Where should I live in Vancouver?
November 28, 2009 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Where should I live in Vancouver?

So, I've recently moved from Toronto to Vancouver, to do an 8 month stint at a lab at UBC. I'm currently staying at a friend's, but am planning on moving out in January.

Where should I live!? I'm a total west end, downtown, night life loving, pub crawling, cafe haunting, everywhere walking Torontonian, and I'm finding the transition to Van a little difficult. I can totally see why people love Van, and I'm trying to remain open minded, but I'm really not an outdoorsy type (I like parks, but have no urge to take off in the mountains for intensive recreation), and I crave some scene.

I've heard that I want to locate myself either in the downtown, or maybe commercial drive area. I just want an existence where groceries, coffee shops, bars, etc are within walking distance, and I'll bike to UBC when I need to head over there (proximity to UBC isn't important).

Thanks for your help! Canada rocks.
posted by Alex404 to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yaletown chould answer your cafe, pubs and groceries requirements. As would Commercial. As would Main Street. As would the West End. As would Kits.

Each neighborhood has its own flavour, age group, and subtle culture. The night life here is hugely different from Toronto's (or Montreal, where I am from). In general there's less mingling, more staring alas.

What specifically are you looking for? Given that you are already here, where have you been in Vancouver that you have liked? What places appeal to you? What disappointed you? This could help all of us craft a more specific answer to your question.

Oh and *please* don't call it Van. We don't call Toronto Tor, okay? :) Thanks
posted by seawallrunner at 6:50 PM on November 28, 2009

From your description, I'd recommend

-Commercial Drive area, between Venables and Broadway (personally, I'd stay closer to Venables, but that's me)
-Main St. area between Broadway and King Edward-ish
-the West End, if you decide to live downtown. Personally I'd choose something just off Davie between Nelson and Denman, or maybe something just past Denman towards Stanley Park.

Have fun and congratulations on your new job at UBC. Vancouver can be wonderful even if you're not that outdoorsy (I'm not that outdoorsy either but I loved living there--my parents live right downtown, and I lived near Commercial Drive and would move back there in a minute).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:55 PM on November 28, 2009

I am a big fan of Main St / Mount Pleasant where I life. You'll find live music and artsy stuff and vintage clothing stores and craft fairs. Also being East Van there is ample *cheap* Vietnamese food if you want a break from the $14 burgers you'll find at most of the bars in this city. I would be more inclusive and say anything from about 6th ave up to 30th is nice, though the further north you are the easier it is to get to downtown.

You could be equally well served living in Yaletown or downtown or in the West End or in Gastown or on Commercial Drive or on 4th in Kits depending on what you're into. These neighborhoods tend to self-segregate by social class and/or personality type. I could get into the stereotypes but it would be easier to offer advice if you say more about yourself and what kinds of things you're into.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:32 PM on November 28, 2009

You should really plan on moving out either:

a. Now
b. After the 2010 Olympics...

Otherwise, well chances are you will be over-paying...
posted by jkaczor at 8:36 PM on November 28, 2009

I'm gonna add an area not mentioned by others, as it's where I used to live: Fairview. Just outside of downtown, not far from some great ethnic shops near Commercial Drive, and close to some night spots on Broadway. Another advantage is somewhat cheaper accommodations (at least when I was there.) Mount Pleasant is right next to it. There are a smattering of older houses in the area that have (or at least had) floors for rent.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:54 PM on November 28, 2009

I meant to say Kingsway, not Commercial Drive. Another data point for the Fairview area; Granville Market is in it - tons of diverse shops, theatre and other nightlife.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:02 PM on November 28, 2009

Hey, thanks for all the help so far.

Some more info for the discerning: I've been living southeast of the UBC campus (around king edward and McDonald) so I've been feeling pretty bloody listless in these inner suburbs.

I'm definitely barely a stripe above the poverty line, and while I'm comfortable paying high rent, I need to make up for it with saving on other things (cheaper stores, bars, walkability, etc.)

