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Opinions, Life

Opinion: Why I chose to move to Vancouver

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Jess Fleming Jun 29, 2016 5:18 am

Affordability is such a hot topic in Vancouver right now, one that affects everyone in the city. But we’re sick of repeating the same old stories about rising house prices. We don’t just want to keep telling you that it’s happening, we want to find out why it’s happening and what can be done to tackle it.

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Vancouver Affordability Series

Part 1: How Vancouver got so expensive and what you can do about it
Part 2: Why are wages so low in Vancouver compared to other cities?
Part 3: Is Vancouver in the midst of a real estate bubble? Will it burst?
Part 4: Opinion: Why I chose to move to Vancouver
Part 5: Land-locked region: Is geography a factor in Vancouver’s affordability crisis?
Part 6: What exactly does it take to afford to buy a home in Vancouver?


Sydney, London, New York, and Vancouver: four incredible cities I have been lucky to call home.

Almost seven years ago, I boarded a plane in Sydney (my hometown) bound for London with a one-way ticket in my hand. Little did I know that this year abroad would turn into a seven-year stint of country hopping and city swapping.

Two years ago the opportunity to experience Canada arose. My boyfriend and I were living in Brooklyn at the time when he was offered a job at a Visual Effects house in Vancouver.

Fuelled by a constant desire to see the world and meet new people, as well as pursue career prospects, we agreed that this opportunity was too good to pass up.

Admittedly, I also had a soft spot in my heart for Vancouver. A brief yet memorable visit to the city some 10 years prior left me eager to return.

Like with any move there was a period of adjustment. While NYC’s vibrant and often chaotic demeanour took some getting used to, so did Vancouver’s slower pace and relaxed vibe.

Hitting the ground running, we immediately jumped on Craigslist in the hope of finding an apartment to fit our price range. Although we scrolled through and saw a number of places, the process was no where as near as gruelling as it was in NYC, where we had to try and avoid scams, absurd broker fees, matchbox-sized apartments, and sketchy neighbourhoods.

As luck would have it, we found an incredible deal on a one bedroom apartment in Downtown.

While there can be no denying that the rental prices in Vancouver are high, in our case we found them to be lower than what they were in NYC, London, and Sydney.

For less money than what we paid in each of the respective three cities mentioned above we were able to find a comfortable apartment (around 525 square feet) with a washer/dryer (something I longed for in NYC), that was centrally located, in walking distance to work, and even had its own little patio.

I don’t believe that it’s a huge shock to hear that the cost of living in Brooklyn is higher than in Vancouver. The borough has become one of the most desirable parts in all of NYC to live in.

The rental fees for a smallish one bedroom apartment in say Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighbourhood average at about $2,200 USD per month. Yes, it’s pricey but people are paying to live in an apartment (most likely a walk-up) in a picturesque brownstone, that’s close to Prospect Park (Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park), a row of cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, and is a subway ride away from Manhattan.

If you live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, a daily commute on the subway is part of your routine. For us the commute time was about 35 minutes door-to-door each way and the price of a weekly transit card cost about $30 per week.

In London we moved around a bit. Unsurprisingly apartments we rented in Greater London (think zones 2 and 3 on the Tube map) cost quite a bit less than places in central London but had lengthy commute times (an occurrence I realize that is universally experienced). When we lived in zone 1, Kings Cross to be precise, we lived in a flat share, had a tiny bedroom, and paid the same, if not more, than what we do now.

As for Sydney, I can’t really compare the rental market as it’s been a long time since I was there, and if I’m being totally honest before heading overseas I was living at home with my parents. However, I can talk about how depressing the housing market is.

With little purchasing power many young Sydneysiders are finding that buying a home, even in the urban fringes, is near impossible (the same dire situation faced by many Vancouverites). I believe that the median house price in Sydney is around 10 times the average annual income.

Sydney’s housing market and skyrocketing prices often leave me wondering if we will ever own a home there.

Right now there are many incentives for us to stay in Vancouver, including our jobs, friends, the city’s laid-back vibe, outdoorsy West Coast culture, stunning scenery and the fact that the great outdoors is right on our doorstep, glorious summers, thriving culinary scene, and the list goes on.

I’m fully aware that everything I’ve described above is all relative. I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to move around as much as I have, and am extremely fortunate to call this city home, as to me Vancouver tops the list of best cities to live in.

Yes, Vancouver is an expensive city to live in, but what top-tier, world class city isn’t?


Vancouver Affordability Series

Part 1: How Vancouver got so expensive and what you can do about it
Part 2: Why are wages so low in Vancouver compared to other cities?
Part 3: Is Vancouver in the midst of a real estate bubble? Will it burst?
Part 4: Opinion: Why I chose to move to Vancouver
Part 5: Land-locked region: Is geography a factor in Vancouver’s affordability crisis?
Part 6: What exactly does it take to afford to buy a home in Vancouver?


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Jess Fleming
Jess is a former Staff Writer at Daily Hive. Originally from Sydney, she obsesses over where to eat and drink and writes about adventures near and far.

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