Author Topic: Best small/medium town in BC?  (Read 4712 times)

RidinTheAsama

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Best small/medium town in BC?
« on: May 15, 2015, 02:41:19 PM »
Hi all,
First our situation - we are a professional couple in our late 20's with 2 kids (a third is up for debate....)
We won't be ready to retire soon but are on a reasonable track.  Right now we live in Victoria, BC - a great place to live but not exactly inexpensive.

So, we're considering a move to somewhere else in the province where costs are more reasonable.  My question to you fine folks who have lived in BC is: Where should we go?

Things we like: biking, gardening, good access to outdoor activities, skiing would be a bonus, reasonable access to an airport (for visits to/from family members in other parts of the country), and a friendly community, decent schools (We've ruled out most of the gulf islands since they don't have highschools, wouldn't want the kids to have to commute out of town for school).

I'm picturing somewhere with population in the 5k to 50k range but those aren't strict numbers.  As for work, our skills are fairly transferable and I think we could sort something out wherever we went.

I'd really appreciate any recommendations, or any warnings of places to avoid...

Thanks!

totoro

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 11:08:00 AM »
Penticton. 

debbie does duncan

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 12:43:36 PM »
Duncan , BC.
 Duncan is the commercial hub for the Cowichan Valley.
Depending on where you draw the town boundries....it is 5-6000 people.
The Cowichan Valley is home to 75-80,000 people.

Biking yes! The old rail line from Duncan to Lake Cowichan 27km one way.
My slice of heaven  3x/wk. No one but me and the bears.
 Gardening hot and dry with deers!

No skiing except Mt W.  but living in the island you know the ferries and Westjet!
You can also fly out of the C.Valley in Maple Bay with Saltspring Air.
Most people I meet are retirees from Victoria who love the sense of community here!
 And cheaper than Vic. No idea about schools.

totoro

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 01:02:08 PM »
Penticton.  I should have provided more details :)

Airport right in town and extremely quick line-ups through security.

KVR for biking: http://www.letsgobiking.net/2011/08/blog-post.html or channel parkway.

Apex for skiing.  Cheap, great quality, no line-ups and 30 min from town to the top of the hill.  Excellent spring and Christmas break programs for kids that are unbeatable prices. http://www.apexresort.com/

Top elementary school: http://britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org/elementary/Holy_Cross_Elementary/Penticton/Report_Card.aspx

NUMBER 1 wine destination IN THE WORLD:  http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&ved=0CEgQFjAFahUKEwiFqLS7kZXHAhWCN4gKHW02AhA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.totabc.org%2FcorporateSite%2Fresources%2Fnews%2Fokanagan-named-number-1-wine-destination-world-huffington-post%2F&ei=G67DVcWuJoLvoATt7IiAAQ&usg=AFQjCNGcZt866JkPhqqgZaH0ii-yM_dDfQ&bvm=bv.99804247,d.cGU

Voted a top 10 destination to visit IN THE WORLD: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/penticton-makes-top-10-best-destinations-in-world/article4085547/
http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attractions-g154937-Activities-Penticton_Okanagan_Valley_British_Columbia.html

I grew up there and it is a great place to have kids.


RidinTheAsama

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2015, 12:05:59 PM »
Thanks for the recommendations!

One area I'm hoping for a bit more info from both of you is biking.  You've both mentioned great recreational biking options - definitely an important aspect.  Even more importantly I'm wondering about day-to-day biking; what's it like to bike to work, to the grocery/hardware/anything store, to schools?

