It’s hard to believe but I’ve officially been living in Vancouver for a year. Time flew by but I managed to sneak in as many adventures as I could given the circumstances. I am very grateful to call this beautiful city home and if any of you are considering moving to Vancouver, here are 11 things I wish I knew and think you should know before you make the jump.
British Columbia is Really Big
Of course, we all know Canada is a very big country. After all, it is the second-largest country in the world, but I don’t think I really knew how big the province of British Columbia truly is. At 944 735 km², it’s bigger than France and Germany combined, and more than 30 times bigger than Belgium, my home country! Needless to say, everything is a lot further than it looks on the map.
Public Transportation is Good
You don’t need a car to get around Metro Vancouver. Buses, SkyTrains, and the SeaBus can take you almost anywhere from downtown Vancouver to Kits, North Van, or the ferry terminals. Public transportation is efficient and convenient. With separated bike lanes, Vancouver is also incredibly bike-friendly so I highly recommend getting a bike. Even If you’re not a bike enthusiast, you’ll find yourself cycling everywhere when the weather is nice, and when you do need a car, you can rent an Evo.
Raincouver is Not an Overreaction
Locals lovingly (or frustratingly?) refer to Vancouver as the Rain City or Raincouver, and it’s not an overreaction. According to the Weather Atlas, it rains 165.1 days a year in Vancouver, which amounts to up to 1153.1mm of precipitation. That’s a lot of rain, and it practically means that you may not see the sun for a while during the fall and winter months so get Vitamin D if you’re moving to Vancouver!
Spring and Summer are Amazing
Why would you move to Vancouver then? Well, the spring and summer months are truly spectacular. With the long days, blue skies, and easily accessible outdoor pursuits, every day is an opportunity to explore your backyard, embark on fun adventures, and make the most of the good weather.
Vancouver is Multicultural
Vancouver is a multicultural city that was shaped by different ethnic groups and their respective cultures. You can find influences of these cultures everywhere from the trees that border the city’s streets to Vancouver’s restaurants and specialty stores. This meeting of cultures gives the city its unique vibe and is a great opportunity to get familiar with them and learn from them!
It’s Hard to Make Friends
As an expat, it’s hard to meet new people and make friends in Vancouver. Granted, this past year has been different, to say the least, and not the time to expand your social circle but from what I’ve heard meeting people and making friends is known to be difficult here. So be prepared for that and know that it will come in time.
The Landscapes Will Take Your Breath Away
Set between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, British Columbia is full of mind-blowing landscapes. From its tall mountains to its lakes, rainforests, and many islands, the province is a nature lover’s paradise and full of adventure opportunities.
Read more: British Columbia Bucket List
You Can Enrol in the MSP Plan
If you’re moving to British Columbia and are a resident, you can enroll in MSP, BC’s public health insurance. If you’re coming through the Working Holiday program, you should have subscribed to a private insurance for the full length of your stay but know that you can also have MSP coverage!
The Price Tag Doesn’t Include Taxes
When you’re shopping in stores or online or eating at a restaurant, keep in mind that the price you see isn’t the price you’ll pay. You have to add the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the price tag. Most goods and services are charged both taxes but there are exceptions.
Vancouver is Expensive
Okay, I already knew this one and I think you do too if you’re planning to move here but I think it’s important to emphasize it so you can prepare for it and have a good experience. Rent is expensive. Groceries are expensive. Cell phone plans are expensive. Even Pizza is expensive. You get it, everything is expensive in Vancouver (except sushi). I’m not saying it’s not worth it but make sure to have enough in savings before you make the jump and move to Vancouver.
The Visa Application Process Can Be Stressful
Last but not least, the immigration process in itself can be very stressful. Before you even get to your new country or when you’re in between two work permits or visas, getting your documents together and dealing with the uncertainty of the future can be nerve-wracking so buckle up! I’m currently in the process of applying for permanent residency so if you’re going through this at the moment… I understand. We can support each other!