Vancouver, Canada Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, Canada 05/11/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have lived in Europe, Africa and Latin America.

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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?

US. Very easy and quick to get back to the states. Sometimes it is cheaper to travel down to Seattle and fly out of there, but traffic down there can be brutal so we just fly out of Vancouver.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

This is an LQA post for us so we found our own housing, within the guidelines provided. It was great picking our own home but setting everything up cost us a lot of money out of pocket. I will not willingly choose to do another LQA post. Most families choose to live in North or West Vancouver to be closer to the schools. Singles and couples live downtown and have great access to work, restaurants, night life, etc.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is so expensive here!!! The COLA does not cover the difference in price right now. We go down to the states once a month and stock up. We bought a freezer to keep in the garage for this purpose. If you have two incomes, you will be just fine. If you are a family living on one income, you will struggle.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Thankfully we are about an 1.5 hour drive away from Bellingham WA so we get everything we need there. All dairy and meat products sold in Canada come from Canada only so the prices are allowed to be high as there is no competition.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can find everything here. Lots of variety, especially downtown. Cost is high so we don't eat out as much, but it is fun finding a new favorite spot.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We have had a few spiders and mice, but we are in the mountains. Outside we have had raccoons, bears and mountain lions. We actually have a neighborhood bear who doesn't bother us a bit. He walks down the middle of the road, seeing if anyone left some food out then makes his way back up the mountain. Kinda fun!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use the DPO or cross the border to mail things. I have used the Canadian post before and it is fine, just slower and more expensive.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very expensive here. Average is $30/hour and most companies want you to commit to a contract of several times a week.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many options here that vary in price. Look at your local Community Center as they have speciality classes that line up with child care as well as a workout facility. Steve Nash fitness club is popular here and runs about $40 a month for unlimited entry.

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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?

Yes. Everything is like in the States.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything is here and available.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is everywhere and you can find tutors in almost every language here.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not at all. Very accommodating

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. My kids use the buses to travel around with their friends or home from school. About $1.25 per ride for the bus.

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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?

We have 2 SUV's and are glad we have them. We live up in the mountains and have needed the 4WD a ton. If we lived in the city, any car would be just fine. This is an incredibly rich city so you will see all sorts of expensive cars around town. You truly can bring anything you want.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes and they can have it up and running within a week of finding a house. You can choose your speed and GB allowance. We have high-speed and 400GB a month for around $100 a month. Since we live up in the mountains, we only have one company who provides internet up here but those closer into town have more variety.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Shop around as there are a lot of options. The issue we ran into is that the companies want you to have some sort of Canadian credit to get a phone. Since we didn't, I had to set up phones with several different companies so everyone in the family who needed one could have one. It was a huge pain. And you need to have a Canadian bank account set up before they will even look at you as a customer.

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Pets:

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?

No quarantine and vets are great. We have cats and take them to a cats-only vet. They have been great. Services are more expensive, almost double than in the states, but I find the quality to be better than in the states.

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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?

I have heard it is fairly easy to work on the local market here. Minimum wage is just under $11 right now.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

This city loves volunteers so whatever you love or are in to, you will be able to find a way to volunteer in that field.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At work a shirt and tie is fine. Sometimes you can go open-collar. Public places are like the States.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There are certain areas to avoid, only because of drug use and possible violence. The only issues we have ever had were with bears and mountain lions. Just be aware of your surroundings and be prepared when you are hiking or doing outdoor activities and you will be OK. We did have some raccoons break in to my in-laws' car, but they forgot to lock it and raccoons here are clever.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

None. We go to the walk-in clinic here for small things and go down to Bellingham, WA for everything else.

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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?

