Canada

Living in Vancouver | Discover What is Like in this City

Jaqueline Gairaud

Your traveling instinct is telling you it is time for that adventure you’ve dreamt of your whole life: study abroad. However, among too many fabulous destinations in the world, choosing where can be quite a challenge, right? If you are thinking in Canada, with all certainty, we can tell you that living in Vancouver is one of the best experiences can have.

Actually, according to The Economist, is one of the best cities to live in the whole world. Vancouver has earned this acknowledgment more than once thanks to its landscapes, quality of life, and environment representing Canada’s multiculturality.

Living in Vancouver | Style and Quality of Life

Would you like to find out what makes living in Vancouver your ideal destination to study and work abroad for a season? This article will fill you in with all the information you need to make the call and fall even more deeply in love with one of the most charming cities in this American country.

WHat is it like living in Vancouver?

We begin our tour by talking about the lifestyle in Vancouver. As the third-largest city in Canada, and the most populated in the West, Vancouver is so large it can be considered a metropolis. But it still keeps that natural and calm touch privy to small towns.

Indeed, while living in Vancouver you’ll note that their lifestyle is dictated by the contrast between nature in a near virgin state and an ever growing city with an efficient public transport system. This means, Vancouver has a multicultural environment that maintains a Canadian essence and an unbeatable leisure offering. Amazing, isn’t it? And that is not all….

Multiculturalism in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most multicultural cities to live in. Besides the natural environment, which in itself is an incentive, here many nationalities, languages, religions, and cuisines live together in harmony. Also, Vancouver’s citizens are calm and polite, willing to welcome people from everywhere in the world. Overall, this is a very calm and safe city for both foreigners and locals.

Therefore, if traveling abroad makes you feel nervous, choose Vancouver and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Here, people are always open to help you out and they make an effort if your English is not perfect. In fact, 52% of Vancouver’s residents do not have English as their mother tongue.

Enjoy wildlife and city life all in the same place

Another winning point for living in Vancouver is that nature and architecture are integrated. This isn’t just an eco-city with parks and green areas. No, Vancouver is a city embedded in nature.

While living in Vancouver, you can visit amazing places such as Stanley Park, with over half a million trees, or even Pacific Spirit Regional Park which is even larger. But you’ll also be able to admire nature in gardens and even the rooftops and facades of buildings. Vancouver is a clean metropolis that boosts the use of bicycles and electric cars. Actually, pedestrians, bicycles, and cars have separate tracks and stoplights.

Besides, there are plenty of spots where you can charge your electric car. And buses also use electricity to move around. Therefore, you won’t find many traffic problems, nor pollution or noise.

Fun for all tastes and budgets

One advantage of living in Vancouver is that the city is mid sized, so pretty much everything is close at hand.
In the city or just a few kilometers away, you can go skiing, kayaking, sailing, trekking, biking and do many other outdoor activities. If you like cultural activities, you’ll have many choices like museums, movie theaters, or shows. Fun fact: Vancouver has the third place of cinema production in the world, next to Los Angeles and New York.

Climate in Vancouver 

Weather in Vancouver

Vancouver’s peculiar geographic location, built on between the Pacific coast and the mountains, gives it the nicest temperatures in Canada, along with very wet weather. Vancouver is the third rainiest city in the country. It has 161 rainy days per year, distributed throughout the autumn and winter.

But that’s not a bad thing, the weather is still quite nice compared to other Canadian cities. In general terms, Vancouver has a temperate climate that varies according to the season.

Spring

The spring season in Vancouver starts in February and ends in April. Temperatures range from 10° to 18°C. Keep in mind that this is the end of the winter so it is always best to carry an umbrella. Also, make a note in your calendar in April ‘cause that’s when cherry blossoms are in bloom.

Summer

The summer usually goes from June to September and temperatures don’t go higher than 26°C. However, humidity coming from the Pacific can increase the thermic sensation. That’s perfect to enjoy events and activities in the open air. Besides, days are longer to go to the beach, biking, or kayaking.

