Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > Canada
Reload this Page >

Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Old Sep 4th 2010, 5:40 pm
  #1  
Nil Desperandum Illegitim
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 71
lwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to behold
Default Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Background: we landed in Vancouver last October and spent 10 days summing up the various neighbourhoods then returned to the UK.

We arrived in Vancouver (to stay) on Tuesday 24th August. We are a family of 4 with 2 boys aged 8 (grade 3 - elementary school) and age 12 (grade 7 - middle school).

I thought that it would be useful to pen a few thoughts and facts regarding costs we have incurred as this might be useful to others who are about to make the journey.

I would also caveat what I am writing with the following provisos:

a) although we a far from being rich, we don't tend to spend hours on end looking for "the best deal", life is too short so we generally do some basic research and go for something that is within our accepted price range. What I am saying is that if you do like to spend hours on end doing your research you will probably find things a bit cheaper but I suspect not by much

b) we are no experts: we've only been here 2 weeks what follows is an account of our expenditure and experiences so far


1. Before arriving we rented a furnished apartment in North Vancouver. We performed all the necessary over the internet and email. On arrival I must say that the photos on the internet were much better that the real thing (is that a surprise?). Having said that the place is adequate and is fantastically located near Victoria Park, on the North Shore. We rented for 30 days - 2 bedroom flat for CAD 2,450. We stayed in a hotel the first night because we were arrived late and moved in next day after 14:00

1a. Very first thing to do was to get mobiles for me and wife. We brought our unlocked phones over from the UK so we only wanted a monthly plan with a SIM card. Very expensive compared to UK. Though I must say that due to the urgency we did not shop around at all for this item: we just went into the first mobile shop (Rogers) we came across and asked for the best deal for our requirements.

2. First day after our arrival we started looking for a house / flat to rent. Reason for prioritising this is that school term starts on 7th September and we need an address in order to enrol the children in school. Our favoured neighbourhoods were North Vancouver and Coquitlam

3. Having seen a few places we arrived at the conclusion that we weren't going to get much in North Vancouver for our price range and decided to search for a place in Coquitlam which is about a 40 min drive from Van

4. We were very lucky in that we answered an ad in Craigslist and the landlord happened to be English (moved to Canada 3 yrs ago) and we just clicked which made things easier

5. We had looked at a whole load of properties in Coquitlam price range CAD 1,700 for a 3 bed suite and around CAD 2,500 for a 5-6 bed house. If the property is being rented via a real estate agent they ask you to fill in an application form which will ask for references and some form of evidence that you have the funds or means to pay the rent. The application can take a few days to process. Since we didn't go through a realtor and dealt directly with the landlord our rental arrangements went very smoothly and quickly. One thing I found interesting is that several realtors told me that they could see that we were an "OK" family and that the application would merely be a formality. I can only assume that what "OK" meant ???. We ended up renting the 1st floor of a lovely house on a hill in Westwood Plateau, the suite has three bedrooms and backs onto virgin forest, the children were very excited to hear that bears roam across the gardens once or twice a year.

6. Once we had the rental agreement in our hands (1/2 months deposit paid CAD 1,000) the next thing was to enrol the children at school. Schools here work in catchment areas i.e. depending on where you live you will have a school(s) in your catchment area where you are meant to enrol your children. Our local elementary school opened for late registrations on Monday 30th August. We arrived at noon and found that we were about 30th on the waiting list. The deputy headmistress who saw us told us that she would call sometime next week, after the children had gone back to school, to let us know where our son would be going to school. The way it works is that when a school is full they wait until day 2 (once term has started) to see who has turned up for class (people move out of an area) and that way they gauge how many spaces they have. After a good start to our arrival this brought us crashing down to reality, we had our hearts set on this school as it was rated very highly in the Fraser Institute report of elementary schools in BC. Anyway, we were not entirely happy with this and started going to other schools in the district but outside of our catchment area. We literally visited 9 schools (all full) until we hit upon a school that "might have a place" - they would call us later in the week. The wait is a real killer - eventually we got the call yesterday - he has a place. My observations having visited 10 schools and spoken to various headmasters and headmistresses are as follows: the schools buildings are bright, modern, welcoming, clean. Regarding the people we spoke to: I have never met such helpful and enthusiastic people.

7. The middle school for my 12 year old started registration the next day (9am) so we decided to get there early. We stopped at Starbucks to arm ourselves with coffee and hot chocolates and arrived at the school at 7:30am to form an orderly queue just to find that we were beaten to it by someone else. Still number 2 in the queue looked promising to me, by 8:30 there was a queue around 12 long. The registration process opened at 9am on the nose and this school were very strict in terms checking the necessary documentation: PR cards, Rental Agreement (to prove we live in catchment area) and a utility bill or bank statement with address on. Without this they were not accepting any registrations. Once again we were told that we would get a call over the next few days. We received a call yesterday to say he got in. Fantastic news! as this school was on our list of preferred choices. My son was quite excited to hear that he has been allocated to "Team Extreme". School Houses here are called Teams by the way.

