Moving to BC, but where???

Hello all,

I am wanting to move to BC shortly (from Australia) with my wife and children.

We will need a house as I think our family is a bit big for an apartment, plus used to having our own bit of space. Upon arrival we will be looking to rent a house for a while, at least until we feel settled and have a better idea of the place. Problem is we are not sure where to start looking.

In Aus, the real estate agents also manage rental properties and you can get plenty of info from them but it appears that in Canada its usually handled privately by the owners on an individual basis.

I guess I am looking for suggestions of good places to settle with a young family wher we can rent something around $1,000 - $1,400 per month, probably 4 bedrooms etc..

Any ideas would be welcome!

Start in sunny Surrey if you want to golf year round.
Besides our bedroom suburb (Vancouver) is just across the river!
I made a short list of possibilities based solely on the map and what I could find out on the net and that list includes Surrey - as well as Port Moody, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam. and Maple Ridge. Of course at this stage they are all just names to me... That's where I'm hoping the friendly people on here can tell me if I'm heading in the right direction or make other suggestions altogether!

Anyway, that's 1 tick for Surrey so far.

Anything within a 50 mile radius of Vancouver is YUCK. The most insane traffic in the country. A couple million people squished into a sardine can.

Anywhere in B.C. is is great outside of the Vancouver Metropolitan area.
Will you be working somewhere? The purpose for your move to BC would be the first factor.
I'm not sure about the suburbs, but Vancouver is very expensive. I know people paying $1000 for a one bedroom apartment or basement suite. It's probably cheaper in the suburbs, but I don't know how much cheaper.

The okanagan & Vancouver island are quite nice.
#7  Top Rated Post
It does all depend on where you will be working. Commuting is a pain as bridges and tunnels are bottlenecks. If you are a Doctor or a Dentist you probably can go anywhere. If you work from home it is cheaper the further out from Vancouver you go.
Here are two newspapers. One a local freebe and the other a daily.
You can check the classifieds for rents etc. Remember some neighbourhoods are better than others. (surreyleader) (vancouversun)
Thanks for the help so far.

Where I live in West Aust at the moment is about 40km out of Perth city, so you have easy access when you want it, but without all the hassle of living right in the city, as some of you have mentioned - traffic etc..

Thats probably what I would like to do again. Live close enough to Vancouver to be able to access it without having to spend hours in the car, but far enough away to be hassle free and affordable!

As for work, I currently work on the oil rigs here and I am a qualified paramedic so I am hoping to be able to work on the rigs or heavy industry etc as a medic or safety officer. One possibility being fly in / fly out to offshore rigs at the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks again and look forward to more suggestions.

** If you were going to live in BC, in a house (rented) with 4 kids, and you wanted to keep your rent below about $1,400 pm, wanted a good family neighbourhood etc - where would you live?? (I guess thats my question in a nutshell).

Cheers for now,
kevandkristie ... first of all, to Canadian Content!! You'll find all kinds of folks here -- most of them relatively sane and the rest highly entertaining. There's some disagreement about which of those groups I personally fit into.

Live in B.C.? Well, geez, Mate, there's only one place anyone would want to be, isn't there??? Vancouver Island. I live in Victoria, one block from the water in a community called James Bay. It's perfect. No real winter (when we have to scrape frost off our windshields we all whine about it wrecking our credit cards since no one has ice scrapers here!). There are flowers year round.

Being the capital of B.C., we have the Parliament Buildings which are really quite beautiful ...

It's great for raising babies. None of those rotten gangs and whatnot. There's plenty to do to keep them out of trouble and involved in life. Add to that, there's an excellent university right here.

Victoria is a really big small town ... it's the kind of place you smile and say "hello" to everyone you meet walking down the street. I even know my neighbours by name! Folks here are definitely "west coast" in attitude ... laid back, lots of bunny huggers, friendly ... but with all the amenities of a big city. We got it all here. Plus you can take the kiddies to Botanical Beach and spend literally days looking in tide pools and investigating nature.

Rent in the greater Victoria area is killer. It's expensive. But if you look at the outlying areas, it's reasonable. If you head up Island to Duncan or Chemainus, it's even more reasonable. I used to commute from Duncan to Victoria for work every day -- bit of haul, but certainly doable.

Anyway, there's my two coppers worth. I was born and raised in the interior of B.C. in the heart of the amazing Rockies. Gorgeous there, but damn cold in winter. To me there's nothing like Island life!

