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

It's pretty enough.

***Note: 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.

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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:

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



Filed under British Columbia, Personal, Rants

98 responses to ““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.

    • Anabelle

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

    • Bob Loblaw

      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.

  2. In that case, I’ll swear for the both of us.

  3. FM


    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!

    • 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.

  4. Heather

    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).

    • 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.

  5. 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.

    • 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. bdiddy18

    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?

    • 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?

      • skeenan

        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.

      • 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!

  10. Joe mainlander

    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.

  11. Kirk

    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.

    • 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.

  12. Richie

    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.

    • 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.

    • Anabelle

      Also, Richie, you might want to read this more journalistic and objective piece that echoes a lot of what I’m dicussing here: http://www.avenueedmonton.com/articles/paradise-found-0

    • 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

      • 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!

  13. Ali

    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.

    • 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.

  14. Kristina

    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!

    • 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 ;)

    • 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!

  15. Ali

    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 :)

  16. 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.

  17. pushed out

    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.

    • 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.

  18. Da5id

    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!

  19. Ryan

    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 :)

    • 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 :)

      • Ryan

        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 :)

  20. 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.

    • 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 :)

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

  21. jesse

    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.

    • 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.

      • jesse

        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.

  22. Aaron Craven

    Great post.

    I wrote a theatre-centric post on the state of Vancouver that echoes your sentiments. – http://everyonehasthemicrophone.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/theatre-and-vancouver-an-impossible-relationship/

    As a born and bred Vancouverite, this city just saddens me so deeply at times. Such affluence, such beauty, such potential unrealized.

  23. Shelldon

    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.)

  24. CT

    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.

  25. Janet

    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!

  26. Mrs. Robinson

    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.

  27. 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.

    • 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. :)

  28. Jeff

    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!

    • 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?

  29. 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

  30. Erin Argue

    *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

    • 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.

  31. 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.

    • Rod

      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.

  32. Royal

    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.


  33. Pingback: Vancouver, Lost. | MissManifesto

  34. 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.

  35. blalblalblalbla

    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.

    • 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.

  36. Patrick

    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.

  37. T walker

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

  38. Cory

    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.

    • 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.

  39. Curtis R Curtis

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

  40. CT


    ” 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.

    • VanAddict

      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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. Westcoastboi

    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.

  44. 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.

  45. Rod

    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.

    • 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.

      • Rod

        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.

  46. p-man

    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.

  47. chocodum

    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.

  48. 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!

  49. Pingback: 5 PR lessons learned from a viral blog post « Anabelle's Blog

  50. erika

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

    • 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 ;)

  51. chineyz

    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.

  52. Eastern guy

    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.

  53. Me

    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?

  54. Vanna

    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.

  55. Rick Hall

    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?

  56. me

    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.

  57. tim

    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!

    • 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.

  58. 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).

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