“Don’t Move to Vancouver”: Why I Changed My Mind After 6 Months

It’s pretty enough.

***Later May 2013 update: I’ve now closed the comments. It’s closing on 300 and honestly, it’s starting to move around in circles. It’s also getting nastier, and the attacks have increased. I’m also tired of dealing with this stuff on a daily basis, and I honestly want to move with my life.

Thanks to everyone who commented in a civil and respectful manner.

May 2013 update: I am surprised at the constant popularity of this post. However, remember that it was written in March 2012, after I left Vancouver mostly heartbroken and disillusioned. 

What I got over the course of one year and close to 300 comments is that I’m not the only one who had expectations that were not met. That said, it doesn’t mean that Vancouver is a necessarily bad place to live. I’ve received mostly assent and agreement, and some people disagree as well, and that’s all right. What I WILL NOT accept are personal attacks (“you’re stupid/I found a job, you must simply be incompetent/we don’t want people like you around anyway”). I know there’s a lot of comments like this going around on Reddit. Happily, I don’t read that drivel. What I also will not accept are racist comments (“It’s all the fault of the Chinese” (or “Chinaman”, I swear I got that), “Indians make this city look dirty”, etc.). Immigration can be an issue, but racism is barbaric and is swiftly removed. I’m happy to let in views that disagree with mine, because that’s the nature of rational and productive debate, but disparagement and racism are not acceptable.—End of May 2013 update

While you’re here, why don’t you drop by my home page for my latest post, and subscribe by email (to your left) or RSS? I do like to talk about other things :)

Due to the sudden (and rather unexpected) popularity of this post, I will fiercely moderate the comments. I thank everyone who shared their thoughts and stories with me; I encourage you to write your own and let me know on Twitter (@anabellebf) or on my blog’s Facebook page so I can link up to it. 

This post is entirely my own opinion, based on my personal experience and has no claim to objectivity. It does not mean to represent in any way the “truth” about Vancouver. It just represents my truth. I’ve recently written another post that attempts to put some things in perspective. Please give it a look.


There’s this thing we have back East about Vancouver: we think it’s a mystical land where there is no snow in the winter and summers aren’t crushingly hot. There are beautiful mountains and glass skyscrapers and the ocean. Everyone is a hippie and people are friendly and mellow because they all do yoga and run while breathing clean, wholesome ocean air. You can grow pot on your lawn and it doesn’t get you arrested. There is no snow. There is no snow. There is no snow.

You should have heard me in my first two or three months here: “I’ve always wanted to live here. It’s so beautiful. There’s no way I can go back home after seeing this, being here! You should totally move here. Yeah, it’s expensive, but this view makes up for it!” I was gaga for Van; if it had been a person I would have waited in line for an autograph.

Now, not only am I leaving, but I never want to come back.

So long! Adieu! It’s been nice, but now I feel like a young naïve girl who’s been tricked into having sex with a pretty but vapid jock.

Despite the good things about Vancouver, it has disappointed me on so many levels that I wonder why anyone in their right minds would choose to stay here. Let’s see a breakdown, shall we?

Disappointing thing #1: The job market

I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, don’t get me wrong. Times are hard and jobs are scarce, but I am a highly trained, skilled and experienced person and when barely 15% of the jobs you apply for actually call you back, you’re starting to take it a bit personally. “Is it me? Am I not good enough?” you ask in tears as the pretty jock dumps you after he’s had what he wanted.

There are no jobs here, and when a good one pops up, the competition is so fierce that you have to send a singing telegram to get noticed. I thought my French would give me an edge–might as well speak Catalan for the little it did for me.

And IF you get one of these rare jobs, the salaries are in no way high enough to support basic living. Vancouver’s minimum living wage is 19.14$. 19$ an hour is somewhere around 40K a year, BEFORE any taxes and deductions are taken. And that’s just basic survival for a family with two full-time, full year income earners. No car, no luxuries, probably no savings either.

So what’s wrong with this picture? 19$ an hour is a lot, you say? Let’s see what else.

Disappointing thing #2: The cost of living

Okay, this isn’t exactly a disappointment. I knew about the cost of living because of the two years I spent in Victoria. But even then, the cost of living here is ludicrous. How many people must cram into a 1500$/month 2-bedroom apartment just to make ends meet? “Why aren’t they moving somewhere cheaper?” you ask.

Well, there isn’t anything cheaper. Well, actually, there is, but the cheaper stuff is often illegal, unsafe and unhealthy. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to rent my room for 500$ because I know the person who owns the house and they have accepted me in the family. The real estate costs are driving the rental costs at levels where even renters won’t be able to afford it anymore. When a one-bedroom rent for one person can easily eat out 50% of your monthly income, there is something deeply, deeply wrong with the market.

And it’s not just about the rents. The food is also ludicrously expensive. On a comparative scale to Montréal, the food can often be close to double what I used to pay back home. Big brick of cheap, Kraft, orange cheddar cheese? 15$. Back home? 8$, 6$ on special. 5 chicken breasts? 15$. Back home? 7-ish$.

So it’s not just about the rent prices; it’s also about the sky-high prices of everything from food to entertainment to personal care items.

Disappointing thing #3: The heart

It’s not like there’s nothing to do in Vancouver. Actually, I was pretty busy during the months I spent there. But the city has, how can I explain it… no soul. It is as superficial and empty as the endless condo towers growing like weeds.

There are good people in Vancouver who give this city some spark and light; but most times I felt no joie de vivre, no… happiness. Everyone is working so hard to maintain the appearance of being affluent that they lose their souls in the process. They lose their ability to enjoy life. And what good is a city surrounded by nature if you can’t find it in your heart to enjoy it to its fullest because you are worried about bills all the time?

Montréal might not be as pretty, but people there have fun. And there’s fun enough for everyone, not just the pretty 18-year-olds. Sometimes it felt to me like Vancouver’s obsession with food is masking a deep dissatisfaction. An interesting study topic for a cultural anthropologist?


I used to love Vancouver as a tourist… but staying there made me hate it. How many smart, motivated young people must you scare out with your over-inflated prices and lack of joy before you realize that you are headed to an economic and human disaster, Vancouver?

Related links:

Rabble.ca: No fun? No point: Vancouver’s political boredom

Avenue Edmonton: Paradise Found

Cunting Linguist: Vancouver, I love you but I’m leaving

Cunting Linguist: The deeper reasoning behind my leaving

Miss Manifesto: Vancouver, Lost

BC Business, Dec 12 2011: Housing has become Vancouver’s toxic asset

Sandy Garossino: Unaffordable (That’s what you are)

Maclean’s, June 11 2011: The real problem with Vancouver’s outrageous house prices

286 thoughts on ““Don’t Move to Vancouver”: Why I Changed My Mind After 6 Months

  1. Dude, yes. Everything you said. And kudos to you for getting out after six months. I have been here for almost 8 fucking years (can i swear on your blog?) and they are 8 years I will never get back. I have, in 8 fucking years, made some amazing friends in my artistic discipline, but internet friendships are going to have to sustain us. I’m also getting the hell out. And I really do wonder who is going to be left here once the exodus of smart, energetic, creative young and young-ish people has finished.

    1. Anabelle

      You can absolutely swear on here. I didn’t but I should have :p

      1. Dear Anabelle,

        Thank you for the post. I find it helpful. However, I have to say I sensed a bit of “Montreal/Quebec vs rest of Canada”, buried in between the lines of the text. This is a feeling I am quite familiar with (I am from Westmount Montreal). Montreal is a great town.. no doubt about that..but we both know, being from there, it is dirty, it is unbearably cold,.. too socialist. Vancouver is a great place to live, if you have a JOB! (I lived there for a few years. I am currently in the US for family reasons). Sorry to hear you had a hard time finding a paying job but this can’t be blamed on the city..maybe your expertise were not needed around Vancouver??

        Montreal is a great place to be student in, (it’s cheap, fun and energetic). But you won’t be able to build a serious life (where you make/save more money, weather is mild and conditions are more pristine).

        My two cents, miss Canada and my Canadian fellows :)


        1. The post is “old”, but not that old so I’m jumping in.

          I only spent a year in Vancouver, and as a student so my vision of it might be wrapped in a bubble since I had saved up means and funding.

          It was easy to see that people struggled to find places to live, that the prices were high and the job market is a bit crammed. Though it is for a reason. It is a good place to live, and if one settle for an apartment a bit in the outskirt of down town it is not that bad. There are so many amazing people and things to do. In general it is pretty similar to Norway, minus the cold winters and boring city life. Makes it rather awsome if you can sustain a decent job. Finding one within what one has studied can be hard with all the competition these days, and to be honest I wouldn’t expect to get a call or notice from most of the applications sent out. It is just how people treat others people these days. Nothing personal. It is just “business”.

          I’m quite certain you can make it anywhere if you have the smarts and use the right tools to market yourself, build the right connections and work hard.

    2. Isn’t the economic issue a global one? If you look at the numbers, BC’s economy actually weathered the downturn better than most places. Jobs are hard to come by everywhere, and each city has its own mix of hot industries and not so hot ones.

      There’s only one city in Canada big enough to truly say it has a well-rounded job market in almost every sector – and generally Montrealers and Vancouverites choose not to live there for lots of reasons.

      I often say to people who don’t live here – Vancouver CAN be the greatest place in the world to live, but you need to know HOW to live here and take advantage of what’s on offer. If you’re expecting the same things from Vancouver that make Montreal great, you’re bound to be disappointed. Vancouver isn’t Montreal without the snow, and never claimed to be.

      1. Ha! Bob! Is that you? The internet is so small!

    3. This is a very late response, but here goes. For those thinking about Montreal — think carefully.

      I really dislike Montreal — I think it is a town that simply doesn’t work. It almost kills me to say this, since I think there are some friendly people here, and I’m bilingual and really appreciate the access to francophone resources.

      But. My God. The infrastructure is third world. The mayor put a poll to Montrealers, to survey whether locals want the many, many potholes fixed, even though there are only corrupt, probably mafia-controlled contractors. Great leadership! By the way, this mayor recently replaced another who stepped down, because he was under investigation. Oh, and a city council member under investigation also committed suicide.

      This city is so badly run, and so much of it looks like it’s falling apart. The Place des Arts, much of downtown… Having good cafes, and restaurants are important. Mile End is funky, but good luck getting there in the winter, since the metro doesn’t go there.

      Cute spiral staircases aside, much of this town is an eyesore, and after 8 months here, I’m really looking forward to leaving.

      Also, it will never feel cosmopolitan here, because of the identity and language politics. I’m sympathetic to Quebecois — I understand their concerns. But as long as this continues, it will remain a town stuck in eternal adolescence. Really, maybe the roads, schools (many elementary schools are unsafe for the children), very high dropout rates are bigger issues than whether your signage in English is too large.

  2. anabelle,

    my friend has been living in vancouver for almost two years and has voiced the same concerns to me. it’s disheartening and eye-opening and i’m glad to know that you feel the same. i always thought it was a cold place when i visited. i wish you all the best!

    1. Anabelle

      Thanks for dropping by Mikiko!
      It’s really a shame. I wanted to love it there. It just doesn’t take long to scratch the surface and to find out that the city runs on smoke and mirrors.

  3. I’d point out that since you left the cost of many food items has more than doubled in the Montreal area. Gas prices continue to soar (and the taxes on that gas remain a percentage even though it is making the most basic of foodstuffs skyrocket).

    1. Anabelle

      I was ranting a little at that point. The gas on the mainlaind is usually around 1.35$; I’ve seen it at 1.42 sometimes. Don’t know the prices back home though.

  4. Former Vancouverite

    I lived in Vancouver for nearly five years. I’m Chinese — and I’d heard all about how racially diverse it was there. Thing is, I’m originally from Toronto…where multiculturalism flourishes more than it does in any other part of the country, I’d argue. So for me, the LACK of mixing amongst different cultural groups was shocking to me. There are ghettos of South Asians and Chinese people…and not a lot of collaboration between them all. Also, right outside of Vancouver there is a lot of racism. I am still amazed at the three off-duty Vancouver-area cops that were arrested for beating up and robbing a South Asian city of Vancouver worker a few years ago. They were yelling racial epithets at him while doing so. This is the darker side of Vancouver that few people ever talk about. Despite all the mixed marriages in the city, I never really felt like everyone just got along like they do (with some exceptions) in T.O.

    1. Anabelle

      I’d say the same about Montréal, actually. Interracial relationships abound, there’s people from everywhere living anywhere (there are some clusters, but it’s easy for anyone to live anywhere they want). Like everywhere, there IS racism, but not quite like in Vancouver. Vancouver feels like a bunch of monocultural spots rather than one big melting pot.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I didn’t experience that (being white) but it’s important for people to know what’s really going on.

    2. Exactly this. Once you leave the downtown core, there is so much racism and redneck BS. Then again, very few people living in the DT core are actually from here so…

  5. I lived in Vancouver for 19 yrs and miss it. I think it about what you put in. I put in my heart and soul and feel as if a part of me is missing. I have been back to visit and miss it very much each time. i got to show my husband some beautiful sites while we were there. I do agree it is expensive to live there as i was not only working, as a single parent, and receiving a top up from social assistance as I wasn’t making enough to survive. I had a roommate in a townhouse and we made it work for us. It was a give and take situation. I got married after coming back to Edmonton to be with family.

  6. I wish we’d met, Anabelle! I’ve been living in Vancouver for ten years, and though I love it as the city I’ve chosen to put down roots in, I continue to be disappointed by its shallowness and lack of genuine good-naturedness. Even the large groups of people I know who do get out and play and enjoy nature do it in a way I’ve never felt comfortable with. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly what it is. I’ve spent the vast majority of my time here looking for a band of misfits to fit into.

    I guess I committed so long ago (and since I married a guy who grew up here), I’ve taken to doing my best to affect the change I wish weren’t necessary. But it’s a fine line between being sincerely proactive and being an angry, ranting lunatic. I have my lunatic days, and sometimes they feel more productive than the proactive ones.

    Good luck back east, and I hope someday you’ll feel okay coming back as a tourist.

    1. Anabelle

      I actually just moved to Victoria :p but there’s a plan to eventually go back East. We’re just stuck here for the moment.

      I’ll always like Vancouver as a tourist… but I have no hopes of ever making it there. That’s dead and gone.

  7. Coming from Edmonton, Vancouver was a step up. Been here for 3 years, and as nice as it is, it still doesn’t feel like home. I don’t think I ever will.

    1. Anabelle

      Nothing is never home unless it’s your home, but I left really disenchanted. There’s no way of getting ahead in Vancouver, at least not without a lot of money that you already have.

      1. Bang on! you will really enjoy vancouver if your already rich and have a nice place to live. only then can you buy the overpriced beers on granville or 15 dollar cheeses. For the rest of us, theres no way to actually create any savings to live comfortably.

        Everyone is making just about enough to “look” affluent, but dig deeper and its a different story.

        Another disillusioned resident!

  8. Bonjour Anabelle,

    I grew up in two cities, Edmonton and North Vancouver. I left Edmonton when I was 16, and did my young adult life in Vancouver. I was able to accomplish a lot while in the lower mainland, got my bachelor’s, started to work straight from graduation in a great conuslting job, got married, bought an apartment, two beautiful kids arrived to make us a family, got my Master’s degree. We thought we where set – luckiest couple alive to be in such a gorgeous city and our careers where thriving. THEN it hit – buckled to our knees trying to pay for one child in day care while my wife returned to work, then our baby girl arrived and it was impossible to explain the logic of my wife returning to work and then just hand that money over to a child care provider. So she stayed home and we started to bleed money. Contract work was great when your fending for yourself, now with a family – contract work not so great and then it starting to not become full time anymore, cuts were happening, job not so secure anymore. Groceries, Mortgage, One Vehicle, One Income, No Benefits, No Savings – I started to have restless nights.

    So I told my wife, no worries, I will start aiming higher, I have my Master’s, I’m proficient in French, I’m fluent in Spanish, it will be easy to find a job to plug some of the holes. Maybe we can even talk to the bank see if they will let us renew early to take advantage of low interest rates (HA! that was naive!) ONE YEAR AND SEVERAL APPLICATIONS LATER – nothing, nada, zilch. Meanwhile the signal was clear from my current work, contracts are dwindling you need to get out while you can.

    We were down for the count. So August 2011 I applied to two jobs in Edmonton, by the end of month I was flown in for interviews, by September 2011 I had a job offer, by November 2011 we where sleeping in our rented townhome in Edmonton. Just like that in a matter of weeks Edmonton could do what I wished and hoped Vancouver could do for almost two years.

    I have heard from a colleague that one of the consultants I worked with had become so desperate she took a job as a receptionist even though she has 8 years of professional work experience and a Master’s degree. What the hell is going on Vancouver?

    Employers know they have a desirable city and a huge job bank from which to pick so no need to overpay… make em work for pennies. Great Captalism not so great community building.

    The younger generations are leaving, what will Vancouver do when it can’t draw them back?

    1. Anabelle

      I found myself applying to receptionist jobs as well. I’m very lucky I found a decently-paying, professional job here in Victoria but the cut was close.

      I’m no economist/sociologist, so I don’t know what’s going on. The real question is: why is nobody doing anything about it?

      1. The job market is dismal here. Even if you can get a job in your field, pay rates are generally lower here than elsewhere. We are leaving for Edmonton. The main motivation was that my husband was dissatisfied with his job here, not that we were seeking out a lower cost of living, but that is going to be a huge bonus. I know he was feeling a lot of the same anxiety you were bdiddy18. We felt like we were treading water, paying the bills, but no way of getting ahead. He had no luck finding a job in his field in the Lower Mainland, even though he is in a niche, technical field. He had several interviews outside the area, for jobs in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Kamloops. The job he took in Edmonton came with a pay raise of over 20 per cent and much better benefits.

        1. Anabelle

          Yeah, I thought given my experience and my education it would have been easier, but even with an excellent contact network, I couldn’t manage to get hired. And I wasn’t going to commit to a minimum wage job (IF they would hire me, which is not likely because I would be overeducated), so moving to Victoria where at least I could share a rent seemed logical. I was very lucky to find a job in Victoria that paid a good wage and is actually within my skill level.

          Glad to see that you’re having a good life in Edmonton. It might be cold, but the summer evenings are so long and the river valley is actually pretty in the summer!

      2. Im sorry that some people have had such a poor experience in the city that I love,I have also lived in many cities across Canada,east coast(born there),Edmonton,Ottawa,Victoria,Kelowna and have been to or visited most major cities throught North America and many other cities around the world.Yes it is true Vancouver is a very expensive city to live in,my partner and I have one veh.I cycle comute to work she works from home.She is from Southern Ontario and would,nt go back for anything.I can live anywhere and was happy in the other cities I mentioned but nothing in my view can replace life on the south coast.I think the main problem is that people come here with such high expectations that no one place can live up to that.I dont know what the price of gas costs we seldom drive.I have a good job so maybe Im lucky that way but I always find good work,my partner works in health care as a consultant and can work anywhere.In my industry I could make more money in Alberta,been there done that never again,I have lived in Alberta 2 times in my life and looking for a way out every time I go there.The nicest place on earth would suck if your dont have a job or the means to provide for yourself so the the same applies to the south coast.

  9. I grew up in west coast resource based town called Vancouver. It’s gone now. It was replaced by a resort. You visited the resort. You thought it was real. It was only a set built by real estate developers to sell more real estate. You were an extra paid to walk the streets in the background. Concord Pacific, Polygon, and the DeCotiis family thanks you.

  10. Your blog is making the rounds, and that’s how I came across it. You’ve summarized what a lot of people are feeling. I’ve been here a long time. Vancouver used to live up to your fanatasy stereotype. It’s only been the last few years when the housing market went nuts that the city has changed (almost neigbourhood by neigbourhood) and lost its soul. Those of us that extol its virtues are still living in the past.

    But, I don’t know if it’s a permanent thing. If the housing market comes down, it might revert back. I’m crossing my fingers that this happens before the critical mass of the population is displaced and the stereotype changes forever.

    1. Anabelle

      I noticed–thanks for stopping by :)

      I just described my personal experience–I didn’t realize that so many people felt the same way. I know that Vancouver could be great… god, how could it not with such an amazing setting? But as Joe Mainlander has commented, it’s become a resort. And I know at least enough about resort countries to see the analogy works: while you stay in the resort, you don’t see what’s happening outside because you don’t really want to.

      I do hope that the Vancouver you love comes back. If it does, I might try my hand at it again, if the city’s fake economy based on phantom real estate hasn’t entirely collapsed.

  11. This article or blog entry is not objective whatsoever. This is a personal point of view of someone , who apparently appears to have gotten the cheap end of the stick. When you go off about the job market – that’s your personal perspective. I don’t know one person who’s had a hard time finding a job in Vancouver whatsoever. And I mean not at all. My sister moved here from Toronto in September and has 4 jobs.

    Infact – coming here from Toronto in 2006 I much prefer the job market in Vancouver vs. a city like Toronto (where you have to go thru an employment agency to land a good job, and the company can call up your agency anytime and let you go for no reason at all) or Montreal (LOL – call centre capital of the world).

    You talk about food prices being to high – did you shop at Safeway the whole entire time you were here? THERE IS SO MUCH CHEAP GROCERY in VANCOUVER it’s insane. More so then Toronto and even Montreal. With the recent emergence of No Frills as well prices are cheaper than Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, etc I live in Riley Park, and I can shop at 4 different grocery stores that are all insanely cheap.

    You go on about Vancouver having no heart and soul – again that’s a personal point of view of someone who when I read it, almost seams like you had a couple of friends at best. Again – basing it off what you are writing. Are you one of those people who would claim it’s hard to “make new friends” in Vancouver as well? Because when I moved here I made a shit load of friends off the bat that I still hang out with to this day…

    Overall – this piece of writing is subjective, and from a point of view of someone who had, what appears, a crappy social experience with Vancouver. But most of the article is false and untrue. Overall, these are not true reasons on why someone should not move here, yet someone’s perspective who couldn’t find a job or have the social life they wanted.

    If someone reads this and still wants to discuss the differences between say Toronto or Montreal and Vancouver feel free to get intouch with me on here. I can be objective. I can honestly say Toronto is far more expensive, socially depressing, and a worse job market then Vancouver – and I LOVE my hometown of Toronto. People from out east move to Vancouver and try to “work it” and “do their thing here” like it’s Montreal but it’s not Montreal!

    Think of Vancouver like Portland or San Francisco and think of Toronto/Montreal like Chicago/New York…. If you think about New York and San Francisco – ofcourse things are totally different in those two respective cities. Almost everything socially is different. Like any West Coast city, in Vancouver you need to know “where” to go. Atleast here, I can walk to work and not worry about transit. Or hop on a sky train and get anywhere in 15 mintues. In Toronto I was forced to pay $121 dollars a month to ride a failing transit system that might fall apart, or go on strike at any moment, to get to my job that could end at any moment because of the rise of employment agencies dominating the work place.

    Just google Mayor Gregor Robertson – and see what he’s doing for Vancouver. Then google Rob Ford, or Montreal’s mayor and see how messed up the future of Toronto/Montreal is based on what their respective mayors are doing.

    Overall this article is ridiculous at best.

    1. Anabelle

      Thanks for your comment. You have some good points.

      There are absolutely no pretentions to objectivity. This is an opinion blog post, not a newspaper article. It’s based on my (admittedly short) experience and the frustration I felt. And it seems I am not the only one who feels this way.

      Maybe things aren’t that much better elsewhere, but it doesn’t mean that things aren’t bad here. There are problems everywhere. Some I am willing to live with, some I am not.

      I’m glad that Van is working for you. I wish it would have worked for me too.

      1. Please don’t call Vancouver ‘Van’ it is one of the more annoying terms from the temporary transplant population. Thanks! – A friendly born and raised Vancouverite!

      2. Anabelle what you did write is on the money..Richie is just happy that he does not have to freeze his nuts off in the long snowy winters back east…..it always come to the same point..lack of option…if you hate the cold winters and do not want to showel off snow in front of your driveway then you “have to like” Vancouver if you are Candadian…..give to Richie a nice green card and his same job in San Diego and you’ll see how he would run for the airport…eheheh

    2. It’s ridiculous to repeat over and over (like a moron) that someone’s blog post is subjective, what do you expect a peer reviewed study? What you’re saying is subjective as well…duh

      1. Anabelle

        Hah–thanks Michael. I didn’t realize that this post would go crazy like this today and I’ve never had to deal with so much attention. I pretty much say what I think, and people are absolutely free to disagree. I’m don’t think I hold the truth about anything I write about. I leave the evidence-based work for my academic life.

        Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Anabelle, I came across you post via a friend on facebook and was caught by the title and decided to read it and I’m so saddened by your experience! I’ve read through the posts and it seems that people are comparing a lot of the major Canadian cities and every city has pro’s and con’s, in my opinion it’s more about an experience then the city it’s self. I could compare it to getting bad service at a bank and changing banks because that
    one person was bad and it’s formed your opinions of the company as a whole.

    I had a completely opposite experience in Vancouver, I went on a vacation in 2007 and was charmed by the cities tourist appeal and decided to go to school there even though I had never considered it before. I had no preconceptions of hippies and ocean air just needed a change. In Sept of 2008 I headed out there with no idea of what was ahead of me. I had grown up in Alberta where money and jobs are easy and the culture is a little backwards so needless to say it was a shock. It took me 3 months to find a crappy job and if there was ever a time I was going to head back to Alberta that was going to be the time but I stuck it out and started working on Robson(tourist central). The young people I met at my job were so diverse and interesting and I started to enjoy all the experiences. I started design school in December and met a whole new group of interesting people, at that point I really started to settle in and found that day by day it got easier and I loved it more and more.

    Before I knew it I had met some of the best people in my life full of experiences and ambition that inspired me on a daily basis, I felt myself changing into a better more well rounded person. I was sad that you felt the city had no soul, I was astounded by all the new culture, food, mixture of architecture that I found. Coastal cities have the blessing and curse of being trasient, one of the blessing is all the different types of people with different interests and hobbies, from gronola eating mountain climbers to CEO yuppies. I guess what im getting at is that it felt that everyone had been cut from a different cloth and this was quite different then where I had come from. The city also has sooo many things to do from going hiking in deep cove to spending an evening on a patio in Yaletown dicovering new food with good friends, I explored activities I had never thought of before simply becuase they were in front of me. I couldn’t wait for people to come visit so I could show them all the wonderful things I had dicovered. This forgein place had gone from a destination to becoming my home. Now all the glitter aside I was BROKE!!!

    After I finished school I took on a different part time job with hopes of jumping in to my so called “big girl” job…. well a year later this “big girl” job seemed to be further away then ever. I was happier then I had ever been, had better friends then I had ever had, and was heathier then I could have imagined BUT I was digging myself a fairly large financial hole, it looked like one of the holes downtown before the glass tower goes up and my hole was caving in quickly. I had sold the car, made any cuts I could to make it but it was becoming very clear that the glitter was for people with a lots of money and subsequently I had to make the tough decsion to move back to Alberta and unlike your desicion that came very easily mine was incredibly difficult and involved a lot of wine and tears.

    Being a year past my move I see the benefits of leaving, I got my “big girl” job and am loving it, my financial life is getting back on track and I was even able to buy a car and am going to europe in December which has been a long time goal on the flip side I am back in a place that feels colder(both literally and figuratively) feels less inspired and ambitious but I tell myself that all cities hold the there own personality and magic the trick is to find the one that feels like home, I found mine and I think of it every day very fondly and hope very much I will find my way back to it. It holds pieces of me and memories that shaped who I am, I hope that you find you city soul mate and that you will give Vancouver a second chance as a visitor. I wanted to share my story with you so that you knew all the hype was real and if the Van is right it has all the glitter and magic you thought it would.

    1. Anabelle


      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I met AMAZING people in Vancouver. I made what I’m sure will be life-long friends. And yes there is a lot of variety and people from everywhere around the world, but everything seemed so superficial to me towards the end. The glitter and magic that you talk about, I felt them, but they faded away fast. At one point I couldn’t hang out with people because I didn’t have enough money to eat out four times a week, and it seems that eating is Vancouver’s favourite activity. After a while you realize that without that “big girl job” (which I found in Victoria, btw), you can’t keep up the appearance of being affluent and socially acceptable. And that is if you have any money left after paying your rent and your living costs.

      Also, getting closer to 30, I was thinking about putting down roots somewhere to start raising a family. But with Vancouver’s real estate prices and my inability to find a good job that would pay a decent salary, I weighed the pros and cons of trying to start my life here. The cons won out.

  13. I have to agree with Anabelle as well. I’ve lived in almost every major city in Canada and feel that my experiences have been quite varied. I was born in Ottawa and lived there almost exclusively until I was 17, spending only 1 year away in Toronto. At 17, I moved to Montreal where I lived for 6 years and loved it. When I decide to go west, I tried Calgary first, and then ended up in Vancouver.

    I’ve been in Vancouver for 5 years now (mostly because I’m stubborn and want it to work for me so badly). Of all these cities, I’ve felt that Vancouver is the toughest to live in for many reasons. For me the biggest reason is the social exclusivity, which trickles down into the job market and even the housing market. I’ve never had a hard time making friends, and I have many friends here. The difference is the quality of friendship. It seems that Vancouverites (born and raised) like to keep their social circles tight, with little room for “outsiders.” If you are a social butterfly like me, this won’t work out for you. If you aren’t willing to commit to one group and spend all your time with them, forget about having good friends here. I’ve found that the second you miss out on an event or two, it’s like you don’t exist anymore – like you’ve rejected your “friends” who then feel the need to put you in your place. Oh, and in order to be part of a group in the first place you better be “approved” by someone else who is already a trusted member. The number of times I have heard Vancouverites say things like “I have so many awesome friends that I’ve known my whole life. Why would I want to make new friends with people I’ve never met and who don’t know me?” To get outside your bubble, that’s why!!!

    I have managed to surround myself with awesome people, but none of them are from here and they all echo my sentiments. When I moved to Montreal, I met Montrealers in my first week that I still keep in touch with today. Same goes for Calgary and Toronto. When I first visited Vancouver, I thought people were so friendly and welcoming. It wasn’t until I moved here that I realized that it was all superificial.

    It is similar for the workforce. I’ve been lucky to have had 2 amazing job since I moved here, but both were gained through networking, not through open job positngs. It’s like employers want to know that you’ve already been accepted by someone that they trust. So if you don’t know anyone, it’s hard to get your foot in the door. Again, it’s all about exclusivity. If you aren’t part of the “in” crowd, then forget it.

    As for the housing market, I can’t believe that I feel priviledged to live in a $1800/month 2 bedroom. I feel priviledged because the other 2 bedrooms in my buillding go for $2250/month!!! The only reason I have a place that is so under “market value” is again, because of knowing the right person. There were 40 people who showed up the day the place was put on the market. It just so happened that the owner knew my father so I got it even though I’m sure other applicants would have been more impressive on paper.

    My final complaint is about the what Anabelle refers to as the “soul” of Vancouver. I find it non-existant. Coming from a city like Montreat or Toronto, where is the LIFE to this city? The nighlife, fashion, art and culture are pathertic at best. I know this isn’t what vancouver is all about -it’s a city of scenic beauty, not cultural beauty. But for a place with so many different kinds of people, it should have some more liveliness to it. It seems once again that if you aren’t in the know, you are going to miss out on interesting events in this area (that are not publicized) or you are going to have to wait in a ridiculous line up to enter a less-than-impressive venue where an evening will likely cost you $50-$100 dollars.

    So that’s it. My extremely subjective rant!

    1. Anabelle

      Thanks for sharing Kristina. I wouldn’t have lasted that long without a good social support. I really, really wanted it to work. For all its faults, I enjoyed Vancouver a lot. I was accepted into a certain kind of crowd, even though I was still a bit of a satellite. I’m not a naturally social person and I don’t need a lot of friends. I’m glad I made a few who acted like normal people.

      Thanks for dropping by and keep on ranting 😉

    2. I disagree with Kristina’s post. There is TOO much to do here. Steampunk plays, picnics, local amateur theatre groups, crafting, book clubs, themed night club events (though I’m not into that but they are there if I want), hiking clubs, walking clubs, dining clubs, Halloween events galore, Renaissance Faire, car shows, sex shows (OK the last one was cancelled), gosh I could go on and on. I often have to pick and choose what to do each weekend. Nothing to do here? I think NOT!

      1. Mel, all these and more activities do exist in other cities like Toronto or Montreal as well. Moreover, like Kristina said Vancouver is a city of scenic beauty, not cultural beauty. I personally feel Vancouver is like a beautiful but dull girlfriend. My other disappointment that nobody has mentioned is hiking trough the woods which can get pretty ugly and depressing with all the trees fallen down. Hills are pretty when you look at them from a distance but once you get inside there are ugly in comparison to hills in the Alps or interior BC. Besides, you cannot go outside the trails say to pick mushrooms or just run around. Again, it is like Vancouver itself, it is pretty from the outside, but it is missing a soul inside.

  14. Well i’m glad you could come away from the experience with at least meeting good people, and I wish you luck in finding a place to settle down :)

  15. I live in New Westminster. I love it here although I think the price we paid for our modest house is too high but still okay. I had a meeting with a client in downtown Vancouver a few weeks ago and I realized it was the first time I had been in Vancouver proper for more than 3 months. I kind of like living in the shadow of No Fun City. I’m sorry you had a bad experience but I think it’s good you noticed and took action before it had a long lasting impact on you.

    1. Anabelle

      Thanks for stopping by! I did go to New West a few times and it seemed like a nice place :)

  16. while i totally agree with your assessment of the job market/wages/cost of living, i have also lived in victoria as well the job market there is WORSE and housing is really not much cheaper. all that aside i work as a food security coordinator at an inner city community center, where we feed 300 kids a day. most of whom come from working poor and single parent families. developers and city planners are slowing pushing all low income and middle come folks out of metro vancouver. 5 years from now we will have absolutely no economic diversity. all low income and middle income earners will be pushed out. it is a tough city to navigate.

    1. Anabelle

      I know that the Victoria market is worse–I consider myself extremely lucky to have found the job that I did before I even moved back. And no the costs of living are not necessarily cheaper, but everything is much closer because it doesn’t sprawl as much as Vancouver. I value my time more than my money in the end.

      It must break your heart to see this happening every day. I applaud your commitment to help those who were less lucky. I hope that Vancouver changes for the better soon.

  17. Anabelle you have written what so many people think/feel/know about this city. You are also right about Vancouver not having any soul – something many of us living here speak of often. I’m a native of Victoria who worked abroad for many years and when I moved back to Canada with my wife (a native of Montreal!) we had to choose between Vancouver and Montreal. Oh how I wish I could choose again because life here has been very difficult indeed. I LOVE Montreal. I want to move to Montreal (at least for half the year!). Good Luck!

  18. Did you try some of the “inner” suburbs? I live in North Delta and while it’s not cheap, rent out here isn’t terrible either. It’s a much more diverse community out in the suburbs too, so there’s a lot more options in terms of culture and cuisine. Vancouver has a soul – you just have to leave Vancouver proper to find it :)

    1. Anabelle

      Without a car and a job, i couldn’t really contemplate moving out of where I was. I interviewed for a job in Delta and it was just too inaccessible.

      There’s a place for me somewhere–just not sure where it is yet :)

      1. It depends on where you are in Delta (or any of the burbs for that matter). I live in North Delta pretty close to the 301 bus route, and I don’t find it too bad. About ~30 minutes from my door to the Canada Line, or 20 minutes from my door to Surrey Central skytrain. I hear you on the job in Delta though – the industrial/commercial areas here are not well served by transit at all.

        I know there’s some pretty affordable housing along 120th street that has good transit, and it’s a part of town that’s very safe. I’m sure there are other people who know other parts of the city that might be able to suggest other places to look?

        Anyways, best of luck :)

  19. I grew up in Victoria, BC. Thinking I was bored, I relocated to Calgary for seven years before settling in Vancouver.

    For a city I didn’t grow up in, Vancouver is very much my home. Victoria is too small and isolated, and I loathed Alberta. The issues that you are having with jobs in Vancouver is exactly what I went through in Calgary for almost four years, and things didn’t look up until I was back in BC.

    I feel as though I have an enormous amount of potential and opportunity here, and I’m experiencing more freedom to be than I ever had elsewhere, all without sacrificing lifestyle or location (I live in East Van) for sprawling lawns (few people really NEED 4000 sq ft). I try to surround myself with things and people that I love, all the while on the lookout for interesting new things to try. I love Vancouver, and will sing praises until I’m hoarse.

    I am constantly amazed at the people who claim Vancouver has nothing to offer, until I realize that they are ALWAYS only looking at bars, night clubs, night life, meat markets, hook up joints, and more. Until people wake up and realize there’s so much more to life than dimly lit rooms and overpriced designer drinks, they’re never going to be happy .. so fuck ’em. If they’re not creative enough to think of other ways to keep entertained, they’re welcome to move.

    It’s too bad you didn’t find what you were looking for here, but I can’t fault you for it – thousands of people swear that Calgary is heaven, whereas I have panic attacks even thinking about returning to visit. I hope you find your home, and that it’s ever bit as awesome has Vancouver has been for me.

    1. Anabelle

      I’m not saying that Vancouver has nothing to do. It has plenty, and working for Raul showed me the number of amazing activities that the city has. It’s not like I didn’t get involved. I just never felt that the city enjoys itself very much. I always felt a sense of… how can I explain.. anxiety about looking affluent enough. But that’s a very personal impression.

      I’m not one to look for nightclubs, meat markets and hook up joints. I’m very happy in my couple and it wasn’t my main focus when I said that Vancouver has no soul. It’s a much deeper impression that I can’t really explain in words. It may have one; maybe it’s not the kind of soul I need.

      I had a great time in Vancouver, don’t get me wrong. Probably among the best times of my life. I met a ton of great people, had a lot of great food and attended a bunch of awesome events, most of them small scale and indepedent. But as I move into my 30s and want to settle and build a family and a career, Vancouver proved to be very difficult to plan for. Salaries do not match the cost of living, no matter where you decide to live, and the thought of having to move to Langley to afford a family life was just too much of a problem for me to want to stay.

      It all depends on what you want out of your life and at what stage you are. As a student in my 20s, Vancouver seemed awesome; as a professional in my early 30s, it becomes a place where it’s too difficult to make it to be worth it.

      Thanks for sharing your point of view :)

      1. That’s probably why it hasn’t affected me – I don’t care about looking affluent; I’m the fanciest hobo there ever was 😀

  20. Anabelle, your comments are nothing new, unfortunately Vancouver has many crappy jobs and low salaries, coupled with a higher cost of living. I wouldn’t quite call it a “resort”, just an unproductive city relative to its eastern peers. Don’t take it the wrong way or anything, a town with can only do so much with the hand it’s dealt; the geographic isolation is undoubtedly part of this.

    One thing I remember about moving from East to Vancouver was the different neighbourhood dynamic. This is by no means ubiquitous but I have found almost all my neighbourhoods in which I have lived over the years (and there have been a few — see below) rather cold and distant. I knew and know the neighbours but few would be regular guests in our home. It’s not like we didn’t try, there was no reciprocity in our invitations so we usually gave up. That was not the experiences we had in other provinces by a longshot. Neighbourhood parties were way more common, most on the block hosted a BBQ at least once in the summer. It seems to be a chronic “Vancouver thing” I never got used to. That’s what I would interpret as “cold”. Living in other provinces provided me with a much better community atmosphere. Interestingly I found that as the BC neighbourhoods I lived in aged and parents became empty-nesters they would start getting to know the neighbours more. Hopefully an ageing demographic leads to more community cohesiveness over the coming decades.

    I have seen some data that show that BCers move more often than other provinces. The cohesiveness of neighbourhoods, and forging lasting friendships, seem tied to that; speculation in land values and the transient nature of this speculation plays a large part.

    1. Anabelle

      Thanks for your comments.

      I didn’t call it a resort–another commenter did. It’s a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit, but it’s an analogy that resonated with me. It did feel somewhat of a place where you go have fun with a while, but when comes the time to be serious, it doesn’t offer what one needs to make a good life.

      Maybe my definition of “good life” is different from others’, which is what is sparking a lot of controversy over this. If you are willing to spend 50 to 70% of your income on your housing and living costs, go ahead. Enjoy Vancouver: it’s a beautiful city full of nice people and great activities, cultural or otherwise. If it’s the kind of life that appeals to you, then I am happy for you. It’s just not something I want for myself.

      1. Yeah, it’s not for everyone. I get the feeling many come here with preconceptions and have them thrashed with the way it is. Not that it wasn’t worth a try; many like it, many don’t. I’m sure a paper could be written on the concept of economic self-selection, your experience a single datum in a statistical chorus.

  21. I was born and raised in White Rock, a suburb about an hour south of Vancouver. I moved to rural Saskatchewan just over six years ago. I was a month shy of 26 when I moved here and, I thought, I would suffer through two years here and then head back to Vancouver. Now, six years on, I’m still in rural Sk and likely never to move back west.

    Why? All the reasons you stated. The cost of living is ridiculously high. I can own a house in rural Sk on a salary of less than $30,000 a year (gross not net). In Vancouver, to rent my own place (emphasis on rent, not own) that’s safe and habitable, I’d have to earn at least double if not triple what I make here.

    The job market is also stupid. I’ve looked into getting a job in my field back in Vancouver but no one is hiring. And, even if they did, I wouldn’t be making enough to live unless I decided to live with about 8 or 9 other room mates. I don’t even mind not having a vehicle but even without a vehicle, it’s financially difficult living in Vancouver.

    Yes, there are things I miss: the fact it doesn’t get down to minus 50 in winter, the easy access to hiking and scuba diving. Mostly, I miss my family that lives there. And, I thought I’d never say this coming from White Rock where transit sucks compared to downtown Vancouver, but public transit is amazing there compared to rural Sk. (I hate driving so the public transit there is beneficial.)

  22. I stopped by only to add that my biggest gripe about (the aesthetics of) Vancouver is that the architecture is ass. There is one noteworthy building (the library) and other than in some rich enclaves the houses are awful 70’s stucco crap or the blight that is the Vancouver Special. It’s a hideous contrast to the natural glory of the mountains and Pacific ocean.

  23. I grew up in Vancouver and think fondly of the city, but am very happy to have chosen to live elsewhere. I live in a small city in Central Pennsylvania, my rent on a 2-bdrm townhouse is 30% less of what my mother spends on a 1-bdrm apartment near a SkyTrain station in Burnaby. My dad has fared better living in a co-op apartment building near the same SkyTrain Station. My fiancee is from West Virginia and I took him to Vancouver for the first time a few years back and while there is no dispute that it is a beautiful city, he found the architecture boring, the homeless population surprising in volume, and the cost of things like food. When I’ve visited other cities in Canada, including Toronto, I find that even going out for a good meal is much more affordable. It feels like there is a premium on everything in Vancouver because it’s Vancouver. Yet in other highly desired places, like Los Angeles, you don’t get dinged because, OMG! it’s Los Angeles!

  24. Really it’s so nice to hear that I am not the only one feeling frustrated with Vancouver. I was born here. I moved to Toronto from age 12 to 21 and the whole time just wanted to come back to Vancouver. When I did I was lucky enough that I could transfer through my job and had some family here to provide some support. I have been here 9 years now and had have gone to two post secondary schools and work as a server. I would love a new job but can’t seem to get one that will pay enough so I can see an end to my student loan debt. I am married to someone with a stable job that pays ok. It pays ok here, elsewhere it would be enough for us to buy a house. I mostly walk around and feel angry. I watch people barely scrape by and like one poster said, get pushed out of the city simply because they are low income. It seems like nothing is really being done to address the huge income gaps and the mentality seems to be that if you don’t make $100k a year then you shouldn’t live here. It really feels like you are expected to work 60 hours a week and be happy about it because you can say you live in Vancouver. I am really at a loss for what my generation is going to do.

  25. I’m sorry you didn’t fall for the city. Like many things in life, it’s a personal choice.
    I moved here almost 15 years ago and called it home from the start. Several friends from back east who moved within 6 months either side of me have moved back. To each his own.
    I find it very easy to meet people. As a child I was uprooted and moved every year, new friends required each time. I meet people here at the bus, in line at the grocery store, at work, in classes I took and even just walking around the neighborhood. But that is me.
    I also found work very, very easy and have been headhunted even more since coming here. My pay doubled with my first job out here from the one I had in Ottawa. It was enough to cover the increase in cost of living.
    Housing costs are horrible here. I don’t think anyone can refute that no matter how much they love the city. I share a large 1 bedroom apartment with my 2 kids (I have the sofa bed). I could get a bigger place if we moved but there is so much to do around, and much of its free. Other than for sleeping, we don’t need another bedroom.
    Vancouver was not your city. It’s mine for sure. I’ve traveled around the world to many places and there are cities that were wonderful to visit but I knew I couldn’t live in them. And then there were places that just felt like home the minute I got off the plane/train. Vancouver was one of those (Sydney, Australia and Barcelona Spain are the other 2).
    I know some people have slammed your post but blogs are personal stories and this is yours. That said, when you put the information out there, be excepted for people to react and you may not always like their reactions.

    1. Anabelle

      People can say whatever they want on other sites–however, I will protect my own.

      Thanks for sharing your story! I’m glad that Vancouver is working for you. :)

  26. I’m glad you have the moxie to write this! I’ve lived here for just over 13 years and my disappointment with the culture and ‘heart’ of this city has never waned.

    I’m expremely fortunate that it has been very good for me in other ways and am able to live a very nice life. However, there is a deep distrust of others here that I haven’t encountered when I have lived in other cities back east (T.O. and further east) as well as cities in Europe and Asia. I still don’t know why that is.

    Daily I am amazed how openly racist people are here. There’s a deep lack of fundamental empathy and compassion.

    I feel particularly connected to your comments about it being like a vapid jock. It’s basically what I have thought form my arrival – ‘very good looking but zero depth or interest in evolving beyond being content to look good’.

    Well said!

    1. Anabelle

      Your comment made me realize something–why is there such a negative attitude towards criticism of Vancouver? It’s almost like nobody is allowed to have bad experiences (or if they do, to express them) because “Vancouver is the best place in the world, if you didn’t make it here you’re just not smart enough/not patient enough/not willing to sacrifice enough”.

      My post is bringing up people who are writing 1000-word long life stories of experiences similar, or different to mine. Why do these people feel like they can’t express their frustration?

  27. Hey Anabelle, interesting post. I wish you knew about the Moving2Vancouver project that I started last year. Vancouver is fantastic place, but in reality it can seem a small cliquey gathering of competitive people at times. I set up moving2vancouver.ca because I love this city but it’s so god damn hard for newcomers to get started here. It’s expensive so being without a job in this city is crippling and almost insane. Hence, the network. It’s all about who you know here. Applying to job postings as you pointed out is a waste of time, you need to find jobs before they go public and the only way to do so is to build a network of people who are looking out for you. They say somewhere between 50-80% of jobs in Vancouver are landed through networking. These jobs are never posted so waiting for the other 20-50% and competing with the rest of the public is not good odds.

    I’m not assuming you didnt network or making any assumption on why things didnt work for you. However, for those who come and want to survide here, I think this advice is important to drive home. Living in one of most beautiful cities in the world was never meant to be easy, Moving2Vancouver project is here to help and allow people to share information and make connections that dramatically increase the odds

    I wish you the best in wherever you end up :)

    Founder http://www.moving2vancouver.ca

  28. *Sigh* I am from Vancouver originally and I moved to Montreal a few years ago for what was the time of my god damned life! Seriously I went on and on and on about Montreal to my friends back home. The people, the restaurants, the music, the shopping, the FUN and as you put it….the soul! I loved every minute of -30 weather and 40 degree summers and unlike you I thought Montreal was prettier (the city I mean) than Vancouver by a long shot! I made a million amazing and true friends while I lived there. I paid a fraction in rent to what I was paying in Vancouver and in Van I lived at Hastings and Slocan (hardly a fancy-pants neighbourhood). Having two pets in Vancouver means you have to lie because for some reason there are about 6 pet-friendly buildings in Vancouver. In Montreal I had my pick and lived in a kick-ass loft right in Old Montreal. I cherish every single day I spent in Montreal and can’t tell you how sad I was to get laid off and have to move back to BC. My inability to speak French fluently was surely going to make it hard for me to find work so I hauled my crap, my kitty and pooch back to BC. Imagine how pissed I was when I promptly found an amazing ‘work from home’ job. I thought very seriously about piling it all back in a truck and heading back to the Belle Province. Instead I headed to Victoria where although its expensive and incredibly slow I like it sooooo much better than Vancouver. I hope that you will give a big hug to Montreal for me and smile smugly at a few people knowing you are living in the most beautiful and amazing city in Canada. – Erin

    1. Anabelle

      I currently live in Victoria as well–I’m just from Montréal and it’s my usual comparison point.

      I’m glad you get what I’m talking about when I discuss “soul”… Vancouverites who haven’t been to Montréal can’t really see what I’m talking about.

      Thanks for sharing your story! Happy you found a good stay at home job… wish I had one of those so I could move somewhere else, too.

