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Vancouver - would you move there?

(60 Posts)
Swimminguphill Tue 05-Jun-18 10:06:01

Hi my DH has had an approach from a company in Vancouver and we are considering whether it would be viable for us to move there. We have 2 DC aged 7 and 5 and I currently work freelance in the cultural sector. I have looked online and a lot of people seem quite down about Van even though it's a beautiful location with lots of outdoorsy activities. We are an active family and love mountains, lakes, watersports etc. but we also really enjoy culture, intellectual debate and being around people who enjoy the same. Will we feel like fish out out of water? Also we are a bi-cultural family and what we enjoy about London is that this is completely unremarkable. Although Van appears to have quite a few immigrants I get the feeling there's some slight unease there, and that it might be difficult to fit in. We've both lived abroad/moved countries before and so we know about the difficulty you can have in making close friendships so we take that as given. I guess we've considered smaller cities in the UK but have always stepped back as we didn't know if we'd fit in as a family. I would hope a large city like Vancouver would be quite accepting. I'd have no concerns about Toronto on that score but would welcome any experiences people have had of Van?

Swimminguphill Tue 05-Jun-18 10:09:46

Sorry, just to add, the reasons we would be considering a move are:
- air quality/pollution and wanting a healthy environment for our kids
- optimism and sense of opportunity, all a bit grim in UK just now
- quality of life and reducing stress
- sense of adventure possibly a mid-life crisis as we are on the cusp of 40

YellowThere Wed 06-Jun-18 05:31:34

Dh and I lived in Vancouver for 2 years, and really loved it there. It fits many of the requirements you listed: outdoorsy, optimistic, clean. I worked in schools and I think it's a great place for children. The education system is good.
I think most Canadians would be pretty offended to hear that you worry about the lack of 'intellectual debate' in vancouver. There is no shortage of people willing to debate global issues as well as nuanced local ones.
As for culture, it depends what you mean. Vancouver doesn't have as much 'high culture' - ballet, opera, theatre etc as somewhere like london, but it does have a soul, and a cultural life, and a good amount of native Canadian (first nations) culture to explore.
Lastly, I'm not sure what you mean by bicultural (which cultures? - you don't have to say, but it would help me give you advice), but I don't think people would think that remarkable in Vancouver. It is a majority white city, but it has a large immigrant population, international student population, and is a forward-thinking, multicultural city in many ways. Most vancouverites are well traveled and there are significant Persian, Sikh, and Saudi communities as well as the well known large Chinese and Korean communities.

You do sometimes hear people complain about Vancouver and talk about the good old days, before all the condos were built, before it got so expensive... but that is the same many places, and most Vancouverites are still fiercely proud of their city, loyal, and very Canadian in their ways.

Have you been there? Would you hope to live downtown or elsewhere?
Happy to help any way I can. I loved living there and would move back in a heartbeat if circumstances were different.

YellowThere Wed 06-Jun-18 05:33:15

One thing to add about quality of life - overall I found it better than the UK, but holidays are much less. Most Canadian jobs only give 2 weeks per year leave, 4 if you are very lucky and upper management. Most people do their traveling, hiking, camping, skiing, throughout the year on long weekends rather than taking a long summer holiday.

Mamaryllis Wed 06-Jun-18 05:38:24

My main concern would be cost. Van is extortionate.
I’ve been the only white person on the bus any number of times, and the university is fecking HUGE.
My honorary dd is at UBC now and loves it.
I really like Vancouver but I’m not really a city gal. I prefer to live in a small town half way up a mountain and visit for the theatre and shopping grin

The second thing I would be worried about is the possibility of Morgane Oger being elected mayor. Certified nutjob.

Mamaryllis Wed 06-Jun-18 05:38:47

<but seriously. If you are loaded, do it.>

Swimminguphill Wed 06-Jun-18 08:50:24

Thanks for the replies! Sorry I didn’t mean to be offensive, just trying to articulate a thought process. My husband is from the ME and although my kids ‘pass’ as white it’s important to me that their heritage is not an issue for them. Obviously the UK and most of the western world for that matter doesn’t have a super positive image of the ME at the moment but in London we have loads of friends of all heritages and it works. I think some of the online reviews of Vancouver skew negative - there are some awful threads on British Expats forum but perhaps that’s a natural bias.

Re culture we are completely omnivorous and will try pretty much anything. Mainly I like feeling I live somewhere that ‘stuff happens’ whether we actually get to go or not! Recently in London things feel a bit locked down and corporate, probably due to COL I guess.

I have not been to Vancouver but obviously my DH would visit and he’d need to make the call I think. Realistically not sure we’d all get over beforehand so it would be a leap in the dark. We have friends in Seattle which doesn’t look super far on the map (or am I kidding myself?). I have heard the school system is liberal which sounds great to me. I have been considering the area around Trout Lake as a first stopping place because it is close-ish to downtown and we might get a larger apartment there than some other areas and it looks as though it has the right vibe for us. What do you think?

Finally on holiday and COL I have instructed my DH to negotiate hard as he currently has a great holiday package and we’ll lose my income at first so we need to survive on his. I guess he is senior management but really he’s being recruited for advanced finance/maths technical skills they have a gap for over there, although he loves the management too.

I get the feeling it’s comparable with London cost-wise but an even more overheated housing market and more expensive groceries. Is that right?

One question I have is about childcare for school age kids... does wrap-around care exist? I am just trying to figure out how friendly a work environment it will be for me. I heard the job market is relatively static and am used to the cultural sector being really competitive so I know it will take some time but as we won’t have family or friends nearby I’ll need to have something in place for when I do start working.

