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Vancouver is a city unlike any other. Family-friendly yet undeniably hip, and more aesthetic than arguably any other city in North America, Vancouver is, unsurprisingly, frequently cited as one of the world's most livable places.

To say there’s a lot to like about Vancouver is an understatement, like saying there’s a lot of snow in Ottawa or hockey mullets in Edmonton. For one, Vancouver offers the best of both worlds: surrounded by the ocean on 3 sides and capped by mountains on the 4th, it’s a postcard-perfect snapshot of nature at its most picturesque. But it’s also a hustling, bustling big city with a highly diversified economy. Forestry, mining, software development, aerospace, retail, tourism, and film are among the many booming industries that help give “Hollywood North” its “global city” status and make it such a desirable and affluent locale.

It’s also a remarkably diverse place, with more than half of all residents speaking non-English as their first language. Nearly 30 percent of residents have a Chinese heritage, while significant numbers of Vietnamese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Taiwanese, Latinos, and Europeans also call the city home. Vancouver also plays host to more than 90,000 college students at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. To embark on a condensed world tour in a single afternoon, just neighbourhood-hop from Little Italy to Greektown to Chinatown to the Punjabi Market, and you’ll begin to see what a rich ethnic mosaic the city really is.

Vancouver is also Canada's most densely populated city. In fact, only 3 cities with at least a quarter-million residents – New York, San Francisco, and Mexico City – house more people per square mile. Naturally, the city is a relentless mess, with garbage and litter lining the streets and sewer rats the size of a Sedin brother roaming free, right? Au contraire, Vancouver is, according to Forbes magazine, one of the 10 cleanest cities in the entire world. City officials have also created an action plan to make it the “world’s greenest city” by 2020.

And now for the thorn – according to a 2013 study by TomTom, Vancouver has the worst traffic in all of North America. Especially if you’re attempting to get into the city via 99 North during rush hour or you’re taking W Georgia St near the Lion’s Gate Bridge into North Vancouver, be prepared for epic delays.

Fortunately, Vancouver does have a remarkable public transit system that includes buses, passenger ferries, and the SkyTrain elevated rapid transit, which hits up all the inner city hotspots and even extends into some of the eastern and southern suburbs. Sure beats inching along at a pace that makes a snail resemble a Formula One racecar.

If, like many Vancouverites, you live and work downtown, you may be able to rely on just your feet to get around, as the city is extremely walkable. It's also an extremely biker-friendy place with an elaborate network of bike routes connecting the city. Because the weather in Vancouver is moderate year-round, running errands on foot or by bike is almost always feasible.

Officially, Vancouver consists of 23 distinct neighborhoods, but for all practical purposes, it’s divided into 2: East and West, with Main Street being the unofficial demarcation line. 

The west side, generally, which includes downtown, is more affluent and contains some of the most luxurious (and pricey) real estate in Vancouver. West Vancouver is less multicultural than its eastern counterpart and consists largely of Europeans and Asian immigrants. The main exception is the highly gentrified West End, popular among numerous ethnic groups and also the city’s gay and lesbian population.

Multi-million dollar detached homes are the norm in West Vancouver, and you’ll rarely find an estate in the MLS listings for under 7 figures. Particularly popular west side neighbourhoods include: Yaletown, home of some of the city’s trendiest shops, boutiques, and eateries; Kitsilano, or “Kits,” a former hippie haven that boasts some of the most historic and eclectic homes in the city; and Fairview, which features prestigious single-family homes along with a smattering of blue-collar apartment buildings.

“East Van,” meanwhile, is more diverse, affordable, and “down to earth” and is home to many working-class residents, young families, singles, and students. Still, it’s not the west side alone that makes Vancouver, according to Forbes, the second most expensive real estate market in North America. Million-dollar homes are popping up more frequently in East Van in recent years, and even modest-sized homes in many neighbourhoods fetch $600k on the real estate market.

It’s difficult to pigeonhole the neighbourhoods of Vancouver into specific categories, but generally speaking, if your pocketbooks are endlessly deep, the upscale Dunbar, West Point Grey, and Shaughnessy neighbourhoods are ideal. Riley Park and Grandview are among the city’s most family-friendly areas, while night owls will feel right at home in Mount Pleasant, Fairview, or the West End. The latter, along with West Point Grey and Kitsilano, is ideal for big-spending beach bums as well.

The only eyesore, according to many locals, is the Downtown Eastside, where crime rates are considerably higher and property values continue to bottom out. If you're considering purchasing a home there, be sure to first spend some time getting a good feel for its vibes to make sure you’re comfortable with it.

Vancouver goes by a lot of nicknames – “Hollywood North,” “Raincouver,” “Vansterdam,” “Vancity,” “the Couve,” and, yes, “No Fun City.”

Don’t ask us why. The downtown core and Granville Street are both lined with night clubs, sports bars, and live music venues that stay hopping until 3 a.m. Irish pubs are a staple of several neighborhoods, "Kits" plays host to a variety of funky, countercultural establishments, and Yaletown is the perfect place to don your most debonair attire and clink glasses with the city’s sophisticates. If you're feeling more casual, strip down to a tee-shirt and jeans and bar-hop the College Joe-friendly watering holes on Granville Street.

Vancouver is also a hotbed for arts and culture, boasting a handful of quality live theatre houses (Bard on the Beach and the Arts Club Theatre Company, most notably), a world-class art museum, maritime museum, astronomy museum, and the largest civic museum in Canada.

The city is also an outdoorsman’s paradise, with more than 200 parks and gardens, countless nature trails, and 10 oceanside beaches. Of course, if you consider whale-watching, jet skiing, mountain biking, casinos, world-renowned shopping destinations, live music, professional sports, and eating and drinking establishments for every occasional boring, then yes, it’s true – Vancouver is undoubtedly a No Fun City.