Wonderful air quality. Allergies can get bad with everything blooming in the spring but it is worth it for the beauty.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

This is a very dark and dreary place and we have all suffered from a vitamin D deficiency. If you suffer from migraines, Vancouver could make them worse just from the pressure systems that comes through here. Depression is a massive issue here and it shows during the winter.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Winter blues is HUGE! Lots of suicides around here during the fall/winter/early spring months. I had no idea it was this bad before coming here. Make sure to put your family on a vitamin D supplement. Bellingham, WA is not far from here so if you think you need more than vitamin D, there are doctors and specialist there that can help.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dark and dreary. Rains a ton. We personally prefer the dark and dreary weather, but this was a little much for us. Cold most of the year Homes do not have air conditioning. We had one week of it getting over 90 degrees and then it cooled back down and we were fine.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The public schools in North and West Vancouver are amazing! They are very much like the public schools in the states and will accommodate special needs. Collingwood is a private school that is a college prep school and is fantastic. They have a KEY program for special needs but they only accept 6 kids per grade level and most kids move up each year in the program. There are many private schools to choose from around here. Most of them have great reputations.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The public schools are required to make any accommodations needed. My son has a learning disability and the school has been great with keeping up on his IEP and keeping me informed. My son is extremely happy with his school. Most private schools have programs also, but they are allowed to limit their intake to whatever numbers they desire. There are specialized schools in Vancouver, but they might not be close to where you want to live. Some schools have programs that allow the kids to go to a public school then attend "class" after school for brain training. Eaton Arrowsmith has several programs that kids can do after school in a different setting to help suit their needs.

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3. 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?

Pre-schools are available and can be pretty pricey. There is a free program called Strong Start that is put on by a few of the public schools around town and requires the parents to stay and interact with their kids in a classroom. It is so much fun! There are a variety of preschools around town. The local community center has a drop-off program that is $10 an hour or you can sign up for certain days and times for a flat fee. The public school preschool program is 3 days a week for 2.5 hours a day for $300 a month. I did find one place that charged $700 for 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. So do your research before committing.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

The schools have great after-school programs and you can also find city leagues as well as classes at the community center. The schools will make you pay a fee for your child to participate in after-school programs, but the fees are not as high as the city and community center fees.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

This city seems to have more foreigners than locals now. We hear on the news how the prices of housing is driving local Canadians out of the province. Everyone is really spread out here so you make your friends wherever you go.

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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?

Everyone I have met has either been from church or from my kids activities and school. I am not the most social person, but I'm sure there are local running groups or other groups similar to that who get together. And the nightlife here is huge so....

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This city is good for everyone. The only downfall it has is it is expensive so it is harder for families so you can't afford to do as many things.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very much so. Vancouver is incredibly accepting of everyone.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No problems.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

This is the closest my kids have come to the states in YEARS. We live much closer to family now and have been able to see them more. That has been the highlight to living here.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Tons of outdoor activities, if it ever stops raining. Whistler isn't too far away. Lots of night markets during the summer. Grandville Island will always be a favorite of mine.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are a few First Nations items you could pick up, but be prepared to give away your first born to pay for it. Gorgeous work and designs, but again, expensive.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Close to the states, great healthcare and schools, lots of activities available for everyone.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Just how expensive it really was. We were warned, but the warnings weren't strong enough. We did know about the $10,000 we would spend in the first month or two living here and getting settled. We didn't know that we would have to use up our savings just to survive. We had to put down the deposit on our house and we won't get that back until the end of our 3 years here. So that was $4000 we weren't expecting to be out. We want our kids to do the things offered here that aren't offered in other countries we have been in, but it is breaking the bank. If you have two incomes, you will be fine.



Drugs in the schools are very big here so make sure you talk to your kids about it beforehand. Thankfully it seems to be getting better.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I don't think so. We are not as happy here are we thought we would be, which is sad because Vancouver is a great city. It just isn't the city for us. Might have something to do with the vitamin D deficiency.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Warm weather clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Outdoor gear and snow gear.

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Vancouver, Canada 08/12/15

Background:

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

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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?

Seattle, USA

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Trailing spouse

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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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Very expensive.

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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.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything. Expensive.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Prohibitively expensive.

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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.

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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

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5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes.

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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?

Anything.

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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

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

No.

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Pets:

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.

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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?

Yes.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None

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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.

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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?

Good

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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

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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.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes. Very.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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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.

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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.

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8. Can you save money?

Absolutely not.

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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.

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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.

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3. But don't forget your:

Wallet. This is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

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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.

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Vancouver, Canada 06/09/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Multiple postings prior to Vancouver.

