This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Two years ago I decided to pack up my life into boxes and move across the country from New Brunswick to Vancouver, somehow convincing my partner to get on board with the plan. Fast forward to now, and I'm packing it all up once again, but this time to move back home.
I only have a faint memory of what it was like stepping off the plane and driving into the unfamiliar city because in just two years, the province has managed to actually feel like home to me, despite our many moves within it. From Vancouver to Whistler, to Pemberton, we've settled in a few different areas of B.C., so I managed to see a lot.
Now I'm doing what people do when faced with a big life change — reminiscing. Taking stock of the past couple of years filled me with nostalgia, and has made me reflect on my biggest takeaways from the cross-country move.
From practicalities like money to lighthearted debates about the best hikes, I learned that I knew very little about life out west before actually making the move.
You're going to spend more than you think
The reality of moving in general is expensive, but a cross-country journey is a pricey endeavour. I donated bags and bags of clothes, sold off my furniture, and gifted anything and everything I could part with to friends. Despite my best efforts, we still had to pay thousands of dollars to get all of our belongings from the East Coast to the West Coast.
From there, the bill just kept racking up. Rent is just as expensive as people warn you about, and finding housing is a unique challenge. In B.C.'s defence, we picked Vancouver during our first year and then moved to Whistler, which are two very expensive places.
Add in mind-blowing gas prices and steep grocery costs, and you have to make some big adjustments to make to your monthly budget.
When we moved we also wanted to see everything. Road trips to hikes outside of the city took our breath away, but also burned through our gas. Memorable adventures to Vancouver Island came at the cost of ferry tickets and campsite rentals, which usually don't come cheap.
I don't regret one dollar, but it is definitely something I wasn't fully prepared for when moving.
It's a massive province
You can spend years exploring B.C. (trust me, I did) and still only see a slice of what lies within its borders.
I mean, you have the Canadian Rockies, a full-on desert, and then countless oceanside towns all in one province. There's so much to see and even though I checked off some bucket-list destinations, I ended up adding even more places to my list.
Even though we did so much, I'm still dreaming of a future trip to Haida Gwaii, a wine-tasting tour in the Okanagan, and a visit to the Great Bear Rainforest.
You're forced to pick and choose your adventures because there's the whole reality of money, work and responsibilities, but that's tough to do in B.C.
The Maritimes are pretty small in comparison so I wasn't really prepared for the vastness of B.C., and how little I would truly be able to see in a couple of years.
There's so much more to B.C. than just Vancouver
This goes hand in hand with how big B.C. is, but I really can't overstate this. So many people (including myself two years ago) just think of Vancouver when they're planning a visit to the West Coast. And I get it, you want a bustling city, tourist attractions, and to eat at all the best restaurants.
B.C. has a few big cities to choose from though, and Vancouver isn't the first recommendation on my list. It's a great city, don't get me wrong, but I think other ones like Victoria get seriously overlooked.
Then you have all the small towns and communities scattered around the huge province, which honestly blow Vancouver's beauty out of the water. That's saying something too, because Vancouver is seriously stunning.
My biggest piece of advice to someone going out West is to explore at much as possible. Drive around, hop on the ferry, and see as much as possible – don't just spend the whole time in Vancouver.
It's so outdoorsy
I'm not revealing anything new by saying the West Coast has an outdoorsy vibe, but I was truly shocked by how different life is out there.
The East Coast has its fair share of campers and hikers, but weekends on the West Coast just felt more active. I saw more inflatable stand-up paddle boards in one weekend in Whistler than I did in my whole life beforehand. It seemed as if every second person you met had some type of adventurous hobby, whether it be skiing, climbing, backcountry camping, or mountain biking.
When you're surrounded by that kind of extraordinary nature, you definitely get the itch to get outside more — and it shows. I loved seeing lakes full of kayakers, hikes full of smiling people, and campsites packed with families. It's not without its annoyances (full campsites mean no availability), but it was amazing to have that sense of community when it came to getting outside.
You get used to the wildlife
My first few hikes in B.C. were spent anxiously clutching bear spray and looking over my shoulder every five seconds. As you can imagine, it wasn't very enjoyable. I was heeding the many warnings from my parents back home about ginormous grizzlies and prowling cougars and thought I would be forever scared when going out into the woods.
Of course, I do still have my bear spray with me on a hike, but I was surprised how quickly I got used to the different wildlife threats out west. Maybe it was sheer exposure because I saw a bear almost every day this spring living in Whistler, but it just became less stressful. You get educated, go out prepared, and the fear fades away (mostly).
I actually grew to love spotting bears, at a safe distance that is, and it was one of the coolest differences about life out west.
Bears in Whistler, B.C.Morgan Leet | Narcity
There's so much to do
Life is considerably slower on the East Coast. A lot of the time that's a blessing, but I will miss just how much there is to do in B.C.
You have access to some of the most surreal hikes in the world, plus some of the best restaurants on your doorstep in Vancouver. You get the peacefulness of nature and the liveliness of big cities all wrapped up into one.
The East Coast has cities of its own, of course, but nothing compared to the likes of Vancouver or even Victoria. It has some incredible hikes too, but fewer and farther between compared to the West Coast.
No coast is the "best coast"
"So," people say, "which coast is the best coast?" This question is posed to me a lot, but really it's unanswerable.
There's no juicy response bashing one province or the other, because the reality is that it just depends. The East Coast is more low-key and has its own beauty to offer, with tight-knit communities and seaside gems, but the West Coast of Canada will forever be one of my favourite places on earth.
For me, it's time to head back east though, because as cheesy as it is — there's no place like home.