Fall

Autumn is a season with very varied weather; it alternates temperate days with colder ones. On average, temperatures can go from 11° to 14°C.With a good light coat, you’ll have your day figured out as you visit cultural centers or meet with friends after school or work. Enjoy the views of the city acquires when all the trees go classically orange for the fall.

Winter

Starting in October, temperatures start going down and the sky becomes populated with clouds. Winter comes, along with Christmas, and temperatures deep to 6° and 9°C. Don’t worry about Canadien snow! In Vancouver, you’ll have the easiest snowfalls in all of Canada, just enough to practice winter sports. While living in Vancouver, you’ll become quite the expert.

But never forget to bring your umbrella. With that, neither cold or rain will be a problem for you.

Cost of Living in Vancouver

Costs of living in Vancouver

We’re not gonna lie, the cost of living in Canada is not the lowest in the world. So, keep in mind that the cost of living in Vancouver stems from its excellent quality of life. Actually, Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada. This is understandable because we’re talking about one of the most habitable metropolises in the world.

Don’t panic! Living in Vancouver is doable if you want to. For example, you can cover your expenses if you work while you study. Also, keep in mind that your monthly budget will depend on your lifestyle.

Likewise, it will depend on your accommodation choices, your eating habits, your means of transport, and how much you spend on those beers you enjoy on a Saturday night. Thus, to give you a clearer idea, we have listed some costs in those categories so you can make an approximate calculation of the amount you’ll need to cover your expenses in Vancouver.

Accommodation

Costs of living in Vancouver may vary. They depend on the zone you live in, the size of the apartment and if you’ll be living by yourself or with roomies. Here are some estimates:

  • Furnished apartment rent: CAD$2.196
  • Rent for a Furnished loft: CAD$1.654
  • Room in a shared place: CAD$600 – 1.000

Services

You must consider the cost of services if your accommodation does not include them. If that’s the case, here is a cost approximation:

  • Electricity and water service costs for one in an apartment: CAD$64
  • In a studio, electricity and water service costs: CAD$71
  • Internet 8 mbps: CAD$61 per month

Food and other groceries

Shopping should also have an established budget. On average, a person spends CAD$300 per month to buy food and other groceries. This expense will also depend on how much you cook at home and the supermarkets where you choose to buy (Costco, Nofrills and local markets are the cheapest options).

Here are the costs of some of the products you might want to consider for your pantry.

  • Chicken breast (500 gr): CAD$7
  • Whole milk (1 lt): CAD$2,16
  • Large eggs (12 units): CAD$4,78
  • Tomatoes (1 kg): CAD$4,49
  • National cheese (500 gr): CAD$13
  • Potatoes(1 kg): CAD$3,17
  • Cheap beer six pack: CAD$10
  • 2 litre Coca Cola: CAD$2,38
  • 1 box with 32 tampons: CAD$11
  • Roll on deodorant (50ml): CAD$5,55
  • 2-in-1 shampoo (400 ml): CAD$7

Transport in Vancouver

Now, another thing you must keep in mind as you plan your budget is your transportation expense. While living in Vancouver, you’ll enjoy exclusive bicycle lanes which will save you lots of money per month.

However, if you want to arrive faster and sweat-free, Translink the city’s public transport will get you there. The system is composed of buses, trolleys, metro (Skytrain), trains and ferries (Seabus) connecting the entire city and its metropolitan area. The city is divided in 3 zones and the cost of a ticket will depend on your destination.

  • In Zone 1: CAD$2.85. Monthly pass costs CAD$93
  • For zone 2: CAD$4.10. Monthly pass costs CAD$126
  • And Zone 3: CAD$5.60. Monthly pass costs  CAD$172

Other options are:

  • 8 km taxi trip with basic fares: CAD$29
  • The cost per liter of gasoline is CAD$1,49, in case you’re planning to rent a car.

