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family with small kids moving to Vancouver - which area?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

We currently live in Fraser valley and my husband wants to move to downtown Vancouver for work. I have a 3mo old and 4yr old. I know it's horribly expensive to live there but it would be good for his career.

These are the things I'm looking for.

1. Accessibility to downtown by skytrain/bus : The number one priority for us is to find a place near transit, preferably sky train. so that my husband can leave his car for us to use.
2. Area where there are lots of programs for small kids(such as Strong Start) and good schools including preschools.
3. Budget (less than $2000/mo): I would love to rent a townhouse but it seems out of reach. I would be okay with a 2 bdroom condo.

I love Commercial drive but is it a good place to raise small kids? Also I have not seen many condos or apartments for rent. Mostly basement or upper suits of houses?

How about Downtown, west end? I used to live in west end when I was single a long time ago and I don't know what's like to raise kids there.

Any comment on Kits and North Van? They might be too far for my hubby to commute from?
post #2 of 9

We lived in the West End for 3 years when my kids were little. It was a great area and we loved it! I could walk everywhere, do all my errands around our place. There were great places to go (English Bay, Stanley Park). Transit was superb and we could walk to the fireworks display! If you love ethnic food you'll be in heaven. We had two Persian grocery stores within 2 blocks of us that sold amazing fresh dates for like $3 a box! We rented a 950 square foot 2 bd 2 bth for $1500/month. That was about 2-3 years ago. We still miss aspects of that neighbourhood and remember it very fondly.

The Commercial Drive area is also a wonderful place, especially if you lean towards the crunchy side of life. There are many families with young children living there, a great community centre, park, and good transit although it is a bit farther out from the city than say the West End. If you are near Broadway there is a Skytrain station but most of the action happens lover down on the drive.

Kits is pricey and not so errand-friendly, IMO. You can walk to many stores but they are mostly designer boutiques. Transit is pretty good and if your hubby likes to ride a bike it's an easy commute. I'm not sure you'd fine as many young families that are like-minded. I used to go to the community centre there and most kids were accompanied by their nannies. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I didn't exactly get to meet many families that way.

North Van can be an easy commute depending on where you live. Lower Lonsdale is prime location because you can walk to the Seabus which takes you right downtown. My mum lives there and I grew up in North Van and just recently lived there for 2 years. It's a nice urban-style neighbourhood but it IS the suburbs (as in, everything is closed by 9 pm). You could do well without a car if you lived there (but not the rest of North Van, which definitely requires a car!).

Hope that helps!
post #3 of 9
Try the lower Cambie corridor (Broadway to 25th). Shops, transit, easy bike access to downtown.
post #4 of 9
We are in Steveston (South Richmond) and love it here. The new Canada line has your DH downtown in 18 minutes and there are lots of busses that connect to the skytrain from this part of Richmond. I have several friends whose husbands do that commute quite easily. Everyone here has kids, loads and loads of young families. A great community centre, park, water park etc. More programs for kids than you could ever logistically register for and fantastic public schools (as well as preschools). Everyone from every walk of life lives down here. I've met super crunchy moms at the park and some very mainstream ones, but everyone has a family first attitude. We are right on the water in Steveston so there is a real "village" feel to the place and if you like fish the docks serve up today's catch right off the boats daily to take home and cook up. If you find a place to rent in the village you can walk to virtually everything (except, of course, any big box type stores). We have met many, many families who have moved here from Kits, Yaletown and even more from the Commercial drive area for the affordability, village feel and relatively crime free existence Steveston offers.
Hope that helps!
post #5 of 9
I've lived on The Drive since graduating Uni. in 1993. I now have three kids, 10, 8 and 5. I have really, really enjoyed raising my kids here. There are tons of programs geared to young families, multiple Strong Start program for example. Plus Family Place, two community centres, a myriad of preschool programs and school options, some of the best grocery shopping in Vancouver and a fabulous farmer's market. My dh works downtown and his commute is almost nothing, whether he drives, takes transit or bikes in.

When my kids were small, though, the number one best thing about my neighbourhood was that when I needed to get out of the house I could put the babe in a sling, grab the older kids' hand and walk out my door. Without fail, within 5 minutes I would meet a friendly adult to talk to. I needed my community around me and it delivered! The Drive is an awesome, eclectic, little enclave; if you can find a good place to rent, I think it has everything you're looking for.
post #6 of 9
I love my area. It's called Collingwood and its near Joyce skytrain and 29th Ave skytrain. We are walking distance to a huge amount of parks, Killarney Community Center, Collingwood Neighborhood House, Renfrew Community Center, tons of shopping and many many schools to pick from in our area.
It takes 30 minutes to get downtown by walking and by taking skytrain. Metrotown takes 15 minutes to get to going the other way.
There's lots of new families moving into this affordable area.
A 3 bedroom house with backyard is about $1500, a townhouse is about $1200
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
3 bedroom for $1500 in Vancouver? Are you talking about co-op housing? There must be a long wait list. Do you have to be lower income to qualify for it?

All these areas seem very interesting but so far I think I would love living in Commercial drive but rent seems to be very expensive (according to Craigslist). Are there any condos around there? When I was there last time, I only saw rows of houses. South Richmond seems nice too.
post #8 of 9
There are some condos. My dh and lived in a pretty nice building at Cotton and Grant before we were married. There's also quite a few really nice older apartment buildings and tons of co-ops.
post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by sora View Post
I love Commercial drive but is it a good place to raise small kids? Also I have not seen many condos or apartments for rent. Mostly basement or upper suits of houses?
We live a block off the Drive and love it! Tonnes of free- or nearly free activities for families. Friendly families, great parks, funky vibe, great sense of community, extremely walkable (and the Skytrain is within walking distance), great access to bike routes, Family Place, Britannie Community Centre, the library, and the rice pudding at Little Nest is to die for.
The downside; expensive!!!
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