  29. I don’t agree! I make just barely over the salary you mentioned as ‘minimum living wage’ and I have a totally safe and decent apartment in Metro Van. I drink on th weekends. I eat healthy. I eat out. And I’m not having a problem saving. And the job market here is about five thousand times better than where I came from (Glasgow/Scotland)… I was making $20 an hour mindlessly photocopying and answering phones in Robson Square THREE DAYS after I got off the plane. Groceries are cheaper here (if you know where to shop). Public transport is spectacular compared to what I’ve become used to – bus drivers here are so friendly! I think you should have lived in Hastings-Sunrise… it’s all happening out here.

    1. I think you are right Vanessa. It is pockets of areas that you can find such open and interesting people. I am more out in the burbs but if I can find a place there that is reasonable to buy, I would move there, but now that I am in the market in Burnaby, I feel it is hard to get back into renting. I have just decided to get out and enjoy the city, so I am checking out concerts. Maybe we should make another link about places to meet at like dance venues or such..DJ Shadow is coming on Tuesday, Apr. 24th. to the Commodore.

  30. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their story here. I reallys appreciate all the sensible and thought out comments on both sides of the issue. Vancouver is a hard city and as some of you know our primary concerns are isolation and loneliness. At least that what a recent survey found.

    I’ve live here for 9 years and they have been tough years. I love Vancouver but it is a tough mistress. Fickle. The cost of housing gets worse every year and I can’t understand how anyone could be ok with that. I worry about my fellow citizens with low incomes and I worry about all the homeless and drug addled people. Vancouver is not kind to them.

    I agree that the emphasis in Vancouver is on affluence. Virtually every new development is marketed as ‘luxury’. Vancouver tends to be about the show. Looking the part.

    I’ve had countless friends leave and none have returned. It makes more sense to live just about anywhere else in the world. Vancouver is right up there with Hong Kong now and actually tops Sydney in cost of living.

    Anyway, please keep sharing your stories. It’s been heartwarming to read that others feel the same way.


  31. Harinder Singh Sohi

    I agree the cost of living is risinging and Vancouver is no exception. I had always job lined up for me in my 36 years in Vancouver. Hard work and good references will always land you a job no matter what the job market is. Anybody who had purchased a real estate never lost instead made more money then they would have made with anykind of good paying job.

    Vancouver is world class city and you got to pay for it to enjoy. People complained 30 years ago that it is too expensive to live here and people will complain now. People need to learn the art of sharing and stick together and the magic formula adopted by the east , a joint family system. We need to learn the value system with a limited privacy and a total privacy cost so much that it is out of reach for a average person.

    I do not like as it rains lot in Vancouver but a green grass covers the loss.

  32. I’d love to talk about the awful experiences I have had in Montreal. People, and when I say people I mean men, don’t seem to have a sense of decency and seem to think it’s their right to harass and stalk random girls on the street. Also, my camera was stolen right in front of my nose at a party but nobody seemed to care. II sometimes leave my purse in the food court at the mall in Vancouver for a quick moment keeping my eye on it as I grab a napkin, no one dares to be so rude as to steal your things in Vancouver.

    1. Anabelle

      I’m sorry you had a bad experience. However, mine is on a different scale: I’m thinking about planning for a future, a career, a family. Vancouver couldn’t sustain that for me.

  33. You’re spot-on with everything you said. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I agree with everything you say. Vancouver’s become a city that’s very hard to live in for the average person. The main problem is the Civic government not looking after the interests of their local populace. Other cities around the world who’ve had investment groups snatching up local real estate purely for the sake of investment purposes have taken steps to restrict their ability to buy multiple property units. Having such a large percentage of the populace unable to own their own homes (even if it is only 600 square-feet) cannot be healthy for a city’s continued growth.
    As for the “soullessness” you speak of, all I have to say is: “Housewives of Vancouver.” Just go for brunch at Provence Marinaside, and you’ll see more animal fat in the patrons’ lips than you will your bacon.

  34. At least you didn’t have any health issues especially when between jobs. My friend had to pay cash before receiving prenatal care.

  35. Um, … you obviously chose to stay away from Commercial Drive, where there is no end to community spirit. If there’s one place in Vancouver to find joie de vivre, that’s where it is. East Van is no longer the blight it once was.

    1. Anabelle

      I actually did enjoy Commercial Dr. a lot and it was where I felt the most “at home”. But without good job prospects and decently priced housing, it just wasn’t enough.

    2. Thank you Cory…but, East Van was never blight, that is west side snobbery, which created that myth or rather lie…I am a 4th generation Vancouverite, my family roots go back a hundred years…My Grand Mother taught at Grandview Elementary back in 1930 and the house that my Great Grand Father built, here in East Van, is still standing in good shape with people living in it..Vancouver can be a heaven and it can be a hell, especially for younger people, from smaller towns or those whom are naive that is, who do not have the street smarts, then they get themselves into drugs and/or gangs. It is one of the most beautiful city’s in the world and it also is one of the most ugliest city’s in the world…for instance the Lower east Side, which i am very familiar with…It is a hard working culture or, you can hook up with summer paint crews and go to Mexico in the winter… There is fine yuppie dining or, cheap good wholesome places to eat…There is a very strong sense of community, in East Van and the multiculturalism and high ethnic diversity, is often even compared to big city neighborhoods, such as in New York city… Or there are neighborhoods, which are white and uptight or, yellow and very mellow…that is, long as no is driving…come on lets face it, most Asians are terrible drivers, that is not being racist, it is being honest and truthful…You can go to the beach, or hike up a mountain, you can live like a yuppie city dweller or, like a concrete hippie… You can go to the symphony, or you can go to Jazz cellars which often host th best jazz musicians in the world. You can where just a sweater in the winter and also enjoy some of the best skiing in the world. The cost of living is outrageous in most larger city’s…10 years ago, my friends were paying $2400 a month to live in a one room, apt with a ceiling that was about 6 feet high in Paris..Where as I lived in a very well designed smaller apt on the 16th floor in English Bay, with a panoramic view, for 825.00 a month, utilities included…It was beyond beautiful and now, I live in East Van in a small condo, right on Commercial Drive and I LOVE IT HERE…and do not ever plan to move away…an I am a true city boy and was raised in the mean streets of Vancouver and i am very grateful for that…it made me a much more rounded person and when the streets get into your blood, you never leave them and i have worked side by side with executives and when I was younger with gangsters…I have seen a lot of life…and only Vancouver could provide me with such diversity and wisdom…

      As one can see there is the yin and the yang as in anywhere in the world..It is not that Vancouver has any thing wrong, it is merely a city and like all “great” cities we have our problems as well…Vancouver is what you make of it…just as your life is what YOU make of it it is NOT the city that makes you happy or unhappy it is YOU that is responsible for your happiness therefore, Vancouver does not really have anything wrong with it. You can have bad experiences anywhere you go and when you visit a place vacationing and then, move to that place 9 times out of 10 you will start to hate it, for it loses that “fantasy” or “high” of being on holiday and traveling…and then the reality of life sets in…and it isn’t your true home, your roots, so it just produces an illusion that it is a terrible place to be, for life is hard and it can be harder in place that you are not truly familiar with…

      We see things as we want to see them…Vancouver has nothing to do with any of you being unhappy, with Vancouver…You being happy is all up to “you” and you can either be sad or happy, where ever you are in this world…So do not look with out of yourselves, for you happiness, but rather within…that is going to determine what makes you truly happy, where ever you are,,,,not the city or small town that you have chosen to live in…

      1. This is exactly the attitude I’m adopting as I prepare to move back this fall. Cheers.

      2. I understand your point but I don’t agree. I was all happy when I came here and the city took all that happiness away from me. I didn’t come here to be happy, I was already happy, just looking for a nice place to spent the rest of my life. And you forgot that along with the sweater in the winter comes the umbrella. Anyway, it depends on each person. In my case, Vancouver was a nightmare. I couldn’t find any of the services I needed for my business, I ended up buying cheap electronics in China through eBay because it looks like everybody has tons of money here and only allows a market for high expensive brands, and it also looks like nobody in the entire city knows how to deal with drug dealers and homeless people. I had to see all that horrible thing developed every day on Hastings. Really don’t understand why nobody do nothing about it, like if it were part of the “charm” of the city or something. Bad, bad city for my taste. But maybe is just me :-)

  36. Curtis R Curtis

    I have been here for almost 25 years & my fav comment has always been; “beautiful city, shame about the people” !

  37. @blablalblalbla

    ” no one dares to be so rude as to steal your things in Vancouver.”

    This is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Tell that to the many victims of property crime in Vancouver (one of the worst cities in Canada for it.) But, hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your opinion.

    1. CT, you are bang on with that comment, as I too had a chuckle at the suggestion that no one dares to steal your stuff in Vancouver.

      I have first hand experience with property crime in Van. Crackheads will smash your car windows for a toonie in your cup holder, all in broad daylight I might add. Once it happens to you, you start hearing about everyone else’s stories of it happening to them as well. Unfortunately it is a very common and well known problem in Vancouver and surrounding areas. :(

      Needless to say, Speedy Auto Glass does very, very well in the lower mainland.

  38. When transplanting: tend, nurture, protect and supply the roots with all they need during the transition, and the flower will eventually come back. Roots imply going within, where there is no outside light, doing the inner journey. Disillusionment is often the perfect compost for a richer harvest, once the fields have been sufficiently tilled. Six months is the cycle of a flower, but it takes years to grow deep roots. Years.

  39. People want to live near downtown. Why? Because people in Vancouver WANT a more social, urban lifestyle. The problem? There’s not enough of the existing higher-denisty housing stock that older cities have (and the DTES is off limits to middle-class people). Developers are responding to supply and demand. Sure, the prices are inflated, but these are brand new condos in close proximity to downtown. I’m not sure why Vancouver always prompts so much outrage; it’s not as if the railyards and rotting industrial buildings that are being built on now were the heart-and-soul of the city.

  40. As was suggested earlier, one cannot compare Vancouver to Toronto or Montréal. Indeed, that is one thing that is different from Toronto or Montréal – most Vancouverites do not compare their city to anywhere else. In M or T the ‘culture’ is all indoors while here, most of it is all outdoors. One gets clubbing out of one’s system early here because there is so much more to do. I bike everywhere – all year round, I snowshoe, I snowboard, I hike, I sail, I rollerblade. When I lived in Toronto and Montréal, I spent more time in clubs and concert halls. You are right, the cost of housing is pretty pricey, but only if you want to rent downtown. If you go East of Clark or South of King Edward, prices are more reasonable. Because of our geography, there is finite land on which to develop so buildings go up not our like out east. Because of this, Vancouver has created a much more sustainable model. In terms of the cost of food, please try the farmer’s markets or the green grocers that exist in all areas of the city – the food is fresh, local, abundant and cheap. I was born here, moved away when I was young and came back in my late 20s. Even if I were to agree with all of the points that you make (which clearly I don’t), my ride past Kit’s Beach on a rare clear-sky February morning, with the glorious view of the north shore mountains covered in snow makes me forget any negative thoughts I might have of this city.

    1. Anabelle

      And I thought it would be enough–but it wasn’t, for me.

  41. Hey Anabelle, Unfortunately Vancouver is not the city it once was. Both of my parents were raised here, as was I. It really is sad when you are born and raised somewhere, and will pretty much NEVER own a house, despite a good education and strong work ethic. At least in places like New York and Los Angeles – there are areas that the “working class” can afford to live. From the late 80’s to the early 90’s – Vancouver grew way too fast and could not handle it.

  42. I know what you all mean. I lived here when it was more cool and the prices were not so high in the early 90’s. I now bought a small townhouse and have family all around here. I am thinking of getting out since contractors here are gouging us, and I am living partly in anger and fear of being gauged and feeling helpless for many just accept it, and get angry when I/we complain. I wonder where all the normal people are who are not so rich too. I also am looking for more music venues and such, but truthfully I have had three jobs to pay for my place and my car, and it is tiring and I don’t have much energy to get out or to just have fun and meet someone.. never mind date! I hear you. I grew up on the island and that is a little better. I know it is multicultural here, but many of then are coming with tons of money and not really adding to a friendly community and the “funness and English” seems to be disappearing.

    1. If new immigrants are so drastically altering Vancouver’s personality, what does that say about the strength of the ‘culture’ that existed here before? Sounds like a cop-out to me.

      1. Good point Nick. Go Canuck’s Go! I just noticed your shirt. I was mainly commenting on Anna’s point of a lack of “joi de vivre”. I am more out in the burb’s of Burnaby, but I really notice alot of immigrants in this area, and although I think they add so much to our city and society, there are a lot of changes going on. I am not sure of the culture here before, but as she mentioned and we all know it is just so so expensive and the prices seem to be driving some young locals out who could be a big part of this community. But perhaps that is not correct. I guess there is no one group.. locals and immigrants alike are all driving up the prices. It is quite a complicated issue, and seems to be happening all over on a lesser scale.

  43. Hey there, I also met some cool people in Van, but living there was exactly what you said, and more. I left Van to take a job in India, and I’m thrilled to be here now.

  44. Ah, Vancouver. The overpriced drug-addicted real estate obsession of a cultural wasteland where the residents have resorted to bitching about the crappy transit system as a sad attempt at community involvement.

  45. Moving to a new city is always difficult. I have actually moved to Vancouver twice – once in 1982 – from Calgary, after living there for four years upond university graduation – and then in 2008, after living in the Okanagan (Kelowna) for six years between 2002 – 2008. I basically must agree with all of your points and most of the people who have contributed comments – Vancouver is a REALLY tough city to make a go of it, especially given the real estate costs. But real estate is only half of it – for a vast swath of professionals, there are very few decent paying jobs, either. In Kelowna (where I used to live) – there were even fewer jobs – but in Vancouver, the competition is extremely intense. You will not likely ever find a job through job boards, etc – you MUST know someone. (That seems to be the truth everywhere, actually). I guess a lot of it really does come down to how old you are, but a lot of other cities seem to be a lot more fun and perhaps less smug than Vancouver is when you’re in your mid 20s and 30s. Frankly, I’d advise younger people to move to Calgary rather than Vancouver – there are plenty of decent jobs, Banff is close, it’s sunnier, and housing is far more affordable. Now, 80 percent of all Vancouverites could NEVER live in Calgary – so I’m not saying Vancouverites should move there – but if you’re from other parts of Canada it’s a bit of an adventure. Vancouver is definitely not the friendliest place, but that has a lot to do with its size, the great economic divide between rich and ‘barely getting by’, and the stress that never having dough adds to daily life. Vancouver, though, is a good model for the future sustainability of cities – its major problem is that people are using the place as a ‘resort’ – a secure 2nd or 3rd residence to park their money – and that is skewering prices higher. The fact remains that regardless of where you live, decent paying jobs are likely going to be very, very hard to come by (and I say that as a baby boomer). Short of social revolution, I’m not sure what can be done to solve that issue, though. If you want to live close to nature, believe it or not Whistler (and even Squamish) are far, far cheaper and actually offer far more jobs (not careers) and great community spirit. Sorry it didn’t work out for you – I felt that way for several years until I met a couple very good friends (and it only takes a couple to make all the difference in the world). Best of luck to all of you!

  46. Maybe you should have moved out to the suburbs, we’re nicer out here…. :-)

    1. Anabelle

      Hehe. I’m from the burbs originally, and without a car it’s pretty tough :( And without a job to get the car, well… you see the problem 😉

  47. It sounds similar to the culture shock that I felt when I moved from Miami to Hawaii. After you surpass the 6 month to a year time frame it does get better, but I do sympathize with the job situation.

    Did you move there without securing employment? What were your previous job skills?

    Vancouver looks like a pretty cool city and is comparable to the Bay Area (Silicon Valley) so I may check it out in the next month or so.

  48. Hi everyone, I am actually thinking of moving to Vancouver in a short period of time … 6 months to two years.

    Well, I ended up on this blog by pure accident but it was nice to read all of you. I live in Quebec right now and would like to move out west for better condition then here, politically, people mentality and more. I love mountains and ocean… I could live in the outdoors. The only thing on this blog and most comments, is that people compare Toronto and Montreal to Vancouver according to bars, nightlife, culture and music. Honestly, I can’t careless about bars and nightlife. As long as there are some great pubs to have a beer with friends, it’s more then enough for me.

    I like trying new tastes in restaurants and having diversity but since I love sports and am an active person, downtown doesn’t attract me much. I am looking to move to Coquitlam or similar. Not to far from Vancouver if you need to go, you can keep your car without outstanding prices to park it downtown… etc.

    Regarding jobs, I lived in many cities (all east) and I can tell that finding a job is not easy task wherever you are. Knowing people is always the best, but since I graduated I found it takes at least two months of good research to find something and actually start getting calls from all jobs you applied to.

    I am still not sure if I will make the move, but everytime I go there it feels like home to me and a part of me do not want to get back on that plane to home.

    I liked reading all comments tho, since there is totally two different opinions on the case.

      1. Looks great, although if you do work in Vancouver it is still a long drive but is you consider traffic, then it’s true that it might be even easier from Squamish. It’s like here in Montreal, you can be in Chambly about 20km from montreal and get downtown before someone who lives on the island because of the traffic, it’s ridiculous.

        Thank you for sharing tho!

        BTW, do you currently live in Squamish?

  49. Ive been here six years. My husband and two kids. Deal was he goes to school, then it’s my turn. He just finished. And then he left. Now I can’t afford to leave! My rent for a two bedroom I share with my daughter, eats up 90 percent of my paycheck. I have a part time retail job. Forget all the fun things you can do here. Who can afford it?

  50. Leave Vancouver as soon as you can. I was born and raised here in Vancouver. Have a option of moving to Europe; have dual citizen; but unfortunately there job market is lack luster. I know for a fact; my cousins have multiple degrees and took them years to get a decent job. Anyway no one mentioned the frequent rain and the two seasons Spring and Winter. The rain is such a downer. At least back East you actually have summer. People from elsewhere are enticed by the scenery and lifestyle. Also please see the article on Vancity Buzz 1 in 3 Vancouverites Find It Difficult to Make Friends Here.

    1. I realize this is mostly opinion based, but at least get your facts straight. Vancouver is one of the least rainiest cities in Canada in the summertime.

      1. Jay, yes the Summer is amazing here. But the rest – 9 months, especially 6 months from October to March is horrible. Furthermore, I have met so many depressed people anywhere.

  51. I moved to Vancouver back on April 30th. I was living in Victoria, but i am originally from Toronto. I have been applying and applying and applying, but to no avail. I started looking for work back in March. I thought perhaps that because i didn’t have an address in Vancouver that it was the reason I couldn’t get a job. I am running out of money and I am considering heading back to Toronto or Victoria. I know very few people in this city. One of the difficulties i seem to be having is the fact that employers see my experience and tell me the can’t afford to pay me. Also, a lot of my experience is based in the Toronto financial district. Companies in that city get bought and paid for left, right and centre. You can find yourself out of work after only being at a company with in less then a year. Although, having been laid off, i have manage to been at a company for longer then that, how ever i feel employers here often raise an eye brow to it. Also there is less emphases put on being the right fit, less on being part of the pact. I feel like corporations here are like fraternities. I am sure lots of people survive in this city, and manage to have decent lives, Toronto wasn’t always easy either, especially back in the mid ‘90’s. But time is running out for me and i have a lot to offer and a lot of qualifications. I am not romantic about Vancouver. I never thought it would be easier, but i thought it would be a little easier then this, when i can’t even get a job as a dishwasher or even be considered for it? I had a job interview for a grocery store. Right away in the interview it was suggested that i might want to wait until something better comes along, something that could offer me more money. They wanted to pay me $11.00 an hour, i said i was fine with it, however Vancouver being expensive i might consider something that paid more. I was hoping to squeeze more money out of them, even a dollar more. I didn’t hear back from them. I called them back a few weeks later and i was told that they hired some one with little experience, so they could pay them a low salary and still have their loyalty. None of this makes sense. I am at the point of either i sink or swim. I have maxed out my credit card and have cashed in all my RRSPs just to survive. I like Vancouver a lot, but i don’t see how i can live with out work. I’m not sure going back to Toronto is right, but i have family and friends back there. I left Victoria because i was bored. Even though i had a decent full – time job, with benefits and a nice apartment, I barely had a social life. Victoria is great if you’re a professional and if you are married, but if you’re single it sucks. I could never meet women who are single, and when they were they usually had a drinking problem or drug problem. For the most part I like Vancouver. I have meet some nice people and people talk to you. The transit system is amazing, i love it. It’s modern and up to date, it’s easy to get around. I really don’t want to go back to Toronto, but i feel i have not choice. The worst part is I met an amazing woman here in this city, and i have to leave her behind and the possibilities of a relationship. I’m not sure it will be any easier back east, but i will have some place to live rather then being homeless. Anyway i agree with most of what you said and sometimes i think some .just get a break, some people have a horse shoe up their ass and things just work for them. They come here and get that job. I’ve know people who came over and get a job with in two weeks. It’s really hard to know what the right choice is. But it’s all about survival and I see people living on the streets here who look normal and i wonder is that what will happen to me if i stay?

    1. Vancouver is a city where entrepreneurs flourish. U need to make a job here….. Not apply for one.

      And btw that’s the future everywhere.

      Good luck

      1. If I am to make my own job, I’d rather do it where I can afford better housing. These days, unless you’re into direct retail, you can work from anywhere and sell to anyone anyway. Why be stuck in a city that costs so much when you can live somewhere much cheaper? You’d make more money that way just by spending less on rent.

        Thanks for your point of view though!

  52. I dont agree. I lived in Vancouver for 15 years the last time around (lived there twice before, short lived) I left to Ontario and I hate Ontario. I mean HATE.

    Vancouver is a very nice city. However I do agree about some things. The cost of living got way out of hand. The real estate market is indeed a joke. I remember looking in 2001 and thinking it was insane then. Well its more than tripled since that time. People are living in a house of cards thinking that will last. Vancouver is going to fall very hard. Of all the people I know who own a house only a few can afford it and they bought way out in the burbs. Everyone else I know is in way over their heads and I personally wouldnt lend them $10. Why the bank LOANED THEM 100’S OF 1000’S? Its the same thing the US dubbed sub prime – just by another name. I think in Canada they are calling it “tighter bank regulations” LOL. Thats all a joke. If anyone care to look all Canadian banks are technically insolvent at the moment. Look it up. The US Fed Reserve owns Canadas banks. They will crash the market just like they did at home. Just a matter of when.

    Anyway that certainly leads to the soulessness. I watched it get worse my time there. As prices went up and downtown became rich kids from China .. so went the mom and pops, the fringe clubs, the intersting people. Now all you have is rich kids sitting at Starbucks looking at each other expecting entertainment. Starbucks, GAP, GUESS, Starbucks, ALDO, Starbucks ….. thats Vancouvers downtown now. The characters couldnt afford to stay. BUt thats also the way New YOrk went, much of LA. Its the world not just Van.

    Van does have a great location though. Even with the rain – I’ll take it over Ontario. I am planning my exodus. You being from Montreal I can see going back. Montreal is a fun city no doubt. Cold but fun. Yes with life over Vancouver and people dress better too. But Montreal is also insane for real estate. Cant buy anything in a good area in Montreal unless you are a trust fund baby from Beijing.

  53. I totally agree with you. Comparing it to a pretty but vapid jock who tricks you into having sex with him… great comparison. I myself as a guy have compared it to having a girlfriend that is a supermodel but she hates you pretty much the entire time. It’s true what they say- Vancouver is a beautiful woman with no thoughts in her head.

    I lived there for 5 months as I had arrived in Canada in January and was daunted by the freezing temperatures everywhere else in the country receives. I still can’t speak for that- but when every day is as rainy and grey as hell… well, I don’t know how much temperature would matter. It is very, very depressing in Vancouver.

    I moved to Montréal 2 weeks ago, after a roadtrip through the Rockies. Oh, my, god. I can’t believe I spent the time in Van that I did when Montréal was on offer. This city is alive AND affordable…. people are incredibly friendly and approachable, joie de vivre is abundant, there is a feeling here that life is not just an endless pursuit of money (or the illusion of affluence). It may not have the mountains, but that’s not what I look for in a city anyway. The city itself must deliver the qualities of culture, nightlife, food, openness, diversity, music… having pretty mountains to look at is something I go to the countryside to do. I wish I’d spent my time in BC on the Island, or the Interior, as this is what that part of Canada is good for- Vancouver? The only thing I liked was the sushi, Stanley Park, and the one nice day a week you get in which you can sunbathe on Kits Beach while looking at snow. As a city? It is awful.

    Within one week in Montréal I have made twice the friends I made in 5 months in Vancouver. And trust me, so many people have had the same experience. Those who like Vancouver are sports nuts, gym bunnies, and junkies. Thanks for your post!

    1. Anabelle

      Well, it WILL get cold, so get ready for that. But people know how to have a great time in Montréal, even when it’s cold. Just get good winter clothes (LAYERS, LAYERS!) and you won’t suffer too much.

