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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Life in Vancouver, BC: Living in Downtown

Updated: May 15

Without a doubt, Vancouver is a beautiful city. Surrounded by nature and skyscrapers, popular downtown is bustling with life at almost every corner you turn, but what's it like to live here?


If you are new to Canada or looking for a new neighbourhood to relocate to with your family, let me tell you that life in downtown Vancouver can be amazing, but it also has its drawbacks.


Vancouver city, Burrard Inlet, buildings, sunny day

First Things First, Which Are Considered Vancouver Downtown Neighbourhoods?

Downtown will be defined as the peninsula that encircles Vancouver's city centre and comprises the neighbourhoods of West End to the west, popular for its beaches and proximity to Stanley Park; Coal Harbour to the north, popular for its breathtaking views of the North Shore mountains; Yaletown to the south, popular for its heritage buildings and trendy restaurants and cafes; Vancouver City Centre, in the heart of downtown, popular for its venues and nightlife; and the historic districts of Gastown, popular for its heritage buildings, trendy shops and restaurants, and Chinatown to the east, popular for its historic streets where you'll find traditional aphotecaries, antique shops and the Millennium Gate.



Now Let's Dive Into the Advantages of Living in Downtown Vancouver


People biking in the Stanley Park, besides Lost Lagoon, fair day, willow tree in the distance
Stanley Park, Vancouver

Accessibility:

If you value accessibility, downtown is an excellent choice for you and your family because you can walk, bike, or take short bus rides to anywhere in the city.

If you don't have a vehicle to connect with the rest of the city, you have the following options: the Burrard Bridge, which has a pedestrian walkway and bike lane; the Granville Bridge, which has a pedestrian walkway but where bikes have to share the road with vehicles (upgrades to this bridge are in process); and the Cambie Bridge, which also has a pedestrian walkway and bike lane.

You can also bike or walk to the North Shore through the Lions Gate Bridge, which will roughly take you 15 minutes by bike or about an hour and a half walking from the West End.



Third Beach Vancouver, clear sunny day, waves, sandy beach
Third Beach, Vancouver, BC

Nature:

In downtown Vancouver, you will find beautiful scenery almost everywhere you go. One of my favourite places to visit is Stanley Park, which has more than four beaches, four playgrounds, 27 km of trails, and of course the sea wall that extends across 30 km, where you can go for walks, runs, bike rides, you name it. If you have kids, they will love it.

There is also Sunset Beach and English Bay, which is the most popular beach in downtown. If you are into picnics, besides Stanley Park, there are also around 27 parks in downtown alone.

 

For longer hikes, mountain biking, and more fun, the North Shore mountains are just one bridge away, whether you drive or take transit.


grocery store, apples, Vancouver living

Food:

There are around thirty grocery stores and about fifteen markets distributed in downtown, so you will for sure have one within walking distance of your home. Some of them offer conventional and some also offer organic options. In addition to this, there are two farmers markets running every year, the Downtown Farmers Market formerly know as the Yaletown Farmers Market, running from June to October, every Wednesday, 2pm-6pm, outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the West End Farmers Market from May to October, every Saturday, 9am–2pm, at Comox Street.

Not to mention the plethora of good and trendy restaurants and cafes where you can go get a bite if you want to skip the cooking or just catch up with a friend.



Activities for the kids:

Activities for the kids include the Aquatic Centre, where you can sign up for classes or pay a family entrance fee (one to two adults from the same household and their children 5–18 years old) for only $7.00; Central and Joe Fortes libraries that offer programs and events like baby time and family story time; two neighbourhood houses—one at West End and another at the downtown Eastside—where activities for babies and toddlers are available; and if you are looking for classes, there are three community centres that offer different activities for all ages, including day camps, outdoor activities, outings, bus excursions, and more. Another favourite is the Vancouver Aquarium, which has more than 30 exhibits. There are also 14 playgrounds around downtown, so you can rest assured that your kids won't be bored living here.


Playground, blue sky with white fluffy clouds
Playground under Cambie Bridge

Venues:

Venues are another advantage of living downtown in my opinion. They host cool events for the whole family, and you don't have to go far to watch renowned performances.

Top venues include Canada Place, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the Orpheum, the Art Gallery, BC Place Stadium, to name a few.



Hospital in Vancouver, BC, brick wall building
Saint Paul's Hospital, Vancouver

Hospital:

No one wants to need one, but in such cases, it is good to have one close by. St. Paul’s Hospital is right in the heart of Davie Village, and BC Children’s Hospital is a short 15-minute drive from downtown.

There are also about 8 walk-in clinics distributed around downtown.






Sunset in Vancouver from an apartment,  dark buildings and orange skies
More things to consider about downtown Vancouver

There are seven elementary schools.

Seven High Schools.



maple leaf, Vancouver, living in downtown Vancouver

Sixteen Universities.



Let Us Now Consider the Disadvantages of Living in Downtown Vancouver


Expensive:

I understand that inflation is occurring everywhere, but downtown Vancouver has been particularly hard hit, so cheaper rent opportunities will most likely be available on the outskirts of the city.

For example, an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver is listed on Craigslist for $2,700.


Dirty in certain areas:

I'm hoping that this one will gradually improve, but the streets in general have been getting dirtier for quite some time. Dog owners contribute as well, leaving their dogs' waste more frequently than I recall prior to the pandemic, and with a kid who wants to explore all the time, this one becomes difficult to get through.


Lack of certain preschool programs:

There's nothing wrong with the elementary schools out here, but one disadvantage we discovered is that none of them offer the "Strong Start" program, and if you want to sign up for that, you'll have to commute 30 to 40 minutes by bus or 15 minutes by car.


Not particularly family-oriented:

There are opportunities to meet other families in downtown Vancouver, but it's unfortunate that there is a lack of infrastructure to accommodate more kid-friendly outdoor areas, so you won't find as many kids playing around as they would in other city neighbourhoods.


Noisier than other neighbourhoods

You will find quieter streets in downtown Vancouver, especially at night, so if this is an important factor for you, look for housing off the busy streets. For the most part, this is a bustling city, and things are always happening everywhere.


Conclusion:


Cherry blossoms in Stanley Park

I hope this gives you a good idea of the advantages and disadvantages of living in downtown Vancouver, so you can decide if this city is a good option for you and your family's needs.


And if you are a parent looking for activities to do in Vancouver with your children, please see our post, Life in Downtown Vancouver: What to Do with Your Kids Year Round


See you in the following post!










2 Comments


Tetyana Skrypkina
Tetyana Skrypkina
Apr 11, 2023

That's an amazing post! Thank you very much!

I've never been to Vancouver. But if I have an opportunity to go there, I will definitely use your blog post as a guide 😃

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This Maple Life
This Maple Life
Apr 13, 2023
Replying to

Thank you very much for your comment! We are happy you liked the post. If you visit Vancouver, we promise it won't disappoint. :D

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