Welcome To Vancouver: A frustrating yet incomparable experience


Whether you’ve been living in Vancouver your entire life, three years, or two months, there are many components that can make living in this city incredibly frustrating and stressful, yet incomparable and ridiculously awesome.

A small to medium sized portion of the Vancouverites who are currently living here are those who have left their hometown to branch out and move onto bigger and better things, in the hopes to find something or themselves. Others within that portion may have moved with a significant other, accepted into school, or just needed a change of scenery. Whatever the story or reason was for the move, most find it difficult to adjust to the financial and cultural shock of Vancouver.

If you have just arrived in Vancouver or you’re planning on moving sometime in 2013, here is a set of tips, notes, advice, and recommendations that may help you prepare for the big move to Vancity.

  • When in doubt, stock up on peanut butter, rice, and beans from No Frills. Filling and affordably delicious.
  • A good air mattress will physically last you about 3 years.
  • There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with  having an epic cry/break down on the bench on 4th and Vine.
  • If you go to Whole Foods on Vine and 4th (right beside the park bench) you may see David Suzuki.
  • Pre drink and “walk” drink as much as you can while on the way to your Friday or Saturday night hotspot. This helps you spend less money throughout the night.
  • It will take you 1-3 months to find a permanent job.
  • Google maps will save your life. Don’t be a hero and assume you know where you’re going and end up being late for that interview you’ve been waiting to get for 1-3 months.
  • Some of the bus drivers are moderately good looking.
  • Expect to work at a job you don’t want to be at.
  • Invest in a GOOD pair of shoes/rain boots and a raincoat. Get used to the fact that they WILL become apart of your everyday attire. This is an impressive fashion statement in Vancouver.
  • Don’t bother buying an expensive umbrella. You will either lose it, have it get stolen, or break  it.
  • Some homeless people are actually hipsters.
  • It’s not you, Vancouver is just cliquey.
  • Invest in Vitamin D supplements.
  • 90% of the time you will get somewhere faster if you take transit.
  • The seagulls that look like cats are actually seagulls.
  • If you smile at someone and they give you the “I don’t have any money look”, don’t worry. They just think you’re homeless.
  • Do things that build your resume – even if you’re not getting paid for it and ESPECIALLY in Vancouver. If you want to walk the walk and talk the talk, you better have some experience in your industry or you’re going to get a swift punch hard in your pride.
  • $1500 a month for a less than 1000 square feet, 2 bedroom apartment in a 100 year old building with molding carpets and bedbugs is a good price. Don’t expect anything more if you want to live in Kits, South Granville or Downtown.
  • Be sure to make eye contact with drivers when you’re a pedestrian crossing a street. Your chance of getting run over is high if you don’t.
  • To avoid dirty looks on the bus, don’t talk on your cell phone, have your music too loud, or have loud(ER) conversations with your friends.
  • The Wreck Beach stairs. That is all.
  • Bon’s off Broadway is the best $3.00 you’ll ever spend on Breakfast.
  • Seeing people yell and scream down the street and wear tin foil on their ears as earmuffs, is a normal sight to see.

You will love the beach, the organic produce, the freshness of the air, how your hair and eyelashes curl so easily, all the amazing restaurants, the sea wall, the scenery, the competition, the versatility of the city and how each part is so different, the sushi, how everyone owns a yoga mat, the character homes with bedbugs, walking everywhere, hiking in North Van, watching pretentious women in Yaletown, JJ bean coffee, Whistler, the Granville Island market, and when its sunny out at the end of November and all you’re wearing is a light sweater.

You will fall in love with this city.

Welcome to Vancouver!

Editor’s note: The following is from the observations and experiences of one individual trying to make it in Vancouver.

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  • Conor Doyle

     You left out that some hipsters are actually homeless people..

  • Jessica

    This is definitely written from a heavy Kits/South Gran yuppy perspective.  But thats ok because thats me and I can agree with alot of these things :)

  • Nicolb

    “Clique” not “click”

  • Maxlamb1

    Surprisingly good advice. Bon’s especially!

    I’ll throw this in as my two cents. Perhaps it could be the list’s soundtrack.

  • crazedPartisan

    “It will take you 1-3 months to find a permanent job.”


    OK.. they were serious…


  • Lrothney

    If you are smart you will go back to where you came from.  This city is way overpriced and also dubbed “no fun city” so what does that tell you.  GOOD LUCK IF YOU STAY HERE!

  • DATA

    If you are smart you will avoid the noxious misanthropes who post comments like Lrothney’s. These toxic people, whom you will encounter with reasonable regularity in this city, simply by being themselves harm others’ ability to enjoy this city more than all the factors listed above…combined. Somewhat ironically, those who complain most vociferously about Vancouver being a ‘no fun city’ tend to be the ones whose joyless demeanours contribute most to that issue, if you even believe it’s an issue at all. Have fun wallowing in your misery and don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

  • justicegray

    Wow, definitely hope the author goes back to where they came from. I can assure you people are probably acting “cliquey” because you’re a loser.


