Looking back upon the lower mainland and specific to Vancouver, the Top 10 things that caught my attention are:
- Vancouver and most of BC, is a very healthy place. There are hundreds of health food stores, lots of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and raw options in restaurants and grocery stores.
- Everything is crazy expensive! I thought Toronto was expensive but it’s cheap compared to Vancouver. Gas is twenty cents higher – so at least we didn’t move much with the RV or that would have been extremely costly. A condo in downtown Vancouver that’s worth only a couple thousand dollars is 2 million dollars! It’s beyond me how people afford to live there.
- There are bike paths everywhere! If you love biking then you should definitely visit Vancouver. You can bike wherever you want to go. Stanley Park is one of the best parks to walk or bike and it is easy to get from North Van to downtown via bike. (We know, we did it.)
- There are tons of buses all over the city. Many of them run on electricity which is amazing and go anywhere from the suburbs to downtown to UBC to Simon Fraser.
- Everywhere you go – downtown – it smells either like weed or smoke. People smoke a lot, more than Toronto and there is a lot of people smoking marijuana. I didn’t even know what it smelled like until we came to Vancouver.
- There are a lot of “adult stores”… sounds weird I know. Almost on every street there are huge neon signs pointing to the building and saying that. There are also a lot of marijuana stores, not only in Vancouver but all over BC – on the island as well.
- There are a lot, A LOT, of homeless people. The worst street is E Hastings St. It’s extremely sad to think of how many have no home, no food and barely any clothes in Canada. I knew there were homeless of course, the metro in Montreal and the subway in Toronto are filled but I didn’t know that there was this many!
- Vancouver isn’t actually all that clean. There is garbage on every street, on rooftops and all over the parks. It is very dirty which is somewhat disappointing.
- Driving in Vancouver sucks and I don’t even drive! Pedestrians walk in front of the cars even though the car ways a thousand times their weight. Bikers are on either side of you, sometimes even in front or behind. You always have to watch where you’re going. And let’s not forget one ways. There are so many one ways it’s hard to get to the next block.
- Good luck finding parking – BUT I do like that they have “PayByPhone”. It’s an app that you get where you can renew and pay for parking on your phone. You don’t have to keep running back to the meter, just add more time.Going downtown in any city, you usually know that it will be hard to find parking so you leave early. If you want to find parking in Vancouver you’re going to have to walk a few blocks, not necessarily a bad thing though.
Vancouver overall is a very green city. They promote biking and walking a lot which is amazing. They also have tons of electric car chargers everyone so it’s easy to drive an electric car. They have tons of Car2Go and Evo which are cars that you can drive anywhere in the city and leave them there so you don’t have to worry about having your own car but you can still drive if necessary.