Here in Victoria hundreds of people commute by bike so drivers are accustomed to us being there and treat us (mostly) with respect on the roads.  How's the biking atmosphere in Duncan and Penticton?

totoro

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2015, 03:03:16 PM »
Penticton is good for biking except that it gets colder than Duncan in the winter and sometimes there is snow. 

http://www.livingin-canada.com/climate-penticton.html  vs. http://www.farmzone.com/statistics/CL1015638/sb043

You live close enough to Duncan to take a day trip to check it out.  Maybe stop in at a bike shop and check with them?  I imagine that you'd have more rain to contend with in winter in Duncan but that is often preferable to snow.

zoltani

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2015, 03:37:09 PM »
Squamish would be my dream, but I think the COL is high.

tthree

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2015, 08:24:44 PM »
SK here (so no first hand experience) but in the past couple of years we have had friends move to both Penticton and Rossland.  Rossland would be my choice, because they still have winter, albeit WAY milder than here.  And they have a ski hill:)

totoro

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2015, 10:26:09 PM »
You should decide what size town you are looking for as a criteria as well. 

Rossland has intense winters with great powder skiing five minutes away but it is really small - 3500 people.  There is no airport and there are no lakes.  House prices are cheaper than Penticton or Duncan ($264,000 average).

Penticton is over 32000 people and Duncan is about 5000, although it is in the Cowichan Valley which has 80,000 people.

swick

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2015, 10:52:47 PM »
SK here (so no first hand experience) but in the past couple of years we have had friends move to both Penticton and Rossland.  Rossland would be my choice, because they still have winter, albeit WAY milder than here.  And they have a ski hill:)
Ohh ohh ohh! Okay first...the fact that someone knows where Rossland is is exciting!

Here are my thoughts that I shared with OP when they first asked...My parents moved from Victoria to Rossland in search of a better life. It worked well for us, but I wouldn't recommend it now. House prices are inflated, in the top 10 in the province for municipal taxes, elementary school was closed down and the high school was made K-10 with grades 11 and 12 having to go to Trail. When we moved back to the area we decided on Castlegar....

Nelson is great but has a HCOL - It is much hillier and less bike friendly - doing anything downtown in the winter is tough it turns into a slushpuddle. It is also on the shore of Kootenay lake which is beautiful but it gets much less sun (except for certain areas more on the hilltop) so winters feel much darker and greyer...they do have more restaurants per capita then most cities, and most of them are pretty good so if you are a foodie it is great...not so much if you want to watch your budget :)

Castlegar is pretty easily accessible.  I walk everywhere. Castlegar is a pretty long town so a bit of driving is required, depending on what you are looking for... Most of it would be bikable, I tend to measure distance in walkable though :) We do have snow, there is really no way around that in most of BC outside of the lower mainland.  However we get substantially less snow than Rossland and have a much longer growing season.  We also have an airport...but getting in/out in the winter can be dicey.

Castlegar sits in the middle between Rossland and Nelson so you get to take advantage of both communities. It has several options for schools and has a college as well. It is also cheaper for housing then either Rossland or Nelson, more job prospects than Rossland. Commuting to Trail in the winter down the hill is not fun! 

We also have an awesome park along the river with walking trails, water pools and an almost finished bike terrain park. Syringa Provincial Park and the Arrow Lakes are 10 min away.

Trail - I wouldn't recommend if you have kids/family. The High school is not walkable/bikable for many locations. It does have the only hospital in the region though. The downtown core was decimated when Walmart moved to town - so there are lots of empty shops. Mr. Swick commented last time we were walking around that it looks a lot like East Hastings, there are some MAJOR drug issues. 15-20 or so years ago the province started moving welfare recipients from the lower mainland to Trail because it was so much cheaper to provide housing. It created a whole bunch of social problems that have firmly taken root and actually seem to be growing.

So that's my two cents, the Koots are awesome though, I highly recommend this area :)

Oh...to respond to totoro - Rossland has Nancy Green lake about a 20 min drive away. Christina Lake is about an hour ( about the same distance from Castlegar)

OP - any updates?


totoro

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2015, 11:55:36 PM »
Sorry, I should have stated there are no lakes in town or within reasonable walking/biking distance.  Penticton has two lakes and Duncan has the ocean for those who want to live near water.  It would be on my list but might not matter to the OP.

A place I really like on the island and would consider family-friendly is Parksville.  I have cousins in Nelson and they enjoy it a lot.  You might want to go onto local community boards for communities you are considering and ask for pros and cons?



