Is Burnaby better than Vancouver?

Is Burnaby better than Vancouver?

Most people are familiar with the city of Vancouver, British Columbia – a cosmopolitan city surrounded by natural beauty that sits on the southwest coast of Canada. What people don’t realize, though, is that what you often think of as Vancouver is actually Metro Vancouver, a region that encompasses 21 municipalities.

Burnaby may be a smaller city than Vancouver, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy of your attention. Whether you’re looking to buy a house or just want to explore the area, Burnaby has plenty of great features to offer. To help you figure out whether this is the place for you.

One such municipality is the city of Burnaby, which shares a city border with Vancouver. Burnaby’s population is almost 250,000 people and has an area of 90.61 square kilometers. It is bordered by Vancouver to the west and Coquitlam and New Westminster to the east. Many people love living in Burnaby and may choose to live there over other municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

So, the question is: Is Burnaby better than Vancouver? To answer that, we will look at a few different areas: affordability and cost of living; transportation, traffic, and transit; and things to do. Using these metrics, we will see that Burnaby pulls slightly ahead in the transportation category, falls behind Vancouver with things to do, and both are on par with each other in regards to the cost of living. Let’s look at each a little further in detail.

Affordability: Burnaby vs. Vancouver

The first metric to determine if Burnaby is better than Vancouver is affordability. Generally speaking, these two cities are very comparable in terms of cost of living and affordability, so you can’t say that one is better than the other on this metric.

According to a recent cost of living survey, Metro Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada and ranks 93rd most expensive city worldwide. One of the biggest driving factors of this statistic is the cost of housing, which is very expensive throughout Metro Vancouver. Although both buying and renting in Burnaby is slightly cheaper than in Vancouver, it is still very expensive. Recent statistics show that the average price of a house in Burnaby is $1.1 million, compared to $1.4 million in Vancouver.

Even though it is expensive to live in both of these cities, there are a lot of new and interesting places to live. Burnaby currently has almost 100 current development projects, highly concentrated around the transit and shopping hubs of Brentwood and Metrotown malls. Many developments are part of the overall gentrification of the city, where old buildings are being replaced by new, more pricey options, making the region even more expensive than it has been before.

Using this cost of living calculator, we can see that the other metrics to determine affordability (i.e. utilities, food, consumer goods, entertainment) are virtually the same in Burnaby and Vancouver.  

Transportation: Burnaby vs. Vancouver

The second metric used to determine if Burnaby is better than Vancouver is the transportation, transit, and traffic – basically, how easy is it to get around? On this metric, Burnaby comes out slightly ahead with solid transit options and less overall car traffic than Vancouver.

Both Burnaby and Vancouver are very well connected in terms of public transportation, with numerous bus routes and the SkyTrain. Burnaby is perhaps even better connected because both SkyTrain lines run through the city, so there is access to the SkyTrain in North and South Burnaby.

Because both cities are large, where you live will determine how easy it is to get around. Some neighborhoods – especially those close to a SkyTrain, bus loop, or urban shopping area – are excellent for transit. The suburbs and housing developments, though, can be less well-connected by public transit. However, on average, Burnaby has an average transit score of 67 and Vancouver has an average score of 74 – both high scores that indicate that they have good public transportation options.

Many residents of Metro Vancouver drive as their primary mode of transportation, so car traffic needs to be considered. Traffic can be bad in both cities, though it is the worst in Vancouver proper, as it is a denser downtown core. However, there are significant areas of Burnaby with high volumes of traffic – such as Kingsway Avenue. Highway #1 runs right through Burnaby which allows drivers to either bypass the city quickly or get off at various points to access Burnaby neighborhoods. Overall, Burnaby is much better for driving and you will spend less time in traffic trying to commute around the city.

Things to do: Burnaby vs. Vancouver

Both Burnaby and Vancouver are busy urban centers and so there are many things to do. The three main categories for things to do are eating out, shopping, and arts/culture/recreation. While both cities offer a lot to do, Vancouver is slightly better on this metric because of its location and recreation opportunities, primarily outdoor-related activities.

If you are looking for a good restaurant, there is no shortage in either Burnaby or Vancouver. Both cities have world-class dining opportunities. Vancouver is a very international city with people from all over the world, which is reflected in the dining options – there is cuisine available from just about any country! Burnaby is similarly diverse, but also has a large Chinese population, so there are many world-class Chinese restaurants that are popular and delicious.

In regards to shopping, both cities offer excellent opportunities. Burnaby is home to the biggest shopping mall in British Columbia and the third largest in Canada – Metrotown, a massive mall with over 400 stores and many dining, entertainment, and other attractions. Vancouver also has excellent shopping malls, but most of the popular shopping areas are streets and neighborhoods, such as Robson Street which hosts high-end and designer shops.

Finally, both cities have great options for arts, culture, and recreation. There are many community facilities, theatres, and parks in both cities. However, because of Vancouver’s location right on the coast with kilometers of beaches and parks surrounding it, it is slightly better in terms of outdoor recreation activities like hiking, biking, or kayaking. The natural beauty of downtown Vancouver is also unbeatable.


Metro Vancouver is a large area with many municipalities. And while many people say they are vising Vancouver, they are very likely going to be exploring a city like Burnaby, which is right next door! Burnaby is a busy urban center with great restaurants, tons of things to do, friendly communities, and great transit options. But, is it better than Vancouver?

The answer to that question is, obviously, subjective. But we looked at a few metrics to help determine whether Burnaby is better than Vancouver: affordability, transportation, and things to do. We saw that in regards to affordability, Burnaby and Vancouver are basically on par with each other. However, in the “things to do” category, Vancouver is slightly better because of the great natural beauty and variety of outdoor activities. Finally, Burnaby is better than Vancouver in terms of transportation and ease of getting around – it has great transit options and is overall more car-friendly with less traffic.

There are likely other metrics to use to answer this question, but these are some of the biggest factors when determining a city to live in. Whichever city you choose, you are likely to love it! Metro Vancouver offers a great quality of life that many people enjoy.

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