weather permitting.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:24 PM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: I grew up in Winnipeg. As far as the outdoors, as a child I went out for hours at a time all through winter. It can be done if you are hardy and motivated. You just need to be dressed warmly, and cross country skiing is a good winter activity. (Though you won't find many other Winnipeggers venturing out in winter except out of necessity). If that is the only thing that you have trepidation about with regard to moving to a new city, then you should be fine.

Feel free to memail me.
posted by nanook at 8:33 PM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: Pendantic point, maybe you were just using "tundra" as an exaggeration, but tundra has a technical meaning in terms of permafrost forming under the ground, hindering the growth of trees. You won't get that sort of thing until much further north in Manitoba, Churchill for example. It's the same province, but the distance from Winnipeg to Churchill is like from Alabama to Wisconsin.

When you say "I have never lived anywhere where it snows but I love winter" what do you mean? Do you mean you love winter in places where it doesn't snow? Or do you mean you've enjoyed visiting places where it snows but never had to live there? That makes a big difference in what I will know your point of reference is.

You'll be able to go outside and walk, you just have to dress for it. I was riding my bicycle today, though it was close to 0 Celsius, which isn't very bad. I've ridden in -10 or even -20, but at that temperature it'll be painful if you aren't dressed for it.

A lot of people joke about the mosquitos in Winnipeg, but it's usually not a big deal in the city.
posted by RobotHero at 9:45 PM on April 14, 2013

I lived in Winnipeg for 3 years without a car and the winters were not that bad. My wife moved from a country where it pretty much never goes below 0 celsius and she did OK too. Yes it is cold, but you still do stuff, you just dress a bit warmer doing it.

One great thing is you get lots of sun year round. In the summer due to the long days and in the winter due to the fact that it is too cold for clouds.

It is also a very affordable city.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:48 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: Do you mean you love winter in places where it doesn't snow?


Or do you mean you've enjoyed visiting places where it snows but never had to live there?

I visited Iowa during the winter for a couple of days (a week at most?). It was nice. The cold did not bother me as much as the slush on the roads because of the snow. Since I was visiting I think I also didn't have the proper footwear (was in sneakers) and that was annoying at the end of the trip. Also not used to walking around in snow and all.

The problem is that I cannot tell whether its a situation I have not been in and therefore am apprehensive about or whether just looking at those pictures of the city in winter has made an exaggerated impression on my mind.

Also, how hard is it to get around without a car? And how painful is it to get groceries and other necessities without a car every weekend? Or does one shop for months on end?
posted by xm at 9:58 PM on April 14, 2013

I don't have a car, so I do more frequent small trips to a Safeway about 10 blocks away.

I get around by bicycle a lot of the time, or by bus when the weather does not favour the bike. I live close to a frequent bus route, which would make a big difference in terms of how convenient that is.

If there was slush in Iowa, that would have been close to 0 C.
posted by RobotHero at 10:25 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

The summers here are really nice (and hot!), but the winters are brutal. A thing that I say a bit is that the best part about coming from Winnipeg is that you can go nearly anywhere in the world outside of the arctic circle and it will not be as cold as Wpg in the winter.

This particular winter has been LOOOOOOOOONG. It is snowing like crazy out there today. The snow would normally be gone at this point. It's not really cold out though. Keep in mind that anything above -5(celcius) is feeling pretty balmy to me at this point.

I think it would be a pretty healthy shock to the system to go from never experiencing a "real winter" to living here. People do it, though.

The cost of living here is lower than other canadian cities, and there is a robust artistic community (theatre, ballet, symphony, etc). There is a decent transit system, so not having a car shouldn't be a problem. There isn't really a "frozen in" period. It's not like that base in The Thing. People just bundle up and go about their business.

Also, you get to roll your eyes whenever people elsewhere complain about their winters. So that's something.
posted by joelhunt at 5:28 AM on April 15, 2013

Best answer: One thing that you may not have considered (and since you specify low salary) is that you'll need to spend a good chunk of money on weather-appropriate clothes - a decent quality (mid-range) winter parka and boots alone will set you back about 500$. You can spend less but you'll be miserable when your boots leak and the wind leaks through your coat. Then there's hat/scarf/gloves, long underwear, sweaters, warm socks, etc.

