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British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver Like a Local. What To Expect And be Ready For

Vancouver Like a Local: the things you more likely never heard of. Why we love it so much and kept visiting until Covid kicked in

Vancouver is a vibrant city and is unique in many ways. Some of them rarely mentioned, and if you don’t know what to look for, hard to find out. “Vancouver Like a Local” is all about it, the city we adore and deeply respect.

Vancouver is a coastal city and the busiest port in Canada. It is the biggest, most developed city in the province of British Columbia. BC is nicknamed “Beautiful British Columbia” for a good reason ;).

Vancouver Like a Local. What we have learned after visiting the city

1. Greenery. Ocean. Mountains. Skiing!

Vancouver, with its lush evergreen forests, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, cannot be mistaken for any other city in North America.

It is the first major city in my experience where you can see the mountains so close to downtown. There is not one, not two, but three(!) ski areas at the base of the city: Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour Mountains. These high-quality ski areas are within a 0.5h drive from Downtown Vancouver.

Afternoon walk at Seymour Mountain, just outside the city’s northern suburbs:

Seymour Mountain, Vancouver
Seymour Mountain, Vancouver

In the center of the picture below one of my favorite sights: brightly lit ski slopes hanging above Downtown Vancouver at night:

2. Ethnic diversity

The Greater Vancouver area has a population of nearly 2.5 million and is the most densely populated metro area in Canada.

Approximately 30% of the city’s inhabitants are of Chinese heritage and half of the resident’s native language is not English. In reality, visiting Vancouver feels like visiting the most ‘Asian’ city outside Asia.

Classical Chinese Garden. Vancouver photo credit: Wikipedia

3. Equality and freedom

Vancouver makes an impression of the easy-going and relaxed city, where people of any cultural background, faith, or gender identity feel welcome. And safe.

4. Vancouver Like a Local. Cash Flood.

When you walk the streets of Downtown Vancouver for the first time, you may wonder why some of the tall condo towers look empty.

That’s because more than 10% of apartments are indeed vacant. They were bought as investments (predominantly by reach Asians) and nobody lives there.

One of the Vancouver’s nicknames is “City of Glass”

Foreign cash flooded Vancouver, making its housing market the second least affordable in North America.

Since 2000 Vancouver’s home prices grew over 200% faster than New York City. The average home price in Vancouver is 1,156,050 CAD; a detached house will run 1,470,000 CAD.

Current prices for March 2021 can make your jaw drop on the ground!
Current prices for March 2021 can make your jaw drop!

5. Vancouver Like a Local. “Hollywood of the North”

Vancouver is often referred to as “Hollywood of the North” and for a good reason: countless movies were shot there. Percy JacksonJuno50 Shades of GreyGodzillaThe Twilight Saga, Mission Impossible IV, and I, Robot, just to name a few 🙂.

Gastown, pictured below, was a filming location for more than 40 movies.

Hotel Europe, a six-story triangular building at Powell Street was featured in lots of movies
Hotel Europe, a six-story triangular building at Powell Street was featured in lots of movies

6. Urban planning. Vancouverism

Speaking about urban planning, there is an international word called Vancouverism: “deep respect for nature with enthusiasm for busy, engaging, active streets and dynamic urban life.

Vancouverism means tall slim towers for density, widely separated by low-rise buildings, for light, air, and views”.

Did you know Vancouver is one of the greenest and top cities for quality of life in the whole world? It also has the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path (28km long!). Wow!

Vancouver map: uninterrupted walking/biking path along the Pacific Ocean
Vancouver map: uninterrupted walking/biking path along the Pacific Ocean

7. Vancouver Like a Local: Cherry on top. Palms!

Everybody knew Canada as a cold place. How surprised we were to see palm trees on the streets and at the private backyards!

Vancouver is the only one among Canada’s large cities with a mild climate. And yes, the only place in Canada where you can see palm trees growing outside:

English Bay, Vancouver. photo credit:
Kyle Pearce

Traveling to Vancouver during Covid-19

Just recently Canada became very strict about Covid-related measures. For example, arriving by land/water, you have to take three tests and self-quarantine for 14 days. Arriving by air isn’t much easier. Check all local rules and regulations before you go.


For us, the opportunity to visit Vancouver often is possible because of living in the Seattle area. Travel to Canada takes less than 2.5 hours by car!

If you are looking for a place to move, keep in mind ;). Alaska, Hawaii, Banff, and Jasper NP, Oregon, as well as Vancouver Island, will be relatively close to visit.

Vancouver is very comfortable for visiting with little children. There are tons of activities for kids within the city limits.

Vancouver at night
Vancouver at night with the Cirque Du Soleil tent at the right

Read next:
Our most favorite places to visit in Vancouver with kids

Vancouver BC travel guide: time to visit, budgeting, and the best way to move around the city.

By Mrs. Grazy Goat

I am Ira, the author behind Grazy Goat. My husband and I run this blog and share our experiences about thrilling places and cultures. Our son Artem recently joined us and helps with editing.

We are very happy to have YOU here 😻