8. Buying school materials: this is entirely new to us. Every school has a list of stationery that must be purchased before term starts and they produce a list that you can to take to Staples or wherever and fill your trolley with crayons, paper, binders, pens, pencils, glue etc. The shopping lists are very precise and quite extensive. Cost for 2 boys CAD 200. We went to Staples but we subsequently dropped by Office Depot to pick up some other stuff and found it to be cheaper than Staples. You can probably get stuff cheaper elsewhere (but see my note above).

9. Next on the list was to get a BC driving licence. We went to an ICBC office (they are all over the place) and found to our relief that since Aug 2010 you can swap your UK licence for a Canadian one. If you ever decide to go back to the UK to live, once you arrive in the UK you simply hand over your Canadian licence (to the DVLA presumably) and you get a UK one back (or so we were told). There was a cost of CAD $31

10. Final item on the list was to purchase a car. Our car rental was for 2 weeks. We got a good deal on an ex-demo with CAD 6,000 knocked off the price. We learnt several things here: there is credit deal with Scotia Bank for immigrants. So a newly landed immigrant can purchase a car on hire purchase (without having a credit history). However, you must pay a 40% deposit. Our deposit came up to CAD 13,500 but we told the finance lady that we did not want to part with more than CAD 8,000. We went away while she worked the phones and she managed to get the bank to agree to a lower deposit (I must emphasise that they may have accepted the lower deposit because I had a contract of employment with me) if you don’t have a job this MAY not work for you (I mean negotiating a lower deposit). The HP is over 60 months at 0% interest. The dealer also tried to sell us: protection package (coating the underside of the vehicle with some protective layer), insurance in case the car was written off before it was paid and extended warranty. We declined all of them. The dealers will not allow you to drive the vehicle away without insurance so before you leave with the car they call the government insurance broker and they get down to the dealership within minutes. They quote you a price based on the vehicle and if you are new to BC you can only get insured for 6 months (after which you can renew it for a year). You don't have to take the govmnt insurance (Autoplan) you can arrange for your own insurance but we didn't have the time or inclination to do this. The price for 6 months insurance for 2 adults (45 and 46 yrs) on a CAD 32,000 motor was CAD 1,080 (this includes a 40% discount for our UK no claims bonus). Incidentally, they will ask for your no claims bonus certificate from the UK but here is the thing: it appears that it is no good just having your current year's insurance certificate stating 10 years NCB they actually want to see a certificate for EACH of your insurers going back 10 years! We told her that this was not possible and that our current UK insurers would have checked the veracity of our NCB before issuing us with a certificate. She said she would give us the 40% and submit our paperwork but said that it is 50-50 whether the insurer will accept or decline our UK NCB certificate.

Some final observations:

Meat, veg and fruit is generally cheaper or same price as UK. All other groceries, soap, drinks etc appear to be significantly more expensive.

People over here are unfailingly polite and helpful (I have no doubt that Canada has its fair share of scroats but fortunately we have not come across any yet)

1 Ltr of unleaded fuel is around CAD 1.14

Most prices are quoted exclusive of tax so remember to add 12%

Supermarkets do not sell booze which is bad if you are a responsible drinker but good if you are sick of seeing drunken louts roaming the street. By the way cheap bottle of wine is CAD $12 and a six pack of beer CAD $13

Useful documents to bring to Canada.
  • Canadian Bank statement (open an account from UK)
  • Proof of funds (we brought this, but were never asked for it anywhere)
  • Contract of employment if you have a job
  • Some character references (useful when you want to rent)
  • Building Society letter stating that we had never missed a mortgage payment (this came n useful when we purchased the car)
  • Proof of no claims bonus (see info above)
  • School reports for the children (school have not asked to see them)
  • Immunization record for children (not asked for)

We have had a great time so far, so much to see and do. Kids loving it as well but we shall see what happens after their first day at school

Banking system here is totally different - don't assume anything.

Anyone about to arrive in Van just drop me a line via private mail and I'll try and answer as best I can
lwilli63 is offline  
Old Sep 4th 2010, 6:14 pm
  #2  
Binned by Muderators
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: White Rock BC
Posts: 11,631
JonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond reputeJonboyE has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Great, comprehensive, post that I am sure will be useful to new arrivals. A couple of observations:

Originally Posted by lwilli63 View Post
a) although we a far from being rich, we don't tend to spend hours on end looking for "the best deal", life is too short so we generally do some basic research and go for something that is within our accepted price range. What I am saying is that if you do like to spend hours on end doing your research you will probably find things a bit cheaper but I suspect not by much
The first few weeks are expensive with lots of things to buy. As you settle in you will get to know where to shop for good value.

