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Old Dec 11th 2017, 10:07 pm   #1
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Default Review of Vancouver after 18 months

This might not be of interest to anyone but I am going to share my thoughts on Vancouver in case it helps anyone thinking of moving there. I lived there for 18months with my partner after spending 8 years in London. The other city I have lived in is Dublin, Ireland. I have now moved to LA as of 2 weeks ago.

Vancouverites get incredibly sensitive at any criticism of their city(usually they respond by blaming the person criticising their city - e.g. they respond to people who call their city boring with witty comebacks like "only boring people get bored") but I ask them to please not get too sensitive about this.

Pros:

1) One of the most beautiful settings for a city anywhere in the world. Almost everyone agrees with this.

2) Very clean and for a fairly big city, not very busy. Great if you don't love big cities but need to live in one. Very chilled.

3) Easy access to nature/skiing/hiking. It is easy to go hiking in the mountains after work in Summer or skiing after work in Winter. Again great for those who don't love big cities but need to live in one.

4) Very, very family friendly.

5) If you like weed, it is easy to buy over the counter without prescription and the city is very weed friendly.

6) People are reserved but friendly.

7) Public transport is pretty good. We didn't need a car.

8) Eating out is much more affordable than other places in Europe/US.

Cons:

1) Rules, rules, rules. Vancouver and BC has to be one of the more rule driven places in the world. It drove us crazy. There are regulations on everything. Airbnb is banned, Uber is banned. There recently was an attempt to ban children's balloons in public parks. You cannot stand up or order from the bar in 90% of places - you have to be seated and served by a waitress/waiter. Most bars will stop letting people in once they get to about 60% full - compared to any other city I have been or lived. I lost count of the number of times I queued for an hour to get into a place, only to find it mostly empty. Most restaurants have to be a certain level of brightness which ruins any ambiance. My condo building elevator had an extensive list of things we were not allowed to do. I think some people see all these rules as a good thing but I hated it.

2) Linked to #1 above, Nightlife is very poor for a city of its size. I lived in Dublin for 6 years which is slightly smaller than Vancouver and Dublin nightlife blows Vancouver away. I have traveled fairly widely and I am confident in saying that Vancouver nightlife - while better than say Tulsa, Oklahoma, by in large sucks. The restaurant scene is better than the bar/club scene. On more than one occasion I was at a party on a Friday or Saturday night, where someone left at 10pm, making excuses that it was past their bedtime.

3) A city does not earn the moniker "no fun city" for no reason. That said, this really depends on what you regard as fun. It is subjective.

4) Hard to make friends. This is something even the more pro Vancouver people usually agree on. People are friendly but just a bit more reserved which makes it harder to make friends.

5) People rave about the restaurant scene but we found it to be fairly average. It is good for cheap, reasonable quality Asian food though.

I will say that I met many people who love Vancouver and many people who really don't love it. I think it genuinely suits some people and not others. The people who liked it on average tended to be from elsewhere in BC or Alberta, did not care too much about bars and clubs, loved the outdoors aspect of the city and more often tended to go to bed before 11pm.

The people who tended not to love it were generally younger expats. 90% of the time we met another expat - esp those without a family - from the UK or elsewhere, the first thing they would say about Vancouver is that "it is a bit boring here". Those that visited us could not understand how it was so quiet on Friday and Saturday nights.

So in short - I think Vancouver is a great city for some and not for others. The Economist made a splash a few years ago by calling Vancouver "pleasant enough, but mind-numbingly boring" - I don't think it is mind-numbingly boring but it is definitely on the tamer side of major world cities. Also 18 months is not a huge amount of time, maybe had we spent longer we would have integrated better and enjoyed it more.

Last edited by Enigma368; Dec 11th 2017 at 10:11 pm.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 2:50 am   #2
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigma368 View Post
Vancouverites get incredibly sensitive at any criticism of their city(usually they respond by blaming the person criticising their city - e.g. they respond to people who call their city boring with witty comebacks like "only boring people get bored") but I ask them to please not get too sensitive about this.


Thanks for the write up - for cons, too add:

- I think young people here can be pretentious and think that Vancouver is a world class city (without having seen others).
- Income is much lower than London
- House prices are through the roof
- Governments seem to be bought by developers or are at least very very slow
- Known as money laundering capital of world for years yet no government agencies seem to do much
- Transport infrastructure unsustainable
- Shortage of doctors and wait times for specialists
- News here - is that journalism??

Pros -

- Some lovely people
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 2:52 am   #3
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

I agree with you on most of these points however the restaurant scene is mostly enough to satisfy my needs. On the cons you can add the high rents, low rental stock, high priced real estate, poor job selection and lower salaries than other urban centers.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 3:12 am   #4
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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Originally Posted by jerryhung View Post


Thanks for the write up - for cons, too add:

- I think young people here can be pretentious and think that Vancouver is a world class city (without having seen others).
Good point. I found that the people who got super defensive when someone criticised Vancouver were by in large people who had never lived outside BC/Alberta. Most Canadians who have lived in other big cities readily acknowledge Vancouver's faults.

