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Moving to Vancouver

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Moving to Vancouver



Moving to Vancouver with 2 school-aged children

August 2006

My husband and I are in the process of moving to Vancouver, Canada this year with our boys. We have two children 6 and 10 years. We visited various neighbourhoods last year and loved the Commercial Drive area. West Van. which seems to have the good schools seemed really expensive. Does anybody know anything about schools in Commercial Drive? I have heard conflicting messages. I would also love some input about what neighbourhoods in Vancouver would be a good fit in terms of a neighbourhood and good schools for the children. Thanks heaps for your input in advance!


From a tourists point of view, we just came back from a trip to Vancouver and other parts of BC. I LOVED Vancouver...seems like a great place to live. We stayed at a hotel in North Vancouver at the bottom of Lonsdale, on the water. In exploring that area I was really impressed...it was clean, attractive, people were friendly, saw lots of kids. Today I found out that one of my clients used to live in Vancouver at the top of Lonsdale (it goes WAY up the hill) and she loved it. She went to Jr. High there. I know this isn't much to go on, but an outsiders view. Can't wait to go back. Good luck on your move anon
Hi, I have just joined so I didn't get to read your original posting. Checked in the advice columns about moving to Vancouver, and felt that couple of responses there were pretty succint and useful. I have lived in Vancouver for a year, and although we didn't have kids then, I know of people who did, and they were pretty happy on the whole. Its a wonderful place really - except the rain, but you get used to it Sonya

Move to Vancouver for the schools, economy & politics?

Jan 2005

My husband and I are feeling discouraged about the high cost of living in the Bay Area and the low quality of life you get in return, i.e. at best, mediocre schools (at least in Oakland). We work hard and long hours and have been able to save so little that should either of us lose our jobs (my husband works in the tech industry so that is an ever present possibility), we have only one month's cushion to pay our mortgage and other bills. The current political climate has discouraged us even further. With much of our tax dollars going elsewhere, and not towards the improvement of our schools, health care system, infrastructure, etc, we are seriously considering applying for permanent resident status in Canada. We want our 13 month old son to grow up in a place that values education (and funds it!), where tax money goes towards improving the quality of life of the taxpayers and not towards war or the destruction of civil liberties. We believe strongly in these values and want him to grow up in an environment that values them also. Are we being rash? Disloyal? Are other people feeling as hopeless and overwhlemed about the direction this country and state are going in? Are other people seriously considering this? We are both native Californians and have deep roots here- my family has lived here for 5 generations. Leaving would be extremely drastic...


We also decided to move to the Vancouver area with our two kids, for the same reasons you stated. Political, educational, economical. In fact, we've already processed the papers going to the Buffalo immigration center. I recently made a trip out there to check it out and was pleasantly surprised with what the area had to offer: wonderful people, incredible scenery (I thought the Bay area was beautiful), great political scene (liberal, green, etc.), culture. It'll be very hard to leave this area after 30 years but when I see the educational and political system here, local and national, I feel like leaving ASAP. Be aware, it takes forever to get a visa, probably from 1 to 2 years.. I strongly advice you to go through an immigration lawyer to cut a lot of red tape that you might encounter. It's tons of money but worth it! anon, of course
We are a Berkeley family spending the academic year in Vancouver; our daughter is in grade 7 and son in grade 9. A few things to be aware of: while we love the city and surrounding area, people, etc. it is not perfect. One big downside is the weather. It started raining around Aug 20 and we have probably had no more than 10-15 days of sun in the past 5 months. On those few days, there is no greater place to live. But winter short days and rain not for those prone to depression. Housing prices in the more desirable parts of the city (such as the westside, near UBC and between downtown and the airport) are comparable to Berkeley, not cheap. Schools: our daughter goes to a local public school for grades K-7, about 350 total. She's doing great; the only caucasian girl in her grade but the girls are friendly. She's also a joiner, and the local community centers have lots of classes. The school also has team sports and a daily running club after school, with about 80% student participation. Very involved parent group. Our son is at a large high school of 1700, again, one of the few non-Asian students. The boys there aren't nearly as outgoing and he's had a very lonely year. Many are recent immigrants (very affluent, from Hong Kong) and speak Chinese outside of class. Large classes, teachers overwhelmed, few clubs to join. Younger kids would probably adjust easier. Many of our neighbors send their kids to local private schools, with about same demographics. Their main reasoning is that the Asian kids in private schools have to pass English proficiency tests, and so the language arts classes are more advanced. On balance, still a great place to live. Am glad to talk to people serious about moving here.