1a. Very first thing to do was to get mobiles for me and wife. We brought our unlocked phones over from the UK so we only wanted a monthly plan with a SIM card. Very expensive compared to UK. Though I must say that due to the urgency we did not shop around at all for this item: we just went into the first mobile shop (Rogers) we came across and asked for the best deal for our requirements.
Mobile rates are expensive compared to UK. You will probably find something a bit cheaper - but not all that much.

After a good start to our arrival this brought us crashing down to reality, we had our hearts set on this school as it was rated very highly in the Fraser Institute report of elementary schools in BC.
I wouldn't worry about it too much. Plenty of people think the FI rankings are a load of old ********.

My observations having visited 10 schools and spoken to various headmasters and headmistresses are as follows: the schools buildings are bright, modern, welcoming, clean. Regarding the people we spoke to: I have never met such helpful and enthusiastic people.
I felt exactly the same as well. The scary thing is that in a few months you'll think it is normal.

8. Buying school materials: this is entirely new to us. Every school has a list of stationery that must be purchased before term starts and they produce a list that you can to take to Staples or wherever and fill your trolley with crayons, paper, binders, pens, pencils, glue etc. The shopping lists are very precise and quite extensive. Cost for 2 boys CAD 200. We went to Staples but we subsequently dropped by Office Depot to pick up some other stuff and found it to be cheaper than Staples. You can probably get stuff cheaper elsewhere (but see my note above).
Dollar stores, Walmart, Superstore ... It just takes time to get to know where to go.

The dealers will not allow you to drive the vehicle away without insurance so before you leave with the car they call the government insurance broker and they get down to the dealership within minutes. They quote you a price based on the vehicle and if you are new to BC you can only get insured for 6 months (after which you can renew it for a year). You don't have to take the govmnt insurance (Autoplan) you can arrange for your own insurance but we didn't have the time or inclination to do this. The price for 6 months insurance for 2 adults (45 and 46 yrs) on a CAD 32,000 motor was CAD 1,080 (this includes a 40% discount for our UK no claims bonus). Incidentally, they will ask for your no claims bonus certificate from the UK but here is the thing: it appears that it is no good just having your current year's insurance certificate stating 10 years NCB they actually want to see a certificate for EACH of your insurers going back 10 years! We told her that this was not possible and that our current UK insurers would have checked the veracity of our NCB before issuing us with a certificate. She said she would give us the 40% and submit our paperwork but said that it is 50-50 whether the insurer will accept or decline our UK NCB certificate.
There are two components to the insurance. Basic Autoplan is the minimum insurance you must have and you can only buy this from the government - in the form of our friends ICBC. Additional (fire & theft, collision and comprehensive) insurance is strongly recommended and there are several providers who are cheaper than ICBC if you have a good driving record. Check them out next year, but most new arrivals are stuck with ICBC.

Meat, veg and fruit is generally cheaper or same price as UK. All other groceries, soap, drinks etc appear to be significantly more expensive.
As said above, you will gradually find places that offer better value. (hint: get a Costco card .

Good luck settling in.
JonboyE is offline  
Old Sep 4th 2010, 6:31 pm
  #3  
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 12,830
Aviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond reputeAviator has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by JonboyE View Post
hint: get a Costco card
And a truck
Aviator is offline  
Old Sep 4th 2010, 9:01 pm
  #4  
slanderer of the innocent
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 6,695
ExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by lwilli63 View Post
B
6. Once we had the rental agreement in our hands (1/2 months deposit paid CAD 1,000) the next thing was to enrol the children at school. Schools here work in catchment areas i.e. depending on where you live you will have a school(s) in your catchment area where you are meant to enrol your children. Our local elementary school opened for late registrations on Monday 30th August. We arrived at noon and found that we were about 30th on the waiting list. The deputy headmistress who saw us told us that she would call sometime next week, after the children had gone back to school, to let us know where our son would be going to school. The way it works is that when a school is full they wait until day 2 (once term has started) to see who has turned up for class (people move out of an area) and that way they gauge how many spaces they have. After a good start to our arrival this brought us crashing down to reality, we had our hearts set on this school as it was rated very highly in the Fraser Institute report of elementary schools in BC. Anyway, we were not entirely happy with this and started going to other schools in the district but outside of our catchment area. We literally visited 9 schools (all full) until we hit upon a school that "might have a place" - they would call us later in the week. The wait is a real killer - eventually we got the call yesterday - he has a place. My observations having visited 10 schools and spoken to various headmasters and headmistresses are as follows: the schools buildings are bright, modern, welcoming, clean. Regarding the people we spoke to: I have never met such helpful and enthusiastic people.