Fun and entertainment costs in Vancouver

If you’ll be living in Vancouver, it will be hard to reject all the invitations you’ll be receiving for events, restaurants, and bars. In the end, the idea is to enjoy your trip to the max, isn’t it? Therefore, you’d best include these expenses in your budget. Take note:

  • Normal dinner for two at a regular restaurant: CAD$30
  • Complete menu at a fast food restaurant: CAD$11
  • 2 movie tickets: CAD$31
  • 1 cocktail, shot or drink at a club or disco located in an expensive area: CAD$13
  • ½  liter beer at a bar: CAD$7
  • Monthly quote for a gym: CAD$50

Working in Vancouver

Working in Vancouver

Vancouver is the most important business center on the West Coast and one of the best places to work in Canada. The job market is dynamic and there are opportunities for everyone in many sectors. If you want to live in Vancouver, you have to take advantage of all these opportunities. If you do, you’ll be able to give yourself a better lifestyle and also gain some international work experience. Not bad for your CV 😉 Wanna know how? Here you’ll find the details.

Requirements for working in Vancouver

In general, the rules for working in Vancouver are the same as in all of Canada. Therefore, the requirements you must comply with are the following:

Be at least 18 years old

To be able to work in Vancouver you must be above 18 years of age.

Have a visa that allows you to work

One of the essential requirements to work in Canada is having a work permit. Now, if you are coming to Canada as a student, the permit may already be included in your Student Visa or in your Working Holiday Visa. To get these visas, you must present your valid passport, proof of economic solvency, medical exams and criminal record certificate at the embassy. If you’d like more information, check out our article on Canadian visas!

Keep in mind that you can only work in Canada as a foreign student if you are doing a Co-Op course or enrolled in a university. In other words, you cannot work if you are coming to study an English or French course.

Other things to consider

If you’d like to gather some extra points, you could open a bank account (this will make it easier for you to receive your salary). Furthermore, you should also have a Canadian phone number and a good English level.

Most demanded jobs in Vancouver

We’ve already said that the job market in Vancouver is dynamic. Some of its main industries are: tourism, forestry, mining, construction, telecommunications and technology.

For students, the main job opportunities are:

  • Hospitality
  • Au Pair
  • Kitchen aid
  • Waiter
  • Delivery
  • Barista / Barman
  • Store manager
  • Construction apprentice
  • Cashier
  • Cleaning

Advice to find a job in Vancouver

  • Do some research about the work environment and adjust to it. If you’d like to find qualified work, you must have all the certifications that help you prove your skills and aptitudes. On the other hand, enrolling in a Co-Op course is an excellent way to enter Vancouver’s job market. These courses are composed of a theoretical and a practical section.
  • Adapt your CV to Canadien standards and keep it updated. A Canadian CV has its own specifications. For example, it is short and it never has a photo. Adjust your CV to these requirements and don’t forget to write down all the relevant information for the position you are applying to. Put all your study and previous work certificates. Some jobs may require them.
  • Open your mind to new opportunities. A key to finding a job quickly is not to close your mind to the opportunities that may come up. What we want to say is that you shouldn’t reject any offers just because they don’t adjust to what you are looking for. All experience is worth it!
  • Diversify your search. And if you haven’t found that first opportunity yet, it is a good idea to start your search by going through your neighborhood and asking in the local businesses if they need any help.

Likewise, networking and social networks in Canada are very useful. You can also check websites like:

Accommodation in Vancouver

Finding accommodation in Vancouver

Accommodation tends to be a concern for those coming to live here. But, the truth is there are options for all budgets:

  • Entire apartments
  • Complete lofts
  • Shared apartments
  • Room rentals
  • Student residencies
  • Homestay

Again, costs vary according to the apartment size and location. Therefore, we’ve decided to share our favorite zones to look for accommodation in Vancouver.

