Moving to Vancouver – Everything You Need to Know

Vancouver olympic village at night

Finding your feet in any new city can be tricky, so we asked our Vancouver members what do you need to know to make the most of the city? Downloading the GirlCrew app is a great start. Bríd, one of the GirlCrew community ambassadors, gave us her top tips so you have everything you need to know before moving to Vancouver.

Moving to Vancouver: Before You Go

Accommodation

Before you board a plane, it’s best to have accommodation sorted for at least the first 2-3 weeks for when you arrive. Get landlord references before you leave, two previous landlords if possible. Make sure they include phone numbers and emails that can be contacted for verification. Watch out for apartments that seem too good to be true online. The likelihood is they are! Never send or give any money before you see the room in person, be sure to sign a contract and check that you have the right keys. Stay away from advertisements that say ‘solarium’ (sunroom, all glass and tiny) or ‘den’ (oftentimes it’s a walk in wardrobe they have turned into a room).

Money

Accommodation in Vancouver is not cheap and you can spend a lot of money before you’ve even realised it. Craigslist is usually the best place to find rental accommodation. Try and save a good chunk before you move so you have enough to live on while you get settled.

Work

Start sending your resume out to recruitment agencies before the move. Line up some meetings with them your first week so they can keep an eye out for potential jobs. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as it’s a big thing over here. Be prepared to fill out lots of forms. It’s annoying but it puts you in their pool so any future suitable jobs that may come up. Make sure and amend your CV to the Canadian style. List that you are “legally allowed to work in Canada” on your CV. A top tip from our members was to avoid mentioning that you are on a Working Holiday visa. As employers can get a fright if you are on limited time.

If you are just looking for temp work, sign up for a few agencies to give you options. Be prepared for tests (word, excel, typing tests, personality tests etc) with recruitment agencies. Temp agencies & temp jobs will usually pay you 4% holiday pay and then not pay you for days you take off. You are entitled to 4% holiday pay (or accrued paid vacation days) if you are employed by a company for more than 5 days.

If you’re looking for a full-time permanent role, then be prepared to be asked if you plan to stay. Know the steps you’ll need to take when your IEC visa runs in order to get Permanent Residency status so they know you are serious about staying. It eases their fears and makes sure that it isn’t a black mark against you an interview.

Travel Insurance

Too many people take the chance that they won’t be asked for proof by immigration. And then they get turned around and sent right back home! Get 2 years ( if your visa is for 2 years) it’s worth it. They will ask, and even if they don’t, it’s not worth the chance.

Moving to Vancouver: Upon Arrival

Sin Number

You can apply for a Social Insurance Number when you arrive in Canada. To apply for it, you need your passport along with work permit. Your SIN number is valid for the length of your permit (you can, however, extend it if your circumstances change). To obtain it go to Service Canada Office.

Phone

There are several providers that you can go with, but it ’s important to remember that not every service is compatible with your phone. And not every provider has good coverage across the country. They will need a passport, SIN number (as a form of ID) and address but you can give them a friends, and change it when you have your own. If you just want a SIM card for your phone do your research to make sure your existing phone works in Canada as phones work on different frequencies. Be prepared to sign up to a 2-year contract for a new phone and SIM. It’s definitely best to scout shops for their offers, but asking locals – like the GirlCrew group is a great way to find what providers are best.

Bank Account

There are so many banks in Canada but a lot of people go with CIBC. The handy thing about them is you can sign up, and walk out with a debit card the same day. If you check out various bank websites you can see if they have any offers for people new to Canada.

Healthcare

You’ll have your health insurance anyway as part of your visa (assuming you bought it) but either way, you should be also eligible for MSP (government health insurance). It is NOT free, so you can pay for it and the amount depends on how much you earn. Apply as soon as possible when you land as you have to complete waiting periods. Even if you don’t apply straight away, they’ll retroactively charge you for those waiting periods. You will need a letter from your employer though – so can’t apply until you get a job.

Getting around

Transit (public transport) here is great! If you are going to be working downtown, for example, being somewhere near a SkyTrain station is the quickest way there. Get a Compass Card. You just have to tap in and out when using SkyTrain and just tap in when using the bus. It costs about $6, and you can top it up and use it on public transport every day. If you are using it a lot consider getting a monthly pass (instead of just topping it up all the time). It costs $91 for Zone 1.  If you are getting a monthly pass, make sure and keep the receipts, as you can claim tax back on this. Purchase them at one of the local shops or at the machines in the stations.

Bills

Here are a few ideas of the kind of bills you’ll be paying outside of rent.

  • Hydro – otherwise known as electricity, usually around $20- $30 per month each.
  • Internet – can be very expensive over here, about $80 per month.
  • Transport – allow $110 a month just in case you end up going somewhere that is outside of your monthly pass 
  • Laundry – check when viewing places if laundry is included. If they don’t have laundry in the building or in a suite, stay away. It’s too expensive to be going to a laundromat all the time!

Get Out and Explore

You need to keep busy when you first arrive to get you settled in. It’s easy to just stay in your room cause you don’t know anyone, but that won’t change the fact… that you don’t know anyone! Get out and socialize any way you can and soon your circle of friends will begin expanding. Download the GirlCrew app and find new friends who are also starting their new adventure in Vancouver. We’ve some great suggestions for fun activities and great spots for food

So what do you think? Have we missed anything? What are your tips for moving to Vancouver? What did you do to make the move? Let us know in the comments below. Check out these other great links on moving to Canada in general, Usit, Go4Less, and Moving2Canada. Massive thank you to Bríd, one of our amazing Community Ambassadors who had all these brilliant tips to share. Thanks girl! 

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Ellie Smyth

Community Manager at GirlCrew
Community Manager for GirlCrew Dublin, YouTuber and podcast addict. Follow my Tweets on @xLadySmythx

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4 comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about moving to Vancouver for the last couple of months so it’s nice finding articles like this that put everything into perspective. Thanks for sharing!

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