What I Love and Hate About Living in Greater Vancouver

pitt meadows dykes

Over the long weekend, I had a flashback: last Easter was my final weekend of couch-surfing with various friends, while looking for my first apartment in New Westminster. On the Tuesday after, I finally found a place to call home. As you know, I’ve lived in a few places since then, but still – I have lived in Greater Vancouver for a year now. Seriously, where has the time gone!?

By no means do I consider myself a “Vancouverite” yet… I’m still an island girl, through and through. But a year seems like a good amount of time to get a feel for a place. I don’t need my GPS anymore (unless I’m going somewhere totally new). I’ve figured out most of the highways (key word: most). And I have made new friends. These are all wins in my eyes.

But that doesn’t mean I love everything about living over here. To commemorate my first year of living in Greater Vancouver, I decided to write down everything I love and hate about it. Since I’m a fan of starting with the negatives first and moving onto the positives, we’ll start with the thing I hate the most…

HATE: The traffic. I live in Port Moody and commute to New Westminster at least three days each week. If I am stupid enough to leave during morning or afternoon rush hour (I try not to do this), it takes 45 minutes to drive a whopping 13.5 km (8.4 miles). And let’s not talk about how much I hate driving into the city…

LOVE: How walkable it is. That sounds like an oxymoron, right? But it’s true. If I didn’t work in New Westminster, I’d probably never leave Port Moody. (And I felt the same when I lived in New Westminster.) Grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, the library and great trails are all within walking distance.

HATE: The price of gas. When I was 18-20, I used to love bringing my car over here for weekend getaways, because it meant I could fill up with cheap gas before going home to Victoria. Now, it’s the exact opposite. The last thing I do during every trip home is fill up before catching the ferry back to Vancouver.

LOVE: How many incredibly walking and hiking trails are all around me. Sure, I need to drive to some of them, but I could probably check out a new trail/area every weekend for a year and still have more to cross off the list. My latest discovery was the Pitt Meadows Dykes (seen above). Next, I want to check out Pitt Lake!

HATE: That I’ll probably never be a homeowner here – at least not until I’m part of a two-income household. According to REW.ca, the benchmark price for a condo in Port Moody is now $329,300. I’d be comfortable buying in the $265,000-$275,000 range. So, that’s not happening.

LOVE: The condo I’m currently renting. The unit itself, the gym, pool, hot tub… the village. I love it all.

HATE: Downtown Vancouver. I love some of the nearby neighbourhoods that surround the city, but just being downtown fills me with anxiety. The sidewalks are always packed, the traffic patterns make no sense, and the vibe can be super pretentious. Oh, and it is not cheap to park anywhere near downtown.

LOVE: New Westminster. Some people call it “the Brooklyn of Vancouver” and I can see why. It’s growing (mostly upwards), and seems to be constantly changing. But the city is full of small businesses and the passionate entrepreneurs who run them. The people in New West are what make it so awesome.

HATE: That I still haven’t found a good pho place. Actually, that’s not true – I had a favourite pho place in New West, but it burned down last fall. I’ve tried a bunch of different restaurants, since then, but so far there are none I would make a second trip to. (Got any reco’s?)

LOVE: All of the amazing brunch spots. I’ve been out for brunch at least once/month since I’ve lived over here and none of the restaurants or meals have disappointed. My favourites so far include: Café Deux Soleils, Medina Café and Craft Beer Market.

HATE: That none of my family or friends from Victoria live over here.

LOVE: That I get to meet new people every week, and spend more time with friends I used to only see once/year. If I hadn’t moved here, I wouldn’t be such good friends with Daisy, Jess (who left me), Wendy and Ashly. And I wouldn’t have met/become friends with anyone I now know in New West and Port Moody.

Oh, and my friend Kasey is moving here from Toronto this summer, which will make it even better!

Tell me something you love and hate about the city you live in!

    • Exactly what I love about Port Moody. There’s such a small-town feel here (pop. is around 32,000) and I love it. People know each other, everyone is always smiling and greeting you… and residents care about giving input on issues that affect the whole city. It’s awesome.

  • Cool post Cait!

    I’ll play.

    I live in Oshawa, Ontario.


    – close enough to family (10 min drive), friends, work (20 min drive), bf (15 min drive)

    – affordable real estate – paid $174K for my semi-detached house here, 3 years ago, worth a bit more now

    – big enough city to have everything you could ever need… large selection of shopping, gyms, yoga places, services (hair nails + doctor dentist etc), etc. (population is around 150K)

    – I feel safe here (alone at home or out and about walking/running)


    I don’t really hate anything about this city. However it is well-known as the “dirty shwa” and has a bit of a negative reputation… not entirely sure why. There are many different “not nice” areas, and I’m pretty sure when going to the mall or Walmart, getting dressed is optional. You’ll always see MANY people in pajamas. LOL

    Have a good day!

