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Living in Surrey

Living in Surrey, British Columbia allows residents to enjoy beautiful urban forests, clean beaches, golf courses, and great ecotourism opportunities. 

Surrey is the second-largest city by population in British Columbia and is located only 23 kilometres from Vancouver Centre. And, housing is more affordable than Vancouver.  So, many people choose to live in Surrey and commute to Vancouver for work if necessary.

Weather

Surrey has a moderate, inter-coastal Pacific-Northwest climate that is appealing and comfortable.

Winter in Surrey is mild with an average temperature of 5 degrees C.  It rarely snows. However, it’s not uncommon to get many rainy and gloomy days, or even rainly weeks in a row.  Spring is also wet. 

Summer is sunny with an average temperature of 22 degrees C, and autumns are cool. Surrey enjoys about 1848.3 hours of sunshine per year (average 5 hours per day).

Public Transit

SkyTrain Expo Line connects Surrey to Vancouver. Buses are the main way of public transport for people living in Surrey. Currently, there are 1332 bus stops. For bus timetable and maps click here.

The fare system is divided into three zones. Passengers pay according to the number of zones they travel in. 

However, passengers pay one fare no matter how many zones they cross:

  • after 6:30 pm on Monday to Friday, and
  • during the weekend and holidays.

You must have exact change when getting on a bus because the driver does not accept bills or give change. 

Make sure you receive Proof of Payment/Transfers. Transfers are valid for 90 minutes. If you travel often, you can buy a Compass Card which is a monthly fare card.

For more information about the transit system including fares, and the Compass Card click here

 

Driving

Driving and parking in all City of Surrey streets are regulated by the Province of British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act.

For maps and directions in Surrey, click here.  

As part of its efforts to increase awareness of high collision areas, the Surrey RCMP provides traffic safety maps, to identify the top collision locations in Surrey. Learn more about driving in Canada with these 10 essential facts.

Settlement agencies in Canada can help you adapt to life in Canada before and after you arrive. Learn more about Next Stop Canada services!

 

Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle

Settle in Canada with Confidence and Ease

Places of Worship in Surrey 

Christianity is the predominant religion in Surrey. About 50% of the population identifies as Christian – Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or other Christians. To find a Christian church in Surrey, click here.

The second-largest religious group, 16.3%, is the Sikh. Every year on April 13, the Sikh community organizes a big celebration of Vaisakhi. And this  celebration often includes a nagar kirtan (parade). Surrey’s Guru Nana Sikh Gurdwara is one of the leading Sikh Temples in Canada.

To find a mosque in Surrey click here.

To find synagogues in Surrey, you can contact the Center for Judaism.

 

City Size and Population (Society)

Surrey has a population of 587,000 and it is the second-largest city in British Columbia. Between 2011 and 2020, the population increased by more than  100,000 residents. And it continues to grow!

The 2016 Census showed that among immigrants: 

  • 39.4% came from South Asia
  • 13.7% from Southeast Asia
  • 13.4% from East Asia, and
  • 9.6% from Europe. 

Among Surrey’s immigrants, the most common countries of birth were:

  • India (37%)
  • United Kingdom (4.4%)
  • Philippines (11%), and
  • Fiji (4.1%).

Place of birth characteristics for the immigrant population vary within Surrey communities. For example, 62% of immigrants in Newton came from South Asia. However, in South Surrey only 5% came from that region of the world. In South Surrey and Cloverdale, most immigrants were from Europe.

As in other parts of British Columbia, Surrey’s population is aging. While the number of people under the age of 30 is decreasing. And, there is a steady rise in the seniors’ population and the population between 30 and 64 years old.

The age distribution varies in different communities of Surrey. The neighbourhoods with more immigrants have more young people.

 

Economy

Great business opportunities exist for international trade with Asia and the United States. Because of Surrey’s Pacific Rim location, combined with its growing and multicultural population, it’s a strong city for business.

The three largest occupational categories (according to the National Occupation Classification used by Statistics Canada) in Surrey are:

  • sales and service (25%)
  • trades, transport and equipment operators (18.8%), and
  • business, finance, and administration (18%)

The strongest growth was experienced in health occupation (+29.1%). This is due to the increasing need for medical assistance for Surrey’s aging population.

Other key sectors of Surrey’s economy include: Clean Energy, Finance, High Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, and Agriculture.

Due to population growth, Surrey became one of the best places in B.C. to invest in real estate. Over the past five years, more than $6 billion of building permits were issued and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported a significant increase in the number of housing starts.

