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A Guide to Settling in Vancouver

Written by CNN Team

Are you interested in moving to British Columbia? This is everything you need to know about settling in Vancouver.

It is no surprise that Vancouver, B.C. is one of Canada’s most popular cities for a variety of reasons. From offering outdoor winter and summer sports, hiking, and great food, there is a ton to discover in Vancouver. In fact, Vancouver also embraces the theatre, art, and music scenes. Basically, you will find that there is something for everyone here. 

Whether you are interested in public transit options or finding a job, this guide to settling in Vancouver can help you on your journey to moving to Canada.

What is the Weather Like in Vancouver?

This varies based on the current season. However, Vancouver’s temperature does not change too dramatically throughout the year. In January, the average low temperature is 1 degree Celsius whereas the highs in July and August are around 22 degrees Celsius. 

In winter, Vancouver tends to be cold, wet, and cloudy. Large amounts of precipitation is often found in the form of slush and rain. It is important to be aware of a phenomenon known as flash freezing. This happens when precipitation arrives just before the temperature drops below freezing and can make surfaces slick with ice.

Summer is usually comfortable and short with moderate weather, more sunshine, and less humidity than eastern cities such as Montreal and Toronto. Temperatures can be as warm as 27 degrees Celsius with cooler evenings. 

Vancouver’s spring and fall seasons remain moderate with lots of wet weather, so prepare for the rain.

What are the Living Costs in Vancouver?

In Canada, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities to call home. Even though the cost of living in Vancouver is high, so are the average wages. 

The average rent costs for a one-bedroom apartment can be between $1,600 and $2,000 a month. The average costs for a family of four can be approximately $4,350 a month. However, this does not include the additional costs of having a phone plan, buying groceries, and paying utility bills such as internet, hydro, gas, and water. Keep in mind that a typical phone plan can cost approximately $75 a month while standard groceries and extra household items may end up being around $315 a month.  

An estimated single person’s monthly costs, without rent, is around $1,200 whereas the monthly costs for a family of four, without rent, is around $4,400. However, this all depends on your lifestyle — if you order take-out often, then it can be more expensive.

What is Public Transit Like in Vancouver?

Vancouver’s Translink system is convenient, efficient, and easy to manage. This includes the SkyTrain (also known as the light rail), buses, and the sea ferry (also known as the SeaBus). The SeaBus operates between North Vancouver and Vancouver. These options are all reliable and ecologically friendly with regular services that run from approximately 5 AM to 1 AM daily. 

A single ticket is active for 90 minutes at a time. If you plan to use public transit often, then invest in a Compass Card. This can be purchased at a vending machine, many drug stores and convenience stores, and the transit station. You pay the fare by “Tapping in” when you hop on and “Tapping out” (not applicable for buses) when you exit. As of June 2020, cash fare prices will be $3.00, $4.25, and $5.75. Compass Card fares will be $2.40, $3.45, and $4.50. 

Also, monthly passes run by calendar month for unlimited travel on SeaBus, SkyTrain and buses. They range from $98, $131, and $177 based on the required amount of zones. Additionally, the monthly pass can be loaded directly onto your Compass Card for easy travel.

What is the Culture in Vancouver? 

Vancouver offers a rich mix of Pacific Northwest outdoorsy activities, Chinese-Canadian and Asian-Canadian heritage, and First Nations art and history. 

Due to its proximity to the ocean and mountains, many people enjoy Vancouver’s outdoor adventures. This includes skiing, snowboarding, skating, tubing, and more. Their summer sports include golfing, hiking, biking, fishing, and mountain ziplining. There is also Stanley Park to visit, which is considered to be one of the most “Vancouver” things you can do. However, you do not need to be an active person in order to enjoy and appreciate all that Vancouver has to offer.

In addition to being surrounded by gorgeous mountains, Vancouver’s thriving art, theatre and music scenes are must-sees. Be sure to check out the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), Vancouver Food Festivals, Vancouver Chinatown, Asian-Style Summer Night Markets, and UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA).

What are the Best Websites to Find Apartments in Vancouver?

There are a number of websites that can help you locate apartments for rent in Vancouver. Here is a list of the top recommended apartment listing websites to get started: 

  • PadMapper – Whether you are looking for a short term or long term rental, you can filter your search with their advanced settings.
  • Rentals – Navigate the area with their map of rental listings and take 3D virtual apartment tours. 
  • RentSeeker – In addition to basic search options, you can select amenities such as pools, balconies, parking options, and air conditioning that you want included.
  • RentFaster – Browse thousands of rental listings for homes, apartments, and condos in the Greater Vancouver area. 
  • Zumper – Draw on the map to limit your interest to certain locations in Vancouver.
  • aptrentals – Vancouver’s largest apartment rental guide. 
  • Craigslist – Search for all sorts of housing options in a variety of Vancouver neighbourhoods. 
  • liv.rent – Equipped with all the features you need to rent successfully. 
  • Apartment Love – The hub for thousands of rentals available from coast to coast.

What are the Best Job Search Websites for People to Find Jobs in Vancouver? 

Finding a job in a new city can be overwhelming. There are so many job search websites to review that it can be difficult picking the right one. Here is a list of popular job search websites to help you find a position in Vancouver: 

  • Simply Hired – Browse by category, employer, city, and more.
  • Eluta – Discover thousands of new positions that are uploaded daily. 
  • Glass Door – Get the scoop on companies with employee reviews, and filter your search with personalized salary tools.
  • Indeed – Review job opportunities that are compiled from a variety of websites.
  • Workopolis – Narrow down your search to companies you recognize.
  • Monster – A global leader in connecting people with jobs. 
  • BC Jobs – The largest job board in Western Canada.
  • workBC – Search for job positions in British Columbia specifically.

What are the Top Local Organizations That Help New Immigrants Settle in Vancouver?

There are community and government organizations that offer services to assist newcomers who are settling in Vancouver. For example, the North Shore Multicultural Society provides workshops and programs that help newcomers to fully and actively participate in Canadian life.

Organizations such as these can answer any questions you have and they can provide free services that help with:

  • Daily life needs (i.e. filling out forms and applications)
  • Finding a job
  • Finding accommodation (a place to live)
  • Information about community services
  • Language classes and assessments

In addition, some of these services may help you meet local residents that can teach you their tips and tricks about living in B.C. Many community centres provide programs in a variety of languages and they also offer courses in arts, physical activities, and languages to assist you on this journey. To locate your closest community centre, ask your settlement services agency. 

Also, there is the Immigration Services Society of BC (known as ISSofBC) that provides a supportive environment for newcomers in Canada that come from all backgrounds. Similarly, they offer a wide range of programs to help newcomers through this transition.

Final Thoughts

Located on the West Coast of Canada, Vancouver offers a unique lifestyle to many of its residents. From new cultural experiences to trying a fun outdoor activity, there is always something to do in Vancouver. Hopefully this guide to settling in Vancouver helps you get out there, so you can enjoy one of Canada’s most popular cities. 

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.