Are you thinking of moving to Vancouver but want to weigh the pros and cons of living in Vancouver? I can help with that.
Being born and raised in Vancouver, I am here to help you with all the details and information that will help you feel more prepared if or when you move to Vancouver.
Vancouver is one of the most multicultural and diverse Canadian cities you could live in. While I love living in Vancouver, I am going to be honest: it is not the easiest to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada.
However, these are the pros and cons of living in Vancouver that many people do not know before moving to Vancouver.
Pros And Cons Of Living In Vancouver
I have identified twelve advantages and ten disadvantages from my experiences living in Vancouver, which will help you gain more valuable insights into the city.
Additionally, I will address a neutral statement that often sparks debate among locals.
1. Close To Nature
Vancouver is the centre of the great outdoors. You can travel to different locations, such as mountains, oceans, deserts, and forests. The best part is that it is only a few hours away from the city.
You do not have to love the outdoors to live in Vancouver. However, you will grow to love the outdoors when you live in Vancouver.
While being in nature, there are many things to do in Vancouver in the winter, such as snowboarding, skiing, kayaking, canoeing, camping, and hiking.
2. Variety Of Food
I mentioned earlier that Vancouver is a multicultural city. Not only does that show with our people but with our food. Seafood in Vancouver is top-notch because we live on the coast.
You are bound to find all different types of cuisine all over the city. Whether it is the best Japanese food, for example, sushi (which I have to say in all of Canada, Vancouver has the best sushi), Chinese food or Vietnamese food, and even more to discover.
3. Local Events
There are always local events happening in Vancouver. You name it: sporting events, farmers’ markets, conventions, competitions, etc. Even movie productions that film all over the city. There is always something to watch or see, depending on the year.
There is also an abundance of non-touristy things to do in Vancouver, so while you are living in Vancouver, check them out; that way, you will get acquainted better with the Vancouver lifestyle.
4. Hub To Islands
There are multiple islands that you can travel to while living in Vancouver. Luckily, Vancouver has easy access to Vancouver Island with places like Victoria, Tofino, and Ucluelet.
You can also travel to the Sunshine Coast, where you can find the towns of Gibsons, Sechelt, and Halfmoon Bay.
There are also the Gulf Islands. The southern Gulf Islands are perfect for romantic getaways. The islands include Salt Spring, Galiano, Mayne, Pender, and Saturna.
5. Transportation (Transit)
Okay, hear me out. A lot of people complain about our transit system. I agree they have flaws and inevitable delays, but I have to consider transit a pro.
Why is transit a pro? Well, for convenience sake. We have the SkyTrains, buses, the Canada Line, SeaBus, and a new subway under construction. It can reduce travelling time depending on the time of day and where you are going.
Yes, they have delays and break down occasionally, but as a local living in Vancouver, using the transit system is highly convenient. Without it, Vancouver would end up like Los Angeles.
I have used the transit system since I was a teenager; all I can say is always allow extra time for transit. If you will get there in 20 minutes, tack on an extra 10 in case of delays.
It can get expensive to ride transit in Vancouver. However, due to inflation, the transit fair goes up a couple of cents every year or two.
I recommend purchasing a Compass Card. It is reusable and reloadable, with slightly lower prices than the Compass Passes.
💡 Tip: Leave 20 to 30 minutes earlier on rainy days or snow days to avoid delays on your way to work.
6. Multiple Outdoor Spaces
Vancouver is home to nearly 300 parks (including beaches and gardens). You can find a green space almost anywhere in the city. Not to mention that British Columbia alone is home to many national parks like Manning Provincial Park.
Some outdoor spaces there are notorious in Vancouver:
- Stanley Park
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Jericho Beach
- Kitsilano Beach
Vancouver has bike lanes and biking roads all around the city. Suppose you are planning on living in Vancouver and love to bike or get into biking.
Some of the best Stanley Park bike tours will take you in and around Stanley Park and on the Seawall with other locations around the city. They are available for all levels of riders; there are also even E-bike tours if you do not want to do a lot of peddling.
Retail or grocery shopping, you will be okay with shopping anywhere, living in Vancouver. It feels more like where I should shop today for my groceries or which mall I should shop at today.
