Where should you live in Vancouver? What are your child care, schooling, and health care options? We help answer these questions and more, and offer helpful resources.
Life in a world-class city
Each year, Vancouver ranks among the top cities in the world for quality of life. Here are some tips for making your move and getting the most out of the city and life at UBC.
Get information about immigration.
Vancouver is a mosaic of diverse neighbourhoods, each with different housing options. Depending on your personal needs, there are living options both on and off campus.
Our housing section offers information on short term stays, renting, buying, reimbursement of relocation costs and UBC's faculty home ownership program.
Learn more about our housing information and resources.
Child care and schooling
UBC is the largest campus-based child care provider in North America, and off-campus childcare options are also available.
Vancouver also has a world-recognized primary and secondary school system.
Learn more about child care and schooling.
Living in Vancouver, you'll have access to a large network of health practitioners, including doctors, dentists and physiotherapists.
B.C's Medical Services Plan, mandatory for all B.C. residents, pays for many medically required services when they're performed in a hospital. Depending on your job and the length of your appointment at UBC, you may also be eligible to receive extended health and dental benefits as part of your employment benefits package.
There's a three-month waiting period for new residents to obtain coverage under the BC Medical Services Plan. It's important to arrange for temporary health insurance during this waiting period for you and your family. You're welcome to use any insurance provider you prefer, including those who provide preferred rates to UBC faculty and staff.
Learn more about health care coverage options.
Doctors, dentists and health practitioners
Find a physician for your family through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
Find a dentist in your area through the BC Dental Association.
At UBC's Vancouver campus, you can access the UBC dentistry faculty practice clinic, a multi-specialty group dental practice, situated at 2151 Wesbrook Mall in the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre. They're open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and can be contacted at 604 822 9660 to make an appointment.
UBC's faculty of medicine operates the UBC Health Clinic on the Vancouver campus. The clinic provides full-service family practice care, including obstetrics and nursing home care, for individuals and families living on the UBC campus or in Lower Mainland who want holistic, personal physician care. Special expertise is available onsite from a pharmacist, pediatrician, and psychiatrist. A doctor is available 24 hours on-call for registered patients. All ages welcomed.
Hospitals in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland
Health and wellbeing at UBC
UBC’s benefits provider, Sun Life, provides online health and wellbeing companion tools that can help you understand how healthy you are and what health risks you may be facing. As well, you can get up-to-date information about medical conditions, diseases and tests and information about various prescription drugs and how they are used.
You can also create a personal health file online where you can store your health records in an encrypted database protected from outside intrusion. Please note that use of this service is voluntary, anonymous and confidential.
To access the members’ website as a UBC employee, you’ll need an access ID and PIN. To get a Sun Life access ID and PIN, you may register online, or call the Customer Care Centre at 1 800 661 7334. Before Sun Life provides your access ID, you'll be asked a few personal questions, including:
- UBC’s group policy contract number (25205)
- your member ID, which is your seven-digit employee number from your pay stub
Your temporary password will be mailed to you the next day.
Other programs at UBC include return to work, ergonomics, and seminars that promote personal and community health.
Learn about other health and wellbeing options at UBC.
Transportation and driving
Getting around UBC and Vancouver is usually easy. There's public transportation and car sharing networks. You can also choose to drive your own car in the city.
Vancouver-area public transportation
The Lower Mainland has a reliable transit system that includes buses, SkyTrain / Canada Line (rapid transit), the West Coast Express (commuter train), and the Sea Bus, that all link Vancouver with its surrounding areas. Visit Translink for more information.
Vancouver has three car sharing networks that operate throughout the city. They're easy to sign up for and offer a great alternative to public transport or driving your own car around Vancouver.
Driver’s license and car insurance
If you have a driver’s license from another Canadian province, the United States, or overseas, your license is valid in British Columbia for a period of 90 days as long as you meet B.C.’s licensing requirements. Prior to the end of the 90-day grace period, you must visit the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) driver licensing office to register for a BC driver’s license.
Most vehicles must be registered, licensed and insured within 30 days of arriving in B.C. You should speak with ICBC about your vehicle’s insurance needs. Be sure to bring the title, registration, and evidence of current insurance with you.
To save money on insurance costs, it's recommended that you bring 10 years’ (or as much as you have) driving history and insurance claims history.
Information about bringing your vehicle to BC is available on the ICBC website.
Social Insurance Number, taxes and banking
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. All employees are required by Service Canada to present their SIN card to their employer within three days of starting work. You'll also need a bank account to have your paycheque deposited into.
Foreign academics who are to receive salary or an honorarium must apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from a Service Canada Centre. It can take up to three weeks for a SIN card to be issued, but when the application is made, Service Canada will issue a receipt of application. This receipt and a copy of the work permit must be supplied to your UBC department administrator who will forward them to Faculty Relations and Payroll. It's mandatory that all non-Canadians supply these two pieces of information. UBC appointments cannot be processed without them.
For more information about obtaining a Social Insurance Number, visit the Service Canada website.
Taxation in Canada/B.C. income tax
While at UBC, any earnings received are considered Canadian income, unless otherwise indicated by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in writing prior to arrival.
Please note that, by law, deductions are taken from your salary for Canada Income Tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI). If you receive fellowship earnings, these will not be deducted for CPP and EI.
In the spring of every year, you'll receive T4 and/or T4A slips from UBC's payroll department, which you will use to file your tax return. You must ensure your forwarding address is up to date in the event you leave UBC prior to this time.
Please contact a financial advisor or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for tax and financial information.
You can also access the CRA website for a self-directed online course on understanding taxes, which includes help on how to file a tax return.
If you have any questions about paying income tax in Canada, please refer to CRA’s information for non-residents or contact the International Tax Services Office (collect calls are accepted):
- Calling from Canada and the U.S.: 1 800 267 5177
- Calling from outside Canada and the US: 1 613 952 3741
- Fax: 1 613 941 2505
Get information about taxable benefits related to UBC housing programs.
Banking and credit cards
There are a number of banking institutions and branches for you to choose from in British Columbia. Several banks are located near UBC's Vancouver campus, including:
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can be found on campus and throughout Vancouver.
Mortgages in Canada
When buying a home, you may rely on a lender for a mortgage to finance the purchase of your home. If you're using one of the home ownership programs being offered by UBC, you may be restricted by which lenders you can use.
Outside of this, you may be able to get a loan with any of the major banks in Vancouver or go through a mortgage broker. Get information about finding housing in the Vancouver area.