Moving to Iqaluit Made Easy: Ted's 8 Easy Steps


Hopefully you’ve seen Anubha and Sara’s posts about how they ended up in Iqaluit. And maybe their well-reasoned, thought-out life choices have you thinking: “Shit, I can’t even remember the last time I wrote out a grocery list!” Well, never fear; there’s an alternate path to Anubha’s eight easy stepsfor her. Here is how I ended moving to Iqaluit, in 8 easy steps, guaranteed:

Step One: Take that unnecessary midnight trip past your ex-girlfriend’s house on your way home

There are some life-decisions we’re just not capable of making rationally. Sometimes we need the universe to give us an emotional boost. Here’s how it’s done:

When you’re out with friends during that “recently heartbroken” stage, and you start feeling a little blue, do yourself a favor and go with your gut. You know exactly what’s going to make you feel better: a little drive-by your old girl’s place on your way home to stare up at her apartment. What are you hoping to see? Who knows!

But I can tell you this: there’s nothing like seeing your former love on the sidewalk leaning in to kiss her new boy to help expedite a big move.

Step Two: Rely on a good friend’s advice

My friend Mark lived in Iqaluit already, and when I called him up saying: “Sam dumped me, I’m working retail... and I want to be a journalist”, he had just the plan. He hooked me up with a place to housesit and a few tips about what I should do to prepare (see Anubha’s post for those).

Step Three: Procrastinate, drink too much, and don’t do any research

I decided 11 days before I flew to Iqaluit that I was going to move here. On day one, I biked to work and gave my notice. Then I spent the next 10 days a nervous wreck, drinking good-bye beers with friends, and trying to seduce a girl at work. As embarrassing as this is, on the morning I set out for Iqaluit I wasn’t even sure how long the flight was because I didn’t know if I was going to be landing in the same time zone (read this post to learn some facts about Iqaluit that I wish I'd known).

Step Four: When you’re leaving, tell everyone you’ve already got a job so they won’t think you’re crazy

Uprooting your life so quickly and spending your last days in your favourite bar—and not at the Mountain Equipment Coop in search of the ultimate base layer— will cause people to wonder about you. Lying will be an important way to comfort these people. I pretty much told everyone except my close friends and family that I’d been offered a job up here because, well,what else could explain my erratic behavior?

Step Five: Admit to being ignorant and rely on the kindness of others

When I got up here, I knew little about the people, land, or lifestyle. Often when we’re insecure, our instincts are to act confident. Not only is this probably unhealthy overall, but nowhere will you ever seem dumber than in the Arctic if you do this. Shit is different here, and hopefully that’s one of the reasons you’re coming. And although people here have some good reasons not to trust newcomers, I think if you bring your own kindness to the table and leave your assumptions at the treeline, people will be more than kind back to you.

Step Six: Don’t buy a return ticket

Okay, if you’ve read this far, then maybe you’re sympathetic to the impulsive emotional kind. Or maybe you are one. If you are, you’ll get the urge to just peace-out, pack it in, and buy your ticket home. The shock of a new environment, homesickness, workplace troubles, thoughts of your ex-lovers: all valid reasons to whimper for the comfort of takeout tacos and home sweet home. This time don’t go with your gut. You’ll always be happy you didn’t.

Self-satisfied selfie on the tundra (I am on your right).

Self-satisfied selfie on the tundra (I am on your right).

Step Seven: Fly First Air (Sorry Canadian North)

There are two airlines that fly to Iqaluit, First Air and Canadian North. Both will offer you a warm cookie as part of their in-flight service. FLY FIRST AIR. Packed in a sleek, silvery bag-envelope, their cookie is a true difference-maker. Its soft, buttery dough and oozing chocolate chips are the equivalent of a TSN Turning-Point in in-flight snack service.

Step Eight: Get ready to think and talk about money (but not too much)

Money. The cost of food, rent, transfer-payments to the territory, your or others’ motivations for being here, income inequality— all topics of discussion you are bound to encounter related to money. I’m still trying to figure all of this out. And while some of these deserve serious thought, especially (I believe) from southerners who benefit disproportionately from the wage-economy here, like anywhere else, your ability to navigate this with sensitivity will be important.

Ted Cousins is originally from Ottawa and moved to Iqaluit in July 2012. Former host of the arts and culture radio show "The Lie" on CHUO 89.1fm, he has written for the Torontoist, community and university papers, as well as He now works for the Government of Nunavut and writes mostly to make sense of what's going on around him.