Cars - yep, the relative cost of cars is pretty high. No fleet purchase schemes here like in the UK to bring used car prices down and Canadians dont seem to fathom the concept of depreciation.. couple that with the craigslist effect where dealers advertise stupidly overpriced used cars so thats what Joe Public thinks they should advertise their used POS at also..
Anyway, you dont need a 4x4/suv. Useful wagons are availabnle.. having shopped for far too long on the perfect vehicle, I ended up pickingup a nice clean 2002 Focus wagon with 140k kms for $3200 (+ 12% buyers tax)
I'm on BC's max deduction for no claims (-43%) and that was a combination of 3 years UK n/c confirmed by letter from my insurance company (not broker) and my in canada history.
Insurance is all ICBC for basic coverage, you can make it cheaper by buying your extended insurance elsewhere, but I've never bothered.
I'm paying $1200 annually for decent coverage.
I also have an 2003 8 passenger mini van, probably worth 4k now if that, usefull as hell, tough on gas, but same $1200 insurance. 5 people and 5 bikes inside it, or you an car camp in it.. whatever.. amazing but I hate the thing.
Anyway, either of those cars with *snow tyres* on the Sea to Sky highway and you're going to do a whole lot better than a 4x4 with all season tyres..
The best insurance situation is a classis car on collector plates.. $200 annually. Sadly a friend backed into my almost mint '83 Mk1 Gti so thats buggered that plan.
Real Estate - As I understand it, Vancouvers eastern subburbs have heen hit by teh chinese immigrant population with money to burn.. same bunch who are happy to have their ferarris, Lambos etc repossessed by the police when they get busted on 200km/hr speeding frenzies. Anyway, there were cases of houses being sold for silly amounts above asking price driving up the rest of vancouvers market well beyond what non chinese immigrants can afford.
I've no experience of the rental market, but I can't recommend living in Squamish enough. We bought here as its cheaper then Whistler, we *should* be able to ride year round and its only a hour from downtown vancouver, 40 mins from North Vans shopping. We have 2 supermarkets, a great grocery store, coupel of butchers, a few good bar/restaurants, so its pretty well served.
a 3 bed half duplex up in the best riding area will cost $370k ish (3 for sale by me). I'm 30 seconds from Squamish's world class trails.
Down in the low lands/estates/downtown, flats available from $165k, decent 3 bed townhomes $350k?
Our property tax (rates etc) $1300 annually
North Van for lifestyle and proximity to work (assuming city center), if you're looking for commuter belt, scratch off anything further than Burnaby.. Port Moody, PoCo, all that stuff east is a waste of time. Close by, but you'll spend far less time driving from Squamish on an empty highway than you will queuing with the rest of the commuters. (think 'Office Space' movie) Plus you get to recreate in the mountains and live by the ocean and have Whistler just 45mins away.
Job in Surrey - don't even bother making the move!
As mentioned above, a combination of Costco (Macro) and Kins farmers market for your fresh is the most cost effective way to shop.
Whole foods if you love quality and like to pay a premium, Nesters for us in Squamish for happy medium of higher quality/price (Waitrose)
But most grocery stores are slowly getting the non medicated, no nitrate, ancient grain options on their slelves.
We easily spend $300 a week at grocery stores, but we have 2 kids so absolutely doing the non med/organic/no nitrate/no preservative shopping choices where possible. That includes kiddy supplies, toiletries etc too.
Deals available.. 6 month rotation between Shaw and Telus and you can hit 50mbs internet and HD tv for $80/mo
Hydro - (electricity) average $120/mo for 1100 sq/ft home
Beer - 6 pack $12ish at Liquor store, Beer in bar $6ish as said
Not many brew pubs or bars serving micro brewery produce. Only 3 in all of Vancouver I believe.
Alchohol is government regulated, hence expensive.
Hope that helps.
Enjoy the move!