The Lower Mainland of British Columbia is made up of 21 municipalities, one of which is the beautiful city of North Vancouver! North Vancouver – also called North Van or the North Shore by locals – is a city of 85,000 people located north of Vancouver, connected by two bridges over the Burrard Inlet.
North Vancouver is known for its great natural beauty and outdoor recreation, but there are many other pros, as well as some cons, to this city. If you are considering moving to North Vancouver, take some time to consider these pros and cons!
Pros of living in North Vancouver
1. Awesome outdoors lifestyle
Without a doubt, the biggest pro of living in North Vancouver is the access to outdoor recreation opportunities. North Van is located in an absolutely stunning setting, surrounded by forests, rivers, and mountains.
The city is nestled right at the base of the towering North Shore Mountain Range, which means you can be at the top of a 1,449-meter-tall mountain – Mount Seymour — in just 30 minutes from downtown North Van! Besides Mount Seymour, there are two other local mountains for downhill skiing and snowboarding – Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain. These three local mountains are popular for wintertime sports like skiing and snowshoeing, but also offer a variety of summertime activities like hiking and downhill biking.
North Vancouver has over 3000 hectares of parks and greenways, so you can find plenty of hiking, biking, or running trails. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are other popular outdoor activities in the neighborhoods around Deep Cove on the Indian Arm Inlet.
2. Excellent public transit
North Vancouver is part of the TransLink public transit network and has the most unique, and arguably most reliable, public transportation option – the SeaBus. The SeaBus runs from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver over to Waterfront Station in Vancouver. Not only are the views from the SeaBus stunning, but the trip is just 12 minutes across the Burrard Inlet and leaves reliably every 15 minutes.
The SeaBus makes it very easy for those living in North Van to commute to Vancouver for work and avoid the heavy car traffic over the bridges.
3. Great restaurants and shopping
There are tons of great places to eat, shop, and hang out in North Vancouver. The trendy and popular area of Lower Lonsdale has a lot of great dining options, particularly around Lonsdale Quay and the North Van Shipyards. North Vancouver has restaurants ranging from casual breweries and cafés to upscale restaurants. There are also great shopping areas at Capilano Mall and Westview Shopping Centre.
4. Beautiful views
We already talked about all the outdoor recreation options in North Vancouver, but you can enjoy the natural beauty even if you aren’t all that outdoorsy! North Vancouver has stunning views from just about every part of it. Whether you are taking the SeaBus, walking along Ambleside Park, driving to West Vancouver or Squamish, or just hanging out – natural beauty is all around and makes living in North Vancouver feel like a dream!
5. Safe, family-friendly communities
North Vancouver is an excellent community to raise a family in as the city is very safe with low levels of crime. This summary of perceptions of crime in North Vancouver indicates a low or very low rating on the indices, including worrying about violent crimes, robberies, or attacks. It is safe to walk around the city at all times of the day or night. This study shows that crime rates in North Vancouver are lower than the average in both British Columbia and Canada.
Cons of living in North Vancouver
Without a doubt, traffic in North Vancouver is one of the biggest cons. Though the SeaBus and other transit options make it easier to commute, many people still rely on vehicles to get about their daily activities. Because access in and out of the city is over two bridges – the Lions Gate Bridge and the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge – there is a very high volume of traffic moving over it. Additionally, there are frequent accidents or car stalls on the bridges that make for a long commute!
Another reason there is so much traffic in North Vancouver is because of the constant development and building. There are more than 40 current development projects, which often cause traffic to be rerouted or general disruption that adds to the high volume of traffic.
2. High cost of living
Like just about anywhere in the Lower Mainland, North Vancouver has a high cost of living. In fact, Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada and British Columbia is one of the most expensive provinces. So, it should be no surprise that North Vancouver is equally expensive to live in. Current statistics show that the average cost of a house was $1.4 million.
In comparison to Vancouver, this cost-of-living calculator shows that consumer prices are slightly higher, but rent in North Vancouver is actually higher. Overall, either city requires a fairly sizable income to live comfortably and take advantage of the many lifestyle attractions.
3. Rainier than other parts of the city
Vancouver is known for its rainy weather, and North Vancouver gets the worst of it! Because of its location in the foothills of the mountains and sits at a higher elevation, it is actually rainier than other parts of the city. According to data collected over a 30-year period, North Vancouver had more rain both in the number of days it rained and in total precipitation.
4. Busy with tourists
You remember all those pros we talked about? Outdoor recreation, great restaurants, and safe communities? Yeah, well tourists like that too! North Vancouver attracts a high volume of international tourists each year, especially to attractions like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, or famous hikes like Quarry Rock.
While tourism is economically great for the city, it can be frustrating for locals who are really looking to enjoy their community but find it to be busy with visitors. Parking, lineups, or tons of people on trails are not ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing day at some of your favourite spots in the city as a local.
Overall, there are both pros and cons to North Vancouver. Major pros are the access to the outdoors, great restaurants, and safe communities. Cons include the heavy traffic, rainy weather, and high cost of living. Ultimately, though, residents of North Vancouver love their community and it should definitely be considered if you are planning on either visiting or moving to the Lower Mainland, BC.