Central Vancouver Island is the 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, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanoose Bay and Lantzville every day.
”I would if it wasn’t for the ferries!” is a common sentiment, often muttered by people who spend each day gridlocked in lower mainland traffic, daydreaming about a different kind of life. People who have already moved here smile at this, remembering feeling the same way, now knowing how they could never go back. Now they watch the lower mainland traffic report on the morning news and say “remember when that was us?”
So why are people coming here?
Affordability: Real estate is affordable. The average single-family detached home price in Central Vancouver Island is $350,000, compared to $997,800 in Greater Vancouver. 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 can easily be cash flow investments, as a result of the high rental demand & competitive prices influenced by factors like a growing university.
Proximity: It is easy to get back. From Nanaimo it is only 35 km to Downtown Vancouver, and there is a multitude of options for transport. Nanaimo itself boasts two ferries (Departure Bay & Duke Point), both with excellent connections & checked baggage, an international airport with direct flights daily to Calgary, multiple seaplane airlines flying from the Nanaimo harbour to Downtown Vancouver or YVR, and a pending passenger ferry.
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.