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What are British Columbia’s Best Cities to Live In?

October 7, 2021BY Dale Carroll

British Columbia is a wonderful place to live and work. A temperate west coast climate combines with natural beauty and urban amenities to create an exciting province to live in.

The province offers extensive opportunities to immigrants, including programs for skilled workers, healthcare professionals, and more. 

Of course, you won’t just live in the province. You’ll live in one of its cities, and the city you choose will have a huge impact on your experience here. Here are five to consider, as well as some information about other strong options that might offer experiences that are important to you.

Vancouver

Vancouver is the first place most people think about when they think about British Columbia. And why not? It’s one of the world’s most exciting, livable cities. It’s been repeatedly ranked as the most livable city in North America. 

It’s also one of the most expensive cities to live in. But wages are often high to compensate, and you don’t necessarily have to own a car. There’s an extensive rapid transport network including a SkyTrain, a commuter rail line, a sea ferry, and a bus system. It’s also got plenty of pedestrian and biking trails. Choose the right home close to work and you might be able to realize some significant savings.

The nightlife, shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities are hard to beat. The job market is booming and the educational system is solid. You’ll find many other immigrants from around the world living here, too. 

Saanich

Looking for somewhere more affordable than Vancouver? Saanich was named the #8 best city for immigrants. It’s a mid-size city with a little over 100,000 people. It offers a strong job market to go with its affordable housing.

There are plenty of community activities to enjoy, and it’s got one of the lowest violent crime rates, making it an extremely safe place to raise a family. The educational system is strong, just as it is in the rest of BC.

If you want to enjoy some big city amenities Victoria, the capital of BC, is just a short drive away.  

Langford

Langford has been named one of the most livable communities in Canada by Maclean’s magazine as well as several other publications, right down to the broadband performance. If you dream about an island lifestyle, Langford might be the right community for you.

It’s a relaxed lifestyle in a peaceful, diverse community that puts you 15-minutes from Victoria. You’ll be surrounded by lovely landscapes where you can enjoy all the natural beauty that BC has to offer. The school system is top notch, and the island does offer a University of its own. Many residents in Langford remain car-free. 

Like Saanich, Langford is very affordable, with the cost of living sitting about 21% lower than the British Columbia average and housing prices about 44% lower than the British Columbia average. 

Surrey

Surrey is growing fast. It has a booming job market fueled by a diverse economy. It’s close enough to Vancouver for residents to work or play there if desired. It’s got a school system that’s full of incredible programs for immigrants. It’s got a thriving Punjabi and Asian community. And it offers all of this at a fraction of Vancouver prices.

People who love the outdoors may absolutely love this city for its 260 parks and urban forests. There are three beaches, as well. 

Shopping, nightlife, and the restaurant scene are more or less on par with Vancouver’s as well, and every neighborhood has its own community center, offering a wonderful opportunity to get involved in local activity or to make friends.

Victoria

Victoria is the capital of BC, and it’s an extremely popular destination for immigrants. There’s a wide variety of employment opportunities available against a backdrop of stunning gardens and natural locations in some of the nicest weather in the country. It’s literally known as “the Garden City” because the entire area is festooned in flowers. 

You’ll have lots to do: festivals, ice rinks, tennis courts, diving, shopping, dining, horse races, and cycling are all available to residents here. If you’re looking for educational opportunities you’ll find a strong K-12 system as well as universities like the Vancouver Island School of Art, the University of Victoria, and Royal Roads University.

Where are the most affordable places to live in BC?

The most affordable town is Prince George. It is a smaller town with about 74,000 residents. Despite its low cost of living you’ll still find a healthy job market here. It’s the region’s center for healthcare and education, and it’s got less traffic than some of its bigger-city counterparts.

What’s BC’s smallest town?

The smallest town is Greenwood, population 665. If you intend to start your own business or work from home then Greenwood might be a solid option for you. You’ll be surrounded by the Monashee mountains and you’ll be situated in a community with a gorgeous, traditional main street. Gorgeous Victorian-era homes abound. You’ll be about 6 hours from Vancouver and about 9 hours from Calgary, but you’ll have a straight shot in either direction along BC-3.

Which city in BC has the best job market?

In recent years Squamish and Kelowna have both competed for this title, but unemployment is reasonably low throughout the province. 

Where can I get the best education in BC?

Vancouver and Surrey have the top high schools by ranking. At the university level, The University of British Columbia at Vancouver and the University of Victoria are the top-rated universities in the province.

Where can I live without a car in BC?

Vancouver and Surrey have outstanding public transportation. Vancouver Island is pretty friendly to the car-free lifestyle as well, though you may have to do a little more planning. 

What’s the safest city in BC?

Among the larger cities, North Saanich emerges is the absolute safest place, statistically. 

Want to immigrate to BC, Canada?

BC offers a wide range of immigration programs, and there are federal programs you can take advantage of, as well. Highly skilled and well-educated immigrants and their family members will have the widest variety of options.

The most successful immigrants work with an experienced immigration attorney. Our office has attorneys with decades of experience, as well as lawyers who are native speakers of both Punjabi and Mandarin. 

Make your first appointment and get the help you need by calling our Surrey office at (604) 394-2777 today.

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