  54. I’ve been a Vancouverite for most of my life (though I live in New West now). I understand where you’re coming from. The job market is pathetic here. A friend moved to Rainbow Lake as they pay chefs three times what they pay at a good downtown Vancouver restaurant. I’m paid above the norm, but raises have been pitiful and have not kept up with inflation. In fact my latest raise has left me wondering how I’m covering the increase in property taxes, hydro, etc. I don’t have cable and might have to cut out some more utillities. The companies here expect you to give them an arm and a leg, so it has left me stressed out with health issues. I’m plotting my escape, but it could take me a while. Thanks for listening, (I was the one at the Absinthe tasting with the Dr. Who iphone).

  55. you nailed it

    if you are a transplant to Vancouver, good luck – most people native to Vancouver MUST continue to live with family for any shot to make it. The jobs…..mostly menial, the pay definitely not enough to live like you said. Most people here are the “working poor” and yes with no soul….everyone is busy just working – if you want to do something it costs an arm n leg.

    you did miss one point….the extremely horrendous dating scene – with no money most can’t afford to do anything…..and everyone is in perpetual grouch mode.

    the scenery can only go so far, most people coming to Vancouver are usually in for a rude awakening but feel drawn to it without the adequate research – many leave within 1-2 yrs realizing it is a place for the very wealthy and everyone else is merely there to provide services.

    1. I don’t know about dating since I already have a partner–I really wasn’t looking into that at all.

  56. kudos to you for getting out. i’m making my escape back east at the beginning of next year. can’t handle this place any more. no soul, too expensive.

  57. Hi,

    I’m originally from Vancouver but don’t live there now. The Vancouver that I remember, was the Vancouver of the early 1970’s and as one might imagine, things were so much different back then. Later on, my family and I moved to Toronto because of their work. I found that Toronto had the same economic problems there too. Finally, after many years of struggling, I decided to leave Canada’s shores and move to London UK. The job market was fine here for the longest time however, things have changed here too. It is a global problem with no jobs and the high cost of living is everywhere. For me, I would love to go back to Vancouver but could not afford to do so now in my life. The ideal situation would be to inherit millions of dollars, go back home and live in a nice area of Vancouver and live out the remainder of my years LOL!

    1. Yes, if we all could be millionaires… :)

  58. Yes, it is impossible to find employment here. I have been looking for a job for 8 months right now – had some interviews – but the competition is so fierce – you are left with nothing! My husband has a stable job – so he would never move out from Vancouver. I would do it in a minute!!!

  59. MY GOODNESS! Thanks for putting out the experience my husband and I had in Vancouver so eloquently.

  60. I ran after 3 months… other factors added to the pure monotony and serious depression (in the end) of living there. One thing you said “no soul” – 110% correct. No soul, no character and no values. Its a city you could pick up and put anywhere in the world and it would still be the same. Its a ‘misfit’ place, structurally, mentally and emotionally. I’m going back to Canada, but not to Van…

  61. Just because you found Vancouver difficult to continue to live in financially when you hit your 30’s it doesn’t mean that Vancouver has no soul. Yes, it a very big city and therefore it is harder to meet people socially. However, it’s not impossible, it just depends where you are looking. People forget there are quite a few churches around Vancouver area which have some great clubs for young people to meet for friendship and etc. There are also many other clubs which are not cold dance clubs. There are places you can learn to dance, paint, draw, run, there’s Art museums, concerts, good restaurants… and more… You don’t just have to go hang at the meat market downtown clubs to meet people as I can tell you that it is almost impossible no matter what city you are in to meet friends or boyfriend/girlfriends in those places and have any meaningful relationship.
    Vancouver used to be a much warmer city I can tell you as I grew up in Vancouver just off of Cambie street, but that’s because the population was not quite as large when I was growing up and I don’t mean it was ‘Mayberry’ or anything, just a big city with a little less people.
    I loved loved loved Vancouver… and I miss it everyday… however, you’re right once it was time to think of settling down we did have to think of moving out of the city… Not that we wanted to, just inaffordable housing and that was some time ago. My husband owns a real estate appraisal company and I am totally shocked at what the average house in Vancouver now goes for. Despite these shortcomings, however, Vancouver is a lovely and beautiful city to live in and there is much to do without having to hang at clubs etc. I agree with the person who just said you have to look for things, like cheaper groceries and places to meet… we always hunted around for the best prices… Apt. rents are higher, but again it depends where you want to live in Vancouver, you have to look around and you sound a little picky about renting in a house? You can get to know the people and it can be a lot more secure for a lady…
    Jobs may be scarce at this point, but they didn’t use to be and it has kind of gone up and down for Vancouver job market in the last few years and definitely depends on what you are skilled at. I have beautiful memories of growing up in a slower, friendlier Vancouver, however, and I still love Vancouver for itself.
    One ladies’ comments on how once you are out of the city everyone is highly predjudiced against Asians is a crock… That’s her own personal self esteem speaking… Delta, Tsawwassen, Ladner are full of friendly people who are NOT prejudice against Asians or any other culture and actually love the Asian culture. We know many Asian people who live out here and enjoy the life and are very friendly people. I don’t know how she could find Richmond prejudice being ‘right outside the city’ as the majority of the people who dwell there are now of Asian descent. North Delta and Surrey have many different cultures abiding there, East Indian, European, Asian, Filipino, etc… and most people in these places (aside from the truck drivers in the big ass trucks that almost run you off the road) are certainly friendly people.
    Anyway Vancouver is a beautiful place and if I could afford the housing I would definitely live there. You make you’re own life you know? As my Mother always said, “No one is going to knock on your door, you have to do the knocking and somewhere at some time a door will open.” This applies to friendships, jobs, etc.
    Also the job market is bad many places, not just Vancouver, and I lived there my entire life until I left at 30ish… so I am aware of these things.
    The most annoying thing which nobody states is surge upward in the housing market years back and it has just risen ever since… give or take a few months here and there… This was from several different factors including a large Asian and several other cultures influx at the time… This was one of the reasons the housing market began it’s upward climb, as people were coming to Canada, SOME, NOT ALL, with a great deal of money and could afford to buy housing at higher prices. My own parents home sold for a pittance and not three years later with the boost in the Vancouver market, it’s worth was tripled. Perhaps this is why some people feel some prejudice, but I hardly think so at this point in time when we are a multicultural Vancouver.
    Also, Wow! $15,00 dollars for a brick of cheese… try driving out to Delta, which is not at the end of the world by the way, lovely place, cheese brick $7.00 – $8.00… on sale 5.00 to $6.00… depending on which type of cheese you buy of course… and where you shop… & remember you can find high priced cheese anywhere… I think perhaps you didn’t look around too hard and shopped as someone said at Safeway or another pricey store mainly …
    Also please don’t say Vancouver has no soul, because I remember it with a very nice soul and that soul comes from the nature which surrounds it. Perhaps over the years the number of cultures that have moved to Vancouver have clashed a bit and it may seem a tad more unsociable to an outsider as a result, but that would be the only reason and if you look under the rocks and dig a little deeper you would find Vancouver has a lovely soul and a great history. The working world and the go getters are not the only soul of Vancouver.
    But Yes, I agree wholeheartedly and sadly that to settle down somewhere you need to have decent housing and a good job and at this time this is hard to do in Vancouver for younger persons… Also so many people have moved to Vancouver to escape (the cold, ha ha, fooled you, it still gets cold here and rainy, and mushy and slushy…) and the snow, and to just start over, there is indeed quite a big population living in Vancouver at this time… This can always make a city seem cold, coming in as a stranger… however, you have to come out of yourself and get to know individuals and keep going, don’t stop, you might miss an especially fun person…
    However, if you can’t afford it as many new young families cannot, especially if you want to raise a family it is probably better for you to have left, and especially if you don’t seem to be able to be happy here and I can hear that you miss your home… Regrettably wanting to raise a family with some room and some affordability was the reason we had to leave Vancouver, but we didn’t go far and I can still visit whenever the mood strikes…
    Also, Remember the biggest reason people move back home isn’t because they hated the place so much that they were living in, it’s because it isn’t home… to you Montreal is home… to me beautiful Vancouver.
    We love it, sorry you didn’t, but please don’t diss it… Don’t take your cranky out on Vancouver… life is what we make of it, no matter who we know or where we are.

    1. Thanks for your comments.

      The goal of the post was more to dispel the myth of Vancouver as “most livable city in the world” from my point of view than diss it categorically.

      Don’t get me wrong, I loved Vancouver and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent there. But when came the time to think about settling down and beginning an adult life, it just didn’t cut it.

      A “livable” city, in my head, must provide decently priced housing and salaries that match the cost of living, as well as job opportunities for all levels of education and skills, not just lowly skilled employment (which is most of what I found in Vancouver). Times are hard for everyone, sure, but Vancouver makes it even harder with its insanely high cost of living and the comparably low median salary (check my sources–the median family income in Vancouver is 63K, compared to 80K elsewhere in Canada).

      Basically, spending more than 30% of your gross income on housing is not considered livable by any definition of the word. If you love Vancouver, then stay, I’m not the one to tell you otherwise. But there are things about the city that people should know, beyond the mythical 2010 PR campaign.

    2. Churches or meat-markets. Sounds about right. Oh Vancouver.

  62. raining tooday nonstop , next 7 to 12 days nothing but rain and it is just october and we have 5 to 6 months of winter/fall weather with mnore rain rain showers isolated rain mild temparture more clouds grey clouds pacific rain hawain rain every type of rain comes here did i mention grey clouds and gloomy weather for 8 months. I am sorry it has rained 48 hours non stop hence my mood represnt that weather without sunshine and vitamin D seems like i am a zombie . Presonally i prfer Snow over anyday snow atleast look good visually and give that holiday/christmasy charm to it but rain is evil and cruel rain is so evil that it stays here for 8 months , anway i m back to rainy weather where we have another 10- 15 mm rain for next 24 houurs, aweome

    1. Your being generous. Monsoon weather can last closer to 9-10 months. It’ll get sunny in May then a rainy June, for example. This is what people don’t get: -10 to -15 and sunny (a typical Canadian winter day) really doesn’t feel very much colder than 5 degree rain. Fine shoveling snow is a pain, but the psychological ramifications of natural light deprivation aren’t worth it.

      1. yep. It was awesome to walk on the snow with the sun on your head those beautiful days of winter in Toronto. Here in Vancouver it was the most depressing winter of my life. And it’s still raining!!!!!

  63. Hi, I can’t agree with you more on this post, Don’t move to Vancouver”: Why I Changed My Mind After 6 Months, especially, the comments on the job market. It ‘s so tough to find a job in Vancouver. Fortunately, I am leaving for Calgary soon. I reealy appreciate your artical. It ‘s a nice feeling to find someone sharing the same view on something as I do. Gook luck

  64. I’m a Vancouver native who left 5 years ago for Montreal, and I couldn’t be happier. That city has ruined many of my friends, I’m glad I got out before it was too late. It’s a small town masquerading as cosmopolitan city, and I know so many people who have become depressed at their prospects for life. They bought into the myth that it has everything a diverse urban area has to offer, and that if they aren’t happy, it’s their own fault. Parochial self-satisfaction is rampant there, to paraphrase a Canadian author. People have their narrow set of interests (often involving a frisbee or snowboard) and don’t have time for anyone who falls outside them, whether it’s out of arrogance or insecurity. I never have a problem starting a conversation with someone here, whereas in Vancouver, I was continually hitting dead ends. Generally speaking, your everyday interaction is with people who are rude, inconsiderate, boorish, or just plain dull. It is so nice to live in a city where kindness isn’t considered weakness, where people aren’t petty or aggressive. I’ve grown more as person in a few short years in Montreal than I did in the previous 10 in Vancouver. You hit 30 there and you have few options, there’s no aging gracefully. People don’t evolve- they either turn into 55 year old shut-ins with their spouses, or are so entrenched in adolescence their unyielding narcissism becomes unbearable.

    This was cathartic! Haha. There is some good in Vancouver, but you really have to dig for it, and I don’t think it’s a strong use of your time. 15 years ago, I would have considered it as good as Toronto or Montreal. Those cities evolved. Vancouver didn’t.

  65. AGREE!!! Leaving for Calgary soon with no hesitation.

  66. I actually spent four years living there and they were the worst four years of my life. I can totally echo your statements about Vancouver being soulless. Ever since I moved there i noticed something was missing, an element of character vibe and excitement. nobody ever got excited or showed real passion for anything.

    I found the most difficult part of living there was forming groups of friends. I’m not socially awkward, but I felt that people would only relate to you on a superficial level, otherwise there was no real form of connection. nothing deeper. They would then return to their mini clique and not invite you to anything at all. And if you asked to go, they get all flaky.

    The rain didn’t make it much better either. It’s a good thing I’ve left the city for greener pastures.

  67. Native from Europe, Yes. I totally agre. Vancouver has no soul. No energy. Superficial city and culturally degenerated. Socially dead.
    Not for nothing that there is all this propaganda regarding Vancouver but don t be fooled. Noisy on the main floor but rotten in the basement.
    If you dont want to go crazy, get out of this city and go back to civilization, ANYWHERE BUT VANCOUVER!!!

  68. You forgot to mention how to meet people and have a relationship, I am an attractive divorced Latina who never had any problems meeting guys in South America, US even in Hong Kong but in Vancouver I feel like I am the invisible woman, guys never approach to woman and all my Canadian friends have to go online to find someone to go out. I am trapped here because my ex husband is from Vancouver and my two kids born here but nothing can go bad forever!! … I found the love of my life in Los Angeles so as soon as I end with my mom’s tasks i take the first fly to LA to run away from this beautiful but boring city.

    1. I wouldn’t know about dating since I wasn’t trying to date, already being in a relationship.

      Thanks for sharing!

    2. Interesting. A lot of people (specifically women) say this. I suspect it’s due to the lack of real intimacy in the local culture. Despite all the “Hi”s and “how are you”s, it remains a very conservative culture. Friends are made very slowly… it takes a while to establish any real friendships. Many people stop trying and have made very few if any real friends in the city by the time they leave.

      Have fun in LA! Can’t wait to get out of here myself, but need to put in a least another year and a half…

    3. Add this comment to the original post and you have my exact experience in Vancouver! The only difference is that I do have a gratifying job. I am NOT saying it pays me well (workers with similar qualifications as mine in Alberta make $14 per hour MORE than I do!) but I have a great boss and overall good work conditions. But so far that is the only thing I have here. In 6 years I have not made one single friend. It feels to me that everyone here is closed to new people – by the time they are adults they cannot add any one else to their lives. I am South American and there we always meeting new people and there is always room in our heart to welcome a new friend.
      And yes, man here don’t have balls like I read here:

  69. I agree 100%. My fiancee and I are having a baby so we are trapped here until I can start working again. We hate it here so much. Everyday that goes by we go out into the world and encounter bad customer service, grouchy people, tons of stuck up people, a lot of people on crystal meth. It’s so expensive to live here and eat. The job market is just horrible. The amount of immigrants here makes for a lot of people that don’t speak English and a very strange culture in Vancouver. It has “an everybody for themselves” mentality. My finance and I have NO friends at all. We feel very isolated. We have no interest in raising our daughter here because from what we hear, people either go to drugs or material processions “aka Hollywood of Canada” which is not a good thing.

    Everyday we find ourselves cursing Vancouver and wishing we could get out and it would flood over. Even the bus system is overcrowded and makes no sense. What also doesn’t make sense is that my fiancee has no way to get to work since the buses do not run early and he has to be at work at 5am so he has to pay for a cab and not only that, he doesn’t drive, and in BC you cannot drive at “off peak hours” if you’re a new driver, so he wouldn’t be able to drive to work right away anyway. Healthcare also costs 60 bucks a month here per person. It’s not free here. Tax is so expensive. And you’re right, the rain…. totally depressing. With the high costs of everything, the no soul culture and the rain….No wonder everyone has a giant stick up their ass. I wish I could leave so much.

    You are right too. My fiancee and I moved here to be with the peace and love hippies and I can assure you there are none here. There are way more in Toronto. WAY WAY WAY more. But looks like we are going to Calgary next!

    1. Vancouver is a beautiful city. The weather hardly drops below zero and every time I walk along Canada place I am often reminded that I live in one of the most beautiful places in Canada nay, the world. I have made plenty of friends here who happen to be struggling with this job market like myself. The transit system is the best I’ve seen in any city outside of London and New York. With all these great things why would anyone not want to live here? Well, I went to school to study Film & Video at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. Within 6 months of graduating in 2007 I was I was able to accomplish more in Calgary than I have in my 2 years here. I took a trip to there last November and experienced a great feeling of nostalgia. It was a little cold but as I took a walk around the city it became more and more apparent that this is where my adult life truly began. My move to Vancouver, sadly, has not sent me back to where I was when I first graduated post-secondary in 2007. It has sent me back to when I graduated high school in 2003 (although I do have my own place which is eating away at my low income). If I ever hope to own a home, car and pay off my debts, etc., changing course to Calgary is most likely my most viable option. I wish you the best of luck. If you want to own a home and start a family don’t stay in Vancouver.

  70. Very interesting site, Anabelle. I’m originally from Seattle and I’ve been going to Vancouver for long weekends since the early 90s. The city has changed in so many ways since then. Fell deeply in love with the city and its people back then. Wanted eventually to move to Vancouver since that first glorious weekend and use my Master’s to work in US/Canada trade. I studied at Seattle University and Segal Grad School at SFU. I actually did live in Van for more than a year, but couldn’t get connected (as so many have mentioned here) with a position. I had the added responsibility of trying to qualify for permanent residency which isn’t easy if you aren’t rolling in cash and/or more than 40 years old.

    I was priced out of living there after the US dollar crapped out. I remember 10-15 years ago being able to find a perfectly fine place in the West End for $800/mo Cdn. Of course, that’s gone probably for good. Additionally, grocery and sundry products were about 25-50% higher in Vancouver than in Seattle – which was OK when the US dollar was at $1.33 Cdn (or thereabouts). I won’t complain about that here because I know a lot of Canadians enjoy the Canadian dollar being at par. And the Canadian economy on the whole is enjoying some fairly prosperous times after several years of economic doldrums.

    The economy (and the spirit) of Vancouver has indeed altered. Someone earlier mentioned the city going from a resources center to a resort. A lot of my old friends have moved to the cheaper environs of towns like Coquitlam from Kits or Denman (and look at all the years old businesses that have shutdown on West 4th and on the West End in the past two or three years). I kept hearing frustrated Canadians complaining about the near impossibility of finding work and everything being tourism-related. One guy in my class said something like, “There’s no work in Vancouver unless you want to run a souvenir kiosk.” Most of my fellow grad students were employed with the banking industry and a few were with public utilities. They wouldn’t have to be looking for work after graduation.

    But I’m still a fool for Vancouver even though I had to come back home for economic reasons. I hope to return permanently someday – although it may only be my ashes scattered in English Bay! I think it’ll turn a corner one day and come back down to Earth. You can’t have a real, vibrant city wherein all the people who work there can’t afford to live there. That won’t stand for very long (Aspen, SF, NYC notwithstanding). It’ll take public will and decent, livable low-income housing. You already see people turning away from that $15 cheese and shopping at No Frills. And I think with the housing bubble reaching its apex, people just aren’t willing anymore – I don’t think – to save up $100K for a down payment for a crappy old condo to “get in the market” and have to work two jobs or 15 hours a day to make payments. It’s why the rental market is very competitive. Lots of people saying, “Screw it. Let’s rent or move some place cheaper.” And by the way…looking for an apartment in Vancouver? Almost humiliating, isn’t it? Realtors announcing an open house from 4-6 PM. You go there and it looks like a town hall meeting. Never been treated quite so “you need us way more than we need you.”

    I don’t think Vancouverites are unfriendly so much as they are exhausted.

    By the way, Seattle suffers from the same lower than expected wage picture. Outside of the high tech industry, people move there and take pay cuts – believe it or not. I returned to Seattle from two years on assignment in Texas and had to take a 25% pay cut! From a position in Texas! Where the cost of living was very reasonable and way cheaper. I asked someone who is supposed to know these things why pay is so under par in Seattle where the cost of living is 10-15% above the national average. She told me that because people want to move to Seattle there’s always an abundance of available (cheap) workers and she also told me that people will take less pay there because they can go hiking after work. Seriously, that’s what she said. That may be the story with Vancouver, too.

    1. “I asked someone who is supposed to know these things why pay is so under par in Seattle where the cost of living is 10-15% above the national average. She told me that because people want to move to Seattle there’s always an abundance of available (cheap) workers and she also told me that people will take less pay there because they can go hiking after work. Seriously, that’s what she said. That may be the story with Vancouver, too.”

      ^ This is total nonsense, it’s an excuse to pay people low and take advantage of them. I have lived in 7 cities in both Canada and the US. People migrate all over the place. Im now in Florida now after 11 years in Van. Florida is a small state yet it has 19 million people in it.Essentially half the population of Canada.By your reasoning with a large labour pool here the salaries should be lower due to all the selection and from out of state, they aren’t. I would say they are about 30% higher or more, and on top of that no state income tax and cheaper housing

      Vancouver employers and likely Seattle too, like to take advantage of people. That’s it really

      1. I agree that the previous explanation was overly simplistic, but this one is too. Real estate here is high (for more complicated reasons than “it’s the best place on earth!”), and that’s reflected in how companies do business.

        Higher rent means higher prices, etc. Maybe this factors in to wages as well? This would be especially true for small and medium size companies.

  71. This is everything I wanted to say about Vancouver – and you have done so in a calm and clear manner I never could have. I’m from Montreal and moved here in 1998… 1998!! I was 11 and I have sort of grown up here – and yet I still feel that Montreal is more of a home to me than this city. I still have more friends in Montreal somehow. I am leaving Vancouver at the dawn of summer and I do not plan on coming back. What gets me the most is the laid-back attitude that people have regarding the obvious corporate benefits that drive up our costs of living. ICBC, Translink, BC Liquor, a legislature and city council ran by friends of condo developers – you’re not getting any more of my money for providing sub-par services. There’s no reason I have to pay this much except to sustain the super rich.

  72. Now that I’ve discovered where all you disenchanted Vancouverites are gathering it’s my turn to kvetch. Like the author I had a romanticized notion of Vancouver before ever visiting the city. Having lived here for 5 years (originally from Toronto) I feel like I can now credibly analyze life in Vancouver through my personal experience.

    Firstly I want to go on the record saying that Vancouver is, by and large, a really great place to live. I grew up in Mississauga, an indisputable shit stain of a ‘city’. Car dominated, no culture to speak of whatsoever, sprawl as far as the eye can see, pitiful public transit. As far as I can tell it’s the place people take their dreams to die. In comparison Vancouver is Shangri la.

    With that said, as a (relatively) young working professional I cannot imagine laying down roots in Vancouver. The preposterous housing prices in conjunction with lower than average wages make me wonder how any middle class family can envision a healthy long term future while residing in Vancouver proper. I’m unwilling to take on massive debt. I’m equally resistant to paralyzing my ability to enjoy any and all leisure activities because the entirety of my income goes towards super-sized mortgage payments. As far as I can tell those are the two options if you’re a middle class family looking at home ownership in Vancouver. Sure you have the mountains and the ocean but what’s the point if you’re too busy trying to stay one step ahead of crippling debt?

    Besides the horrid cost of housing the real deal-breaker for me is the rain (or perhaps more specifically, the lack of sunshine). Some deal with this better than others. I’m not one of those people. The summers here are truly great but they don’t make up for the other 9 months of unrelenting gloom. Temperature wise, I don’t think it’s anymore comfortable in Van than your average winter day back in Toronto. There’s something about the dampness that makes the cold cut through you unlike the cold in other parts of Canada. A lot of people put on a brave face and act like it doesn’t faze them but everyone has their breaking point. If you sniff out these gortex warriors in April or May (when it’s still raining quite a bit thank you – let’s stop pretending the gloom disappears at the end of March) they’ll betray their unwavering ‘real Vancouverites love rain’ mantra and likely be just as grumpy/suicidal as every other schlub on the street. Furthermore, snow is actually charming (at least when it’s fresh). When it starts snowing people perk up a little because, you know, it’s rather pretty. Have you ever seen people run to the window and exclaim ‘oh boy, it’s raining!’. No.

    I’m sure if you’re a trust fund baby, beneficiary of HAM, doctor or lawyer Vancouver is a perfectly suitable place to call home. If you’re an average joe looking for a place to live and raise a family Vancouver ain’t it. For those of you that do call Vancouver home and plan on staying for the long term you should be very worried about the direction your city is taking. The ungodly cost of living is doing an very good job of chasing away young talent. You keep gutting the pool of young, ambitious workers and this city is going to be a resort wasteland in 10 years time (if not sooner). I know I’m leaving as soon as the wife finishes school.

