I landed in Vancouver a little over a week ago so I think the term “Fresh off the boat” still applies to me. Having thoroughly enjoyed my first week and getting quite a lot sorted in a small amount of time, i thought i would share some advice on getting set up in Vancouver and how to spend your first few days in the city.
Setting up a bank account
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. On day one I set up a bank account as it seemed like the most sensible and proactive thing to do. It’s a difficult decision when choosing which bank to go with here in Vancouver as the banking system is a little different to what we are used to back home
I went with CIBC because this was the bank that the majority of people had recommended to me (the majority being those who are part of the Irish in Vancouver group on Facebook that is). As a “tourist/foreigner” they don’t charge you any banking fees for year one and in year two they have ways in which they can waiver these fees if needs be. All you need is a form of identification to set up a chequing account with them and you are pretty much good to go. Now all we need is some money coming into that account please and thank you!
Getting your SIN number
When you read online people will make out as if getting a SIN number is a huge task, its lies. It took me less than twenty minutes to walk out of the Sinclair office with my number in hand. Take your passport, details of your address and your visa with you in order to receive your number there and then. This number is needed for employment here in Canada but only give it to your employer once your job has been confirmed.
Getting set up with a phone provider
Much like banking here in Vancouver, deciding which phone provider to go with can also be over whelming. So do some research online and see which one works best for you. I went with Virgin mobile because if am being totally honest the 25% discount at H&M seemed too good to refuse.
A few days into your move to Vancouver you will learn that money goes quick VERY QUICK and $55 only gets you 2GB of data a month with Virgin but honestly that is pretty standard from most of the providers. So my suggestion is to maximise free Wi-Fi when and where possible. If you feel you need more data, Freedom mobile offers 6GB for $40 however the downside is low coverage in certain areas.
And now for the fun stuff. With all the setting up done and dusted, it’s time to get out and explore the diversity of Vancouver. The following are some great suggestions if you have just got here and don’t want to go blowing lots of cash until you have a job sorted.
Canada place sits right on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver. You could spend a whole day here watching cruise ships dock in and out and seaplanes take off and landing (also sitting firmly on top of my bucket list). Aside from beautiful surrounding views (water and mountains, what more could you want?) there are many activities you can occupy a few hours here with such as the convention center, Flyover Canada and the Canadian trail.
Walk or bike the seawall at Stanley Park
Stanley Park is one of the largest parks in North America and is the perfect oasis in the heart of Vancouver city. Again another location you could spend a whole day with an endless supply of things to see from wildlife, beaches, outdoor pools, bridges, historical landmarks and great places to eat.
The pathway along Stanley park extends for 28km, so it’s no wonder why it’s the most popular recreational spot in all of Vancouver. If you would prefer to bike the seawall you can rent a bike from Spokes bicycle rentals.
Explore the Downtown area
My best suggestion is to wander the streets aimlessly and purposely get lost. You never know what kind of cool sights you may come across. From amazing architecture, world class shopping centers, a plethora of wonderful cafes/bars and endless mural/graffiti finds. High on my list is visiting the Vancouver art gallery and on Tuesdays they offer a donation service instead of a cover charge so I might just pop by next week to discover it.
Gastown and the Steam Clock
Gastown is an historic neighborhood in Vancouver and is in fact the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver. Boasting a thriving fashion scene with dreamy lifestyle stores, my favorite being The Latest Scoop (oh if only I had the money to buy everything in here).
A main feature of Gastown is of course the Steam Clock. Attracting many a tourist, this steam clock featured on the cover of Nickleback’s Here and Now album. The clock which is powered by a steam engine, it is one of only a few left in the world today so make sure to check it out.
Ok so summer in Vancouver is where it is all happening and I won’t say no to any opportunity to bask beach side and soak up the final summer rays. Better known as “Kits Beach” because that’s just how cool Canadians are, this beach features a nice walk way, volleyball areas and logs on the beach which you can lounge at. If a day at the beach has you feeling hungry, then head to the patio at The Local for some mouthwatering Nachos and a cool cider.
While is the Kits area, head to the Kits Wings mural on West 4th ave to see impressive art work. The 40 foot wings were created over 200 hours so they are truly something impressive for locals and tourists to stop and admire.
So there you have it, it’s been a busy first week for me and I can only assume each week from here on in to be the same. Stay tuned to see what I get up to Vancouver over the next few weeks.
Are you moving to Vancouver soon? Let me know in the comments below.