Though I'm a big huge nerd, I tend to gravitate to artsy hipster crowds (not annoying ones!)

I went out one night in downtown on granville, and while I had fun, that's very much not my scene. I'm generally a big fun of funky mixed used areas.

Thanks again for all the advice.
posted by Alex404 at 9:25 PM on November 28, 2009

I second the recommendation for the West End. I live near Davie and Denman and am walking distance from any number of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, corner veggie stands, and grocery stores. One of those grocery stores is a No Frills, which has *way* better prices than 99% of the places in town. If you were to live in Yaletown you'd probably be paying at least 2-3 times as much for groceries at the local stores there.

Have you heard of Walk Score? When I was apartment-hunting it was a great way to check on the viability of places, based on their location, before actually going to view them.
posted by sanitycheck at 9:43 PM on November 28, 2009

Another vote for the Fairview/VGH area. Given the proximity to Broadway and the fact it's kinda of in the middle of all your cool neighbourhoods (east of UBC/Kits, west of Mt Pleasant/Main St and Commercial Drive and just south of downtown), you can get anywhere via bus/bike pretty quickly. Broadway itself is very very walkable (I never use my car unless I'm leaving Vancouver entirely), has a ton of coffee shops and restaurants, as well as a shoppers drug mart every 6 blocks (not sure why that's important, I just realized I can walk to 4 different ones in no more than 20 minutes). There's a huge new big-box complex of grocery stores and others at Cambie & Broadway, and plenty of cute smaller grocery stores along Broadway. A few bars as well, but to be honest, thats not my scene so I don't really pay attention. Also, its a little cheaper than neighbouring Kits, Shaughnessy and downtown. There's a glut of older apartment buildings between Oak and Granville.
posted by cgg at 9:45 PM on November 28, 2009

YES, Davie Street. I currently live in a great old heritage building at Davie and Jervis, and I'm moving down to Denman. Nice alternative but homey neighborhood feeling, lots of cafes, excellent proximity to everything (nightlife, beach, park).

Sanitycheck, we're going to be neighbors come monday night--Delaney's meetup!
posted by stray at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2009

I'm definitely barely a stripe above the poverty line, and while I'm comfortable paying high rent, I need to make up for it with saving on other things (cheaper stores, bars, walkability, etc.)

East side remains (in general) cheaper than West, and this applies to bars, restaurants, groceries as much as it does to rent. I would recommend:

- anywhere within a ten minute walk of Commercial Drive (Venables to 12th)
- Strathcona
- the Nanaimo/Hastings area ...

Good luck and glad to have you in Van.
posted by philip-random at 9:57 PM on November 28, 2009

I will stick to my Main St recommendation given the new info. Philip-random's choices are good too but depending on where you end up you could have a long bus ride to UBC (especially Nanaimo/Hastings, though that is a great area). Main is getting more expensive but it is still possible to live cheaply.

I have a kind of meh opinion of Fairview. It is convenient enough but sort of lacks character or soul. If the main attraction is its proximity to cool neighborhoods, you might as well live in the cool neighborhoods.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:43 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I should add that there's are cheap apartments in the west end. I'm currently paying $900 for a one bedroom, which is as good as you'll find anywhere, and I"m about to move into a two bedroom for $1300 total
posted by stray at 1:54 AM on November 29, 2009

I moved here from Toronto a couple years ago and we lucked into a fantastically central place in what's technically "West Mount Pleasant" (ie. we're west of Main but only a few blocks, so we can also walk to Cambie to take the Canada Line downtown). You are unfortunately not ever really going to find the kind of nightlife you're used to, but Mount Pleasant seems like the least horrible, and the further east you move, the less bad rent you'll pay.

I think the next most tolerable option would be the west end (ie downtown) and then after that in Fairview, which is at least central to other stuff.
posted by SoftRain at 2:11 AM on November 29, 2009

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