I Moved To Vancouver 2 Years Ago & Toronto Does These 7 Things So Much Better
The SkyTrain makes me miss the TTC.
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.
Moving from Toronto to Vancouver in April of 2021 was a decision largely inspired by the fact that Vancouver rentals were seeing a pleasantly uncharacteristic dip in pricing. My partner and I scored a beachside one-bedroom apartment in Kitsilano for $1,800 and haven't looked back.
Alright, perhaps there’s been the occasional backward glance.
Vancouver’s a gorgeous city and it suits my current lifestyle and personality more than fast-paced Toronto. (I'm presently on that do-nothing and touch-grass grind.) That said, I’d be lying if I didn't acknowledge that there's a lot I miss about Ontario.
There are no two ways about it: Vancouver has many assets, but Toronto just does some things better.
Anyone who's ever lived in Toronto has likely complained (at length) about the TTC. I was once one of you — a city slicker with places to be and people to see — and saying to myself "goddammit why am I stuck between Downsview and Wilson station again?"
But coming to Vancouver has shown me how good Toronto has it. Vancouver is a comparably small city, but it somehow feels a billion times harder to get anywhere. I usually just end up walking because it's less stressful.
On the bright side, I'm now very good at walking.
Sometimes, taking the pedestrian route isn't feasible or reasonable. I can't very well walk to YVR.
With bad transit comes a greater temptation to call an Uber. Except in Vancouver, calling an Uber delivers no promise of one actually arriving.
If you're planning on using that app to get to the airport, you better prepare yourself for long wait times and surge pricing that would make a grown man cry.
On the topic of money, there is plenty to say. I remember walking to Shoppers Drug Mart with my partner the day after we moved in. The prices were astronomical. I turned to my new roomie and said, "This must just be a terrible Shoppers!"
That fanciful thinking was soon squashed by an unavoidable reality: Vancouver's food prices are obscene. There aren't many budget-friendly alternatives, either. No cheap late-night shawarma options like the ones Toronto spoiled me with.
At least there aren't any in my seaside community, which is full of considerably wealthy people who have no hesitation in dropping $3 on a single avocado. Couldn't be me.
I'm Italian, and when I lived in Toronto, I grew accustomed to having countless purveyors of little Italian comfort treats. If a cannoli craving hit, I wouldn't have to wander far to find a crunchy, creamy delight.
Vancouver's food scene is unreal, don't get me wrong. There are delicious options aplenty, but when it comes to picking up an assortment of fresh teralli on a whim, I'm fresh out of luck. It's true that there are some beautiful Italian restaurants and specialty stores in this city. But I want more of them, and I want 'em cheap.
I'm homesick, sue me.
There are few things that have disappointed me more than the Vancouver Christmas Market. I am definitely being dramatic, but anyway.
First of all, why isn't it held in Gastown? Gastown has all the old-timey charm that makes for an optimal environment for holiday cheer.
That's probably why Toronto does its famous Winter Village in the Distillery District, which is also likely the reason that it's been ranked one of the best Christmas Markets in the world.
I'm partial to the Distillery District's pedestrian-only streets, old brick buildings and cobblestone alleys. It's a 13-acre space, so it feels less crowded than Vancouver's substantially smaller locale — and much more authentic.
This year, though, I will note that Toronto put up a DIOR sign on the big Christmas tree, which was pretty tacky.
Concerts and shows
Toronto's venues are remarkable. You've got big stadium shows, dive bar concerts, Broadway hits in historic theatres and underrated gems that somehow make you feel cooler for knowing they exist.
Now, maybe I'm just too green to know the underground network of artsy venues in Vancouver, but at face value, it's fairly obvious to me which city has the superior entertainment scene. I'm not a snob, I swear. But just look at the Winter Garden Theatre. In my humble opinion, there's no beating that.
Brunch is a topic of discussion that requires great care and even greater honesty. So, it's in the spirit of candour that I write this.
I've tried so much Vancouver breakfast food in the past two years, and it hasn't given me too much to write home about.
Some of my faves have closed down, and other brunch staples (ahem, Jam Café) require standing in long lines. At the risk of sounding like a geriatric Millennial, I don't care to wait in lines for overpriced food. It makes me feel like I'm living in a dystopia.
So, Toronto wins on brunch for me. Perhaps I hold this opinion because the GTA's bigger and the transit's better (please see above), but it must be said.
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