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Retiring in Canada on Vancouver Island, Victoria, Nanaimo etc.
Old 07-07-2016, 01:38 PM   #1
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Retiring in Canada on Vancouver Island, Victoria, Nanaimo etc.

History:

Both DW and I are Canadian Citizens as well as American Citizens. I being of British Birthright am also a UK Citizen. We retain the rights to Passports in each Country of Citizenship.

We moved to the US in 1987 and Lived in Denver, California & currently in Florida. We retired (First Time) in 2002 to go sailing for a few years and hence the FLA link. We stayed in Florida after we returned to land and went back to work for a while, we have now both been retired for a while. We are 62 & 57 respectively, currently getting a reasonable deal on healthcare thanks to the ACA.

Reason for Post.

Without getting into Politics, depending on what happens in November and how it affects our general Quality Of Life, and specifically healthcare, we are starting to research moving back North of the border.

Money is not a consideration as we are more than comfortable for our current standard of living.

What is important is QOL, Healthcare, and "Weather". Family is not an issue as we have lived as far as possible from each of our families for the last 35 years.


A word about weather, we live in NE Florida, while it is for the most part perfect for 8 months of the year, it is tediously hot for the other 4. As we get older, we are becoming less and less tolerant to the heat. We are becoming more susceptible to skin blemishes, pre-cancerous and in rare cases cancerous. Not Melanoma thankfully, but the "C" word never the less. We stay inside for the most part during this time. We are not great outdoor people, but do like walking on the beach and being close to it.

I would like to hear from anyone who has experience with living on Vancouver Island with reference to the items I have listed.

What we have Read and what concerns us. It may be exaggerated hearsay or moot:

  • It is impossible to get a family doctor as none are taking new patients, Clinics are in common use. (Is this Bad?)
  • It is gloomy for 9 months of the year. (From what I have researched where we are looking gets a lot less rainfall than we do in FLA)
  • QOL is Good if you can afford it. (Moot in our case)
  • Home prices are silly high. (We have looked and do not think so but remember we lived in Southern California for a long time)
  • COL is higher (Again we know and accept that)
Looking forward to some input.
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Old 07-07-2016, 03:07 PM   #2
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Last time we visited SW British Columbia on vacation, we were simply bowled over by the cost of living. We're not talking 5% higher, but incredibly higher COL in housing, sales taxes, beer prices--everything.

You might need to make a trip up there to really see what local citizens face day to day. It's certainly a lovely place to live.
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Old 07-07-2016, 03:22 PM   #3
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Last time we visited SW British Columbia on vacation, we were simply bowled over by the cost of living. We're not talking 5% higher, but incredibly higher COL in housing, sales taxes, beer prices--everything.

You might need to make a trip up there to really see what local citizens face day to day. It's certainly a lovely place to live.
I think compared to AL, it is you re correct. It is all relative. Homes here are not cheap, apples for apples they are about the same. Our home approx. $800k USD translates to ~$1m CAD. Where we are looking on the island it buys a comparable home with an Ocean View, downtown Victoria is about 30% more expensive for the same home, Nanaimo is Cheaper. House Taxes are less. Gas is high, Sales tax is 12%. Healthcare s is leaps and bounds cheaper. Groceries are about the same as San Francisco and Booze is expensive. OK so we drink less or get it from across the border... .

We will visit during the winter to check out the gloom. we have been there in the summer it is lovely then.
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Old 07-07-2016, 04:58 PM   #4
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It's been 19 years since I lived on Salt Spring Island; my late wife & I relocated there after returning from Saudi - when we left in 1997, (to fulltime RV), she noted, vis-a-vis the BC coast & Ontario, "It may be colder in Ontario in the winter, but at least the sun is shining".

Doctors - can't speak for BC, but they're fleeing Ontario, at least Eastern Ontario where we live.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:06 PM   #5
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Re:family doctors, check this page:

https://www.cpsbc.ca/physician_search

I can confirm that there is a family doctor shortage in BC. It would also be helpful to contact family doctors in the areas you are interested in. That worked for me when I moved to BC several years ago.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:09 PM   #6
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Re:family doctors, check this page:

https://www.cpsbc.ca/physician_search
Did you try it? none taking new patients.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:12 PM   #7
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Did you try it? none taking new patients.
Yes, I tried it for Victoria, and found none. But that is also what I found several years ago when I moved to a different part of BC, and by phoning practices I was able to find one with openings quite close to my home.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:13 PM   #8
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Yes, I tried it for Victoria, and found none. But that is also what I found several years ago when I moved to a different part of BC, and by phoning practices I was able to find one with openings quite close to my home.
That is good advice, thanks. Are you in a part of BC where it is overcast all winter?
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:16 PM   #9
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That is good advice, thanks. Are you in a part of BC where it is overcast all winter?
I will send you a PM.
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Old 07-07-2016, 08:12 PM   #10
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We visited Vancouver Island a few times and, as we normally do, did some window shopping at real estate offices to see that houses went for. As I recall, home prices are high, but not too bad for a nice location. But then we visited in the summer, and winter might be a whole 'nother story that we are ignorant about. Vancouver Island is a big place, and so the RE prices would vary greatly from down south up to the remote northern tip.

