Retirement Made Easy
Living Golden On Vancouver Island
It seems that retirement and the West Coast have always been synonymous. With Canada’s mildest climate, high quality of life and stunning natural scenery, it’s easy to see why British Columbia continually ranks top among retirement destinations. Still, those looking to make the move west have a number of options to wade through before settling down.
Among the most popular retirement destinations in BC, Vancouver Island remains at the top. A list of ‘The Best Places To Retire’ published by MoneySense Magazine in 2013 named the island’s capital Victoria as number one, while Saanich was listed as number two. Lists such as this take into account many livability factors: affordability, access to health care, weather, low crime rate, good public transportation and low property taxes. Yet there are additional reasons for spending one’s golden years on the island and away from larger cities.
With an influx of foreign money pouring into Vancouver from overseas, it has become a major obstacle to obtaining housing at an affordable price. Many will recognize this as simple supply and demand: a reduction in supply drives prices up, which developers then pay top dollar for. In the end, it means homebuyers wind up paying exorbitant prices far above the property’s actual worth. For retirees who need to stretch their dollar further and ensure their wealth lasts through retirement – the financial investment is not always realistic.
Outside of Victoria, a number of smaller towns and cities on Vancouver Island present excellent options for retirees. In part this is because the opportunity for growth (and therefore an increase on property investment) can be greater. Smaller regional communities with robust economies present more chances for development, say in retail or the service sector. Typically these markets are more affordable, yet still have dependable infrastructure and amenities. A few areas that could easily fit this description include the Comox Valley, Chemainus, Ladysmith, Qualicum Beach, and Sooke; as well as more remote locations like Tofino and Ucluelet. Salmon Arm – a town of 17,000 nestled on the shores of Shuswap Lake in the southern interior – is yet another local spot that’s appeared on a number of “best of” lists recently.
It would be misleading to say there’s anywhere on Vancouver Island where nature isn’t a headliner, but there do remain standouts. More than anything it’s a question of personal appeal – storm watching in Tofino or winemaking in the Comox Valley? If retirement is about spending more time doing what you love, then proper research is key to finding a good fit. Once future retirees begin to narrow down the options, many real estate agents suggest spending a month or two trying out the location first before taking the plunge. Now on Vancouver Island for almost a decade, Ontario native Mare Brown did just that before committing to buying a home. “The first year I came out to BC, I spent two months during the winter. My second year, it became three months; and by the third year, I was looking to purchase real estate” said Brown.
With census reports revealing a majority of Canadians already giving thought to where they wish to retire, it would be hard to beat the attributes Vancouver Island has tallied in its favour. A sure and steadfast option, the big island promises retirees a new chapter made easy.
Homes & Land Volume 10, Issue 11 – August/September 2015