You keep posting about B.C., but then focus on the Lower Mainland. The Lower Mainland is not B.C. any more than Toronto is Canada (although many people apparently have this misconception). The Lower Mainland is just a very tiny corner of B.C. that is actually unlike the rest of B.C..
The Lower Mainland is on the southern coast so its weather doesn’t get too extreme. The summers have a few hot spells that make it uncomfortable for sleeping at nights, but we haven’t had the extreme heat waves that America and Europe have experienced. Winters are also moderate; snow may fall a couple times over the winter but usually melts within a couple days. The rest of winter is normally grey skies and/or rain.
The rest of B.C. has much more variety. The Okanagan can range from desert-like conditions (the Penticton-Osoyoos area) to quite temperate. For example, Salmon Arm is very nice and doesn’t seem to have the arid conditions you see as you go towards Kelowna (even though Kelowna has many vineyards). Most of the rest of B.C. does get snow in the winter. However, the skies are otherwise blue, compared to Lower Mainland winters—six months of grey, depressing, skies.
The Vancouver-area claims to have some of the nicest scenery in the world: the ocean, the mountains, easy access to nature, etc. However, B.C. has a pretty long coastline, so many other locations can brag about the ocean view too. And most
of B.C. can also claim to have views of mountains, lakes, trees, nature, etc. B.C. does, indeed, offer some spectacular natural scenery. However, simply living among beautiful views gets old really fast if you are at a point in life where you are more concerned about making a living and supporting a family. Unless you are working in the tourist industry, the scenery doesn’t pay your rent or buy your groceries. And even if you were working in the tourist industry, say, as a waiter or hotel bellhop, the pay is not very good—probably not enough to survive on, certainly not enough to get ahead in life.
The Lower Mainland does not have much in the way of heavy industry. Too many taxes and regulations discourage companies from setting up shop here. There are some software companies and electronics companies here, but getting into them is difficult. And even they are slowly moving too. My own employer has recently moved as much of its electronics production to Taiwan as it could. Costs are about a third of what it costs to make the same things here in Vancouver. (I suppose the next step will be to move from Taiwan to mainland China where costs are even lower).
The Lower Mainland is suffocating under many taxes, fees, licencing requirements, etc. And it will probably get even worse after the Olympics comes here in 2010. Costs are already overbudget, and local governments are constantly trying to find new ways to squeeze money from people.
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As a paramedic, you should be able to find work pretty easily wherever you go; however, I am not familiar with the industry, so I don’t know for sure. And even if you are at the top of your game, I wouldn’t be surprised if provincial regulations did not recognize your qualifications (that’s why so many Indian doctors drive dump trucks and Filipino nurses work as housecleaners, even though B.C. is supposedly suffering shortages of doctors and nurses).
If it were up to me, I like the area around Salmon Arm and Kelowna. A person can enjoy some acreage, grow some peach trees, grapes, walnuts, etc. And Kelowna is growing fast. It has an airport and all the amenities of a city.
If you want to live where there is excellent job potential for yourself and your children, you are probably better off in Ontario.
If you want to work in the Oil and Gas industry, Alberta would be a better choice, or Fort St. John (in northern B.C.).
If you are completely free to locate wherever you want regardless of job potential (i.e. – you are a multi-millionaire), and you truly want to live in the Lower Mainland, perhaps consider Mission or Abbotsford. Fees, insurance, taxes, etc. are lower, but you still have easy access to Vancouver. The weather is still moderate, Abbotsford has its own airport (or the Vancouver Airport is only a 45-minute drive away), the Westcoast Express (commuter rail) is available, and property prices are somewhat lower than right in Vancouver.
In any case, if you decide to purchase property in B.C., wait a year, or you will be charged the property transfer tax.