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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?

Vancouver is just a short 2.5 to 3-hour hop from Seattle, about an hour to the Washington border. Air travel to the West Coast, U.S., is simple and quick. Travel to the East Coast typically requires a transfer in Chicago, Toronto, Denver, etc. -- non-stops are few.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Lived there roughly two+ years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Employed with USG at Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

This is an LQA post and as others note it can be very expensive and a hassle on many fronts. It can work out great and you might secure desirable accommodations that suit your personal taste, but be prepared to pony up a lot of $ up front, comply with security and other requirements, and to do paperwork and reconciliation. I loved my housing but it was a pain, too. Not sure I'll do LQA again as a result.

Consulate employees are spread throughout Metro Vancouver in a mix of houses, condos and apartments, It requires your own legwork. Those with kids tended to be on the North Shore over the Lion's Gate Bridge in either West Vancouver or North Vancouver. Some were in Kitsilano or Coal Harbour. Singles and those without families tended to be in the downtown or nearby areas like Yaletown and Kits. Commute times varied but I don't think they exceeded 30 minutes for anyone and could be as little as a five minute walk if you chose Coal Harbour. Some people rode bikes over the bridge or took the Seabus from the North Shore.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There were Safeways and even Whole Foods there if you need that. Save-On was generally a better deal. Milk, cheese, fruit and most things are staggeringly expensive relative to the U.S. Again, many people made regular trips south of the border. There were Targets and a Costco but they weren't quite the same products for the most part and I found them more expensive by far. Still, you won't lack for anything. Granville Island has an impressive array of harder to find gourmet items (fancy cheeses, boar, pates, etc.) if you're in that market.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More furniture, maybe? Even Craigslist in Vancouver was more pricey than elsewhere. Again, it's an LQA post. And it was a hassle leaving there for a furnished post because I then had to store everything I just purchased! Know what you are getting into and plan accordingly.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything. And fast food there can mean different things - fish and chips, Japadog, etc.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Insects? Most people are far more concerned with bears.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

A consulate employee traveled to the Point Roberts, WA post office facility twice weekly to drop off and pick up. I went down once myself but also mailed things from Washington on my own at times if I was in a rush. It could be a bit slow but nothing unreasonable.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Everything you can imagine is available. Pricing was similar to Virginia or slightly higher, I felt, although there are community recreation centers (very nice, as are the local libraries) with very affordable gym, class, yoga, and other fitness options.

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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?

Canadians use debit cards a LOT. You will need a Canadian bank account.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

You name it.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with your English and some Canadian: pasta is like "past", taco is "tack," bagel is like "bag" with a soft a. Throw in a few eh's. No, I am not generalizing. Folks really say "eh."

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I have to believe it is far better than most posts. Accommodations similar to U.S.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All available. Prices fair to so-so.

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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?

I used my car more than I thought I would. Bring snow tires if you have any notion of heading to Whistler in the winter or else plan to rent a car. Service and oil changes were more expensive. I went to Bellingham and beyond for my needs.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available and priced fairly, though with my modest Telus tv/landline package it came to about US$200 per month. Adding in my cell bill (US$95) I guess that is a lot.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I bought an iPhone on a Canadian plan. Their contract cancellation is far more friendly and civilized than in the U.S. I had a two-year contract and it worked out perfectly but if I'd had to break the contract it would have only cost about US$20.

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Pets:

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?

Easy to bring pet in. It's a very pet-friendly city.

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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?

I don't think so, at least for professionals, but it probably depends. Check with FLO or CLO. There wasn't anything to speak of for EFMs at the Consulate that I was aware of.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Nothing major. Even the unfortunate East Hastings area isn't exactly a security concern, though I wouldn't frequent that area and some of the drug culture spills into Gastown and along Granville. Drugs and theft seem to be in the news more than anything.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Some people switched to Canadian health care but most people I knew kept their U.S. coverage and either used providers in Vancouver and/or traveled to Washington and elsewhere.

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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?

