By in Blog May 14, 2020

Vancouver can be considered a real American enclave in Canada since it is home to the largest population of Americans living outside of the US, even though the US is literally a half-hour ride away. So you can already tell that living in Vancouver as a US expat is not really as life-changing experience as it could be if you were an expat in Europe or Asia. But there are still some things you should keep in mind, so stay tuned to find out what to expect after moving to Canada.

Do you want to live and work in one of the world's best places for expats?

What to Expect When Moving Up North

As an American, you are probably more than aware of all those jokes about Canadians, their mentality, politeness, and their lifestyle. The chances are you’re expecting someone that fits the stereotype. But moving to Vancouver is not exactly like moving across the world. More than 80,000 Americans found their new home right here, and that says something about the city and its openness toward newcomers from south of the border.

Furthermore, when moving to Canada, one of the world’s top foreigner-friendly countries, you can expect that the cost of your international moving and overseas vehicle shipping won’t be crazy high. If you want to know more about life in this place, take a look at our brief guide to Vancouver for prospective expats.

Vancity is just 30 minutes away from the border, so if your new Canadian life doesn't make you happy, it's easy to go back.

#1 Every Other Person Is An Expat

Vancouver has almost 700,000 residents and around 2.5 million in its metropolitan area, which makes it the third-largest city in Canada. It attract people from all over the world, even though it’s notorious for being overly expensive. Pretty much half of the residents in the metro area are foreign-born, which makes it a mecca for expats and one of the most diverse places anywhere on Earth.

Expat Groups in Vancouver

Since this is also one of the best places to live abroad with family, thousands of families from all corners of the world are eager to move here. Expats from European, Asian, American, and other countries can easily find a group of fellow expats coming from their home country.

There are not many cities that are so welcoming to people from all over the globe.

#2 Those Who Want to Live Comfortably Need to Earn More

This is a city with the highest cost of living in Canada for expats. Therefore, we recommend you try to find a job before relocating here, just so you have something to begin with. You don’t need tips for learning a new language because the vast majority of residents speak English, which increases your chances of finding a good job. But the cost of living is high, so if you want to live Downtown, close to work or good schools, you need to keep in mind that you’ll have to spend (and earn) more.

Brief Guide to the Cost of Living in Vancouver

Don’t let the high prices scare you or make you think that moving to Toronto might be a better idea. When compared, life in Vancouver is cheaper than in Toronto. And for those who are on a tight budget, that is more than enough. Let’s take a look at the average amount of money you’ll have to spend on a monthly level, according to Numbeo.

Monthly net salary, after tax
Rent for 1 bedroom apt downtown
Rent for 1 bedroom apt in the suburbs
Basic utilities for a 915 sq ft apt
A monthly pass for public transportation
$3,050
$1,500
$1,150
$65
$70
Life here comes at a high cost, so you'll need to work a bit harder to make it.

#3 Your Food Choices Will Broaden

Since this city is home to a large number of expats from all over the world, cultural and culinary diversities are very present, meaning that you will probably start experimenting more with different types of foods. You shouldn’t miss trying their local sushi, salmon, and maple syrup-infused foods, as well as some international dishes such as ramen.

Where to Find the Best and Worst Restaurants

There really are no bad restaurants; it is all a matter of preference. Every neighborhood has its favorite local spot for dining out, and if you pick the location carefully, there might be more than one. Here is our list of the best restaurants that are worth visiting:

  • Botanist
  • Miku
  • The Acorn
  • Savio Volpe
  • Chambar

Also, street food is on another level, and they even have their Street Food City annual festival when trucks with great menus flock to Downtown.

Your appetites will certainly change here, so make sure to try all the new and exotic dishes.

#4 Opening a Bank Account Is Not Complicated or Expensive

Most banks in big cities are friendly to newcomers, and they do not require much from you, apart from your work permit or ID. Some banks will ask for a proof of Canadian residence or driver’s license, so keep that in mind and research your options.

You Can Even Open a Bank Account Prior to Moving

For those of you who are already in Vancity, this information doesn’t mean a lot, but if you are still in your home country, it is good to know that you can set up your account and access your money before stepping afoot in Canada.

#5 Vancity or Funcity?

Although people usually move here because of job opportunities, and many think that this is a boring city, that is not entirely true. There are plenty of funky bars and music venues in and around Main Street, while in Yaletown, you can find trendy and pricey clubs. There are lots of dance clubs and bars in Gastown where you can go out and have some fun.

Entertainment and Leisure

Locals here tend to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay active, so you will often see them jogging around the park, biking, and enjoying all kinds of outdoor activities. Visit the most impressive Chinese garden in entire Canada, or go kayaking in Deep Cove. Vancouverites are really into sports, especially hockey, so you can always find a game to watch.

People will tell you that other cities have more things to offer, but give Vancity a chance to show you how much fun you can have.

What Not to Expect From Vancity

Forget about all your prejudices and stereotypes about Canadians. Yes, there are native Canadians in Vancity, but since this is such an international city, everything is a bit more different than in other, smaller Canadian communities. Everybody can fit in quickly here. Besides, don’t expect that you will experience that notorious Canadian winter; the climate here is luckily much milder, unlike in Toronto.

And the best part? Winters are bearable. But just make sure you wear a proper Canadian Goose jacket. Trust us, you'll need it.

All in All, What Is Like Living in Vancouver as an Expat?

Easy? Expensive? Stressful? Not so different from home? The truth is probably somewhere in between, as always, but it is also very individual. Once you get rid of all the boxes and moving supplies and start living as a real Vancouverite, you will quickly realize that this might just be the best decision you’ve ever made.