2023 Living in Vancouver Costs
Everyone’s heard of this wonderful place in southwestern Canada, and despite the high cost of living in Vancouver, half of the world wishes to live there. Vancouver is a visual paradise, from our snow-capped mountains to the crystal-clear waters that surround the city. The old adage that you can ski in the morning and swim in the ocean in the afternoon is true in Vancouver, though the water may be a little colder than you expected!
All the beauty comes at a price though. Just like New York and San Francisco, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in North America. However, I won’t blame you if you brush the high cost of living in Vancouver aside once you get here. Living in Vancouver is addictive, and once you get here, you won’t want to leave.
Monthly Housing Costs in Vancouver, Canada
Most young people living in the city center rent, with many choosing to live with roommates for years beyond the usual early 20’s timeline. An average one bedroom apartment in the city can range from $1900 to $3000 per month, with a two-bedroom averaging $2500 -$3500 per month. Expect to pay at the high end in the downtown core.
Housing costs may be your biggest budget line item when you live in Vancouver. With the relatively recent boom in the housing market, most millennials fear they won’t be able to buy a home in the city they grew up in.
Many homeowners develop secondary suites in their basements into rentals. These basement apartments can sometimes be had for 20-30% less, depending on the area.
If you’re looking to buy in Vancouver, a one-bedroom apartment will Cost you more than $600k and the prices only go up from there.
Buying a house in Vancouver will require a very healthy bank account, with prices starting at $1.6M in the less-preferred neighborhoods. It’s not unusual to hear about a typical family home selling for upwards of $3M.
Many are drawn to the international vibe of Vancouver, with its many ethnic restaurants and eateries, excellent coffee and engaging music scene. Vancouver nightlife is mostly confined to the downtown core so many prefer to live closer to their favorite scene.
Cost of Housing Outside of Vancouver
Cities around Vancouver are marginally less expensive with home prices averaging 20-40% less than in the city. Prices dropping the further away you get.
Although many city-dwellers choose to leave Vancouver seeking less expensive housing, the trade-off is the addition of a rather dreadful commute. Choosing to live in Surrey (20 kilometers from Vancouver) will certainly reduce your housing costs but will add up to 3 hours to your day in the form of commuting time.
Whether you’re using public transportation or a car, the time is just about the same. There are no freeways or expressways in Vancouver – the closest freeway starts just as the city ends – so all driving in the city is usually through heavy traffic. Freeways into the city have been improved in recent years but still result in significant daily gridlock.
Utility Costs in Vancouver
Some rental accommodations in Vancouver include the cost of utilities in the rent, and this helps a bit in reducing your anxiety when you look at the numbers!
Renters of a 2 bedroom apartment can expect to pay $120-$150 per month in utilities. This would include heating, gas and electricity. Monthly internet would add $60-$70. If you haven’t yet cut your cable, expect to pay $50-150 per month for the privilege, depending how the depth of your sports obsession.
Homeowners pay additional utilities including water and garbage pick-up that works out to another $70 per month. If you own an apartment, monthly maintenance fees add $400-$500 to your regular expenses.
Transportation Costs in Vancouver
Formerly a car-centric city, Vancouver is becoming more easily navigable by public transportation. More rapid transit lines have been built in recent years and as new lines are added, development rapidly follows around each new station.
A monthly pass on Metro Vancouver one-zone transit pass in Vancouver will cost you $109 $ 98per month, with pay-as-you-go pricing at $2.95 per ride.
If you’re driving, gas prices at the present time are $1.30 per liter but this price is wildly variable and has recently been as high as $1.60 per liter.
As of Uber and Lyft are now legal in Vancouver! There aren’t many cars yet and they are currently limited to the city itself, but this is a huge improvement over previous years.
If you’re looking for a taxi (good luck with that, as taxi’s are often hard to find), expect to pay $1.89 per kilometer, plus $3.50 to start.