7. The middle school for my 12 year old started registration the next day (9am) so we decided to get there early. We stopped at Starbucks to arm ourselves with coffee and hot chocolates and arrived at the school at 7:30am to form an orderly queue just to find that we were beaten to it by someone else. Still number 2 in the queue looked promising to me, by 8:30 there was a queue around 12 long. The registration process opened at 9am on the nose and this school were very strict in terms checking the necessary documentation: PR cards, Rental Agreement (to prove we live in catchment area) and a utility bill or bank statement with address on. Without this they were not accepting any registrations. Once again we were told that we would get a call over the next few days. We received a call yesterday to say he got in. Fantastic news! as this school was on our list of preferred choices. My son was quite excited to hear that he has been allocated to "Team Extreme". School Houses here are called Teams by the way.

8. Buying school materials: this is entirely new to us. Every school has a list of stationery that must be purchased before term starts and they produce a list that you can to take to Staples or wherever and fill your trolley with crayons, paper, binders, pens, pencils, glue etc. The shopping lists are very precise and quite extensive. Cost for 2 boys CAD 200. We went to Staples but we subsequently dropped by Office Depot to pick up some other stuff and found it to be cheaper than Staples. You can probably get stuff cheaper elsewhere (but see my note above).
Sounds good!

The only thing I'd add is that each city has it's own school board and they all operate differently vis a vis registration etc.

FI

The cheapest places to go for school supplies are Zellers, Walmart, London Drugs etc. I got everything for $45 @ Zellers. They normally have entire sections set aside just for school supplies which makes it supah easy to find everything.

Last edited by ExKiwilass; Sep 4th 2010 at 9:08 pm.
ExKiwilass is offline  
Old Sep 4th 2010, 10:30 pm
  #5  
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,054
dboy is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Welcome to the head - I live in Lower Lonsdale on 3 rd and Lonsdale.

Interesting post. The state of the UK pound makes it seem more pricey here. If you consider the pound has lost something like 25 percent of its value against CAD in the past year or so. But I suppose the wages will seem higher than they were??

Locally, shop at Walmart or Extra Foods or Superstore (sort of local) avoid Safeway unless stuff is on special.

Shopping here is very different to the UK and you become keen at watching for the 'specials' which are a way of life here. Cost Co can be good but is easy to get carried away and buy things you don't really need.

Anyway welcome the Hood, albeit it a short stay till you are off to Coquitlam.
dboy is offline  
Old Sep 4th 2010, 10:31 pm
  #6  
 
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 14,227
Alan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond reputeAlan2005 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

There is nothing good about not allowing supermarkets to sell beer. Nothing
Alan2005 is offline  
Old Sep 5th 2010, 12:38 am
  #7  
.
 
Oink's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 20,033
Oink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by lwilli63 View Post
Background: we landed in Vancouver last October and spent 10 days summing up the various neighbourhoods then returned to the UK.

We arrived in Vancouver (to stay) on Tuesday 24th August. We are a family of 4 with 2 boys aged 8 (grade 3 - elementary school) and age 12 (grade 7 - middle school).

I thought that it would be useful to pen a few thoughts and facts regarding costs we have incurred as this might be useful to others who are about to make the journey.

I would also caveat what I am writing with the following provisos:

a) although we a far from being rich, we don't tend to spend hours on end looking for "the best deal", life is too short so we generally do some basic research and go for something that is within our accepted price range. What I am saying is that if you do like to spend hours on end doing your research you will probably find things a bit cheaper but I suspect not by much

b) we are no experts: we've only been here 2 weeks what follows is an account of our expenditure and experiences so far


1. Before arriving we rented a furnished apartment in North Vancouver. We performed all the necessary over the internet and email. On arrival I must say that the photos on the internet were much better that the real thing (is that a surprise?). Having said that the place is adequate and is fantastically located near Victoria Park, on the North Shore. We rented for 30 days - 2 bedroom flat for CAD 2,450. We stayed in a hotel the first night because we were arrived late and moved in next day after 14:00

1a. Very first thing to do was to get mobiles for me and wife. We brought our unlocked phones over from the UK so we only wanted a monthly plan with a SIM card. Very expensive compared to UK. Though I must say that due to the urgency we did not shop around at all for this item: we just went into the first mobile shop (Rogers) we came across and asked for the best deal for our requirements.

