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The Cheapest Places to Live on Vancouver Island

Written by Jessica Steer
Throughout British Columbia, there are plenty of gorgeous places to live. One of the most popular destinations is Vancouver Island. One of the main reasons for this is its mild climate and warmer temperatures year round. Even though it's close to Vancouver, Vancouver has much more rain than Vancouver Island.
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    There are also a ton of outdoor activities on the island, it has a much slower vibe than the city and there is tons of nature around.

    One of the drawbacks to living on Vancouver Island though, is the cost of living. It's one of the more expensive areas to live in British Columbia. That said, there are some places that cost much less than others. Let's take a look at those.

    Cheapest Places to Rent on Vancouver Island

    Throughout Vancouver Island, there are plenty of places that are cheaper to live than just the large cities. There are plenty of small towns and small cities that not only provide work to those that live there, but have a cost of living that is much more affordable.


    Duncan is a small town on the island with a population of around 5.000 people. Because the population is so much smaller, they also have relatively low housing costs. The average cost to purchase a home is only around $300,000 and the average rent costs around $975 per month for a one bedroom apartment.

    One thing that attracts people to the  small city of Duncan is the sense of community. The residents there also live a slower pace of life than those in the city. That said, Duncan isn't too far away from the major cities either. It's roughly a 45 minute drive to Nanaimo and a 55 minute drive to Victoria.

    Cowichan Lake

    In Lake Cowichan, the rental prices are slightly higher than those in Duncan even though it's only 27 km away. The cost per month for a one bedroom apartment averages around $1,274 per month. The average cost to purchase a home is around $600,000.

    The cost of living isn't the only reason that people choose to live in Lake Cowichan though. Many like it because of the weather. Because of its placement on the island, it's protected from the winds. It also has warm summers and mild winters. On top of that, they also have some of the best hiking, camping and fishing.


    In Ladysmith the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is around $950 per month. The average cost to purchase a home is around $450,000. Its location is on the 49th parallel north on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

    A perk of living in Ladysmith is that it's close to the water. It has plenty of beaches to enjoy in the summer. Because of the mild weather here, there are plenty of outdoor activities that are available year round including hiking and golfing.

    Even though Ladysmith is a small town, that doesn't mean you can't make your way to the city from there if you choose to. It's roughly 1 hour and 18 minutes by car from Victoria, but it's only 25 minutes from Nanaimo.

    Port Alberni

    If you are looking for a town to move to on the Island, then Port Alberni is a good choice. The average rent for a 1 bedroom is $1,350 per month and they have a very low cost of living that is around 20% lower than the rest of BC. It's also a relatively small town with a population of around 21,000 people.

    Port Alberni is located within the Alberni Valley at the head of the Alberni Inlet. It's best known for its world class fishing and is known as the salmon capital of the world. The two types of fish people travel there to get are salmon and halibut.

    Another plus about living in Port Alberni is its location. It is known as the heart of Vancouver Island for its location near the center of the Island. From here, you can travel wherever you want all over the Island, or you can stay nearby and experience everything that Port Alberni has to offer.

    Cheapest Places to Live for Families

    When it comes to raising a family, Vancouver Island is a good choice. There are plenty of places that are a great environment for kids to grow up. Here are some of the best that offer a lower cost of living.


    Parksville is another place on the Island that offers very affordable housing options.. The average rental cost for a one bedroom apartment is between $1,500 - $1,700 per month. The average cost of living for a single person is around $3,000 per month. The average cost to purchase a home is around $650,000. As you can see, it's slightly more expensive to live here than some of the other towns we mentioned above. That said, it's a great place to raise a family.

    In Parksville, there are some great public schools. Not only that, they also have recreation centers, and are involved in arts and culture. There are tons of family friendly events put on every year and it offers a safe, clean environment to live in. It's also close to the water which is perfect for taking your family to the beach in the summertime.

    Qualicum Beach

    Qualicum Beach is another affordable city for families to live in on Vancouver Island. The average price for a one bedroom apartment is $1,300 per month, and the average house prices are around $500,000. It's also really close to Parksville being that it's only 13.7km away.

    Qualicum Beach is just a quiet little town that is close to Nanaimo, but still remote enough to provide a quiet environment to raise a family. There are lots of activities, outdoor adventures and beaches close by which is perfect for family activities. They even have some really great public schools.

    Campbell River

    Campbell River is another one of the affordable cities for families on Vancouver Island. It's located on the east coast of the Island at the south end of the discovery passage. One of the reasons that Campbell River is so popular for young families is because of its distance from the big city. It's 156.8 km from Nanaimo and 266.2 km from Victoria.

    For a single person to live in Campbell River, the average cost of living is $3,200 per month. The average cost to purchase a home is between $600,000 and $700,000. Another reason that families choose to live here is because of the environment. It's a rural coastal community which provides a quieter way of life and provides more indoor and outdoor space for the residents.

    Best Places to Live

    Throughout the Island, there are so many gorgeous places to live and explore. If we take cost out of the equation and take a look at some of the best places to live overall, there are quite a few places we can look at. Even if you can't move to these places though, they are fantastic to visit and offer some amazing activities for tourists as well.