Just recall that a poster called DblDoc lived there. He suddenly stopped posting and disappeared.

And by the way, I read that there are grizzlies on the island!
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Old 07-07-2016, 09:19 PM   #11
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And by the way, I read that there are grizzlies on the island!
Unfamiliar with any reports of grizzlies, but there are/have been periodic human encounters, (including direct attacks), with cougars - a number of years ago a young male* cougar came through a downstairs/basement bathroom window in Victoria.

(*Young males are unwelcome in established male cougar territories and are forced to look for their own spaces further afield.)
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:33 PM   #12
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OP, I live within eyesight of the border here in NW Washington. Our house is further north than the provincial capital of BC. We watch the sun set over Vancouver Island.

I love Canada. I love BC, I love AB. We enjoy Vancouver Island. If things were a little different, I would be happy to live forever in Calgary. It could be arranged but I cannot afford it.

IMHO, in your situation, it would be a mistake to move to Vancouver (or anywhere in BC or anything north of the border).

Please consider relocation to our area. Healthcare in Bellingham is truly first class. Canadians come down here for service.

You might find Bellingham real estate expensive, but Vancouver (or anything in BC) real estate will fry your brain. Property outside of BH is still inexpensive. You could live in Blaine for literally a fraction of White Rock. Or possibly Point Roberts, but services would be seriously problematical.

If you need sunny days, eastern WA is a very good place. If you need sea and mountains, western WA is it.

BC is wonderful, but if you have a choice, you gotta be nuts to commit to live there.

Sorry doc.
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:56 AM   #13
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OP, I live within eyesight of the border here in NW Washington. Our house is further north than the provincial capital of BC. We watch the sun set over Vancouver Island.

I love Canada. I love BC, I love AB. We enjoy Vancouver Island. If things were a little different, I would be happy to live forever in Calgary. It could be arranged but I cannot afford it.

IMHO, in your situation, it would be a mistake to move to Vancouver (or anywhere in BC or anything north of the border).

Please consider relocation to our area. Healthcare in Bellingham is truly first class. Canadians come down here for service.

You might find Bellingham real estate expensive, but Vancouver (or anything in BC) real estate will fry your brain. Property outside of BH is still inexpensive. You could live in Blaine for literally a fraction of White Rock. Or possibly Point Roberts, but services would be seriously problematical.

If you need sunny days, eastern WA is a very good place. If you need sea and mountains, western WA is it.

BC is wonderful, but if you have a choice, you gotta be nuts to commit to live there.

Sorry doc.
Remember the need to be near an Ocean, within 1 to 2 Miles. That rules out any Inland options. Seattle, Redmond.... All those areas are WAY, way to crowded for us. I grew up in London, UK and moved to LA. Then left and We are NEVER going back to a place anywhere near that density.

I used to go to Seattle, Redmond etc. a lot during my working years, never liked it much. could not wait to get home, but lived in South Orange County, CA then. Just our preference, not to say it is bad by any means.

Glad you like it though.
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I live in Victoria
Old 07-08-2016, 10:21 AM   #14
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I live in Victoria