We also tend to have various grocery stores in the moderate price range if you plan on living on the East side of Vancouver, i.e., Superstore or Walmart. Whereas the West end they have higher-end grocery stores, i.e., Whole Foods or Urban Fare.
The free health care system is funded through taxes and is universal in Canada. If you plan to live in Vancouver for a certain amount of time or permanently, I recommend looking into more information about Canada’s health care system.
I am not sure if it is a local thing, but no matter what, Vancouvrites always talk about the weather. Summer overall is hot, and we can reach temperatures up to 30 degrees Celcius (86 Fahrenheit) in some areas over 30 degrees.
Winter overall is moderate. However, temperatures can reach the negatives, but the weather fluctuates between years. Sometimes we get a lot of snow during the winter; others, we get none.
10. A Walkable City
Vancouver is a walkable city due to its infrastructure, pedestrian-friendly streets, and many green spaces. Vancouver’s downtown core is compact, making walking from neighbourhood to neighbourhood a lot easier.
11. Easy To Get To The USA
Taking a day trip or a weekend trip to the States (United States) is a common and regular occurrence for Vancouver people because the border is a 40 to 50-minute drive away.
Many people, including myself, drive to Birch Bay (PO Boxes), Bellingham, Seattle, Oregon, and even California.
Most of the time, it is as far as Seattle because we mainly check out stores we do not have in Canada, such as Target and Trader Joe’s, or look for cheaper gas, etc. I mostly go for Taco Bell.
12. You Do Not Need To Know French
Canada’s two main languages are English and French. You do not need to know how to speak French in Vancouver, or at least in almost all of Canada; you will only need to speak French if you are in Quebec.
Neither Pro Nor Con
Sorry, the Vancouverite in me is going to be talking about the weather again.
Geographically, Vancouver is a temperate rainforest. In layman’s terms, we get a lot of rain, especially during winter and spring. Throughout the year, we can go weeks with ample amounts of rainfall.
I would consider myself neutral when it comes to rain. However, many local people debate whether rain is a bad thing or a good thing and also, depending on who you ask, you will get a different answer.
There are a number of reasons why people cannot stand the rain in Vancouver. For example, it rained out my plans, it brought my mood down, and transit sucks in the rain (sometimes), etc.
However, on the other hand, rain contributes to our electricity in Vancouver. Rain contributes to our electricity because the entire city and the tri-cities rely on a hydroelectric generating system.
Also, we have many freshwater dams that contribute to our drinking water, which we rely on from rainfall. And I have to say personally, I think that Vancouver has the best drinking water in the world — or at least in Canada.
14. High Cost Of Living
The biggest thing on this list of the pros and cons of living in Vancouver is the city’s high cost of living. Whether you rent or plan to buy, almost everywhere is expensive. Depending on which neighbourhood you plan to live in, make a price difference too.
As a general idea, I do not know anyone who rents for under $2,500 CAD a month. And to tell you the truth, the $2,500, depending on location, will give you a small one-bedroom apartment.
I do not want to scare you, but finding somewhere to live in Vancouver is tough. Many people I also know have roommates to help split the cost, but even then, it still costs a pretty penny.
15. High Food Prices
Again, like the cost of living, the high food prices in Vancouver only keep increasing. Especially red meats. To put it in perspective, my family is a household of three. We tend to buy our groceries every two or three weeks.
Our grocery bill can hit close to $300 CAD or more depending on where we are shopping, i.e., Superstore vs Costco or Walmart vs Superstore.
16. Traffic & Drivers
Compared to Los Angeles traffic, they make Vancouver’s traffic or rush hour look like nothing. Typically our rush hours are not a massive deal unless there is an accident, and it is still considered a con but not one of the biggest cons of living in Vancouver.
💡 Tip: Rush hours usually happen in the morning, from 6:00 AM to around 8:45 AM. During the evenings, 4:00 PM to 6:45 PM.
The drivers in Vancouver are not always the best. I have seen both sides of people driving as a passenger and a driver.
Sometimes, you will see people being reckless or reckless with road rage. But you also have polite drivers who will throw up the thank you hand.
17. Expensive To Fly Elsewhere
If you fly anywhere from Vancouver, the cost of flying is expensive. Even travelling between provinces is costly. Compared to flying from Ontario, their location is more centralized than Vancouver, so hence why flights are cheaper in comparison to Vancouver.
