Vancouver is an interesting place. It has a unique location, climate, look, feel and a Canadian mixture of North American and European goodness. It is known for its film industry so it is very artsy with a long list of films, events, dance and food festivals etc – in other words, never a dull moment. Local people are friendly and are used to living in a cultural medley of many races, creeds, languages and points of view. English and French are the two official languages yet French is rarely heard and almost sounds aristocratic.
European or American?
Canadian native speakers sound North American in their pronunciation of the English language, yet they have chosen the British spelling rules for some reason. There are some peculiarities in the speech however for the most part one has to be a language expert to distinguish between a person from Vancouver and one from Seattle across the border. Someone from the US South would be a whole different story altogether.
Canadians use dollars (CAD) which are different than US dollars. Canadians use the ten-digit telephone system – same as in the US. Area codes for Vancouver are 604 and 778. One at the front for calling long distance or international to the States. Calling to the US might often go unnoticed when dialed – you will see it on your phone bill later on!
Canadians sell gas by the liter, excuse me, by the litre! Yet, they sell fruit and vegetables by the pound! A kilo might be too generous, ey? Vancouver has a sales tax of 12 per cent which is an interesting combination between the US 5-8 percent state tax and the European value added tax of 17-22 percent depending on the country. Feet, inches and Fahrenheit are widely used in the city regardless of the fact that Canada typically uses the metric system!
The architecture varies from low structures in almost Miami and South Beach style to high risers and busy alleys downtown. Residential areas are condominium buildings or homes. Condos are run by local property managers who seem to have an interesting way of advertising vacancies – more on this in a separate post in the Vancouver housing section.
Welcome to Vancouver!