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Vancouver is a large, thriving city located directly north of Portland, across the Columbia River and along the Washington-Oregon border. It's among the largest cities in Washington and an important part of the Portland metropolitan area. Ranked among the best cities for families in the U.S., it offers a range of amenities, inicluding well-rated schools, a local arts and culture scene and easy access to Portland.
The History of Vancouver
Like many cities in the region, Vancouver is built on land that was formerly home to Native Americans. Several different tribes inhabited the area over the span of thousands of years, but many were displaced with the arrival of settlers in the 1800s. Meriwether Lewis, part of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, described the area as one of the only places that could support settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. The town was first established as a fur trading outpost.
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the settlement was under British rule. Once American dominion moved north of the 49th parallel, the settlement became part of the United States and its territories. In the 1940s, the establishment of a shipyard resulted in a major population boom as workers arrived to take advantage of the surplus of jobs.
Jobs in Vancouver
Vancouver engages in border economics with its neighbor to the south, Portland, Oregon. This unique situation is connected to a particular balance of tax laws, with zero income tax in the state of Washington and no sales tax in the state of Oregon. As a result, many people choose to live and work in Vancouver but do all of their shopping across the river, in Portland.
In its early years, Vancouver relied on fur trading, fruit, heavy industry and shipbuilding. Today, its economy has shifted to focus largely on high-tech and service industry jobs. It's not uncommon for locals to commute to Portland for work, especially if their professional background connects with one of the diverse industries in the Oregon city.
Vancouver's major employers are largely focused in the health care and education sectors: PeachHealth Southwest Medical Center, Evergreen Public Schools, Vancouver Public Schools and the county of Clark.
Students living in Vancouver are served by two public school districts: Evergreen School District and Vancouver Public Schools. In addition to traditional schools, Evergreen School District operates a handful of special needs schools as well as a technical academy. Home Choice Academy is open to home-schoolers, and Vancouver also hosts the Washington Schools for the Deaf and Blind.
Resources for Moving to Vancouver
Here are a few handy resources for planning your move to Vancouver:
- Utilities: Clark Public Utilities and the City of Vancouver Utilities Department are the primary utilities providers in the area.
- Garbage and Recycling: Trash, recycling and yard waste are all collected on a regular basis throughout the residential areas of Vancouver.
- Transportation: The Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority offers a variety of public transit options, including bus, vanpool and an express route to Portland.
The Vancouver housing market is somewhat expensive, especially when compared to many other similarly-sized cities across the U.S. However, it's more affordable than that of the neighboring city of Portland, and also fairly on par with many large cities in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to homes of all styles and sizes, Vancouver has a diverse rental market.