Vancouver, Canada Report of what it's like to live there - 08/12/15
Personal Experiences from Vancouver, Canada
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. London, New Delhi, Kampala
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
You are responsible for finding your own housing. There are plenty of locations downtown, but it is very expensive.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Alcohol is expensive, but you can bring it in from the States. Fill up the gas tank while you are in the States as well. The Costco line is worth it.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Available. YMCA is affordable and very nice downtown. Yoga is a dream come true, but the cost may be prohibitively expensive.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Same as America
5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. Same as America
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
I am a veterinarian and practiced in Canada. Great vet care is available, but there are some very questionable veterinarians that practice surprisingly poor medicine (there are a lot of malpractice issues over this that are affecting costs of care). My advice would be to spend the time and do your research and read reviews. Take the time to visit the clinic and talk to the doctors. Look at the cleanliness of the hospital. In my experience, the multi-vet hospitals tended to be good practices.
There are only a few good emergency clinics: Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic on 4th street and Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley in Langley both practice gold standard medicine. There may be more that have opened since I left in 2014. Emergency care is expensive, but you get what you pay for.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is awesome; the socialized health care is amazing, though you might need to wait for an MRI or Ultrasound. I delivered via Cesarean in Vancouver over Seattle and had the best obstetrician ever.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Overcast winters, beautiful moderate summers
Schools & Children:
1. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Preschools have a waiting list and are very expensive. A nanny will cost about $20/hour.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Small expat community that doesn't seem to mingle much.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Dinner. Fantastic food and many wonderful restaurants to explore. However, babysitting is going to cost about US$100 for a minimum of 4 hours (through a service) and don't expect to spend less than US$100 on dinner (without alcohol). A glass of wine is about US$14 for the house red/white.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Northern Rockies - both winter and summer. Most beautiful place in the world.
Weekend trips around Vancouver.
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Best city in the world: 22 miles of pedestrian-only sea wall, Stanley park among many other parks, beautiful mountains and beaches, Lynn Canyon hiking, kayaking, 30 minutes to local skiing, 2 hours to Whistler, 8 hours to the Northern Rockies, easy day trips for hiking, rock climbing, etc. This place is ridiculously awesome.
8. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Cost of child care can be prohibitively expensive.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Absolutely! This is the only post I have been truly sad to leave by the end of our stay.
3. But don't forget your:
Wallet. This is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
4. Do you have any other comments?
Travel as much as you can. BC has so much to offer to increase your enjoyment of life.