Last year Ipsos Reid’s Top Cities Index ranked Vancouver as one of the top cities in the world to call home. Its thriving economy, clean cityscape, and picturesque surroundings earned it the number three position, tied with Abu Dhabi and closely trailing Zurich and Sydney.

No one will argue that it is the cheapest place to live- Vancouver has always had strong affordability issues. But it offers a refreshing and revitalizing blend of urban living, unforgettable nature and ocean views, and a certain chic as Canada’s version of Hollywood. Few people visit  ‘Beautiful British Columbia‘ without making at least a stopover in Vancouver.

Now the big question: what is it like to live in Vancouver, BC? The ocean-embraced city of mild weather, glorious landscapes, first-class restaurants, and neighbourhoods that have their own unique character? It’s a frequently asked question, and this article has some answers.

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Downtown Vancouver

When you head into Vancouver’s downtown core, it won’t be long before you start craning your neck. It’s surrounded by water on three sides, so the only real expansion route is straight up. Everything is lively and dense with office blocks and residential high-rises, both of which shape the famous Vancouver skyline. Over 500,000 people live downtown, so you’ll find a wide array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options within walking distance.

One especially popular location is the Granville Street Entertainment Mall, which offers a little something for everyone with its stores, friendly pubs, modern lounges, and high-energy dance clubs. Gastown and Yaletown also have an excellent mix of bars, cafés, cocktail lounges, and ultra-trendy clubs. Fans of live music performances love the funky venues along Main Street.

If you’re more into nature, the downtown area is the site of Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre green haven surrounded by the sea wall. Did we mention that Vancouver has something for everyone?


Vancouverites who find downtown housing too expensive flock to the suburbs, which are actually cities in their own right.

  • New Westminster has some of the most elegant vintage homes in the Lower Mainland, and a quality mix of shops, microbreweries, and an art community has given it the nickname of ‘mini-Vancouver’.
  • Port Moody is a nature lover’s paradise. Its lush parks and outdoor trails have attracted people seeking a healthier lifestyle. Best of all, it’s affordable compared to places like Kitsilano.
  • North Vancouver has been attracting a lot of retirees in recent years due to its quiet lifestyle and access to outdoor activities, but newcomers of all ages will appreciate what this laid-back community has to offer.

Vancouver Weatherweather

If you plan on living in Vancouver, get used to the idea of frequent rainfalls. Allan Fotheringham once described it as “the Canadian city with the best climate and the worst weather.” The summer months are generally dry but temperate, rarely surpassing the high 70s Fahrenheit. From November to March, it’s usually raining, which is one of the most difficult aspects of living in Vancouver, but most people tolerate it knowing that mild summer weather comes in April.

Job Market

Vancouver’s job market has been very dynamic in recent years. The jobless rate is low, and employment opportunities jumped 2.7% last year, making it one of the best Canadian cities to find gainful employment.

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A survey by found that the highest paying jobs in Vancouver were mainly in the medical and technology fields.

  • Emergency room physicians topped the list at $290,238.45 per year, followed by pediatricians ($236,181.01) and family physicians ($224,412.13).
  • The financial sector has some profitable job opportunities, with a Vice-President of Finance commanding a salary of $147,583.10.
  • Tech jobs like Software Engineering Manager and Senior System Engineer command salaries of over $1000,000.

If you have a background in digital entertainment, Vancouver is home to the largest VFX (visual effects) and animation hub in the world. Video game companies like Blackbird Interactive and Bandai Namco Studios also have a presence there.

The film industry is another big employer. Companies such as EA, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Industrial Light and Magic, and Sony Pictures Imageworks all have studios in the city, resulting in its current nickname of ‘Hollywood North’. Living in Vancouver, Canada, can be quite conducive to celebrity-watching!

Cost of Living

Vancouver is well-known as an expensive place to live. It’s not just the housing prices that make the city cost-prohibitive to many people: daily living can consume a lot of your income.

According to Numbeo, Vancouver rental fees are 11.61% higher than Canada’s other expensive city, Toronto. You can expect to pay around $1,912.84 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area, but if you’re willing to commute, a similar-sized space on the outskirts will cost $1,447.93. If you’re thinking about buying an apartment, that same one-bedroom unit downtown could cost you $12,283.28 compared to $9,029.39 in Toronto.

Utilities are relatively affordable at an average of $80.95 per month, mostly due to the temperate coastal climate. In contrast, certain types of food cost up to 35% more than they do in Toronto. White rice and tomatoes are around $4.00 and $4.50 per kilo, respectively, and a 0.33-litre bottle of imported beer costs $4.00.

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Why live in Vancouver, Canada when everything is so expensive? While these high prices can make it difficult to get established unless you have a high-paying job waiting for you on arrival, many people love the city so much that they are willing to tolerate some financial challenges in order to live there.

In Conclusion

Living in Vancouver, BC, means that you’ll be situated in one of the most beautiful -and pricey- cities in the world. For many of us, experiencing life in Vancouver is worth the cost. With its active and healthy lifestyle, sublime climate and diverse, vibrant culture, the city has earned its top spot among the world’s best places to live.