  73. Your frustration is 100% justified. I’m just waiting for the day I can leave this place!!!

  74. This place is really a shithole in a very pretty setting. Nothing more .

  75. Most expensive place to LIVE in Canada, yet the place with the LOWEST minimum wage income. Tell me how that makes sense, please.

  76. I do think that a lot of innovative talent is leaving Vancouver because there just isn’t space for it for a combination of the reasons you mentioned.

  77. I Hate Vancouver

    Your thoughts on Vancouver made me smile, I’ve been living here almost continuously since 1994, when I was a kid and things were relatively cheap and housing prices not a concern it was a great place to live, bright lights, big city, all kinds of people. Now it’s all I can do to keep from simply dropping my things in the middle of my workday, going home, packing my truck and GETTING THE FUCK OUT FOR GOOD! This has got to be one of the most architecturally bland, soulless ripoff city I have ever even heard of. I think minimum wage in a McDonalds in some small town where there is real nature around without the detritus of the inconsiderate city dwellers all over would be an improvement. I hope when I leave this city gets flattened by a deluge of bombs. Leave all the potheads to smoke if you get what I mean. I can’t even remember what it smells like to breathe in the air without smelling that stanky weed. No thanks!

  78. It was as if I wrote this blog. Everything is spot on… I have been here for seven months. I’m from Denmark and i thought maybe I had it so hard being an immigrant, but your experience is pretty much identical to mine except I get most of the jobs I applied for only to get fired again right away without being told where I went wrong. I have now taken a job that pays 14.50$ an hour (I have a child). It is not sustainable… Vancouver: What a disappointment.

  79. I came to Vancouver from Dublin and now I wish i went to Australia instead. No real jobs for immigrants even though the Vancouver city council or whoever advertised it in every newspaper back home about how there’s lots of good jobs here, crap weather, boring night life with horrible bar staff and by god are these locals ignorant. soon as I can get the money together I’m off to oz.

    1. I’m from Australia and definitley encourage you to go!
      It’s a beautiful country, much more friendly, warm and interesting than Van!

  80. I grew up in one of the small sprawled towns next to Vancouver, between it and surrey. Still live here.. I want out. I often ask how people are even surviving here with such low wages and high costs (IF you can find a job at all). And yet for some reason it was seen fit to clear cut a very large area of forest for a very large number of overpriced homes to bring even more people into this mess..

    This place is just one very greedy, very accomplished con artist. For those who don’t already have millions of dollars, Vancouver will draw you in with its promises of nature and then make you its bitch while your employer hands you their pocket change for your hard work. You can see the mountains, but the bullshit put between you and the surrounding nature always seems a little to thick to reach it.

    Nothing really sits right.. Even with the new Port Man bridge, I heard a government representative or someone of that sort flat out say something along the lines of. -People obviously don’t want it to be tolled, and alot of them will avoid the bridge all together now by using the putello. but eventually they will just give up-

    As things sit for me, I am fairly certain I have made my decision to find work in Alberta. I won’t ever willingly move back to Vancouver. But maybe somewhere else in BC (if a living wage can be found)

  81. so much you said it is true. You missed one thing Vancouver is a very hard place to meet new people/friends unless you grew up there.
    I love it here cause of the nature and mild weather.
    Now regarding rents and jobs you can get lower price apts if you live in greater Vancouver such as Richmond, NorthVan, surrey, largely , abbotsford and even some parts of east van and I’m talking about safe parts.
    Your proximity to the gulf islands, sunshine coast, mountains, kelowna and whistler make the beauty worth everything you wrote.
    If you hate rain vancouver is not the place to be though.

  82. I was born and raised in Victoria, Home of the “Newly wed & nearly dead.” I was head hunted for a job in Vancouver took it. I have no regrets! I lost that job, had 3 months of very hard times but that could have happened in Victoria as well. I will never list “back east” and to mean that means any east of the Rockies. I cannot stand the cold. Within a few months I had made several friends and am still making friends.

    What many people do not understand is that there are HUGE sums of outside money coming into Vancouver and lots of it is buying up land. I listen to the local news here and I take a slight offense to some of the racial inferences of the Asians. The Asian money in particular is what fuels my pay cheque. They spend money like its water, and their culture is for the most part a very giving culture. As for rent, the answer is simple do not live in the city! This is true of ANY city. I live 20 mins by bus and pay 550 for a bachelor apt. It is in a family orientated neighborhood and there is are only a gun shots per month. (kidding! well mostly, but anyhow.)

    I have no regrets coming here, I am not even sure if I like Victoria anymore even tho I was born and raised there. I love my family and friends from there but that alone would never entice me back.

    I’m only partially a hippy, I don’t do yoga and I drive a V8. This city has sooooo much to do/offer. I find it very difficult to be bored. And there are several free/low cost things to do.

    Food an fuel I find to be pretty close to Victoria. Even tho gas might cost 10 cents / l more I get *better* gas mileage here because the city allows vehicles to actually move and not be stopped every 300 feet at a stupid traffic light! Please do not factor in rush hour, every city has rush hour.)

    And please don’t take this as an attack, but I have found, in general that most people from back east have some kind of weird anti west coast thing. “Oh Alberta has this and that and yada yada yada, To me, all it has is COLD!

    I hope you continue to come back to Van as a tourist and to keep in touch with your friends, but for me, Victoria, been there done that :)

  83. Living in Vancouver: you were doing it wrong.

    It seems like most folks are extraordinarily lousy at managing their money. I make less than $19/hr. Yes, I do rent and I do split the cost of an one-bedroom apartment with my partner. I also have no car. But while I can see a several downsides to living in Vancouver (the constant rain, the unfriendly people, and lack of pet-friendly places to rent are among my least favourite things about Vancouver) I still find it affordable. Five years ago, I was only earning $13/hr and living on my own in an one bedroom basement suite (ugly, yes, but it motivated me to get out more) and I could still afford to travel overseas. Many people would ask, “HOW DO YOU DO IT?” and I would think, “what the fuck are you spending your money on anyway? Booze? Gas? Daily Starbucks runs?”

    People are just spoiled and greedy, especially those who demand owning a vehicle. What I do love about Vancouver is that I live just five minutes away from my job. I can get pretty much everywhere I need to by foot or by bike. The choices are mind-blowing and there are a wide variety of excellent restaurants here (which, yes, I can afford to go to). Aside from ditching the car, another secret to saving money is to do your shopping at those asian grocers where apples are less than a dollar a pound. In my opinion, there’s heaps to do in Vancouver that costs very little money.

    I feel very fortunate to have the life I have. I would like to continue to experience life in other cities (I have also lived in Victoria and Calgary) and learn how to adapt there. Life is all about experimenting. Kudos to you for giving Vancouver a try though!

  84. I’m in Ottawa, not many jobs here and expensive. My family are trying to survive in a one bedroom apartment. People here are less than friendly. The only thing to do in town is going to a museum. We cannot spend money on expensive concerts and festivals. With all our university degrees, it’s hard to find a great job here. We are looking to move, but to where is our problem.

  85. Vancouver is not an average town where you can just drop in, find a job and get a place to live all in the same day. Here are some lessons learnt from my stay here of considerably more than 10 years:

    1. Moving here.
        a. Come prepared. If you are a Vietnam government official who skimmed a few dollars off a highway improvement project or a military contractor from the States who made a bundle off the Iraq War, then stuff a million dollars cash in a suitcase plus a cut for Revenue Canada (50% should do it) and you’re set to start your new life in Vancouver. Oh yes, a sizeable contribution to the ruling party in Ottawa might be required as well for your continued stay in your new downtown condo.
       b. Don’t have a million dollars? In that case, don’t delude yourself into thinking that you are going to land a job in Vancouver which covers your expenses unless you are exceptional (like Sir Branson or  Li Ka-shing exceptional). If you arrive in town without a suitcase stuffed with a million bucks, then grab a shopping buggy and at least *pretend* you are addicted to some highly toxic substance made from toilet bowl cleaner which forces you to rob the locals while shooting them a friendly smile. One guy I know who successfully employed this charade got free housing, free food, some very nice free clothes (including a $150 pair of new Adidas), a pink scooter, and is now extremely happy to be a denizen of Vancouver.

    2. Staying here.

    One day I stumbled upon a protest *against* housing for the needy. How could anyone be against housing for those in need? An exasperated social worker explained the motives of the angry mob to me, by saying:
        a) Notice that the protestors are screaming that the new housing is not enough, even though the Province and the City spent millions to secure the land and develop the area.
       b) The protestors are organised by Directors of NGO’s.
       c) The Directors make in excess of $60k/annum, twice what I make (said the social worker).
       d) It is not in the Directors’ best interests to see the needy (whom they supposedly represent) get housing, food and clothing since those Directors will eventually be out of a job if everyone gets adequate care. So they try to stop helpful efforts by organising these protests, screaming that new housing is not enough. Wow!
    Lesson learnt? Apply for a job as an NGO Director.

    3. Understand the dynamics of the City.
        a. Tagging. Rich kids will spray paint your car if it is worth less than $50k. When you confront them, as I have, here is what they say: “Your car is sh*t and so is your neighbourhood.” Then they jump in their $75,000 BMW M5 and tootle home in time for Mummy to tuck them into bed where they make one last request before drifting off to sleep: “Could Daddy buy more spray paint for my art project?”
       b. The Police. Vancouver may be the only place on the entire planet where you will learn to pity the police. Folks (maybe NGO Directors?) throw rocks at them apparently to film their reaction with their iPhones, presumably editing out the rock throwing part to show how an “unprovoked”, evil VPD attacked them, but the strange part about all this is that the police don’t react as expected. Instead of doing what you and I would, namely give the rock throwers a good taste of the left hook, there is just a look of exasperation on the constables’ faces as they turn and walk away from the abusers, a face looking down at the ground, one which is framed with incredibly sad furrows of dejection, a heart-rending look which makes you want to run up, hug them, and say: “Don’t worry! Those nasties really didn’t mean to throw rocks and verbally assault you. I’m sure it was all a sick joke…let’s get a coffee and hang out a bit while you cheer up!” Then you remember they are police.
       c. If you still need a job, I just noticed there are a lot of openings at the Vancouver Police Department.
      d. The Chinese. There are lots of Chinese in Vancouver. You will enjoy your stay more if you learn a bit of Chinese before moving here (Mandarin or Cantonese) as well as how to approach others with a Confucius perspective, one where we regard each other with honesty and respect. Once you’ve done that, you will quite likely be hooked up with some of the best restaurants in North America! Okay, there are also Buddhist temples, beautiful gardens, and on and on. When you can understand our local news, then you can pack your bags…you are ready to move here!:
    www omnibc ca / programming / details.php?id=42
    (Add some dots and delete some spaces to make that link work)
    e. If you can’t bring yourself to pretend you are a crack addict so that you can get free housing, there is always the Buddhist monk route: don a robe, roam the streets, and enjoy the fresh air and views whilst panhandling your way to enlightenment.

  86. This has expessed everything I have been thinking in the 3 months I have been in Vancouver!

    I was told it was much like Australia (where I am from), but it most certainly is not! It may look as beautiful, but everyone here seems miserable or stuck up!

    And in those 3 months, I have not made a single friend or got a job because everything needs such and such qualification or a certain amount of experience inside Canada! And no job means that I don’t really have somewhere to meet people my age and with similar interests. What am I to do?

    Thank you for writing this, as I now know I’m not the only one!

  87. Vancouver can be tough, there are a lot of superficial people, a lot of assholes. Some of us were born here, there are nice people in Vancouver… I’m glad you wrote your experience, your truth, but I can’t wade through a hundred plus comments. I will give you some link love though.

  88. I’ve been here for almost 2 decades growing up.

    I can echo all of what you said.

    If you have a large pile of money, you’ll do well here. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

  89. I was born and raised in Vancouver. I’ve lived here for 40 years. Everything the author has written above is right on the money.

  90. I love Vancouver

    Your comments are typical of someone who moved somewhere, screwed up, and didn’t make it. High cost of living? No Frills + East Van shared housing. There are plenty of ways to manage your finances. You may not be good at it, but other people are. No jobs? Is it you? Yes, it probably is. I could get a new job tomorrow in a whole variety of fields. You just aren’t willing to work from the ground up, that’s why you stayed jobless and unhappy here! I would like to cite this section: “‘Is it me? Am I not good enough?’ you ask in tears as the pretty jock dumps you after he’s had what he wanted.” There is obviously more to your motivations for dissing Vancouver than you are letting on. Also, you wrote this thing like an essay (quite eloquently, actually, it was well-organized, too), leading me to believe you may have been a student for a long time. How much job experience did you go into the world of work with? Did you take lower-paying jobs while looking for other ones to start off with? That’s what you have to do, regardless of location. You were unwilling to endure hardships to attain your goal. All cities have good people, bad people, condos, job shortages in certain sectors, all of what you complained about. I moved to Vancouver from Ontario, and I’ve loved it for the past six years. I plan to spend four more here. Stop blaming a city for your shortcomings, please, thanks.

    1. You make a lot of assumptions about me, but you don’t know me.

      Yes, I was a student for a long time, but I also have long and varied real-world work experience. I never stopped working, either as a freelancer or for an employer, throughout my school years.

      I DID apply for jobs with lower pay, for entry-level positions, for jobs that I was totally over-educated for, and even unpaid internships. Some of the issues might be me, sure, but there’s a whole lot of systemic problems that, as you can see in the abundance of comments and in the increasing number of studies and articles about the subject, make Vancouver a less than welcoming place for people looking to start an adult life.

    2. LoveItorLeaveIt

      Born and raised here and I agree with this persons reply 100%. You can’t fault a city or it’s population for your shortcomings. I wouldn’t imagine I could move to New York or London or even Toronto and find a job instantly and when I did find a job it might not be exactly what I’d like to be doing. Vancouver is not Disneyland, it’s still a working city. People are arriving here with unrealistic expectations. Also, quit bitching about ‘clicky’ Vancouver groups of friends. If you had so many friends and are so good at making them why did you leave where you’re from in the first place?

      1. As I was saying to someone else:

        “there’s a whole lot of systemic problems that, as you can see in the abundance of comments and in the increasing number of studies and articles about the subject, make Vancouver a less than welcoming place for people looking to start an adult life.”

        1. Anabelle, with all due respect, your counter has little merit. Comment boards are overcrowded with negative types. Happy people typically don’t post blogs and comments about how wonderful things are, but people with negative experiences do. So your evidence is not sound.

          I won’t attack you personally as others did, but it is worth noting that maybe your approach was wrong.
          It can be harder in any city without your home network, you just have to put in the let work to make it happen.

          I won’t deny there is something different about Vancouver but it is full of opportunity. I would say it is suited to entrepreneurs and those that want to do something different. If you are looking for a corporate job, then it probably isn’t the best place. It is a great city.

  91. Anonymous please

    If you want to have a enriched life in Canada in one of it’s major cities then I’d suggest Montreal and Toronto. If you want comfy home and familiarity go to Halifax but if you want to be in a city filled with stuck up superficial snobs with no compass then Vancouver is the place for you. I’ve always thought it was Canada’s “L.A.” where posing is a must. Don’t scratch the surface too hard…..nothing there.

    1. haha agree.. definitely ‘Hollywood north’ here…..and everyone wants to believe they are a celebrity, just waiting for the TV cameras to find them;-)

  92. I move to Vancouver in 96 and I have been living here since. I have only lived in Vancouver Proper for the first few months because I wanted more space and to be near the nature.

    In general, Vancouver Sucks. The City governments don’t know what they are doing and they are just going after their own agenda. They act like they are visionaries but have no plan. They have no back bones.

  93. I’m curious to know how you’ve found Victoria, BC as a comparison. Cost of living, job market etc..

    Thank you..

  94. Here are some things key to doing Vancouver right.

    – No Frills. Not quite $6 cheese, but close. Asian markets are a close second.
    – Transit pass or tickets
    – Ditch the car. It’s more expensive to live in the city than the ‘burbs you say? Here’s how you do it.
    – Get a carshare. This will help you get to the Superstore.
    – Play HARD in the summer. Try new things. Get outside. Join some clubs. Do fitness things. Go to concerts. Then you’ll hopefully meet enough people to hibernate with during the dreary, rainy winter.
    – Did I mention ditching the car already? Seriously, it’s key (no pun intended).
    – As far as the job market is concerned, I’d need to know more about your qualifications. It can be tough for sure, though.

    1. I did not own at car.

    2. This is a comment that people currently living in first world countries should read and re-read before thinking to move to Vancouver, dreaming abou the “best place on earth where to live”….you want to move across the ocean and not being able to own a car and eat cheap food?? think hard…

  95. I have lived in North Vancouver for the last 7 years, and for the most part you are right: cost of living, job market, food prices…all ridiculous. Also, it seems there are only certain places you can go and try to meet REAL people, people who are searching for more than just economic comfort. But there is something about Vancouver than makes me stay, probably because I am one of those people that enjoy the nature that surrounds me in this vainy, rainy city. I feel sad that I have heard many people talk about Vancouver like this, because I do love this city at the end of the day and there is so much more to it than this.

  96. I have lived and worked in Vancouver for 20 years. This last year, I was laid off from my professional position and spent 10 months searching for work in and around Vancouver. I have 3 degrees, and 15 years of experience in my field. Despite applying for every job for which I was qualified, and for many more for which I was over-qualified (but very willing to work and take a serious reduction in pay), I could not find any semblance of sustainable work.
    Vancouver is ridiculously overpriced while employers seem to want to pay the lowest wages they possibly can,
    I’ve moved far far away from Vancouver and am now living where there is housing that is affordable and salaries that are commensurate with experience and education levels. Should have done this years ago!!

    1. May I ask where you went?

    2. Yes please do tell where you have moved to?

  97. How can you say that Montreal (-35) is better than Vancouver (+6/10) in 6 months of winter Canada has!? No place for strollers in the Montreal lines! Everything is old (that’s why is cheaper) and the salaries are still pretty bad!

    Sorry! Tired of the winter here! :(

    1. Weather isn’t everything.

  98. Thank you! Weather is far from everything! I am from Montreal and I finally had my meltdown… Yes…The natural setting is beautiful. The weather, I chose grey over minus 20 for sure although I know some prefer the sunshine and will tolerate the cold.

    There isn’t much else to it though. Housing is expensive and people are relatively unfriendly.Superficiality here can be quite in your face! I’m sure that bothers many including people who are from this city! I think the feeling of isolation is the biggest issue here. I have heard people say that the continuous months of grey is what gets people down here but I think the loneliness is the real issue.

    Thanks for writing this! I’m happy to know I am not alone in feeling this way!

    1. Totally agree! I’m from back east as well and although the enticement of less snow and not freezing for half the year is appealing, but man…I never felt so isolated and lonely in my life. In fact, I am a very outgoing, friendly person and I just gave up on people. You can only try to make friends so long before it just isn’t worth the disappointment.

  99. Hi Anabelle, I’ve been thinking about moving to Vancouver, I’m from Venezuela but I’ve been living in Leon, Mexico for about 9 years and I’m desperately thinking in get out from here because of it’s soulness, lack of opportunities and all the reasons why you left Vancouver.

    Here in Mexico I’ve visited Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, etc. I liked those cities but now Mexico is facing some serious crime issues and I also really can’t deal with its religious and closed minded people.

    I’m 26 year old now and I want to leave Latin America behind to start a new life in a 1st world civilized country. I’m from Caracas and Caracas used to be a very cosmopolitan city back in the days, from the 70’s to the early 2000’s. It’s still a very multicultural city with lots of spanish, portuguese, italian, and asian influence because of the immigrants.
    We used to have a lot of things to do, a great nightlife, cultural and nature related activities but things where getting worse decade by decade and gone very bad when Chavez arrived with his Cuban ideas.

    I really miss that life but now everything has gone, so now I’m looking for a place that can provides me that kind of big city life. I know I can find a place 100000 times better than what Caracas used to be so which Canadian city could you recommend to 26 year old musician??


    1. I can’t tell you where to live. My experience of Vancouver is my own and you might find it to your liking. However, the most thriving arts scenes right now are in Toronto, Montréal and (strangely, I know!) Winnipeg. Given your Latin American background, you’ll probably find the Québec province more to your liking culturally.

      1. Thanks! The only issue I find with Québec is that I don’t speak french hehe, but I’ll keep doing my research

      2. Winnipeg has always had a thriving art scene, not strange at all. Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Mb Theatre Centre, PTE etc. Winnipeg is probably the best small city in Canada to live in. Sunny all the time too :)

  100. I moved to Vancouver in 1980 from Edmonton and after about a 2 year adjustment period loved the city and the area. Like anywhere you have to adjust to the different lifestyle. I would never, move back to Edmonton or anywhere else in Alberta. After time we developed a social network and grew to love the place. 5 years ago we decided the cost of living and taxes in Canada were much to high and moved to Panama where the it’s warm all of time and the cost of living and taxes are much less. I still miss the lower mainland and will someday probably go back. Life is what you make of it wherever you go and there are always the people who complain about everything, that’s part of life.

  101. Life is what you make of it. If you are a really social person who needs others like yourself around you, Vancouver (perhaps Canada general) is far from ideal. If however you are really outdoorsy, perhaps a bit of a pioneer or loner, someone not satisfied just holding down a decent job, this is a good place to be.
    Vancouver is a cold place in my opinion – it’s not California – young women don’t smile at young guys on the street (I’m no longer young, so it doesn’t matter to me), You have to make a big effort to find and keep friends perhaps because of the high level of cynicism and education the population holds. Older people (Boomers and older) are more friendly than Gen X or Y. You can spot them in no time – people from back east, who exhibit an arrogance about their “culture” that is a big bore. Everyone knows that Montreal has more new bands than Vancouver, that you can’t buy proper Montreal Smoked Meat here; that we lack Poutine; that everything’s too expensive.
    This overflows into the rubbish that flows from the east called “Multiculturism” – constantly hyped by Ottawa and in schools. There is very little evidence of it here.
    I have the strong impression that most people who come here as young adults are trying to get away from somewhere else – they have come to make a new life and many consequently have no intention of ever going back. But, just like in the Gold Rush Days, fantasy and reality can be very different. This includes the waves of Chinese immigrants who see western Canada only in terms of making money or hiding here – many are disappointed, of course, and return home, poorer, after a few years. Many ladies come here to find men but never find what they had in mind – I personally know a half dozen of these unhappy soles.

    Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City, Halifax being older cities, will have more variety to offer than any western Canadian city. So, if you are “artistic” or a “social person”, don’t come here, you will be as disappointed as Annabelle was. If you are a bit of a go getter, who will put as much effort into starting a new business on weeknights/weekends as getting laid, Vancouver has potential.

  102. I cannot agree more with Anabelle.
    Moving to Vancouver was the biggest mistake of my life, especially after living in Australia for 3 years (originally I’m from Italy).
    I could not wait to get out of Vancouver, a city without soul and without much of a culture, so provincial. Cost of living is impossible and the job market is just pathetic.
    The constant grayness of the sky evtually gets you and depression sets in.
    The people are very unfriendly….polite yes but unfriendly, very different concept
    Vancouver chewed up almost 3 years of my life which I will never get back.
    I was extremely lucky that I had the chance to move to the US where I met my wife.
    I’m still “stuck” in the northwest, I live in Seattle but we plan to move to San Diego at some point in the future.
    So i still have to endure the gray skies but it so much better living in a city which has an actual economy compared to Vancouver…a great bustling job market for professionals and we were able to buy a very nice house 10 minutes from downtown with a gorgeaous ocean view for just over 500K…in Van you need at least $2 mil if not more to buy the same property.
    There is more social life and a total different level of energy, Seattle actually spend some money on the real arts.
    I go often in Vancouver to visit a couple of good friends and I cannot help feeling immediately that the standard of living is lower than Seattle and the feeling of hopelesness.
    I find really laughable how some of the die hard fans of Vancouver call it a “world class city”….in your dreams…or when they compare it to Sydney Australia…riiiight…you wish!!!…totally apples to oranges.
    I feel bad for the constant flow of immigrants that fall for what i call “the Vancouver deception”, a city that knows very well how to sell itsels to the world but at its core is nothing more than a real estate and commodities speculation hub with a B (and often C) movies small industry (mostly because of lower cost) attached to it. You need to work 3 jobs just to afford a decent living. One of the biggest ambition of Vancouverites is to end up working for some sort of government agency, at least they pay a fair wage.
    There is an old joke among immigrants..BC stands for “Bring Cash”….large part of the city economy basically relies on wealthy Asians parking their families (they buy high end real estate, fancy cars and pay taxes) then they go back doing their bsuiness in the Far East. I remember when I got my Canadian citizenship how some of them had their luggage in tow, you could figure out that they basically landed that same day and were ready to leave again after the cerimony.
    It is a city where you bring the money from outside, you do not make any.
    Anabelle, when someone tells you that “Vancouiver is the best place on earth to live, no questioning allowed” remember that is actually good for the poor soul to feel that way because most likely he/she has nowhere else to go. Luckily I had my escape option.

