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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Unaffordable Housing & Not So Friendly Local Residents in Vancouver

Expats enjoy a high quality of life in Vancouver but struggle with a lack of personal support networks and the high cost of living.

Ranking 43rd out of 50 cities in the Expat City Ranking, Vancouver is rated considerably worse than Toronto (19th) and even places last in the world in the Personal Finance Index (50th). Expats are extremely dissatisfied with the general cost of living (69% unhappy vs. 35% globally) and their financial situation (43% vs. 21% globally). Half (50%) even say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 28% globally). In fact, the affordability of housing (49th) is also the worst-rated factor in the Expat Essentials Index. However, thanks to Vancouver’s excellent performance in the Admin Topics (6th), Digital Life (11th), and Language (12th) Subcategories, it still comes in a good 21st place in this index.

Coming back to expats’ financial struggles, it does not help that 31% of expats feel paid unfairly for their work (based on industry, qualifications, role, etc.), compared to 20% globally. What is more, 18% do not see a purpose in their work, which is twice the global average (9%). Aside from these two factors, however, Vancouver’s performance in the Working Abroad Index (31st) is not so bad: expats are happy with their work-life balance (73% happy vs. 62% globally) and rate the local job market positively (60% vs. 47% globally).

Vancouver receives below-average results in the Ease of Settling In Index (35th): close to three in ten expats (29%) describe the local residents as unfriendly, compared to 17% globally. Maybe this is why 39% are unhappy with their social life (vs. 26% globally), and 32% do not have a personal support network (vs. 24% globally). Vancouver even ranks last worldwide for the latter factor. “It can be hard to enter a social circle which is already established,” shares an expat from New Zealand.

On a more positive note, the Environment & Climate Subcategory (5th) in the Quality of Life Index (23rd) is a real highlight: 100% of expats appreciate the natural environment (vs. 83% globally). They also enjoy the air quality (87% vs. 65% globally) and the availability of green goods and services (89% vs. 64% globally) in Vancouver.

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