2. First day after our arrival we started looking for a house / flat to rent. Reason for prioritising this is that school term starts on 7th September and we need an address in order to enrol the children in school. Our favoured neighbourhoods were North Vancouver and Coquitlam

3. Having seen a few places we arrived at the conclusion that we weren't going to get much in North Vancouver for our price range and decided to search for a place in Coquitlam which is about a 40 min drive from Van

4. We were very lucky in that we answered an ad in Craigslist and the landlord happened to be English (moved to Canada 3 yrs ago) and we just clicked which made things easier

5. We had looked at a whole load of properties in Coquitlam price range CAD 1,700 for a 3 bed suite and around CAD 2,500 for a 5-6 bed house. If the property is being rented via a real estate agent they ask you to fill in an application form which will ask for references and some form of evidence that you have the funds or means to pay the rent. The application can take a few days to process. Since we didn't go through a realtor and dealt directly with the landlord our rental arrangements went very smoothly and quickly. One thing I found interesting is that several realtors told me that they could see that we were an "OK" family and that the application would merely be a formality. I can only assume that what "OK" meant ???. We ended up renting the 1st floor of a lovely house on a hill in Westwood Plateau, the suite has three bedrooms and backs onto virgin forest, the children were very excited to hear that bears roam across the gardens once or twice a year.

6. Once we had the rental agreement in our hands (1/2 months deposit paid CAD 1,000) the next thing was to enrol the children at school. Schools here work in catchment areas i.e. depending on where you live you will have a school(s) in your catchment area where you are meant to enrol your children. Our local elementary school opened for late registrations on Monday 30th August. We arrived at noon and found that we were about 30th on the waiting list. The deputy headmistress who saw us told us that she would call sometime next week, after the children had gone back to school, to let us know where our son would be going to school. The way it works is that when a school is full they wait until day 2 (once term has started) to see who has turned up for class (people move out of an area) and that way they gauge how many spaces they have. After a good start to our arrival this brought us crashing down to reality, we had our hearts set on this school as it was rated very highly in the Fraser Institute report of elementary schools in BC. Anyway, we were not entirely happy with this and started going to other schools in the district but outside of our catchment area. We literally visited 9 schools (all full) until we hit upon a school that "might have a place" - they would call us later in the week. The wait is a real killer - eventually we got the call yesterday - he has a place. My observations having visited 10 schools and spoken to various headmasters and headmistresses are as follows: the schools buildings are bright, modern, welcoming, clean. Regarding the people we spoke to: I have never met such helpful and enthusiastic people.

7. The middle school for my 12 year old started registration the next day (9am) so we decided to get there early. We stopped at Starbucks to arm ourselves with coffee and hot chocolates and arrived at the school at 7:30am to form an orderly queue just to find that we were beaten to it by someone else. Still number 2 in the queue looked promising to me, by 8:30 there was a queue around 12 long. The registration process opened at 9am on the nose and this school were very strict in terms checking the necessary documentation: PR cards, Rental Agreement (to prove we live in catchment area) and a utility bill or bank statement with address on. Without this they were not accepting any registrations. Once again we were told that we would get a call over the next few days. We received a call yesterday to say he got in. Fantastic news! as this school was on our list of preferred choices. My son was quite excited to hear that he has been allocated to "Team Extreme". School Houses here are called Teams by the way.

8. Buying school materials: this is entirely new to us. Every school has a list of stationery that must be purchased before term starts and they produce a list that you can to take to Staples or wherever and fill your trolley with crayons, paper, binders, pens, pencils, glue etc. The shopping lists are very precise and quite extensive. Cost for 2 boys CAD 200. We went to Staples but we subsequently dropped by Office Depot to pick up some other stuff and found it to be cheaper than Staples. You can probably get stuff cheaper elsewhere (but see my note above).

9. Next on the list was to get a BC driving licence. We went to an ICBC office (they are all over the place) and found to our relief that since Aug 2010 you can swap your UK licence for a Canadian one. If you ever decide to go back to the UK to live, once you arrive in the UK you simply hand over your Canadian licence (to the DVLA presumably) and you get a UK one back (or so we were told). There was a cost of CAD $31

10. Final item on the list was to purchase a car. Our car rental was for 2 weeks. We got a good deal on an ex-demo with CAD 6,000 knocked off the price. We learnt several things here: there is credit deal with Scotia Bank for immigrants. So a newly landed immigrant can purchase a car on hire purchase (without having a credit history). However, you must pay a 40% deposit. Our deposit came up to CAD 13,500 but we told the finance lady that we did not want to part with more than CAD 8,000. We went away while she worked the phones and she managed to get the bank to agree to a lower deposit (I must emphasise that they may have accepted the lower deposit because I had a contract of employment with me) if you don’t have a job this MAY not work for you (I mean negotiating a lower deposit). The HP is over 60 months at 0% interest. The dealer also tried to sell us: protection package (coating the underside of the vehicle with some protective layer), insurance in case the car was written off before it was paid and extended warranty. We declined all of them. The dealers will not allow you to drive the vehicle away without insurance so before you leave with the car they call the government insurance broker and they get down to the dealership within minutes. They quote you a price based on the vehicle and if you are new to BC you can only get insured for 6 months (after which you can renew it for a year). You don't have to take the govmnt insurance (Autoplan) you can arrange for your own insurance but we didn't have the time or inclination to do this. The price for 6 months insurance for 2 adults (45 and 46 yrs) on a CAD 32,000 motor was CAD 1,080 (this includes a 40% discount for our UK no claims bonus). Incidentally, they will ask for your no claims bonus certificate from the UK but here is the thing: it appears that it is no good just having your current year's insurance certificate stating 10 years NCB they actually want to see a certificate for EACH of your insurers going back 10 years! We told her that this was not possible and that our current UK insurers would have checked the veracity of our NCB before issuing us with a certificate. She said she would give us the 40% and submit our paperwork but said that it is 50-50 whether the insurer will accept or decline our UK NCB certificate.

