I’ve moved around a fair bit in my life and felt like an Asian Goldilocks before I settled in The Couve.
I spent part of my childhood in Thailand. Too hot! Food’s great though.
I moved to Monterey Park and spent my teen years there. Really, really good food. I would’ve stayed if I didn’t move for college.
I spent my young adult life in Long Beach, CA where I went to CSULB for college and met my husband. But it was too expensive!
We knew we had to move if we wanted to buy our first home. Luckily, my brother-in-law moved to Vancouver so we decided to come up and visit. And just like Goldilocks tasted the last bowl of porridge and happily said “ahhh, this is justtt righttt” when we drove through this town and felt right at home.
It was fall when we visited and I still remember the moment we looked at each other and went “wow, this is what season is?” And then we drove around town and saw how much homes in Vancouver cost ($300,000 for a 3bed/2bath in 2017!) and decided that this is where we wanted to be.
It’s been 5 years since we moved up here and while it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows (in fact, there’s quite a lot of rain up here as you’ll read later), we love it here and have no regrets. Here’s my take on the best, worst, and quirks of The Couve.
The best of The Couve #1: No income tax!
Talk about a 10% raise (or whatever your state income tax is)! Washington is one of the few states with no income tax and with the sharp increase in remote work, Washington has suddenly become a popular state to live in. With Portland right across the river, it feels like you get the best of both worlds: affordable housing (compare to other high cost areas) and no tax in Vancouver, amazing restaurant, and tourist activities in Portland.
The best of The Couve #2: Everything is close by
International airport? Check. Nature? Check. Hiking? Check. Craft beers? Check. Hip food and trendy restaurants? Check.
There are mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches, deserts, snow within 1 to 1.5 hours of Vancouver. Do you like local farms and locally grown humane grass-fed meats? There’s plenty of that too! Because development in Vancouver was so explosive there are pockets in the city where farmers still hang out and eating organically is very easy to do.
The best of The Couve #3: The weather is perfectly mild
The winters aren’t too cold. The summers aren’t too hot. Spring and fall are absolutely beautiful. We do get a lot of clouds and rain though. On average we get 42 inches of rain per year (the national average is 38) and we get 143 sunny days (the national average is 205). Washington does sit higher on the hemisphere so our day length might be different than what you’re used to.
Because of that, seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues can sneak up on you so make sure you take care of yourself in the winter. However, with all that rain comes the beautiful lush green that PNW is known for!
The worst of The Couve #1: Lack of diversity (especially in food)
Every time I meet a fellow Californian transplant, we trade reviews on where to find good Mexican food and breakfast burritos. I swear that wasn’t a joke! Portland might be known as the food mecca, but Vancouver is a long way off. As of 2020, Vancouver is 71.5% White, 13.9% Hispanic or Latino, and 5.6% Asian. There’s a lot of good American food, lots of great brewpubs, but not ethnic food that hasn’t been Americanized. The good news is that the city is growing and becoming more diverse and that comes with food diversity. In 2017, there was no Korean BBQ, maybe 1 boba store, and you can barely find sushi that didn’t come on a conveyor belt but now there 2 (2!!) Korean BBQ places and at least 5 boba stores.
The worst of The Couve #2: Going over the bridge SUCKS
There are only 2 ways to go between Vancouver and Portland, I-5, and I-205. So, you get your typical rush hour traffic but if there’s an accident (and there’s quite a lot of them) on or near the bridge, it gets clogged up FAST. If you’re driving outside of rush hour, then it’s not that bad.
The worst of The Couve #3: The town is still a little conservative
Don’t get me wrong, the majority of people are very nice and accepting here but I feel like the LGBTQIA+ culture and activity are still in the closet. It takes some digging to find a community to hang out with. The people love their guns and their fireworks which sucks if you have dogs. Unfortunately, we also have a few politically conservative protests going on. I don’t find that to be different than any other city but I do hate to see it.
The quirk of The Couve #1: We have a weird rivalry with Portland
If you ask a Portlander why they don’t live in Vancouver where it’s cheaper, they’ll probably turn their nose at you and go “ew, I would never live there!” Portland neighborhoods are cozy and pretty walkable, so they hate the idea of our suburban living where we need a car to get anywhere.
And if you ask a Couvian why they don’t live in Portland, they’ll say that Portland has too many hipsters, tourists, and the wrong kind of weird.
The quirk of The Couve #2: We’re chill, and we go to bed early
I hope you don’t like partying all night because we don’t do that here! Most bars and restaurants close by midnight and only a handful of bars are open until 2 am. To be honest, I don’t even know if we have a dance club here. Our dress code is casual. Our downtown is sleepy. We like our coffee and craft beers.
The quirk of The Couve #3: Sticker shock on alcohol
20.5% That’s right folks, the highest spirit tax in the nation. That’s probably why most of us here are beer and wine drinkers. Washington always had high liquor tax but when Washington voted to privatized liquor sales this added extra fees and put up on top of the chart. Fortunately, you can cross the state line into Oregon and save a little money. They have a lower alcohol tax plus no sales tax. My go-to is Stateline Liquore Store in Jantzen Beach.
Vancouver is the best place I have ever lived in. There are a lot more pros than there are cons. If you want to know more about moving to Vancouver, send me a message! I’ll be more than happy to talk to you and I hope I get the pleasure of selling you a house one day.
TLDR: It’s a great city with great people but there are some growing pains. It’s not perfect but we’re moving in the right direction.