Sitting on the north bank of the Columbia River is Washington State’s fourth-largest city, Vancouver. As the county seat of Clark County, Vancouver is well known for its natural beauty, young culture, and close-knit, vibrant community. Though it’s a suburb of Portland, Vancouver has set itself apart with plenty of career opportunities across several industries, fantastic schools, and beautiful green spaces. Vancouver is constantly making national “Best Places to Live” lists and has won a long list of awards and recognitions, including:
- NUSA 2019 Best Neighborhood Winner
- People MAgazine’s 5 Affordable Cities in the West
- Tree City USA Award for eco-friendliness
- Vancouver Public Schools recognized by the White House as a leader in computer education.
- Subset Magazine’s Best Value Towns in the West
Vancouver’s nicknames are The ‘Couve or Vantucky.’ However, the latter nickname has a somewhat negative connotation. Notable people from Vancouver include US president Ulysses S. Grant, ice skater Tonya Harding, and musician Willie Nelson.
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Vancouver, WA Demographics
Vancouver’s population is 169,982. It’s a somewhat diverse city. The racial and ethnic composition is 76.5% white (69% non-Hispanic), 14.7% Hispanic, 5.5% Asian, 2.3% Black or African American, 1.6% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, 0.6% American Indian and Alaska Native, and 9.1% two or more races. About 15.5% of Vancouver residents are foreign-born, the majority of whom were born in Mexico, the Philippines, and India. Though English is spoken by an overwhelming majority of people in Vancouver, you can expect to hear some Spanish spoken throughout the city. There are slightly more women in Vancouver with a male to female ratio of 49.6% to 50.4%.
Like nearby Portland, Vancouver has a reputation as a hipster town and destination. This is reflected in Vancouver’s young median age of 37, and a large number of locals fall into the 20-39 age bracket. However, a large portion of Vancouver’s residents are also older, married couples, many of whom have school-aged children, making this an extremely diverse city by age. With 55% of Vancouver residents listed as unmarried, it’s a great place to be single!
Best Vancouver Neighborhoods
Considering Vancouver’s large size, it should come as no surprise that this city has dozens of unique neighborhoods to choose from. If you haven’t lived here before, the choices may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! Here are just some of the best neighborhoods in Vancouver to explore.
Felida – Safe, Family-Friendly Neighborhood
- Population: 7,857
- Median Home Cost: $588,500
- Homes for sale in Felida
Located on the northern tip of Vancouver Lake, this desirable neighborhood in Vancouver is known as one of the best destinations for families in the city, with low crime rates, great schools, and large houses. You’ll love being surrounded by nature, with Whipple Creek Regional Park, and Vancouver Lake at the southeastern end of the neighborhood.
Fisher’s Creek – Conveniently Located Suburban Community
- Population: 2,331
- Median Home Cost: $425,000
- Homes for sale in Fisher’s Creek
This small Vancouver community is situated along the banks of the Columbia River and is one of the most sought after places to live in Vancouver. The area has a suburban feel, but it’s just a ten minute drive to downtown. The neighborhood has plenty of shops and restaurants, and residents love relaxing in Fisher’s Creek Neighborhood Park.
Cascade Highlands – Affordable Family Community
- Population: 3,635
- Median Home Cost: $405,000
- Homes for sale in Cascade Highlands
In eastern Vancouver, the Cascade Highlands neighborhood is another great place for families. Real estate prices are 24% in Cascade Highlands, so it’s a great place to look into if other areas aren’t working in your budget. Mountain View High School is located in Cascade Highlands, and it’s one of the higher rated schools in Vancouver. There’s also the beautiful 6.2 acres Homestead Park with walking paths, a playground, and ample lawn space.
Bennington – Popular Among Renters
- Population: 2,822
- Median Home Cost: $445,000
- Homes for sale in Bennington
Just northeast of Cascade Highlights is the Bennington neighborhood of Vancouver. There are plenty of restaurants, coffee shops on the eastern and western ends of the neighborhood, and a Walmart Supercenter for all your everyday needs. The walkability and easy access to amenities is probably why Bennington is popular with renters – about 55% of the neighborhood’s residents rent their homes.
Cost of Living in Vancouver
Wondering if living in Vancouver is affordable? Overall, the cost of living in Vancouver is 3% higher than the national average. However, that doesn’t mean everything is 3% more expensive across the board. In fact, housing costs in Vancouver are 3% lower than the national average, which might be great news compared to where you live now. Utilities in Vancouver are 7% cheaper than the national average, and the average utility bill is $164.94., Groceries are about 4% less expensive too. Transportation prices are 8% higher than the national average, and healthcare is 9% higher.