Agree with the low income/poor job selection and relatively high housing costs.

Ultimately Vancouver was not the city for me or my other half. That said, we had a great time exploring the Pacific Northwest, we did make some good friends and there were a lot of positives. And just to re-iterate, I think it is def the right city for some people, especially if you like being close to nature and like your cities a little bit more low key/chilled.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 3:33 am   #5
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

On the plus side, high real estate prices.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 8:38 am   #6
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

I think the problem with Vancouver is that over the last decade it has been overhyped as a trendy place to live and attracted people interested in that due to its profile in many newspaper/magazine/internet articles primarily because of the natural environment and "free" activities right on your doorstep, which is what it delivers. It became the zeitgeist/poster child for millennials - like New York was in the 80s or London in 90s, but for very different reasons.

A lot of major metropolis' are going through a difficult phase (London included) with the cost of living pushing out a lot of younger / creative types that often create interesting projects and don't have the familial responsibilities. That being said, I don't think Vancouver has ever been a cultural hub or party town compared to other older established cities - it is still primarily a financial city after all. At least for Canada, it is one of the more interesting places to live if you're interested in "city life" and want decent weather.... but y'know we're talking about Canada here. Vancouver is a good weekender, but I wouldn't want to live there. Ditto London.

LA is far from the nirvana that people think it is: traffic is a living nightmare, limited public transport (which you wouldn't use) and a level of artificiality that the city is famous for. Everything comes at a cost. Its a tiring place on many levels. Not my cuppa - but your mileage may vary.

I would also add that having to live somewhere while you wait to live elsewhere (in your case LA), isn't going to help with feeling at home, especially considering that LA and Vancouver are vastly different places. Also, it's a bit of a dick move to tell the locals that where they live sucks if you're only passing through...

Last edited by ecokid; Dec 12th 2017 at 10:38 am.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 1:30 pm   #7
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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Originally Posted by ecokid View Post
I think the problem with Vancouver is that over the last decade it has been overhyped as a trendy place to live and attracted people interested in that due to its profile in many newspaper/magazine/internet articles primarily because of the natural environment and "free" activities right on your doorstep, which is what it delivers. It became the zeitgeist/poster child for millennials - like New York was in the 80s or London in 90s, but for very different reasons.

A lot of major metropolis' are going through a difficult phase (London included) with the cost of living pushing out a lot of younger / creative types that often create interesting projects and don't have the familial responsibilities. That being said, I don't think Vancouver has ever been a cultural hub or party town compared to other older established cities - it is still primarily a financial city after all. At least for Canada, it is one of the more interesting places to live if you're interested in "city life" and want decent weather.... but y'know we're talking about Canada here. Vancouver is a good weekender, but I wouldn't want to live there. Ditto London.

LA is far from the nirvana that people think it is: traffic is a living nightmare, limited public transport (which you wouldn't use) and a level of artificiality that the city is famous for. Everything comes at a cost. Its a tiring place on many levels. Not my cuppa - but your mileage may vary.

I would also add that having to live somewhere while you wait to live elsewhere (in your case LA), isn't going to help with feeling at home, especially considering that LA and Vancouver are vastly different places. Also, it's a bit of a dick move to tell the locals that where they live sucks if you're only passing through...
Overhyped is a good point and unfortunately our world has become a place where influencers (media, real estate companies etc.) decide what's good for us and how we should live. Just an example but you often hear of people moving to a city in Canada and they now boast that they have easy access to nature (it's advertised) but the same people probably lived in the countryside, had a lake on their doorstep and never even bothered using it.


And the constant surveys about great places to live get on my nerves too.
People used to explore and now we're told what to explore.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 2:26 pm   #8
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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Originally Posted by Enigma368 View Post
This might not be of interest to anyone but I am going to share my thoughts on Vancouver ....

Great post, a good honest opinion of the city that will no doubt help people.


I found the city very soulless but easy to be in (we only visited). In contrast to Calgary which had a lot of character (again only visited).


If you want boring though, try Edmonton. I visited, I wanted to see for myself and I'm sad to say DeadMonton is how we felt. The people in Edmonton were great though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryhung View Post


- I think young people here can be pretentious

I had never seen pretentious like what I saw in Vancouver. Wow.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 3:26 pm   #9
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

one of the best quotes I ever saw came from this board and said something along the lines of Vancouver is a very average city in a wonderful setting. If you picked the city up and moved it to the middle of the Prairies it would be utterly forgettable.

I still live here and have done for nearly 2 years. I still find it enjoyable but as the OP said the level of bureaucracy and wanting to control Every aspect of someone's life is astonishing. We will be moving to the North Shore in January (from Yaletown) as we prefer the less corporate, community feel up there.

