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Life in British Columbia –  A Welcoming and Beautiful Province

Life in British Columbia –  A Welcoming and Beautiful Province

November 17, 2019

More than 40,000 immigrants from around the world arrive in British Columbia (BC) each year, and immigrants make up a high proportion of B.C.’s population. Over one-third of Vancouver’s population comes from abroad, and B.C. has the largest Chinese community in Canada. The vibrant multicultural atmosphere and excellent quality of life in British Columbia make the city a major destination for newcomers to Canada. 

Living in BC

Communities in B.C. are ethnically diverse. English and French are Canada’s official languages, with English being the main language. There are also many other languages spoken in B.C. including multiple Aboriginal languages, Chinese, Korean, and more. If you are interested in immigrating to British Columbia, you may find out more here.

1. BC Culture

BC has a culture that is in many ways inspired by the natural beauty of the province (there are six national parks). Whether it is hiking, skiing, kayaking, swimming or golfing, a vast range of activities are always available wherever you live in B.C.

B.C’s culture is significantly influenced by its history of immigration to the province as well. British, German, Chinese, Indian, and Japanese communities can all be found throughout the province. 

2. Quality of life in British Columbia

The standard of living is high in B.C. and Canada. The United Nations Human Development Index consistently ranks Canada as one of the world’s best countries to live in. Moreover, the average personal yearly earnings are also quite high to compensate. B.C. has a mandatory minimum wage of $10.25/hr, and the second-lowest personal income tax rate. Life expectancy is 82 years of age.

3. Seasons and climate

The Pacific Ocean and mountain ranges have a strong effect on B.C.’s climate. It will also be different depending on where you live. There are four distinct seasons in B.C: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. You can find current weather conditions on the WeatherOffice website. And make sure to pack good wet-weather gear. For the winter months, you should bring warm clothes. But when summer comes, B.C. is pleasantly warm with perfect summer temperatures.

4. Transportation

B.C. has many alternatives to help you get around and explore this beautiful province. Some options for you include:

  • B.C. Transit (https://www.bctransit.com/choose-transit-system): B.C.’s public bus system that services most areas
  • Taxis: Fast and easy way to get around in case you do not own a vehicle. There are many taxi companies throughout BC
  • B.C. Ferries (https://www.bcferries.com/): Experience of B.C.’s breathtaking ocean views, beautiful islands, and inlets
  • Car rentals: You must be a minimum of 21 years of age and have a valid license (there are other restrictions so please consult with car rental companies)

There are various options for public transportation beside B.C. Transit. These include Trolley, Community Shuttle, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express.

If you move to Metro Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, you can refer to TransLink for a public transportation schedule. For the rest of BC, you can refer to BC Transit for details. Low-income senior citizens and individuals with disabilities can also apply for a yearly BC Bus Pass at a discounted rate.

Economy

As a strong and growing economy, job opportunities open up often in construction, manufacturing, and education.

Unemployment rates in the province have dropped in comparison for the past years. Many of these new jobs are in the service or technology sectors. With a very positive growth, there will continue to be many job opportunities for immigrants in BC soon.

1. Currency

All provinces in Canada use the Canadian dollar for currency. It is recommended that you use Canadian currency while you are living in B.C. You can visit any Canadian chartered bank, trust company, credit union, or a foreign exchange broker to exchange any of your currency.

2. Cost for life in British Columbia

The cost when having a life in British Columbia will differ depending on whether you choose to live in rural areas or the major cities. The province does have the highest living expenses in Canada but also boasts some of the most well-known schools and healthcare cover at the government’s expense. The average cost of a home in BC is $632,000.

To compare things like housing, healthcare, taxes, utilities, and transportation in different regions of BC, please refer to Cost of Living Calculator.

Health and safety 

1. Medical services plan

If you will be living in B.C. for six months or longer, you must enroll in basic health insurance through the provincial Medical Services Plan (MSP) and pay any applicable premiums

There are three different sections for MSP, see the following to register:

It will take three months for your coverage to start. If your family is with you in Canada, they will also need health insurance.

2. Safety

B.C. is generally a very safe place to live. However, it is still important to be aware of your surroundings. Many institutions have security and “Safewalk” programs to help make sure you stay safe on campus. These services are often available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit your campus security or the international education office at your institutions for more information.

3. Emergencies

Call 9-1-1 anywhere in B.C. if you need an ambulance, police services or in case of a fire.

Call 1-800-567-8911 to reach the Poison Centre.

For non-emergencies please make yourself aware of your local fire, health and police, and campus security numbers in your area.

Housing options

The housing market in BC is slightly more expensive than the rest of Canada. However, living here offers more space to accommodate families, within a short commute of the city. For new immigrants, the areas also offer established immigrant communities that provide a cultural community and support network.

Some of the options for housing: 

  • Homestay
  • Kindergarten to Grade 12 students
  • Post-secondary students
  • Live on-campus: To find out the availability of on-campus housing, contact your institution’s international education office.
  • Live off-campus

1. Where to search

Rental agencies will save you time by giving a list of rental places that meet your criteria. The reason for this is these agencies are very helpful in helping you find what you need but you will have to pay a fee.

Moreover, Newspapers are also a great resource to help find listings in your area. Many of them will even have websites with online rental listings. It will include photos and basic details of the unit. Notably, it is important to be aware of online scams and does not pay any rental deposit until seeing the place and meeting the landlord.

2. Tenant’s rights

Before you rent to make sure to visit www.tenants.bc.ca to become familiar with some of the rights that you – the tenant has to protect you. Before signing a lease or pay a deposit, make sure you thoroughly inspect the place you are reviewing. 

 



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