Looking to New West for cheaper rent, we found the perfect place to call home

Leafy Columbia Street.
Leafy Columbia Street. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

I made my first appearance in this world as a raisin-faced baby at the Royal Columbian Hospital, and as such, New Westminster is listed as the city of my birth. The reality, however, was a touch different—New West disappeared in the rearview immediately, as my parents sped my little infant self back to our home in South Vancouver. Since then, I’ve lived in North Delta, East Van, South Burnaby and North Burnaby. Heck, I even spent a few ill-advised months living in Australia. For so much of that time, New West seemed like nothing so much as a thoroughfare, a collection of SkyTrain stops, medical offices, and visits to powdery grandparents who, if you were lucky, might let you help yourself to their ancient bowl of melted and mutated ribbon candy.

When my partner and I decided to move in together in 2012, our search radius was narrow. We wanted VANCOUVER, in all its green, foodie, lululemon-y glory. Though our budget wasn’t especially constrained (or so we thought), we were soon frustrated. Anything big enough for us both was either outrageously expensive or confined to a dank basement with the prospect of a nosy landlord living directly above. Anything in our budget was either teeny tiny or attached to an alleyway littered with bug-infested mattresses. Not stunning prospects, in short.

Westminster Pier Park pedestrian overpass
One of Katie’s favourite haunts: Westminster Pier Park (as seen from the new pedestrian overpass at 4th St.) Photo: Katie Nordgren

Eventually, we had to relax our location demands to “near a SkyTrain. ANY SkyTrain.” The moment we expanded our Craigslist parameters, it was as if the clouds parted and the sun began streaming in. We were looking just as the Azure 88 buildings became available, resulting in dozens of attractive, conveniently located rental listings. When all was said and done, we had rented a massive two bedroom with a stunning river view, for the same price as the aforementioned dank basement. Spitting distance from Columbia Station, our commutes suddenly became that much more tolerable for avoiding the dreaded early morning bus transfers. Initially, we were just happy to be getting a good deal on housing – something that is increasingly difficult in Metro Vancouver. Slowly but surely, however, we fell in love with the community.

I’m an ambler by nature, not much given to hardcore fitness, but a lover of a long, purposeless walk. This has proved to be great for getting to know the area; I’ll motor through the side streets of all the individual neighbourhoods South of 10th Ave, stopping at anything interesting on the way: Pier Park, Queens Park, Quayside, all the lovely heritage homes in Brow of the Hill, the list is endless.

That was how I found myself at the Royal City Farmer’s Market one steamy Thursday afternoon, it was all I could do to not propose marriage to the handsome devil who poured plump raspberries into my hands, as a generous free sample. A stellar tactic too, as I ended up buying several pints which I immediately devoured. I then narrowly avoided committing further bigamy at the samosa stand. The heart wants what it wants, and apparently what my heart wants is food.

Speaking of marriage and matters of the heart, I married my sweetheart at the Metro Hall on Carnarvon St., a mere block from our apartment building. We had an evening ceremony, and spent the early part of the day together luxuriating in local comforts: Breakfast at the Hide Out, and a thorough pampering at Limina Spa. As we walked hand in hand to our venue, glittering in our finery, a car slowed as it passed. A gentleman several sheets to the wind leaned out from the passenger’s side window to drawl “You guysh… You guysh are the perfect couple for each other.”

And this is the perfect place for us.

One Reply to “Looking to New West for cheaper rent, we found the perfect place to call home”

  1. Great article, glad you came back. Just like any new west born… we come back or stay like moi.

Comments are closed.