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Your Guide to the Top Things to Know About Moving to Vancouver

Amelia Mead October 27, 2020
Posted October 27, 2020 In Living Abroad,
Amelia Mead

Originally from Chicago, currently everywhere, Amelia is a freelance writer working on bringing all the moving tips to you.

More and more people moving abroad are moving to Vancouver. Aside from it being third on Mercer’s quality of living ranking, it’s on everyone’s list of best places to live in and it comes as no surprise. The astounding architectural style (that even has its own name, Vancouverism) perhaps describes the city best – it’s all about achieving urban development while adding greenery and retaining views of the mountains and the ocean. And that’s just an ounce of much more, so if you are on your way there, here’s a guide to the top things to know.

Moving to Canada – Immigration

The two most prevalent ways of moving to Canada are family reunification and economic immigration. For reunification, you need a Canadian relative (who’s either a citizen or permanent resident) willing to be your sponsor.

The most popular system for economic immigration is called Express Entry with the following programs:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • The Canadian Experience Class
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program

Some of the ways for a short-term move include applying for a Working Holiday Visa or Labor Market Impact Assessment. So, when you get going, make sure you’ve packed the documents needed to travel abroad.

Moving to Vancouver in 2020 – Pros and Cons

Let’s have a quick recap of the pros and cons of living in Vancouver. It’s a great city surrounded by nature, perfect for outdoorsy types and it has the best weather in Canada. The job market is prospering, so there’ll be plenty of job opportunities around.

On the downside, a minimum wage job will make your life there difficult, as the city is expensive, particularly housing prices and rental fees. And the traffic is terrible, even worse than that in LA. Also, the crime rates are relatively high for Canadian standards and certain parts of the city, like Surrey, should be avoided.

Living as an expat during the coronavirus outbreak is no picnic, but if you are to live somewhere else during this time, Canada is the best choice as it offers high quality free health care.

Need to Know – Cost of Living in Vancouver

Whether you’re moving to another country for love or a job opportunity – if you’re moving to Vancouver, you’ll need a lot of money. The city is expensive, especially when it comes to renting fees and housing prices, even more so in the downtown area with a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center costing about $2,000. While rent prices have slightly dropped in 2020 due to COVID19, it’s still one of the most expensive cities to call home in Canada but it’s definitely worth it. Plus, you can choose to reside in the suburbs and cut your rental fees. For more details on cost of living in Vancouver, check out Numbeo.

Bank Account and SIN Card

Here’s a quick guide through the relevant paperwork – opening a bank account, getting a SIN (Social Insurance Number) number, and taxes.

Opening a bank account is really easy, as most of the banks already have special offers for foreign residents and visitors. You can contact the bank prior to your arrival via phone or email, but since this is a lengthy process and you will need to actually go to the bank anyway, spare yourself the hassle and simply go to the bank upon your arrival and do it in person, it’s much easier. Make sure you bring:

  • Your valid passport
  • Your permanent residency card (or immigration papers)

A Social Insurance Number is a nine-digit number you need in order to work in or have access to government programs and benefits. Contact the nearest Service Canada office to apply for it and make sure you have the following with you:

  • A document to prove your identity and legal status
  • A backup ID for confirmation
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Taxes Provide Universal Coverage for Health Care Services

First, the good news – most income earned outside of Canada is not considered while calculating income tax in Canada. The issue of residency is important here as residents are taxed. For more information on what determines residency – check out the official site of the Canadian government.

Also, non-residents that stay in the country over 183 days could be subject to tax and ending your residency could be taxable, since they consider that you’ve sold property there.

The best news here is that the health care is tax-funded and free for all lawful residents who have lived in one of Canada’s provinces for more than 3 months and live there at least 183 days annually.

The Job Market

The job market is just as diverse as the city itself with the film and tech industries as most prominent sectors. With the projected growth for vacancies in all industries by 2030, there will be many different jobs in Canada. Whichever you choose, make it a well-paying one because living in Vancouver on a minimum wage just won’t cut it. And it’s always better to land a job before moving, so here are some relocation questions to ask your employer.

Best Neighborhoods to Live in

Don’t just buy a house right away – make it a point to rent first until you see for yourself which neighborhood works best for you.

The downtown area is pretty walkable, so you would not have to deal with those terrible traffic jams. It’s also the trendiest place to live in and the most sought after. The high demand, as usual, resulted in high prices, so it’s the most expensive part to live in. The most affordable downtown location is West End and that’s where you’ll find the most affordable quality restaurants, too.

But, you don’t like paying high rental fees just so you can say you live downtown, there are many surrounding areas which offer easy access to the city center and significantly lower prices. When settling here, the main thing is to find a home close to a sky-train station, for better mobility. Some of the most popular neighborhoods are South Vancouver and West End.

The City Itself

Located in the furthest western part of Canada, in British Columbia, Vancouver is designed to exploit the natural beauty of the sea and mountains surrounding it. With the population of around 2,500,000 (surrounding suburbs included), it is the third-largest metropolitan area and one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada. It also has the best weather – it rarely snows there and the temperatures rarely go below zero. And people here are famous for being kind and polite.

Vancouver Tourist Guide – Things To See

If it’s your first time in the city we definitely recommend you check out these places to get to know your new home. These are the most popular tourist attractions here.

  • Gastown – the city’s oldest neighborhood and has preserved its historic charm to this day with beautiful Victorian architecture buildings. Its main attraction – The Gastown Steam clock that actually isn’t powered by steam is a photo-op spot people like nonetheless.
  • Granville Island – the peninsula that sits under the Granville Street Bridge was once an industrial area but is now a shopping district and home to the Granville Island Public Market. And for the full experience of it, choose going there by one of their charming mini ferries that cross over the False Creek.
  • Architecture – We dedicate the third place on our list to the architecture which attracts so many tourists and famous architects alike. Some of the buildings that top our list are The Convention Center, Sports Stadium, Vancouver Lookout, Science World Museum, and the Evergreen Building which has its own little botanical garden.

Moving to Vancouver is Easier With Professional Movers

Canada is one of the best countries to live in, one of the top 10 friendliest countries with one of the largest expat communities and the kindest people, so it’s always a good choice when moving internationally. Plus, you don’t have to worry about breaking the language barrier. If you are in need of international moving services, reliable companies are all around you. To get rid of the moving stress, you can hand over the packing to the professionals and use this guide to cover your bases and enjoy the beauties of your new home to the fullest.



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