New to Victoria? This will help.

Victoria Transplant

It’s been a year since I made the big move from Edmonton to the island and I’ve learned a lot in the past 365 days. Let me share that knowledge with you, to help you adjust to your recent move. I am by no means an expert and I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, these are just some of the things (in no particular order) that I’ve noticed in my twelve months of living here.

**2018 Update: Hey there, so since writing this article in 2016, I’ve learned even more. I’ve been in Victoria for almost 3 years now and love that the city is constantly changing, with new things to explore and learn all the time. I’ve decided to include a few updates to the original article to help make your transition to Island Life even smoother.**


1. What a “Shaft” is:

Ice Coffee

This is a HYPER-local drink you can only find on the island. If you try to order it in Vancouver, you’ll get a funny look. (Speaking from personal experience.)

This gloriously caffeinated and boozy beverage is a shot of espresso over ice with Kahlua, Bailey’s, vodka and a splash of cream.

A recommendation from a friend is that Ferris is the best place for your “shaft” fix. . . and I didn’t mean to make that sound as dirty as it did. But there’s really no way to say the word “shaft” and have it not sound dirty. Let’s be real.

(Other beverage related knowledge: Victorian’s love their coffee strong, and their beer local.)


**2018 update: Victoria is amazing for all alcoholic beverages. Wine, cider, vodka, gin, whiskey etc. You can almost every sort of alcohol sourced on the island, and there’s a drinking-related festival for whatever your drink of choice is. Personal favourite is the delicious varieties of local gin you can get your hands on.**


2. Getting a squad is a must:

Moving to a new city is never easy, and it’s always more fun to experience things with friends. Your group of friends will more than likely be other transplants trying to get used to Victoria life. No offense to locals, but they have a reputation for being clicky. Most local’s have had the same friends since high school or earlier and they’re not in the market for new ones. But making friends with non-locals is fun because you can experience new things together and then you have people who understand what you’re going through when you have those home-sick days.

Need some help finding friends with common interests? Try sites like Meet Up that help you find events and groups of people based on hobbies and activities.


3. You will fall in love with the outdoors

Gowlland Tod view
Taken at Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

Just look at that view! What’s not to love? Vancouver Island is home to many amazing national parks, hiking trails and bodies of water. Once you get your squad together you could check out a different place every weekend and fall in love over and over again with this beautiful rock you now call home.

Speaking of love. . .


4. The Dating Scene is…Interesting

Love Stock

Whether you’re dating online or the old-fashioned way, you’ll soon discover finding love in YYJ is full of “small world” moments. You’re bound to have a run-in with a failed Tinder date or two while you’re buying groceries or walking down Blanshard. If you try to date locals, you’ll find out soon enough that EVERYONE knows each other. Either through school, work… etc. On the first date you’re bound to have the whole “oh you know so-and-so, I know so-and-so from the gym/school/friend.” While you’re swiping through profiles, the more people you meet, the more mutual connections you’re going to find. So be cautious once you take the romantic plunge!


**2018 update: If you’re feeling discouraged about the dating scene, it’s okay! You’ll have good dates and bad dates, that’s the reality in any city. It took me almost three years to meet someone. We met the old fashion way, through mutual friends. This just reinforces the importance of getting yourself a squad and not being afraid to meet new people.**


5. Brunch is Serious Business

More delicious food from @blue_fox_cafe #tastingvictoria #yyjeats Eggs Delmonico

A post shared by Bailey Parker (@baileyparker_) on

If you want to be a true Victorian, you need to love brunch. It’s even the Brunch Capital of Canada for goodness sake! There’s nothing like a Victoria brunch line at 11 AM on a Saturday. Dozens of people just standing outside of their favourite brunch spot, usually a coffee in hand, waiting patiently for what they’ve been dreaming of all week. Brunch.

You haven’t LIVED in Victoria until you’ve stood for two hours outside of The Blue Fox for their eggs benny, or drooled over the red velvet pancakes at Jam. While you’re standing in line for Victoria’s favourite meal you can always tell the locals from the tourists. Anyone who walks up to the line and asks “how long’s the wait?” and then looks at you with shock when you say “over an hour” is a total rookie. Don’t be a rookie.


**2018 update: there are SO many places to eat brunch in Victoria, standing in line for two hours is not necessary. There are plenty of delicious, hidden jems in Victoria that have virtually no lineup. Even at 11 am on a Saturday. I’d tell you where, but then there would be a massive line up the next time I went. No thanks.**


6. People Strongly Dislike BC Ferries, and Soon You will Too


If you’ve taken the ferry, you know what’s up. I’ve yet to find anyone who’s like, “you know what? I think B.C. Ferries is great and people don’t give them enough credit.”

B.C. Ferries had a naming contest last year for their new boats, this list of the funniest submissions will show you just how people feel about the company.

**2018 update: The only thing people seem to hate more than B.C. Ferries is the bike lanes in Victoria.**


7. The Victoria bike lanes are a controversial topic 

8. It rains a lot, get some proper gear

Large black umbrella under rain in Regent Street London

You’ll probably buy a pair of Blundstones at some point too.

9. It’s not cheap to live here

10. Victoria and Langford are not the same things. Same with Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich, Sidney or Sooke.

Or Vic West, James Bay, Fernwood, Fairfield and Rock Bay.

There are a lot of neighbourhoods and municipalities and a lot of distinct personalities.




Filed under: Victoria