Where to live – BC vs. Hawaii?

So having lived in the lower mainland (Metro Vancouver) area of British Columbia and in Honolulu, Hawaii (born and raised), I’ve figured that it would be a bit of a fun exercise to compare and contrast the two. I can’t say one place is definitively better than the other; they both have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Yes, this is a diplomatic answer, but in all honesty, I can’t really favor one over the other. They are both desirable places to live, for their own particular set of reasons.

I will compare and contrast Vancouver and Hawaii using various rubrics (both obvious and some maybe not so much) to grade them through my experienced, but obviously biased lens.


Duh…one of the first things anybody looks to when looking at places to live. Obviously, for consistently sunny skies, Hawaii has BC beat. If you value and appreciate the changing of the seasons, then obviously Hawaii won’t rate high for you. I’m a bit more sun lover, so I’m going to give it to Hawaii.

I'mmm gonna soak up the sun!
Too much grey.


Being highly desirable places to live means lots of people have been on the warpath to put down stakes, driving up the costs of housing, services, and the like. I’m going to give the edge to Hawaii, but they both rate low to me.

Costly +++


Honolulu is commonly touted as an ethnically diverse place. I would say that’s a half truth. It is a very asian-centric place, and you’ll run up against a fair bit of provincialism here and there. While BC has its own ethnic enclave concentrations, its a place where you’ll find far more cultural exchange amongst asian and non-asian cultures. Tip of the hat to BC.

More tingle in the mingle.

Lifestyle / Activities

Hawaii’s got lots to offer everyone no matter where you fall on the adventure / homebody spectrum. Metro Vancouver however by virtue of its geography offers much more diversity. The simple fact that you can take a road trip and explore BC (or the rest of Canada, if you have the will and endurance) makes the Metro Vancouver more attractive in this respect. Also the population, like I said above, is more genuinely diverse, leading to a greater range of cultural diversions and events. BC’s got nothing on Hawaii’s beaches, however. BC’s beaches are pretty gross.

Its islands. That's it.
Moarrrr land! Moarrr to see and do!

Asshole Density

Ok, this is an important one. If the people that live in the area you live in are assholes, that would greatly affect your quality of life. The denizens of Hawaii and Vancouver are generally known to be helpful, hospitable, and gracious. I find that niceness is far more genuine in Hawaii than Vancouver, however. Its nothing Vancouver has really done wrong on its own. Its kind of a victim of its own success, as far as folks wanting to move here. Its got a far larger population than Hawaii. So the chances of meeting an asshole in metro Vancouver are far greater. In this bar comparison, lower is better.

More genuine.
Moarrrr people! Moarrr assholes!

Getting shit done.

From construction projects, fixing roads, prompt services here and there, waiting for shit to get done sucks. Waiting exorbitantly long sucks even more. Hawaii, being that its an island, experiences a phenomenon called “island time.” Its when a given task or event that would say normally take 1 hour to complete would probably take an additional 2-3 hours. Vancouver-ites are aware of this to some degree with interactions with their Vancouver island brethren and other smaller islands that dot BC’s coastal waterways. But Hawaii has taken “island time” and kicked it up a notch or 50. Hawaii is seriously glacial when it comes to change and what not, and its almost like a matter of pride in how much time they can actually waste. Goddamn infuriating.

Good luck.

Local Guv’mint

I’m going to say metro Vancouver is marginally better than the banana republic that is Hawaii. However, a lot of the municipalities are run by monkeys in suits that would sooner fling shit at each other than do something productive with coerced taxpayer’s money. There are just too many market interventionists, big spend-do nothings, and doom and gloom alarmists in all the municipalities in metro Vancouver to qualify any one in particular as being “governed” well. For comparison, I would say Singapore is a place that is governed well (small, limited, market oriented governance). Vancouver and Hawaii are light years behind and a loonie short of ever being compared in the same company as Singapore.

It's shiite.
Still shiite.

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