Where to live in Vancouver

West End

This neighborhood located smack center in Downtown Vancouver is a residential neighborhood. Here, you’ll find quiet, calm, and easy access to any point in the city. Moreover, you’ll only be a few meters away from business and financial districts. Despite being in the center, West End costs are not as high as in other neighborhoods.

Among West End’s places of interest you’ll find beaches and parks. From here you can go to English Bay, Vancouver’s most popular beach, and  to Stanley Park, Canada’s biggest urban park. Besides, West End has a population from all ages and is an important LGBTIQ community center.

Kitsilano

Located on the southern coast of English Bay, Kitsilano is a mainly residential neighborhood with some active and dynamic commercial centers. Once the hippie center of Vancouver, today it hosts the Vancouver Museum and many art, culture, history and literature festivals.

With beaches and mountain views, Kitsilano is, without a doubt,one Vancouver’s prettiest neighborhoods. Besides, it is just a few meters away from the city center. All this makes it an expensive neighborhood. But, if you’d like to take part in some of the city’s most important activities, you’ll be grateful to have your home here.

Downtown

As the city’s center, Downtown Vancouver is one of the best areas to live in Vancouver. If you’d like to be close to everything, enjoy open air events and walk just a little bit to restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, theaters, boutiques and other businesses, here is the place to be. Of course, living in Downtown is not cheap. However, you can rent just a room, a smaller apartment or find a roomie.

Commercial Drive

Also known as The Drive, this neighborhood is culturally rich and authentic. A shopping destination, with interesting cuisine and nightlife, it is the sport for cheerful and partying souls. The neighborhood is traversed by Commercial Drive, a street where all kinds of commerce meet offering fun and entertainment without end.

Rents are not very low in this alternative zone. However, given its more hipster lifestyle, it is a very interesting area for young travellers.

Richmond

Part of Vancouver’s Metropolitan Area, Richmond is located to the south. A perfect option for those who would like to save a bit in rent costs and remain close to the city’s action.

Richmond has a predominant Asian community. So, Asian food restaurants provide delicious and authentic food. It is a completely residential sector connected to Downtown through a 30 minute Skytrain journey (Richmond is located in Zone 2).

The Most Fun Areas in Vancouver 

Fun things to do

This is the time to find out where your favorite spots will be while living in Vancouver. Check them out!

Gastown

Gastown is a district full of personality and history. As the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver, it vibrates with a vintage ambiance felt while walking down its cobbled streets and entering its restaurants, boutiques, stores and bars. Day and night, Gastown is vibrating.

Victorian architecture is predominant in Gastown. Actually, here you’ll find one of the few functional steam clocks in the world. This district blends the old and the new with sublime perfection. Behind well preserved old facades you’ll find souvenir shops, art, gastronomy, tattoos, and a few curiosities in antique shops.

Yaletown

If you’re looking for something fancier, you’ll love Yaletown. Its modern architecture buildings with large bay windows hold apartments, designer shops, restaurants, cafes and very interesting galleries.

Currently, Yaletown is one of the trendiest districts in Vancouver. It is a perfect place to spend an evening with a drink and an amazing view of False Creek, a water channel that goes through Downtown Vancouver.

Granville Island

What used to be an industrial zone is currently one of the favorite fun spots among the locals. A very stirring scene is building up in Granville, full of amusement, food, drink and fun!

In this area, you’ll find one of the most visited markets in town, perfect to find delicious and fresh products. You will also be able to taste some of the most famous handcrafted beers in Vancouver and have amazing culinary experiences for foodies.

Things to do in Vancouver

Fun things to do

What kinds of things can be done in Vancouver? During the fall, friend groups pick one of the nearby natural parks and get lost for hours in the mountains. In urban areas, picnics are one of the favorite activities.

In the summer, beaches are filled with young people who want to enjoy every single ray of sunlight. Sea swimmers, beach volleyball, and a festive ambiance flood these places. Bicycle or kayak rides through the channels are also very common. Locals love to take walks through the chicest districts searching for something delicious to eat or drink.

