Parallelogram: My New Neighborhood

\One ex-pat experience explored from two points-of-view\

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Laura\Mayaguez

Tell me about your old Madison, Wisconsin neighborhood.

We rented a house on the west side of Madison. Quiet, friendly, beautiful, playgrounds abounding, with ‘secret’ walking trails that wound behind the houses. We had fantastic neighbors who provided us with babysitters, snow shoveling, playmates and friends. Greeks behind us, Chinese and Russians on either side. I loved it. The neighbors randomly congregated in our backyard, the neighborhood organized events, and it was central to all the places we frequented. And there was Paris.

It was the kind of neighborhood I grew up in as a kid, and was so excited to find for my family.

How long have you been in your new Mayaguez, Puerto Rico neighborhood and what’s it like?

We moved here just over two months ago. Paraiso de Mayaguez is a gated community.  I hadn’t set out to live in a gated community because there are so many connotations! There are pockets in Puerto Rico where gates community = all white expats.  But I think we are the only gringos in our neighborhood. And I kinda like that.

Why not put your basketball hoop in the street?

Why not put your basketball hoop in the street?

So do we fit in here? I’d say yes and no.

YES:
There are enough other kids in the neighborhood so we don’t feel like the odds ones out
Most of the neighbors speak English, and are willing to help me practice my Spanish
NO:
We are surrounded by doctors and University professors. Having an online business seems unusual here.
As I said, we are the only people from the States here (I think).
IMG_0005

The houses are all tan, orange or green.

That being said, this place has everything I wanted. Sidewalks, community pool (so we don’t have to maintain it and freak out about kids wandering into it), a playground (hard to find around this city), a workout room and a little nature walking path. Score score and score. And every street is a dead end, so there’s very little traffic.

And there's a security dude that rides around on a bike.  alright.

And there’s a security dude that rides around on a bike. alright.

But the neighbors!! They make this place the best. Since nearly all the backyards are walled in privately, sometimes you have to make an effort to actually move beyond the friendly wave and actually speak to a neighbor in a meaningful conversation.

Walled in backyard

Walled in backyard

I’ve met 5 neighbors and ALL of them have said in one way or another, “we are here for you” “let us know if you need help” and when one neighbor Ernan asked if we had friends or family around here and I said no, he said, “We are your friends.” I nearly teared up and hugged him right then and there.

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Lisa/Montreal

Tell me about your old Madison, Wisconsin neighborhood.

I used to live on Madison’s west side which generally speaking, was burb-ish without being in the burbs: sprawling lawns, 60s ranch-style homes, parks and paths and schools and all things nice.  Personally speaking – OMG – what a great neighborhood!  Imagine after-school gatherings on sidewalks, popsicles and beers on front lawns and smiles and support on every corner.  It didn’t happen immediately but when it did, it was awesome.

How long have you been in your new Montreal, Quebec neighborhood and what’s it like?

We have been in the Plateau neighborhood since moving August 15.  MTLBlog summed up the Plateau as the #1 “BoBo” Borough in the City – Source.  (“A bobo is an anti-establishment artsy-fartsy type that still plays the corporate game and wants to make lots of money to live a comfortable/bourgeois-esque lifestyle.”)

Do we fit in here?

Average age of Plateau residents: 34.1 years, the lowest of all boroughs.
No
Number of residents who work in arts/culture: 9015 Plateau’ers, more than any other borough
No
Number of residents who bike or walk: 33.7% (bike) & 22.1% (walk). Plateau’ers bike more than any other borough, no big surprise there.
Yes
Relationship status: 50.1% percent of people are single
No
Religious beliefs: 39.7% of residents claim to have no religion, the most atheist (or agnostic) region of Montreal.
Yes

So partly then.

BoBo

We live in the first floor flat of the red brick building. Graffiti has been washed off twice already.

I’m not even sure why we chose the Plateau outside of our relocation agent’s recommendation, but I like it just fine.  There are the customary cafes, mom-and-pops, schools and parks.  Everything we need feels close, but isn’t that always true in a city or in simply the choices you make?  Either way, this doesn’t hurt:

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 10.05.12 PM

 I know one spectacular neighborhood family but otherwise it is still a solitary existence.  I don’t see a lot of young children around but that just might be a result of the Canadian childcare system.  Or the cold.  There are a lot of other folks out and about and I like that; I have always liked that about city-living: something happening and somebody doing it.  And speaking of somebody doing it, it only took two-and-half-months for our car window to be smashed.

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The Plateau has her crime and misdemeanors like any neighborhood in a major city.

I hear there are more family-friendly neighborhoods; in fact just the other day a woman said to me “Oh?  You like the Plateau even with children?” but we are home for now.  These bobos have a new nest.

Arlo takes a break on Rue Marie-Anne.

Arlo takes a break on Rue Marie-Anne.

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