Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Where to settle down in British Columbia?

Where to settle down in British Columbia?

Sep 17th, 2004, 01:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Where to settle down in British Columbia?

This is for a friend of mine. They vacation often on the West Coast, but they want to settle down in British Columbia once the husband retires.

But where?

Vancouver Island? Inland somewhere around the Okanagan Valley? Some suburb of Vancouver?

They want to keep their current home in the US, so they can't spend too much - $150,000US probably would be tops. A little cabin somewhere? They like nature, but are not "avid" hikers like me. They also like cultural things, so being close to Vancouver probably would be required.

I suggested that maybe they could look into getting a duplex or a fourplex, so that they can have some part of the place rented to help with the expenses. Or a shop downstairs while they keep the upstairs. They want to be able to move between their current US home and their property in BC. Is this a good suggestion? How would a partial rental property fare in BC?

I realize this is not completely travel related, but in a way it is! TIA for any help you can give them!
easytraveler is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 343
Is climate an issue for your friend? For example, I find the Okanagan far too hot and dry and would not like to live there (though my brother is very happy in Kelowna). We visited Kamloops in August and it was 40 degrees Celsius - way too hot for me.

On the other hand, many people find coastal BC too rainy. I've lived in Vancouver for many years and confess that I do miss the prairie winters that I grew up with.

I have no experience of buying property so can't advise on that, unfortunately.
Vorkuta is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 03:34 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 991
Hi easytraveler,

Climate is definitely an issue - what time of the year do they plan on living in B.C. and what are they looking for? What other interests/amenities are they interested in? City or rural?

Price is a big consideration as well. I'm no expert on real estate values but I do know that the Lower Mainland (Vancouver and suburbs) is expensive and I would think they'd be hard pressed to find a duplex for USD 150,000 / CAD 200,000. Other areas they might consider: Okanagan Valley, Comox/Courtenay region, Victoria (but that might be too expensive as well), Kootenays (Nelson, etc.).

Are they prepared to take on the responsibilities of a landlord? Ten to one the toilet floods in their renter's suite while they are away. Would they hire a management company while they are down south?

Once they've finetuned their wish list, I'd google "real estate" and different regions of B.C. for a picture of availability and pricing.

A few thoughts...

Good luck,
BowenLinda is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 09:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 298
I would recommend checking out Salt Spring Island as a place to retire.

It's a laid back type of place with good ocean views and a marine pub serving good food beer as I recall.

There is a ferry service to Tawwassan/Richmond/Vancouver on the mainland and is a short ferry hop to Vancouver Island. Victoria is not far away.
HogtownJim is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 10:08 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
I wonder if they would consider a condo. However, they won't be able to buy much for that price. If they want any land at all and they want to be close to Vancouver, it might be difficult. Perhaps they could find a townhouse in Surrey, Coquitlam, or Port Moody (none of which I would really want to live in, but their budget constrains them). Of course then they have to worry about maintenance fees.

I would be surprised if they could find half a duplex in a reasonable area for the price they are willing to pay, let alone a full duplex.
WillTravel is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 12:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.

They currently live in Arizona, so I would imagine they would want to stay in BC in the summertime and then return to Arizona during the winter time. This is an "educated" guess on my part.

As between culture and nature, nature probably will take precedence, since they would be looking out on great natural scenery every day but would be going into Vancourver only once in a while for cultural events. Another "educated" guess on my part.

They are definitely looking for a single family dwelling or duplex. They don't like the associations linked with condos. I would assume that good sense would have them hiring a management company to take care of the property and the rents in their absence.

Hope this fills out the details a bit more. Thanks again for your wonderfully balanced and thoughtful responses!
easytraveler is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 04:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
We had been thinking about Salt Spring Island as a place to retire to, several years ago. Prices were far more reasonable than they are now, and we'd been spending summer vacations there. However, my sweetie points out that if you want to do something in Victoria or Vancouver in the evening, you have to make sure you're on the last boat out or have somewhere to stay overnight, and usually the last boat is at about 10 PM.
Salt Spring is having a real estate boom currently, with some mainland-style housing developments going up that the longtime residents have been trying to fight. They seem to have lost the fight. Very disappointing, and it will surely affect the laid-back atmosphere that has made Salt Spring so enjoyable ever since I started going there about 10 years ago.
Victoria and Vancouver do get rainy in the winter. Vancouver gets a lot of rain year-round, but Victoria gets more hours of sunshine annually than Toronto (where we live now). We will be moving to Victoria next year, but I would think anywhere on Vancouver Island would be worthwile exploring for your friends.
Meesthare is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 991
The "no condo" choice rules out Vancouver and its suburbs.