For me add to the cons:
very poor driving standards;
government controlled corporations (BC Hydro, ICBC);
cannabis (I don't care what you do in your own home but I have the same right not to have to inhale someone's second hand smoke as they do to smoke it);
a city that is so in bed with developers and foreign interests it should be subject to an independent federal corruption audit.

Add to pros:
good cycling infrastructure;
easy access to the ocean;
cities programs for earthquake preparedness;
craft beer scene
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 3:38 pm   #10
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

You have pretty much hit the nail on the head here. There have even been some threads/posts on here where those expats living in Vancouver and loving it get offended when the city gets criticized by other forum members.

I agree about the nightlife. I spent 3 weeks in Toronto on two separate occasions and the it was way way better out there. If anyone has had the unfortunate opportunity to go to 'The Roxy' then you know what I am talking about.

It is crazy that there are not enough Doctors for people to have a family physician - this is something that baffles me a lot.

You did say that Vancouver is family friendly, is this in regards to activities? If so there is plenty of activities and things to see but boy does it cost $$$. I cannot believe that Capilano Suspension Bridge on the North Shore is just over $40 per person to visit and lets not forget about the wonderful Christmas market - $10 admission and its cramped where as Toronto's market is free entry during the week and is in a larger location.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 3:51 pm   #11
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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I cannot believe that Capilano Suspension Bridge on the North Shore is just over $40 per person
I'd want to be paid a lot more than $40 to venture out on that.

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...lets not forget about the wonderful Christmas market - $10 admission
You pay to get in at a xmas market? Strewth.

It looks nice in the pics I found but everyone had umbrellas up.
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 3:52 pm   #12
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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lets not forget about the wonderful Christmas market - $10 admission and its cramped where as Toronto's market is free entry during the week and is in a larger location.
Congrats on the PR Becki, haven't seen you in a while.

I have never understood the Christmas market here, please pay us money to come inside and spend your money. If a shop charged you a fee to walk in the door most people would tell them to **** off.

The guys who run the shipyards market in Londsdale are running a Christmas market, which is entry by donation.
Shipyards Christmas Market | North Vancouver
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 4:24 pm   #13
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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I'd want to be paid a lot more than $40 to venture out on that.
Not good with heights then?

There is FREE alternative at Lynn Canyon nearby.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Engineer_abroad View Post
Congrats on the PR Becki, haven't seen you in a while.

I have never understood the Christmas market here, please pay us money to come inside and spend your money. If a shop charged you a fee to walk in the door most people would tell them to **** off.

The guys who run the shipyards market in Londsdale are running a Christmas market, which is entry by donation.
Shipyards Christmas Market | North Vancouver
Thanks. Congrats with yours as well

Funny you should mention about paying to enter a store because that was exactly the argument I used when I left a review for them on social media. Their comeback was 'We are not a mall, we are a private event'

I may look into the one in North Vancouver. I noticed the Stanley Park lights are by donation as well and proceeds go to charity
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 4:48 pm   #14
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

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1) Rules, rules, rules. Vancouver and BC has to be one of the more rule driven places in the world. It drove us crazy. There are regulations on everything. Airbnb is banned, Uber is banned. There recently was an attempt to ban children's balloons in public parks. You cannot stand up or order from the bar in 90% of places - you have to be seated and served by a waitress/waiter. Most bars will stop letting people in once they get to about 60% full - compared to any other city I have been or lived. I lost count of the number of times I queued for an hour to get into a place, only to find it mostly empty. Most restaurants have to be a certain level of brightness which ruins any ambiance. My condo building elevator had an extensive list of things we were not allowed to do. I think some people see all these rules as a good thing but I hated it.

Having been to the Philippines and Hong Kong, I am grateful for rules in public & privately owned spaces in large Canadian cities.

People from different cultures may not be aware that they need to put there name down on a waiting list for a table at a restaurant, or that they cannot smoke outside in certain areas.

However, not having Uber is a facking joke
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Old Dec 12th 2017, 5:03 pm   #15
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Default Re: Review of Vancouver after 18 months

Pretty much spot on.

Of all the city's I have lived in, I find Vancouver the most boring with little to do.

Some can say it's my fault but put me in San Diego and I am never bored and there is a ton of things to do at affordable prices and more museums in one spot then Vancouver has in total most likely.

So it's the city that is the issue and of course it's not called no fun city or boredcouver for no reason.

I also find the traffic and congestion horrendous and so much time wasted.

Took me 58 mins to drive 16kms, not even in San Diego does it take that long. LA may even be quicker at this point.

Transit is decent I agree as long as you don't start work early or leave work late. Its lousy for those not on traditional work schedules.

Housing is only for the wealthy to own and you end up doing nothing but work to cover rent.

I think one reason for lack of things in Vancouver is lack of disposable income as housing and rent is sky high with incomes not keeping up, if people don't have money they cannot go out.

Lack of doctors making accessing medical care difficult but that isn't unique to Vancouver.

Vancouver could be a good city but until housing matches incomes it's a playground for the wealthy and you see this in the malls. Downtown mall is useless for your average income earner it's all high end.
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