Sorry this is a bit of a brain dump feel free to ignore large parts of it!

diodati Wed 06-Jun-18 08:56:41

I live in Vancouver and I would move away, far away, if there were not ties that bind me here. None of us like living in Vancouver, although it's still a beautiful city. It is horribly expensive and insanely overpriced! There's nothing to rent, nothing to buy unless you're of the 1%. Canadian families are leaving in droves...

Swimminguphill Wed 06-Jun-18 09:03:06

Diodati that does reflect some of what I have been reading. We are MC but defo not the 1% and TBH I want my kids to grow up in a grounded/mixed environment which seems hard to achieve anywhere these days!

diodati Wed 06-Jun-18 09:05:48

I'm an older student so personally find plenty of intellectual stimulation and (earnest) discussion although the level of political correctness is a bit overwhelming. Do your homework on the First Nations and their history before arriving.

ksb76 Wed 06-Jun-18 09:07:59

Can’t help you re Vancouver, as we lived in Calgary, but Seattle is super close to Vancouver. We skied whistler this year and flew into Seattle as flights much cheaper. Easy 2 hour drive between the two cities. Will say that we loved our time in Canada, and while Calgary also doesn’t have all the culture of s9mewhere like London, we loved the accessibility to the outdoors, and just the chance to try new things - lots of hockey and curling.

diodati Wed 06-Jun-18 09:17:26

The elementary and secondary schools are okay; math and science are heavily emphasized, and being athletic is a major plus. It's culturally limited, at least for someone accustomed to London, Paris or New York, for example, but there is culture and definitely something for everyone.

ItLooksABitOff Wed 06-Jun-18 19:28:11

Vancouver is not a majority white city anymore (along with Burnaby, Richmond etc) and no one will care that you are a bicultural family. FWIW, I work with lots of people of ME/non white origin. In fact in one of my previous companies I was a minority as a white woman.

The lifestyle here is great, the main issue is the cost of housing. I personally wouldn't want to live anywhere else in Canada, except maybe Toronto; the ROC scares me with how conservative/white supremacist the underlying culture is, not that different to the US.

If you are an outdoorsy family you will enjoy it here imo.

ItLooksABitOff Wed 06-Jun-18 19:29:50

oh and you should know Vancouver locals are hard to make friends with, but the transplants - and there's lot of us - are much easier to socialize with.

diodati Thu 07-Jun-18 19:59:45

@ItLooksABitOff Truesad

Swimminguphill Thu 07-Jun-18 22:03:15

Interesting, I was reflecting that most of our friends in London are not Londoners though - I think that would work fine for us, although very happy to be friends with locals as well.

YellowThere Fri 08-Jun-18 02:36:05

I have also heard that locals are hard to make friends with but that wasn't my experience. Almost of my friends there were Canadian, most of them from BC. I'm still friends with many people from when I lived there and consider them long term friends. I'm honestly not sure why vancouverites have that reputation.

humblebumble Fri 08-Jun-18 03:06:50

I lived in Vancouver for about 8 months about 10 years ago.
The biggest topic of conversation for any Canadian's we met (my partner at the time was Canadian) was "how to get ahead". Taxes were high and salaries were relatively low. We didn't have a lot of money and imaging owning a property there seemed out of reach.
It's a beautiful city to live in, so much nature at your doorstep.
Seattle is relatively close, we enjoyed visiting.

Swimminguphill Fri 08-Jun-18 07:26:34

yellowthere did you have kids? Do you mind telling me which part of Vancouver you lived in?

Want2bSupermum Fri 08-Jun-18 12:10:40

My mother lives in North Vancouver. She is one of the lucky ones. She owns a home outright which she rents out. With the rental income she purchased a condo for herself on the waterfront. It's beautiful but eye watering expensive.

As a mixed race couple no one in Vancouver will bat an eyelid. There are issues in town but they are drug related and not race related at all. If fact it's most often the white people who are in the poorest group and who you see as drug addicts living on the street.

My cousin and his wife (he is white and she is Thai) sold their home in North Van a few years ago and moved to Port Moody. They have a huge status house but you could get something much more modest for a reasonable amount. It's beautiful in Port Moody and close enough to commute.

Swimminguphill Fri 08-Jun-18 12:40:00

Thanks Want2be is it a place you would choose to live over, say, London?

Want2bSupermum Fri 08-Jun-18 13:23:25

There isn't much between the two. My mother used to live in London by hampstead heath, right by the Royal Free. The reason for her moving was the climate and to be close to her sister. She has stayed because my sister is in Seattle and really needs help.

Door to door Seattle is 3 hours because of traffic and the border. You can do it in 2 but 3 is more realistic.

Kursk Fri 08-Jun-18 13:37:03

Go for it OP good luck and enjoy

Ihuntmonsters Sat 09-Jun-18 07:17:42

I live very near to the area you are considering OP. What are you looking for in an area? I can't imagine that you'd have issues being non white, although visible minorities in the neighbourhood tend to be mostly Asian (eg my immediate area is known for it's Vietnamese community, the next big street along has a Filipino character for a chunk and then there is a more Eastern European section, the next up cross street between them is more Japanese. The area is gentrifying as costs go up which will probably bring changes but we think it has a great vibe (we've only been living here for about a year although we've been in BC for quite a while now). Expensive, but it is very close to the city centre so not too surprising really. Compared to London it's not fantastic culturally just because there is less of everything, for example the Vancouver Art Gallery is great but it's the only large art collection.

Loopytiles Sat 09-Jun-18 07:25:17

Your reasons for moving seem flimsy, unless the job your H may apply for is highly paid / a brilliant career move.

You may not get a work visa.

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