    • Baha, I think you see those at every Walmart. Last month, I saw a woman whose pants were halfway down her… well, I’ll let your imagination run with that, haha.

  • I live just outside of St. John’s, NL.


    -Housing costs (two-incomes generally needed to purchase a house and condos are even more expensive than the houses)
    -Food costs (we’ve talked about the high price of produce before)
    -The long, never ending winters (no one stays in NL for the weather)
    -Lack of walk-ability (a car is needed to live in this city)


    -Being so close to the ocean and all the beautiful landscapes
    -Being fairly close to my family (1.5 hour drive)

    Apparently I can’t think of enough loves to balance out my hates.

      • Yeah I think it does. Also this winter (which still hasn’t ended in my opinion) wo;; wear anybody down.

        More loves:
        -Lack of traffic
        -It doesn’t get super hot in the summer

  • Awesome recap! Do you think Vancouver will be your long term home or will you eventually return to the island permanently?

    Things I love about my area: Cheap, cheap, cheap! Close to family.

    Things I Hate: It’s far from everything, job prospects are nil, and not walkable whatsoever.

  • What I love most about where I live (northwest Mississauga):

    My house is a 10-minute walk to a nature trail along a creek and river — deer, rabbits, snakes (!), and a 10-minute drive away from actual farms and farm markets.
    I can be in downtown Toronto in 30 minutes (express, non-rush hour bus) or 45 minutes (train)

    What I hate most:

    Other than some fast-food/chain restaurants, a drug store and a milk store, there’s basically nothing in the shop/restaurant/entertainment line even remotely within walking distance.

  • Love this post!

    I’m a BC girl at heart, and would love to move back, however my work will probably keep me in Alberta (oil and gas). I live in Calgary – close to Banff, which is a great compromise for not being in BC. I grew up in Northern BC, and have only been to the Vancouver area a few times, and I’m always shocked at how expensive gas is. It makes me want to cry. It is a beautiful place though!

    Do you have any advice for making friends in a new city? I’ve only been in Calgary a short while, and my work is heavily dominated by males. Not that I’m against male friends, but a few girlfriends would be great!

    Have a great day!

    • I’m also in Calgary – been back for about a year and a half and I’ve yet to make any friends. It’s pretty hard in this city! I think everyone is so busy they don’t have time for someone new.

      Here’s my list:

      -Traffic. My 10km drive to work usually takes 45-60 min, Google has it marked as 20 minutes. And this is the closest in Calgary I’ve been to work!
      – Busy. Everywhere! All the time! Huge line-ups, so many simple tasks take forever because of the large population.
      – Attitude of the people feels like Ontario to me – focused on business, money, themselves and not the “small town” attitude where people were friendly that it was 20 years ago.
      -The endless winter cold, and 7-8 months of snow/window scrapping
      -Spending so much time driving I don’t have time to run/work out/take my dog for long walks
      -The cost of groceries, activities, services (hair cuts, movies, ice creams, etc) seems so much higher here that it feels like what little money I have is even more limited.

      -It’s not Edmonton.

      • I also forgot house prices! And lower salaries. I had to sell my previous home at a loss and I don’t think I’ve ever be able to afford to buy again due to those two things. BLAH!

    • Shannon – I don’t have a ton of advice, other than to join some type of group or team. A baseball team, a book club, or whatever you might be interested in… it can feel awkward at first, but I usually find that most people in the group met because they were looking for new people to hang out with. Good luck!

  • What I LOVE about living in Greater Vancouver: FREAKING EVERYTHING! :) Cait, I didn’t know you were looking for a good pho place. Do you like chicken pho? The best is this hole in the wall place somewhere on Kingsway. I smell pho dinner date soon for us!

    • There’s chicken pho!? That sounds awesome.

      I like Golden Train Express on Kingsway and I think they have another location downtown now too.

      Pho is ok but ramen is my #1.

      • Lots of pho places on Kingsway just west of Knight. They call that part of the street Little Saigon. If you want authentic Vietnamese food you should try Hai Phong. Lots of other choices besides pho!

  • So many thing sound surprisingly similar to LA! The little town I live in is cute, tiny, has shops and restaurants, etc., but I hardly want to leave this area because of traffic. And forget about owning anything here!

    • I think it’s just a big city issue, in general. Although I’ve heard that driving in California is pretty awful…

  • As a native Vancouverite & former New West resident, I have to say I miss many of those things. Moving to the US was the best choice we ever made. We own a wonderful 3 bedroom house for less than a condo in the lower mainland. Plus no more two hour commutes!

    • Oh man – yea, I could see myself buying a condo one day, but I’ll never ever be able to afford a house there. Sad but true.

  • How much is gas over there these days? Ours is up to 142.9! (Victoria) It jumped 13 cents overnight a couple of weeks ago.

