What are the best Vancouver neighbourhoods? What is the best place to live in Vancouver for young singles or young families? Where to live in Vancouver depends on your preferences so we try to outline the most common neighbourhoods for newcomers to the city.
This section offers a brief description of the different neighbourhoods, aimed at giving you an idea as to where to live in Vancouver. Deciding where to live in Vancouver can take a while so try not to commit to a location long term until you have arrived and seen more of the city. There is a steady flow of rented accommodation in Vancouver.
Where to live in Vancouver
● Downtown (West End, Yaletown, Gastown, Coal Harbour)
● East Vancouver (Main Street, Commercial Drive)
● South Granville
● City of Burnaby
● North Vancouver
● University of British Columbia (UBC)
● South Vancouver (Marpole)
Once you have an idea as to where to live in Vancouver, check out these popular sites below to find Vancouver accommodation listings.
Note: if you are looking to live downtown, you will find that many apartment buildings do not use media to advertise; instead, they will post notices outside the buildings to advertise vacancies. It’s worth walking around neighbourhoods you want to live in to see if there are any ‘For Rent’ signs, or try calling the property management companies to check if there are any vacancies.
Downtown (West End, Yaletown, Gastown, Coal Harbour)
If you chose to live in the Downtown area, you can most likely expect to live in a high-rise residential unit.
Depending on the location, rent can be pretty expensive when you have limited income, but it is possible to find affordable housing with some searching. Living in the Downtown core, you are only minutes away from the main shopping district (Robson Street and Pacific Centre Mall), the business district and the entertainment district, Granville Street. The sea wall and Stanley Park are also close by.
The West End, located in the Downtown area, is the most affordable of all the Downtown locations. The West End is bordered by Downtown, Stanley Park, and the ocean.
It’s the most diverse of all the neighbourhoods Downtown. A mix of Canadians, immigrants and international transient residents – both young and old – offers more of a community feel to this neighbourhood. There is a good mix between town-homes, duplex’s, large heritage homes and older high-rise units with access to both the sea wall and Stanley Park within minutes.
The West End has long been a popular place to live within the gay community of Vancouver. It also boasts an eclectic blend of quality eateries at affordable prices.
Some of the older residential towers offer 1-bedroom apartments for $900 – $1100 and studio/bachelor apartments (i.e. no separate bedroom) for $750 – $900, 1-bedroom apartments for $900 – $1100 and 2-bedroom apartments for approximately $1200-$1600. You can also find duplex’s in the $500-$900 range.
Yaletown, which used to be a rail yard in the 19th century, is situated in the south-east Downtown area. The railway loading docks from this era have been converted into restaurant & cafe patios and the warehouses have been converted into lofts. Its upscale restaurants, boutique stores, nightclubs and access to the False Creek marina make this area a playground for Vancouver’s elite.
It’s extremely expensive to rent in Yaletown and is poor value for your money – you are essentially paying to be part of this trendy neighbourhood. A typical two-bed condo (i.e. high-rise apartment) can cost $1800-$2500/month.
Gastown, an area to the east of the Downtown area, was established the same year that Canada became a nation. Despite being in close proximity to the poverty-stricken East Hastings Street, Gastown is currently experiencing a revival, offering a refreshing mix of old and new.
During the day tourists flock to this area for its historic charm, but here you’ll also find some of the best restaurants, bars and shopping in Vancouver. In terms of housing costs, Gastown is slightly more reasonable than Yaletown where a typical 2-bedroom condo can cost from $1700-$2200/month.
Coal Harbour, represents the north east section of the Downtown residential area. This is an extremely affluent area populated mainly by older professionals and retirees. It consists of high-rise condo units with very close access to the sea wall and marina to the north. Rent prices are around $1600-$2500/month for a 2-bedroom condo.
Kitsilano (Kits) is a neighbourhood on the West Side of the city of Vancouver. It is popular because it is lined with two of Vancouver’s most famous beaches, Kits Beach and Jericho Beach, and has great views of Downtown and the North Shore mountains.
Kits is a hub of activity during the summer months. This neighborhood is home to many yuppies, young families and students as well as yoga studios, organic markets, cafes and Vancouver’s Greektown. Rent is very expensive around the Kits Beach area but prices decrease rapidly as you go west towards UBC or south below West Broadway Street.
For these reasons there is a wide variation in rent prices with a room in a 2-3 bedroom house renting for around $550-$850/month, depending on the area.
East Vancouver (Main St, Commercial Drive)
East Vancouver (or East Van as its lovingly called) encompasses the area east of Main Street.
