In the 1960s Kitsilano was recognised as the ‘hippy hangout’ of Vancouver due to its beachside and cheap rents for student houses. Nowadays, the neighbourhood developed to be a community for young urban professionals and families, who enjoy the legacy of the hippy vibe. The neighbourhood’s main attraction is, of course, the Kitsilano Beach, which is ranked as one of the beaches of the world due to its beautiful scenery and a wide range of facilities such as; volleyball courts, tennis courts, concessions, restaurants, and a playground. Even if you don’t like your feet to get all sandy, then you can still enjoy the water of the longest open-air pool of Canada just right beside the beach.
Economic status and demographics
Economic status of its inhabitants
Kitsilano certainly stands out as one of the wealthier neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Its hippy image still exists, however, these days it is a place for the young families with a upper middle class income. The average household income is about 73k per year and 43% of households in Kitsilano spend 30% or more on housing. The average rent in Kitsilano is notably higher than most other neighbourhoods in Vancouver, however the 23% growth in rent prices over the last ten years is in line with the growing housing prices in all of Vancouver. The unemployment rate is very low, 98% of Kitsilano’s residents reported in 2016 that they had a steady income (income the year before). Also, 72% of the residents work inside the City of Vancouver and approximately 90% have a commute to work of less than an hour, this can be explained by Kitsilano’s central location.
Furthermore, Kitsilano is one of the most polarized neighbourhoods in Vancouver since 21% percent of the people fall in Canada’s 10% top incomes. This polarization is also shown by the Gini-coefficient (an indicator of equality with a scale from 0 to 1) for pre-tax personal income for Kitsilano, which is only a little bit lower than Vancouver’s average, 0.5 compared to 0.52. This is a relatively low Gini-coefficient and indicates increasing inequality over time.
Education levels and well-being
Another indicator that Kitsilano is a neighbourhood for the upper middle class is that 85% of the population has completed a post-secondary certificate, the second highest percentage compared to all other neighbourhoods of Vancouver. 26% of the residents have an postgraduate degree and 36% a bachelor’s degree. Not coincidentally, most of Kitsilano’s residents work in higher educated jobs and the three main sectors in 2016 where; the professional and technical service, education and healthcare and social assistance. Maybe it is because of all the sports on Kitsilano beach and the relaxed hippy lifestyle that the scores for general health (physical and mental) are in the 60% aisle when compared with other neighbourhoods. This is higher than Vancouver’s city average of around 50% and only Dunbar-Southlands scores higher than Kitsilano on general health. A lot of young families are attracted to live in Kitsilano and this is no surprise, children in Kitsilano are overall very healthy (72%) and 72-84% attends school (this varies over the last 20 years).
From an economic point of view it would be a good choice to start living in Kitsilano if you have enough zero’s in your bank account and are highly educated.
If you find yourself wanting to buy a place in Kitsilano, you are going to have a look at prices reaching into the 7-digit CA$. Evidently, the diversity in the neighbourhood is limited by the inhabitant’s wallet. Nevertheless, among the neighbourhoods in Vancouver this is a moderate effect. The housing situation is such that most households are in small apartment buildings (about 2/3). Overall, the housing situation makes for the inhabitants to be mostly middle class.
Kitsilano’s build-up is mainly determined by the beach and the incline from it to the hill at its centre. This relatively steep incline makes it a less walkable area for the elderly or disabled. Equally so the many parks. Kitsilano beach is the only park with well-paved walkways and thus will be the go-to for these people. Nevertheless, this park is so busy, especially with good weather, that it is hardly possible to move about in a wheelchair. The other parks have either no paved walkways or have such narrow paths that two wheelchairs would not fit next to each other. On the other side, many young parents can be seen in these parks, as well as sports clubs at practice in the afternoon.
Due to its location just outside the peninsula of Vancouver, Kitsilano attracts many outsiders, especially to the beach. This gives for a mix between the inhabitants of the wealthier parts and students that come over from UBC as well as those living downtown.
Accessibility of stores
The relevant stores and restaurants can all be found along the big avenues of the district, especially concentrated in the southwest along West Broadway and east on W 4th Avenue. Along the beach, many other small restaurants can be found. Besides these, the population has little chance to do groceries, for instance. Therefore, having a car in Kitsilano is part of the deal.
The numbers published by the municipal government show that the vast majority are (first language) English speakers, with the largest minority being Chinese, at 5%. This is severely disproportional to the rest of Vancouver, indicating the limited diversity.
Overall, Kitsilano is a neighbourhood that houses the (upper) middle class but is welcoming to all outsiders.
Since it does not appear to make a significant effort to include elderly and disabled, but neither does anything to push them away, the total diversity of Kitsilano is rated as 3/5. This is mainly due to the majority of young, white, English-speaking people inhabiting the neighbourhood.
In general, Kitsilano has a calming atmosphere with relatively much greenery and cultural activities. Overall, the streets and sidewalks are set up widely, where pedestrians, cyclists, cars and other road users can pass each other safely. Except for the commercial streets; West 4th Avenue and West Broadway, the mood is very peaceful and quiet. These streets offer Kitsilano’s main facilities as; supermarkets, Shops and banks.
Kitsilano also has a lot of sports facilities, near the beach there are multiple tennis courts and beach-volleyball fields. There even is a huge heated public pool that offers views of the ocean, the beach, and even Vancouver’s skyline. Because it is 37 meters long, it is actually the longest swimming pool in all of Canada. Throughout the rest of Kitsilano there are a few big parks and many playgrounds as well. Overall, Kitsilano is a very relaxed yet active neighbourhood, and a must-see if you’re ever in Vancouver.
This shows that Kitsilano is a combination of, on the one hand, a hippy neighbourhood for students, families and young adults to relax, play games and enjoy the day. And on the other hand, a quiet living area with all required facilities available. Therefore, Kitsilano can be considered as a very pleasant neighbourhood to live in or to spend your free time.