Brits in Vancouver – Richie’s Story

“People seem to prioritise their work life balance whereas in London the focus is on work and building a career. In London it feels very easy to get sucked in to the hamster wheel of life where nothing changes.”

Richie at Spanish Banks

Being here

It was back to shooting in the natural environment as Richie is definitely an outdoor person. He chose Spanish Banks to meet up with the iconic North Shore backdrop as it reflected his love of being outside. Access to the outdoors was key in his decision to relocate. When asked ‘what brought you to Vancouver, he replied “I moved to Vancouver in search of a life balance I couldn’t find in the UK. I had tried living both at home on the Isle of Wight and in London and neither quite worked out. I was 27, single and on returning from a 3 week solo trip exploring Alaska I couldn't see a reason not to seek another adventure. Living abroad was something I had always wanted to do and if I wasn't going to do it now when would I. A deciding factor was how the distance from how as it is possible to go home if needs be. I would love to live in New Zealand but it is just too far away.”  Richie is certainly not alone in his desire to shake things up and try different things, taking responsibility for his life direction.

Richie arrived at the the of July, 2018 on a two-year work Visa and has already getting in to the Permanent Residency application process, so it seems that Vancouver has checked the right boxes “A lifestyle to suit my personality is what I was looking for and its spectacular here! People seem to prioritise their work life balance whereas in London the focus is on work and building a career. In London it feels very easy to get sucked in to the hamster wheel of life where nothing changes. There are so many activities right on your doorstep that we are spoilt for choice. Vancouver is a very small city and I love how the different areas vary and the ease of getting between them.”  Having experienced working life in London, I have to agree with Richie’s sentiment. The relentless pace, the commute, the poor air quality; I don’t miss it at all. 

Filling the days

Richie at Spanish BanksOne of the big pluses that Richie has had is nailing appropriate work quickly and, I’d suggest that work is more of a financial enabler for a very active life. “I do Ironman quite seriously which involves around 8-10 training sessions a week, so lots of swimming, biking and running. With a ny time off I get outdoors as much as possible: hiking, kayaking, skiing, travelling etc.” On of the more unexpected responses was a new found love of the national game (okay, Lacrosse and Curling players are probably disagreeing - sorry) “The one thing I didn’t know about is how awesome Ice Hockey is. It’s now become one of my favourite sport, its just a shame the Canucks aren’t very good at the moment” Richie, you’re the first of my Brits in Vancouver to mention falling for hockey. I have to admit that even after eleven years here, I’m still not a hockey fan. I’ve tried, it’s just not stuck.

Making the move

The collective wisdom of all the Brits in Vancouver I’m speaking to is priceless for anyone wanting to make the move. Richie offered his insights and once again, research and costs came through loud and clear. “Do your research on where you want to live and can you afford the lifestyle you want as hobbies and living is expensive, salaries are also depressed. You may also need to be flexible on the area within a sector you want to work in as the job market is small. I also don’t believe moving to Vancouver is a good career move if thats your priority. Despite these negatives it was the best decision I’ve made and if you love the outdoors it is an easy decision.” The comment on career is an important one. People may often define themselves by what they do as opposed to who they are and so if career is a prime ‘reason for being’ Vancouver has the potential to disappoint. The other thing I’ve experienced here is what seems to be an aversion to consider a person’s broader skill set. I’ve been pigeon-holed in the past and it was this reluctance to recognise transferable skills that was one of the motivations for me to shift from environmental management to photography (which has always been a creative interest for me). 


Richie at Spanish BanksIt’s obvious that Richie is enthralled by the outdoors, but following the relocation, what does he miss and what would he have brought over from the UK if he could have? It turns out that aside from family and friends Richie’s dog and car figure large “I would have loved to bring my dog, but as we live on a farm (in the UK) she has the most awesome life and it wouldn't be fair to move her to Vancouver. I would also love to have my classic car, a Triumph Spitfire, out here. Driving the mountain roads in the summer with the roof down would be spectacular. It wouldn’t handle the months of rain as well though! I also miss a proper ale! (Canadians don’t even know what an ale is!"  Richie, I can’t help you with your dog, but I can really recommend taking time to check out the All British Field Meet at Van Dusen Gardens over the Victoria Day long weekend. You can fill your boots with British cars and find many Spitfire’s.

Stay or Go?

I wanted to know more about future plans and, to close the conversation asked Richie whether he saw his future in his new home.  “I’m currently on a two year visa but already applying for permanent residency. So it might be only another 18 months but I’m currently planning to extend my stay. Currently I have no plans beyond the next 18 months so will see what happens but for now I am so happy. I might get bored here (unlikely) or might need to go home for some reason but for now I’m planning to stay put.” And that sums up a lot of conversations I’m having. The Brits I’m meeting are happy living in Vancouver. Sure it has its limitations (small city) and it’s disadvantages (affordability) yet the lifestyle that Richie wants is available here and, for now he’ll happily take the access to the outdoors over a commute in  London.

Richie, welcome aboard the TARDIS, it was a pleasure meeting you and I appreciate you saying yes to something out of the immediate comfort zone. Enjoy life in Vancouver!

You’ll find more images from Brits in Vancouver on my photography site.

Richie at Spanish Banks


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