Ten years ago, when Greater Vancouver was a lesser Vancouver, the suburbs knew their place. Richmond meant endless tracts of mediocre housing distinguished only by a row of elephantine shopping centres down No. 3 Road and the buzz of airplanes leaving nearby YVR for some place more glamorous. But when Richmond’s Olympic Oval won it global kudos, the city-already burgeoning thanks to a set of new Canada Line stations-took on a healthy glow. Add the Middle Arm Waterfront Greenway, a massive promenade being completed along the Fraser River (replacing rough gravel paths), and Richmond’s City Centre may finally have outstripped its own malls. – Pat Richardson

For Kyla Carter, 24, and her fiancé, Matt Kieltyka, 25, dreams of children were making a 650-square-foot West End rental feel more squished than usual. A tanking market sent them on the prowl for their first home.

THE HOME | 5133 Garden City Rd  $396,500

THE REALTOR | Patti Martin of RE/MAX WestCoast

Vancouver offered sky-high prices for low footage, so Matt and Kyla gave their hometown, Richmond, a second look. “We have family and friends there so it seemed logical to go back.” They scouted 10 condos in three weeks before hitting on the perfect combination of comfort and convenience (with the Canada Line just blocks away, they’re 20 minutes from their jobs in the city)-and landed it for a very un-Vancouver price.

A seven-year-old, 922-square-foot unit with two bedrooms and two baths, an open kitchen, ensuite laundry, and quiet courtyard-facing windows-all blemished by stained carpeting throughout. Matt’s carpenter father promises hardwood in the living room, and Kyla’s hoping for granite countertops in the kitchen. To do: reno in March; move in April; get married in July.

Shopping at the Lans-downe Centre, fresh veggies at the Langley farmers’ market, eats at Tino’s Pizza. With Kwantlen University College nearby (both are alumni), life has come full circle. –Ian Bullock



PEARL CASTLE  Friday, 11:15 p.m. Crowds of Richmond teenagers, en route to karaoke sing-a-longs and 24-hour pool halls, come to drink bubble tea served Alice in Wonderland style in individual glass teapots with miniature teacups, saucers, and a bowl of tapioca pearls to add at your leisure. 3779 Sexsmith Rd., 604-270-3939.

You’ll find these desserts at Aberdeen Centre’s curious food court
8 Juice Ask for mango juice andcoconut milk, with tapioca pearls. ($4.30)
Beard Papa’s The original Vancouver branch of this sinful cream puff purveyor. ($1.75 for vanilla)
Frappe Bliss Plates of matcha ice cream, frozen citrus honey, and chewy rice pebbles. (from $5)
Mazazu Crepe Brand-new creperie that would appall a Parisian. Try the chocolate-custard-strawberry-brownie option. ($4.43)