Moving to Vancouver: A Guide for Newcomers

Published on: November 1st, 2023
Last updated: November 14th, 2023
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Vancouver is one of Canada’s most popular cities for newcomers, with first-generation immigrants accounting for over 42% of its total population. With increasing immigration targets, more and more foreign nationals can move to the beautiful city of Vancouver.

Located in the western province known as “Beautiful British Columbia”, the bustling city boasts natural beauty and some of the country’s warmest weather.

Vancouver and Vancouver Island

They are two distinct regions in British Columbia, each with its unique appeal. If you’re trying to decide between the two, consider the following factors:

Vancouver is British Columbia’s largest city and is situated in the Lower Mainland region. In contrast, Vancouver Island is a picturesque island located off Canada’s Pacific Coast, renowned for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and charming small communities. One notable distinction to keep in mind is that living on Vancouver Island is often more affordable in terms of housing, rental costs, and overall cost of living compared to the bustling city of Vancouver.

Immigration routes for Vancouver, British Columbia

Here are the three most popular options for Vancouver immigration:

#1 – Express Entry – Federal Skilled Workers (FSW)

Express Entry is Canada’s most popular immigration pathway for skilled workers. Qualified candidates can become Canadian permanent residents in as little as 6 months. Permanent residency grants individuals the right to live and work anywhere in the country.

The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program is one of three immigration programs operated through the Express Entry system. FSW is highly popular because it does not require candidates to have previous work experience or education in Canada. Anyone can apply from anywhere in the world.

FSW is a competitive program. The Express Entry system ranks eligible candidates against one another using the points-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS score). Candidates receive points for their age, education, language ability, work experience, and other factors. Only candidates with the highest scores will receive an invitation to submit an official application for Canadian permanent residency.

If you are a young skilled worker with a high level of education and strong English or French language proficiency, FSW could be a great option for you to move to Vancouver, and the Canadian government makes it easier for workers in these fields to immigrate.

#2 – Studying in British Columbia

For those who aren’t quite competitive enough under Express Entry, studying in Canada can be a great step towards improving your chances for Vancouver immigration. Completing a post-secondary program in British Columbia not only results in more points for Express Entry, but it also could make you eligible for the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP).

Most international student graduates are eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) allowing you to stay in Canada to work for up to three years.

As one of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver hosts several world-class educational institutions. The University of British Columbia consistently places high in the global rankings of universities. As well, Simon Fraser University has an exceptional reputation across Canada.

If you are interested in continuing your education, studying at a BC institution could help you to immigrate permanently.

#3 – The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP)

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) is a collection of immigration streams that allow BC to nominate foreign workers for permanent Canadian immigration. The BC PNP has two main categories: one for workers with skills needed by the province, and one for entrepreneurs with the experience and finances to build a business in the province.

For the PNP streams targeting workers, applicants must have a job offer from a BC employer or have completed a graduate program at a BC university. If you can secure a job offer from a BC employer and demonstrate that you meet the other program criteria, then BC will assist you in obtaining a work permit. A work permit will allow you to work in the province while Canada processes your permanent residency application.

For BC’s entrepreneurial stream, applicants must have several years of experience owning and/or managing their own business. As well, applicants must invest a minimum of CAD 100,000 in establishing their BC business.


Essential Tips for Moving to Vancouver

Moving to Vancouver from the USA can be an exciting adventure, but it also requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some tips to help you make a smooth transition:

Obtain Necessary Documentation:

  • Ensure your passport is up to date.
  • Check the Canadian visa and immigration requirements that apply to your specific situation. Depending on your circumstances, you may need a work permit, study permit, or permanent residency.

Housing Search:

Living in downtown Vancouver, specifically in the West End, offers a highly desirable lifestyle. Within a 5-minute walk, residents have access to a plethora of amenities and attractions. The stunning morning view of the mountains is a daily delight. The proximity to Stanley Park, Coal Harbor, and the beautiful Davie/English Bay further enhances the outdoor experience.

