Thinking about moving to Vancouver, WA? You aren’t alone! Vancouver is the second leading city for population growth in the state of Washington. Known by locals as “The Couve,” this Pacific Northwest gem has beautiful mountain views, affordable housing, and plenty of fun things to do. Ready to relocate to one of the best places to live on the West Coast? Here are 14 things to know about living in Vancouver!
Vancouver Is Part of the Portland Metro
Did you know Vancouver is considered a suburb of Portland? The Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton metro has about 2.4 million residents and spans both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River. And living on the Washington side is beneficial! Housing costs in Vancouver are lower—median home prices are around $217,200 in Vancouver, compared to $319,400 in Portland. Washington also has no state income tax, while Oregon does. In other words, you can live more affordably in Vancouver and still drive into Portland via the I-5 bridge to take advantage of the hot job market and quirky culture. It’s a win-win!
A Booming Job Market
If you’re looking for new career opportunities on the West Coast, Vancouver is seeing job growth at an impressive rate! Over 7,500 jobs were added in 2017, outpacing some of the highest growth rates in the nation. The unemployment rate has also dropped dramatically and currently sits at 3.7%. Vancouver’s top industries are education and healthcare with Vancouver Public Schools, PeaceHealth, Evergreen Public Schools, and Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center as the area’s largest employers. Of course, Vancouver residents can also find job opportunities with the sporting goods, aviation, and tech industries across the Columbia River, where Nike, Boeing, and Intel are among Portland’s top employers.
Friendly Neighborhoods & Suburbs
Looking for a great place to live in Vancouver? It’s easy to find safe, affordable neighborhoods that fit your lifestyle here! Esther Short, Shumway, and Arnada are ideal neighborhoods in Vancouver for singles and young professionals who want sleek condos, modern apartments, and vintage homes near all the best dining, shopping, and nightlife in the city. For families and retirees searching for areas with low crime rates, top-rated schools, and spacious single-family homes, quiet neighborhoods and suburbs in Vancouver like Fishers Creek, Felida, and Lake Shore are highly recommended by local residents.
Enjoy Vancouver’s Mild Weather
Located in a temperate zone, Vancouver’s weather is generally mild, though cloudy skies are a part of life. The highest average temperature in August is a sweet 69 degrees, and the lowest average temperature in December is a manageable 40 degrees with snowfall limited to light dustings that generally don’t accumulate much. The air quality index is 23% better than the national average, and the pollen index is 62% better—so you can breathe easy in Vancouver!
Cross the Vancouver Land Bridge
One of the most unique things to see in Vancouver is the The Vancouver Land Bridge. This grass-framed bridge connects Fort Vancouver to the Columbia River and holds a significant spot in the city’s history. This site represents the first trading post in the Pacific Northwest, and its reconnection to the river represents the historic relationship between European and Native American cultures. The south facing “Welcome Gate” is adorned with sculptures of a Chinook woman’s face, designed by Native American artist Lillian Pitt. With breathtaking views of the river and mountains, this bridge is truly a Vancouver treasure!
Spend the Day Outdoors
Outdoor recreation is easily the number one pastime in Vancouver! With 90 parks throughout the city and over 20 miles of gorgeous trails, it’s no wonder Vancouver is one of the best cities for outdoor activities in America. Swim, canoe, or kayak at Vancouver Lake Regional Park. Take a walk on the Columbia River Renaissance Trail, a 5-mile trail along the Columbia River that connects Wintler Community Park and Esther Short Park. Stop by the 7.3-acre Vancouver Waterfront Park, and take in the view at the Grand Street Pier or let the kids play on the playground. Go boating and fishing along the Columbia River Gorge. Or make your way up the Cascade Mountain range to visit Mount St. Helens, which famously erupted in 1980.
Festivals for All Ages
Vancouver loves festivals! Celebrate all things Polynesian at the 3 Days of Aloha in the Pacific Northwest, a multi-day celebration with hula dancers, archaeological tours, and dancing. Learn about sustainability at the most eco-friendly celebration in the Pacific Northwest at the Recycled Arts Festival. Don’t forget to check out the Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival, which offers three days of wine tastings, food vendors, and a dynamic music lineup of jazz and blues musicians. If you’re a fan of all things coffee, you’ll love Cold Brew Fest! Take an in-depth look at the process of harvesting and roasting coffee, taste more than 30 types of cold brew, and try delicious pastries while listening to live music.
