Newcomer's Guide to Vancouver Neighborhoods

A Quick Guide to Understanding Vancouver Neighborhoods

Vancouver skyline with mountains
••• Harry Traeger/Getty Images

New to Vancouver, BC, and not sure where in the city you should live, work and play? It's understandable -- Vancouver is a city of neighborhoods, and navigating those neighborhoods is difficult for a newcomer who doesn't know the "inside scoop."

Fortunately, this guide will give you the insider information you need to familiarize yourself with Vancouver's neighborhoods and decide which one is right for you.

West Side vs. East Side

Vancouver, BC, is officially divided into 23 neighborhoods plus the University Endowment Lands (UEL) (the area around University of British Columbia and UBC itself).

However, it's more important for newcomers to Vancouver to understand the difference between the west side of Vancouver and East Vancouver ("East Van" to locals) than it is to know all 23 Vancouver neighborhoods. Main Street functions as the divider that separates Vancouver into the west side (all neighborhoods west of Main Street) and East Van (all neighborhoods east of Main Street). Neighborhoods west of Main Street -- including Downtown Vancouver -- are more affluent than those in East Vancouver.

Though all Vancouver neighborhoods are gentrifying due to escalating house prices, the historic difference between the affluent west side and working-class East Van continues to influence the communities in these areas.

Local Perspectives on Vancouver West vs. East Van

Rightly or wrongly, Vancouverites generally speak of cultural differences between the affluent Vancouver west side neighborhoods and the working class/middle class East Van. Public schools on the west side are (controversially) perceived to be better than public schools in East Van. Vancouver's west side is also substantially less diverse than the multicultural East Van, which has long been home to both European and Asian immigrants.

So, Which Vancouver Neighborhood is Right for You?

Your personal finances will play the greatest role in finding a home in Vancouver. Both home-buying and renting are much more expensive in Vancouver's west side neighborhoods than in East Van (though buying property in East Van has become very expensive, too; single-family homes in traditionally working-class neighborhoods will cost $800,000+ to buy). That said, there are some neighborhoods better suited to certain lifestyles and communities than others. Keep in mind that, except for the Downtown Eastside, all Vancouver neighborhoods are wonderful places to live and all include such amenities as libraries, community centers, medical clinics, parks, and easy access to public transit.

Vancouver West neighborhoods:

East Vancouver neighborhoods:

Great Vancouver neighborhoods for families & kids:

  • West Point Grey
  • Dunbar
  • Grandview
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Riley Park

Best Vancouver neighborhoods for nightlife & dating:

  • Downtown (including Yaletown and Gastown)
  • West End
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Fairview

Vancouver neighborhoods with strong LGBTQ communities:

  • West End
  • Grandview near Commercial Drive

Vancouver neighborhoods for beach lovers:

  • West End
  • Kitsilano
  • West Point Grey

Vancouver neighborhoods by landmarks:

  • Walking distance to Stanley Park - West End
  • Walking distance to Granville Island - Fairview
  • Walking distance to Queen Elizabeth Park - Riley Park
  • Walking distance to downtown Vancouver shopping, culture & nightlife - Downtown (including Yaletown and Gastown)
  • Walking distance to Chinatown - Strathcona
  • Walking distance to Punjabi Market / Little India - Sunset

Most "prestigious" Vancouver neighborhoods:

  • Shaughnessy
  • West Point Grey
  • Dunbar
  • Downtown (including Yaletown and Gastown)