Some final observations:

Meat, veg and fruit is generally cheaper or same price as UK. All other groceries, soap, drinks etc appear to be significantly more expensive.

People over here are unfailingly polite and helpful (I have no doubt that Canada has its fair share of scroats but fortunately we have not come across any yet)

1 Ltr of unleaded fuel is around CAD 1.14

Most prices are quoted exclusive of tax so remember to add 12%

Supermarkets do not sell booze which is bad if you are a responsible drinker but good if you are sick of seeing drunken louts roaming the street. By the way cheap bottle of wine is CAD $12 and a six pack of beer CAD $13

Useful documents to bring to Canada.
  • Canadian Bank statement (open an account from UK)
  • Proof of funds (we brought this, but were never asked for it anywhere)
  • Contract of employment if you have a job
  • Some character references (useful when you want to rent)
  • Building Society letter stating that we had never missed a mortgage payment (this came n useful when we purchased the car)
  • Proof of no claims bonus (see info above)
  • School reports for the children (school have not asked to see them)
  • Immunization record for children (not asked for)

We have had a great time so far, so much to see and do. Kids loving it as well but we shall see what happens after their first day at school

Banking system here is totally different - don't assume anything.

Anyone about to arrive in Van just drop me a line via private mail and I'll try and answer as best I can
Have you tried the cheese here?
Oink is offline  
Old Sep 5th 2010, 3:53 am
  #8  
Nil Desperandum Illegitim
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 71
lwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to beholdlwilli63 is a splendid one to behold
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Haven't tried the cheese.... it's far too expensive
lwilli63 is offline  
Old Sep 5th 2010, 6:01 am
  #9  
.
 
Oink's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 20,033
Oink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond reputeOink has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

That was an interesting post, Canadian cheese is just horrible unless you go to a specialist cheese shop. There's a good one on 2nd street in Vancouver near Granville Island called Les Amis du Fromage, I think they have a couple of other locations in the area. I got a stilton there at Christmas that was very good.
Oink is offline  
Old Sep 6th 2010, 5:12 am
  #10  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 21
KenD has a spectacular aura aboutKenD has a spectacular aura aboutKenD has a spectacular aura about
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by Oink View Post
That was an interesting post, Canadian cheese is just horrible unless you go to a specialist cheese shop. There's a good one on 2nd street in Vancouver near Granville Island called Les Amis du Fromage, I think they have a couple of other locations in the area. I got a stilton there at Christmas that was very good.
Benton Brothers in Kerrisdale, and Whole Foods have nice cheeses as well.
KenD is offline  
Old Sep 6th 2010, 5:15 am
  #11  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 21
KenD has a spectacular aura aboutKenD has a spectacular aura aboutKenD has a spectacular aura about
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

1a. Very first thing to do was to get mobiles for me and wife. We brought our unlocked phones over from the UK so we only wanted a monthly plan with a SIM card. Very expensive compared to UK. Though I must say that due to the urgency we did not shop around at all for this item: we just went into the first mobile shop (Rogers) we came across and asked for the best deal for our requirements.

Believe it or not - the 7/11 do decent deals. They use the Rogers network, but the "Speakout Wireless" brand allows you to keep your talk time for 365 days, instead of wiping it clean every month.
KenD is offline  
Old Sep 6th 2010, 3:11 pm
  #12  
BE Enthusiast
 
ducktastic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cheltenham, UK was Vancouver, BC
Posts: 704
ducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by lwilli63 View Post
Background: we landed in Vancouver last October and spent 10 days summing up the various neighbourhoods then returned to the UK.

We arrived in Vancouver (to stay) on Tuesday 24th August. We are a family of 4 with 2 boys aged 8 (grade 3 - elementary school) and age 12 (grade 7 - middle school).

I thought that it would be useful to pen a few thoughts and facts regarding costs we have incurred as this might be useful to others who are about to make the journey.

