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Another popular getaway is Okanagan Valley, about a four-hour drive east with a completely different microclimate - more like Napa or Willamette valleys. Vineyards and bed-and-breakfasts cling to the shores of Okanagan Lake, and a wine festival is held every autumn.

Seattle is only a two and a half hour drive south and San Francisco is a two-hour flight away. Many routes to and from Asia come through Vancouver's light-filled, modern international airport.

Practical info
Vancouver has seen an influx of foreign investment in recent years, specifically from Asia, particularly mainland China, and the Middle East. The cash flow has buoyed prices and kept the market strong. "Internationals are coming to park money here," explained Campbell. "It is politically stable, as is the Canadian dollar, and they see it as a safe place." Additionally, new mass transit projects, like the one that will link Port Moody and Coquitlam to Vancouver via the Evergreen Line (expected to be complete by 2015), are giving the market a boost. "The federal government is building transit infrastructure and that has really helped the real estate market," said Campbell.

There is high demand for condos and row houses, and new releases of condo projects still cause a frenzy. "The hot property right now are condos," said Campbell. "Especially in the area where the Expo and the Olympic Village are." There are two price brackets with the most activity currently: $500,000 to $700,000 and over $1 million (all Canadian dollars). Vacancy is low in the rental market, and there are strong rent controls, so the rents do not increase rapidly. However, once a tenant moves out, the unit goes back to market rate and that has gone up 10%in the last two years.

Vancouver is surrounded by the ocean, mountains and agricultural land, and because of these geographic restrictions around the city, the land is getting used up quickly. However, that same prospect is what draws so many people. "The real benefit to living here is the geography," said Desaulniers. "Living on the ocean surrounded by snow-capped mountains - it's just really beautiful."

Further reading
The Georgia Strait: Culture, events, reviews about town
Vancouver Magazine: Monthly restaurant reviews and other features
Vitamindaily.com/Vancouver: Blog covering shopping, food, design and culture
Western Living Vancouver Newsletter: A weekly newsletter with tailored city happenings 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the name of Okanagan Lake. This has been fixed.

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