A dense community filled with great diversity with everything Vancouver at your doorstep.
If someone had never visited Vancouver, looked on a map and placed a pin in the spot they would like to live in, it would be the West End! Bound by water (on 2 sides), thensandwiched between a 1000 acre rainforest (Stanley Park) and the Downtown core, this is a truly extraordinary piece of real estate. Within 20 minutes of just about any location in the West End, you can walk to Stanley Park, English Bay, the Sea Wall, Sunset Beach, Coal Harbour, Robson Street, Davie Village and Downtown! There is a neighbourhood feel here which separates it from the rest of Downtown. The streets are quiet and tree lined and it’s hard to imagine that this is still one of the most densely populated square areas in North America.
There is a great socio-economic mix here,including singles of all ages, a vibrant Gay community, seniors and young familiesmany of whom are new to Vancouver. The West End also changes a lot through the year with the summer drawing huge numbers of tourists to add to the mix. The Celebration of Light (an International Fireworks Competition launched from a barge in English Bay) and the Vancouver Pride Festival are two of the season highlights. The crown jewel is Stanley Park itself, frequently voted “best park in the world” for good reason. Year round this is an amazing place to get lost for a few hours. Take a walk around Beaver Lake, hidden in the middle of the park’s old growth rain forest and you will have a hard time convincing yourself that you are still right in the centre of a major metropolis!
Something that often surprises newcomers to the West End is that there are a lot less condominiums available to buy here than meets the eye. The large character homes that were built in the early 1900s, started to disappear fast from the 1950s onwards, being replaced with mid to high rise apartment buildings. However the large majority of these are apartment rental buildings. There are also a dozen leasehold buildings where you can buy individual rental leases (til the year 2073) and a number of co-ops (the precursor to condos) where you buy shares in the co-op then lease your suite from the company in which you own shares. As these co-ops were some of the first to be built they are also in the some of the very best locations, including the prized area “West Of Denman” directly adjacent to Stanley Park.
In terms of condos, there are a handful of high rises including several on Beach Avenue overlooking English Bay. However, the majority of condos are smaller low rise wood frame offerings mainly built in the 70s and 80s, tucked away on quiet side streets throughout the area. There are also a number of small townhouse complexes and, as of the latest count, approximately 40 privately owned single family homes that have somehow survived the years!
New condos, built since 2000, do exist but are mainly in the Alberni/Georgia corridor north of Robson Street. To find something recently built in the “true” West End is harder but not impossible especially with the right guide! With further increased density on its way, as part of the City’s plan, and development sites in other parts of Downtown becoming rarer and rarer, expect to see older rental buildings coming down and making way for more new condos in the next few years. These will hopefully be smaller, high end, boutique style buildings which would be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.