    Good luck and welcome to the “club”!!!

    1. Saturno_v.
      Funny that you mention Seattle as a better environment for you than Vancouver. You might be right in some ways. But, and this is a big “but”, you have to endure the extremes of American society, politics, US-centric public school system, the religion, the weapons, the crime, the rotting infra structure, bad beer etc. Not for me… that’s why my family fled the US years ago. Perhaps it’s much more exciting to live in NY or San Fran or even Seattle, but then you have the madness of chasing The Almighty Dollar…. so give me calm and boring Vancouver any day.

      1. ron_of_Vancouver

        I once lived in Seattle and have an opportunity to live there now, but choose to stay in Vancouver. Seattle is a kind of managed chaos where a crook once tried to grab the carry bag out of my hand ( the only time someone will try that in New York is if they have a gun pointed at you), the train station is falling apart, there are grocery stores which are so filthy they would not be allowed to operate in Vancouver or elsewhere in Canada, and where you can live in some of the nicest places on the planet if you are obscenely wealthy – if you are poor, chances are you will not have the same opportunities as in Vancouver. Then there are the very scary, gun toting religious nuts – more than once I thought I’d be shot because I accidentally said the wrong thing (it’s difficult to figure out exactly what those nuts believe since there are so many contradictions, it’s best to leave quickly when confronted). We left Seattle at the first opportunity and never turned back. New York is different-there are parts of it which are livable. San Francisco is very nice, nicer than Vancouver imho, but difficult to live there because it feels like the Deep South once past San Bruno-lots of close minded, scary people seem to come out of nowhere…if you can afford to stay in the right area, San Francisco could be the nicest of the four cities (we can’t!).

        1. Wow , what a collection of tired stereotypes….

          Where did you run into “gun religious nuts” in Seattle??

          Filthy grocery stores?? You mean ethnic grocery stores?? Have you ever been in Commercial Drive in Vancouver?? Or some grocery stores in Surrey?? New Westminster??
          Do you know that actually the crime rate in Vancouver is worse than Seattle??
          Stations falling apart?? Did you ever ride in the new trains down here?? Spanking new. they just completed the airport line.
          Are you sure you ever been in Seattle Ron?? Maybe it was just a bad dream….
          Or maybe you left because you had to leave….

          1. ron_of_vancouver

            Please accept my apologies that my 3-year ordeal in Seattle upset you so much. Perhaps if you feel so strongly about something you read in the future, you might just say “that was not my experience in Seattle” rather than counter with a barrage of unfounded accusations. It’s not my shtick to respond to hostility such as yours, but will add in this case: 1) Yes, there is a new, very nice transit system in Seattle, but the King St train station was still a shambles last I visited, 2) I have lived not too far from Commercial Dr in Vancouver for considerably more than 10 years now, 3) the last of many “gun religious nuts” encounters involved two perps who followed my wife and me around in Factoria Mall, which is about a 15 minutes drive east of Seattle-we ran to an area where there were more people and the perps left when I started to dial 911 on my phone.

  103. Pavel

    Actually Seattle has more infrastructural spending than Vancouver, big time (except for residential construction)
    Crime in Seattle is very low, maybe even less than Vancouver (especially burglaries).
    Canada (and Vancouver) is as political as the US, and corrupt as well (both countries are very corrupt. there is no way around it, Canada maybe is better in hiding it).
    Do not paint the US using a very wide brush, it is a huge country with lot of diversity between different areas.
    After living in both countries on balance, I tak the US, any day and I love a quiet life as you do

    1. Can’t say about amount of infra spending in Washington State, but the waste of tax money in Vancouver is stunning (stupid $1/2 B stadium reno that made no difference at all, bike lanes up the wazoo, no relevant leadership etc.etc.)
      Crime is increasing in Vancouver to be sure but I’m not aware of many walled communities here yet…. agree about corruption but in Canada the process is almost never uncovered due to disgracefully disinterested, inept or influenced media. Accountability in Canada is almost non-existent, Quebec being the worst. Seemingly no body cares but we muddle on…
      A very wide political brush is painting the middle of the US red and the coastlines blue. The same is becoming true in Canada.
      If I were 50 years younger, I’d rather live in California than BC, but I have an older, more experienced head on my shoulders now, and a family to think about. If I must live in Canada for pragmatic or philosophical reasons, I’ll stay on the west coast. Ten years from now, things may well change.

      1. Pavel

        Unfortunately we had a lot of that too..lots of taxpayer money spent on professional sports infrastructure.
        Not walled communities here in Seattle.
        I agree with you about California, I working my way into moving to San Diego at some point…but tax rates are going through the roof down there…

        1. Perhaps the walled community I visited (almost at Lake Washington – you drove through a Black Ghetto to get there) has been torn down. I remember checking in at the gate, complete with armed guard, before being allowed in after a phone call verified we were expected. This was 1965 and I had been invited to come down to visit a friend of mine’s family. Lovely people, but as a young lad, I was really impressed by the security. They were obviously a wealthy family – all I can remember is great food, my buddy could tap-dance and he had his own Lincoln Continental 4 door convert. It was quite a different world from living in a small apartment in Vancouver’s West End at the time.
          I have always found west coastal American family people to be routinely more friendly and open, even generous compared to Canadians. My experience is that Canadians (even Vancouverites) will be the same but they need a trigger, a reason to show those traits.
          It all may come back to the fact that we are from different genetic stock and that Vancouver is only 125 years old.


          1. Pavel

            As far as I know no such communities exist here at the moment.

            And no “black ghetto” is close to Washington Lake neither…actually no ghetto at all.

            The “worst” area of Seattle is White Center or South Tacoma…..they are just low income areas, but crime rate is nowhere comparable to the typical bad areas of LA or Washington DC, etc…

            I feel very safe to walk and shop there, some excellent ethnic food.

            You can have very high end communities with a gate (you either swipe your card if you are resident or buzz in your host) but no armed securities will greet you at the gate which are totally unattended.

            I believe you have similar setting in Vancouver as well.

            It is more a way to keep traffic off, to gain extra quietness.

  104. Wow great posts. I have been seriously thinking about moving to Vancouver from Toronto for years now. Mostly because I don’t have much family here and more family in Vancouver. I have a decent job here and my own townhouse, but I know there’s more to life than money and a good job. I’m just lonely here in Toronto. After reading all these posts, I’m wondering if I should move as it seems that I might not be able to find a job there. At least not one that pays what I’m earning now. I’ll keep reading the posts as I try to decide what I want to do.

    1. Cynthia if you are a professional and you have the opportunity to have a real solid sponsorship for the US, I would move south of the border without missing a beat. So many more choices.
      I moved to Canada from Europe so I have no particular sentimental attachment to both, US or Canada…so I think I can be a bit more impartial in my judgement…..for a satisfying career, agan, if you are a true sought after professional (I have to stress this point) US wins hands down….and with that it comes a very good standard of living.
      If you are limited to Canada is tough…..Alberta is very good for job opportunities, people are friendly but the weather is just brutal.
      This is the real reason why Vancouver is so sought after despite its serious shortcomings….the only place with a bearable winter (but you still have to stomach the cloudy, rainy days)

  105. Unlike everyone here, I’ve lived in Vancouver for over 30 years. It’s not a “working” city. It’s a “let’s hang out and waste our time city”. The only thing that saved me from losing my mind was the fact that I travelled from North to South constantly with family and friends. You will have a good time if you are an “isolationist” with cash. Look at the population of Vancouver versus Toronto. If you see that Toronto has alot more people, it’s because they can find work and live well. Vancouver has been voted the “second most unliveable city in the world”… go figure

  106. It’s funny you mention it being voted the second most unlivable city in the world, isnt it commonly voted one of the most livable also?

    I’m planning on going to grad school at the SFU Vancouver campus, What are some suggestions about living accomodations? I just need to rely on public transit for the time being, as long as I can commute via public trans I dont really mind living further away. Any suggestions?

    1. SFU used to be much friendlier (and of course smaller) than huge UBC, probably still is. Chemistry and Biology departments had some excellent Profs in the 80s.
      There is a fair amount of accommodation in the Burnaby area with public transit up the “mountain” where SFU sits. Do you have a friend who could scout out places to live for you? You have to do the scouting on foot/bike or by car.

      All the best for your SFU experience.

    2. I went to the Segal Graduate School of SFU on Granville. It’s just down the street from the SFU Vancouver campus. I lived out on the West End, a block over from Denman, and caught the 5. It’s the Downtown-Robson bus that does a loop up Denman, down Robson, up Seymour and across to Richards on Hastings, back to Robson and Denman.. Stops right in front of the school and it runs about every 8 minutes most of the day. I’m pretty sure your tuition will include a U-Pass (at least it did with me) for the semester which will admit you on any bus, Skytrain, or Seabus. That’s great because without it, transit can get expensive. I think I just read where fares are or will be going up – currently $2.75 each way. And transfers aren’t good for very long. You can use U-Pass anytime, anywhere.

      Check out living somewhere that has a stop on one of the lines stopping at SFU Vancouver (Hastings and Richards). Getting to school and getting home were the least stressful part of my day. And personally speaking? Living near the 5’s route got me to school and home in about 15 minutes (and I lived near the opposite end of it). It was wonderful and convenient and because of its frequency, the opposite of stressful. Plus it’s safe – even at night.

    3. “isnt it commonly voted one of the most livable also?” Who creates these ratings though? I don’t trust sleazy real-estate developers. Just saying.

    4. Victoria Lampkin

      I am from NYC and recently stayed with my friend who was in student housing up at SFU.
      We split the rent which was $800 for a one bedroom which was fine.The buses run most of the time down Burnaby Mountain into the city. Your student pass is included in your tuition so you will be able to get around easily from the bus transferring to the skytrain if u need to use that. If you want a place off campus look in Burnaby which is very close to the Burnaby campus.. You can rent a room for $500-600. Student housing is better deal if you can get a one bedroom apt like my friend did who was also a Grad student like u r self. Good Luck!!
      I like Vancouver. I have witnessed some of what many have described. The rain didn’t bother me. I plan on visiting again very soon. I am older . I’m kind of over NYC. Vancouver is a nice change of place if you are visiting for a few months which I did then going back to NYC to live for another few months. I’ve always wanted to be bi-coastal so now I am so it works for me part -time in both places. I am an adventurer and I can work remotely from any place in the world so unlike many people looking for work my reality is very different but I am not naive about many Vancouverites who are unemployed. I have many friends who have been unemployed for a few years back in NYC so its a global issue. Love the hiking and I connected with a couple of people after a month or two of visiting. I will definitely be returning to Vancouver very soon.

  107. Everything you posted is 100% true. With my education, most job prospects are in Vancouver, as much as I’d like to work closer to home, and the pay is horrid. I spend a total of 2.5 hours a day commuting to/from Vancouver/Surrey where I moved back with the folks to escape the voluntary slavery you commit to when renting in Vancouver.

    Even when you have a free moment, there is nothing to do. The weather sucks 99% of the time which doesn’t help. The social scene is dead, and the only things people talk about are hiking, food, yoga, their careers, and the dozen or so TV series they have PVR’d which becomes mundane quick, and that’s IF people even talk to you in the first place – this is antisocial, introvert central. I asked a woman what the time was as my phone died and I was running late, and she ignored me, and nobody around even bothered to help, so I had to go into a coffee shop and look at a clock, and run out.

    There is also no shortage of racism against Asian/South-east Asian persons, hence why they prefer to live in their communities.

    If you really want to enjoy Vancouver, you must be extremely well educated and qualified to easily secure a well-paying ($100k+) job, or be rich already, and be caucasian, introverted, antisocial, with a touch of paranoia. Only then will you be equipped to fully enjoy this city and fit right in. Otherwise, it’s off to Toronto!

    1. VanMan,

      Much of what you write is, of course true, but would be true of many port cities around the world. To repeat what has been said before, Vancouver is a cold place being a very young town. It was more friendly before the infamous Expo86 and with each year since, more desperate or opportunistic people poured in, many with great wealth, but no concept of what Canada was supposed to stand for or any will to fit in.

      As to the social scene – yes, why not take up hiking or yoga or camping. It is quite possible to enjoy talking about food, work or entertainment – these are perfectly acceptable topics which I consider as interesting as ice hockey and the social scene.

      If you don’t earn $60k or more, you can’t live ‘the good life’ as shown in the faces of smiling people in magazines or TV ads. You can get by, but you might have to accept sharing a suite – even a basement suite – with someone (or several people) and you’ll have little disposable income. I was talking with several younger people last summer who said they couldn’t find decent affordable housing in Vancouver… when I asked how they had searched, all three said “Craig’s List”. You find housing by pounding the streets on foot. You might have to find a job on your own also, have a second job on weekends. You might have to get used to the rain and not own a car.

      Your last paragraph contains some truth also – yes, being educated (a Master’s degree is like a Bachelor’s degree 35 years ago) helps but being Caucasian does not as a number of Human Resources Depts favour so-called minorities. It is always an advantage to be introverted which is not the same as being antisocial. Paranoia is a growing global trend as people categorize themselves more and more into religious or so-called cultural camps (at their peril). I have never seen as accepting a place for non-Caucasians as Vancouver. Racism, as I see it, increasing in the “Lower Mainland”, is largely seen among visible non-cauc ethnic groups – I attempted to buy some lighting in Richmond and was refused service as a non-Asian. Many restaurants now make it clear that they do not want Caucasians as patrons. A South-Asian neighbour of mine finds himself no longer welcome among his bretheren in Surrey because of his Canadian political beliefs. All these increasing tensions are inevitable with the growing immigrant population that is changing Vancouver and many other places on this tiny planet. So far, thank heavens, the situation has not reached the boiling point here.

      If you come here, expect to try harder, perhaps make your own luck . People come here all the time and do well, but it might take 10 – 20 years. That was the case with my family.

  108. I read this and read the reply’s and can totally agree with nearly everything you have said as well. I moved to vancouver at the start of 2012. Comming from Sydney, Australia where the cost of living is very high, but the salaries are also high, the average wage here for anyone is $20 per hour minumum.

    I moved to vancouver with high asperations but the cost of living was crazy expensive and got me a while to get used to. The mobile bill costs are crazy high with telus, food is expensive! No one could afford to shop at market choice every week. You have to pay for BC health, but I can admit the rent is very reasonable compared to sydney. Here you will not find a studio appartment near the city for under 1700 a month, so based on that i can see why salaries are cheaper.

    Living in vancouver there is a MASSIVE gap between the rich and poor in terms of sallaries. People can earn 80k in a good job in vancouver, then for a half decent job you can be sitting on 35k a year which is really really low.

    I lived in vancouver for 8 months then gave up, i worked a minimum wage job at 10.50 an hour, just for something to do.

    Though being back in sydney which is an nice city, I miss vancouver SOOO much. I can honestly say it is the most beautiful city i have ever been in.

    You have the amazing mountains, ski resorts, driving up to whistler along those mountains is beautiful, the weather is great, the atmosphere, nice houses, and a beautiful city where its all residential and not business offices like sydney.

    People are pretty clicky i agree, but it depends on how social you are, if you play any sports, go to things from meetup, you will meet people, just dont expect to be in their circle of friends instantly people like to get to know you first and see how you meld with their friends before you can hang out with everybody. I met some amazing friends in vancouver.

    I am going to return to vancouver with money saved and try again, I cant see myself living anywhere else, even though the wages are low and the cost of living is high, the people are extremely friendly and the nature there the most amazing i have seen.

    So i still agree with you the job market is crazy difficult, but take what you can get until you find something sustainable and network and stay off the drugs and eating out every night and you will be find :-)

  109. Thanks for your article as I totally agree – I would NEVER recommend it to anybody, maybe to visit but that’s about it!! People here are cold, rude, arrogant and I totally think that Vancouver has no soul!!

    Yes it’s beautiful in the summer time but that’s 2 months out of the year – the 10 months of rain isn’t worth it, especially with the high cost of living!

    What drives me crazy as I’ve been here 3 times – nothing ever changes or the government doesn’t do much to make it more affordable and caters to people who are rich or foreigners with tons of cash to throw around!!
    The food maybe great but the city gets boring after a while especially if you’re not into hiking or skiing that much. Plus if you want to leave the lower wasteland – you have to drive through countless of other towns before you can get out – say if you like going for a long drives! :) Same with cycling, I don’t trust the drivers here and there aren’t a lot of great places to ride! So what if there is no snow in the winter – who wants to ride in the rain? lol There are some nice things about it but nothing to rave about – better as a vacation spot!!

    For those who love it, that’s great but it’s definitely not for everyone!! I know it’s not for me and definitely doesn’t feel like home. I feel like more like a tourist or a foreigner here because of how cold the weather actually is (hate the damp cold) and how cold people are! You try to be nice and people give you funny looks!! Sorry but it’s not worth – whether there is great food and culture, it’s not worth it!! It’s not even multi-cultural – it’s segregated multi-cultural, Vancouver needs to learn from Toronto on this!! = )

    That’s just my thought on the whole thing but I agree – “Don’t Move to Vancouver!!”

  110. I’ve lived in Vancouver pretty much my whole life (besides living abroad for three years) and I have to agree with you.

    The cost of living is ridiculous. Real Estate, even moreso. The median total income here is about 70k a year. A fixer-upper house in the east side is about 600k. There are many young couples who make it with financial help from their families. But let’s get real here, with that average, who can afford a house in Vancouver independently?

    I admit, groceries here are expensive. I however, only shop at Walmart, Superstore, No Frills and little Chinese markets to get the CHEAPEST food possible. This is how I survive here.

    My car insurance is about $150/month. I fill up about once a week which comes out to about $180/month. Gas is anywhere between $1.34-1.38/litre. I drive to Bellingham twice a month to fill up on cheap gas, and buy excess amounts of milk, eggs and cheese.

    I have to completely agree, the job market is extremely competitive and the worst part is, employers want you to be trained, qualified and ready to start with the lowest salary legally possible, and the great thing about a competitive market, is they can exploit people – hooray for them. They also have the benefit of living off of volunteers and interns to fill entry-level positions that many of us University grads apply for. Why pay someone to do something when there are an abundance of people who can do it for free? Afterall, they are getting great experience and a good reference.

    Here is something I did after I graduated with a University Bachelor’s degree as I noticed I wasn’t getting calls for an interview after applying for hundreds of jobs. I went on Craigslist, created a job posting for the job I ultimately would have wanted and had people e-mail me applications. By the next morning, my inbox had reached over 270 e-mails with all sorts of over-qualified applicants. I had to delete the job posting because so many applications were constantly filling my inbox. Do you want to know what the job was? Office Assistant – $14/hour. I was amazed as I sifted through resumes of highly educated people with all sorts of work experience. It was heartbreaking to see people with Master’s Degrees and science degrees applying for a position a chimpanzee could be trained to do. But it put into perspective who I was competing with, and why I never received one phone call. I then revamped my resume and cover letter, which helped me get a couple of phone calls and the decent dead end job I have today – that I am actually grateful for since it was all I could get. I advise anyone having a hard time finding a job to do exactly what I did, see who you are competing with, revamp your resume and cover letter, find a creative heading for your application to stick out out of everyone else’s applications and NEVER apply for a job on Craigslist again – as a matter of fact, never apply for a job without the company revealing itself. Who knows who is actually receiving your personal information – right?

    Well after a year of being settled into my dead end career, I’ve decided it’s time to leave this city and move to Calgary where my boyfriend is originally from. Vancouver has changed a lot in the last 10 years. It’s hard for people to make it now. I’m tired of shopping at no frills. I’m tired of living in a tiny, disgusting Bachelor’s suite with my boyfriend and not having a door to separate us when we’re mad at eachother. We don’t see mountain views in my basement suite. I live underground! I’m tired of not having enough money to go to movies, go for dinner, travel, join classes, or even pay into a retirement fund. I’m tired of hearing my partner is having a hard time paying down his 25k education debt sentence. I’m tired of seeing people with their children and realizing that I’ll never be able to have a child of my own and give it the life it deserves.

    I think a lot of these problems are due to a lot of factors: globalization, technology, education inflation, overpopulation, Vancouver – a beautiful and desireable city to live – which attracts people from all around the world with money, no regulations. I think multi-culturalism is great, but with that, people from second and third world countries come here and live comfortably in what many of us natives would consider a low quality of life. And they work real fuckin hard. And save every penny. And are ok with getting paid next to nothing. As long as they have food on the table and a roof over their head, they’re happy. How can I compete? I’m already having a hard time with a 36k/year salary. I just have a different expectation of how i want to live my life.

    Vancouver is beautiful, it has everything I could ask for in a city. But if you don’t have a great paying job, or money already, life can be hard. I live my life pay-check to pay-check. And like me, many others do too. So it really depends on what you want out of life and living here. What are your expectations? What are your needs and wants? Dreams and aspirations? And what are you willing to sacrifice to live here? Something’s gotta give.

  111. Merci Anabelle.
    I moved to canada from Geneva 7 years ago. I lived in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Fort Macmurray, Victoria and finally Vancouver. And I have to say that Vancouver has been very disappointing. The rain is just unbelievable, I thought Victoria was bad but Vancouver took it to another level.
    The cost of living is too high compared to the salaries, I already went through all the money I saved while in Alberta. I am 26 years old and I feel like I have waisted a year and a half of my life. In Winnipeg I got a degree, in Alberta I made a lot of money and in Victoria I had a lot of fun but I haven’t achieved anything in Vancouver, nothing but disappointment and misery.
    People are very cold and It’s extremely difficult to make friends in this city as an immigrant. I have to go on dating sites to meet women now because I don’t have the balls to talk to strangers anymore. I have become a complete zombie that never smiles. So far Victoria has been the best Canadian city for me, it can be boring but people are friendly and laid back so you can always have someone to hang out with.
    The only pro is that I am in the best shape in my life, I go to the gym 4 times a week because I have nothing else to do and I can’t afford to eat anything but eggs,tuna and sweet potatoes. LOL
    I am heading to Montreal or NYC as soon as I can but for now, looks like I have to go back to Fort Mac and work 72 hours weeks for the entire summer just so I can afford to move out east.

  112. Coming from Singapore, Vancouver is almost identical, with high volume of immigrants and high cost of living. I was in Vancouver last year and I will be moving there end of March to join my partner who has a good paying job there. He, being Dutch, was overwhelmed by the high rental and high cost of eating out and groceries in Vancouver. However, I wasn’t really surprised because in Singapore, a Suzuki swift 1.5 car would cost you CND 80,000 and a 1200 sqft private apartment would set you back at CND 1.4 million. However, the big difference is that the job market in Singapore is great and salaries are rather high with one of the lowest taxes in the world.

    Since I am Asian, I think that helps a lot being in Vancouver because I have no issues mingling with the ex-Hong Kongers or even the mainland Chinese. There are so many of them in Vancouver! Unbelievable! Knowledge of mandarin and some Cantonese definitely has its advantage. But what amuses me the most about North America is when I hear people telling me “oh, you speak great English. It’s as if English is your first language!” Or when they ask me if gets really cold in my country. And the funniest thing I ever heard was when they tell me that I should really be very excited moving to a huge city like Vancouver.

    Just like to share that Singapore is located in South East Asia, right below the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia and just above the equator. There are no seasons and only summer all year round. We are taught the Queen’s English as we used to be under the British colony. English is indeed our first language. But we also need to learn a second language in school as part of the curriculum. Our city is larger than Vancouver with a population of 5.2 million and is one of the richest country in the world. The high property cost is also due to the high influx of rich immigrants here.

    I have no idea how it will be for me once I move over to Vancouver and live there. But I must agree that the job market seemed very conservative and bleak and thus, expectations must be tuned down to avoid disappointment. No matter, I am going with an open mind and am thankful to have a partner who holds a good job.

  113. I was born and raised in Victoria BC the capital. Vancouver and Victoria are very similar culturally, except Victoria seems to be dumber, slower, less smart in almost everything and everyone. Victoria is a more frustrating mental asylum than Vancouver. However, because Victoria is capital city and Vancouver is still part of BC, there are very bad labour markets in this province of BC. All your skills, education, experience don’t matter one bit as many use the corruption nepotism method of HR practices. “You are so good, everything we could hope for, but oh no not you! Nobody is good enough for our cheap and abusive job offers! why can’t we find any workers who stay!” Alberta, Saskatchewan pay more wages, lower living expenses, and try not to tax, fee, levy workers to death like BC does. You can’t buy a house ever in Victoria and Vancouver, but you may in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon. Check out web sites like http://www.ratemyemployer.ca, and http://www.topix.com for the regions.