  • My sister lived in New West for a few years (they just moved to the Interior last spring), and I absolutely loved to visit her there. There is so much goodness – Renaissance Books, the farmer’s market, and the BEST Sally Ann ever! I would look forward to those thrift-trips like Christmas Day! I really miss not being able to visit her there anymore – it’s such a great community!


  • LOVE
    -I live in a really quiet, safe neighborhood.
    -I have everything I could ever want just 10 minutes away.
    -The walking trails are choice.

    -I’m at least 30 minutes from any friends and family. It getting old always having to drive a while to meet.
    -There is absolutely nothing but a gas station within a 10 minute drive. Its like I’m in a dead zone.
    -I doubt I’ll be able to buy a home in this neighborhood. I’ve fallen in love with an area I can’t afford :(

    • Yea, I have to admit… it seems like I’m always driving downtown to see friends, but no downtown friends come out to see me… and it’s getting old, lol.

  • Wow 45 minutes to go 13KM!? Yikes. Toronto is almost as bad. In rush hour it takes two hours to go 70KM or if I go in off times, an hour and twenty. So I hate the traffic.
    I love living outside Toronto as I love being outdoors and where I am, there are lots of trails, places to cycle, walk.
    All the good food though is back in the city with most of it in Downtown TO.

  • I hate that the transit system in this city leaves so much to be desired. The city is a total urban sprawl. A lot of the places I need to go are barely accessible by transit, or only on an hourly basis, so it forces me to drive. Since I’m driving I don’t spend much time downtown, because I hate paying for parking. It’s unfortunate, because I like downtown.

    That being said, I love the little interesting pockets that the city is developing. The old, sketchy areas are turning around and starting to fill up with little niche restaurants and boutiques. There’s a fair bit of green space to enjoy, and some of the older neighbourhoods are charming and fun to walk through. There’s always something going on if you look for it. Concerts, festivals, you name it.

  • Ohh! Another place to consider living!! I can’t wait to get out there and explore all my options! My mom is looking into Delta now, hmm who knows I’m 4 months!

    My Area now (Niagara Falls)

    Love: – family is mostly here.
    – has everything you need.
    – close to boarder (for gas)
    – close enough to Toronto, but fair enough from the overflow.
    – cheap real estate

    Hate: not many jobs, making for lots of poor areas
    – TOURIST!!
    – car is a must!
    – people generally aren’t very friendly.

  • My favourite pho place is pho hong on Kingsway in Burnaby (near Imperial, by the mazda dealership). It is a bit of a dive, but the food is fast, cheap and delicious.

  • We seriously considered moving back west before we had kids (I was born in Victoria, hubby spent a lot of his childhood in Edmonton per Air Force dad). I really miss it but also seriously love Halifax. The cost of living is much more affordable and though we have friends and family west, we have more support here on the east coast. We will be visiting again though before (if ever) we have another kid!

    • Ooo, please tell me when you come out here! I’ll make a trip to Victoria, if you don’t stop through Vancouver. :)

  • I loved this. Like everyone who lives in Victoria I’ve considered moving to Vancouver (for the jobs), but I’ve always been intimidated by everything you hate. All the things you love about it make it seem like it really could be fun–though I think I’m pretty locked down in Victoria at this point. :)

    • Oh, the hates are legit. It all shows me that I’ll definitely move back to the island some day. But it’s great for now. And I forgot about one other love: it’s cheaper to travel (flight-wise) from Van than Vic!

  • Good post!

    I lived in Montreal, QC for most of my life and not long ago moved to Brooklyn, NY. Man is it two worlds apart!
    I’ll admit that living in Brooklyn especially where I am is great as we’re just a few steps from the Brooklyn Museum, Library, Zoo, Botanic Gardens and Prospect Park. So much to see and do!
    Some downsides: drivers without apology will scratch/dent your front/rear car bumper in order to squeeze their car into a ridiculously impossible space.
    NYC has an impressive 24 hour transit system but it needs serious improvement and it stinks…and I saw a rat in the subway car once…that was a first for me.

    I am still having fun scoping out the various neighbourhoods but I do miss Canada a lot and I’ll be a Canuck forever in my heart.

    • That is BRUTAL about the drivers / parking situation! Oh man. I love NYC though. I don’t think I’d want to live there, but I’m dying to visit again.

  • I’ve been in my neighbourhood for 2 years and am finally feeling like a local. I love the nature, trails, and that people say hello when you pass them on the street.. But I hate how far I am from my work. *sigh, the dilemma :)

  • That’s a wonderful post. I gives almost a 360 degree view of Vancouver. I’ve never been to Vancouver and you have already sold the place to me. I love the places where I can be with myself and walk alone is the best thing to be with myself. I’ll make my next backpacking stop here. :)

  • I hate how much it costs to live in SF. I will never be able to buy a place in the city unless I win the lotto or something, because even a 1BR apartment can cost well over $500,000. :(

    I LOVE the city itself however, and I love how walkable it is. You don’t really need a car to get around as the public transportation system is pretty good.

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