The air quality = insanely good and the drinking water was wonderful. Most people seemed to lead healthy, eco-conscious lives.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

I cannot sidestep the issue of rain. It rains for several months and can be dark and could seem relentless at times. When it was sunny, though, it was unbelievably beautiful. People don't waste those days - when the sun shines, people are very active and get out to enjoy nature, parks, festivals, shopping, cafe culture, etc. It is cool to downright chilly much of the year but mostly comfortable in the later spring and early fall and is amazing most of July and August.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There were no true international schools that I know of - the type that cater to the transient expat club. I didn't have personal experience but I did hear A LOT about others' problems with schools on multiple fronts -- finding ones that would even take USG kids, onerous testing, interview and admissions procedures before arrival requiring out of pocket $, and the inability to enroll in the desired public schools without a local address (in other words before you arrive at post). I know that a few families had issues integrating/hazing, believe it or not. I would recommend doing a lot of research as it didn't sound ideal, though I think post has a "preferred" relationship with one of the North Shore schools. Maybe start there.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

I know they were available and knew at least two colleagues who lamented the expense.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I saw kids outdoors playing all sorts of sports and heard colleagues speak of traveling teams. Field hockey, rugby, ice hockey, and box lacrosse are big, I think. I'm sure it is similar to the U.S. but if you need a particular sport it would be best to investigate beforehand. I knew of one family whose son went to the States for boarding school because the caliber of American football at the high school level was fairly weak relative to the U.S. Who knew?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

I think mixed. Vancouver was not a cohesive community-type post (though there were some nice events at the CG's house) so if you need that support or activity offerings, you may be disappointed. Some were bored with the work, others had higher or different expectations for the post, and many were fighting the high cost of living daily and not able to partake in all the city had to offer. Again, do your research, calibrate expectations, and know what you are getting into with LQA, cost of living, etc. I will also say that several of us had trouble in our administrative dealings with Ottawa. It could seem an evil empire at times.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a great city for anyone though living there is expensive for all and for families I understand it can be quite challenging due to uncovered educational and extracurricular activity costs, food and gas prices, etc. I know several Canadians who even make regular trips to Washington for groceries. Eating out is pricey.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I have to believe so. The West End, in particular, is known as very LGBT friendly but the whole city seemed welcoming to all.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not sure. There was a bit of resentment brewing among old vs. new Chinese, I heard, and Vancouver has more than rolled out a welcome mat for anyone who can afford to come and park their money (if not themselves) there, making real estate and daily existence less affordable for mere mortals, but I was impressed by how calm and accommodating Vancouverites seemed to be. I wonder if it is sustainable.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling to Banff and Lake Louise, hiking and skiing Whistler, Bella Coola, taking the ferry anywhere - Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You have to just get out and explore. Truth is, after traveling throughout British Columbia and soaking in the beauty you also come to realize that Vancouver itself has it all right there. I came to really like the North Shore because I am a hiker/biker/kayaker, etc. Deep Cove, Horseshoe Bay, Whytecliff and Lighthouse Parks, Grouse Mountain, Cypress, and Mount Seymour are all within minutes of your door. Options are endless on land and water.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Salmon products, First Nations art, maple syrup products, Canucks attire.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Vancouver and all of British Columbia = one of the most extraordinarily beautiful places on earth. It offers a nice mix of vibrant urban city with great food and decent cultural activities and every outdoor pursuit you can imagine. Yes, it rains a lot and can be dark/gloomy in winter and beyond (locals call June Junuary) but I learned to do as the Canadians: just get out and go. You can't let it stop you. Proximity to U.S. is a mixed blessing. Driving to Bellingham for affordable goods gets old but, then, I was lucky to have the option, too. Most things are very expensive in Vancouver.

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9. Can you save money?

I cannot imagine in a million years how.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How expensive it would be. That post (Ottawa?) would insist I forfeit my affordable USAA insurance plan and American license to sign on for costly BC auto insurance and licensing when every other country but the US seemed to use dip plates.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I enjoyed my time there. It is a beautiful city in which to live with much to offer, especially if one is into outdoor pursuits. I wasn't heartbroken when it came time to leave but I am grateful for my time there.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bad attitude and impatience.

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4. But don't forget your:

Hiking boots, rain gear, and smile.

