When the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on pause, many saw the downtime as an opportunity to reflect and reconnect with what they truly want out of life. Major lifestyle shifts included finding a new job or even moving to a new city.
And for tens of thousands of people, this meant migrating to Vancouver.
With residents of Alberta, Toronto, and Montreal flocking to Vancouver according to a recent LinkedIn report, the British Columbia capital’s population spiked 10.5%, a 150% increase from the year prior.
As a coastal city with the Pacific Ocean to its west, flanked by the Rocky Mountains to its east, Vancouver offers breathtaking scenery and a mild climate—at least when compared to the rest of the country.
The Vancouver appeal
Ranked as one of the top ten cities in the world for healthy living, Vancouver is known for the outdoorsy, adventurous lifestyle it offers.
And despite a high cost of living, Vancouver was also ranked as the best Canadian city to work in for young people, coming in at number one in the categories of public health, equity and inclusion, and public transportation.
One perk the pandemic ushered in: the newfound ability (and preference) to work from home. Vancouver residents that worked from home full-time over the past year have less money spent on food and drinks and more time to prepare healthy meals, as well as a better overall work/life balance.
A survey performed by Angus Reid showed that 90% of British Columbians prefer “at least some time working remotely, whether it be entirely from home (26%) or a ‘hybrid’ of home and office (38%).“The past year has transformed the way organizations operate, with many employers realizing that a workforce can be highly engaged and productive while using a hybrid model of working,” says Wayne Berger, CEO of the Americas for IWG.
In fact, one study in the United States expects that productivity from employees who work from home will increase by 5%. Another study from Stanford showed that work-from-home productivity increased 13%.
A major draw for tech talent
One of the biggest appeals of migrating to Vancouver for a work-from-home lifestyle is its growing demand for talent. The city’s tech sector is taking off quicker than ever before, recently adding 3,000 jobs due to an Amazon expansion as well as producing seven billion-dollar “unicorn” businesses in just one year.
Clio, a software company that helps law companies run more smoothly, is one of those companies, raising $110 million at a $1.6 billion valuation in April.
“Vancouver has become its own hub for successful technology startups,” says George Psiharis, COO at Clio. “The fertile ground for this type of success really comes from the ecosystem of talent and opportunity the city has to offer. Vancouver is home to several world-class educational institutions and talent incubators, which have contributed to a workforce capable of supporting such a vibrant tech industry—attracting students from within the local community and from other places in the world.”
Psiharis also notes that with the influx of remote work due to the pandemic, professionals are migrating to emerging tech hubs and prioritizing that ever-important work-life balance.
“The booming tech economy provides unbeatable career opportunities for people interested in being a part of the next big tech community,” he says. “It has been a wild ride over the last few years–both at Clio and across the Vancouver tech community as a whole. The growth we’ve seen has been explosive, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It’s truly a thrill to have both helped build and to be benefitting from a world-class tech ecosystem, built on top talent and business-friendly infrastructure–all in one of the most beautiful settings in the country.”
Other freshly minted Vancouver unicorns include NFT firm Dapper Labs, cybersecurity company GeoComply, and AbCellera, a biomedical research firm known for creating the first COVID-19 antibody treatment.
For tech industry folks looking to leave Ontario and Quebec, Vancouver is able to provide the work opportunities it previously may not have offered. The CBRE’s 2021 Scoring Tech Talent confirms this, with Vancouver climbing one spot to become the 11th best destination for tech talent in North America, trailing only Toronto and Ottawa in terms of other Canadian cities.
Along with Vancouver, Halifax has also experienced an increase in new residents, growing 39% since the start of the pandemic, offering many of the same benefits, except on the east coast.