The price constraint rules out Bowen Island (close to Vancouver) and I'm guessing Saltspring (close to Victoria and Vancouver).

Being convenient to big city cultural events rules out the Okanagan and the Comox/Courtenay area (too far, for me anyway).

So perhaps the outer areas of Victoria would fit the bill.

BowenLinda is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 11:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 298
Have they fixed the leaky condo problem in the lower mainland and are condos which were repaired a problem free investment?

HogtownJim is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 06:05 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 80
Another thing to consider is access to good shopping and health care. I would not consider one of the small islands for that reason alone. As we age being closer to good medical facilities is a very prime consideration.
ginocat is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Sorry - posted too soon.
In terms of medical care: there is actually a good, if small, hospital on Salt Spring, with some excellent outreach programs in place for geriatric care. However, anything more complicated would likely get dealt with on the mainland or Vancouver Island - another good reason to think about retiring somewhere other than on one of the Gulf Islands, lovely as they are.
Meesthare is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 06:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Interesting - the post that I had "posted too soon" has now disappeared. Maybe it wasn't my fault after all!
What it said was essentially that there are still a few unresolved condo problems in both Vancouver and Victoria, but things are much better than they were.
Meesthare is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 09:42 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 2,399
They should check out other parts of Vancouver Island than Victoria, for example Nanaimo and Qualicum Beach. I have relatives who retired to Nanaimo (from Ontario) and they just love it. it's big enough that there are plenty of services but is not a big busy city like Vancouver. I should think that prices would be a bit more reasonable than Victoria's and certainly better than Vancouver's.
Salt Spring is lovely but they'd be pretty dependent on the ferries; it can be quite inconvenient to get on and off at times. On Vancouver Island there would be less of a need to come to the mainland as there are so many services there.
taggie is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 982
FYI-As has been mentioned here in the past Nanaimo is known as 'The Armpit of Vancouver Island' for a number of very good reasons.
A short list would include endemic hard drug use and it's attendant problems, a crumbling economic base, and a shocking lack of anything approaching logical urban planning.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 07:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,121
One of my choices would be Courtenay. One can easily fly to Vancouver or drive down to Nanaimo for shopping. I think it's a nice little community, handy to a number of locations for day trips. My mother lived there and wintered in Arizona. Our one experience with the hospital in Comox was good.

If the island seemed too soggy for them, maybe the Okanagan would be better. It's a little far from Vancouver and temperatures are more extreme, but I like the more open and dry terrain. Naramata is perhaps my favourite spot in the Okanagan, but I don't know what it would be like to live there.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to live in Victoria or Vancouver any more.
April is offline  
Sep 21st, 2004, 11:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hello, friendly Canadians!

Thanks so very much for your wonderful posts! I've taken the liberty of downloading this thread and passing it on to my friends. They said to thank you all very much!

They will take your posts into consideration and continue their research.

They said they will definitely look into Salt Spring Island as well as all around Vancouver Island. They said to thank you all for narrowing things down for them.

Keep tuned! When they have narrowed their choices down, I'll probably be coming back for more advice on which would be the best choice!

Thanks again!
easytraveler is offline  
Sep 21st, 2004, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,814
A very useful research site for your friends would be mls.ca, where they can input their requirements and see what properties come up.
curiousgeo is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2004, 12:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
curiousgeo: That is a wonderful website which I have passed on to my friends! Thanks very much!

Meesthare: you live in such a dynamic city!

Canadians: You live in paradise compared to us, in many terms - healthcare, the wonderful state of the roads - it's marvellous to see what can be done when a government works on governments are supposed to work on - reminds me of the Scandanavian countries! Great country, Canada!

Thanks again!
easytraveler is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2004, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,121
Have you been to Vancouver Island lately? Our provincial gov't has completely let the highways go to pot - plantings let go, weeds and garbage all over. Blech. The US highways I've seen look so much better cared for. Our healthcare is in a mess too.
April is offline  
Sep 24th, 2004, 04:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Easytraveler - yes, Toronto is a dynamic city, and a very pleasant one. It will be hard to leave, in some ways, especially because 2 of my 4 kids live here, along with lots of grandkids. But I've wanted to live in BC ever since the first time I visited there, nearly 20 years ago.
April - your comments are valid, but Vancouver Island is still about as close to paradise as I'm likely to get in this world! (Hey, maybe the next one too. Who knows?) There is so much beauty there that I don't find it obscured by a few messy highways. As for health care - it ain't great, but it could be a whole lot worse.
Meesthare is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:14 PM.