Where is the best place to live in Canada is a tricky question to answer definitively because everyone has different requirements from a hometown location. But there is one city which stands out especially for Britons – British Columbia and its capital Victoria. So what is so special about living in Victoria?
British Columbia (B.C.) is one of the most desirable places to settle and work in Canada – not only for its magnificent scenery and moderate climate, but for its diverse culture, high standard of living, competitive wages, and more.
Victoria as a capital of the region is the main destination for those who want to relocate to British Columbia. Located on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island (not Victoria Island) Victoria ranks incredibly well in terms of its economic, real estate, climate, attraction and amenity ratings and this makes it one of the best places to live, work or retire in Canada.
Here are some of the features that make living in Victoria so enjoyable:
1. Employment opportunities
Those living in Victoria are offered diverse opportunities in business, an emerging technology sector, both provincial and federal government offices, and CFB Esquimalt, a naval base. The area is increasingly developing as a marine, forestry and agricultural research centre. Employment in British Columbia is expected to grow by an average of 1.8 per cent each year through to 2019, creating a total of 450,000 new jobs.
2. British feel
The city is named after Queen Victoria and is known for its old-world charm, with narrow streets lined with 19th-century stone buildings. Victoria has always had a history as a stronghold of British traditions. Victoria was awarded the Prince of Wales Prize for its dedication to preserving the City’s heritage buildings and districts for over 40 years.
3. Great weather
Victoria has one of the best climates in the entire country. It enjoys what’s known as a sub-Mediterranean climate and regularly enjoys temperatures in the twenty degree centigrade range in the summer, hardly ever dipping below freezing or suffering a snow covering in the winter. In terms of official weather statistics, if you’re going to be living in Victoria you can expect 2,183 hours of sunshine a year, at least half the rainfall of New York, at least eight frost free months a year, low humidity, cooling offshore breezes in the summer and the perfect climate to enjoy a very outdoor centric lifestyle. Victoria has an annual rainfall that is only half that of the city of Vancouver, due to it’s location in the rain shadow of the US Olympic Mountains. Winters here are so mild that snowfall is unusual, and in some winters almost non-existent!
4. Stunning gardens
Victoria’s temperate climate is a source of great pride for gardeners living in Victoria – the range of plants that they can grow there is unsurpassed by any location in Canada. Also known as “The Garden City” Victoria boasts blooming flowers year round. Approximately 1,500 hanging baskets adorn lampposts throughout the City of Victoria each summer. The famous Butchart Gardens, opened in 1904, are only about a twenty five minute drive from downtown Victoria.
Sunken Garden in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC
5. Balanced age demographic
The city is as popular with retirees as it is with those who are starting their professional career. There is an excellent balance in age demographic in this part of British Columbia. It’s been called the City Of The Newly Wed Or Nearly Dead. Almost 18% of the population is over 65 years of age. The median age in Victoria is 43.1 years – about four years older than in metro Vancouver.
6. Great education
The educational standards and facilities in Victoria are fantastic, there are public and private schools and universities and colleges to choose from, and around 72% of the population of the city has at least some tertiary level education behind them – which is way above the national norm. Victoria is home to the University of Victoria and to Royal Roads University.
7. Sociable and fun city
Victoria is leading artistic, cultural and historic centre, it’s home to many annual festivals, it has museums, golf clubs, yacht clubs, marinas, fitness centres, ice rinks, tennis courts, stadiums, arenas, a car race track and a horse racing track – proving you’ll never be bored living in Victoria. Victoria has the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, second only to San Francisco.
There are over 70 city parks including Beacon Hill Park which boasts vistas across the Juan de Fuca Strait. Beacon Hill Park is also home to the Mile “0” marker for the 8,000 kilometer Trans-Canada Trail. Victoria’s Inner Harbour – the heart of the city – is simply stunning. It’s flanked by historic buildings and sees all sorts of boat and floatplane activity on the water.
8. Best place for cycling
If you are a devoted cyclist or just enjoy cycling with your kids at the weekend, living in Victoria can provide you with incredible cycling opportunities. Victoria is the Cycling Capital of Canada – and for good reason. It boasts an extensive system of bicycle paths; in fact you can cycle from the ferry in Schwartz Bay on a bike path all the way to downtown Victoria. Then you can continue on into Sooke too. Plus it’s easy to make your way by bike to the Gulf Islands or to the Cowichan Valley area.
9. Easy to travel
You can get to Victoria via ferry (and a drive from the ferry terminal) from Vancouver and Nanaimo. There are ferries from Washington State too – including ones that do a Victoria – Port Angeles run and a Sidney to Anacortes ferry. Float planes come from all over, including regular scheduled flights from downtown Vancouver. And of course there is an international airport that is particularly easy to fly in and out of.
10. Best place for diving
Those living in Victoria can enjoy fantastic snorkelling and diving. National Geographic designated Victoria as one of the best cold-water diving destinations for its marine diversity and water clarity. In fact, the renowned Jacques Cousteau Society considers it the second best region, only behind the Red Sea.
As you can see Victoria has it all. It’s easy to understand why people living in Victoria are so proud of their city and why it is such an attraction for both Canadians and expats not merely as a tourist destination but as a great place to live and raise a family too. If you are thinking about living in Canada and you’re wondering where best to locate yourself, take a closer look at Victoria and see whether it’s the sort of location that you could happily call home.