Welcome to beautiful Vancouver; below is a guide for new arrivals offering a starting point for your own unique journey in this amazing city.
Note: The list below should act only as a guide/listing. These providers/companies are not endorsed by or affiliated with Kia Ora Vancouver.
Below is a list of popular banks in Vancouver / Canada. Deals and fees are always changing so be sure to shop around (where possible we’ve linked to their newcomers account).
Points of difference to consider:
Annual bank fees, access to credit cards as a new arrival, cash sign up bonuses and cost of cheque books (a lot of landlords only accept cheques)
From $$$$$ to $:
- Whole Foods. Premium food stuffs with plenty of organic options. Also offers ready to go healthy buffet style meals.
- Save On Foods. Good quality fresh fruit and veg with a stacked deli, bakery and everything in between. Think New World in New Zealand. Pro tip – get a free ‘More rewards’ card to access all the deals and earn points. Can’t be bothered signing up? Ask to use the store card and the points are donated.
- Real Canadian Superstore. Think Pak’nSave. Big supermarkets and cheap prices, probably the best alrounder.
- Costco. Think Pak’nSave and the Warehouse but for bulk buying. It’s great for filling the pantry, but keep in mind often you have to buy 12 chicken breasts, 5kg of flour etc. You must have a membership to shop which will set you back $60 annually.
- No Frills. Cheap and cheerful groceries if you’re on a budget.
- Every suburb in Vancouver has at least one local green grocer. You will not find cheaper fruit and veg!
- Cellular providers
Mobile plans and especially data can be expensive so again, shop around. It is very common in North America to haggle a better deal from providers – deals will often be made to ensure a sale. Boxing day week, Easter and other shopping holidays offer up extra deals.
Be aware that some smaller providers have limited reception out of main urban areas – check coverage maps if you plan on lots of exploring. Also note that not all phones are supported networks – check your phone. Keep an eye out for free additional services such as Spotify and Amazon Prime membership.
- Internet providers
Lots to pick from – deals change often and negotiating is encouraged. Sales staff are driven to get a contract signed and will often offer better than advertised deals when challenged to beat a competitors pricing. New customers often receive special deals. Pro tip – setup a new account in another person in your households name to receive new customer benefits round two and beyond.
- Buying a car
It is important to note that a tax is payable when purchasing new and used vehicles in British Columbia. The amount varies depending on the value of the car but expect to pay 12% PST to the seller for a private sale. Below is a helpful link outlining the steps for a private sale. If you’re buying through a dealer they will run you through the process and often have an ICBC insurance rep on site.
Visit ICBC for more.
- Car insurance
Car insurance in BC is run by the province and is more expensive than New Zealand; the average policy costing $1300 PA. There is only one provider – ICBC so no need to shop around. An insurance broker will assist in setting up a plan and be sure to bring any documentation from home showing a claim free insurance history. If your name has been on an claim free policy request a letter from your provider in NZ to receive up to a 43% discount.
- Ride sharing
Ride sharing is a cheap alternative to owning your own car, especially since there’s no Uber yet – offering a pay as you go service and freedom to drop vehicles anywhere within each operators ‘home zone’. You will need a credit card and a valid drivers license plus a clean(ish) driving record. Most cover the greater Vancouver area and offer specific hubs at popular spots such as YVR airport and Grouse mountain ski field. Check individual operators for requirements, costs and boundaries.
- Buying a car
- Public transport
Access public transport using a Compass card, a reloadable card that allows access to the skytrain, bus and seabus network. Compass cards can be purchased from vending machines at all seabus and skytrain stations. Cash can be used for one off ticket purchases on buses and debit (eftpos) or cash at seabus stations.The seabus offers a ferry service between Canada Place in downtown to Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore of Vancouver. The two bridges accessing the North Shore can cause large traffic delays during peak hour – the seabus is a reliable and relaxing way to skip the traffic over to the North side.Learn more about the Vancouver public transport network.
- Getting to and from the airport
- Taxis from the airport work off a flat rate zone system costing between $20 (Richmond) and $39 (East Van). See zone map and pricing.
- The Skytrain operates from the YVR terminal to Canada Place station. This is not a 24 hour service so check the schedule.
- International money transfersThere are a multitude of international currency transfer brokers offering superior exchange rates and lowers fees compared to the big banks.
- Currency fair
- Best coffee downtown Vancouver! (Just down ask for a flat white)
This list comes from suggestions made by Kiwis in the Kiwis in Vancouver Facebook group.
- Timber train
- Elysian Coffee Roasters
- Rocanini Coffee Roasters
- Aubade Coffee
- Matchstick Coffee Roasters
- Turks Coffee
Tipping is standard etiquette in North America. Don’t fret – you will stuff this up at least once. Also remember that tips should be calculated on the pre tax amount.
- 15% is standard.
- Table service is common even in bars. 15-18% is standard – adjust up and down depending on the level on service. Don’t be surprised if you get attitude if you drop below 15%. If ordering at the bar $1 (loonie) is fairly standard. If your feeling generous drop a toonie ($2).
- Sky is the limit here – everyone will take a tip from cleaners to bellmen to concierge. However hotel staff are fairly understanding if you aren’t familiar with the custom.
- Hairdressers. 15% is standard but also depends on the hairdresser. If in doubt just ask – most hair dressers will give an honest answer to a newbie!
- Don’t tip for fastfood or cafes or eateries where table service is not provided.
- Sport / fitness
Vancouverites are famous for their active lifestyles. There are many boutique options to choose from including spin, yoga, crossfit, F45 and everything in between. If you’re after a more typical gym vibe try your local community centre, many of which have swimming pools. The two largest and competitively priced gym chains are Steve Nash Fitness and Anytime Fitness.
- Buying camping / outdoor gear
- MEC – A higher end store with everything under the sun for outdoor adventures.
- Sports Junkies – For the budget conscious a mix of new and second hand equipment including ski and camping gear. Conveniently located right beside the West Broadway MEC store.
- A hub for ski and snowboard gear in the winter and mountain biking in the summer is located on West 4th Avenue between Burrard and Fir St. Comor Sport, Pacific Board Rider, West Coast Sports and the Board room have great selections.
- Local ski fields
Take a look at the Winter Guide to Vancouver. There are three local ski fields within 30 minutes of downtown, all offer night skiing during peak season. A view of the city lights from the slopes should not be missed.