Perched on the Pacific Rim is Vancouver, coastal seaport of beautiful British Columbia. Sitting at the western terminus of Canada's transcontinental highway, the city was once one of Canada’s vital industrial hubs. These days, software developers, biotech and aerospace firms, video game developers, animation studios and the film industry’s dream machine have collectively reshaped Vancouver’s profile into that of a futurist nucleus.

The city’s breathtaking backdrop of ocean views and snow-capped mountains, topped off by arrestingly beautiful parkland, provides an agreeable environment in which to work and live. By night, the city comes alive  - its bars and clubs, particularly in a seven-block stretch known as the Granville Entertainment District, stay open until the small hours. On the weekends night revellers throng to the area in such numbers that the streets are closed off to traffic.

Vancouver has birthed some brilliant musicians, among them household names such as Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlan, through to pioneering hardcore punk and electro bands. A fantastic network of venues supports Vancouver’s eclectic music scene, while a host of galleries support the city’s vibrant visual arts community.

If this young city’s urban, artsy, edge begins to pall, grab a kayak and paddle out for some white water; or find refuge in the powder snow of a nearby mountain resort. The city’s outskirts give way to a mountain biking mecca and a sport climber’s paradise – perfect for decompressing after an intense day in the office.

If you are moving to Vancouver, ensure that you have negotiated a very generous package. It is one of the world’s most expensive cities; in recent years Vancouver’s housing prices spiked to three-times the national average, with standard 3-bedroom homes flipping for roughly US$1 million. The pressure stemmed from an influx of immigrants following the British handover to Hong Kong in the late 1990s, and the city playing to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.  In 2012, however, there were signs that this price pressure was easing.

What is special or unique about your city?

Vancouver, the largest city in the province of British Columbia, is surrounded by water on three sides and is nestled at the foot of the Coast Mountain Range. The city's spectacular natural scenery belies a bustling metropolitan core; with one of the mildest climates in Canada, Vancouver is consistently ranked one of the three most liveable cities in the world. Greater Vancouver region is home to more than two million people in 21 municipalities, making it the third largest metropolitan area in Canada.

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?

Newcomers to Vancouver will find the city a beautiful place with incredible views of the mountains. The people are friendly and the city is much larger than most expect.

People from all around the world visit Vancouver, which is famous for its beautiful, natural setting and its many parks (approximately 190). The city's combination of economic opportunity and environmental appeal has compelled many to make Vancouver their home.

Are these impressions likely to change?

Because a lot of the beauty and attraction of Vancouver lies in its geographic location and physical state, not many of its characteristics will change.

What is the local language?

The majority of the population speak English as either a first or second language, but many departments of the federal government provide services in both English and French.

Vancouver is a melting pot of international cultures and languages that are often blended with Canadian culture. After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongues spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver's school-age children have been raised speaking a second and sometimes third language.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?

It is possible to live in Vancouver and not speak English, but you will find that the majority of service providers and retailers use the language. It is recommended that you learn basic English to avoid major challenges and to be able to take advantage of everything that Vancouver has to offer.

Weekly and daily newspapers are published in a variety of languages, and OMNI (free multicultural television station) offer programs, news broadcasts and movies for different ethnic groups in their native languages. The government of Canada provides free information in English and French and might also provide information in your own language.

If you are travelling in other areas of Canada, here are a few French words and phrases to help you:



Hello or Good Morning



Au revoir

How are you?

Comment allez vous?

My name is …

Je m'appelle …

Thank you


No, thank you

Non, merci

Excuse me

Veuillez m’excuser


What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?

The best way to avoid offending residents of Vancouver is to abide by the British Columbia (BC) Human Rights Code. This is the provincial law that allows everyone equal rights and opportunities in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. Please see the Useful Links section, below, for further information on this.

The following tips will help you avoid offending residents of Vancouver:

  • Canadians hope that visitors will recognize how different their country is from the United States and others

  • Canadians quickly move to a first-name basis, although you should wait to be invited to do so

  • The order for Canadian names is first, middle and last name

  • A firm handshake makes a very good first impression

  • Keep a distance of several feet when talking to another person. Canadians like their personal space

  • Do not show emotion in public

  • It is OK to use the "OK" and "thumbs up" sign, but don't point with your index finger or use the "V" sign

  • Holding doors open for the person behind you is appreciated and expected

  • Punctuality should be a priority for business related meetings, but being 15 minutes late (no later) for an evening social engagement is acceptable

  • Some professions allow for casual dress, but if you are uncertain about a particular establishment, then dress on the formal side

  • Canadians in general do not wear any type of scent in a business setting. Perfume, aftershave and heavily scented personal care products such as shampoo and hair spray should be avoided

  • It is considered rude to speak in a foreign language in the presence of others who do not understand it

  • If you see someone you know at a distance, a wave is an appropriate acknowledgement

  • People using ATM machines expect the next person waiting in line to stand a few feet behind them

  • With the exception of the streets, you will find that smoking is restricted in most public places.

  • In private homes, you should always ask permission from your host.

How might the local weather affect my daily life?

Vancouver is warmed by the Pacific Ocean currents and protected by a range of mountains. It enjoys mild temperatures year-round--from high 70's Fahrenheit (low 20's Celsius) in summer to a mild mid-40s Fahrenheit (0º to 5º Celsius) in winter, the climate is always hospitable. The winters are wet, but it rarely snows in Vancouver, except on the local ski hills.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?

'Vancouverites' love the outdoors, but they also enjoy indoor events so entertainment is plentiful and suits varied tastes. The city is very safe and has the mildest climate of any major city in Canada; so much so, that even palm trees can grow here. It rains a lot in winter, but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. Its Chinese heritage makes the city come alive during Chinese New Year.