By Celina Chiasson
Moving up to Squamish to live rent-free seemed like it was too good to be true when my sister suggested it.
How could I possibly pass up the opportunity to live in Canada’s Adventure Capital, where the mountain views never get old and at least eight activities are right outside your door? As a self-proclaimed City Girl, however, I quickly learned that adjusting to Squamish was going to be a bit different than I thought.
Here’s how you might find Squamish to be just a bit different from Vancouver (or any big city for that matter):
1. Slow Down
Remember how in Vancouver you’d wake up, get something with a stupid amount of shots of espresso in it, then try to conquer the twenty meetings and forty-five errands you had to run?
Yeah…. Not so much in Squamish. I mean, sure, you’ll wake up, but then you’ll probably go for a run. And after the run you’ll end up at the coffee shop, where you’ll bump into at least six different people you know, so you’ll spend some extra time there as well. Only then will you probably go to work. On the bright side, it won’t bee too late because if I hadn’t mentioned before, you’ll have woken up at the crack of dawn in order to experience every part of the day in this amazingly beautiful town.
I know that last part sounds very Disney Princess, but trust me, it’s the truth.
Work will happen, and maybe you commute or you don’t, but after work you’re going to get the urge to go for a climb or something else active even though you did that already. Your pace of life is about to get more active than ever, but also the most relaxed it’s ever been.
2. Better get your L!
If you tell someone in Vancouver that you don’t have your driver’s license, you’ll probably get a few understanding nods since the transit is pretty accessible and can go you anywhere you need pretty quickly. Well in Squamish, everything is technically within walking distance and everyone will drive everywhere. You’re going to discover pretty quickly that getting a car or a bike is the best way to experience this town, unless you want to be at the mercy of the buses that run once every hour (on a busy day).
3. Quality vs. Quantity
In Vancouver, a fun thing for me to do was to just grab a coffee and wander around downtown, popping in and out of the shops and not really doing anything. If I needed a new dress or shirt, I’d walk into a Forever 21 and come out with it maybe twenty minutes later. In Squamish, if I want anything new, there are only a few shops to pick from, and they’re local businesses or consignment stores. This means every second (and dollar) I spend here feels like an investment in this town. And I’m gonna be honest, it makes me feel pretty great.
4. Going out? What’s that?
I’m going to be honest, the one thing I miss the most about Vancouver is the social life. Moving to Squamish has been wonderful in every other way, but it takes a bit to wedge yourself into any social circle (or two, or three), especially if you don’t happen to love climbing or biking or hiking. I do love every one of those things, but the people who do don’t tend to be the people who will go out for a drink with you at the drop of a hat. Squamish boasts one bonafide (and brand new!) night club, and the best part about it is that it doesn’t feel at all like a Vancouver one.
The things I miss about Vancouver nightclubs? The availability. Things I don’t miss? The prices, the sheer amounts of people, and the long lineups. Going out in Squamish might not happen as readily, but when you go out, you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by a bunch of fun people.
5. There are so many bears
Bear with me here (seriously keep reading past that pun). I know a lot of people in Squamish don’t see bears that often, but ever since I’ve moved here, I’ve seen at least 4 per month. In Vancouver, the biggest thing I would encounter on a drunken walk home would be a raccoon that thinks I’m gonna steal the trash it’s rummaging through. In Squamish, coming across a bear is just a little bit freakier (especially if inebriated. Me, not the bear).
Moving to Squamish made me realize just how beautiful it truly is on the West Coast. Every morning I wake up to see beautiful mountain ranges and talk to the friendliest people I’ve met in my life. The glacier water and rivers take my breath away each time I see them, and the clean mountain air that blows through the town is the freshest thing I’ve ever smelled. Living in Squamish made me feel more grateful to live on the West Coast (and in Canada) than living in Vancouver for 23 years ever has. The truth is, Squamish is all of the beauty of the West Coast wrapped up in a welcoming small town, where people are worldly enough to discuss everything with you, but not too worldly that you feel like they might be looking down on you.
So if you’re thinking about moving up to Squamish, or stopping by for a weekend (or two), I can’t recommend it enough. Maybe we’ll run into each other at Zephyr Café and have a nice long chat about how great it is to be here!