Of course I'm biased ... I wouldn't want to live anywhere else on the planet. Either way, I'm sure you'll love B.C. It is a beautiful province.
How about Yahk?

I used to have a shirt that said 'I've been to Yahk and back'.
omg ... too funny! I used to live near Yahk! For Christmas one year at our office, we bought the publisher a one way ticket to Yahk. She thought it was a joke ...............
If you're used to the rigs further north would be your best bet. Blue skies in the winter but cold.

If you're a paramedic and don't want the far north, Chilliwack and Agassiz aren't bad places to live if you don't mind the stench sometimes blowing your way of the farms.

Maple Ridge would be choice to live, but I wouldn't go anywhere else on the mainland.

Okanagan and Vancouver Island are EXPENSIVE, and if you want something affordable you may want to try Kamloops. It's a city, beautiful and the winters aren't bad. It's affordable as well, although it's gettin' up there.

Good luck with you and your family whereever you decide to go!
I'm in Campbell River. House prices are half that of Vancouver or Victoria. Half the price, twice the paradise (ha ha Cosmo), however, the rental vacancy rate is extremely low right now. From what I hear it is difficult to find anything to rent. I don't know what it's like elsewhere in BC.
Lots of you folks are out on the Island eh? Or so I've noticed.

I'm moving to BC within the next 300 days myself, firstly for the hell of it, and secondly for school or something. Plus I just want a change of scenery and people, and would like to meet some new friends.

I was floored by the Island, myself. It is definitely where I want to go in BC. Though certain interior areas also caught my eye... even Vancouver looks enticing to a degree, primarily because of UBC. But the Island...

Those arbutus trees and the lakes they grow around are something else. So cool how you get all that with mountains 'n ocean, and and the communities are so fricken' cute looking, filled with good people and all. I would never get bored just biking all over the place.

I want to be somewheres in Nanaimo, Victoria, between 'em, or close by.

Is there such a place where I can have that arrangement, plus relatively decent real estate prices? I'll check out some of the info you folks have provided, but anything else you can tell me is much appreciated.

What is the economy like on the Island? Mostly service like in Victoria, I'd imagine eh? I gotta find some productive work (therefore I will not be found working in tourism/service -- unless I learn how to fly hot air balloons or something) if I don't end up taking some classes some place.

How are joints like UVic (I love the rabbits I saw when looking around the campus) and Malaspina? Anyone been?
Wow - thanks everyone!!!

I had started to get a feel that 'The Island' might be the go from my research last night. I actually found quite a few rental listings that appear to be considerably less expensive than their equivalent main land offerings...

Quite a few seem to be around Nanaimo and Ladysmith. Are those areas any good?

Is there a downside to the island?? I guess going to the mainland is slow and expensive?? $88 round trip for a family plus 2 hours each way makes a big night out of going to watch Canucks -v- Flames at GM Place!!!

Other than those sort of things is there any reason you would need to leave the island in the course of normal day to day living?

Cheers all,

p.s. Thanks again for the help and hospitality.

If you have a job that will let you afford $1400 -$1600 per month to rent in Nanaimo, or Cambell River, you've got it made. Kreskin is right about Victoria being a little expensive. It is, but not nearly as expensive as Vancouver. The Ferry trip to the mainland for a car and two people is $125 as of yesterday. If you are working on Vancouver Island, I can't think of a reason why you'd routinely have to travel to Vancouver other than the hockey game.
Well kevandkristie, if you don't mind, keep us (me) posted on things you figure out. You are probably looking a lot harder than me at this point, and I feel discussing it could be beneficial for all others "heading West" (that's the catch phrase right now for most Northwest Ontarians).

I know I'd like to know more, since I'm heading out that way at some point too. Thanks!


I hear rumors that The Island is built upon a ginormous mass of quartz that apparently does all sorts of wonderful things, including make people live ten years longer...

Anyone else hear about this yarn?

And $1400-$1600 per month to rent in Nanaimo eh? I can't cover that for long if I am going to university at the same time! Time for me to find some roomies I guess.

Is that about the ballpark price for something average along the lines of being able to accommodate a couple with four kids, or is that a slighly fancier than normal setup?

In Thunder Bay I can rent a really fancy house for $1600 that could fit the entire Canadian military and give the Olympic swimming team a nice pool to practice in. Heh heh...

