In the past, a move to Vancouver Island from a city center or major suburb would have seemed like the kind of thing only a retiree could pull off. But with a growing economy, reasonable cost of living and spectacular natural beauty, more people are looking to the island for a new kind of lifestyle. They want to get away from the rat race, the miserable winter weather, and enjoy life before they retire. I know this first hand. This is what my Husband and I did!
As a Vancouver Island licensed Realtor since 1994, and a relocation expert, I have also seen first-hand how and why people are able to make this kind of unprecedented move. I would like to share my experiences and let you know what I have learned. If you’re interested read on:
All of Vancouver Island is a retirement destination of many Canadians and an ideal summer vacation spot, but it is also becoming an increasingly desirable place to buy real estate. More young families, single professionals, baby boomers, entrepreneurs and small business owners are purchasing homes in towns like Nanaimo, Cedar, Ladysmith, Chemainus, Saltair, Duncan, Cowichan Bay and Mill Bay every day.
I have heard this expression even from my relatives. ”I would if it wasn’t for the ferries!” This thought often muttered by people who spend each day gridlocked in lower mainland traffic, daydreaming about a different kind of lifestyle. We, Vancouver Islanders who have already moved here, smile at this, remembering those feelings and now know that we would never go back. We watch the lower mainland traffic report on the morning or evening news and say “remember when that was us?” Yes- these do cost money. Luckily, the dramatically lower cost of living allows budgeting for some commuting or visiting. Ferries can be busy on long weekends, but the rest of the time they are an incredibly beautiful and easy way to travel. And the feeling of relief and gratitude you experience when returning to the island is one of the secret joys of living here.
So why do people come here?
Real estate is affordable. There is nowhere else on BC’s west coast within 50 kms of Vancouver that is nearly as affordable. It is a unique opportunity for those starting out, those downsizing, or those looking to lighten their debt load. It also offers incredible value to people wanting to maximize their lifestyle – a waterfront dream home here costs the same as an entry-level home in the suburbs of Vancouver. Additionally, investment properties in Nanaimo or Duncan can easily be cash flow investments, as a result of the high rental demand & competitive prices influenced by factors like a growing university.
The value of eliminating the stress of commuting in traffic from your life cannot be understated. The loss of time, the uncertainty especially in winter months, the bridges, tunnels and detours to contend with all equate to a large amount of anxiety each day. This pressure builds up and affects your quality of life, and decreases the amount of time you spend relaxing with those you love. I know, I have been there. You can live in the countryside in Nanoose, or Yellow Point, on a secluded waterfront property, yet be in Nanaimo in 20 minutes for all your shopping needs. From Ladysmith or Chemainus, it is a picturesque 30-40 minute drive.
World-Class Outdoor Recreation
The natural beauty on the island, and the easy access to it, continues to surprise and inspire us. You can carry a canoe or paddle board right onto a quiet beach like Departure Bay-Nanaimo, or Transfer Beach- Ladysmith, and slip out virtually alone in the water- and you can do this on your lunch hour. A spot to launch a boat is just minutes away from home (not just from a multimillion dollar waterfront home, from ANY home) and in moments you are out in the most beautiful coastal waters in Canada. A 15 minute boat ride away and you are on isolated islands with shell beaches and warm, clear waters, admiring sea anemones and catching prawns or crab for dinner. It is almost unbelievable to us still, and the value of that accessibility is immeasurable. A hike actually takes you somewhere remote, and you might not even see anyone else on the trail. Boating lakes such as Shawnigan Lake, Lake Cowichan, or Sproat Lake are as close as 20 minutes away, and they’re not packed. It is heaven.
It’s the dream; the freedom to roam. Love the energy of the city? You can be in downtown Vancouver in minutes or in Victoria after a beautiful drive down the Malahat. And you can afford to go. Love the outdoors? Spectacular natural settings are a stone’s throw away. Love art & culture? Nanaimo’s Port Theatre or the Chemainus Theatre, are world-class. Want to start a business? It is actually financially feasible to do so here, and there is incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs. There are also major employers relocating their operations here because of the affordability. The tech sector is booming. There is limitless opportunity for those who want it here, and there is room and immense potential for growth.
The very best about our Island Lifestyle is that you can be home in less than 15 minutes after work. Be able to afford to change careers without being brought to your knees by a crippling mortgage. Spend more time with the people you love, rather than in traffic. Spend more time exploring, rather than in malls. Acquire experiences, rather than stuff. Live the life you want now, don’t wait. That is the spirit of the island and that is why so many people are buying real estate and relocating to places like Nanaimo, Cedar/Yellow Point, Ladysmith, Saltair, Chemainus, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, and Mill Bay.