This week marks the three month anniversary of my arrival in Canada, which seems about the right time for a general update – a ‘maple musing’ if you will. The realisation that I’ve been in Vancouver for a quarter of a year already has come as somewhat of a surprise, as time seems to move at an entirely different speed here. On one hand, I cannot believe the time has flown by so quickly. A quarter of a year? Mid April? Really? It seems like just yesterday I was standing at the airport, laden with luggage and saying goodbyes. On the other hand, I cannot believe it’s only been three months, as the longer I live here the longer it feels like I’ve been here forever. And that I could be here forever.
As they say, forever is a long time, and perhaps too strong a word at this stage in the game, but it’s definitely safe to say that I’m very much enjoying my time in Vancouver and that I have no plans to run back to Blighty for the time being. I have a great job, great apartment and I live a minute’s walk away from a great beach. I’ve done some great things and had some great experiences, including a Canucks hockey game, a trip to Seattle, an Olympic anniversary celebration and day trips to the ski slopes. I’ve met some great people, particularly in my team at work, and I’ve planned a lot more great things to come, such as a weekend in Whistler.
That’s not to suggest that everything has been, well, great. At least not totally, all the time. I wouldn’t say I’ve been homesick as such, but I do miss my family and can’t wait for them to come and visit. Three months is long enough for my trip away to be more than just a trip, and I’ve been here for the right amount of time to miss my British friends but not to make Canadian ones. My fellow BUNACers from the group flight are starting to head back home one by one, and by the summer I’ll be one of the only few remaining. The cost of living in Vancouver is much higher than I anticipated, making my dream West End apartment with gym and pool seem even further out of reach. With my new job I can now afford to travel to the places I read about in my guide book, but I no longer have the time to. And don’t even get me started on the banking system.
Of course, all of these annoyances pale into insignificance when thinking about what I’d be doing now if I was still in Southampton. My point is, since arriving in Vancouver there have been far more downs than I thought there would be (making new friends is proving difficult) but far more ups too (fantastic job, lovely apartment). Moving to another country definitely hasn’t been easy, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t take it back. So much so that my second Working Holiday Visa has been applied for and conditionally approved, and it looks like I’ll be staying for an extra year. In 2012 the world might be flocking to London, but I’ll be heading straight back to Vancouver.
Here comes Part Two of my Price Match observations, and just for you I decided to save the good news until last. And there is good news. Although the cost of living is most definitely higher in Vancouver than the UK (yes, even London), there are a few saving graces in a city of soaring prices. See below for my list of five things that are cheaper in Vancouver than the UK:
The price of fuel is a much talked about topic in both the UK and Vancouver, though there is one clear winner in the cost-per-litre battle. The average price of regular petrol in the UK is currently £1.34 ($2.09), but you’ll only pay the same amount in dollars in Vancouver as the latest average is $1.34 (85p). The price is rising on an almost daily basis in Vancouver, but still – can you remember the last time petrol was 85p a litre in the UK?
Sushi and Starbucks are well known as Vancouver’s staples. Starbucks is comparable in price and hasn’t made it onto either of my Price Match lists (though we do have Wi-Fi in all stores over here), but I’m delighted that sushi is most definitely cheaper in Vancouver than the UK. A particularly great lunchtime deal on our local high street is 16 pieces of California Roll for $4.99 (£3.20), but elsewhere the average price per 6-8 piece roll usually weighs in at $5 (£3.20) compared to £7 ($10) in Southampton. With great quality, variety and original creations including my favourite prosciutto and cream cheese roll, Vancouver definitely wins the sushi battle.
Live Music Tickets
Tickets to gigs, concerts and live music in general is another surprising addition to the list, particularly as this seems to include both larger, mainstream concerts as well as smaller, local gigs. Tickets to Rhianna’s Loud Tour start at only $32 (£20.44) incl. fees at the Rogers Arena, Vancouver, with the cheapest tickets for the same show at The O2 in London costing £40 ($62.50). I could catch Ellie Goulding in Vancouver this month for $20 (£12), or in London in July for £28 ($43). Canadian Bryan Adams is at the Paramount Theatre in May for $46.50 (£30) and at the Manchester Evening News Arena in November for £45.50 ($70). The list goes on, suffice to say that going to gigs has gone up on my list of things to do this year after clocking the price.