So you’ve finally taken the plunge to see what Canada is all aboot, ‘ey? Well, alongside some quirky colloquialisms & great food, Vancouver also has a lot to offer. The local mountains, the accessibility to some of nature’s great escapes & an abundance of opportunity right on your doorstep. It’s easy to see why so many people make the switch to the West Coast of Canada. After living hear for some time now, we share five important tips to get you started & help make some decisions slightly easier!
Where should I live?
First on the list has to be a place to live. With soaring rent prices & that overpriced AirBnB you’re in, you’ll want to get in somewhere, fast. Or that’s what you’re led to believe. Countless hours of research gave us the impression that downtown Vancouver was the place for us; with it’s proximity to, well, downtown & obviously being in the city centre. Little did we know about the phenomenal transit links & how much more bang for your buck you can get elsewhere (which we will get on to).
One of the biggest regrets we had in our first summer in Vancouver was that we jumped into bed with the first thing we found in downtown Vancouver. Downtown Vancouver isn’t the be all & end all. In fact, the surrounding areas have a lot more to them than meets the eye. Our horror story was living in a high rise building, paying $1,500 for a bedroom in a one bed apartment. Sounds alright doesn’t it? Well, it would be.. If the living room & storage cupboard weren’t being taken by other housemates, also paying $1,000 & $860 respectively. We called him Harry Potter, as he was often locked away in his room “under the stairs”!
Now we live on Fraser Street. It’s far enough away from the hustle & bustle but close enough to be 30 minutes to get anywhere of note. We couldn’t ask for a better location & for an entire basement suite, we’re paying less than our “bachelor pad”!
The takeaway from this is to take your time & don’t rush into something that isn’t right for you. Yes, the market is competitive & if you see something you love then YES, jump right into it, but there’s nothing worse than being tied into a lease for something that you aren’t fully committed to. AirBnB has great long term leasing & people are posting to Craigslist every day, so don’t fret.
Who should I bank with?
There are plenty of banks to choose from. If you’re relocating from the U.K. & you’re in shock that you have to pay for your card, then get used to it, unfortunately. There are some decent deals though when you first arrive. The trick is to move banks annually, especially if you plan on being here long term. This gives you the most opportunity to get each and every deal.
We went with CIBC, who have an introductory first year free policy. The going rates for a bank are usually around the $100 mark, so this was nice to worry about. There are charges however if you use your debit card over a certain amount of times per month. Similar offers can be found at RBC.
Our friends went with Presidents Choice, a simple account with no fees whatsoever. There aren’t many specific PC ATM’s, although you can use CIBC ATM’s to avoid fees.
Which phone provider should I go with?
Be prepared for extortionate phone rates. It’s hard to find a reasonable phone provider. Rogers, Bell & Telus are all major players but their services start at around the $85 mark. There are cheaper options however.
If your plan is to stay in BC & only BC, I would recommend Chatr. This is definitely the cheapest out there. As I’m writing this & researching this however, it appears that the original policy of just being a BC service has changed to a nationwide service! Their most expensive rate at $50 offers 8gb of data & Unlimited Canada/US talk & international text. Bargain.They do have rates going as low as $10 per month but I feel we all utilise more than 50 texts & 50 minutes a month….
We personally have gone with Fido, who aren’t on the extortionate side either, although comparing to the above, they are. Our deal is a shared plan, getting 3gb of data plus unlimited calls & texts with discounted international fees for around $65 each per month.
How do I get around?
Vancouver is pretty good for getting around, it’s actually a relatively small city, and pretty much takes 25mins to get anywhere from anywhere. Hence the lack of necessity for living in downtown. When you’re looking for a place to live, unless you’re set on buying a car, ensure you’re close to a bus route or skytrain station.
Get a compass card and pay for a monthly card, you’ll save a fortune. For Zone 1, you’ll be looking at $95 a month, which is good, especially if you’re travelling to and from work every day. Alternatively, if you travel on your top up card you have 90mins of travel for one fare. That’s great for getting in & out of the city, or a quick trip to the shops!
One thing we’d never heard of until we arrived here was EVO. Run by BCAA (British Columbia Automotive Association, not British Columbia Alcoholics Anonymous), this scheme encourages environmentally friendly shared travel. Simply download an app & have access to a fleet of Toyota Prius’. At 40 cents per minute & ample areas to park in, this has to be one of the best bargains in Vancouver.
Where should I look for a job?
Vancouver’s a foodie city & thus, there’s a host of serving & bartending jobs. If this is for you, then get your CV to resumé format & expect intense interviews.
Away from the hospitality industry, there are also huge opportunities in Film & TV, Construction, tech & tourism to name a few. Get your name out there, network on LinkedIn & try & grab a coffee with prospective hiring managers. It goes a long way into securing a dream role & giving you the freedom to afford snowboarding each night of the week (Yes, snowboarding after work is most definitely a thing!).
We hope this list helps ease stresses with your first week in Vancouver. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to drop a line!