The Dr shortage is a bit of a pain, but some general perseverance can normally find you a Dr. As recommended earlier, call around, don't bother with the web sites.
Regarding weather, Summers are absolutely wonderful on the Island. I have also lived in Denver, so can perhaps give you a comparison. This is quite a bit farther north than you are used to. In the summer this leads to daylight from 4:00am until 11:00pm. In the winters.... 8:00am until 4:00pm. It doesn't generally rain alot, but tends to be overcast and drizzly. People still do stuff, it doesn't generally stop anyone, but can be quite depressing. Somewhere that would be very similar to Denver weather wise would be Kelowna/Penticton area on the mainland. Nanaimo has a reason that it is cheaper than Victoria, it does rain more, and the crime rate is higher. If you really want to come to the island, without knowing what your hobbies/interests are Victoria would be number one, Qualicum/Parksville would be my second suggestion. If you don't know the area, I would strongly suggest that you rent for a while before you buy. Get to know the areas, get to know the seasons. Have fun and Welcome to Canada.
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Old 07-08-2016, 10:26 AM   #15
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The Dr shortage is a bit of a pain, but some general perseverance can normally find you a Dr. As recommended earlier, call around, don't bother with the web sites.
Regarding weather, Summers are absolutely wonderful on the Island. I have also lived in Denver, so can perhaps give you a comparison. This is quite a bit farther north than you are used to. In the summer this leads to daylight from 4:00am until 11:00pm. In the winters.... 8:00am until 4:00pm. It doesn't generally rain alot, but tends to be overcast and drizzly. People still do stuff, it doesn't generally stop anyone, but can be quite depressing. Somewhere that would be very similar to Denver weather wise would be Kelowna/Penticton area on the mainland. Nanaimo has a reason that it is cheaper than Victoria, it does rain more, and the crime rate is higher. If you really want to come to the island, without knowing what your hobbies/interests are Victoria would be number one, Qualicum/Parksville would be my second suggestion. If you don't know the area, I would strongly suggest that you rent for a while before you buy. Get to know the areas, get to know the seasons. Have fun and Welcome to Canada.
Great insight, we are looking at Cobble Hill, Mill Bay Area. Arbutus Ridge and there abouts.
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Old 07-08-2016, 07:00 PM   #16
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I also live in NE Fl and understand your desire to head north during the summer months. We like to visit Nova Scotia during that time. However, I would not like to give up the other 8 months. If I were not responsible for a number of pets that would not travel well I would consider hiring a lawn service and close up the house to spend the summer on either the east or west coast of Canada. Would something like that be a consideration?

Cheers!
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by justlikebike View Post
The Dr shortage is a bit of a pain, but some general perseverance can normally find you a Dr. As recommended earlier, call around, don't bother with the web sites.
Regarding weather, Summers are absolutely wonderful on the Island. I have also lived in Denver, so can perhaps give you a comparison. This is quite a bit farther north than you are used to. In the summer this leads to daylight from 4:00am until 11:00pm. In the winters.... 8:00am until 4:00pm. It doesn't generally rain alot, but tends to be overcast and drizzly. People still do stuff, it doesn't generally stop anyone, but can be quite depressing. Somewhere that would be very similar to Denver weather wise would be Kelowna/Penticton area on the mainland. Nanaimo has a reason that it is cheaper than Victoria, it does rain more, and the crime rate is higher. If you really want to come to the island, without knowing what your hobbies/interests are Victoria would be number one, Qualicum/Parksville would be my second suggestion. If you don't know the area, I would strongly suggest that you rent for a while before you buy. Get to know the areas, get to know the seasons. Have fun and Welcome to Canada.
Nanaimo also has the only outside palm trees in Canada. Of course on Vancouver Island you can also get very rainy at Uculet or Tofino on the west coast of the Island. Essentially the Island has a ridge down the middle, that operates as a mini version of the cascades in terms of climate with a wet side on the west and a dryer side on the east.
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Old 07-08-2016, 10:18 PM   #18
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The Dr shortage is a bit of a pain,
PI?
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We summer on the island
Old 07-08-2016, 10:43 PM   #19
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We summer on the island

Hi. We live in Edmonton and spend 2 weeks on the island...have been coming for 12 years.

Talking to the locals.....many who can afford to and are retired...escape to Mexico or Arizona for the winters.

The place we stay at (one of them) is so beautiful....it is called Inn off the Sea on Yellowpoint Road. Google the location (; The units are individually owned and most are posted on VRBO.....there is quite a large group of people who rent the units here for the winter to house hunt and see if they can handle the greyness. I would suggest you do the same. This place is mid island so you can explore all the little towns.....I hear Chemainus is pretty nice.....lots of artists live near by. Very laid back lifestyle.

Nanaimo used to be a drug running area but the newer areas are pretty nice. Lots of people live in Parksville Qualicum because it is wonderful and cheaper than Victoria.

Some people hate the ferries....there is a thing called island fever (;

My suggestion is you come down for a winter...rent a place and go see some towns and talk to the locals.

PS We were thinking of retiring here at one time....but honestly, I would miss the sunny winters...and still working so cannot escape the cold yet like my friends who love Arizona (;
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:34 AM   #20
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Definitely there are brown bears on Vancouver Island. We hiked the West Coast Trail there a few years back and came across fresh tracks that were HUGE (dinner plate).
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