Vancouver tops world rankings for liveability, eco-friendliness, well-being and more – and it’s easy to see why, with a buzzing arts scene, beautiful nature in the mountains to the north and Pacific to the west, a booming job market and welcoming attitude to newcomers. Discover the best places to buy a Vancouver home in our area guide.
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Life in Vancouver
Vancouver was the first city to be ranked five years in a row in the Economic Intelligence Unit’s top ten most liveable cities in the world, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. It may be a large city, but it’s extremely green, the air is clean and the Pacific and North Shore Mountains are easily accessible. The climate’s mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below zero and summer averages generally in the mid twenties, although mid thirties are not uncommon.
And if you’re looking for a change from the grey British skies, you’re in luck – Vancouver is sunnier than Eastbourne, the sunniest part of the UK! Residents enjoy an annual average of 1,907 hours of sunshine a year.
The West Coast of Canada is known as more laid-back and that’s certainly the case in Vancouver. There’s excellent hiking around Garibaldi Lake, Tunnel Bluffs and Burnaby Mountain. Therefore, the outdoors is a big part of many locals’ lives. Plus, the world-famous ski resorts of Whistler are close by (in Canadian terms!), at two hours by shuttle. You can also ski in Vancouver, across the harbour, at Cypress, Grouse Mountain and Seymour. Might you find yourself taking up a new hobby here?
Knowing how to negotiate effectively for your property in Vancouver could bag you a much better home for your money. Read our free guide: How to Negotiate Abroad.
The city itself is a melting pot of different cultures, from the First Nations, to more recent arrivals from around the world. There are always new cuisines to try out and festivals to attend. The International Film Festival runs Sept-Oct, with the Fringe alongside for independent theatre and, for foodies, EAT! Vancouver takes place every year, usually in autumn. Vancouverites have lots to keep themselves busy!
The West Coast of Canada is known as more laid-back, and that’s certainly the case in Vancouver.
Vancouver public transportation
Public transportation in Vancouver is top notch. The three SkyTrain lines cross Downtown Vancouver, while the bus and sea bus network connect you to the suburbs. A monthly pass for TransLink around Vancouver and the metro area costs between $54 and $174, depending on zones and concessions.
As a plus, the city also offers HandyDART. This is a door-to-door shared service for people with accessibility difficulties. Vancouver is also a bike-friendly city with a big push to use the many cycling trails. .
There are plenty of public and private schools across Vancouver teaching in both English and French. They work towards the Dogwood diploma, British Columbia’s graduation certificate. However, many also offer international equivalents like the IB or AP.
The University of British Columbia is the largest university in British Columbia. Additionally, other universities in Vancouver include British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Simon Fraser University.
Cost of living in Vancouver
Vancouver is a relatively pricey city, but we are seeing signs of a correction in the property market, with prices stabilising after hitting a peak in 2016. While the cost of living is high, it’s important to remember that salaries are higher than many parts of Canada. The average income of a professional in Vancouver is just over CAD$70,000 – this is the figure reported in the last census, and is likely to have risen a little since.
Daily needs are on par with other large cities. 8GB internet has an average monthly cost of CAD$57. A casual lunch for one would be CAD$18. Movie tickets for two cost on average CAD$29. Finally, petrol is currently CAD$1.82 per litre (May 2019).
To see what your budget could get you in Canadian dollars, request a free, no-obligation quote from our partner Smart Currency Exchange.
Working in Vancouver
Vancouver is a key part of the Canadian economy with a competitive job market. The economy means there are plenty of opportunities. However, often expats are contending with highly skilled Canadians for the top positions. Therefore, you need to really sell yourself to employers. Networking is also important as a way to smooth entry into the workforce.
Some of the major sectors in Vancouver include mining, forestry, IT, tourism and building. Skilled workers will often find it easier to land a job.
Some of the major sectors in Vancouver include mining, forestry, IT, tourism and building.
Working in Vancouver requires a valid visa unless you have citizenship or residency. Find out in our column on visas about your options if you’re looking to come and work in Canada.
