Editorial Written by Kristen Ross
Sidney by the Sea & North Saanich
West Coast Appeal for Every Stage of Life
As mentioned in Part Two of our retirement feature this month, Sidney by the Sea and North Saanich are without a doubt one of Vancouver Island’s most popular retirement destinations. Boasting fresh sea air, glinting coastal waters, and charming neighborhoods, the real estate options in this corner of the island are abundant. From new developments geared towards a younger demographic, to teardowns that are being remodeled with retirees in mind, every age and price range are sure to find something suitable.
With a population slightly north of 10,000 residents, today Sidney’s fastest growing demographic is the 65 and over category. An extremely convenient location, Sidney is just two kilometres to the Victoria International Airport and three to the B.C. Ferry Terminal. Downtown Victoria, along with all the amenities and services it offers, is little more than a twenty minute drive, and Sidney remains the only Canadian port-of-call in the Washington State Ferry system. This allows residents to routinely enjoy trips to the San Juan Islands, along with Anacortes—the islands’ stunning homeport located on Fidalgo Island—by doing little more than walking to the ferry dock for a ticket.
The accessibility of excursions like those to the San Juan Islands are also representative of another feature that makes life in Sidney so desirable—almost everything one needs is within walking distance. Realtor Carole Bawlf, B.A. with DHF Real Estate Ltd. has lived on the Saanich Peninsula for 40 years, 28 of them as a Realtor with an office in Sidney, and has seen a lot of change and growth over this time. She mirrors this sentiment of accessibility in Sidney by referring to older 1970s “boxes” that are currently being snapped up by builders, “They’re replacing them with small half-duplexes, generally on one level, which appeals greatly to an older demographic.” Most retirees look for ease of living, which is echoed in both the design of many residences and the urban plan of the city itself.
Sidney is leading the pack in other ways too. The first to pioneer laws that require adaptable housing for persons with disabilities, this charming marine town looks out for all its citizens. In a bid to keep a balanced population and affordable housing, a number of single-family developments that cater to a younger demographic have been approved in the area. “They’ve built small condos which, I expect, will attract a younger audience and benefit both them and Sidney in general,” Bawlf notes. She highlights the size of this new crop of homes citing, “Some are less than 400 square feet, while the average new condo is more likely to be in the 800 square foot range.” A townhome Bawlf recently listed at Sailview Complex recently hit the market for $282,500. A little over 1,000 square feet in footage, it’s a unique example of a residence that appeals to both demographics.
Just south of Sidney, North Saanich is having its time as well. This predominately rural lifestyle offers an attractive alternative to city dwelling without foregoing any of the benefits. Here most of the housing can be classified as single-detached homes and there are many luxury estates priced at well into the seven-figure range. From a 5-acre estate with 5 bedrooms and 5 baths over a 7000 square foot home for $3.4 million, to plots of land in the mid to high $300,000 range, North Saanich has it all.
Regardless what group one falls into—young family, professional, or retiree—the real draw of these areas is that they embody the true allure of the West Coast, and that is a gift everyone can appreciate.