RidinTheAsama

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2015, 10:09:31 AM »
Thanks for all the good info everyone.

I know it's much more exciting when a thread like this is leading to some immediate action, but we are looking at the "maybe within 5 years" time frame for this move...  Maybe I should have mentioned that upfront, sorry.

From what I've heard hear, if we make the move inland Castlegar, Penticton, and possibly Nelson are the highest on our list right now.  We'll try to make opportunities to visit each place over the next few years to get a better feel for them.

We spent a few years living in Nanaimo and didn't love it - long and narrow town punctuated primarily by various types of malls...  Occasional visits to Parksville were nice but I never got a thorough feel for the place.  As for Duncan, until recently my experiences there had been limited to the narrow band along HWY 1 and it didn't impress me at all - recently I've had the chance to venture out into the rest of the town and it's much much nicer.

swick

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2015, 10:25:00 AM »
Sorry, I should have stated there are no lakes in town or within reasonable walking/biking distance.  Penticton has two lakes and Duncan has the ocean for those who want to live near water.  It would be on my list but might not matter to the OP.

Very true, being close to water is and will always be on my list too :) I think it is "in the blood" for anyone who did grow up on the Island.

RidinTheAsama - When you do make it out this way, I'll be happy to play tour guide!

Jon_Snow

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2015, 10:51:44 AM »
After a recent Meetup, I'm a Cowichan Valley fan...

Also have a soft spot for Salmon Arm. Been going there every Summer for years. I'm more of an "ocean guy" but I can do the lake thing too. ;)

Mae80s

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2015, 12:04:06 PM »

We spent a few years living in Nanaimo and didn't love it - long and narrow town punctuated primarily by various types of malls...  Occasional visits to Parksville were nice but I never got a thorough feel for the place.  As for Duncan, until recently my experiences there had been limited to the narrow band along HWY 1 and it didn't impress me at all - recently I've had the chance to venture out into the rest of the town and it's much much nicer.

Hahaha, I was just going to reply to NOT live in Nanaimo. I was born and raised there and couldn't leave fast enough (15 years ago)

The town is the merde. I would like to return to BC at some point, but don't want to be in Vancouver (aside from the COL, just been there, done that)

Also a Cowichan Valley fan and Comox/Courtenay. What about moving out to Sooke?

Ditto with Nelson. Gorgeous town.

« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 12:06:52 PM by Mae80s »

Goldielocks

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2015, 01:51:32 AM »
Terrace, BC. Even better than Smithers given how close kayaking, lake, and skiing are.  I am very tempted to move to Terrace, only 1 hr from the ocean, too.  Lots of salmon fishing, good schools, etc.

Quesnel is pretty good...better than PG.  Lots of homesteading there due to cheap land, some great easy water access.  Stay closer to town for gardening, lower elevation.

Many families move to Kamloops if you like heat and cheaper than Kelowna.  Skiing not too far at sunpeaks and lots of small lakes to the northwest.

Kaslo and New Denver are very pretty, small town, near Nelson, but skiing is further perhaps? Too small?  Airport is in Nelson and flights cancel a lot in winter.

Grand Forks is another warm summer place, not sure where airport is.  Two hrs to Big White.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 01:57:18 AM by goldielocks »

swick

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Re: Best small/medium town in BC?
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2015, 10:15:23 AM »
[quote author=goldielocks link=topic=37218.msg770019#msg770019 date=1439711492

Quesnel is pretty good...better than PG.  Lots of homesteading there due to cheap land, some great easy water access.  Stay closer to town for gardening, lower elevation.

[/quote]

Lots of good suggestions! I would say though, if any of you have asthma/breathing issues/prone to headaches Quesnel might not be a good choice. They have quite a few pulp mills around town and Quesnel is in a bit of a dip so seems to collect the pollution. Some areas of town are much better than others. Every time we drove through I could feel it in my chest, my breathing would restrict and I'd get a headache. Quesnel does have the best A&W on the planet though!