Areas of Vancouver
Vancouver has a big diversity of areas, from bustling Downtown to quieter suburbs close to nature. Here are some of the best for house buyers looking to buy in Vancouver.
Downtown Vancouver is the city’s hub where business, shopping, arts and culture create plenty to see and do. Living in Downtown Vancouver offers the fast-paced lifestyle that many British expats crave. It combines this with excellent roads and plenty of green space, parks and a sea wall perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Some neighbourhoods in downtown Vancouver include Gastown, Yaletown, West End and Coal Harbour.
Ready to start seeing some properties once travel restarts? Our Viewing Trip Guide covers what you’ll need to look out for.
Kitsilano (Kits) is the ‘new-age’ neighbourhood where yoga studios, vegetarian cafés and boutique shops line the streets. It has a chic, bohemian feel and is home to some beautiful beaches, making it perfect for urbanites looking for a trendy lifestyle.
Real estate in Kitsilano, like downtown Vancouver, is more costly than most parts of Metro Vancouver. However, in return, you’re only one bridge away from the downtown core. It’s a great place to live for those who cycle or use public transport.
The Mount Pleasant section of this district is up and coming. Much more affordable than downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver has a lively scene. It is popular with young families, professionals and students. This is no wonder as it is full of funky cafes, first-rate restaurants, stylish clothing stores, and booming bars. There is a diverse mix of cultures, and it is well serviced by public transportation – ideally located for the workday commute.
Burnaby, which is actually a city of its own, bordering Vancouver. It is a convenient alternative for those wishing to be close to downtown, but who need to commute to the metro centre instead for work.
The property market offers more value than other parts of Vancouver, which is a draw card for families, students and young professionals. Burnaby has excellent public transportation and has all you need for daily life, from groceries to good local schools.
The North Shore (North Vancouver and West Vancouver) is a popular part of Vancouver to live. Nestled at the foot of the coastal mountains and with skiing, mountain biking, hiking and parks close by, this part of Vancouver draws those wanting an active lifestyle.
Popular with families, retirees and professionals, the North Shore is easily accessible via a 15-minute sea bus to downtown Vancouver. The cost to buy property and rent on the North Shore is expensive compared to other parts of Vancouver.
Double the fun and halve the cost – find out about buying with family in our guide.
An hour’s drive from core Vancouver is the up-and-coming area of Mission, BC. This outlying suburb has seen strong price growth in previous years, but prices are 70% cheaper than Greater Vancouver as a whole.
Other Vancouver suburbs
There are many other suburbs and small cities extending to the east and south of Vancouver. Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack are within commuting distance to Vancouver and offer more affordable living.
When planning to move to Vancouver, make sure to consider these outer Vancouver suburbs if you’re looking for more outside space for lower prices. Nearby Vancouver Island also offers rural living in a truly unspoilt environment.
Buying property in Vancouver
Vancouver’s real estate market makes international headlines regularly as being one of the most expensive places to buy property in the world. That being said, there are parts of Vancouver that offer better affordability. Plus, the current property prices are beginning to stabilise.
Owning a home in Vancouver is worth the premium price tag, according to many locals. The scenery and outdoor recreation lifestyle attracts adventurous and outdoorsy expats and retirees keen to take advantage of the city’s natural playground.
Get yourself ready for your new life in Canada by reading our comprehensive Emigration Guide.
If you’re looking to purchase a holiday home, permanent residence or recreational property in Vancouver, here are some average prices in July 2018:
- A single family home: CAD$1,598,000
- A three-bedroom townhouse: CAD$859,900
- A one-bedroom condo: CAD$650,000
Despite high property prices, Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the top cities in the world. The Economist ranked it as the 3rd most liveable city in the 2017 Global Liveability Report.
If outdoor recreation, beautiful views and a bustling city are calling you, consider Vancouver as a place to relocate in Canada. In addition to this Vancouver area guide, keep up to date with Property Guides Canada to find expert information about making the move.
The Canada Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to: