- Download our Moving to Vancouver Guide (PDF)
Known for its majestic mountains, lush rainforests and stunning ocean views, not to mention a fantastic quality of life, it’s no wonder Vancouver is an immensely popular expat destination. That said, like anywhere else, there are both advantages and downsides to living in Canada’s largest port city.
Check out our list of pros and cons below.
Lifestyle in Vancouver
+ PRO: Great sports and outdoor activities
Fitness enthusiasts in Vancouver will never run out of summer or winter sports options, thanks to the city's diverse and sprawling landscape. The North Shore Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean serve as great arenas for outdoor activities, including skiing, surfing, kayaking and mountain biking.
- CON: Nightlife is somewhat restricted
Avid party-goers considering a move to Vancouver may be disappointed by the city’s low-key nightlife. Vancouver’s strict noise bylaws and liquor laws have hampered the growth of its club and bar scene. While this can certainly be a downside to living in Vancouver, especially for younger expats, lawmakers are gradually making changes.
Working in Vancouver
+ PRO: Important commercial hub for Canada
With excellent deep-water harbour infrastructure, thriving fishing, forestry, and mining industries as well as a growing service sector, Vancouver is a commercial hub that attracts workers from all over. Its vibrant economy means job opportunities abound.
- CON: The job market is competitive
Competition in Vancouver’s job market is fierce, and expats will compete not only with other foreigners but also Canadians who move to the city from elsewhere in the country looking to progress their careers. That said, some industries still experience labour shortages, and job-seeking expats in these fields are sure to have an easier go of it.
Accommodation in Vancouver
+ PRO: Excellent standard of accommodation
A lot of the accommodation in Vancouver is in the form of high-rise condos and apartments, while standalone houses are in relatively short supply. The housing is generally high quality, and while most apartments come unfurnished, they usually include essential appliances. Some buildings even offer sought-after amenities such as swimming pools, theatre rooms and gyms.
- CON: Accommodation is expensive and house hunting is competitive
Accommodation in Vancouver is eye-wateringly expensive (the most expensive in North America). It is also the most populous city in Canada and this high demand has led to a remarkably competitive housing market.
Getting around in Vancouver
+ PRO: Fantastic public transport infrastructure
Getting around in Vancouver is a breeze with an integrated public transport system that features buses, rapid trains and passenger ferries. Taxis and ride-hailing services are also readily available.
+ PRO: Cycling is encouraged
With dedicated cycle lanes, safe bike storage facilities and bicycle racks in the front of buses, Vancouver is a cyclist's dream. Though the city has yet to implement a bicycle-sharing programme, bikes can be purchased fairly affordably.
Cost of living in Vancouver
+ PRO: Free universal healthcare
Vancouver offers universal healthcare to citizens and permanent residents, and the British Columbia Medical Service Plan affords residents access to high-quality and publicly-funded healthcare.
+ PRO: Free education
Public schooling in Vancouver is free for Canadian citizens, expats on permanent-resident visas and those on work visas. British Columbia also has one of the highest regarded education systems in Canada.
- CON: High cost of living
The second most expensive city in Canada, Vancouver has an undeniably high cost of living. Accommodation takes the biggest chunk out of Vancouverites' salaries, and eating out here isn’t cheap either. Be that as it may, the city offers a wide range of eateries suitable for any budget.
Safety and security in Vancouver
+ PRO: Vancouver is exceptionally safe
Vancouver is known as one of the safest cities in the world and this adds to its attraction for expats. While, like any city, it has its less-desirable pockets, Vancouver is remarkably safe and residents experience very little crime if they use common sense.
► For an overview of life in Canada check out Moving to Canada
"Vancouver is one of the top 10 cities to live in the world! Things might be a little expensive, and the pace of life a little slower than your home country, but people in this part of the world live longer and are generally happier because of all the great quality of life offered here. Go explore the mountains, make new friends, and enjoy life in beautiful British Columbia!"
Read more about American expat Cyrus's experiences in Vancouver
Are you an expat living in Vancouver?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vancouver. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance.
Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.
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