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Vancouver, Canada 03/15/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Lived in Glasgow, UK; Saint Petersburg, Russia; and Oslo, Norway.

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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?

Rome, Italy, 2 hrs to major european hub and another 9-hour flight to Vancouver (or 11+ hours from Frankfurt, Germany.

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3. How long have you lived here?

19 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Flats downtown, detached houses Westside, multiple-unit houses Eastside. Construction quality is very poor, considering the rent they charge.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Good choice, not as great as in the States, but you can find pretty much everything except for very local produce that you have to look for (but that you can nevertheless find after thorough searches).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Bottled water from Italy.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All cuisines are represented. Italian is a bit tacky, but other traditions, of which I am less expert, seem well represented. If you exclude the wine, which has a ridiculously high price, the food is inexpensive.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

All special-needs have someone catering for them.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None that I am aware of.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Mail to Europe is very slow.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most downtown buildings have their own gym. There are many gym clubs around, also for special needs (older people, moms, and so on). Yoga is very popular.

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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?

Very popular and ubiquitous.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Lots of churches around.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Only English and Mandarin, it seems.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A working knowledge of slang is useful, as English is perverted with heritage languages.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Just getting along with the persistent rains and some steep streets.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Transit is well-run and on the inexpensive side.

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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?

Just concentrate on Asian brands; they are popular and almost considered local.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed service costs about 30 CAD a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Do not use them. The pricing system is designed to rip you off. Internet works far better.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I imagine so, given the number of dogs and cats around.

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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?

Only if you have a working visa, in which case it's no holds barred.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Shabby, I would say.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Break-ins happen, also better watch out for your possessions on transit. Never leave anything valuable on display in cars. Cars are rarely hijacked, but thefts from inside are common.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Doctors are very good, but they sometimes tend to be overwhelmed by the number of patients. Do not expect anything thorough or complete. A cursory visit is the best you can get.

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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?

Good if compared to Italy, but at traffic junctions it can get greasy.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It rains a lot, and the temperature rarely rises above 15 Celsius, but also rarely go under the freezing point, except on January mornings.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I use the private local system. Montessori is popular. Lots of language classes for Asian and Latino children -- to keep up with the mother tongue of the parents.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I am sure there are arrangments, as special needs are very well addressed in this city.

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3. 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?

Lots of preschools around, a bit expensive, but well run.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Plenty of them, from ubiquitous soccer to ice-skating, hockey, and gym classes and swimming. Every neighborhood has a very good community center with first-class gyms, swimming pools, and sport facilities available for small fees.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Seems huge.

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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?

It seems the usual ragtag of drinking and senseless dancing. Lots of gigs in town coming from Europe and US, though.

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3. Morale among expats:

High to medium because of poor weather.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for families, especially in the suburbs, with lots of greens, activities, and family restaurants. Downtown seems to cater to the more worldly type, but I cannot really feel any special vibe.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It's seems to be a haven for same-sex relationships; the lesbian community is very prominent.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

All minorities have their place and their voice here.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Biking in the morning from the suburbs to downtown, looking down the amazing skyline on three sides.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hiking, sightseeing, skiing, visiting outdoor areas not far away.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Native art.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Scenery. Wherever you look, you see special skylines, horizon, beautiful skies. Lots of wild animals inside the city: racoons, coyotes, bald eagles, even black bears (on the north shore).

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11. Can you save money?

If you are careful, you can save for travelling. It is mandatory in winter months to spend some time on the sunny side.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Most likely, yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

very warm clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

taste for European things. This is really on the other side.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Most Hollywood movies are shot in Vancouver, even if they are set in New York, LA or Miami. You can spot some glimpses of downtown Vancouver, as a game, in every major recent US blockbuster.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Though a city kissed by a world-class setting, it tends to be a little heartless, as no one can really call it home, and many things seem imported or copied from far away places. The melting pot is awesome, but it does not create much of a feeling, rather a fragmented kaleidoscope of disconnected sensations. It is a real blade-runner city, and in this, a likely picture of things to come.

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Vancouver, Canada 06/16/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Florence, Geneva, Kyiv, and Brasilia.

