- Written by Steph
I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t lived in THAT much of Canada – I grew up in the Okanagan, and spent some time in rural parts of Manitoba and Alberta before settling down in lovely Vancouver for most of my adult life. But since beginning the journey towards early retirement, I’ve been continually amazed at how EASY this city makes it to keep spending low and amass wealth. Here are some of the highlights that make Vancouver, in my opinion, the Early Retirement Capital of Canada.
Vancouver has so many awesome affordable housing options that just don’t seem to exist elsewhere. You have housing co-ops, like the one we live in, which operate at cost and are run by the members who live there. Micro suites, which aren’t even legal in many jurisdictions, are popping up like crazy here, and are a great option for single people. Basement suites, which aren’t even actual basements most of the time, but ground-floor units with a garden. And of course, one of my favourite options: the beautiful heritage houses that have been renovated into five or six (affordable) apartments. There seem to be new options popping up all the time, including the rise of laneway houses, and even some laneway apartment buildings. It’s pretty interesting seeing all the new options that keep popping up as time passes. Maybe tiny houses will eventually happen?
Vancouver has so many options for cheap food! The ethnic markets stock every unusual ingredient you could possibly want, for very reasonable prices. For everything else, we have No Frills, Costco, and Sunrise (they even started accepting credit cards recently!). With a little meal planning and shopping around, you can easily spend $100-$150/person/month for all your food.
You don’t need a car here! That saves a fortune. The “anti-car network” – good sidewalks, bike paths, and public transit – is extensive here. The current city leadership seems pretty dedicated to continuing to expand this further, which is great. Outside of Europe, it’s extremely rare to find a city with excellent bike and pedestrian infrastructure, especially in North America.
If you love the outdoors, you’ll never run out of free entertainment here. Hiking, biking, and beaches are our three top picks. There are also tons of free events all the time, and we have an awesome public library that rents out video games for free. Add in some hanging out with friends and family, and you’ve filled up your calendar for a near-zero cost.
So to recap, Vancouver blows away the competition in all the categories that most people spend most of their money on, assuming you don’t make choices like lease a $3,000/month luxury condo or buy a big truck or something equally ridiculous. It’s Early Retirement on Easy Mode.