While living downtown has its advantages, some people prefer to live further away from the busy city center. Those often prioritize quieter and more spacious neighbourhoods with lower living costs. If you are looking for larger homes with yards and more affordable housing options, which can be difficult to find in the city center, that would be the best option. Although commuting to downtown jobs may take longer, some people prefer the different pace of life in the suburbs or smaller towns surrounding Vancouver, as they offer a change of scenery and lifestyle compared to the lively but sometimes more hectic downtown area.


  • Be prepared for the higher cost of living in Vancouver compared to many US cities. Research the cost of housing, groceries, transportation, and other essentials.
  • Consider setting up a Canadian bank account for easier financial management.


  • Research the Canadian healthcare system and understand your eligibility. British Columbia’s healthcare system, MSP (Medical Services Plan), may require enrollment and monthly premiums.
  • Ensure you have health insurance during any waiting period.


  • Familiarize yourself with the Canadian tax system. Consult a tax professional to help you understand any tax implications related to your move.


  • Public transportation in Vancouver is well-developed, but you might still want to have a car for certain areas or commutes. Be aware of insurance requirements and registration.

Vancouver Residents:

  • Get to know the culture and local customs. Vancouver residents are known for their cultural diversity and tolerance.
  • Learn about the city’s history and indigenous cultures, as these play a significant role in Vancouver’s identity.


  • Vancouver experiences a mild, coastal climate with lots of rain. Invest in quality rain gear and warm clothing.


  • Join local clubs, meetups, and social groups to make new friends and build a support system.
  • Leverage social media and online forums to connect with expats and locals who can offer advice.


  • Research educational options if you have children. Vancouver has a variety of public and private schools, as well as post-secondary institutions.


  • While English is the primary language in Vancouver, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Canadian idioms and local slang.

Respect the Environment:

  • Vancouver is known for its commitment to sustainability. Embrace recycling and environmentally friendly practices.

Prepare for Traffic:

  • Vancouver can have heavy traffic, especially during rush hours. Plan your daily commute accordingly and consider public transportation options.

Emergency Services:

  • Familiarize yourself with local emergency services, including hospitals, police, and fire stations.

Be Open-Minded:

  • Keep an open mind and be patient as you adjust to a new city, culture, and way of life. Moving can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity for personal growth and exploration.

Remember that moving to a new country is a significant life change, and there will be both challenges and rewards. Take the time to research and prepare so that your move to Vancouver can be a positive and enriching experience.

Vancouver’s Linguistic Diversity: Beyond English and French

In Vancouver, despite English and French being the official languages, an intriguing linguistic diversity prevails. Approximately 6% of the population doesn’t speak either of these languages, highlighting the city’s multicultural nature. Moreover, a substantial 43% of Vancouver’s residents have mother tongues other than English or French, representing a rich tapestry of linguistic backgrounds. Among these, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Korean stand out as the most commonly spoken languages, showcasing the profound cultural and linguistic variety that enriches the city’s social fabric. This linguistic diversity not only reflects Vancouver’s status as a global metropolis but also fosters an environment of cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Contrasting Life in Vancouver and US Cities: Key Differences

Living in Vancouver, Canada presents several key differences from living in a city within the United States. One of the most noticeable distinctions is the healthcare system. In Canada, healthcare is publicly funded, offering residents access to essential medical services without significant out-of-pocket expenses. This contrasts with the US, where healthcare can be expensive and often tied to employment. Additionally, Vancouver boasts a milder, coastal climate with more moderate temperature extremes than many US cities, which can be a relief for those who prefer temperate weather. However, it’s important to note that Vancouver’s cost of living, especially in terms of housing, tends to be higher than in many US cities. Lastly, cultural diversity and social policies may vary, with Vancouver known for its inclusive and multicultural society, which can influence the overall living experience in unique ways compared to certain US cities.


If you meet the requirements for any of these three immigration options, you could have the chance to immigrate permanently to Vancouver. To find out detailed information, simply complete our free immigration assessment and a member of our team will review your options!

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