Many Vancouverites love car-sharing services, and they are especially useful in the downtown core and central areas of the city. Car2Go, Zipcar, Modo and Evo are popular choices with the price ranging from $.41-45 per minute or $13-15 per hour
You’ll find designated car-sharing parking in many popular Vancouver locations.
Cost to Dine out in Vancouver
Due to the high cost of housing in Vancouver, Vancouverites typically live in smaller homes, making them less likely to have enough space to entertain their friends. As a result, eating out is almost a spectator sport in Vancouver.
Vancouver has a huge variety of restaurants to choose from, with ethnic restaurants being a top choice for many. The ethnic places are usually less expensive and have tastier food too. It’s a rare Vancouverite that doesn’t know his Bao from his Banh Mi.
A typical meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost an average of $15. Fast-food restaurant meals will run you $10-13 per meal.
If your choice is a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay $80 per couple for a typical 3-course meal of appetizer, dinner and dessert. Add on more if you have a few drinks. A cocktail might set you back $15, but a beer or glass of wine costs less at $6-$8, more if its imported.
The sky’s the limit if you’re dining in high style. Vancouver is still sadly lacking a Michelin star restaurant but there are still many fine establishments that would be happy to see you part with $200 for a meal for two with wine.
Grocery Shopping in Vancouver
Many Vancouverites favor organic, locally-sourced food for their weekly grocery shop. Farmer’s Markets are wildly popular in Vancouver – you’ll find one in every corner of the city throughout the growing season. The winter farmer’s markets are very popular too.
Costs at farmer’s markets in Vancouver vary widely, but most items fall within local norms. A family of 2 pay $600-$800 per month for their groceries if they cook at home regularly. Budget-conscious shoppers who regularly watch the sales might save as much as 25%.
If not farmer’s markets, most Vancouver shoppers patronize large chain grocery stores.
Entertainment Costs in Vancouver
Vancouverites are famous for leading healthy and active lifestyles and that is reflected in what most city denizens do to entertain themselves.
Running, cycling, walking, skate-boarding, roller-blading and skiing are popular local pastimes. Many belong to clubs that organize events for members on weekends. You’ll find yourself fighting for space on the Stanley Park Seawall or other popular trails on sunny days, what with all the other cyclists, runners and walkers wanting to increase their fitness levels too.
Movie tickets in Vancouver cost $13-$15 per person, although a national theatre chain also offers VIP seating at more than $20 per ticket, albeit with comfier seats and chair-side service.
Local professional NHL hockey (Go Canucks Go!) is a popular choice for Vancouverites and prices have recently gone down (January 2020). They can be quite pricey ranging from $100-$400, but some tickets for upper bowl seats can be had for under $50. If the Canucks make the playoffs, expect city-wide pandemonium and increased ticket prices?
Vancouver is the home of a beloved minor league baseball team – the Vancouver Canadians. The Canadians home is Nat Bailey stadium, often viewed as the prettiest stadium in baseball. Ticket costs are very reasonable starting at $10 and going up to $22.
Most of the big acts come through Vancouver on national tours, and ticket prices for these shows (Shawn Mendes being a recent example) can range from $132 to $250 and up.
Please keep in mind that Vancouver is extremely expensive to the point where middle class professional engineers, nurses, firefighters, business folks, teachers, accountants are leaving the city because of the astronomical costs.
You won’t have much of a life if you can barely keep your head above water financially and you’ll need to earn in the $60-80K mark to live very modestly here.
Some of the other hidden cost are taxes, ridiculous gas prices (highest in N.A.), outlandish government run car insurance, clothing cost and a host of other cost that are higher than nearly all places in North America and don’t forget the 7-9 months of nonstop drizzle or rain with dark grey depressing overcast days for weeks on end without any sight of the sun, not to mention very short 6-8 week summers. By the way, when you hear someone saying Vancouver, BC, the BC means Bring Cash.
*all prices are in Canadian dollars.