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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?

Michigan - about 12 hours with connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Singles usually find an apartment downtown. Families with kids usually find a house outside of downtown in a surrounding suburb like North or West Vancouver.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The cost of living is very, very high. Beware.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None, everything is available here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything is here.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

If you live out in the suburbs, you will need trash cans with lids, and bungee cords to hold them shut. Raccoons and other animals frequently invade garbage cans and make a mess.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

US post through the consulate.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very, very expensive. Live-in care is a minimum 2000/month (full time) and using day care for kids under 2 is about 1200/month (mind the hours, kids under 2 have restricted hours when they can be in daycare). Children 2 and above cost, on average, 800/month for daycare outside the home.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are gyms all over the place, but they are expensive.

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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?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

All are available. Standard cable, phone and internet is about 100/month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None, English is spoken.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

None.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All are safe, but pricey. The minimum cost for 1 zone crossing is 2.75 one way.

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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?

Any.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Enable your US phone so it is compatible, otherwise you will have big roaming fees. Otherwise, get a local plan.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Awesome vets and lots of them

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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?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work, and people around town are generally fashionable.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

If you are here with diplomatic status and have a family, I strongly suggest that you invest in the local MSP CARE card system. Otherwise, you have to pay up front and file for reimbursement. If you have special-needs kids it is a great system because there are a lot of great community health programs for behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and other needs. If you have a medical emergency, you won't have to pay thousands up front and wait to get paid back. There is no MED unit here, so you have to use the local system or drive over the border, which can be time-consuming and not practical in a real emergency. Local insurance for a family of 3 is CAD 114 month. Dental is not covered, but annual eye exams for kids under 19 are covered by the CARE card.

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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?

Good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are basically 2 nice months out of the year, July and August, of which you will be hard pressed to find any house or apt. with central AC. Rainy and grey most of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are so many quality public schools to pick from that schooling really depends on where you select housing.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

There are several preschools in Vancouver and surrounding area. Average monthly cost is about 150-200/month.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Community centers offer every sport you can think of.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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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?

Lots of great restaurants, concerts, theatre, museums, and outdoor opportunities.

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3. Morale among expats:

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Vancouver has great restaurants, and there is so much to see and do. It is good for families and singles.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Living in Vancouver during the Olympics was a time to remember.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Anything outdoors. Local community centers are amazing!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Vancouver is beatiful. Mountains and water, the best of both worlds. Outdoor types will love Vancouver.

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11. Can you save money?

No, you will need every penny of your COLA.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. With small children, (non-school age) it makes this a severe financial hardship post for me.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

expectations of low-cost of living. The cost of everything here is not a laughing matter... get ready to pay double and triple for everything!

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3. But don't forget your:

umbrella.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you are coming to work at the U.S. Consulate, it is a living quarters-allowance post. You find your own housing, pay your bills, and deal directly with your landlord. You need to come with at least $10,000 for start-up money, and you cannot get an advance until you have signed a lease. Signing the lease generally requires first month's rent, security deposit, and pet deposit if applicable. Security deposits are also required from the gas and electric companies. You are exempt from local taxes, but you have to save all receipts and send them to designated tax offices to get your refund. It can take up to 6 weeks to get refunds. Many people shop over the border to save a bit of money. Border line-ups can be long, so in the long run, you might stop making a run for the border. I think this is a good post for couples without kids or single people. Otherwise, families that have one parent staying home will also enjoy this post. Families that need childcare will find it the expense crippling, especially given the high cost of everything else.

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Vancouver, Canada 10/06/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Hanoi, HCMC, Manila, Santiago (Dominican Republic).

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2. How long have you lived here?