  114. Absolutely right, I am in the same position can’t wait to get out of here. There are no jobs here. There are people with University degrees working a Starbucks. I do Believe in Canadians first for jobs. And this is not happening here. I never thought I would be buying gas and groceries in the US to get buy.

    BC has a nice view. That is it.


    1. Starbucks Coffee, Blenz Coffee, Serious Coffee, Moka House and other coffee chains at least sort of look half cool working there. Other low paid jobs look at lot worse and kind of low class being a staff member, example Walmart, Safeway, Best Buy, Future Shop, Canadian Tire, Sobey’s/Thrifty Foods, Loblaw Companies, Home Depot, Rona, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Quiznos, DQ, A&W, Fairway Markets, Save On Foods/Pattison Group, Shoppers Drug mart, cleaning companies, security guard companies, gas stations, convenience stores, and many others.

    My partner and I just moved here from Australia (in January) we were so excited and just feel so let down and it’s because of all the reasons you mention above :( we lived in London for 4 years and it was the time of our life (we were backpackers working in a pub and living in a hostel earning almost nothing) but it didn’t matter what you earned because the cost of living was affordable for everyone! We still managed to enjoy London and save a little for trips. Here we’re taking temp roles when they come up and they’re just enough to pay the rent and get some groceries (I still can’t get over the cost of groceries here!) the cost of living is quite high in Australia but so are the wages (I would earn more in McDonald’s in Australia then I do as a Personal Assistant here)

    We’ve been so upset about it because we had grand plans of travelling around Canada and America for the next 2 years and they’ve all gone up in smoke now. And it would all be okay if we truely loved Vancouver, but we feel the exact same way you do, this place has no heart or soul or personality.

    I’m so glad to stumble upon this and just know that we aren’t the only one’s to think this! We’re going to stay here a year and just try and ‘give it a red hot go’ but we’re both just so ready to leave.

    1. Katrina,

      Why not leave right now? Try the US, it might suit you better – you certainly can live very cheaply there if you stay away from the big cities. Best of luck!

      1. I would be living in the US right now if it were that easy :(

        1. On that point, I agree with you…. “Nothing is Easy” to quote Jethro Tull – the trick is to find a place that will take you, allow you to be a bit happy from time to time and hopefully, over many years allow you to thrive…. Vancouver obviously isn’t that place for you. What about going back to London? You say you are a pack-on-the-back type, so what’s keeping you here? Many people who grew up here, many new immigrants also, find this a wonderful place to live. As stated many times, it isn’t cheap, not very social in the old world way (bar scene/night life, arts, make new friends daily etc.) but offers other delights. Have you explored Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands? Have you hiked to the top of Hollyburn or The Chieftain; even walked around Stanley Park? These are what kept me here through the 60s, 70s and 80s. The city has changed drastically since Expo 86 (not to my liking admittedly) but there is still plenty to offer but it takes time and effort – you have to be flexible.
          Vancouver never was a friendly place compared to some other cities…. but those other cities are also becoming much less friendly IMO.
          Please try somewhere else as soon as you can! For heavens sake, don’t wait until summer!



    2. Try Toronto. The winter is not so bad, the snow makes everything more beautiful, and I had a much better experience than living here in Vancouver. To find cheap groceries, go to NoFrills supermarkets. Those are part of the Loblaws chain and can save you some bucks on food (there are like 5 or 6 stores in Vancouver). I have been living here in Vancouver for 6 months and I already hate it with all my heart. I made a big mistake moving here instead of going back to Toronto when I returned to Canada last year. I thought the mountains were going to make my life great, but it doesn’t compensate. Now, I will have to wait until next year and go through another fucking Vancouver winter, but certainly, this city is not going to be my home, that’s for sure. Have to hold an umbrella in my hand for five months in a row is more than enough to say goodbye (and dont get me start it with the reduced market for businesses and having to buy everything on eBay because there are almost no stores in the city). Toronto is a wonderful city, for business and pleasure. And it’s so close to NYC!

  116. I have lived in Vancouver for 14 years – definitely looking to leave. I have lived in 2 other countries and 9 cities, and I agree with Anabelle, that Vancouver ‘has lost its soul’. I have tried to meet people here and integrate….and I have made friends, but to me, in my opinion, Vancouver is just too fragmented. There is no ‘identity’. I don’t even feel that I am living in Canada. At least in England…you feel ‘english’. In Scotland…you feel ‘scottish’. There are traits there, that easily identify where you are – and the culture continually reinforces these traits. Vancouver has no sense of social culture – everyone is from somewhere else – and just stays in their little niche. It all leads to an unsatisfying feeling.

    1. Vancouver is a little more satisfying than the BC Capital city Victoria. There are plenty of comments and posts about this on topix web site. Read the comments; they will at least shock and amuse you, if not more. Vancouver has lost its soul and Victoria lost its soul, brains, common sense, passion, creativity, enthusiasm, balls, backbone, functionality. Why do you suppose BC is in its current sorry social economic state? Victoria and Vancouver are supposed to be the lead cities in British Columbia. What are they and their policies leading BC to, greater depression? I met some federal, provincial, municipal politicians who are personally acquainted with me, at a Chinese consulate luncheon in Victoria. They all gave public speeches about how strong, economically solvent, talented BC and its towns and cities are, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, etc. In the back halls during private conversations, I told them to look at ratemyemployer and topix to get a real feeling for the people’s discontent. They admitted that the BC economies and the towns and cities are not in a very strong economic situation and the state of BC Victoria, Vancouver and other cities are much worse that the public knows about. They said the situation could have been much worse if we were a one industry region.

  117. I have lived in Victoria with my wife for couple of years and we used to pay $750/month for one bedroom suite. Now we live in Winnipeg, where we moved to almost a year ago, and still paying $750/month but this time its a one bedroom basement. Property and rental prices are skyrocketing. We are planning to move back. At least you get to live a better life.

  118. I am so so so bloody so depressed living here , ever since I moved here when i was eleven years old coming from the third world / middle east and living in the lower mainlands , I am now in my twenties so I was raised here I consider myself Canadian more than anything and Canada is my home , and was very much touched by the warmness and support I recieved from Canadian people and what not but those few moments of happiness and warmth would go away only within a matter of months about a decade or more ago . It so happened to be that every residential house had Very mean Indian people/Chinese people who didnt speak English , wouldnt contribute to this city . It was and is kind of Shock to me because I dont like seeing that , I came from the Third World as child and was raised by parents of third world so I dont want to go in details but I know what its like , espically my parents were not the Upper class types who had any westernization in them nor they wanted to be which would in turn turn them into being one of the Immigrant mentality types who only live here for selfish financial purposes and they stick onto religion . I have nothing against anybody of nay race but I want to live amongst people who look westernized and civilized and ofcourse people who speak English as their home tongue , here Its the opposite many Young Canadians like me are feeling like EXPATS And its these Third world people who Own and can afford to live normal ,its really SAD And as time passed i grew , I never was able to make friends , im pretty sure this is nothing new to posters here , I dont have family nothing no one , And my home life is nowhere near to happiness , This whole place seems like an INDIA that i just cant adapt to and makes my blood boil everytime because I just dont feel so close to them , THIS IS CANADA IM CANADIAN not INDIAN/CHINA , and i dont want ot rant about the COST OF LIVING Everyone knows about that , O And the people/social services are very poor , I myself have mental disability and I am not one of those people who protest of how i want everyones eyes on me infact im one of those people who wants help to become independant and contribute , SOCIAL SERVICES ARE VERY POOR Even when i fought with them many times for help , they seem so NEGLEGANT and lack RESOURCES . As time goes by this CITY GETS WORSE AND WORSE , NEPOTISMS QUITE HIGH IN EMPLOYMENT , The BLOODY GREY skies and greyish rain evolving into velvetness and the feeling of bandsaw wind drilling ur ear , what a foggy microwave ..As days go by this city becomes so AIRPORT Like , anyways heres a little chunk of my life here , im soon going to be one of those people on the streets with a cardboard box SAYING IM HOMELESS PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME …but hey atleast i got some change to catch a ticket and do it elsewhere , im pretty sure someone will atleast ask me to be their friend , and no im not a bum or ugly looking guy , Im very tall and atheletic looking presentable and EDUCATED! .. so vancouver thankyou for pushing me out ..U AND ALL UR PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I TRIED to fit in .. Thanks for not being able to BE A WORLD CLASS CITY , Im glad EUTHANASIA Will be legalized soon ..Oh and last but not least EVERYONE HERE IS RACIST …

    1. Exactly! If you have been harmed in any way by living in Vancouver, Victoria, or any other place within BC, it is your duty to warn others not to give up their better lives just to come here for a bit of environment. The environment is irrelevant if you can pay your bills, live comfortably, make friends and be content and happy. Another commenter mentioned web sites like http://www.ratemyemployer.ca, Yelp, and http://www.topix.com. I found these sites to be very helpful. If a car company makes bad cars, they get reported on consumer report. Why shouldn’t bad employers and bad cities, regions be reported too? The work should be to help people avoid problems and hassles as much as possible ahead of decision making. Your lives in Vancouver and elsewhere in BC are not satisfying because all the insane politics and policies coming out of Victoria is out of touch and crazy. The crazy left environmental tards keep electing politicians who get in the way of BC becoming rich and prosperous like Alberta and Saskatchewan are now. Victoria being practically populated by the “not so bright” just churns out more taxes and policies to add more road blocks to contentment and prosperity.

  119. Spot on, but I don’t even find Vancouver pretty. Beautiful scenery, yes, but not the city itself. I’m always going back to Montreal and realizing how beautiful it is – a gorgeous city with spirit and soul. I am looking forward to the day when I finish my studies and hopefully return there. By the way, the cold, wet, grey winters and cool to warm summers are not my thing.

  120. While I share basically all of these sentiments (and more) I will say, in defense of Vancouver, that it is a young city which has experienced tremendous growth and I think its personality can only (and hopefully will) improve. Pieces like this are helpful.

  121. Maybe do a little research on a city before you move there instead of going with the rediculous ‘impression’ easterners have of BC…Yes it does snow in BC…duh. this is Canada…it snows in Canada…

    1. Hi. I don’t understand why she mentioned the snow, because it doesn’t snow in Vancouver. This last winter we only had one day of snow, so the impression easterners have about this part of BC is right. If you want to escape from the snow, come to Vancouver… but be prepare for horrible 6 months of non-stop rain, for lack of services, business and stores, for a depressing picture every day if you work in downtown and have to go through East Hasting, lack of opportunities in your field of expertise, etc. This is just a small city in the middle of a rainy forest. Come here only if you absolutely LOVE to sky and have money to go to the mountains and Whistler every weekend.

      1. sorry, I meant “if you love skiing”

      2. Only 6 months of horrible weather? You’re being generous.

        1. haha I’ve been living here for only 8 months. I miscalculated :-) My inexperience led me to think that the rain was going to stop in the spring. Wrong! Fortunately, this is my last month in Vancouver. In May I’m back to my beloved Toronto. Finally! I’ll be happy again!

    2. Some people never came across sites like ratemyemployer, topix, yelp to get a better idea about the economics, culture, attitudes of the city or town they moved to. If they had read about some of the negatives in their chosen city, perhaps they wouldn’t have move there to discover it was not as they were lead to believe? They got scammed in the deal. I wouldn’t have moved to Victoria and regret it if I had known about these web sites mentioned earlier in this blog. Victoria and Vancouver are almost similar if not exact, but from the same BC culture. Basically BC and the entire west coast is restricted compared to Alberta, Saskatchewan. I heard jokes from others that in Alberta they don’t use toilet paper, they use money because it flows like rivers of cash.

  122. I am leaving Vancouver next week to return to Ireland after just over two years and can identify with alot of what you say. In Vancouver’s defence, it is still a very young city, compared even with Montreal and Toronto and it is still finding its identity. I know what you mean about the lack of soul…….however people I worked with who are from the city or have emigrated here are very proud of the place and can’t understand why I am leaving (family reasons ultimately). I have actually felt embarrassed telling people I am leaving!
    I love the outdoor lifestyle here, the city comes alive in the summer months and I love skiing in the winter. I was really lucky and got a well paid job within a month of arriving and my wife already had one (her transfer was the reason we came here). That meant we could really take advantage of the best of what Vancouver has to offer. If we didn’t have the income I can imagine it would be a completely different experience. That said the rain in winter is even more depressing than in Ireland!
    There are many things to critisize this city on but it is a beautiful place and has many qualities. Everyone is friendly, it takes a while to work out the genuine ones. I will miss it but will return. Our first child was born here and we found the health care excellent. In an ideal world I would live in Vancouver for 3 months of the year. I fear if everyone else has the same view as me it really will become a resort city and not a city to be taken seriously but I think the city is working hard to create a culture.
    The worst thing for me is the poverty of the downtown eastside, literally a ten minute walk from the ridiculous wealth of Yaletown and Coal Harbour. There is nothing worse than the sight of a young twenty something chinese guys driving around in ferraris like lunatics downtown and the poor people of East Hastings. The city powers that be really need to tackle this. When I return there will be more glittering towers but I hope there will be progress on stamping out the rampant poverty and homelessness.

  123. Yes, I see a lot of poverty and even a lack of prosperity compared to other Canadian provinces outside of BC. The idiot British Columbians keep electing moron politicians from every political party in BC who seems to be totally incapable of grasping the concept of industry equals prosperity. The politicians and people in Alberta and Saskatchewan understand this and look at how good they are. You can thank Victoria the capital city for every kind of roadblock tax and policies that are repressing the economy of BC. Perhaps BC should move the provincial capital to Vancouver with more brains? Victoria leading BC is like the tail wagging the dog.

  124. I’m moving to Vancouver in a month and a half from Southern Ontario. I had such high hopes with starting a new life in a new place. But after reading this blog and the comments I pretty much feel my dream has been crushed. Does really no one have any nice things to say? I’ve read maybe 3 or 4 comments that have supported Vancouver and a life there. This is my dream. It has been my dream for years.. Your blog makes some valid points, I’m aware cost of living is high. But what I was not aware of is how hard it is to find jobs. So to anyone who reads this, I would be really interested in hearing some good experiences. I’m going to post my alternate email here because I really want this dream to become a reality for me, and any POSITIVE advice I would so greatly appreciate. Thanks. letmelive@hotmail.ca

    1. I’m moving back to Toronto in May (yes!). For me Vancouver is not a dream anymore. But people that were born here love this place. I think you have to find a place to live close to a shopping center or a street that has a lot of stores, so the city doesn’t look so empty when it rains. If you don’t have a car, get one as soon as possible, so you will be able to get out to the mountains every weekend (or even sometimes in between), because that’s the lovely part of Vancouver: getting out of the city :-). Go to Whistler once a month, that will keep you distracted and far from the rain (the rain changes to snow in Whistler). I don’t know the situation for the job market, but as in any new place, don’t be pretentious, just try to find whatever you can and then build from that. Try to stay away from Hasting street. That picture is so depressing that will put you down and make you hate the city in a few months. The most difficult part is the rainy season (6 horrible months), so stay as much active and social as you can those months and you will be fine, because in the summer you will feel better only if you were able to go through that experience without any psychological scars. Get a good umbrella and prepare to move back in case you don’t like it here (probably 70% chances that will happen).

    2. Well pal, we can’t give you any positive advice about BC when there is not much material to work with. we are advisors, not magicians. Have you looked up the web sites ratemyemployer, topix, yelp, and thedirty? All those comments contain different pieces to the big puzzle. They come together to form the big picture of what others have experienced living in Victoria, Vancouver, and the rest of BC. You will become like them if you don’t heed their comments. You have the chance to save yourself a lot of pain and hassle. Which direction you choose to go is up to you along with the results. The cheap, abusive, and clueless people in positions of BC power and decision making will get their own end in their own time. They will get their own form of pain, hassle, and inconvenience as a result of their policies and actions.

  125. I have a University of Victoria BA Social Science degree and it has done nothing for me in terms of better pay work or even work related to my education. The “oh not you even if you are impressive” job hiring factor kicks in. My degree certificate just looks good on my wall with no practical uses. My years at Camosun College and Uvic amounted to nothing more than a social life and party time with a high priced bill. I am luckier than most as my mother is an apartment buidling landlord with assets. I am not super rich but still quite confortable with no rent payments. I can live confortably regardless if I work at McDonald’s, the Government, Microsoft or whatever, $10, 20, 50, 100, 200/hour or whatever pay. Still all is not all good. The people in Victoria, Vancouver, and many of the other BC towns are kind of uptight, cliquey, aloof, standoffish, and stingy cheap. They have this attitude of wanting college or university educated at minimum wage. My landlord mother is one of these cheap bosses. She gets me to do things for her and she wants to pay me cheap and I’m her heir. She would pay non related workers much less. The BC employers are like her to different degrees. I can not stress looking up http://www.ratemyemployer.ca, http://www.topix.com, http://www.yelp.com, http://www.thedirty.com enough. You must have the insider information to make any decisions. Ignorance is not bliss.

  126. I agree with you Rich,
    I lived in Van for only 3 years and now I am back in a collapsing Europe.
    I wasn’t fully aware of the fact that employment agencies are on the rise in Canada as well. It is the same over here in Germany and your job is everything but secure. These employment agencies, in my opinion, had and still have a fatal impact on the economy wherever they are. They destroyed the job market and the only ones who benefit from it are the agencies I guess.
    I don’t see any advantages for the employees.
    Bottom line it seems to be the same crap almost everywhere in the world except for some developing countries which are on the rise. Most 1st World Nations stagnated and as history taught us there is only one way once a culture has reached the very top/peak and that is DOWN. The Roman Empire is just one shining example.
    May we all get through this somehow even though I don’t know how.

    Cheers guys.
    Anabelle you shoud start a topic about the global situation and what we could do. Or what we can’t do.

    1. Dan, you are wise. The western industrialized nations are heading towards a fall just as the Roman Empire and other empires always eventually fell. The actually people will still survive in some form or another, but the interregnum will be dark ages before the rise of another empire to replace the previous state of things. The USA, Canada, European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and others who were the first to develop had their day in the sun and their time has passed. The new developers in Africa, Asia, South America are the new dominant players. It is their time now. BC lead by Victoria is just the worse case example within all the provinces of Canada and Canada itself declining in the world along with the rest. The Fall will eventually come someday.

  127. Ali wrote:
    the trick is to find the one that feels like home, I found mine and I think of it every day very fondly and hope very much I will find my way back to it. It holds pieces of me and memories that shaped who I am.

    Hi Ali,
    I totally agree and I am in the same boat with one exception. I am not even in the same country.

  128. RL,
    The irony is that hardly anyone around here seems to see it. I have heard of just a few people who know what’s going on but a vast number still hasn’t got a clue. Most of them probably think that everything is gonna be fine very soon again. I wish it was true.
    Take Cypress as another example. I just saw it on the news the other day. All customers of the bank of Cypress have to fear a 60% loss of their money at the bank.
    The thing is people often think that they are safe just because the incident seems far away.
    I mean what happens if rich Chinese people lose interest in Vancouver? Will they leave a ruin? I bet the real estate bubble will burst soon enough as it is just insane! And the people who determine the prices know that and that’s why they push the prices up so much so they can pull the most out of it before there is nobody left who can afford anything. But I might be wrong. Just a guess. But it’s all about cash here, isn’t it?

    1. Well yes, most people are self deluded sheeple. There are youtube videos all over about the Illuminati, secret societies and the New World Order pulling the strings behind every country, corporation, government, school, religion, military and police, in order to bring about a One World police state dictatorship. The more financial collapse, wars, diseases, crime, fear, panic they can cause would mean the angry and fearful population would willingly give up their freedoms for security. By the time the ignorant people realize they handed themselves over to the rule of a dictatorship oligarchy, it would be too late, and they will be crushed. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes than the surface news propaganda. Most people are like the passengers of the Titanic ship, refuse to believe the ship will sink until they are sucked into the freezing sea and drowned. Why do people in powerful positions hold their positions? They are allowed and place into positions of power and influence by the real shadow puppet masters.

    2. You can read further on various plots on another Word Press blog called Anticorruption Society. It is all basically a massive global conspiracy in the shadows and at the highest levels of world commerce, religion, education, business, politics and power. It seems like everyone is somehow involved. They don’t want all to be well, happy, and content because if all is well, there would be no excuse or opportunity to manipulate, coerce, or con the population into giving their leaders total control and then not give it back. Who knows, perhaps BC is being used as an experiment to cause wide spread discontent and this will then be used on a world scale later?

  129. I’ve been living in Toronto for almost 3 years and I’m sick of it. I could transfer my tuition to Vancouver, but after reading your post it seems like the ssues I have here are even worse there.

    I have had an extremely tough time finding high paying employment here. I’m educated but I only seem to find minimum or slightly above minimum wage jobs. There are always new immigrants here who will work like a dog for low pay. The jobs I had that paid better, they were abusive situations.

    There are lots of jobs here but most are “out of range”. If you apply for them, expect to spend 2+ hours of your day commuting. Your quality of life suffers sooo much and you end up spending money on eating out because you have no time to cook. It’s not worth it.

    I don’t drink anymore so the nightlife doesn’t appeal to me. I find being social difficult. The friends I have here are broke too.

    Don’t get me started on the cost of housing. I’m never giving up my room (unless my landlord kicks me out, since I took over her room ;)) because I’m never going to be able to afford to buy a house.

    Blah, the joys of overhyped and expensive cities. I can’t wait until I finish school and can move somewhere cheaper.

    1. yep. If that’s your case, then don’t dare to come to Vancouver. Houses are double the price of Toronto, jobs are extremely difficult to find because this is just a small (very small) city. Come here only if you LOVE really LOVE to ski, and you have money and time to go to the mountains every weekend. That’s the only way you can like this city: getting out of it all the time :-) I’m moving back to Toronto next month, where I was happy. Can’t wait!

  130. I am from California and I moved to Vancouver when I married a Canadian and grew tired of having fun in perfect weather in California…Vancouver is like high school socially, very shallow and juvenile. The climate for business is not the best, I can’t imagine how awful it would be for job seekers. However it does have a future , I think it will become Canada’s first international hip destination sometime in the next ten years or so, primarily because of the weather and setting. ..If you are seeking employement in western canada go to Edmonton, Calgary or points North.

  131. I grew up in the lower mainland and spend my 20s in Vancouver, but after a couple years of travel ended up unexpectedly living permanently in South Africa. Culture shock and all that, and initially – I really missed Vancouver. I was living in Durban, a hot and steamy city on the Indian Ocean – and you could barely shop on a Sunday, or after 5:30pm during the week, and I couldn’t ski, I missed my horse and riding (even when I lived in the West End, I was able to afford a half lease @ Southlands) my family and friends… the years passed, the SA retail environment modernised, we married and had kids. I started riding and made great friends. We still visited our family in Vancouver every few years but every year, I missed it less and brought back fewer “tastes of home” on my return.

    Then – my husband lost his business and the SA economy and politics being what it is, suddenly the most sensible thing to do was… emigrate back to Vancouver! We arrived back, within 3 months I had a good job, my husband is apprenticing (with my brother in law), and were lucky enough to move into the basement suite of my sister, her husband and their little neice… but we are burting at the seams and now one bedroom short, but I dread ever being able to afford a home of our own near work and family. But, we haven’t really made friends yet. Its been almost 4 years, I spend tons of time with family (and their friends! Some of which are becoming our friends too) and maybe we haven’t tried hard enough but I do miss our many good friends in South Africa and overseas – and wonder why it seems hard to connect on a personal level to the many nice people I work with in the same way that seemed so easy to do in SA. Maybe its me… or maybe not.

    So all my ramble has to say that this is one Vancouverite who likes a lot about Vancouver… but if my family wasn’t all here – we wouldn’t be. I don’t hate it – I just don’t love it so much I wouldn’t like to try life somewhere else in Canada.

  132. Good point

  133. Wow. Look at all these responses. I think that you’re right: It’s hard to enjoy the so-called pristine beauty of a place if one is struggling to pay bills. The feeling is so unnatural–jobless or underemployed but desirous to hike in the lovely mountains or go swimming. Hard to find time to do those things in the work-a-day-world. I have felt the same way about a place that I’d moved to here in the States: Lovely from a distance but close-up, it was a horror story.

  134. Well, I am glad I found this blog – think I did a search about the Vancouver Job market and found this interesting reading. I have grown up in the Vancouver area. As a caucasian male, and at the risk of sounding bitter or paranoid, I believe I am at a disadvantage in the Vancouver area. It seems many jobs now want you to speak a language other than English or French. Plus many people in parts of the Greater/Metro Vancouver area won’t even speak english, they will often prefer to do business in another non-official language (again, not english or french).

