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Making Downtown Your First Home in Winnipeg

Henry glanced at his watch as he gulped down his coffee, standing outside the Tim Hortons on Portage Avenue. He would be on time for his career counselling session at Manitoba Start, just a few blocks away. This was his first session, and he breathed an inward sigh of relief that such a great resource was so close to his apartment building. He had just arrived last week and was eager to get settled. Securing a Manitoba Health Card and finding a family doctor had been fairly easy. He had even been able to use the free services of the Downtown Spirit bus since everything was within a few blocks of his new apartment in downtown.

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As he walked to his destination, Henry cast a cursory glance around him. He was amazed at the diversity; people of all ethnicities and ages walked past him, in harmony with each other yet comfortably oblivious to their own surroundings. He noticed people rushing to work, too rushed to drink their coffee yet taking the time to hold open doors for others. He was falling in love with his new home! He felt a sense of belonging and was already looking forward to the weekend. He had seen posters for ManyFest and was excited to be living a short walk from where all the action would be. As he rushed across the cross walk, he thought about his plans for the coming weekend: the festival, a visit to the public library to check out their collection and perhaps some Indian cuisine at a nearby restaurant. He realized he was talking to himself as he entered the the Downtown Winnipeg Indoor Walkway (lovingly known as the skywalk by locals) to escape the gust of wind that threatened to sweep away the documents that he had been carrying. He shook his head, smiling. He couldn’t wait to get back to his apartment to finish settling in. His days now began with sipping his morning tea while waiting for the sun to light up the Golden Boy as it serenely overlooked downtown. For the tenth time that day, he made a mental note to thank the friend who had suggested he find a place downtown to start his new life in Winnipeg.

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Starting a new life in an unfamiliar city can be unnerving. Resources are limited, expectations are high and there is always too much to do. That’s why it is important to choose a location that can help you get things done on the fast track. Living at the heart of the city and near all the major institutions not only saves precious time, but also gives the added advantage of being mobile even if you’re not ready to own a vehicle. It’s cost-effective to be able to walk to most places which is exactly what you’re looking for when starting your life in a new city. Better to burn calories than cents when you’re relying on your savings!

Downtown Winnipeg is also a great place to network, which is invaluable when you’re adjusting to a new culture and looking for a job in your field. You need to be at the right place at the right time. Fortunately, Service Canada in Portage Place offers free resources for job seekers. If you need to focus, search for a job and print a few resumes, make use of their free computer and printing services.

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And in case you’re wondering, downtown Winnipeg is definitely not an “all work and no play” kind of place. Looking to relax after a long working week? That’s the beauty of downtown: it’s home to a lot of tourist attractions and entertainment spots. Whether it’s a stroll through the beautiful grounds at The Forks or a movie in Memorial Park, everything is within reach. If you need to use Winnipeg Transit, most major bus routes run right through downtown, making it easy to get around! There are convenient options for grocery shopping, and a plethora of ethnic stores makes for a diverse retail environment that caters to a multicultural community.

And downtown Winnipeg is exceptionally multicultural. You’ll see Diwali celebrations happening amidst decorations waiting for the Christmas season to gain momentum, and people rushing for Eid prayers right after Easter wraps up. There is something for everyone here: the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) for the art enthusiast who wants to analyse each piece, free yoga classes in Memorial Park for the fitness freak, and tons of delectable dining options for the foodie. And in case you’re all three, everything is always only a few blocks away! The Downtown Winnipeg Biz is a great resource for finding ways to experience the best Winnipeg has to offer.

If you’re thinking about starting a new chapter of your life in Winnipeg, look no further than downtown—and I mean literally! Be where the government services are, where the action is and where breakfast meets business.

If you’re new to Winnipeg or considering relocating, what else would you like to know? Tell us in the comments!

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