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20 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Vancouver

So you’ve finally decided to make the big move to Vancouver?

Let us start by congratulating you.

If you fit the laid back, healthy, outdoorsy west coast culture, this will be the best decision you’ve made in a long time.

In fact, Vancouver tops quality of living rankings for North America and was recently ranked the 7th most liveable city in the world by Monocle magazine.

You’re coming all the way here so it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Since we want to make sure it’s a good decision for everyone, we’ll give you the honest truth.

Here are 20 things you should know before moving to Vancouver…


1. It really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Between the ocean and the mountains, Vancouver is definitely easy on the eyes. Being new to the city, you’ll often find yourself distracted by, and in awe of, the beauty right outside your window. You’ll never take this beauty for granted. Or at least, you never should.

2. Finding a place to live is a struggle.
House hunting will not be a fun experience. With vacancy rates lower than 1%, apartments rent so quickly that they are often on the market for less than a day. You’ll need to be quick and aggressive and trust us when we say that you’ll need a whiskey when the apartment search is up (or five).

3. Know the city’s neighbourhood personalities.
Before you do sign a place, get to know the Vancouver neighbourhoods. Each one has its own unique character (and of course, stereotypes). Ending up in the wrong area could have a direct effect on how much you love it here.

4. Prices for everything are high.
Gas, groceries, rent… everything here is expensive and people love to complain about it. For many of us, buying a house here is an impossible dream but we’ll get there one day… right? Anyone? Seriously, anyone?

5. The bridges are pleasant to look at but a nightmare to cross.
Especially the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Though an iconic landmark in the city, it’s also the cause of many good days turning bad. If you’re planning on crossing the bridge, give yourself some extra time and be prepared to spend some time in Park. Also, make sure you understand the three lane switching system because if you don’t you’ll get stuck in an awful situation facing oncoming traffic. Which is awkward at best.

6. Everyone is pretty laid back.
Especially if you’re moving from a more metropolitan area, you’ll notice that people are never really in a rush. We’re not sure why but we’re not upset about this.

7. We have the reputation of being cliquey but…
There are so many people who have moved here, found a great group of friends, and now call this city home.

8. The city is home to many artsy individuals.
We don’t call them hipsters because we don’t like that word. It’s beyond man buns and drinking PBR, the city has a great arts and music culture and is home to a big creative community.

9. The cyclists run the city.
They are honestly everywhere – on the streets, in elevators with their bikes, and in your blind spot. And don’t even think about complaining to your new friends about how annoying the cyclists are, because chances are they are a part of the squad.

10. Rain doesn’t stop anyone here.
In other cities, when it rains, people tend to stay indoors. But it rains so much here that people don’t let the rain interfere with their day. If you think it will stop the cyclists from coming out, re-read point #9.

11. Know your umbrella etiquette.
You are not at the beach and there is no need for a massive umbrella when you’re just one human. If you’re tall, be courteous and raise your umbrella when you’re approaching others. Bad quality umbrellas that flip inside out are extremely lethal. Point the tip up when open, down when closed. We could keep going with this one…

12. lululemon pants are everywhere.
Not only will the majority of men and women be wearing lulu pants at your local gym or yoga studio but they’ve also made their way into several company dress codes. Let’s be honest though – do any of us here even have an office dress code?

13. So are medical marijuana dispensaries.
They are everywhere and continue to spread like – wait for it – weeds. If you do care to indulge, weed is pretty accessible here.

14. The taxi system is outrageously frustrating.
Other major cities have Uber or Lyft and hailing a taxi is a non issue – not here. If you’re trying to get home after a night out, be prepared to wait a very long time or agree to pay above the metre rate. We hear Uber is on its way, and we are stoked about it.

15. The nightlife won’t be something to write home about.
The nightlife here is not as lively as it is in other cities so if you are looking for a wild party scene, this might not be the city for you. Don’t worry though, we definitely have great social scene when it comes to breweries and bars and many of us here prefer it this way. We tend to stay away from the Granville strip for the most part, but it’s always there if you need it.

16. The outdoor activities are something you will write home about.
Kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, skiing and snowboarding, if you’re a fan of the outdoors, this is absolutely the city for you. If you’re not, we suggest you pick something outdoorsy up because these activities consume many of our weekends.

17. The culinary scene is thriving.
This city is full of Food Network stars and contestants, which means there are so many delicious places to eat. The diversity of the cuisine combined with fresh and local ingredients makes Vancouver a foodie’s paradise. And of course, once you get used to the sushi in Vancouver, chances are you will return to your favourite hometown sushi restaurant and hate it.

18. Know where Downtown Eastside is and if you aren’t comfortable with it, don’t walk through there.
East Hastings Street from Carrall to Gore Ave is commonly known as Canada’s poorest postal code. If you’re new to the city, know what to expect before you walk down this strip. This is not a laughing matter.

19. It’s not exactly the best job market.
Finding a good job is tough in most cities, and the same thing rings true for Vancouver. It’s competitive and many people complain about the lack of job opportunities compared to other major cities. There is, however, a booming tech and start-up scene and if you do work in Vancouver, many companies place a very strong emphasis on work life balance.

20. We love where we live.
We are proud of our city – its beauty and its quirks. And there’s no other place we’d rather call home.


Celeena Sayani