Most Liveable City in The World – Again!!

Ah again. Five times in a row.
Vancouver is voted as the most liveable city in the world, by the Economist magazine.

Way back before I got hitched to a certain supergeek who made Canada his home 18 years ago, Vancouver let alone Canada – has never been on my have-to-travel list. I know it is a pretty city, but I don’t care much about it because ‘pretty’ is not an adjective that attracts me as a city when it comes to exploring. My young blood then hungers for raw energy in a city, so being all pretty and dandy is errr…unattractive. Funny eh?

My first year living in Canada was not in Vancouver, but in Mission – 1 hour drive away from Van . It is a little sleepy country town, flanked by salmon-filled rivers and clear creeks. We have a monstrous house and lots of greens. I remember reading the news about how Vancouver is the most liveable city then, and I was curious. My relationship with the city was contained within the context of having meetings, hanging out in the robust coffee culture and of course the usual visits.I like Vancouver then, but am not sure about its livability.

Now that we have moved to Vancouver, I can vouch for the tag the city has earned. Vancouver is very pretty, but more than that – I love how graceful the general society is. I fell in love with the love people have for animals here, the respect for differences and the general courtesy even on roads. I recalled a cousin from SG who was here last Spring. She was crossing the road and saw a car coming. She stoppped, thinking that she should let the car passed. But in Canada, most cars will stop instead to let the pedestrian pass (even with a long line of cars behind you). This happened many times, and she went home impressed. I don’t notice these things. I should, I know.

I love the variety of landscapes that Vancouver has, both geographically and in its people. Only in Van can you find mountains, the blue water, rivers and a high-rise buildings next to each other. We live near the beach, and it so happens that our place is on top of a hill. Our morning drives to downtown means we get a full view of the mountains, the beach and the skyline and a few minutes later, we are driving parallel to the coastline. Now that it is summer, you can see seagulls flying past and the beach crowd basking in the sun. It is a gorgeous way to start your morning, and we are always happy driving from Mackenzie Heights (where we are), past Kitsilano Beach and then crossing over to historic Gastown (where DH’s office is).

And only in Van, can you see literally a variety of colours in peoples’ skin.

However, Vancouver is not without its downsides. There are poor areas, and there are very-open druggie infested parks. There are also the not so pretty sides of Vancouver, though I must say these areas usually have the best food ! But I love this diversity.

My own take on the new ranking is, I am blessed and very happy to be in one of the most beautiful city I have ever been in. But that aside, liveability is not a definitive term. How do you define liveability? From whose perspective are we measuring liveability from? John Doe may want a tiny apartment for himself, and to him thats liveable. Jane may want a huge house with a big lawn, and anything less to her is not acceptable. See where I am going at?

If the readers of the Economist are the ones who voted, then chances are these are educated and well-travelled individuals, who would probably be living and sampling the more comfortable side of Vancouver anyway. Of course they see the very pretty and beautiful side of Vancouver every day. In a way, DH and I are cheating by living in that side of town. Our space is small for the huge rent we are paying, but our choice to live on the West Side is totally about location. So we have to bite our tongue and pay the price. We would have loved a bigger space, but this is what we have decided on for now.

Talking about the common Economist readers, I can see it from the area where we are renting right now. You see Bentleys, BMWs and Porches parked on the streets where we are. Our Honda looks a little meek sometimes but thankfully, we don’t have a yearning to have big cars right now. We are just very happy with the proximity of our place to everything we like!

Another issue with liveability is affordability. Vancouver is very expensive to live in. A very pretty heritage house , with only 3 bedrooms and with a fully manicured lawn is a whopping USD$1.5 million at least. And property taxes will easily set you back with US$7000 a year. Surely you want a gardening team with that, like my landlord does. So add that on to your maintenance cost. We both don’t like the idea of slaving our lives for another mortgage, so until such time that we have a whole lot of cash to throw (including the ever-useful gardening team! – renting is hot on our list:) Seriously, can you see DH or I pottering away in our garden to keep cost low ? I think we will end up killing the plants.

Anyway, here is a tribute to the city I now call home. Vancouver is a very nice place to be. So all of you who are still contemplating a visit, just pack your bags and get your a** here. Nothing beats the warmth of family and friends I grew up with in Singapore, but for now, I am content. Alhamdulillah.

Summer Goats

I have been wanting to update this blog but the Summer sun distracted me. Sometimes I think blogging is detrimental to friendships because no one calls you anymore, citing “I read you did this and that on your blog…” as a way to catch up. What bull. Nothing replaces real time spent talking on the phone, email or hanging out to nurture friendships, so all of you out there guilty of doing this own up. There are maaaaannnyyy…lol.

So this week was our supposed vacation week. The past 3 weeks or so were hectic; fireworks, expo, friends from overseas staying over and of all things, our car broke down. We are pretty sure the time is almost up for the Honda Accord, and so we have been amusing ourselves test driving cars and reading reviews after reviews.

Thank God Cookie is healing well, out of depression AND up and about. In fact, enjoying too much of the outdoors may I add. He has been behaving more like a dog lately, extremely obedient on command and he walks with a bounce beside us on cue. Weird cat. DH swears Cookie is a dog incarnate.

The best news lately is the family goat farm in Malacca. The goats finally arrived and so begin our foray into making an abandoned land into something productive.A long, long time ago my great-grandparents left a chunk of land to my mother and her sisters, but the land was left abandoned for decades. Until someone (I still don’t know WHO exactly! I am the youngest in my generation and get left out of important information often…hahahahah) decided to set up a full service goat farm. This is a major milestone for my family, as we have never ventured into a business in such a scale as a family before, and definitely not farming! Between us are people who specialise in engineering, technician, accounts, entrepreneurs, administrative, parks and recreation, journalism and broadcast, IT and management. Note that NONE of us have any experience in farming, let alone setting one up. But I suppose our motivation is to make good use of an inherited land, something that our ancestors will be proud of and the kids can call their own.

Talking about kids, I think they had a blast visiting the family goat farm. Being the urbanites they are, this venture brings them back to their roots.
I will let my niece tell the story about how that visit was (now that the goats are in!).

Perhaps I will never look at a goat the same way again. Then again, I don’t get to see them in its full glory here in Canada – only the cut ones.