You won’t want to live in the Downtown area immediately to the east of Main Street (this area, East Hastings or the Downtown Eastside, is renowned for being the poorest neighbourhood in Canada) but further east you will find interesting, eclectic neighbourhoods with reasonable rent prices.
The antithesis of ‘slick’ Downtown Vancouver, East Van has a down-to-earth vibe where you’ll find the working class, young couples and families and students. As a result, you can find much more affordable housing in this area than the Downtown core.
Main Street, which runs southbound from Gastown and the Downtown Eastside through Chinatown, is a mecca of fashion, art, and design boutiques, as well as a diverse and affordable area for groceries, restaurants, and cafes. This is Vancouver’s go-to place for local artists and designers.
One-of-a-kind fashion, handmade crafts and accessories are available in countless boutiques throughout the neighbourhood. Here, family-run eateries can be found alongside upscale restaurants.
Commercial Drive, known as “The Drive” is an area in East Van that is close to Downtown, easily accessible to public transportation and has a close-knit, community feel to it with affordable rent prices.
This is the type of neighbourhood where you’ll find a lot of artists and musicians, as well as old Italian men watching televised soccer and enjoying wine or espresso on the numerous patios in the summertime.
Commercial Drive is a mix of residential and commercial with a high proportion of ethnic and vegetarian restaurants, businesses, and social housing. It has been the destination for generations of immigrants to Vancouver and has significant Italian, Asian, Latin American, East Indian, and African communities.
The community is populated with large Edwardian-style heritage buildings with a fantastic selection of cafes, bars and restaurants.
If you are looking to live in a larger house with a backyard, this is the neighbourhood for you but be advised that many of the rental houses are split into several bedrooms and you will most likely have to share the house. Typical rent is around $500-700 per room.
South Granville, located south of Downtown across the Granville Street bridge, offers excellent public transport with express bus lines running to the University of British Columbia, East Vancouver and beyond and the airport.
Slightly more affordable rents than Downtown with a great selection of bars & restaurants. It’s only 5 minutes by bus downtown and 10-15mins walk to Granville Island (an island in the middle of the city with waterfront restaurants, theatres, galleries, studios and a top-notch fresh food market, Granville Island Public Market).
City of Burnaby
The Brunette River, as it enters Burnaby Lake.
Burnaby, which is a city of its own, borders Vancouver to the east and as such is very accessible to Downtown Vancouver via transit.
Like much of Greater Vancouver, Burnaby has large ethnic and immigrant communities. Rent is much more affordable in this area and it offers excellent public transport.
North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay Market
North Vancouver is growing in popularity among new arrivals. It is very much a family oriented suburb but cheaper rents and easy access to the North Shore mountains for biking and snowboarding is making it increasingly popular with newcomers. Many people that work in local mountains tend to stay in this neighborhood.
There is a broad range of accommodation and services to be found on and around Lonsdale Avenue, which runs north from the seabus terminal, along Marine Drive, the main east west route and in Lynn Valley Village, located approx. 30 minutes north of the waterfront.
University of British Columbia (UBC)
Located at the most western point of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is located 10 kilometers from Downtown.
The university grounds capture an area of almost 1000 acres and houses almost 35,000 students. It offer great access to public transport and many local beaches (Wreck, Spanish Banks) as well as a great college environment. This area has proved extremely popular with student on summer working visas. This area offers access to many beaches and the endowment lands of the University.
Kerrisdale, Outside of Vancouver
Kerrisdale is a neighbourhood south of Kits where a lot of Vancouver’s affluent elderly go to retire in high-rise condos. The shops are quaint and targeted towards senior citizens.
However, this area offers affordable rental accomodations in both apartments and houses and is popular with UBC students as its a quick bus ride to the university. You can get to the Kits area in 15-20 minutes and to the downtown core in 25-30 minutes via public transport.
South Vancouver (Marpole)
Located further south beyond 49th St, the Marpole area offers great value given that it is well-served by public transport along Oak and Granville St.
This area is a lot more family-oriented (and as a result, not much going on in terms of bars or restaurants) than other neighbourhoods in Vancouver but in exchange you get larger bedrooms with backyards, great for a group of people looking to rent a house with several bedrooms.
Still undecided on where to live in Vancouver? Hopefully not, but if you are unsure it’s always best to speak with people living in each area before you decide.
Want more information about Vancouver? Check out our city guide.
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All photos, except the title image, are by Alan Regan.