I am moving from Seattle to Vancouver – What are some things I need to know?
While Vancouver and Seattle are similar in some ways (rain, anybody?) there are many things that need to be taken into account when moving from Seattle to Vancouver. They are, after all, located in two different countries with two very different sets of rules. Are you allowed to bring your pets? What about firearms? How do you navigate the world of Canadian health insurance? When’s the last time you thought about a kilometre vs a mile? Here are 7 things to keep in mind when moving from Seattle to Vancouver.
- You May Not Qualify For Automatic Health Insurance
When moving to Vancouver, you must be considered a resident of the province of British Columbia to qualify for health care. Even upon residency (which is defined by a permanent residency in the country as well as a minimum of six months of the year living in BC) there is a mandatory wait period. This means you have to ensure that you are covered by your own insurance in the meantime.
Canada has excellent health care that is covered for the majority of its residents under various systems, but it is for residents only. If you arrive without insurance and experience an emergency, you could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is why it’s important for you to ensure that you have coverage, either from a private insurer at home, or with a new employer in Canada.
There is an exception for individuals holding certain work or study permits, however, so double check with the government before arriving to ensure that you have your own coverage looked after.
- Miles V.S. Kilometres
Bringing your own car across the border? Plan on driving in BC? Make sure you are paying attention to the kilometres on your speedometer and not the miles. There are approximately 1.6 kilometres in every mile, so if you misinterpret that 80km/hr sign for 80m/hr, you’re going to go way too fast very quickly and attract the attention of local police.
- The Flashing Green Light
Vancouver features pedestrian controlled intersections that have flashing green lights. This is unique to British Columbia, and can provide a number of problems for new drivers in the area. The flashing green light means that you can go through the intersection as if it was a normal green light. The flashing light indicates that it will only change if a pedestrian presses the walk button.
This can be very confusing for people arriving from places where a flashing green light is an advanced green. That is not what it means in BC, and is a surefire way to get yourself into an accident.
- Canada Has Strict Gun Laws
Canada places more restrictions on guns and owning guns than the United States. The main legislation is the Firearms Act, which makes it difficult for the average citizen to own a firearm, and requires licensing. Furthermore, automatic and Assault rifles are prohibited as are handguns without a special permit. In general, Canada is a gun free country with the exception of hunting firearms such as shotguns and hunting rifles.
Firearms do exist in Canada and people do own them, but it is definitely a hassle trying to bring one across the border. If you do not have a Canadian firearms acquisition certificate, leave your guns in Seattle. It is also worth noting that most people in Vancouver consider guns dangerous and something that only police and trained security guards need. In short, they are not socially popular and certainly not a part of the mainstream culture in urban centers.
- It’s Relatively Simple To Bring Your Furry Friend
According to the Government of Canada, you are allowed to bring your domesticated dog into the country without a quarantine period and without a microchip. If you are bringing any other animal into the country, a special border officer may be required, which means you need to give advance notice. Any animal crossing at the border may require extra time for you to pass, so ensure that you give yourself lots of extra time to get through.
- Dolla’ Dolla’ Bills
The Canadian dollar is (currently) worth significantly less than the United States dollar, and the cost of living in Vancouver is high. Monthly rent in the city averages out at approximately $1600/month, with a high end one bedroom apartment in a nice area can be upwards of $2500/month. Make sure that you have figured out where you are going to live and have visited the area to get a feel for it before committing to your move. Because the cost of living is so high, you can end up with an expensive apartment in a less desirable area of town if you aren’t checking out your options first.
Craigslist is a popular site for Vancouver renters in the city. Many opportunities arrive at the site on a daily basis, so check back often to see if there is a good fit for you.
- The Population, Environment & Neighbourhoods Are Diverse
There are many neighbourhoods in the city of Vancouver, each with its own distinct culture and flavour, from the laid back vibe of East Vancouver and Commercial Drive, to the young professionals who make up the majority of the population of Yaletown. No less than fifteen different areas exist in the larger metropolis, each with its own characteristics (and characters).
According to recent information from Statistics Canada, there are no fewer than 12 languages spoken frequently throughout the city by at least 20,000 people. This makes for an incredibly diverse and rich culture that is further emphasised by the amazing diversity of food and entertainment available throughout the city. There are street festivals, parades, and holidays on a regular basis, and fireworks light up the night sky at least six times a year.
The flat Vancouver core is perfect for walking or biking, and the robust transit system can carry you between all regions of the city with relative ease. With two major Universities, plenty of colleges, and an incredibly fit populace, Vancouver is a great place to explore the outdoors. Stanley Park is an incredible vista of green trees in the midst of a bustling city.
Moving from Seattle to Vancouver can be a big endeavour, so remember Trans Canada Movers is here to help. With knowledge of border crossings and common pitfalls, we’re happy to help guide you on your way to exploring the incredible Canadian city that is backed by mountains, oceans, and trees on all sides.