Livable, lovable or leaveable?

Asp pointed out this column in the financial times about Vancouver consistently making it into ‘top livable city’ lists, but not drawing lots of population or interest on a global scale:

Vancouver is Hollywood’s urban body double. It is famously the stand-in for New York, LA, Seattle and Chicago, employed when those cities just get too tough, too traffic-clogged, too murderous or too bureaucratic to film in. It is almost never filmed as itself. That is because, lovely as it is, it is also, well … a little dull. Who would want to watch a film set in Vancouver? To see its skyscrapers destroyed by aliens or tidal waves, its streets populated by cops and junkies, its public buildings hosting romantic reunions? Yet Vancouver (original name, Gastown) has also spent more than a decade at the very top of the charts of the best city to live in the world. Can that really be right?

No. Not at all. In fact, Vancouver’s boringly consistent topping of the polls underlines the fundamental fault that lies at the heart of the idea of measuring cities by their “liveability”. The most recent surveys, from Monocle magazine, Forbes, Mercer and The Economist, concur: Vancouver, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Munich dominate the top. What, you might ask, no New York? No London? No LA or HK? None of the cities that people seem to actually want to emigrate to, to set up businesses in? To be in? None of the wealthiest, flashiest, fastest or most beautiful cities? Nope. Americans in particular seem to get wound up by the lack of US cities in the top tier. The one that does make it is Pittsburgh. Which winds them up even more.

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bubbly Says:

"But right now, we have no culture, shitty weather AND insane prices of real estate at the same time."

I hear this 'no culture' thing a lot about Vancouver – usually from Torontonians. What type of culture do you want that we don't have? We have a variety of museums and galleries, countless small festivals and a few big ones, and a decent variety of live music venues. I'm never out of things to do here.


@Londonernow Says: It's all about opinions and personal tast isn't it? I lived in London in my mid-20s and loved the buzz and history but it wore me down after a year. It's not somewhere where I would ever consider settling down – too big, too dirty, too impersonal. I came to Vancouver for about 1/2 of my London salary but estimate I probably doubled my quality of life – mostly because Vancouver is perfectly-sized for me. It's got a bit of a big city vibe (compared to the smaller town I grew up in) but is very easy to get around. There are so many factors that go into why certain people prefer certain places that's it's always a pointless discussion to compare cities and countries. You also have to factor in the "Grass is greener' type people who… Read more »


I moved to Vancouver in 2005 and love it – rain and all. It may not be totally green, but it is much greener than many other cities.It may not be totally liveable, but it is much more liveable than many other cities. It's also one of the friendliest cities I have ever lived in – and I've lived in a few. Personally I would rather live in a place about which people are trying desperately to find things wrong than a city about which people struggle to find good things to say. Rain, high house prices, slightly dull nightlife – if that's all we in vancouver have to complain about, we're pretty lucky. And there are easy solutions to those three things – buy a good raincoat, rent a nice place and make your own fun. As for the… Read more »


@Bear Vancouverite: It's a normal reaction to the "Best place on Earth" bullshit and idiotic comparisons to Monaco.

Vancouver has positives and negatives. Some of the negatives could be compensated by lower prices of real estate, IMO. That's just my opinion. But right now, we have no culture, shitty weather AND insane prices of real estate at the same time.

Bear Vancouverite

Am I the only one constantly surprised at how everyone is making fun of our city, complaining it's not green, has too much rain, is laughable compared to other world class cities, has no culture, is going down the drain due to immigrants, and yet we're doing so while waiting for prices to come down so we can buy?

You don't find it ironic that locals are trying to convince each other how worthless our real estate should and how immigrants are idiots to buy here when we're all just waiting to buy in this worthless, too rainy, cultureless city?

Personally I like Vancouver just fine.


@Jack: Now if someone could only fix our fucked up immigration policies!



That's nothing, I once put in an offer to rent a condo worth $1.2M for $2550/month and got accepted. The strata was probably over $500 per.

You do the math on that one!


In response to Anonymouse I can say that London is a very nice place to live. Museums are free and plays/musicals are reasonably priced. The number of parks in the the city puts Vancouver to shame. I've lived in both places for long periods of my life and I was born and raised in Vancouver and love the place but it's not even worth comparing it to London. It just can't be done. Not sure on the right analogy but its like comparing the sound of a solo singer to an orchestra.


