6 Money-Saving Tips That Have Made My Life A Lot More Affordable Since Moving To Vancouver

You'll thank me later. 💸

Contributing Writer, Vancouver
​Sierra Riley in a Vancouver restaurant. Right: Kits Beach, Vancouver.

Sierra Riley in a Vancouver restaurant. Right: Kits Beach, Vancouver.

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 to Vancouver was an experience through which I learned a lot about money — and more specifically, how to spend less of it in one of Canada's most expensive cities.

The cost of living in Vancouver is honestly upsetting, but I'm fortunate to have a partner with whom I can split rent, grocery runs, and more. Another thing worth noting is we made the move while rent was still pretty low due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I have fewer financial stressors than many folks in the city.

Still, residing in pre-recession Vancouver, I've picked up on a thing or two when it comes to saving money.

Go on free and low-cost dates

Whether you're going out by yourself, with a friend or with your S/O, there are ways to connect with people that don't involve spending money. In addition to the many free parks across the city, Vancouver has fun low-or-no-cost events all year long.

Once a local bar was hosting a free Absolut Vodka event — my partner and I each got a free espresso martini, a little dessert and a Polaroid picture taken of us. There are so many events like these out there, you just have to keep an eye out for flyers, Eventbrite listings and the programming schedule at your local library. Oh, and speaking of which...

Borrow stuff from the library

The public library is, in my honest-to-goodness opinion, the best place on Earth. It's a community hub where literally everyone is welcome to hang out, take classes, record a demo or do whatever the hell else they want without spending a dime.

You can borrow books, yes, but the Vancouver Public Library also rents out instruments, video games, voltage metres and more. Back in Ontario, I worked at a library that even had a lendery for household items such as air fryers and projectors. Check out what your local library offers; it'll probably save you a lot of cash down the line.

Avoid thrifting downtown

Remember the days when the stuff sold in thrift stores was affordable and actually accessible to lower-income folks? That's sadly ancient history in downtown Vancouver. Not only is it difficult to find anything decent at Value Village, but even the crap items are priced at $10 or more.

There are a few thrift stores outside of Vancouver proper that have good quality finds for $10 or less. Check out second-hand shops in smaller communities like Steveston and you might have more luck. (I recently scored a London Fog jacket, a vintage Disneyland sweater, some pants and a sweater vest for $20 altogether in Ladner).

Follow the grocery sales

Though hitting up multiple stores for different items on your grocery list may be a tedious feat, it could save you lots of money. Sniff out the deals and follow your nose — you might be surprised by what you find. For example, No Frills usually has the cheapest prices out of all the big-box stores in B.C., but Whole Foods surprisingly has an unbeatable coffee-muffin combo.

The freezer is your friend

Across the country, grocery prices are astronomical right now. Follow the sales as per the above tip, and if you have surplus groceries, freeze those bad boys! Costco runs, for example, usually yield a bigger haul than my partner and I can reasonably anticipate getting through — but sometimes you just can't say "no" to 24 brioche buns for $5.99.

Enter: the freezer. Keeps the good value stuff fresh for longer.

Buy the whole-ass chicken

In my experience, a pack of just two chicken breasts is often a similar price to the full chicken, so you get way less for your money grammage-wise. If you're a fan of poultry, just buy the chicken and carve it yourself, then (you guessed it) wrap the parts up separately and freeze what you won't be eating immediately. It's foolproof.

Sierra Riley
Contributing Writer, Vancouver
Sierra Riley is a Contributing Writer for Narcity Canada and is based in Vancouver.