I would also caveat what I am writing with the following provisos:

a) although we a far from being rich, we don't tend to spend hours on end looking for "the best deal", life is too short so we generally do some basic research and go for something that is within our accepted price range. What I am saying is that if you do like to spend hours on end doing your research you will probably find things a bit cheaper but I suspect not by much

b) we are no experts: we've only been here 2 weeks what follows is an account of our expenditure and experiences so far


1. Before arriving we rented a furnished apartment in North Vancouver. We performed all the necessary over the internet and email. On arrival I must say that the photos on the internet were much better that the real thing (is that a surprise?). Having said that the place is adequate and is fantastically located near Victoria Park, on the North Shore. We rented for 30 days - 2 bedroom flat for CAD 2,450. We stayed in a hotel the first night because we were arrived late and moved in next day after 14:00

1a. Very first thing to do was to get mobiles for me and wife. We brought our unlocked phones over from the UK so we only wanted a monthly plan with a SIM card. Very expensive compared to UK. Though I must say that due to the urgency we did not shop around at all for this item: we just went into the first mobile shop (Rogers) we came across and asked for the best deal for our requirements.

2. First day after our arrival we started looking for a house / flat to rent. Reason for prioritising this is that school term starts on 7th September and we need an address in order to enrol the children in school. Our favoured neighbourhoods were North Vancouver and Coquitlam

3. Having seen a few places we arrived at the conclusion that we weren't going to get much in North Vancouver for our price range and decided to search for a place in Coquitlam which is about a 40 min drive from Van

4. We were very lucky in that we answered an ad in Craigslist and the landlord happened to be English (moved to Canada 3 yrs ago) and we just clicked which made things easier

5. We had looked at a whole load of properties in Coquitlam price range CAD 1,700 for a 3 bed suite and around CAD 2,500 for a 5-6 bed house. If the property is being rented via a real estate agent they ask you to fill in an application form which will ask for references and some form of evidence that you have the funds or means to pay the rent. The application can take a few days to process. Since we didn't go through a realtor and dealt directly with the landlord our rental arrangements went very smoothly and quickly. One thing I found interesting is that several realtors told me that they could see that we were an "OK" family and that the application would merely be a formality. I can only assume that what "OK" meant ???. We ended up renting the 1st floor of a lovely house on a hill in Westwood Plateau, the suite has three bedrooms and backs onto virgin forest, the children were very excited to hear that bears roam across the gardens once or twice a year.

6. Once we had the rental agreement in our hands (1/2 months deposit paid CAD 1,000) the next thing was to enrol the children at school. Schools here work in catchment areas i.e. depending on where you live you will have a school(s) in your catchment area where you are meant to enrol your children. Our local elementary school opened for late registrations on Monday 30th August. We arrived at noon and found that we were about 30th on the waiting list. The deputy headmistress who saw us told us that she would call sometime next week, after the children had gone back to school, to let us know where our son would be going to school. The way it works is that when a school is full they wait until day 2 (once term has started) to see who has turned up for class (people move out of an area) and that way they gauge how many spaces they have. After a good start to our arrival this brought us crashing down to reality, we had our hearts set on this school as it was rated very highly in the Fraser Institute report of elementary schools in BC. Anyway, we were not entirely happy with this and started going to other schools in the district but outside of our catchment area. We literally visited 9 schools (all full) until we hit upon a school that "might have a place" - they would call us later in the week. The wait is a real killer - eventually we got the call yesterday - he has a place. My observations having visited 10 schools and spoken to various headmasters and headmistresses are as follows: the schools buildings are bright, modern, welcoming, clean. Regarding the people we spoke to: I have never met such helpful and enthusiastic people.

7. The middle school for my 12 year old started registration the next day (9am) so we decided to get there early. We stopped at Starbucks to arm ourselves with coffee and hot chocolates and arrived at the school at 7:30am to form an orderly queue just to find that we were beaten to it by someone else. Still number 2 in the queue looked promising to me, by 8:30 there was a queue around 12 long. The registration process opened at 9am on the nose and this school were very strict in terms checking the necessary documentation: PR cards, Rental Agreement (to prove we live in catchment area) and a utility bill or bank statement with address on. Without this they were not accepting any registrations. Once again we were told that we would get a call over the next few days. We received a call yesterday to say he got in. Fantastic news! as this school was on our list of preferred choices. My son was quite excited to hear that he has been allocated to "Team Extreme". School Houses here are called Teams by the way.

8. Buying school materials: this is entirely new to us. Every school has a list of stationery that must be purchased before term starts and they produce a list that you can to take to Staples or wherever and fill your trolley with crayons, paper, binders, pens, pencils, glue etc. The shopping lists are very precise and quite extensive. Cost for 2 boys CAD 200. We went to Staples but we subsequently dropped by Office Depot to pick up some other stuff and found it to be cheaper than Staples. You can probably get stuff cheaper elsewhere (but see my note above).

