Living in Vancouver - What to Expect

The jewel of Canada’s west coast, Vancouver is a favourite for new immigrants arriving in Canada. It’s easy to understand why. The city's diverse industries offer opportunity in job types across the board, not to mention it could be one of the most beautiful cities to live in thanks to the beautiful natural surroundings. But because everyone wants to settle here, there are some factors to consider, such as the cost of living in Vancouver. What should you expect before you arrive?

Immigrants who have their sights set on Vancouver typically make use of one of two programs, you can either take the straightforward Express Entry route, which will however mean a lot more competition, or be a little smarter and figure out your ideal pathway via the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program.

9 Things You Need To Know About Living in Vancouver

Apartments in Vancouver-living in Canada

1. The Cost of Living in Vancouver is High

Compared to other major cities in Canada, everything from housing to utilities, food to internet is high. You have this problem when a city is a particularly attractive place to be, which Vancouver very much is. The cost of houses is particularly high as the desirable property is finite. The average house price is around $800,000, compared to the average national price of $488,000. It doesn’t help that Vancouver’s wages are lower than just about every other city in Canada too. The average salary is currently hovering around $73,000 a year for a millennial couple, the second lowest rate in all of Canada.

Here are some costs you will encounter in Vancouver, compared to Calgary, another beautiful city located only 1,000km to the east in the province of Alberta.


Cost of Living in Vancouver vs Calgary
ItemVancouverCalgary
Rent (2 bedroom apartment)$2,000$1,200
Public Transport (monthly pass)$98$109
2021 VW Golf$26,000
Gasoline per litre$1.29$1.10
Utilities$107$200
Meal (take-out)$10$10
Internet (60Mbps line)$84$78
Loaf of bread$3.20$2.46
1 litre of milk$2.31$2.38
Bottle of wine (mid-range)$18$14
Meal at inexpensive restaurant$19$16

Vancouver bridge-living in Canada

2. Public Transport Beats Traffic Every Time

Between the Skytrain rapid transit system, the buses that run like clockwork and the Seabus passenger ferries, you’ll be watching people stuck in gridlock traffic from your lofty comfortable perch in the public transport vehicle of your choice. The city also offers a sophisticated bicycle network for those who enjoy an active lifestyle while saving money in the process.

Uber and Lyft are also available in the city as of 2020, so outside of peak hours you can make use of these convenient apps, which also offer a great part-time job opportunity in Canada.

3. Finding a New Home May be a Challenge

Aside from the sky high housing and rental prices, vacancy rates are lower than 1 percent. We guess that’s why property owners can charge such exorbitant prices. Apartments rent out very quickly, so you will need flexibility to view and make a call quickly if you find one that suits your needs.

Depending on your budget and where you want to live in the city, you could consider seeking out a roommate to cut those crazy rental prices in half.

Happy hour-living in Vancouver

4. Happy Hour is Everything

In a city where the last thing you want is to be cooped up in your home but the cost of sharing drinks or trying new Canadian foods with friends is high, happy hour is you saving grace. From 3pm to 6pm everyday, you will be able to try out some of Vancouver’s most popular hotspots for a fraction of the price.

Another experience is the vibrant food trucks you will find spread out all over the city, serving up mouth watering meals of local and international origins. Who knows, you may be inspired to start your own food truck business.

5. The Big Green Machine

Regardless of whether it’s your thing or not, marijuana dispensaries are as common as Tim Horton's in Vancouver. Just so you know.

6. Groceries

Buying food can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. The best is to go with the generic approach, Costco and Walmart offer great prices and discounts, especially when you bulk buy. If you’re looking for fresh produce, Chinatown is your best bet, with the best prices. 

Market in Vancouver-living in Canada

7. Wifi Hotspots

Data is very expensive in Canada, it won’t take you long to find out that mobile data plans are priced astronomically high. Shop around, find a good plan that doesn’t break the bank and rely on public hotspots for wifi. It is also a good idea to secure a mobile number as soon as you arrive, and even before if you can, as it will be helpful in opening your utility account, a bank account and so on.

8. It Rains, A Lot!

It doesn’t get nearly as cold as the rest of Canada in the winter, and while we get some snow, it’s not a whole lot. However, it rains a lot in the summer. That’s why everything is so green! Have an umbrella handy.

9. It is Incredibly Beautiful

There aren’t a lot of cities in the world that have pristine beaches and mammoth mountains within 30 minutes of each other. If you enjoy the outdoors, you will love the lifestyle surrounding Vancouver. With numerous lakes and the ocean at your doorstep, you can try your hand at paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. In the winter time those hiking trails turn into some of the most incredible ski slopes you’ll ever experience. The best part is, most of these incredibly enriching activities are free of charge.

No one in Canada needs a reason to visit their favourite city of Vancouver with everything it has to offer.

Vancouver-living in Canada

Are You Ready to Move to Vancouver, Canada?

If you think living in Vancouver may be a little out of your price range, cities on the periphery like Abbotsford and Chilliwack offer the same beauty with a much lower cost of living. Just over the Canadian Rockies are Calgary and Edmonton, and as you go further, you will find town after town and city after city full of the same promise and job opportunities you will find in Vancouver, maybe just not the eclectic atmosphere. If you have your mind set on living in Vancouver, you should now at least have some idea of what to expect. If you are ready, we can help you get there.