Vancouver is nestled in a breathtaking landscape formed by the meeting of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains of British Columbia. Surrounded by some of the last remaining temperate wilderness in the world, Vancouver's beaches, nearby mountains, thriving arts culture, nightlife, health consciousness, and multiculturalism contribute to an environment that sustains you while you are studying.
The Economist and Mercer Quality of Living Survey consistently rank Vancouver as one of the most livable cities in the world. (Top 5 for the last five years). The city's world-class standing increased in 2010 when it hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic games. As a major hub for film, television, and game development, Vancouver is not only a great place to live, but also a great place to launch your career.
Vancouver is situated in the temperate rainforest region of the Pacific Northwest. In summer, the days are generally long, warm, and sunny, with relatively low humidity - people in Vancouver often use fans instead of air conditioning to keep cool. Summer nights tend to be mild and clear.
Being part of the rainforest region means Vancouver sees its share of rain, particularly between November and April, though the rain is usually gentle. In winter time, people dress warmly and keep a raincoat and umbrella handy. The benefit to all this rain is that the city remains lush and green all year round.
Because of Vancouver's proximity to both mountains and ocean, the weather can change many times throughout the day, so people often dress in layers. While the mountains around Vancouver get snow throughout the winter, the city itself rarely gets snowfall for more than a couple days each winter.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located approximately 20km (12 miles) from downtown Vancouver and is Canada's second-busiest airport.
The most convenient way to get to Downtown Vancouver from the airport is Skytrain's Canada Line, a rapid transit system overseen by Translink. The fare ranges from $2.75 to $9.00 depending on the time of day. See the Canada Line website for more details.
Catching a taxi is another common choice. Rates are based on time and distance travelled, and the approximate fare to Downtown Vancouver is CDN $25-$30 (including taxes) under normal conditions.
For about $12, scheduled bus services are also available to major hotel destinations in Downtown Vancouver. The Airporter (a special bus) leaves YVR every 15-30 minutes and doesn't require a reservation.
Remember: If you are arriving from an international or US city, you will arrive at the International Terminal and will need to clear Customs. If you're an international student, you will require a Student Visa before studying in Canada; go to Citizen and Immigration Canada online for more details about the application requirements and process. Before you leave, be sure to pack the necessary documents in your hand luggage, as you must show them to a Customs Officer before collecting your checked baggage.
Translink oversees a comprehensive public transportation network across the Greater Vancouver area. This includes regular bus services, a rapid transit system called Skytrain, and a SeaBus ferry between Downtown and the North Shore. Public transportation is widely used in Vancouver and very convenient if you live near a major line.
There is an abundance of housing options in the vicinity of VFS. You'll often work long and unusual hours at VFS, so we suggest you try to find accommodation within walking distance of the school, within a 30-minute bus ride away, or within a 30-minute Skytrain ride to your campus. (Check Translink's site for late-night schedules.) If you strongly feel you need to be downtown, you will find neighbourhoods such as the West End, Yaletown, False Creek North, and Coal Harbour are all within walking distance of VFS. Areas such as Mount Pleasant, Commercial Drive, Kitsilano, and Fairview, are all within a very short commute or long walk from our campuses.
In general, the closer to downtown you are, the more expensive your accomodation will be. Areas such as Burnaby, North Vancouver, and South Vancouver are all within a reasonable transit commute from our downtown campuses. We do not recommend the Vancouver's Downtown Lower Eastside neighbourhood, east of Abbott Street.
Basic maps of Vancouver and the surrounding area can be downloaded at www.tourismvancouver.com/visitors/maps.
For exact location maps of specific addresses go to maps.google.com?q=Vancouver.