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Places to Avoid: Keeping it safe in Vancity!

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Depending on where you are coming from, Vancouver is a city that could be perceived as either enormous or small… Regardless of that perception, like any other city with a population that is already in the millions, Vancouver has areas you should avoid.

We know this city is beautiful in general. With an incredible skyline, beautiful neighbourhoods and abundant nature, this city is surely an eye-pleaser! However, it has a few less beautiful places that you should avoid. But before we get to our list of places to avoid, we want to respond to the most important question regarding this topic; is Vancouver safe?

And the answer is YES! All things considered, Vancouver is a safe place to live in, just like most cities around Canada. Compared to worldwide safety rates, Vancouver is on the low-end. Vancouver’s crime rate is very low, especially regarding violent crimes. This is because most crimes in Vancouver are property theft or vandalism. We might not be up there with Toronto, which is currently ranked the 4th safest city in the world, but it’s still a safe city when it comes to personal safety.

So much so that one of the most frequent comments we receive from students in Thrivve’s community is about how impressed they are with how you can walk the streets at any time without fear of something happening to you! Especially from students who come from certain places in LatAm or Asia, where you cannot do that. Try walking around with your brand new iPhone 13 in Rio de Janeiro at 2 am; see how that goes!

Vancouver is definitely not like that. People can walk with their phones in their hands and wear whatever clothes they want, without anyone batting an eye! The feeling of being able to walk through downtown in the middle of the night, knowing that you will get home safely, is simply priceless!! Especially for women.

Despite this feeling of safety, which is definitely better than places like Mexico City, it’s important to stay away from certain places. You don’t want to expose yourself to situations where you would not feel comfortable. With this in mind, here is a list of places you should avoid in Vancity:

Downtown East Side | East Hastings: Popularly known as “Main and Hastings,” East Hastings is definitely the part of Downtown Vancouver that you want to avoid. This area of the city has a ridiculously concentrated amount of homeless people. These less fortunate humans have been ignored by the city for many years, and it is now a problem in Vancouver. Trying to cope with their reality, this population is normally under the influence of multiple opioids, causing them to be physically clumsy at times. And although walking through this neighbourhood might be reminiscent of a scene from “The Walking Dead,” remember that most of them did not choose that life.

Now, if you happen to walk by this area during the day, you will notice that most people ignore you. They don’t even acknowledge your presence, so we recommend not making eye contact, and you’ll be fine! No unnecessary, uncomfortable interactions will come your way 😉 And, during the night, you shouldn’t walk there… just to avoid possible unpleasant encounters.

Whalley, Surrey: Not precisely in Vancouver, but just a 45-minute ride away on Skytrain from the City’s DT. Whalley is known by Vancouverites as the roughest area in that city, with the highest poverty index and crime rate. So it’s a good idea for you to avoid this place at night. Keep in mind that, according to the RCMP, the crimes committed the most in this area have to do with drug possession and abuse or property theft.

Chinatown: Now, for this area, in particular, we were a little bit divided on whether to add it to this list or not. Chinatown is a historically significant part of the city that is worth your time visiting as there are plenty of good restaurants! You also have the Vancouver Police Museum and a traditional Chinese garden.. simply worth it!

However, over the past few years, Chinatown’s vibe has declined. As of today, this area of the city is usually quite dirty; there’s garbage everywhere, a lot of homeless people lying on the streets, unpleasant odours, and vandalism (graffiti, stores with broken windows and so on). Therefore, it is not an area where it is pleasant to hang out right now... but! The city is aware of this problem, and it’s working on a solution to revamp the neighbourhood so that, hopefully, we can soon go and enjoy all the fun things Chinatown has to offer!

Gastown Alleys: Similar to Chinatown, Gastown is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in town! And it’s probably the most visited by tourists due to its Victorian history. It’s simply beautiful…, especially at night!! That being said, we consider it essential to mention that you should avoid getting into alleys in this area and even more so once the daylight is gone! Not only because you can find people that are up to no good, but also because Vancouver has multiple pubs and bars, and it is not weird to find a random dude who drank one too many and is acting a little aggressive for reasons only he could understand 🙄.

Other than that, Gastown is a great place to go to! It has delicious restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. If you take into consideration what we just mentioned, you’ll be totally fine 😉.

We hope this information helps you to have a better idea of what Vancouver is like, what to expect and to avoid. Also! If there’s any other place that you think belongs to this list, please hit us up! We would be more than happy to share it with the rest of our community.

Leave us a comment or continue this conversation on the forum, we want to hear from you!

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