What are you looking for from your dream host country? If your answer includes beautiful natural landscapes, where snow-capped mountains, shimmering lakes and beaches of velvet sands exist alongside vibrant cities, you may well want to consider a move to Canada.
A long-time expat favourite, this vast and varied country offers the opportunity to experience nature at its most impressive, while enjoying all the comforts that modern, cosmopolitan city life provides. But which of the Canadian cities rates the highest amongst expats thinking of moving to Canada from London? According to the 2015 Mercer Quality of Life survey, Vancouver is the shining star of Canada, rating fifth best city in the world and leaving Toronto and Ottawa trailing (comparatively) in its wake.
There's something about Vancouver
In fact, there are a quite few things that make this city stand out. The North Shore mountain range and picturesque beaches mean you could ski in the morning and sunbathe in the afternoon should you be torn on how to spend your day. Lush, green forests surround the city, providing trails for hiking and mountain biking, while the mild climate of British Columbia is an attractive benefit compared with the fierce winters that affect other areas of Canada.
You'll also find a lot to keep you in the city over a weekend; the beautiful green space of Stanley Park, which was named top city park in the world last year, teamed with a thriving patio culture means you can enjoy an alfresco lifestyle despite living deep in the heart of the city.
Additionally, Vancouver is often referred to as the culinary capital of Canada, with a fantastic dining scene that truly represents the multicultural nature of the city. You can enjoy authentic budget eateries offering home-cooked treats, or sophisticated fine dining from world class restaurants. From Asian food to rustic farm-to-table fare; from world class seafood platters to sizzling street food – Vancouver certainly knows how to keep the foodies happy.
Living and working Vancouver
There is a cloud to accompany this silver lining and that is Vancouver's rent and cost of living, as it is higher than average. Expat network InterNations reports that in relation to the average income, Vancouver has the second highest accommodation costs of any city in the world. However, if location matters more than the cost, down-town Vancouver is the place to be. Apartments and condos abound here, and the popular Kitsilano area gains a lot of attention due to its spectacular mountain views and easy access to the beach.
Employment opportunities in Vancouver were traditionally centred around the industries of forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture. However, the city has blossomed into one of the most dynamic business centres in Canada with the service, tourism, film, biotechology and software industries expanding exponentially and offering great opportunities for expats.
Vancouver for families
Expats in Vancouver generally send their children to public school as the system is considered to be of a high quality. There is also the option of private school, the majority of which are faith schools, or a private international school – most teach in English, some in French or alternative languages.
At weekends and during school holidays, Vancouver provides plenty of opportunities for the young ones – interactive museums, outdoor activities, amusement parks and attractive green spaces are just a few options. And don't forget the amazing whale-watching during the summer. Nearby leisure attraction Granville Island is also worth exploring, as it has all you need for a family day out, including a notorious water park, should you feel up to the challenge.
Information correct at time of publication.