More than a year.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work for the U.S. Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About two and half hour drive from Seattle depending on border traffic. Get a NEXUS (trusted traveler) card to fly through the border.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Singles and small families usually live in downtown condos or townhouses, which are expensive and very small compared to what you could get in an American city. Beware of ads that say 1,000 sq. feet, it will feel like a closet. Downtown housing in Coal Harbour, West End, or Yaletown will be within walking distance to work. Larger families live farther afield, usually in North or West Vancouver, where the houses and yards are much larger. Commutes from there depend on traffic but not anything close to say a Falls Church to downtown DC commute.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most people go to the U.S. to shop, even Canadians. The same products are much more expensive in Canada than they are in the U.S.Bellingham, WA is about an hour and a half from downtown Vancouver and it has all the box stores and Trader Joe's.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of ethnic restaurants. Vancouver tend to be a bit overrated for its food. If you like Japanese and Chinese food then the city is great but other types of food are not exceptional. It's very expensive to go out. If $6 beer is your idea of happy hour, Vancouver is it.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The Consulate maintains a Post Office box in Pt Roberts, WA. If you don't have one, get a U.S box office in one of the border towns, where you can order stuff online without paying Canadian prices.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Canada runs a caregiver program that allows you to bring in a caregiver to work for you. You must meet minimum wage and other requirements, similar to the U.S.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Fraud and bank scams are common in Vancouver but access and availability are similar to American cities.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Every denomination is available.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable is a little more expensive than the U.S. but you'll get Canadian and U.S. channels.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Canadian is pretty easy to pick up.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very little I imagine.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

It's the 51st state.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No. Very expensive. Skytrain and buses are US$2.50 per trip, minimum.1-mile crosstown taxi ride, US$10 (including tip).

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3. 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?

Any car is good. Vancouver doesn't get that cold, rarely going below freezing during the winters. But if you want to head to the mountains during the winter, an SUV and chains are good.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Expect about US$60-$100 per month for high-speed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Things change but all the cell phone providers are expensive and require a three-year contract if you want the best deals on phones.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Cell phone service in Canada is more expensive than the U.S. Try to get a North America plan that will include the U.S. for long distance.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

All you need is a work permit to work but good jobs may not be as easy to get as you may think. The skilled job market is a bit tight, even by U.S. standards.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

People are fashionable, maybe because of the movie industry here, and dress pretty well in downtown, better than D.C. At work, trousers, dress shirts and ties are sufficient.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Excellent! Vancouver is the most beautiful and clean city I have ever lived in.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Lots of petty crime including pickpocketing, car break-ins and burglary. The homeless (and drug-addicted) population is noticeable in most downtown areas. Don't ever leave anything in your car, even for a few minutes.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

You qualify for Canadian health insurance if you live more than 6 months, it's very cheap (~US$1,000 per annum for family of two) but you have to deal with socialised healthcare.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The most beautiful summers for about 3 months followed by 9 months of constant rain, cold, and cloudiness.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Kids tend to attend local public or private schools. I don't have kids but haven't heard any complaints from people who do.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

People tend to like Vancouver for its beauty and easy lifestyle. If you're looking for NYC or LA, go elsewhere. If you enjoy beautiful summers and rain for nine months out of the year, Vancouver is for you.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Coming from Asia, Vancouver is a bit boring. Socializing takes more time and effort. Bars, clubs, etc. are plenty. But if you're looking for a tight expat community, you're not going to find much. Vancouver is like a hodgepodge of bedroom communities.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

For all. May be a bit boring for singles. Going out is very expensive. Vancouver has the feel of a provincial backwater city (think Nashua, NH).

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Vancouver is just like a hip, American metropolis with its own gay/lesbian district.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Vancouver is extremely diverse and people seem to get along better than in American cities. There appears to be very little racial friction but the ethnic groups tend to stick to themselves. Iranians in North Vancouver, Chinese in Richmond, and Punjabis in Surrey.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Outdoor activities abound. Everything and anything you can think of to do outdoors, you can. Skiing, kayaking, rowing, hiking, etc. However, there are very few public gathering areas except the mall. The city core is not as interesting as say Seattle.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Maple syrup and hockey sticks.

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9. Can you save money?

How? I haven't figured that one out yet.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, yes and yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Everything and buy it in Washington state if necessary.

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3. But don't forget your:

Outdoor and winter gear. Summers are a waste if you don't hit the outdoors.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Don't know.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Don't know.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Any Hollywood movie. The stock footage and background scenery are usually filmed in Vancouver.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you're looking for a relaxed and chill city, Vancouver is it. Don't expect excitement and action.

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