Considering a move to Vancouver

Oct 2003

We are considering a move to Vancouver, BC and I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has lived there. We have two children under the age of 2. I'm interested in recommendations for good areas to live in, things to do, and any likes or dislikes you have about living in Vancouver. Thanks.


Vancouver is a beautiful, family oriented city. There are many great parks and beaches (Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth park) and it is only a 20 minute drive to pure wilderness. The rain can be tiresome but if you equip yourself properly you can have fun outside in the rain. If you have the money, Kitsilano is a great area to live but can be a bit snooty. North Vancouver is a little more affordable but not as much of a community and a little farther from the city. East Vancouver used to be the artsy fartsy low income area but has become a real family community over the years, it is a lot like Berkeley. You can still afford a house in this area and there are many alternatives for children. You should visit Commercial drive to get the feel of the area, there are many interesting shops and people from all different backgrounds. Regardless of where you live, you will love Vancouver! old vancouverite

Thinking about moving to Vancouver

Feb 2003

We are starting to toss around the idea of a move, and Vancouver has come up. We know it is beautiful, but not much nore about it. Any thoughts from those of you who know it better about the many factors that go into making a place livable? Housing? Schools? Cultural life? And any recommendations on especially nice areas to live? How about how easy/difficult it is for an American family to move to Canada? Thanks! Kathleen


I lived in Vancouver for 9 years, before moving to the Bay Area 8 years ago - and my husband grew up in a Vancouver suburb. By Canadian standards, housing prices are expensive. But they are reasonable compared to the Bay Area. In general, there are a lot of parallels between Vancouver and here. It is fairly laid-back and liberal, with an ethnically-diverse population. Public schools are generally good, especially on the west side of the city. However, with the recent provincial government budget cuts there, that may change. There is good public transportation, a good arts and cultural scene, good opportunities for recreation. The weather can be grey and dull in winter, with lots of rain. But it rarely snows, and the summers are usually beautiful. I'm not sure how easy it is for an American to work in Canada, though. I know the universities give priority to Canadians for academic jobs, unless they can prove that there are no Canadians who can be hired. It might be different if you are sponsered by an employer. I am working in the US on a NAFTA visa, and there might be an equivalent visa for working in Canada. Barbara
We are twice-yearly visitors to Vancouver, Canada, and are seriously considering retirement there, one day.

The city is gorgeous (the way the mountains meet the water), the American currency is somewhere between 30 and 40% stronger there than the Canadian, the eating is world class, and the people are very nice.

We've some dear friends who live there and know that the houseing prices are as expensive, if not more, than the Bay area. (hard to believe, I know.) Our friends paid 760K American for a what is, really, a glorified townhouse (1700 sq ft on three levels) with a postage stamp yard, and this was 6 years ago. As well, our friends use private school for their three children; the private school choice may be because they are Jewish and want their kids in a Jewish school, however.

I find Vancouver proper much like a very clean, European capital. Very cosmopolitan--the shopping is wonderful, as well. Did I mention that Grouse Mountain and Whistler are very nearby for skiing, as well. Stanley Park, in the city proper, is a gorgeous park with an aquarium, bike-riding paths, train, public beach, teahouse, public swimming pool, sailing, rollerblading, you name it.

Finally, if you should need ideal medical care (which you can find in Vancouver for a price), it is just a short jaunt over the border to Seattle with its world-class med center at Univ. of Washingto LOVES, Loves, loves VANCOUVER


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