 

Finding a Home in Surrey, BC

Living in Surrey gives residents the opportunity to rent or buy their homes near the beach, in active urban centres, close to parks, or on quiet farms. Our Rentals for Newcomers site is a practical and easy-to-navigate site to help you make an easier transition to life in Canada when it comes to finding housing! And you can even determine the average cost of rentals in each city. This is helpful since rental prices change often.

The city is comprised of six town centres (communities):

  • Whalley/City Centre
  • Cloverdale
  • Fleetwood
  • Guildford
  • Newton, and
  • South Surrey.

 

Whalley/City Centre

Whalley/City Centre is located in North Surrey and it is the most densely populated of all the town centers. It is the city and commercial centre of Surrey, and it is the only town centre serviced by the SkyTrain. The SkyTrain links Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey. Whalley/City Centre is home to the campus of Simon Fraser University Surrey.

Cloverdale

Cloverdale is the historic centre of Surrey and is known for its heritage sites. Many families with children prefer this location for its its parks, playing fields, schools, pools, and recreation centres.

Fleetwood

Fleetwood is one of North Surrey’s quickest developing neighbourhoods. The Fraser Highway, which runs through this town centre, makes Fleetwood ideal for commuters. Also, Fleetwood has beautiful parks, natural areas, trails, and many playgrounds.

Guildford

Guildford is on the northern corner of Surrey. It is famous for the 200-store Guildford Town Centre Mall, one of the largest malls in Canada.

Newton

Newton is the town centre with the largest and most ethnically diverse population.  More than half of the population is considered a visible minority, predominantly Sikh. Newton is home to the Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus.

South Surrey

South Surrey is known for its parks, beaches, forests, and recreation facilities. Many seniors prefer this location. And it has the largest concentration of people over the age of 60.

For information on rental rates, based on rental listings posted by Surrey property owners and managers over the past year click here.

You can find housing costs provided by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s Monthly Statistics Package for September 2020.

According to their data, average housing prices in the Fraser Valley (including Surrey) are:   

  • Single Family Detached: 1,032,700
  • Townhomes: $567,300
  • Apartments: $436,900.

 

Medical

In British Columbia, there are two main health insurance plans: the Medical Service Plan (MSP) and the PharmaCare. For those, who can not afford to pay the monthly MSP premium, there is Premium Assistance.

Once you get medical insurance coverage, you should find a family doctor. You can refer to the College of Physicans and Surgeons of British Columbia for a list of physicians accepting new patients.

If you require specialized care, your family doctor will refer you to specialists. 

But, if you are unable to find a family doctor, you can go to  walk-in clinics until you secure your own doctor. 

To learn about non-emergency health issues and services in BC in Chinese, French, Punjabi, Spanish, and Vietnamese click here.

 

Education

In British Columbia, parents can choose to send their children to public schools, independent schools, or homeschooling. And because public schools are free, many people choose to send their children to public schools.

Surrey School District has the largest student enrollment in British Columbia. It has:

  • 101 elementary schools
  • 20  secondary schools
  • Five learning centres
  • Three adult education centres
  • a distributed online learning program, and
  • a variety of satellite and inter-agency programs.

For a list of public schools click here. Independent schools offer specific religious, cultural, educational, or philosophical approaches. For more information about independent schools click here.

If you choose to teach your children at home, you must register them with  them with the Ministry of Education. You will also have to follow curriculum guidelines that the ministry sets.

In the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University, students can enroll in the following programs: 

  • applied sciences
  • arts and social sciences
  • communication
  • business administration
  • technology
  • education
  • mathematics, and
  • science.

The Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University offers programs in science, business, art, and health.

 

Recreation

Surrey is often called the City of Parks because of its 600 parks and 277 trails and walkways. So living in Surrey provides opportunities for hiking, biking, bird watching and outdoor sports.

For more information on Surrey parks click here.

Surrey also boasts some of Metro Vancouver’s best golf courses, that are suitable for all skill levels.

The City of Surrey offers swimming lessons at four major indoor and eight outdoor pools.

As well, Surrey hosts five annual city events: 

Tree Lighting Festival

Party for the Planet

Surrey Children’s Festival

Surrey Fusion Festival 

and Surrey Canada Day, Western Canada’s biggest Canada Day celebration.

Every year tens of thousands of people attend the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair. And this makes it the second-largest rodeo in Canada after the Calgary Stampede.

As you can see, living in Surrey provides many great services and activities for families. Being close to Vancouver, and with affordable housing and many schools, Surrey may be a great city for you!

If you’re thinking of moving to Canada, check out our free webinars to learn more about living and working in Canada!

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