Vancouver excerpted

A friend of mine is considering moving to Vancouver to attend UBC, but doesn’t know anything about what the city is like. Here’s what I sent her in response to a request for a basic run-down of places to live. Did I miss anything? Can you think of any other essential information to add?

Out by UBC is expensive. Closer in is Kitsilano, where the yuppies live. It’s more expensive than other areas, but it’s nice, and there’s basement suites that are under a grand. Trees everywhere, beaches, lots of fit people jogging with dogs. Features a 24 hour vegetarian restaurant, boutiques upon boutiques, good coffee, and a nice little movie theater.

I live over by Commercial Drive, which is like a smaller, less late night Capitol Hill, minus the gay district slant, and without night clubs or artist lofts. It’s gentrifying, but still high in hippie content. Commercial Drive is where to find cheap organic food, musicians, lesbians, new parents, people with dreadlocks, and surprisingly good video rentals. It’s also got one of the two 24 grocery stores. Think bicycles, dyed hair, tattoos, alt culture, and marijuana. It’s easy to meet people here, it’s cheap, it’s friendly, and it’s where most of the art comes from. You’re welcome to stay in my livingroom on the fold-out couches for awhile when you’re here, until you find a good place to settle in.

There’s two other corridors that are fairly good to live, Cambie St and Main St, and if you can manage to live in between the two, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Main street is where the hipsters live, and with them come cliques, expensive indie clothes, some good food, some excellent coffee, and a lot of people with similar bad hair-cuts. Most of the apartments nearby are cheap because they’re horrible, but you’d have a lot of neat neighbors, if you ever find a way to meet them. Closer to Cambie is more where people want to raise their kids, very middle class, lots of elementary schools, but it’s recently gained a subway line, so the landscape there is going to change soon. Go too far west, though, and you hit a money wall. Too far east and you’re over by Fraser/Clark, one of the highest break-in areas in the city.

Next is downtown’s West End. Central, high density, the majority being apartments within a square of four major streets. To the North is Robson st, which consists of shoe stores, high end clothing, expensive restaurants, and tourist tat. West is Denman St, (and Stanley Park), which is where you’ll find stores that only sell cupcakes, cake, or ice-cream. South is Davie St, the gay corridor where things like bus-stops and trash cans are painted barbie pink, there are some night-clubs, and the other 24 hour grocery store. East is Granville St, where the drunk kids club-hop, and Yaletown, where money pools, as well as pretension.

North-East is Crackton, the poorest postal code in Canada. You can find a lot about it online, where it’s called the Lower Downtown East Side. It’s not as generally dangerous as people might think, but nor is it safe to randomly wander. (As an example, it’s where the Picton brothers stole their women off the side of the street to torture and kill for fun on their farm.) It’s like the worst of Oakland, but instead of racism, it’s drug use. I used to live there because it was cheap, but it destroys you as a human being. It should never be normal to witness bus-stop stabbings, having to use weapons on your walk home from work, or waking up with your door wedged shut by a dead body.