Living in Charlottesville, Virginia: The Real Deal with Brigitte Belanger-Warner
Interested in living in Charlottesville, Virginia? Here, Brigitte Belanger-Warner shares the highlights and challenges, as well as her tips for an amazing experience abroad.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
I am originally from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, a small town north of Montreal, in the provide of Quebec, Canada. Since 2006, I live in Charlottesville, located in Central Virginia. My husband Steve, my son Alexandre, and I live in a gated lake community, where we can enjoy fun outdoor activities and a great quality of life.
What made you decide to move abroad? How long did you live there for? Tell us about how you spent your time in your new destination — whether you worked, studied, traveled, or did something else.
In 2000, I moved from my native Canada to Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time, I was working for Cirque du Soleil and was requested to change from my Corporate Publicist job at the International Headquarters in Montreal to Publicist for the “O” production at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Even though Canada and the United States are neighboring countries, this was a huge change for me on so many levels… I really did not know anyone there and even though the move took place at a time of my life when I was ready for a change, I was not prepared for what happened next.
The same week I started working in Las Vegas, the new “O” Technical Director also started working. We became fast friends, went bowling one night a few months later, and we never left each other since. He proposed a few months after that and we got married in June 2002. Then, in February 2004, our son Alexandre was born. We then left Las Vegas to find a permanent home in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia. Those are definitely some of the highlights… I never imagined I was leaving Canada to not only find work that I loved, but also to find the man of my dreams and everything that followed.
What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while living abroad? What were some of the greatest highlights?
Living in the United States did not pose any huge challenges, really. I do miss my family and friends from back home and wish I had more time to visit them; however, social media channels such as Facebook make it easier to keep in touch. As for the highlights, definitely meeting my husband and the birth of my son (who has dual citizenship) are at the top of my list.
What do you wish you knew before you moved?
I wish I had a better understanding of the American culture and history (especially that of the south). I just assumed that it was pretty much like the Canadian culture… which is true to a certain extent, but with very important differences as well.
Any favorite restaurants/events/sites that you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!
The entire Downtown area is wonderful, filled with restaurants of all kinds. Farm-to-table has been a way of life here for decades, as there are many farms all around Charlottesville; our local chefs have access to so may local products.
Are there any tips you’d give someone else considering a similar move?
Absolutely go for it! Life is too short to hesitate. Keep in mind that nothing is irreversible and you can always move back home if your experience abroad is not fully satisfactory.
Is there anything that women specifically should know before they move to your destination?
Women will love living in the Charlottesville area. It has all the advantages of a larger city without the inconveniences. People are friendly, there are so many events happening each day, in addition to the local attractions such as historical sites, wineries, shopping, and spas.
Photo credit: VisitCharlottesville.org