@Anonymouse: “Is the weather better on Maui?;) The prices are sure better.” What about the employment opportunities?

It's mostly meth.


Re Weather:

1) "Day with measurable sunshine" means that if the sun is visible for 10 minutes during the whole day then the whole day is counted.

2) Downtown Vancouver receives about 40% more rain than the YVR (which is used in the stats on Wikipedia). North Vancouver and places east of Burnaby about 80% to 120% more than YVR.



Maybe they can create something akin to the grand palatial boulevards of Barcelona, another third-tier city.

I hope you are joking. Comparing Barcelona to Vancouver is like comparing Canucks to Giants. Completely different leagues.



"Is the weather better on Maui?;) The prices are sure better."

What about the employment opportunities?


anonymous says: you’re right, our summers are getting shorter and shorter. Vancouver weather in general is colder and more rainy (I’ve lived here my entire life), bring on some global warming!

the forecast was for a wet/cold winter/spring, sure has been spot on. it was a bit warmer this winter than forecast. we've had a couple elnino years where it was much dryer than normal, and some elnina years like this one. global warming has made the weather less consistent from year to year, but i doubt the amount of rain/sunlight and temperature overall has deviated much.


Is the weather better on Maui?;) The prices are sure better.



No new mortgage rule changes: Flaherty

There has already been "some softening" in the Canadian real-estate market so there is no need for further tightening of mortgage rules, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday.

lol cats

i like like to watch cnn news and aljazeera (two extremes on the opposite side of the spectrum) to figure out what the truth is… somewhere in the middle.

i also like to read this blog and the REBGV website, and know the truth is somewhere in the middle.

on a different note, there are 1.5 million millionaires in Canada; a million bucks really isn't that much money any more bears. but hey, keep holding onto that 20K down payment/nest egg hoping it'll take you out of your hovel when prices correct.

Romeo Jordan

Don't worry PaulB.


Its listings that are low (they will EXPLODE higher soon enough), the sell list is set to fall below 40% in a few/handful of months.

This market is going to have the shit kicked out of it. Ask McLosin what that feels like (hint: not good).


Romeo Jordan


New Listings 293

Price Changes 106

Sold Listings 171


I sort of agree with both viewpoints on 3 bedroom rental. I regularly search 3 bedrooms on Craigslist, and to my eye, most of them it is currently cheaper to rent than buy. Of course, depending on DP. Even expensive places like this $2650 3 bedroom at "Pointe Clair" in Coal Harbor has a sale price of $728K and strata of $378/month – even with 25% down, a long amortization, and a low insurance rate, the monthly rent is $400/month cheaper than owning. But I also agree there's not a hell of a lot of choice in decent family friendly rental stock especially if you have a pet. We're in Vancouver proper in an affordable SFH rental, but we were lucky to get in. I have no interest in high end, so I'm a bit more flexible, but finding variety… Read more »

other ted

The arguments against vancouver are a lot more than the weather. In fact as far as Canada goes we all agree the weather is a positive. A few posters pointed out that the weather isn`t that great by global standards and it wasn`t enought to negate the negatives about the city. And at that point people jumped in and told everyone to move. I have moved on. Just don`t think that attitude is constructive. And I didn`t move because of the weather I will tell you I moved to where the weather is worse. Please stop with the straw man arguments.


Talking about cities, this website has some interesting figures.

Carney and Harper

"I have heard little in the way of policy announcements on housing beyond the status quo"

Jesse, we will try to deflate this monster bubble as gently as possible.

There are approximately 235,000 jobs at stake, clearly we can't let prices stay at this level, there are not enough rich people to support the price for the number of units the industry needs to produce to stay viable.

We follow this blog everyday, our favourite poster is Keeping An Eye on The Pimps.


@other ted:

Have to say to those who keep on saying don’t complain about vancouver just leave. This kind of attitude does not allow for improvement.

What, complaining will make it rain less? You're on a coast, in what is basically a rain forest. The confluence of air and water currents give Vancouver its climate and weather. Complaining about it, especially making exaggerated claims, does nothing.

It's just pure negativity. The weather is what the weather is. Move on. Virtually all complaining about Vancouver begins and ends with weather. If you can't find anything more substantial to complain about, then I'd say you have it pretty good.


@other ted:

"If we can’t be honest about what is wrong how do we fix it."

How do you apply that to the weather, exactly?


@data junkie:

If the COV website says 578,000, where do you get your figure of 640,000?