The Downtown Core
The heart of this fairly small city is made up of a variety of vibrant and unique neighbourhoods, pretty much all within walking distance of each other. Nestled up beside the coastal mountains and lining the Pacific Ocean, the city boasts a spectacular view from almost any corner on a sunny day... and no it doesn't rain here all year long (just from October to like April). You can sit on a patio in English Bay drinking coffee and then be on the top of Cypress Mountain enjoying all the outdoors have to offer within about 35 minutes. Not every city you live in can claim that!
The city is also home to thousands of coffee shops, a thriving food culture, some of the best sushi on the Pacific Coast and a beach volleyball season that begins in March when the sand is hardly thawed out. You will also see a good handful of dog parks, community gardens and men with beards.
Gastown is the oldest neighbourhood in the city and quickly becoming the trendiest place for both living and dining. Here you will find stylish and unique loft style apartments, exposed brick, renovated warehouses and a plethora of the cities most up and coming tech companies. Water Street is home to some of Vancouver's most popular restaurants such as The Flying Pig, The Pourhouse and L'Abattoir. Around the corner on Cambie St. you will find one of the busiest coffee shops in the area, Revolver Cafe, serving up ethical, fair-trade coffee brewed to order. The area also boasts a unique, one-of-a-kind shopping experience promoting local designers and quality hand made apparel... for a price of course.
Just east of Gastown and sitting in-between the less desirable area of east Hastings and busy Chinatown is a cluster of old heritage homes and coach houses known as the neighbourhood of Strathcona. Again, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city this is now home to many renovated character homes listed up in the million dollar range. There are some great rentals in this neighbourhood (which get snatched up pretty fast) and it has become extremely popular amongst young, urban families and dog owners with Mclean Park at the heart of it all. You can pick up some coffee and fresh baked goods, along with a few groceries at the locals favourite Union Cafe where everyone seems to knows everyone. Crime rate is slightly higher in this area due to it's proximity to east Hastings but the majority of it consists of car break-in's and the homeless looking for some shelter.
Yaletown used to be a heavy industrial area but has since been transformed into a upscale, cosmopolitan neighbourhood populated with boutique shopping, hip sidewalk cafes, renovated industrial looking apartments and brand new, modern, high-rise buildings. It's a tiny pocket of downtown with one-way streets and limited parking but it's one of the cities hottest spots to be and be seen. Blue Water Cafe is one of Vancouver's most popular high-end seafood restaurants famous for its Raw Bar. The Roundhouse Community Centre sits along Pacific Blvd. and is a great place to catch a workout class or local artisan craft fair. Take a stroll along the water, rent a bike from Reckless or enjoy the people watching along the marina. The new Yaletown SkyTrain station also connects you with the rest of the city in minutes.
Coal Harbour looks out towards the North Shore mountains and connects up to our beloved Stanley Park. Walk along a 2 KM stretch of the picturesque sea wall which lines the neighbourhood or stop off at Cactus Club Cafe or the Tap & Barrel to sip on cocktails and watch the Harbour Air sea planes take off. Although sometimes known as "cold harbour" due to the number of brand new high-rises and lack of "old city character" the area is very popular amongst urban professionals and there is usually a large selection of modern, brand-new rentals in the mid to higher price range.
The West End is Vancouver's largest LGBT community and the neighbourhood is organized around Denman and Davie Streets. Along the west coast you will find English Bay a popular beach amongst all Vancouverites and also lining the sea wall which connects into Stanley Park. There is an endless amount of little cafe's and quick bites in this area along with a few great patio's that face out along the beach. Even if you don't decide to live here, make sure you come down for a sunset in the summer (which doesn't happen until about 9:30 PM during June - Aug). The buildings here are a little older but full of character. You are likely to get more space for your money but may have to sacrifice in-suite laundry or updated amenities. However, there is a great community vibe in the area and many people who move into the neighbourhood never want to leave. It really is a total mix of people... young, old and all the in-between
Kitsilano is situated just south across the Burrard St Bridge, approximately 25 minutes walking or 10 minutes by bus from the downtown core. There is a definite "beachy" vibe here (well at least during the spring/summer months) with flip flops, fedoras and yoga pants being worn all year long. Fourth Street is lined with some great shopping such as Gravity Pope and Spank. It is also home to one of Vancouver's most popular coffee roasters, 49th Parallel, who now also serve doughnuts... seriously they are to-die-for! A variety of awesome restaurants line Yew St (Chewies Oyster Bar & Local Public Eatery) as you walk down towards the ocean and Kits pool.
There is a large rental scene in the area with buildings ranging from 3 to 8 stories high, garden suites and basement suits, with both renovated and un-renovated options available.
Mount Pleasant is a very pleasant area indeed (ok lame joke) but it is quickly becoming popular amongst those wanting to be a short commute to downtown but also looking for that quieter community/neighbourhood feel. There are many first-time home buyers and young professionals in the area as well as those just starting off their families. Main Street is definitely an up and coming area with the cities trendiest and most delicious restaurants around. Check out Nomad, a restaurant focused on using only local, in-season ingredients in their dishes. Not to mention cool coffee shops every 10 feet and antique shopping at its finest. Catch the SkyTrain on Cambie St and 12th St and be in Gastown within 10 minutes.