    I kick myself for not moving (hindsight 20 20) to Calgary in the late 90’s, as I liked what I saw out there, but chose to try and make it work in BC. I had “some” success here, stayed here for some family reasons (parents) but now I think I’m getting very close to leaving Vancouver.

    It is of some comfort (awkward choice of words) to see other parties feeling what I have felt for some time; it seems since 08 especially, it is very hard to make a good career move here. They either list the jobs as “casual”, “contract”, “part time”. If you do find fulltime, they are asking for the sun, moon and stars, and want to pay 13 dollars an hour (keeping in mind what min wage is $11.00); having been in a job with my experience for at least 17 per hour pre 2008, it is hard to stomach at times, and I’ve done it for many years (at the less than 17 per hour rate). All I can say, is think long and hard and live in reality about is it right for you. I love Vancouver, but maybe it’s the Vancouver I grew up in. It seems employers are trying to Scr*w employees because they can re LOW wages. I think I will seeek out greener pastures. I will try to find somewhere in this country where English or French are still valued, where employers feel you should be paid decently, and where you aren’t scraping by while living a modest life.

    1. I strongly suggest you look up potential future employers anywhere in Canada. Use the http://www.ratemyemployer.ca and http://www.topix.com web sites to research employers and read up on the regional discussion blogs. Knowledge is power and if you have no insider knowledge, employers will take advantage of you and anally rape you in the job. Bad bosses need to get internet exposed and their lives increased in stress and hassles. I they get away with being substandard, they will continue to do things the same way without any pain, stress, and inconvenience. Go to those web sites and do you duty and tell the world.

    2. I don’t know if you sound bitter or paranoid exactly, but what you’re saying is a familiar tune her in Van. Besides the weather sucking, prices being insane and lack of culture, there is the additional thinly veiled xenophobia. Namely, the people who talk about how they grew up here and switch the topic from how badly Vancouver sucks to how great it was before all these outsiders showed up. Read through the posts here and you’ll find quite a few like that.

      1. I think all things progress; however I think the “radical” change that has happened in Vancouver over the past 25 years, leaves people understandably ticked off a bit when some of the realities are right in front of them.

        I know many cities, towns that don’t seem to have gone through the radical change the Metro Vancouver/Greater Vancouver area has. The biggest negative I see is the what many people call the “ghettos”, where people who move from elsewhere, don’t want to speak English (or French); you can find areas of Vancouver where the people cannot speak either of the two official languages. That is the biggest shock to me. I kind of get (without knowing the full story) of what Quebecers say about protecting the french language. There are people in the Vancouver area who laugh about not speaking English or French.

        I think it`s just sad that people move here and make no effort to learn English; given the chance they speak their own language instead of English.

        I don`t know what else to say. I think it`s a situation of looking around and if you don`t feel you can effectively make things work (no pun intended), then I guess you do seek elsewhere. One thing for sure, when I find that paradise – I know it`s out there – I won`t announce it to the world, and have everyone come along. Nothing wrong with bringing your own favorite foods to a party, but you shouldn`t takeover someone`s party. But I guess when the system allows someone to takeover something, and theres no effort to keep some things in place, then the uninvited guests “so to speak“ will just do whatever they want. It`s like the inmates running the prison. It`s like finding a short cut to wherever your going; once you share it, it`s no longer a shortcut because everyone joins you and it becomes just as busy as the route you were avoiding when you first started taking that shortcut.

  135. Vancouver is the Rio de Janeiro of Canada. With even more rain and less sunny days and missing a real summer!

  136. I’m a French immigrant (from France) in Montreal, and it’s interesting to see that many of the criticisms adressed to Vancouver by Montrealers are actually similar to those expressed by some French people when they move to Quebec. Especially for some of the social aspects (difficulties to connect, polite-but-not-friendly attitude, closed social circles).

  137. Bitter and paranoid or even being tactical is a virtue Being too trusting and open usually means you become a wide open target for every unscrupulous con artist and manipulator out there. It would be smart to not show off all your strengths and weakness upfront. Treat life’s social interactions like you are in a Poker game. You have to be Machiavellian. I make use of those mentioned web sites all the time. I don’t want to be the sucker left hold the bag or whatever it is.

  138. I am still not sure how I stumbled upon this, but it saddened me. I’ve lived in Richmond and New Westminster my whole life and absolutely love it. Maybe it’s different because I haven’t lived in Vancouver proper yet, but I spend a lot of time in the downtown core. I have a decent job, with great people and livable wages, I guess the hard job market has never really been present to me as I got a job almost straight out of uni, as well as the majority of close friends. Good luck to whoever is having troubles here on the left coast, perhaps it’s not for everyone.
    PS. Yes, i do yoga, am a vegetarian and love food. I also love the rain and the soul that I sense in my cities.

  139. I could not agree more. I have lived in Vancouver for 7 years this past February…why?! haha. The things I do for love;)

  140. vancouver is a great place, youll find things you dont like everywhere in the world, the cost of living is high, but if your smart you can work around it, there are far, far, far worser places to live. i lived in vancouver for 2 years and loved it, sure theres alot i dislike, but focus on being more positive, i live in newzealand now and the cost of a bottle of pop from the corner store is FOUR BUCKS. A LITRE OF GAS IS $2.20 rent is just as BAD as vancouver or worse. most placces dont come with any furniture or appliances, average phone bills for a smart phone is $90 dollars a month on a THREE YEAR CONTRACT and for ninety bucks u barely get anything few hundred texts a gib or data, internet data is capped, and slow, for another 90 u can get 50 gbs of data, good luck downloading software or streaming anything. You also cant buy anything in bulk either like at walmart or costco or any of those stores, and you always get smaller portion for atleast double the price. ive found things that are upto ten times more expesive here than back home. o ya and minumim wage is 13 bucks an hour, that wont even buy you a cooked chicken !! i can buy the same items in vancouver at a grocery store for atleast half the cost and get 2-3 times as much. lifes expensive, if you wanna complain, start your own buisness and make some money, if not QUIT COMPLAINING

  141. Ok, now it’s my turn. It is very interesting to read all this and it is also interesting that some of you even think that the issues you face over there are local and local only.
    I would like to give you just another example on how things are over here to enlighten you about something that seems to go on in every industrialized country.
    I can assure you that a college or university degree is not a warranty for a high salary anymore these days if you haven’t noticed it already. Many years ago teachers in school told us that if we wanted to be something we better study. Studying was associated with a high paid job. I bet there are still plenty of teachers who still claim the same today.
    I myself work for a wage that puts tears in my eyes when I just think of it and I am holding a degree.
    Often I ask myself why I went to university? For what? Privilege? Within all this insanity and stupidity I have reached a level where I just start to laugh when I think about it, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to take it.
    I agree to what “RL” said. They, whoever that is, don’t want us to be well because in that case nobody would want to change something.
    “Car” said that there are always immigrants who will work like dogs for low pay. Well, guess what, it’s the same over here in Europe, too. Employers want you to be a fresh and cheap graduate with 50 years of experience. On top of the local competition many of us have to compete with Spanish and other refugees of the European/global crisis which means we have to sell ourselves for cheap to even get a job no matter how qualified we are. The job market is very tough and many or even most employer rape their employees and this is not just in Mexico or China anymore it has reached the industrialized world.

    Instead of fixing the issues who cause shortage in certain professions the government just takes in foreigners. The contradiction is there are companies who can’t find certain professionals but if they do they are not even willing to pay them well. Instead they offer low wages and of course most potential professionals leave right through the door when companies try to shortchange them by a crappy salary. I recently heard the news about the government wanting to take in 30,000.00 Chinese people to fill the gaps in the health sector. I wonder if they will be able to speak the language. The locals probably will have to learn their language instead of the foreigners learning the local language.
    Before those companies exploited their local employees until they couldn’t work anymore and left. That’s how they treat their “valuable” employees in many companies even though there is a shortage of employees on the job market. That contradiction is equal to insanity.

    I also was employed at a company whose boss was very abusive to every single employee. He was like a bomb that could explode within seconds.

    I agree with “MakeDo” that it is hard to enjoy a beautiful place when you can’t pay your bills. The greatest place becomes hell.
    When I was in Canada I got upset about the foreigners I saw on the streets who weren’t able to speak a word of English. Many of them had no manners as well and just tend to spit on the sidewalk standing right next to you. When I brought this topic up in front of my ex gf she would just end up calling me a racist and I didn’t even knew why. Is it racist when you expect a foreigner to speak at least the language of the country he resides in? The country that accommodates him or her? The country that gave them a chance of maybe a much better life than in their home countries?
    It is the same over here in Europe. The country is flooded by many disrespectful immigrants who also behave very aggressively, don’t even speak the language and who also don’t care about the local culture but they will show you where they are from and how pride they are. If you say something you are just a racist.

    Once Vancouver probably was a paradise until it was made public and invaded/flooded by others.
    This reminds me to the movie “The Beach”.
    When I was in Vancouver I had a discussion with a local who grew up there. We were driving through the streets of downtown to enjoy the nightlife and he told me that years ago it was all so peaceful. But today many people carry weapons when they go clubbing. Plenty of fights are common, too. He said it wasn’t like that before. He said immigrants probably brought in that violence but who knows.
    All the drug business that goes on in Van and the gang wars…….it’s insane. I saw a tiny part of that side and it seemed to be the “dark” side of that city. I mean how come there is an after hour club where they serve water and pills only without the police taking any notice of it? It is not even hidden. It is right in downtown! I just hope I didn’t draw attention of one’s hitman by saying this ^^

    Cheers guys. It’s great to be part of this interesting discussion!

  142. Interesting and true!

  143. I totally, absolutely 110% agree with you…and quite honestly, I could rip Vancouver apart more than you did in this blog. It’s a soulless city full of either immigrants trying to find their way (and thinking ALL Canadians are jerks cause of their experiences here….) and people who spend more time trying to impress others with their career, possessions, appearance……but yet, they are so spiritual that they live for yoga? Give me a fucking break! And who needs cold temperatures when you are surrounded by cold PEOPLE….everyone keeps you at arm’s length. They are friendly but…you know, only on a very superficial level. Don’t call these people if your house just burned down….unless there is a news camera around and they have time to change into their best cleavage showing dress..ha…..don’t even get me started on the ‘no fun’ city. What they don’t tell you is that it’s the people who aren’t fun, it’s not lack of events. Great blog! Wish I read it a couple of years ago before I moved here. PS…..you found a job paying $19 an hour? Wow…cause that’s ‘high paying’ compared to most of the jobs I find online…..

  144. Ugh…I hate this “sense of entitlement” BS! Waaahh…my hometown is better (“better” or just more familiar??)…waaahhh…I have to compete for work (DUH!!!)…waah..everything is so expensive..(ya…things tend to be cheaper in the less desirable locations) .waaah…waaah…waaah! How about examine WHY you wanted to come here in the first place and actually make a point of enjoying all the perceived upsides, because they actually exist if you put a freakin’ effort into it. Bloody spoiled lazy entitled brats! Sorry there was no welcome mat with cheerleaders celebrating your arrival, with people throwing money and jobs your way, dragging you through the city like a guided tour group to show you all there is to offer. If Vancouver is outside your comfort zone, I feel sad for you and invite you to leave. If you visited anywhere outside of Yaletown you might see beyond the stereotypes which seems like this writer narrowed her view to set out to find. “VANCOUVER” is expensive to live in…but like any major city, those trying to make their way have to work their way towards living in the PRIME areas, or going to the BEST restaurants, or getting the COVETED job. I’m sorry if the beautiful scenery, diversity, endless indoor and outdoor year round activities, restaurants, cultural events, etc, etc, were interpreted as lacking soul. Sorry if the city as a whole encompasses societal classes ranging from the super affluent to the lowest on the poverty scale. Sorry if your fantasy vision of our city did’t mesh with the reality (even beautiful people experience blemishes and bad hair days). And while I acknowledge we are not perfect, I will take the flaws, as they are vastly outweighed by the upsides. This city didn’t end up amazing by accident. It took the people that live here to work hard to build it, have pride in it, and continue to work to maintain it. If you show up assuming you don’t also have to contribute to its success, your return plane/train/automobile is easy to find.

    1. I think the problem with Vancouver is that people just continue refusing to accept there is a problem and pretending that the people that complain are losers that cant adapt to anything. Wrong. There are a LOT of problems in that city and is getting empty. Everybody is leaving, and things are not going to get better. You can denny reality all you want, that’s not going to change anything. Vancouver sucks, and I’m so happy I’m back in Toronto now. The 8 months I live there where the most depresing and uninspiring months of my life.

  145. I was born and raised in Vancouver, and have lived here all my life (49 years). I have been seriously considering moving out of the lower mainland because of the high cost of living here. I love my city and hate to move, but just can’t afford it anymore. I still want to stay in B.C. though. I have been across the country as far as Moncton, NB, but BC will always be my home. Sadly, BC has been known to mean “Bring Cash”. Because if you’re poor to middle class, you’re basically S.O.L. in finding a decent job or place to live, especially in the lower mainland.

  146. Shannon, your anti complainer rant sounds very much like some Pro Victoria, Vancouver, BC commenter ID Brexx on http://www.topix.com (On Victoria, Is Victoria a nice place to live?, forum blog). His solution to BC economic, political, social issues is to give people one way bus tickets out of the jurisdiction territory. That only masks the problems and not solve them. He went on and on about how AnnebelleBF couldn’t find a job in Vancouver and found one in Victoria. He thinks that is sufficient proof that BC is an excellent place to live forever. Then some Edmonton, Saint John’s, Toronto, Calgary, Austin Texas USA, Denver Colorado USA, Vancouver Canada, Victoria commenter jumped in and set off an internet flame war. It is quite amusing.

  147. I live in the west end of Vancouver, near Denman. My rent is being raised, yet again, for no reason other than greed. Along Denman, every 3rd or 4th store has closed business. Big “For Rent/Lease” signs hang in the windows.

    I recently read an article in the news, and something like 1/3 of all Vancouverites were not born in Canada. One of my friends described Vancouver as being like a giant airport. I thought that was a very accurate description. Just a bunch of strangers sharing the same space, coming and going, in a cacophony of different languages.

    I will say some good things about the West End — you don’t need a car. In Calgary, the city is so spread out that you absolutely need a car to get around. Calgary transit sucks. But in the west end of Vancouver, everything is within 3-4 blocks — bank, library, bar, vegetable/fruite stores, gym, BEACH, etc. And if I need to go to Walmart, it’s just 10 minutes on a bus, and the bus stop is only 3 blocks away. Going to the Airport is just a short transit bus ride, and 30 minutes right to the Airport on the Skytrain. I will give Vancouver credit for those things.

    But after living here awhile, you start to notice the cracks in the facade:
    Witness East Hastings.
    Witness the homeless on the streets.
    Witness a small 500 sq.ft. old condo, perhaps even leaky, with an asking price starting at $300k.
    Witness Vancouver has the 2nd highest real estate property prices in the world, 2nd only to Hong Kong (Yep, Vancouver is more expensive then London, Paris and New York…I have no idea why).
    Witness the “tension” in Richmond, with a glut of Chinese signs and residents who want a little English on them.

    I’ve lived in Hongcouver… errr, I mean Vancouver, for more than 13 years. After I visited a friend for a week, I fell in love with Vancouver, and 2 years later decided to make the move from Calgary, Alberta with nothing more than 2 duffle bags of clothes. Two weeks from the day that I got here, I landed a job and was walking into my first day of work. Times were good in 2000.

    13 years later, and I’m having to finally consider packing 2 duffle bags of clothes again, but I have no idea where I’m heading now. The games industry in Vancouver has been decimated for the last 3 years. I had 2 small job gigs and got by on savings, hoping that things would pick up eventually. And just recently last week, 2 more gaming companies, with more than 100 employees, shut down completely, laying off tons more people. It’s just not turning around. For any job that’s available, it’s probably 500 people all competing for it. I know several friends of mine who have completely switched careers. I thought about that, but designing is what I have a passion for. If I were doing anything else, it would be a complete waste of talent and experience.

    After my 15th job interview, I finally gave up. It was a blow to my esteem when a career counsellor remarked “It was probably my communication style” that I wasn’t getting the jobs. I guess she didn’t realize that it was the industry imploding — it had nothing to do with my “communication style”. I’ve worked 18 years of my life, for some really good companies, and I know how to do an interview and get the job. I have a friend who’s in the same similar industry, and he had over a dozen interviews with no bites. But he was lucky — he was already employed, but just didn’t like the company he was working for.

    Anyways, to those thinking about moving here, please do yourself a favor — consider a different city. Look at real estate property prices. Stay clear of this ponzi scheme.

    1. It is funny how you from Calgary AB moved to Vancouver BC, when many people from BC want to move to Calgary and Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon to partake in the oil, gas, mining wealth of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and their spin off related industries. BC has lots of ocean oil and gas around Vancouver Island, Haida Gwai, just outside of Victoria. The left coast anti industrial attitudes and their political allies are just stubbornly getting in the way of reaching Alberta and Saskatchewan levels of wealth and contentment. Yes, money can buy you happiness according to a study on Yahoo News. Otherwise, BC could be just as rich or more because we sit right on the ocean trade routes. It is just weird how landlocked AB and SK could turn out wealthier than BC by the sea. It is just unnatural.

  148. I don’t even know where to start, biggest regret ever was choosing Vancouver. Coming from Sydney Australia on a 2 year work visa i expected a lot better from this city that is supposedly ranked in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world? Homeless people constantly begging you for money, drug addicts openly using on the streets, astronomical rental prices for in my opinion are dumps to live in, the most cold/rude/arrogant/self-absorbed people i’ve ever come across, the list goes on and on as you can see from most people’s posts above. I’m getting outta here and giving Toronto a try at the end of the month to see what that city has to offer.

    Vancouver a great place to visit horrible place to live.

    1. Agree. I moved to Toronto just a week ago and my mood completely changed. It’s amazing! I’m happy again! One recommendation: Toronto is a BIG city, so choose the neighbourhood carefully. Depending on the things you like. I love The Beaches and Leslieville, but there are other wonderful areas to live. Just check the place on Google street view to see the kind of stores nearby to know if that fit your lifestyle. Good luck!

      1. Cheers thanks for the help will have a look at this.

  149. Moved here from NB shortly after Expo. About 25 years now. Left NB due to the poor economy.

    Have seen so many changes it’s unreal. I never wanted to own a house but never thought I’d see rents like this. Currently living in Marpole the last 7 years, which is currently undergoing some massive changes due to the Canada Line coming through. There isn’t much in Marpole to begin with, I lived here not long after I left back east ( lived all over east van, Kitsilano, Burnaby) and still not much had changed, until recently. Marpole has been a working class neighborhood for decades due to affordable rents. Now a bachelor suite will run you $700 to $1000/month. One bedrooms $750-$1100/month. Been in the same building now for 7 years.. its 60+ years old and have a decent one bedroom for $775. With a fantastic view of the south, from Mt. Baker to the Gulf Islands. Someday soon, I’m sure this place will be torn down for condos.

    I’ve always bused it, don’t drive.. my monthly one zone pass is $91. My MSP premiums are non existent or low, based on previous years income. Check into Koodo for cell phone coverage.. best rates around!I’m paying $35 month for 400 anytime minutes and 300MB data, unlimited nites & weekends. I’m shocked to see folks paying $70-90 month for this. There are even cheaper plans than what I’m on that are very decent and you can upgrade or downgrade your plan on their website.

    Overall.. I’m uncertain where I’m going in life. I don’t want to go back to NB, ever. Entertained Halifax & Victoria. Looking ahead to Victoria though I feel that at some point, as here in Vancouver, that rents will go through the roof.

    Job wise, I’m in the retail/customer service industry and the wage is the pits altho I do enjoy the work. Working part time as well – 4 days a week and slightly dipping into the bit of savings I have. But looking ahead.. not sure if this is where I can afford to be. Not getting any younger, will be 49 this year 😉

    Ultimately, Vancouver is what you make it. The rain doesn’t bother me. I’m not a huge people person as I get interaction all day long at work and enjoy my off time to do what I want. I seldom eat out, no lattes or cappuccinos for me. I know I’m not a big fan of change, so I can accept that I’m not thrilled with what is now Vancouver as compared to what it once was. What did I like before: easier commutes, less traffic, lower rents, more jobs… a less busy city with some charm and character. You can take the good with the bad, that’s like any city. It’s still fairly safe here.

    In considering moving to Vancouver, if you’re willing to make some lifestyle adjustments, plan ahead, plan ahead! Rent will be your number one expense initially. Look at a map of the various areas in which to live in in the lower mainland and then check Craigslist for the rents in that area. Don’t bank on finding work through CL.. I have gotten 2 jobs in 8 years on it. I have left a couple of jobs where the employer posted my position on there and I was shocked by the amount of responses to a job paying a lowly $12/hour .. as someone said above, very highly qualified and over qualified folks are applying. Have enough money to get you through being unemployed or underemployed.

    Like anything, if you want to live here bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it work – it is not impossible. Don’t expect it to be sunshine and roses for awhile. Good luck to everyone wherever they are in their travels!

  150. I read your post, and skipped all the comments, because I didn’t want to be steered from my first reaction to your post.
    I am 38 and was born in Vancouver. Still live here, but have lived elsewhere in Canada and the world.
    And I agree with almost everything in your post. But I would like to know where you were living, and I would like to shift some of the blame (if there is any) off the locals who are from here, and show that some of the attitude problems are also the result of the people who flock here.
    Being a kid here was great in the 1980s before the city got a big head about itself. But the character of places like Kits have changed so much, things have gentrified well beyond the city’s granola roots, and it’s sad that the beautiful environs of the downtown core (what’s not to like about being bordered on 3 sides by fairly nice waterfront?) have indeed sprouted into a lot of douchey towers and soul-free neighbourhoods like Yaletown and Coal Harbour. Many neighbourhoods still thrive and are even getting better (like Strathcona and Main Street), however.
    But the postcard view of the city? I detest the insecure, glam-wannabe, represent-nothing-but-myself image projected by the city core. The city is now a beacon for vapid people from all over Canada… people who thought they were too good for wherever they came from, were attracted to the physical attractiveness of this city (which is undeniable), and then let loose on creating a fluffed and hollow image of themselves that now seems to be reflected in the city around. Bartending and going to Steve Nash Fitness while paying $1,300 for a 100 sq. ft. share of a Yaletown toaster slot is not a life worth living… let alone bragging about.
    Vancouver has a nickname… No Fun City. And it has always struggled to buck the Blue Law, colonial stick in the mud attitudes that prevent it from being like Montreal, a place where you can party for cheap and enjoy the nightlife in different parts of town, and experience a diversity of counterculture without having to dodge the relentless mainstream. In Vancouver, the real fun and nightlife (not that Granville strip and Gastown crap) has always been underground, marginalized, and therefore inaccessible.
    And yeah, the city is way too expensive.
    But are the people in Vancouver really any more self-absorbed than in Toronto?

  151. Well once you get passed the housing prices, I find it to be a great place to live. I live in Belcarra, part of metro Vancouver. I love the outdoors. I don’t have a lot of traffic to deal with. The weather is better than the rest of Canada. Rain is snow at higher elevations, and I can drive and hike to it if I want it. Lets face it we are Canadians, doomed to spend hours in our house in the winter. But I can’t imagine a better place to be in the world from june1 to October 15. I’ve lived in Edmonton Calgary Winnipeg San Diego. I’ve worked overseas in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia. And I have to say the best times in my life are here. I am always happiest coming home to Vancouver.

  152. Im from Edmonton and Vancouver was the best thing to ever happen to me. If you think rent is expensive in Van well its the exact same costs here in Edmonton and you have nothing but farm land surrounding the city. As far as work goes it all depends on what field you are in. I moved to Vancouver because I could not get a job I had interest in in Edmonton and I easily did in Vancouver (finance/investments). I really think that your lifestyle and where you are coming from makes all the difference in this post for the concerns that you have mentioned cuz really it all depends what your life involves. Ill never go back to Edmonton, EVER!

  153. I love it here, I’m facing potentially having to leave for a job and it breaks my heart. I live in East Van and this community is incredible. I love that I can see the mountains every day, that people are happy, that I don’t need a car, that transit is good, that almost everything I need is within walking distance, and that the mountains are always always taller than anything humans can build. It’s a place of possibility to me. A big city, but one that isn’t too citified (like Toronto), there’s still space, you can always see out. I have seagulls on my roof, I can walk by the water, it’s vibrant, it’s new, and anyone can be ‘from’ Vancouver after a year, or less, we don’t have much in the way of old established families.

    I don’t live in Yaletown, I’m not rich, I’m not a yuppy, I’m not cool. I don’t tolerate Vancouver, I love it. It’s a place I feel free, it’s a place I can grow. If I have to leave, I hope I can come back and raise my children here.

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