Where to Retire in British Columbia

Where are the best places to retire in British Columbia? Every year, a number of sources provide lists of the best places to invest, live and retire in BC. Here is our take.

We look at what are your best choices, based on a variety of sources, as well as comments from BC residents themselves to bring you, our take on the best places to retire in the province of British Columbia.

1.    West Vancouver, BC

West Van is the highest-ranking BC city on the list of best places to live, according to MoneySense.1 It qualifies as a small town, while standout qualities that drove up its ranking are low taxes, low crime, and excellent walking and biking paths, along with higher than average public transit. West Vancouver also has low unemployment and a median household income of $82,000 annually.2 The price of living here is very expensive but those who live there are happy to call it home, thanks to the annual Home Arts Festival. 

Mary is one retirement home resident who loves the full life at her retirement home. “Life is so full,” she says. The great thing about living here, she tells us, is that “you can always keep active here… and you can always see the fun in life.”

Check out a full list of West Vancouver retirement communities.

2.    Victoria, BC

Victoria is listed #5 on MoneySense’s list of best places to retire in Canada, the highest placing city in all BC. Why? The average property tax in the city of Victoria is $1026 per year. There are 3.73 doctors per 1000 people and the city has 319 days of the year above freezing. All that healthy sea air and temperate climate also make it one of the healthiest places to live in all of Canada. Nearby towns include Saanich, also listed as #13 on Canada’s Best Places to Live1.

Low property tax rates make it easy for Victoria seniors to travel more than people from some other BC cities. Scotty Day, a resident in a Pacific coastal retirement home, says it best: “We’re always excited to go away. But without exception, when we return, we always say, ‘It’s so good to be home!'”  Read Scotty’s story here

Find our complete list of Victoria retirement living suites.

3.    Nelson, BC

Nestled deep in the interior of British Columbia, Nelson offers some of the best living conditions in the province, according to MoneySense, who called it the tenth best place to retire in all of Canada. Some of the notable features of living in Nelson are low average property taxes of $1600 per annum and 262 days per year of temperature above freezing. Nelson also features the beauty of the interior mountains and nearby Kootenay Lake.

Check out retirement living in nearby Kelowna.

4.    Vancouver

Vancouver was listed by The Economist as the #3 most liveable city in the world in 2016, a position it held as early as 2014. The contiguous city, The District of North Vancouver is listed #8 on the list of Canada’s Best Places to Live in 2016.

There’s little doubt that Vancouver is a world-class destination for living and investing. Vancouver’s free and easy lifestyle, spectacular scenery and superb natural environment are all legendary, as are its real estate costs, of course. What about actually living and retiring there?  The Economist ranks it so highly based on categories including stability, health care, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

Find the best places to retire in Vancouver.

5.    Duncan and Arbutus Ridge

The northerly end of Vancouver Island is full of legendary places to live including Comox Valley (highlighted by the Financial Post in 2013 as a small BC town with big savings3 and ranked #71 overall among best places to live1) and other places.

Not far away is Parksville, BC, “Canada’s retirement capital” which is the community with the highest percentage of seniors in all of Canada4

Further south (so, just a bit warmer), there is Duncan and area, another highly sought-out destination. Arbutus Ridge is as wonderful a place as any to settle.

Duncan itself is listed as #183 on Canada’s Best Places to Live. Beatrice tells us about life here: “You live here, you know, and there’s so much beauty around you – the Strait, with its amazing ocean wildlife — we’ve seen whales regularly since moving here… that aspect of life here is amazing. But then there’s so much to do! There are daily sports activities on the water, there’s golf, there are other activities… and the people are all so wonderful. They really are the best people, here, in our community.” Beatrice is an owner of a home in a Duncan-area active adult lifestyle community.

Find some great places to retire near Duncan and Arbutus Ridge.

6.    Burnaby, BC

Ranked 59th overall on Best Places to Live for 20161.  The third largest city in British Columbia, Burnaby was also listed in survey by Maclean’s magazine (albeit in 2009), as Canada’s best run city based on factors including efficiency and effectiveness of city services. The population of Burnaby is only 244,000 (as of 2016) and the median household income in the average household net worth in the city is $650,000. The prosperity of people in the city is a product of people’s energy and confidence, as exemplified by Dorothy, a senior resident of Mulberry Parc. As she says, “We keep very busy… When people say they’re bored, it’s because they’re not doing anything. Here, there’s always something to do.”

Find a complete list of the best Burnaby retirement homes.

7.    Surrey, B.C

Listed #104 on the Best Places to Live in all of Canada (for 2016), Surrey is a large city with a growing population. Surrey is a great place to retire because of its relatively low crime rate, its temperate weather (as found throughout BC).  Surrey is a relatively green and progressive city, with over 7% of the population traveling to work by public transit and 6.5 % of the population working in health care. It has a somewhat lower annual rainfall than other BC cities. 

Pam Bricker says her mom loves her retirement in Surrey. “She always want to come ‘home’ to BC but she lived in Seattle. When she finally retired here and she loves her home in Surrey… There are many shops and conveniences within walking distance of where she lives with and there are a wealth of other people her age with whom to socialize.” 

Find the very best retirement homes in Surrey, BC.

In the end, who can decide for sure what is the best place to live or retire? You may have your own ideas that run completely contrary to that of the “authorities.” Most people, when they consider their own needs, they want to be close to family or other things important to them.

We also urge you to consider things like the availability of home health care services and other health care, in any town or city you are considering. There are many things to think about, and really, the best place to live is anywhere where you have good friends and loved ones nearby and you enjoy life to the fullest. It may not, in the end, be a place, so much as a state of mind. In any case… happy searching! [10]

Sources and further resources

2moneysense.ca/../the-best-place-to-live-in-british-columbia/MoneySense magazine bases its annual list on access to healthcare and amenities, crime rates, weather and other factors.
3business.financialpost.com/../small-towns-can-offer-big-savings-for-retirees: Comox Valley is noted for an average housing price below $400,000 as well as winter temperatures averaging about 7 degrees Celsius. The Financial Post and others list the best places to retire in Canada, based on other criteria.
The Global Retirement Index, developed by Natixis Global Asset Management and CoreData Research, looks at the best places in the world to retire; in 2016, it lists Canada 10th, ahead of the United States but behind others including Norway (#1), Switzerland (#2) and others, mainly European countries. 
The Economist tracks the world’s most liveable cities. E.g. economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/08/daily-chart-5.
See also moneysense.ca/save/retirement/canadas-best-places-to-retire-2016/.

Click here to find out more about British Columbia.