Vancouver consistently ranks high for its livability, as rated by the Economist, the Mercer survey, and a slew of other reputable scales.
But despite the glowing reviews, Vancouver serves up a pretty glaring fact: It’s expensive and there aren’t always as many jobs as we’d like, especially for entry level positions.
Vancity Buzz set out to ask young Vancouverites what they think about the financial hardships of living here, and what has them staying despite any difficulties. Check out these three opinions we received from people who live and breathe the Vancouver lifestyle.
Alex, 30 years old, fireman
“I’ve lived in Vancouver for six years and with the cost of living being so high, the major downfall is having to prioritize what’s the most important when it comes to your living situation. It’s not easy to find in-suite laundry, a dishwasher, a decent sized, and renovated space. You have to be willing to give up some ‘luxuries’ in order to live in this city. Another downfall is that it’s all too common for people to live in closed quarters to save money. It’s common for apartments with a small square footage to still have high rent, forcing multiple occupancy. One time I had to live under a group of five people – not a family, but young people, in an apartment of 500 square feet just to save money.”
Curtis, 20 years old, college student
“In my grad year of high school I found myself looking at deals on Craigslist fairly often. Although I moved out shortly after my 18th birthday in the summer, it took me until the next October to find the perfect place.
At some point I needed to pick up another more serious job. Paying $950 a month in rent, my own cell phone, food, internet, and general living bills at the age of 18 was a real experience. I think every Vancouverite knows that you gotta do whatever it takes to make it, because if you start to slip, the slope can be rather unforgiving.
You have to be able to accept a helping hand from those around you. Someone might offer you dinner or breakfast on a regular basis, other friends may have a cozy couch or simply a good amount of space on the floor with a roof over your head. Our city is thankfully filled with so many awesome people. But once you get on your feet and find a place you can call your own along with a routine that works for you…there’s nothing better than living in the beautiful city of Vancouver.”
Kirstyn, 27 years old, marketing coordinator
“I loved living in Vancouver because of the weather, the ocean, and the mountains! The weather promotes an active lifestyle year-round which really suits me. It’s a dynamic, world-class city and you get to reap all the benefits of that – amazing food, amazing shopping, etc.
I moved away from Vancouver to find my financial footing. I moved to the city as a fresh grad. Working in the least lucrative job market in the country and feeling the weight of student loans, I suffered financial set-backs as a result. For whatever reason, job seekers in Vancouver are willing to work for next to nothing.
With the high cost of living and the average wage hardly livable, I simply could not save. Ever. It is very Vancouver to live paycheck to paycheck – I guess it’s the true cost of living – and I didn’t realize until I left how far I’d set myself back.
In Alberta terms, I’m behind the curve. Most of my peers have bought property or are well on that path. Living in Vancouver, I accepted that I’d never be able to buy a home. And that was ok! It’s commonly accepted that unless your parents front your down-payment, or you’re selling an existing property, most of my generation will never crack into the real estate market in Vancouver.
The mentality in Alberta is entirely opposite – if you don’t buy, you’re doing something wrong. I don’t necessarily want to own a home in Alberta, or in general, but Calgary provides the opportunity if I wish to take it. I still want to return to Vancouver and I will, but on sustainable terms. Building up my resume, my earning power and my bank account is my sole purpose in Calgary. I am not here for the weather.”
What’s your take on living in Vancouver? Vancity wants to help young people solve their problems by gauging their responses with a 30 second video. No need to make fancy edits or create anything that’s high quality- all that’s needed is an honest and real answer.
Everyone who submits a video will be entered into a weekly draw to win a $1,000 Visa Gift Card. Videos can be shared on social media using #DontGiveUp and @Vancity or visit www.vancity.com/dontgiveup.
Vancity will watch all submitted videos and feature some of the video clips in their new advertising campaign, to be launched later this year. The campaign will show and share what it’s really like for people faced with the challenges of living in the Lower Mainland day in and day out, and what solutions people may have found.