What It’s Like Living in Vancouver, Washington in 2021

On the north bank of the mighty Columbia River, lies a sprawling city by the name of Vancouver. Vancouver is located in Clark County, Washington and – depending on who you ask – is considered a best kept secret in the Northwest. 

Vancouver is the fourth-largest city in Washington (after Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma) and continues to grow each year. Originally a fur-trading outpost when established in 1825, Vancouver has transformed into a suburb of Portland. With no personal income tax here and cheaper real estate compared to Portland and the rest of Washington state, it has become a steadily booming place for homeowners everywhere. The population of Vancouver and overall intrigue also continues to rise due to people’s love for the great outdoors, including Mt. Hood and Beacon Rock State Park. You may even hear from some locals that when you step foot into the city, “You’re one foot in suburbia, and one foot in the country.”

If you’re planning to move to Vancouver (Washington, not BC), you’re going to need to know a few things before settling in. For example, did you know Vancouver is home to the oldest town square in the Western United States? And even though neighboring Portland has a reputation for being the hipster capital of the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver has its own hipster community as well (not that we care about reputation or anything).


What It’s Like Living in Vancouver, Washington in 2021


If you’re living in Vancouver, you’ll be part of Clark County. Vancouver’s population is 187,615 (3,849 people per square mile). The outside amenities, economic growth, and close proximity to Portland has made Vancouver the second fastest growing city in all of Washington state. 

Weather and Climate

According to the annual BestPlaces Comfort Index, Vancouver scored a 7.4 out of 10 in terms of its year-round climate. On average, there are 143 sunny days and 42 inches of rain per year in Vancouver. The summer high is 80 degrees Fahrenheit in August, whereas the winter low is 34 degrees in December. Overall the weather in Vancouver, Washington, is great, with the most pleasant months of the year being July, August and September (temperatures averaging 70-85 degrees).

Cost of Living

According to the BestPlaces Cost of Living Index, with the U.S. average being 100, Vancouver has a 114.3 overall cost of living score. That’s exactly 1 point higher than Tacoma. The cost of living here is on the higher end, but housing in Vancouver has become very sought after in the last couple years, with renting in the area increasing by upwards of 16% in a short time.

Job Market

The median household income in Vancouver is $80,500, with a poverty rate of 12.75%. Occupations in the arts, health, science, law enforcement, farming, fishing, and forestry yield higher salaries in Vancouver compared to the rest of the country. The unemployment rate in Vancouver is 5.5%, which is lower than the national average of 6%.

Schools and Universities

Vancouver is surrounded by approximately 24 different colleges and universities, 21 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 5 high schools, an art school, and a STEM school amongst others. If you’re wanting to further your education, you’ll have excellent options like Washington State University, University of Portland, and Clark College


Vancouver’s public transportation is both efficient and convenient. You’ll notice many of the locals using the C-Tran, also known as Clark County Public Transit Benefit Area Authority, but y You’ll also have access to other types of busses, the SeaBus ferry, and the SkyTrain. The average commute time in Vancouver is 25.2 minutes (26.4 national average).


6 Fun And Interesting Facts About Vancouver

Wait, Isn’t It Located In Canada? 

“Where is Vancouver? And why is it in the United States?” 

Our Vancouver is located on the northern bank of the Columbia River and is approximately 300 miles south of the more well-known Vancouver, British Columbia. Both cities were named after British sea captain and explorer, George Vancouver, but Vancouver, Washington’s bordering cousin didn’t become incorporated until 60 years later, making Vancouver, Washington, the first Vancouver. Take that, Canada.

Willie Nelson’s Early Years Started Here

We like to think we launched Willie Nelson’s career. After Nelson became a successful teenage disc jockey in his birthplace of Abbott, Texas, he decided to move on to Vancouver in hopes of settling down with his family and to further work on his musical career. It was here that he wrote his song “Family Bible” and recorded “Lumberjack” in 1956. 

He became a DJ on his “Western Express” radio show in Vancouver during that time. It was here that he had an opportunity to express to his viewers how he was a “cotton-pickin’, snuff-dippin’, tobacca-chewin’, stump-jumpin’, gravy-soppin’, coffee-pot-dodgin’, dumplin-eatin’, frog-giggin’, hillbilly from Hill County, Texas.” Nelson reminisced often throughout his life how much he enjoyed those times as a DJ and how it helped make him into the musician we know him as today. Nelson is still performing and is currently on tour at the age of 88, as part of the lineup for the 2021 Outlaw Music Festival Tour

Plenty of Socially Distanced Activities In Vancouver 

Vancouver is so sprawling, so you’ll have plenty of space to spread your metaphorical wings. An author with Forbes even ranked Vancouver as the second-best place to visit during the pandemic throughout all of the United States. 

This could be due to the copious amounts of hiking opportunities, access to the mountains, Columbia River Gorge, Pacific Ocean, alongside opportunities to enjoy many sports and outdoor activities that encompass it all. Even the excellent Vancouver Farmers Market is still running, having instituted several safety precautions so folks can shop safely. If you want to get out and move, the paved, 5five-mile-long Columbia River Renaissance Trail linking Esther Short Park with Wintler Park is the perfect place to walk, run, and bike along the river while taking in spectacular sunset views.

Speak Freely and Buy a Brick In Esther Short Park

Outside of the beautiful scenes and relaxing atmosphere, Esther Short Park serves as a year-long venue for a variety of different public and private events. A section within the park is dedicated to “Free Speech” related activities, allowing for people to better express themselves without fear or judgement. 

You’ll also be able to purchase bricks that are scattered throughout the bell tower in Propstra Square, which are a great way to commemorate a loved one. Proceeds from the sale of bricks benefit the Parks Foundation of Clark County and the maintenance of plants and flowers growing in the park. 

Ulysses S. Grant’s House Served as a Headquarters for Camp Vancouver

Are you a fan of history? If so, be sure to head down to Officers Row to check out the 22 exquisitely preserved Victorian homes comprising the tree-lined promenade, including the Ulysses S. Grant house (Grant House, for short). This has not only become a go-to place for history buffs, but for runners, dog walkers, and people looking to surround themselves in its picturesque beauty, too. 

Ulysses S. Grant never stayed in the house, but he did live in the area as a quartermaster for over a year. Throughout that time, Grant was able to strategically place himself along the river that not only allowed safety for Grant and his troops, but a great scenic view as well.

Vancouver Was Named the “Hippest” City In America

A few years back, Insider ranked Vancouver as the #1 hippest city to live in the United States for people 30 and younger. They’ve earned this award due to its density of tattoo parlors, microbreweries, thrift stores, and vegan stores

Being considered “hip” back in the 60s and 70s meant very laid back, but nowadays it means something trendy and cool while staying outside of the cultural mainstream. One thing about Vancouver that is ‘trendy and cool’ though is its continued interest for people looking to rent or purchase a home. The ongoing growth in certain fields, alongside the “hipster-like” activities of the residents, allow for this city to obtain a hipster score of 8.23 (2nd is Salt Lake City at 7.145). I’m not sure what that means, but apparently it means Vancouver is a pretty hip place to visit and live!

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