Any info is appreciated. Thanks!
A Campbell River rentor looking for a single family dwelling with a couple of baths and 3 bedrooms would probably start at $850-ish (very low end stuff - weekly knifings viewed from the living room) to about $1500, a decent neighbourhood/home exluding the Olympic pool and bonus room for the Canadian military . I hear the rental market is very tight. I'm sure the prices are worse down Island (Victoria much higher) and Vancouver would be in the stratosphere.
Hi, Kevin.

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 Weather
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.

Economic Potential
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.

- - -

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.
Hey DavidB, wow, what a thorough and well thought out post!

You raise many good points and certainly offer some great suggestions.

I guess when I said BC, I meant Vancouver, but then didn't necessarily mean downtown Vancouver city, so called it BC if you know what I mean???

I lived in Calgary for a while and find it quite good, and I enjoyed the weather, I even spent a short time near Estevan in Saskatchewan where the weather is obviously harsh. Part of the reason for choosing to locate somewhere mild (and may only be for a while till we check things out and decide where we are comfortable as a family) is that my wife and kids are used to temperatures ranging from about 10 - 12c as a cold day to 40+c in summer, that is I'm not sure they are up for big sub zero temperatures straight off the cuff!

I'm sure there are plenty of magnificent places to live, but my thinking for starting out close to Vancouver city is that all of the facilities, ammenities and infrastructure that someone wanting to explore a new playland would need. I am going to do some browsing now on those other places you mentioned (Salmon Arm, Kelowna etc.. NOT TAIWAN!! By the way, since when do Salmon have arms??) and see what I can find out.

As for the work front, your right, I probably couldn't work as an Ambulance Paramedic, however the oil industry, especially offshore is far more forgiving being so international in structure. Worst case there are several other oil jobs I can do that pay fairly well if necessary and convert my qualifications over time.

Thanks so much for your insight- it has given me some new things to consider...

If you are lucky enough to have lots of cash and be able to live in Vancouver, the island or the okanagan, then you should also take your lifestyle into consideration. When I lived in Vancouver, even driving for hours for a day hike the hiking trails are packed with people. Fishing? Forget it.
I now live in an area of BC that has not been destroyed by people moving here from Alberta or Ontario. Affordable housing, 10 minute commute, amazing fishing, awesome hiking trials less then 30 minutes from my place and I can hike them all day long and not see other hikers. I can hit a moutain stream and fly fish all day and not have it ruined by an endless parade of people. Just me and the bears. Mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, they are all here. It's what my home town of Vernon used to be before Alberta and Ontario destroyed it.
I will never live in the lower mainland or vancouver island again.
Hi all,

have started looking more at the Okanagan area - looks pretty good and good affordability for buying etc.. Haven't found too many rental listings though so not sure what the prospects are like with that...

..35 Where you are now sounds fantastic. Probably the sort of place we would like to settle once we have that first 6 months or so where you want to check everything out and do everything there is to do. Are you going to tell us where you are, or are you keeping it a secret so it doesn't get spoiled?


this turns me off the city

It's bad enought that the city sends it raw sewage untreated directly into the ocean (no kidding, poop and everything) but if they are going to do that, couldn't they at least flush the city's human garbage down the same toilets?
I suggest Coquitlam(Is in Vancouver)
victoria island
I lived in Victoria and loved the city, but found work scarce. If you're going to be looking for a job I suggest Vancouver. If you're going to retire, Victoria.
ah...true...vacation? vancouver
Hi! Look forward to having you as a BC resident!

Do you want to live in a city? What kind of climate are you looking for? I live in Summerland, BC, a beautiful place on Lake Okanagan. You can rent a house in the Okanagan Valley for your price range (not sure if you could in Vancouver or Victoria!. The Okanagan in about 200 miles as the crow flies from Vancouver, is not as rainy as the coast, nice beaches, ski hills... If you contact Royal Lepage Real Estate, in Penticton (about 30,000 ppl) and ask them about rentals, they can help. Have you done a search on rentals? Try and you can look!

Good luck!
my husband and I grew up in New Westminster, but when our children were teenagers we moved to Courtenay
on Vancouver Island. Depending on your line of work, this is the most wonderful area to live, weather is
great, golf all year, not crowded, good schools, and post seconday as well.
It's beautiful hear, you can fish, ski, or golf all on the one day if you wish.
We are close to Mt. Washington, close to ocean and lakes, our little city has all the shopping of the
big urban areas, but lower crime and more comfortable.

Good luck with your future.

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