Moving to Vancouver BC

Inside Scoop: Setting Up Your New Life in Vancouver

Vancouver’s Vantastic VA is a one-stop relocation service helping people relocate to Vancouver from all over the world. We collaborated with Vantastic to share some key insights, tips and tricks to help newcomers establish themselves in our fair city. This post deals with the logistics of moving to Vancouver.

The Paperwork

  • If moving from outside Canada, the first thing you need to do is get a SIN card. This allows you to start working and open up a bank account. You can obtain this at any Service Canada office and is a very quick process.
  • If you are moving here permanently from another country, you will need to apply for a BC driver’s license within 90 days. BC has reciprocal licensing agreements with some countries but if your home country isn’t one of them, you will have to take a knowledge and road test to obtain a full BC license.
  • If you are moving from another Canadian province or territory, make sure to switch your driver’s license to a BC license within 90 days.
  • All banks and credit unions will offer great deals to newcomers!  Do some comparison shopping and do not settle on the first bank you come across.  Consider all account and transaction fees, cost of international money transfers, incentives and conditions around obtaining a credit card etc.  Don’t be shy to ask for fees to be waived your first year. Reference this article to guide your efforts: How to Choose the Best Bank in Canada and Save Money.

Finding a Place to Live

  • Renting on your own is expensive in Vancouver, if you can’t afford it, we highly recommend co-living or house share arrangements. They minimize costs as they are usually furnished and utility costs are shared. In addition, they are a great way to meet new people and make new friends! Living on your own can be lonely when you first move to a new city so why not give it a try for 6 months-1 year.
  • It is very hard to find a rental property if you have pets., however, boasts the largest number of pet friendly listings in Vancouver on its platform!
  • The best applications to find long term rental properties:  LivRent, Craigslist and Padmapper.
  • AirBnb, Home Away and Couch surfing are the best for short term rentals.  Be wary of scams and understand the regulations now governing AirBnB in Vancouver!

Canadian sitting on bench in park with shiba

Rental Logistics

  • A 50% of the month’s rent “Damage Deposit” is required to secure a rental in addition to the full month’s rent that you are required to pay for the first month. Never put down a damage deposit without signing a BC Rental Agreement and getting a copy of the landlords/building managers ID.
  • Rental terms are usually 6-12 months minimum. Month to month leases are very few and far between though they typically kick in after a year’s lease has lapsed.
  • Rentals start on the 1st or 15th of the month.
  • Rentals are typically unfurnished in Vancouver and the rest of BC.
  • Consider renting your own U-Haul to move yourself or pick up furniture purchases. It is convenient and more affordable than hiring a moving service.
  • Most Rentals do not include Cable/Internet.  Providers typically compete to offer exceptional cable and internet package deals. Do some comparison shopping and let one know what the other is offering. They will sometimes amend their prices to win your business. Some options for providers include:

Shaw and Telus – the most obvious choices because they are largest and most popular providers in Western Canada. They offer download speeds up to 600Mbps and also television bundles for combined savings.
Novus – Considered one of the most reliable internet service providers in Canada, Novus offers 4 different very high-speed internet plans and is the preferred choice in many newer building in Vancouver.
Teksavvy – Teksavvy offers internet packages starting as low as $24.95. The highest download speed offered by the company is 150 Mbps and users can select from 8 different internet plans in Vancouver, British Columbia.
LightspeedNo bundles, no contracts, Lightspeed offers a la carte options to customers and download speeds of up to 600Mbps.

Furnishing your Place

  • Finding affordable furniture is relatively easy. Check out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Kijiji for inexpensive furniture as well as second-hand furniture stores.  Always check for fleas, bed bugs etc. when picking up used furniture.
  • Besides Ikea, Army and Navy, Walmart and the Dollar Store are great resources for affordable housewares.
Coral couch in brightly lit apartment


  • Standard “Vacation Time” for employees in Canada usually maxes out at 10-15 days per year.
  • Starting wages are significantly lower than Europe/Australia/New Zealand. However, Vancouver is growing at an immense pace so if you are a skilled tradesperson or a technology professional you’ll find employment quickly.
  • You have to file your own taxes. H&R Block, Turbo Tax and U-File are all good options if you’d rather outsource this task.
Outdoor patio business meeting


For what to expect in Vancouver, check out our earlier Vantastic collaboration:  Inside Scoop: 16 Things you Need to Know about Living in Vancouver.

For some personal experiences and advice from international newcomers, check out our blog series, “FRESH”:

Fresh from Australia: A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver
Fresh from Brazil: A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver
Fresh from India: A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver
Fresh from Argentina: A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver


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