Mood-wise, it's tolerable if you don't mind feeling cold most of the time for most of the year (no matter how warm you dress). You can walk around outside safely if you bundle up, but you'll still feel the cold on your face and when the wind gusts. Tolerable but not pleasant.
posted by randomnity at 7:22 AM on April 15, 2013

Best answer: I grew up in International Falls, MN, (Icebox of the Nation!) which is very similar season-wise to Winnipeg. I was outside all the time. Yes, you need proper attire for winter fun. Long underwear, snowpants, good boots, hat, scarf, mittens, good water-proof, wind-breaking parka. And then have fun! I love winter, even now. Nothing improves my mood better than putting on a pair of snowpants and sitting in a snow bank. Just the absurdity makes me giggle. One sneaky thing is that you'd also want to take a daily vitamin D supplement, just because you can have days/weeks without sun in the winter time.

Properly attired, there probably won't be more than 5 days total all year where the weather is just so cold and crappy out that you can't go outside.

Spring, summer and fall are beautiful up there, too.
posted by jillithd at 8:26 AM on April 15, 2013

you can have days/weeks without sun in the winter time.

To be clear, there's not literally no sun. But if you are working 9 to 5 it's going to be dark when you start and dark when you finish.
posted by RobotHero at 8:53 AM on April 15, 2013

Well, and not just that it's dark. It can be overcast and gray for days/weeks at a time.
posted by jillithd at 8:54 AM on April 15, 2013

Best answer: I moved to a cold city in Canada from a city where it never snowed (and had copious, fairly consistent sunshine). I won't lie: I got SAD something fierce, and almost couldn't make it through that first winter. I cried. A lot. All the time. And was really completely miserable.

I think it's kind of cute that all these Minnesotans are telling you it'll be a piece of cake. Of course they think so! It's cold up there! And I think they forget that in other cities, even cities with snowy winters, it doesn't get as cold, nor do winters ever run the risk of extending into the end of May. Winters up there can be as long as they are freezing.

On the plus side - I did make it through that first winter, and lived there several more years! (Though I don't think I could live there permanently; yes, because of the climate.)

On the car front: I lived downtown, though in a larger city. Grocery delivery was fairly common, and at the time, really inexpensive. There were enough pedestrians not wanting to carry groceries through the snow that that was a thing. Maybe that is an option in Winnipeg? I'd also point out that living in an urban area made for good public transportation in the winter; winter in the frozen suburbs, sans car, sounds truly horrific.

I will say, as someone who was also living on low pay (probably lower than yours): don't scrimp on winter gear. Buy a good coat. Buy good boots. You want to be warm. Those things are something to invest in.

And, uh, maybe keep an eye out for signs of SAD, and don't hesitate to go to a doctor if you think you have it. There are things you can do to treat it. You wouldn't just have to "buck up" and try to tough it out, if you thought you had it.

Canada is a really great country, actually.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 10:50 AM on April 15, 2013

Best answer: I was in Winterpeg for 4 years and loved it; I was back in April and am really missing it - you can tell by how long this is!

It is cold and windy in the winter, but so sunny and the sky is beautiful; way more sun than in Vancouver where I was before. Walk by the river (Wellington/Wolseley), skate at the forks, take up curling and embrace the cold! People who avoid going outside are missing out on a half-year of fun. Advice about appropriate clothing is bang-on: find a good parka and boots, a balaclava and mitts. I was car-free; biked March to October and bussed in the winter, though a lot of people bike year-round. You can absolutely walk outside everyday - I did, often for over an hour - just dress for it.

Spring is a bit dirty, but watching the ice break up on the river is something else. Its also great to have sun at 5pm, and wake up with sun in the early morning.

Fall is beautiful - leaves changing colours, crisp in the morning, and often the summer weather hangs on for a longer fall than in much of Canada.

Summer is usually hot, but not too hot. Air conditioning is nice, but not 100% needed. I probably ran ours for 4 weeks each year. Again get outside - roads around the park are closed on Sunday, so bike, run or walk. The city sprays a lot for mosquitoes, so they are not too bad.

Take advantage of some of Winnipeg's best spots - Assiniboine Park, Tall Grass Prairie (I still haven't found cinnamon buns as good!), The Forks, MTC, ect - you don't need to hole up in your apartment at all.

Enjoy your move!
posted by narcissus_and_ambrosia at 6:52 PM on April 15, 2013

To those people saying you will need expensive winter gear I will beg to differ. I made it through my 3 winters in Winnipeg with a Uniqlo down jacket I got while living in Japan (did not cost more than $100) and a pair of $40 Walmart boots. I could have upgraded both of these things, but doing so would not have made me any warmer.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:09 PM on May 1, 2013

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