     Lrothney… obviously you haven’t had a night out in this city, seen a live show, traveled to realize how sweet this city is… or have any friends.  Sorry, but for people like you this city is a “no fun city”.  Get out of your little box you live in and enjoy life. Good luck to you.  This city is crazy expensive but open your eyes this place is one of the best cities in the world!  There is something fun to do here every day! 


     Lrothney… obviously you haven’t had a night out in this city, seen a live show, traveled to realize how sweet this city is… or have any friends.  Sorry, but for people like you this city is a “no fun city”.  Get out of your little box you live in and enjoy life. Good luck to you.  This city is crazy expensive but open your eyes this place is one of the best cities in the world!  There is something fun to do here every day! 

  • Maverick

    “$1500 a month for a less than 1000 square feet, 2 bedroom apartment in a 100 year old building with molding carpets and bedbugs is a good price. Don’t expect anything more if you want to live in Kits, South Granville or Downtown.”  TRUE

  • Happiernow

    Ye-ah, too bad Lrothney is right. He didn’t say anything misanthropic, he told the truth. It’s a beautiful city (in the summer only – in every other season you’re damp to the bone), Stanley Park/English Bay/Davie Village/Commercial Drive are great, but it’s still a place one should visit and never live. EVERYTHING is overpriced in Vancouver, and the homeless problem that never goes away shows just how much the rich care about the poor – the poor being a group which includes everybody in Van who isn’t making over 6 figures. I’ve met dentists and doctors who had trouble affording the place. The weather is dreary most of the time, and “cliquey” doesn’t begin to describe it – people are segregated by both ethnicity and lifestyle. I’m sure it’s a great place if you’re rich or you love living on Ramen noodles, but otherwise don’t screw up your bank account moving there. 

  • Happiernow

    No, he’s right. I lived there many years and did all those things you suggest, loved the beaches, Commercial, and Stanley Park – oh, and I did have friends, who I still adore. But it was still a horrible place to live (and I’ve lived in 5 other cities, 4 in Canada, all of which were better), because of the ridiculous cost of living and the dreary-ass weather. Lrothney didn’t say anything misanthropic (=people-hating), by the way -he told the truth. Vancouver IS overpriced and elitist in many places, scam artists abound, and finding a job is a nightmare no matter what your education/skill level. Apart from the nature (and BTW, there is nature in other cities, too), I found nothing particularly special about Vancouver. All cities have bars and shows, hate to break it to you, and in many cities you can actually afford to have a social life AND a decent place to live. Look around at the homeless people – a situation that hasn’t improved one iota in 20 years – and ask yourself if it’s Lrothney who’s misanthropic, or Vancouver itself.

  • Getreal

    Your response just proved her point.

  • Tokitoe

    This seems very similar to another article I read on here…

  • Mackanno

    There is no Whole Foods on Vine and w4th, it’s either Safeway or that stupidly overpriced Capers with staff that are convinced hey are the centre of the Universe.
    One last thing, I love how people “hate” this beauty of a City and yet they are still here, move out already!

  • CR

    The list of do’s and don’ts could apply to any city in Canada…this is hardly Vancouver specific.  For example…tried to rent a place in Calgary lately?

  • FactsPlease

    Lot’s of emotionally charged comments here. How about a more unbiased, international and comparative assessment of the city:

  • bub

    well, as someone who grew up in van, i have mixed emotions. yes, it is a very beautiful place, and was much more beautiful in the 70’s and 80’s when we had the beaches to ourselves. the more articles i read like this, the more i think that these perennial topics are really only relevant to those newcomers that make up the bulk of our city now. to those that have always been here, it’s not a problem. we’re used to the weather, we have friends, we probably own real estate or have a cheap apartment. truth be told, we actually wish everyone would leave, so we can have our beautiful city back. so shut up, or go home, because we were not complaining before you all showed up!

  • roma rigs

    I have been trying for months to move out of toronto and find a job in vancouver. I’ve been to vancouver a million times and it just keeps getting better and better. One day, hopefully one day….I’ll call it home

  • Newcomer

    Some people like bashing Vancouver, but they are only a loud minority. Vancouver is a great city and can be lots of fun. Yes, it is ridiculously expensive to live in, but if you can afford it (and really, it only takes an okay-paid office job), it’s one of the best places there are.

    I am lucky enough to be able to afford a nice large apartment high up in Downtown, eating in the best restaurants and enjoying the frills this city has to offer. I have lived in few countries and several cities, but I couldn’t imagine having it better anywhere else. Vancouver is a destination city and for a good reason.

  • justicegray

    Honestly, how so?  My reaction to an article full of helpless whining demonstrates I’m “cliquely”?  You need to let me in on wherever you are getting your meds, my friend, because *I* want to be that high!!! =)

  • tdbankguy

    RE: Happiernow and Lrothney… then leave.

  • Makejubilee

    I think this is good advice. Personally, I’ve had no frustrations since coming here. Mind you, I came from Toronto, so financially it’s comparable and most of the time it feels like a vacation compared to the stress of fast-paced Toronto. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones, but I found a great job in a month and my rent is cheaper here (East Van). I will never leave. I fell in love with this city my first day here and I love it more every day. Oh and mountains are pretty much the greatest thing ever.