You can find cheaper flights from Vancouver; for example, travelling to places like Mexico tends to be in approximately the $500 CAD range. But flights tend to skyrocket if you travel even down to locations in the USA.
18. High Gas Prices
Even though British Columbia is right next to the province of Alberta (also known as oil country), our gas prices are close to two dollars a litre. When I was younger, I remember when gas hit one dollar, and we thought that was high.
However, times are changing, and Vancouver is working towards all-electric vehicles and installing more charging stations across the province. But we still have a ways to go.
19. Forest Fires
In recent years, forest fires have been a massive issue in our province because of the contribution of climate change and humans being irresponsible. Unfortunately, that affects everyone in British Columbia because the smoke will fill the sky if the forest fire is close enough or the wind blows.
The smoke can cause potential respiratory problems, making it hard for humans and animals to breathe the air.
The smoke was highly hazardous a couple of years ago. Scientists said it was above the safe range to step outside. Windows or airflow into the house had to be closed or turned off.
In 2023 British Columbians experienced one of the worst forest fire seasons in history. The season started earlier than usual (April). There was at the time of writing this post, 1,818 wildfires have burned approximately 1.61 million hectares of land, including communities.
If you plan to move to Vancouver, please throw your cigarette butts or joints in the proper disposal bins, put out campfires properly, never leave them unattended, and report a fire if you see one.
20. Boring Nightlife
While many retail and Canadian souvenir stores are in Downtown Vancouver, clubs and pubs are not among Vancouver’s strongest suits.
Vancouver is known to have a poor or non-lively nightlife in Canada. Granville Street is the only place in Downtown Vancouver with all the pubs and nightclubs, but even then, as a whole, it is boring.
21. Underprepared For Snow
I am not going to lie; Vancouver is underprepared for snow. It is pretty much laughable that the city is not. Vancouver does not frequently get a lot of snowfall, but the city is not prepared when we do.
I suggest staying off the roads altogether when the snow starts falling.
In recent years, Vancouver has had a variety of heavy or light snowfalls, and even during the light snowfalls, it is a catastrophe. Mostly because nobody really has winter tires in Vancouver, and the snowplows do not start on time, or we do not have enough.
But on the positive side, the city looks stunning when it is covered in snow!
22. Not Always Friendly
I am not going to lie; not everyone in Vancouver is friendly. As a local, I have encountered people who are friendly or outright rude.
For some reason, making new friends in Vancouver is also challenging. Either way, you will always find friendly or not-so-friendly people anywhere.
23. Earthquake Prone
Vancouver is located on the Pacific Tectonic Plate or “The Ring of Fire,” meaning we are more prone to earthquakes. Yes, tsunamis can happen as well because of the quakes.
Growing up in Vancouver, in elementary and high schools, you will always have earthquake practice drills at least once a year. There are mini earthquakes that could happen any day, and historically, we are overdue for “The Big One.”
Pros And Cons Of Living In Vancouver — FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about the pros and cons of living in Vancouver.
Is Vancouver An Expensive City To Live In?
To be honest and blunt with you, Vancouver is an expensive city to live in. Vancouver is constantly tied for the most expensive city to live in Canada with Toronto.
Where Is Vancouver Located?
Vancouver is located on the West Coast of Canada in the province of British Columbia.
Why Is Vancouver So Desirable?
Vancouver is desirable because of its stunning natural surroundings, mild climate, cultural diversity, high quality of life, and economic opportunities.
As well as the abundant outdoor activities, free healthcare system, environmental sustainability, easy access to nature, low crime rate, and overall safety.
Is It Worth Living In Vancouver?
Diverse natural landscapes, a mild climate, a multicultural atmosphere, and diverse food options will make the majority of people wanting to live in Vancouver worth it.
However, what may deter many is the high cost of sustaining a living in Vancouver.
Regardless of the high cost of living, I love living in Vancouver, and I am not biased; there are many reasons why I love living in the city.
Conclusion: Pros And Cons Of Living In Vancouver
These were the pros and cons of living in Vancouver. However, If you want to live in Vancouver, I would say make a move to live in Vancouver. Despite all the negatives, Vancouver is beautiful, and you will fall in love with this city.
Have a good day 🙂