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, Oregon. 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. Vancouver’s population 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 to 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 one 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 of years, with renting in the area increasing upwards of 16 percent in a short time.
The median household income in Vancouver is $80,500, with a poverty rate of 12.75 percent. 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 percent, which is lower than the national average of 6 percent.
Schools and Universities
Vancouver is surrounded by approximately 24 different colleges and universities, 21 elementary schools, six middle schools, five high schools, an art school, and a STEM school amongst others. If you want 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. 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?
Our Vancouver is located on the northern bank of the Columbia River and is approximately 300 miles south of the well-known Vancouver, British Columbia. Both cities were named after British sea captain and explorer George Vancouver, but Vancouver, BC wasn’t incorporated until 60 years later, making Vancouver, WA, 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 disc jockey in his birthplace of Abbott, Texas, he decided to move 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.
Nelson continued to host his radio show “The Western Express” in Vancouver during that time. He has often reminisced throughout his life about how much he enjoyed those times as a DJ and how it helped make him the musician he is today.
Plenty of Socially Distanced Activities In Vancouver
Vancouver is so sprawling, so you’ll have plenty of space to spread your metaphorical wings. Forbes even ranked Vancouver as America’s second-best place to visit during the pandemic. This could be due to its easy access to the mountains, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Pacific Ocean, as well as endless opportunities to enjoy many sports and outdoor activities.
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, five-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
On top of its beauty 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, providing a place for people to better express themselves without fear or judgement.
You can also be able to purchase bricks that are scattered throughout the bell tower in Propstra Square, which is a great way to commemorate a loved one. Proceeds 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
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). Although Grant never stayed in the house, he did live in the area as a quartermaster for over a year. During that time, he was able to strategically place himself along the river, which provided safety for his troops as well as scenic views. Officers Row has not only become a must-visit spot for history buffs, but also for runners, dog walkers, and people looking to surround themselves in its picturesque beauty.
Vancouver Was Named the “Hippest” City In America
A few years ago, Insider ranked Vancouver as the hippest city to live in the United States for people 30 and younger. The city hasn’t just earned this award due to its density of tattoo parlors, microbreweries, thrift stores, and vegan restaurants; there’s also steady interest among people looking to rent or purchase a home. Continued growth, coupled with the “hipster” activities of its residents, earned Vancouver a hipster score of 8.23 (Salt Lake City came in second at 7.145).
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