Shop Til’ You Drop
When it comes to shopping, Vancouver has you covered! Vancouver Mall has over 140 stores, including restaurants, ice cream shops, bars, and a movie theater, and Uptown Village is a bustling district with local shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Hit up Most Everything Vintage, a quirky shop in Esther Short with men and women’s clothing, accessories, collectibles, and Mid-Century Modern furniture. Pop into Wild Fern Boutique in Hough for a unique selection of shoes and jewelry. Or pick up some new reading material at I Like Comics, a local shop in Arnada with a wide selection of comics, graphic novels, and collectibles.
Let the Art Scene Inspire You
Vancouver is celebrated for its impressive art scene! Lace up your shoes and download the public art map to explore all the independently-owned public art pieces. Or visit the 24 murals made by local artists that line the buildings along the downtown area. One of the best free things to do in Vancouver is the First Friday Art Walk. This event is held once a month with extended hours at galleries, rotating exhibits, and glassblowing demonstrations. Check out pottery, photography, paintings, and drawings from local artists new and old at Aurora Gallery. Known for its contemporary exhibits, Angst Gallery features an array of collage, print, and photography pieces. And if you enjoy the art of cinema, see an independent film or comedy show at Kiggins Theatre.
Explore Vancouver’s Rich History
The city of Vancouver has several historic landmarks to explore. Visit the Fort Vancouver Historic Site, a 19th-century fur-trading post that has now been converted into a massive park and museum. For a small fee, you can walk the manicured grounds, tour the restored fort, and see blacksmith demonstrations. The site also includes Pearson Field, one of the touchdown spots of the first trans-polar flight. Walk down Officer’s Row to see the restored homes of former U.S. Army officers throughout history like General George C. Marshall.You can also learn all about Vancouver’s history at the Clark County Historical Museum, featuring local and regional history exhibits, Native American artifacts, interactive displays, and a research library.
Vancouver Takes Coffee Seriously
This is the Pacific Northwest after all, so you can expect a serious coffee scene in Vancouver! One of the most popular coffee shops in the area is River Maiden Artisan Coffee, a quirky shop with chocolatey blends of coffee, a seasonal breakfast menu, and Vancouver-themed merchandise. Compass Coffee Roasting meticulously sources their sustainable beans, while Pines coffee shop boasts gluten-free and vegetarian options along with a broad selection of loose leaf teas, cold brew, and unique espresso beverages like the Tangerine Turmeric Latte. There’s also Thatcher’s Coffee, a woman-owned coffee shop with a menu focused on locally-roasted blends, as well as locally-made pastries like savory hand pies and muffins.
Indulge in Top-Notch Cuisine
There’s no shortage of fantastic places to eat in Vancouver! With its incredible river views, booking a table at Beaches Restaurant and Bar is a must! Try the British Columbia Salmon or the Pacific Crab Melt. For some authentic German fare, stop by Gustav’s to indulge in menu staples like Schnitzel and Bavarian Meatballs. Make reservations at Eatery at the Grant House, one of the best restaurants in Vancouver. Their farm-to-table menus feature dishes like the Fried Chicken & Belgian Liege Waffle and the Grant House Double Stack Smash Burger. Looking to make your own restaurant-quality meals? Head to the Vancouver Farmers Market at Esther Short Park and browse through over 250 vendors that specialize in vegetables, fresh fruits, baked goods, and much more!
A Growing Hub for Craft Beer
With over 30 breweries and taprooms in the area, Vancouver has become a major hot spot for craft beer! Stop into the award-winning Loowit Brewing Company to try a Grimlock Rye Porter or the Hangover Grilled Cheese from their food menu. Ghost Runners Brewery offers a long list of unique brews like the Chasing Fluffy Pink Unicorns (Raspberry Gose) and Sasquatch Finest (Harvest Saison). Head over to one of the newest breweries on the craft beer scene, Trap Door Brewing. Grab some munchies from the food carts and sip a Nightmare on Main Street Stout on the outdoor patio. Looking for a way to combine your love of local festivals with beer? With numerous beer stands, food vendors, and live music from local artists, the Vancouver Brewfest festival has become so popular that it’s been split into a summer AND winter event!
Hit Up the Local Nightlife
Looking for exciting nightlife in Vancouver? Thirsty Sasquatch is a pet-friendly bar with board games, a large outdoor patio, and a delicious cocktail menu with drinks like the Berry Vodka Lemonade! Gather some friends and head to ME Ultra Lounge to relax with some hookah while watching the big game. Feel like dancing the night away? Head to Six West Lounge for Pineapple Mango Mojitos and a massive dance floor. If you’re in the mood to have a fancier night out, Top Shelf Martinis on Main offers small plates, local beers and wine, top shelf martinis, and even hosts DJs and live music performances.
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