Why you should consider it:
The city’s startup scene is as active as its outdoor adventure scene.
Who it’s good for:
Those into an active and outdoorsy culture.
Belligerent politics in the US make neighbouring Canadian cities increasingly attractive.
Vancouver is a multicultural city – much more so than most other North American cities. Located on Canada’s south-west coast, Vancouver has the warmest and mildest winters in Canada and is surrounded by water and mountains. The city itself also has more than its fair share of urban green spaces. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Vancouver is always at the business end of so many ‘liveable’ cities surveys, which take into account factors like educational resources, infrastructure and healthcare as well as the surrounding environment. Unlike some major cities around the world where downtown is meant for working and the suburbs are meant for living, Vancouver amalgamates the two pretty well. It’s also great for food lovers with its markets and fusion cuisine.
Two views on Vancouver
George Thrupp, British expat and farmer at agro-startup Infarm
George was working for an agricultural business in Bristol, UK, focusing on Africa, when he moved to Vancouver in 2019. He was drawn as much by the ethically minded food and agro-startup scene as he was to the outdoor lifestyle.
‘Although the general quality of food here isn’t as high as in Europe, people are very conscious of where their food comes from,’ he says. Among the businesses leading the conversation is Infarm, a Berlin-based agro-startup, whose Vancouver outfit is where George works as a grower. Infarm builds urban modular farms that can be set up anywhere – in supermarkets, say – allowing customers to pluck a fresh handful of basil or lettuce right by the check-out.
Brad Spence, co-founder of climbing denim brand Boulder Denim
‘My buddy Taz and I looked around the climbing gym and realised that everyone was wearing the goofiest clothes. Why aren’t there stylish climbing pants?’ says Brad. He and co-founder Taz Barrett went around various climbing centres in Vancouver to canvas user opinion: would people be interested in a minimal, stretchy climbing jean? The response was a resounding ‘yes’.
So, in 2015 they started Boulder Denim, and designed a proprietary denim (similar to the Japanese version), something that nobody was using at the time. Brad and Taz used Kickstarter to fund the first collection, and their products continue to be made in Canada. ‘Vancouver was the obvious choice for the business,’ Brad says. ‘Arc’teryx and Lululemon were founded here – the reason for that is that Vancouverites love the outdoors. We have the mountains and the ocean right here.’
Find more of the top cities for starting something new in 2021.
This article was first published in Courier Issue 37, October/November 2020. To purchase the full issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.