You should also consider that you might pay different sales tax when moving to another city or state. Sales tax in Vancouver is 8.4%. Washington state sales tax is 6.5%, and the other 1.9% goes to the City of Vancouver. There is no state income tax in Washington. The property tax in Vancouver is an average of $13.73 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Learn more about the Vancouver WA cost of living with our complete guide!
- Gas: $2.95/gallon
- Internet: $60.69/month
- Utilities: $164.96/month
- Full-time preschool: $1,250.00/month
- Monthly Transportation pass: $81.00
- Fitness club: $34.50/month
- Milk: $3.14/gallon
- Bread: $2.20/loaf
- Eggs: $2.20/dozen
- Fast food meal: $7.00
- Restaurant meal: $15.00
- Movie ticket: $12.25
Crime in Vancouver
When you’re moving to a new city, it’s always advisable to look into the crime rates. When calculating crime rates, experts look at total crime, violent crime, and property crime. These crime stats come from the FBI. Here’s a look at Vancouver WA crime rate.
- Vancouver total crime rate: 50% higher than the national average
- Vancouver total crime rate: 3,722 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim in Vancouver: 1 in 27
Violent Crime in Vancouver
Violent crime rates account for the murder, rape, and robberies in a community. The violent crime rate in Vancouver is 27% higher than the national average.
- Vancouver Murder Rate: 1.6 per 100,000 people
- Vancouver violent crime rate: 480 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Vancouver: 1 in 209
Property Crime in Vancouver
Burglary, theft, and vehicle theft all fall under property crime. The property crime rate in Vancouver is 54% higher than the national average.
- Burglaries in Vancouver: 479.9 per 100,000 people
- Thefts in Vancouver: 2325 per 100,000 people
- Vehicle thefts in Vancouver: 436.7 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a property crime in Vancouver: 1 in 31
The Weather in Vancouver
Vancouver and Portland share similar weather patterns. Vancouver has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, but also experiences colder winds and temperatures than Portland. And if there’s one thing you can’t avoid in Vancouver, it’s rain, so make sure you have a solid umbrella, and rain boots. Vancouver experiences about 164 rainy days per year, especially throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Summers are warm and dry, with daily highs averaging in the high seventies. With average temperatures in Vancouver that rarely fall below freezing, you won’t have to worry about shoveling heaps of snow in the winter. Plus, when the sun finally comes out, you’ll get to enjoy some of the most gorgeous natural beauty in the US!
Things to do in Vancouver
Looking for fun ways to spend your days off in Vancouver? This city always has something fun to do! Check out these top attractions in Vancouver:
- Silver Star Mountain: Take a day trip to the beautiful mountain that you view every day while living in Vancouver. You can relax at the base or take any of the trails all the way to the top!
- Fort Vancouver: Experience history at the fort for which the city is named. Once a fur trading post, the fort later became a military and air force base in WWII. In addition to guided tours, you can also take a step back into history with live demonstrations of blacksmithing, carpentry, and Victorian handcrafts.
- Vancouver Farmers’ Market: Stroll the endless booths of vendors selling amazing produce, crafts, flowers, and more. Located in Esther Short Park, the Vancouver Farmers Market is a city favorite.
- Vancouver Lake Park: There’s plenty to do at Vancouver Lake! With 190 acres of parkland, Vancouver residents enjoy barbecuing, picnicking, playgrounds, and rowing.
Art, Entertainment, & Museums
- Kiggins Theater: Enjoy a movie or live performance in a piece of history! Kiggins Theater opened in 1936, when it was considered exceptionally modern. The theater was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 2012.
- Pearson Air Museum: Learn about Pearson Field’s rich history in American aviation at this museum within its limits. The museum is home to fascinating murals, exhibitions, and four pre-1930s airplanes.
- Officers’ Row: If you’re looking for a laid-back afternoon activity, stroll this area in the Vancouver National Historic Reserve Historic District. These 21 homes of former U.S. military officers were restored to their original charm in the 1970s.
Parks & Outdoor Activities
- Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park: This landmark spans 125 acres along the Columbia River and includes an array of grills and picnic tables for your next family outing, as well as a family-friendly beach. There’s also almost 3 miles of easy walking trails, perfect for everything from a stroll to a true running workout!
- Esther Short Park and Playground: With 5 acres of recreational opportunities, Esther Short Park is a great place to take the kids. This park has plenty to offer, with a stunning gazebo, a beautiful water fountain, covered picnic areas and a fantastic playground that your children will love.