  • DATA

    Ye-ah, too bad truth is a relative term. You and Lrothney obviously view truth a little differently than many others. Where to start, where to start? 

    First of all, you need to read a little more carefully. I never said Lrothney’s comment itself was misanthropic; I said those with noxious, misanthropic natures tends to make such comments. There’s a definite and pronounced difference. 

    And I think some of the thousands of people who live near Davie or the Drive and love those areas would take exception with your ridiculous statements. Seriously, that comment of yours says far more about you than about any of those neighbourhoods. 

    Everything overpriced? Really? As someone who has also lived in quite a few other cities in Canada and elsewhere, including several that people like you hold up to be everything Vancouver is not, this is laughable. Real estate prices are out of whack, I’ll grant you that. But beyond those I’m struggling to think of anything else that costs significantly more than it should in a mid-size, modern city. And the homeless issue? It didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. Just because you don’t perceive improvement doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Granted, it’s still not accorded the level of attention it should. But that’s where everyday Vancouverites come in, to keep the City’s feet to the fire when it comes to homing the homeless. 

    That’s fascinating to know the poverty line has risen to six figures. As someone who neither lives on Ramen noodles nor is filthy rich, I never realized I was below the poverty line. If dentists and doctors have trouble affording it here, it’s because their expectations of what kind of life they should be living are out of touch with reality. If people making much less than they do can not only survive but thrive, the problem lies with the individual not the city. I know many people with modest careers who are doing quite well with their lives because they don’t have grossly outsized delusions of the type of home they should be living in, the car they should be driving, and on and on… 

    Cliquey? It can seem like that if you don’t bother to take the opportunity to actually get to know people. In social life in Vancouver, as with many other things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Calling this city cliquey is the standard excuse proffered by those who can’t be bothered to make the effort to talk to others and break down perceived walls, walls one often realizes in retrospect weren’t actually there in the the first place. And that aside, what genuine cliquishness actually exists is hardly unique to this city. 

    Finally, some of us actually enjoy the rain. Once again, it’s all about your outlook. I would personally choose an entire winter’s worth of cloudy, rainy days in Vancouver over having to spend one more day in Edmonton. (No offense to Edmontonians, who are actually delightful, on the whole.) It’s like people forget we’re living in a RAINFOREST. Dreary is in the eye of the beholder. 

    It’s unfortunate that Vancouver hasn’t been enjoyable for you, and that every other Canadian city you’ve lived in was better (I’m still laughing and shaking my head in disbelief about that, but whatever). Since I moved here this city is in large part the reason I’ve come alive. Glad you’re happiernow wherever you are. Shame, though, that you still carry such bitterness with you. 

  • citieguy

    Perhaps some of the amusing observations would be more amusing if this article were properly edited and proofread and matched the quality level of many of the other articles on this blog.

  • CaptainObvious

    Proved her point by claiming she is a “loser”. Even a seagull that resembles a cat could of noticed that one!

  • Joy

    You forgot to mention that it is an asian dominated city mostly with immigrants from Hong Kong.

  • Ohnjay

    Actually, I’ll never fall in love with the city!! You forgot to add the non-existent government or mayor who does nothing to make this city better. All the socialist, left-wing freaks and the fact that it’s not really multi-cultural but segregated multi-cultural. Vancouver has a long long way to go before it becomes what it’s meant to be!! Lots of change needs to take place but I doubt that will happen when you live in a fish tank type city or the Toronto of the west!! 

  • Not me

    Look at Stats Canada,Asians of all sorts are about 36%. Lots,but not “dominated”
    Chinese,HK east Asians make up 26%.

  • Not me

    Look at Stats Canada,Asians of all sorts are about 36%. Lots,but not “dominated”
    Chinese,HK east Asians make up 26%.

  • Not me

    So what…go to Burnaby along Skytrain and pay 2/3..and ride Skytrain for 14 minutes downtown.

  • boones

    this is kinda personal but may i ask what your job is? lol it’s kind of a rarity to hear that some people actually find a job in vancouver but i guess it depends on the kind of job..

  • Travestyfund50

    I am being transferred to work in vancouver feb 2013. is the chinatown metro area fun to live around? I don’t know anyone in vancouver, so a 5-15 min walk to the edgewater casino is key. 

  • nat

    interesting and very true some parts. I dont hate or love this city. I am indifferent as everything is relative and depends on your life in particular. as for a few things mentioned: saying 1-3 months to find a job is very understated as ive looked for work twice now for a year each, thats with experience. competition is at an all-time high. rent is ridiculous if you want to be in the city, and yes most live paycheck to paycheck. these are my personal observations in agreement with the article, but I do not know what other Canadian cities are like and therefore cannot compare, they could be much worse or the same.

  • Msp

    All of you complainers, come spend some time in Chicago. I’ll show you an overpriced, cliquey city that’s actually hard to make it in. Vancouver is amazing. Can’t wait to move back.

  • Occasional Reader

    It became Whole Foods few years ago.