9. Next on the list was to get a BC driving licence. We went to an ICBC office (they are all over the place) and found to our relief that since Aug 2010 you can swap your UK licence for a Canadian one. If you ever decide to go back to the UK to live, once you arrive in the UK you simply hand over your Canadian licence (to the DVLA presumably) and you get a UK one back (or so we were told). There was a cost of CAD $31

10. Final item on the list was to purchase a car. Our car rental was for 2 weeks. We got a good deal on an ex-demo with CAD 6,000 knocked off the price. We learnt several things here: there is credit deal with Scotia Bank for immigrants. So a newly landed immigrant can purchase a car on hire purchase (without having a credit history). However, you must pay a 40% deposit. Our deposit came up to CAD 13,500 but we told the finance lady that we did not want to part with more than CAD 8,000. We went away while she worked the phones and she managed to get the bank to agree to a lower deposit (I must emphasise that they may have accepted the lower deposit because I had a contract of employment with me) if you don’t have a job this MAY not work for you (I mean negotiating a lower deposit). The HP is over 60 months at 0% interest. The dealer also tried to sell us: protection package (coating the underside of the vehicle with some protective layer), insurance in case the car was written off before it was paid and extended warranty. We declined all of them. The dealers will not allow you to drive the vehicle away without insurance so before you leave with the car they call the government insurance broker and they get down to the dealership within minutes. They quote you a price based on the vehicle and if you are new to BC you can only get insured for 6 months (after which you can renew it for a year). You don't have to take the govmnt insurance (Autoplan) you can arrange for your own insurance but we didn't have the time or inclination to do this. The price for 6 months insurance for 2 adults (45 and 46 yrs) on a CAD 32,000 motor was CAD 1,080 (this includes a 40% discount for our UK no claims bonus). Incidentally, they will ask for your no claims bonus certificate from the UK but here is the thing: it appears that it is no good just having your current year's insurance certificate stating 10 years NCB they actually want to see a certificate for EACH of your insurers going back 10 years! We told her that this was not possible and that our current UK insurers would have checked the veracity of our NCB before issuing us with a certificate. She said she would give us the 40% and submit our paperwork but said that it is 50-50 whether the insurer will accept or decline our UK NCB certificate.

Some final observations:

Meat, veg and fruit is generally cheaper or same price as UK. All other groceries, soap, drinks etc appear to be significantly more expensive.

People over here are unfailingly polite and helpful (I have no doubt that Canada has its fair share of scroats but fortunately we have not come across any yet)

1 Ltr of unleaded fuel is around CAD 1.14

Most prices are quoted exclusive of tax so remember to add 12%

Supermarkets do not sell booze which is bad if you are a responsible drinker but good if you are sick of seeing drunken louts roaming the street. By the way cheap bottle of wine is CAD $12 and a six pack of beer CAD $13

Useful documents to bring to Canada.
  • Canadian Bank statement (open an account from UK)
  • Proof of funds (we brought this, but were never asked for it anywhere)
  • Contract of employment if you have a job
  • Some character references (useful when you want to rent)
  • Building Society letter stating that we had never missed a mortgage payment (this came n useful when we purchased the car)
  • Proof of no claims bonus (see info above)
  • School reports for the children (school have not asked to see them)
  • Immunization record for children (not asked for)

We have had a great time so far, so much to see and do. Kids loving it as well but we shall see what happens after their first day at school

Banking system here is totally different - don't assume anything.

Anyone about to arrive in Van just drop me a line via private mail and I'll try and answer as best I can
Fab post, we arrive for good on the 25th Oct..so may PM you yet!
ducktastic is offline  
Old Sep 6th 2010, 4:14 pm
  #13  
slanderer of the innocent
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 6,695
ExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond reputeExKiwilass has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by Oink View Post
That was an interesting post, Canadian cheese is just horrible unless you go to a specialist cheese shop. There's a good one on 2nd street in Vancouver near Granville Island called Les Amis du Fromage, I think they have a couple of other locations in the area. I got a stilton there at Christmas that was very good.
Or you live in an Italian neighbourhood. Ugo & Joes in East Van, Cioffi's in Burnaby, etc all have good cheese.
ExKiwilass is offline  
Old Sep 6th 2010, 6:55 pm
  #14  
BE Enthusiast
 
ducktastic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cheltenham, UK was Vancouver, BC
Posts: 704
ducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond reputeducktastic has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Originally Posted by KenD View Post
Benton Brothers in Kerrisdale, and Whole Foods have nice cheeses as well.
I just had some half fat halloumi cheese..interesting experience//
ducktastic is offline  
Old Sep 6th 2010, 10:11 pm
  #15  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 72
michelle101 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Arrived last week in Vancouver - useful facts (I hope)

Hello and welcome,

We arrived 4 weeks ago with our daughter who's 8 and are also on the North shore. We had some of the same experiences except with schools where we ended up with 2 places. One I arranged from the UK and one when we arrived after we knew where our long term rental would be.
Hope all goes well for you.

Enjoy!

Michelle

Last edited by michelle101; Sep 6th 2010 at 10:15 pm.
michelle101 is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.