The Ramen Chronicles | A Year In Vancouver

Moving to a new country is a huge gamble, the idea of packing up everything and jetting off holds a lot of anxiety in people, so much so that it puts people off. We find ourselves asking a lot of questions, what if I don’t like it? What if I can’t find a job? Will I make new friends? Can I save enough money? Well you are not alone, you’re not crazy, your cautious, its your nature to do so. A lot of people are making the move to countries including Canada, situated in Canada sitting on the west coast is Vancouver, here is my experience so far spending a year in the city.

Lets set the tone, it’s raining, it’s a cold day in January, fresh from the plane I’ve just managed to fluke my way to downtown on public transport, to top it off a homeless man has just told my fiancé to “Fuck off” for no reason, that’s my first experience of Vancouver. Why did I stay? Don’t believe any of the hype you see of people travelling on FB or on Instagram, those people with posed photos sticking their hip out, stomach in, lips pouted behind some mountain back drop with the caption ‘living my best life’, make me sick. The truth is in ratio travelling is more 65% bullshit and 35% pleasure, if it was easy everyone would be doing it but in reality, there’s always a bump in the road. I stayed because this was real.

Two weeks accommodation, that’s all I booked, two weeks to basically set up a new life was it easy? Nope. Was it achievable? Just. Two weeks to find a flat and a job, most landlords will not allow you to apply for a flat without first having a job, so finding a job was the first hurdle. Thank god for technology and the ease of applying for job after job within the comfort of your own home or Air B&B in this case. A few hours on Indeed with my new tailored resume and I had applied for a wide range of jobs. Within 24 hours I had received 3 phone interviews and scored a face to face interview for Friday the same week, I was hired. To put it lightly getting a job in Vancouver for me personally was a breeze compared to the rat race I have only ever known back home.

Its not what you know but who you know and this was key in finding a place to live. I had wasted many hours looking at flats online trying to decide if I was interested or not including a trip to a squatter’s den to check out a flat. A friend simply suggested to take a walk in the neighborhood I liked and see if they have rental opportunities posted outside the building. Sounds like a trick but it really is that simple. I chose to live in the west end, its close to the water, Stanley Park is on my doorstep and overall it brings some home qualities with it. Renting in Vancouver is not cheap, if you are moving here expect to pay $2000 plus a month for a one bedroom flat, I already know I could never afford a home here.

Vancouver is a beautiful city, made up of many quirky unique areas such as Gastown, Yaletown and West End etc. each adding their own style and influence to create the bigger picture. Winters are harsh and wet, spring is mostly wet, if you’re not a fan of the rain believe me now, Vancouver is not for you. Summer is just pure gold, they are hot, the city thrives in summer and include the mountain back drop surrounding the city, its picturesque. Vancouver is unique in that the outdoors is right on your doorstep, hikes are close, you can run the seawall around Stanley park, you can even swim in the water however don’t expect any surf, your shit out of luck. Like every city there is always a certain homeless population however Vancouver has a high homeless rate. There are parts of the city which are mainly populated by the homeless most notably East Hastings and the east side of the city.

Expect a warm welcome to Vancouver for certain, overall people here are nice and friendly maybe not as friendly as Toronto but none the less, friendly. Vancouverites take pride which sometimes can lead to too much self-entitlement, especially on public transport. When riding the bus this is where the friendly atmosphere can turn sour, people think their bag deserves a seat more than you, they will sit on the outside seat thinking that no one will push through them to sit by the window. It’s a strange way to be and one I’m not fully comfortable with, I like the idea of asking people to move their bag, offering a seat or my personal favorite asking people to cover their mouth when they cough. Vancouverites are certainly known within Canada for this behavior but for a foreigner it can be a shock or even an improvement depending on where you’re from.

Driving here is fucking mental, sign says 50 everyone is doing 70, lights have gone red, who gives a fuck, let’s just go anyway. Perhaps one of the most shocking things about being here was seeing how people drive on the roads. This place really can be gamble with your life when you start that engine, your attention simply can not wonder anywhere else. The biggest problem with driving here is the excessive use of the car horn, as an Englishman the car horn is to be only used in quick bursts for anger or in extreme cases. Here in Vancouver, the horn is literally used for everything no matter the time, 3 am lets hold the horn down because you didn’t go instantly when the light went green, it’s ridiculous, childish and really runs down the atmosphere.

Nightlife, I’m not a party person these days, not to say I don’t go out but I’ve experienced the city at night only a handful of times. This city is busy at night which is awesome to see, the bars are brilliant, the food is amazing and bands play here on a regular basis. Yep going out for the night is expensive the average bar sitting can easily land you a bill of over $100 plus the tip. Variety is the spice of life and Vancouver certainly offers, what ever your lifestyle I’m pretty sure your find your style out on the town. If I was perhaps richer and not prone to soul crushing hangovers, I would go out more, perhaps if I was in my younger 20’s the nightlife here would be enjoyed every weekend. I feel old.

In conclusion, what have I learnt from being here? Vancouver is just fucking cool, sure it has its crazy moments and the no surf issue is just shit. The city really is worth experiencing if you are ever considering it, there is a lot of culture, great food and perfect for those who enjoy the great outdoors. As with any city there are crowds and adjusting from a village of 8,939 people to a city of 2,500,000 has been a challenge. Will I stay here forever? Probably not as I do like to move around the world. Overall coming here has been a real eye opener in seeing how the Canadians live and experiencing a city like Vancouver. Now if you excuse me, I’m off to strike a pose to celebrate me ‘living my best life’ on Instagram.