Cultural plans are also plentiful. Vancouver is a city with lots of history museums and independent art galleries. Besides you can find music displays on the streets that will cheer your daily movements. And, just wait until you see the art and history festivals in town. They are a true marvel!

When the night falls, Gastown and Granville’s lights get ready to receive those who are looking to satisfy their appetite with irresistible food, drink a few beers to the sound of light music, and, of course, dance until the sun comes up!

As we said, Vancouver has something for everyone!

Interesting places to visit in Vancouver

Vancouver is filled with parks where you can spend an evening, beaches for sunbathing, museums where you can actually learn about the country’s history and so much more. Here, we present some of our favorite ideas to invite you to come to Vancouver. If you’d like to know more, you’ll have to come and find out for yourself.

Stanley Park

Unlike other Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver has lots of nature. So, it just had to have a place like Stanley Park. It is the largest urban park in Canada and one of the favorite spots of locals and travelers alike.

Besides lending itself for peaceful bicycle rides on the Seawall pier, you can also visit the Vancouver Aquarium.  Also, see the First Nations totems up close, have a picnic, and walk from the mountains to the beach in just a few steps.

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain is located only 15 minutes from the city center. In the summer, you can go up through a chairlift (or on foot if you are up to it) and look over one of the most amazing natural landscapes. Also, you can walk a bit on the wildside and visit grizzly bears in their shelter. In the winter, Grouse Mountain turns into the perfect ski slope for all levels.

Anthropology Museum

The Anthropology Museum is a must see for those interested in the story of the First Nations. Here, you’ll get to know firsthand the culture and traditions of Canada’s first settlers (and other world cultures). Uniquely, the main attraction is the amazing totem collection, but there are also 10,000 historically relevant objects.

Whistler escapade

If you are willing to go a bit further, you can rent a car with some friends and have an escapade to the adventurous Whistler. This fantastic town is known as the sports and adventure capital of British Columbia. Be it winter or summer, you’ll find a fun plan to do: skiing and snowboarding for cold days; mountain biking, trekking, and kayaking for sunny days. You just have to go!

Studying in Vancouver

Studying in teh city

If you’ll already be living in Vancouver, why not study a course in Canada, a country with one of the best education systems in the whole world? If you think about it, studying in Vancouver can give you plenty of advantages: get the quality education you always dreamed of, a Student Visa with which you can study and work at the same time and remain in the country for more than three months.

English Courses

Yes, your English is already quite good, but why not make it perfect? In Vancouver you can study general courses, prepare for official exams or focus on a specific business area.

Co-Op Courses

These courses are the key to enter the Canadian job market. These courses have a theoretical and practical component. This means that, to graduate, you would necessarily have to work in Canada. An excellent option to start your career. Check out these course options:

College Programs

In Canada, you can also study at the university level. With these programs, you’ll learn everything you need about a specific area of knowledge. College programs can be a bit expensive, but if you complete them successfully, you’ll be a step further to emigrating to Canada.

If you need more information about studying in Canada you might find our article interesting an check out our experiences for university degrees in Vancouver:

Come Live in Vancouver with GrowPro Experience

Come with GrowPro

Here at GrowPro Experience, nothing excites us more than being able to help adventurous souls like you fulfill their dreams of traveling to Canada to study, work, and discover an amazing country to live in. And, for years, we have been working with thousands of young people who decided to start a new life in Vancouver.

Our Student Advisors have been through the same process as you and understand the difficulties and fears involved in the dream of moving abroad. That’s why, here at GrowPro, we accompany you through all the stages of this process.

How? Once you’ve selected the experience you like the most, a Student Advisor will contact you, help you plan a budget, move forward with bureaucratic processes, and, in general, make your road easier. And when you’re at your destination, you’ll be welcome to our meetings, parties, and events where you’ll meet other “Growers”.  Come live your adventure with GrowPro Experience!

About the author

Jaqueline Gairaud