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Moving to Vancouver

What to know if you're moving to Vancouver

If you’re thinking of moving to Vancouver, you’re in good company! Immigrants and expats from all over the globe are drawn there for various good reasons. This can be the beginning of a great new life in the True North! We’ll tell you all about housing and visa regulations.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

All about Canada

If you have been dreaming of moving to Canada, our comprehensive guide will help you learn all the necessary steps and requirements to go to Canada by yourself or with your family and loved ones.

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Relocating to Vancouver

At a Glance:

  • The most popular residential neighborhoods to live in are those west of the downtown area. However, more expats are deciding to move to the surrounding suburbs.
  • The minimal rental period is generally one year and most landlords will request a security deposit of one or two months’ rent.
  • In order to assume Canadian citizenship, you will need 12 months of skilled work experience, as well as a good understanding of the country and of the English language.

In Vancouver, you have the choice between many attractive neighborhoods, each with its own distinct feel and population mix. When making your decision of moving to Vancouver, find a community that fits you and your lifestyle. Also consider commuting times and public transportation connections to your office or your children’s school.

If possible, visit a place in person first and get a feel for the location and neighborhood. As there are many temporary housing options available, it is a good idea to start searching for a new permanent home after actually moving to Vancouver.

Where to Move? The Most Popular Residential Areas

The neighborhoods west of the downtown area are among the most popular residential areas in the city proper. In Kitsilano in particular, residents enjoy the sandy beaches right at their doorstep and a beautiful view of the nearby mountains. Other attractive options include Vancouver’s northern districts, across the Lions Gate Bridge.

The city’s most exclusive residential areas are found in the West End, close to the University of British Columbia. West Point Grey and Shaughnessy are known as Canada’s most expensive neighborhoods. Both boast many older, luxurious homes.

More and more expats decide against moving to Vancouver itself, preferring the nearby communities of the metro area. Housing is considerably cheaper there. Most places are well connected via public transportation, and commuting times are acceptable. Popular communities among expats include Burnaby, Surrey and the Tri Cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

House or Apartment: Different Types of Accommodation

If you are considering moving to Vancouver’s busy downtown, high-rise apartment buildings and condominiums are your typical accommodation options. There is also a good choice of townhouses and single family houses available to you if you move to Vancouver’s outer districts and suburbs.

Normally, the minimum rental period is one year, except for short-term housing. You should keep in mind that most landlords ask for a security deposit of one or two months’ rent and some may also ask for references. Please note that cited rent prices usually do not include utility charges!

There are both furnished and unfurnished rental homes available. However, even unfurnished apartments usually come with basic appliances such as an oven and a stove.

What It Will Cost: Rent Prices in Vancouver

In relation to average incomes, Vancouver has the second-highest housing costs among cities worldwide. Buying a home in Vancouver will currently set you back about 1,000,000 CAD. Rent prices are similarly high, which has turned into a social problem in Vancouver, with many families turning their back on the city in search of more affordable housing.

Even if you don’t need a lot of space, the city is quite expensive. The average price of one-bedroom apartments and suites downtown is usually around 1,950 CAD per month. If you’d like to move to Vancouver’s more exclusive areas or are looking for a place with an ocean view, expect to pay 1,800 CAD or more. Three-bedroom apartments or townhouses are available from 2,070 CAD.

As a rule of thumb, rent prices decrease steadily, the further away from downtown Vancouver you are looking. Moving to the suburbs such as Coquitlam and Surrey may only cost you half of what you would be paying in central Vancouver: from 825 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment and around 1,500 CAD for a three-bedroom home.

Where to Look to Find Your Future Home

Vancouver’s newspapers, such as The Vancouver Sun, have classified sections and are your best friends for the housing search in Vancouver. Classifieds and some general hints on housing in Canada can also be found online at househunting.ca.

As in many other North American cities, craigslist and Kijiji can also be valuable resources for people moving to Vancouver. Here you can look for homes as well as appliances, furniture, even jobs. Their Vancouver sites have hundreds of new postings of apartments and housing for rent on an average weekday.

If you want to save yourself some of the hassle of house hunting and shorten the process of moving to Vancouver, you can always consult one of the city’s many real estate agencies. This holds for buying as well as for renting a new home.

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Vancouver: Visas, Work Permits, Citizenship

Your dream of relocating to Vancouver has to be fulfilled one step at a time, of course. The first one is checking whether or not you need a visa in order to enter the country. The Canadian Citizenship and Immigration services (CIC) have compiled a detailed FAQ section and checklist for all visa-related matters on the CIC homepage, including a list of countries and territories exempt from visas. These include, among others, many large expat “sender countries” in Europe and Asia.

If your home country is not on the list, there’s no need to worry. Your nearest Canadian embassy will swiftly process your application, provided you fulfill all the criteria listed under the above link.

Gaining Your Permission to Work

Acquiring a work permit might require a little bit more stamina, but again, provided you match all the criteria and fulfill the requirements there is little that can go wrong. Your first and main requirement for the permit is finding a future employer who is willing to offer you a work contract. We have listed tips on the job hunt and a lot of additional useful info on the topic of employment in our articles on working in Vancouver and working in Canada. Keep in mind that the process might be a little different from that in your home country.

Once you have signed your contract and the ESDC Labour Market Test had a positive result, there is nothing that stands in the way of your expat assignment in Vancouver.

How to Assume Canadian Citizenship

An understandable and quite common reaction to the experience of expat life in Vancouver is the wish to stay in Canada. Not just a little longer, but maybe for the rest of your life. As Canada is and has always been a traditional immigrant country, the government is fully aware of this fact and has created various categories for immigration and permanent settlement in the country.

As an expat with prior work experience in Canada, thanks to your temporary work permit, the category for your citizenship application is the Canadian Experience Class. If you have already gained 12 months or more of skilled work experience in Canada, have a good understanding of the country, its people and its culture, and have a good grasp of the English language — backed up by an official language test — you are eligible to apply. The CIC has details on requirements, fees and the application process on their website.

In case you are sure you want to permanently settle in Vancouver or anywhere else in Canada before even starting an expat assignment, the Skilled Workers and Professionals category is the one for you. However, the requirements are more numerous, and a lot stricter. If you are confident that you meet all the prerequisites, give it a try!

Updated on: October 02, 2018
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