The Vancouver Mosey. Onward.

by Rachel Gertz

Vancouver Seawall, October
Sun setting on the sea wall in Coal Harbour, Vancouver.

After a month in balmy Texas, we became stone cold set on avoiding habitation in Calgary. I mean, Calgary’s neat and we love our friends n’ family and all. It’s just that this city feels like an old skin that is pulling too tight and getting itchy. We’re scratching to get out. Originally, our plan was to find a way to live in Austin or some other amazing American city and come back to visit, but the reality of that mess equals green cards and job changes and finding a way to smuggle a sinister cat over the border.

So we’re doing the next logical thing. Picking a Canadian city that has the least amount of cold ass winter and greatest amount of culture. If you do a simple calculation you’ll see that Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary are not on this list. Their winters are cold and miserable despite having a tickle of culture. That leaves one city that’s warmish and brimming with decent cultivation. A place where we can avoid the winter blues and eat and drink ourselves silly. Vancouver. 

Also, they have trains! I love trains.

Train Courtesy of Flickr Commons
Photo courtesy of Musée McCord, Flickr

That’s the one. So the plan is to move to Vancouver this September or October. In the meantime we’re scouting out condo rentals that allow mangy little cats to thrive and hoping to hell we can stay within the downtown core. That’s where all the action is. 

Yes, we’ve heard about the grey skies of Vancouver. We plan to compensate by renting out our rental on Air BnB (if our landlord’s cool with it). As often as we can rent it out, we’ll be out of town and out of the grey. Seattle’s a hop skip away… Seems like it could be a sustainable plan. 

Shit. If it’s not, we’ll be sleeping in our parking garage. 

That’s four months away. Right now, we’re living it up with loveable friends and family and slurping up this short Calgary summer while boozing patios and darkened doorways. Gotta make those moments count, right?

Anyway, in three weeks we’re going to Van City to check out the prime locales. We booked a stay through Air BnB at a fancy ass condo suite right in downtown Vancouver. Seriously, $90 CAD a night is cheaper than a hotel and you don’t have to worry about house keepers finding your socks stuck to the the lamp in the morning.

Our condo for a week: Air BnB
Our cozy little condo in downtown Van City for the week.

The place was only available for six of our seven days so had to scout a place for us to rest our weary heads our first night. Note to hotel seekers: is freaking brilliant. I looked up 3 star hotels in downtown Van, expecting to be relegated to a dump in West Hastings [shudder]. Instead, we’ll be staying at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa. Check this place out! Kinda swanky for a three star. And only $104 CAD a night.

Century Spa Hotel, Vancouver
Century Plaza Hotel and Spa. Swanky three star hotel, huh?

At any rate, condo rentals in downtown Vancouver are crazy expensive. You have to look hard to find something you can afford. When you do, hold onto it for dear life.

 Sample of Rentals Available via Craig's List
Craig’s List might have the shittiest interface, but it has the most rental ads, and it’s paved the way more than Kijiji, RentFaster, and any of those other crappy rental sites combined.

To give you an idea on Vancouver cost of living, expect to pay between $1200 - $2000 a month for a one bedroom condo downtown. One bedrooms that accept cats or dogs?: one in a dozen and they’re usually carpeted and smell like rotting turds. Two bedrooms downtown are virtually out of the question unless you have a knack for building plywood extensions onto your balcony. Alas, this is the price you pay for comfort and a view. 

But here’s the thing. It’s actually cheaper to live in Vancouver than it is to live in Calgary. Even with with the added Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and booze tax and tax tax. Hell, Calgary is actually one of the most expensive cities to live in North America.

Tit for tat, it is actually more expensive to live in Calgary right now than it is to live in New York City. That’s right. All things considered, you could live the life of a Broadway star in the Big Apple, and it would be slightly cheaper than living in distant Cougar Ridge in Calgary. 

Complete honesty: This data could be skewed since googling ‘most expensive city in Canada’ comes up with an array of different results. Still, it offers a nice logical breakdown re: where you’re putting your money. And a lot of it has to do with whether or not you want to own your own home. We watched Inside Job. We don’t want any more of our money being gulped down by unstable conglomerate banks, thank you very much. Renting is just fine with us.

The best thing is, the transit system in Vancouver is so great, we won’t need a car. We’ll keep Bella (that’s our 50cc scooter) and ride her around for the cool factor when we’re not on the Skytrain. 

We’ve lived in Calgary for 28 years (well, I have—Trav moved here from Edmonton when he was eight). We’ve had 28 years of suburbs and conservative politics and chain restaurants to contend with. It just feels like its time for a change. A big one. 

We know Calgary is evolving, and we can see beautiful things happening here. But the fact is, in Calgary winter still lasts for eight months, regardless of your stance on global warming. And that’s just too damn long. 

Time to ship out? We say wholeheartedly, “Absolutely, bitches*!”

*Please note, “bitches” is a term of endearment used by yours truly. It is not meant to offend nor demean. It simply means I love you. Bitches.

Vancouver Sea Wall

Random Vancouver Facts

  • 51% ethnic population (finally, some true cultural diversity)
  • For 10 years, Vancouver has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world
  • Ranks 4th highest in quality of living on earth
  • Has the 6th most overpriced real estate market (thank god we’re not buying)
  • 10th cleanest city in the world according to Forbes magazine

More Research

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