- Waterfront Renaissance Trail: Enjoy 5 miles of paved trail with gorgeous waterfront views of the city. The trail connects Esther Short Park to downtown Vancouver, and has lots of shopping, dining, and relaxing places to stop along the way.
- Vancouver Mall: The largest shopping mall in Southwest Washington, Vancouver Mall has all the retail therapy you need. Anchored by JCPenny and Macy’s Backstage, Vancouver Mall has 140 shopping and dining spots, as well as a 23-theater AMC.
- Battle Ground Village: If you’re looking for outdoor shopping and dining, Battle Ground Village is a great option. Whether you’re looking to shop, eat, or enjoy some pampering at a spa, there’s everything you need. Don’t want to leave? Look into The Oaks townhomes!
Vancouver is home to dozens of top eateries, but when you’re new to a city, the number of choices can be overwhelming. To help you get started on your culinary journey, here are a few of our favorite local hot spots in Vancouver.
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Dinner with a view? At Beaches, you can enjoy beautiful food along the water. Menu favorites include the citrus calamari, the “Shameless Burger” and the fish & chips.
1919 SE Columbia River Dr, Vancouver, WA 98661, (360) 699-1592
If you’re looking for upscale dining, head to Elements. This Vancouver favorite offers a creative menu, amazing wine list and an intimate experience that’s sure to impress.
907 Main St, Vancouver, WA 98660, (360) 258-0989
Mother-and-son operated Dediko is one of the top rated restaurants in Vancouver. Specializing in traditional Georgian food, Vancouver residents rave about the dumplings and amazing breads.
210 W Evergreen Blvd #700, Vancouver, WA 98660, (360) 314-4370
Vancouver Real Estate
Vancouver is well known for its affordability, especially in comparison to nearby, more expensive Portland. Median sale price for a home in Vancouver is $394,000, which is an 11.3% increase over last year. The real estate market in Vancouver is considered somewhat competitive, but homes usually stay on the market for less than two weeks and sell above asking price. Property taxes vary from one home to the next, but you can expect to pay between $2000-$3000 a year in Vancouver.
About 48% the population in Vancouver owns their homes, while the other 52% chooses to rent instead. Rent in Vancouver averages at $1,385 a month, and the average apartment size is 923 square feet. The most expensive places to rent in Vancouver are Esther Short, Hough, and Carter Park. If you’re looking for the most affordable neighborhoods in Vancouver, look at Bagley Downs, Columbia Way, or Dubois Park.
Schools in Vancouver
Looking for the best schools for your children? You’ll have about 200 options to choose from in Vancouver. The city is served by two school districts: Evergreen School District and Vancouver Public Schools. Our guide to Vancouver WA school districts covers everything you need to know about the districts in the area. The top rated schools in Vancouver are Fishers Landing Elementary School, Alki Middle School, and Columbia River High School. Schools like the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and Vancouver iTech Preparatory School offer specialized programs for ambitious students who want to pursue specific career types, while still getting a well-rounded education.
If you’re looking for great higher learning institutions, Vancouver offers three for you to choose from. Clark College is a two-year community college, and WSU has a campus in Vancouver. If you’re interested in pursuing religious studies, look no further than Gateway Seminary
Vancouver has tons of options for aspiring professionals! The median household income in Vancouver is $58,865. The largest industries in the city are healthcare, retail, and manufacturing; there are also plenty of jobs in educational and professional services here. With over 85,000 jobs in Vancouver, the local economy is growing, adding almost 2,000 jobs in the last year alone. The most common jobs are management, office/administrative support, and sales related occupations. According to Glassdoor, Intel, Nike, and Mentor Graphics are the highest rated places to work in Vancouver. You can explore jobs in Vancouver WA on Indeed to see available opportunities.
Many people living in Vancouver make the commute to Portland for work with an average commute time for of 23 minutes. Not sure which city is right for you? Check out our guide to Portland vs Vancouver living!
Transportation in Vancouver
Most people in Vancouver rely on personal cars to get around, and most households have 2 cars. Commuters can expect their commute to be about 23.5 minutes. Though over 75% of Vancouver residents drive alone to work, there are public transit options available. Vancouver’s mass transit system is called C-Tran, and it’s operated by the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority. 134 buses, paratransit vehicles, and vanpools are available through C-Tran.
Vancouver is also served by three Amtrak lines, and the nearby Portland International Airport.
Pros and Cons to Living in Vancouver
- Similar amenities to Portland at a lower cost of living
- Many chances to experience nature
- Growing job market
- Higher crime rate than the national average
- Lots of rainy weather!
Is moving to Vancouver right for you? Let PDX Movers, the best movers in Vancouver, assist you with your relocation! Call us at 503-746-8795 today for a free quote!