Having lived mostly in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto … I decided it was time to take a trip out west to Vancouver, British Columbia. I had never been to Vancouver before, and knew very little about the city … but one thing I had heard of was that there was a thriving ‘Desi’ population. I decided to book a 5 day visit to the city 2 weeks ago, and check it out myself!
Much to my surprise, Vancouver is a city unlike any other in Canada. It is absolutely breathtaking! The air is clean (compared to Toronto), the people are extremely friendly, and the city itself is an endless collage of modern glass buildings cleverly mixed into a natural green earthy environment. For those familiar with Toronto, think of it like walking down Yonge & Front St. but only with one difference, A 15 minute walk from the downtown core will take you into complete wilderness , coastal waters , mountain views , endless nature trails and parks with no sign of concrete!
Vancouver is somewhat more segregated than Toronto, in the sense that most of the Desi’s live in one part of town, Orientals in another, Caucasians in another etc. Although that is true to an extent in Toronto, it is more evident within’ Vancouver. I was a little disheartened to see that Desi’s were living in the less affluent parts of town as compared to other ethnic groups, however, I was reassured that this was the case simply because Desi’s built Surrey from ground up over 3 generations and to them that is home. Although Surrey has a relatively high crime rate (mostly younger inter-gang related) , the people are extremely friendly and well conversed. If you avoid ‘punga’ you will be safe. Surrey is ideal for any new family from India looking to settle into a place with familiar faces and great East Indian food! Surrey can be best visualized as Scarborough but with a higher concentration of Desi’s.
Delta, and Richmond have a slightly more educated and accomplished Desi population. Basically, the richer Desi’s who are looking for a more safer community. Although still not the prime locations of Greater Vancouver, these areas are similar to North York and portions of Brampton / Mississauga. West and North Vancouver have the cream of the crop. The doctors, lawyers, successful businessmen. Here the real-estate is at it’s highest. You will not find many houses less than $700,000 on average. North, and West Vancouver also have some of the best Ocean, and Mountain views in Canada.
The downtown core itself, throws away all the segregation trends, and has a beautiful mix of all cultures, much like you will find in Downtown Toronto. As a matter of fact, downtown Vancouver seemed to be much larger than downtown Toronto and rent is comparable to downtown Toronto ($800 one bd.room, $1200 luxury one bedroom, $1200-$2100 for two bedrooms etc). As with most cities, Vancouver has it’s trouble spots (East Downtown), but aside from this small area, Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The job market within’ Vancouver is not nearly as vibrant as Toronto, especially for engineers, and computer professionals, but it is showing signs of changing. Sitting at the US border, and with the 3rd busiest port in the world, Vancouver has all the ingredients for a vibrant economy. With the recent bid of the 2010 Olympics, some 14-15Billion will be pumped into the economy creating many new opportunities. At the moment, however, Toronto remains to be the leader within’ Canada as far as Salaries, and Job Opportunities.
In conclusion, the mountain ranges, parks, beautiful coasts, excellent air quality and weather, make it a viable alternative to Toronto. If you have the opportunity to spend some time in this beautiful city, you will absolutely love the hospitality of the people and all that it has to offer. There is a large, established, Desi population so you will feel right at home. The pace of life is very much more relaxed compared to Toronto as is the job availability; However, Vancouver has amazing future potential, and seems to growing at a rapid rate. The next time your catching a flight to India, via Vancouver, you may want to spend a couple of days in this city, you will enjoy it !
Here are some pictures I took around Vancouver. Enjoy !
http://www.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/3c9c9/#TL (scroll down)