    Nanaimo is a city located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, it also houses one of the ferry ports. Throughout the city, it's full of historical places including the Nanaimo Museum. This museum is full of exhibits that feature the city's industries as well as their indigenous peoples.

    Nanaimo also hosts frequent community events that are not only family friendly, but many of them pay tribute to the city's different cultures and embrace its history. Besides the local events, it's also home to many different small local businesses that boost the local economy and close to outdoor activities and green space for outdoor enthusiasts.

    When it comes to living in Nanaimo, it can be a bit more expensive than other parts of the Island. The average real estate prices for single family dwellings sits around $750,000.  The average rental prices are $1,600 per month for a one bedroom apartment. You are living city life, even though it's quite close to more rural communities.


    Sooke is another place on Vancouver Island that is considered one of the best places to live in. It's a community that is known for being vibrant and welcoming. They are also very close to nature, but just a short drive from Victoria with a distance of 38 km. Their town motto is actually, “Where the Rainforest meets the Sea”.

    Another great thing about Sooke is that the city boasts about the community, they are community focused. They want to give their residents affordable housing and strive to make it a great place to live and raise a family. They offer plenty of opportunities for community involvement as well as a terrific arts and culture scene.


    Langford is another city that's located on southern Vancouver Island. It's a family oriented community that prides itself on being one of the best places to live and work in BC. The average income here for a household is $93,000 and the median after tax household income sits around $82,000.

    Langford offers access to many outdoor activities including:

    • Hiking trails
    • Mountain biking trails
    • Walking trails

    There are also plenty of lakes in this area to utilize. Most notably, there is the Galloping Goose Trail. This trail is a former railway line connecting Victoria and Sooke that just happens to go right through Langford.

    Best Places to Live for Seniors

    When it comes to choosing a place to retire, there are few things to consider. First, is the cost. After that people consider the way of life that they want to live. Putting these two things together will help to decide which is the best place for them to live. Let's take a look at a few of the most popular places on Vancouver Island.


    The most popular place on Vancouver Island for retirement is Victoria. While the cost of living is higher than smaller towns, they have a great healthcare system, a warm climate and a low crime rate. Victoria is actually considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in all of Canada. A lot of this has to do with the mild temperatures making it a perfect growing climate, sometimes referred to as the city of gardens which makes sense with all of the natural beauty around.

    While the cost of living in Victoria is higher than the rest of the Island, it is cheaper than some places in the lower mainland or Vancouver, but still offers all of the amenities. The average cost to rent a one bedroom apartment is around $1,900 per month and the average home price is $870,000. It's a way to live in the city with more affordable housing prices compared to those in Vancouver or Toronto.


    Another desirable place to retire is Comox. It's actually considered to be one of the most desirable places in Canada. It has a mild climate, year round recreation and is located right on the Pacific Ocean. It's also a very peaceful, safe place to live. It offers winter sports like skiing, as well as summer sports.

    The cost of living in Comox is actually relatively low at $3,100 per month for a single person. The cost to purchase a home is only between $400,000 and $500,000 making it one of the most affordable cities to retire in, as well as provide one of the more laid back lifestyles.


    Not surprisingly, Courtenay is another great choice to retire. This is because it's actually located in the Comox Valley. This means that it provides the same laid back lifestyle while being affordable at the same time. The upside with Courtenay is that its population sits around 28,000, while the population of Comox is around 40,000.

    The average cost of living in Courtenay is around $3,000 per month. The average price to purchase a home here is around $450,000. This makes it another affordable place to retire, if not the most affordable city on the Island. It's at least one of them that's for sure.

    Moving to Vancouver Island

    Climate wise, Vancouver Island is one the warmest and most beautiful places to live in Canada. No matter where you choose to live here, you have the freedom to pick between a more rural lifestyle or live in the big city. The fact that you need to take a ferry to reach Vancouver Island is another thing that people love about living here. Not only does it make traveling peaceful, but it helps to create the atmosphere of living on the Island.

    Besides the gorgeous weather and different lifestyle choices, some people choose to live here because there is opportunity for work and/or it's more affordable. Over the whole Island, the average cost of purchasing a home is $875,000. That said, we know that there are places you can purchase a home for around $400,000. The average salary here is around $72,000 per year with the starting salary averaging around $47,000. This is more affordable than places like Vancouver, and allows people to save for a minimum down payment faster and even potentially purchase their first home sooner.

    Even though Victoria is a great place to retire, it's also a family friendly city. There are plenty of activities as well as more affordable neighbourhoods that are great from raising a family.

    Where Most People Live on the Island

    Not surprisingly, a good portion of the population that lives on Vancouver Island is located in the same spot. Over half of the population is located on the southern tip of the Island, the metropolitan area of greater Victoria. This does include Victoria itself. The rest is scattered all throughout the rest of the Island.

    The Prettiest City on Vancouver Island

    The prettiest city located on Vancouver Island is Tofino. It's also a very popular destination for tourists. It's surrounded by wild natural scenery, lakes, inlets and ancient rainforests. It has tons of sandy beaches. It has a relatively small population of under 2,000 people, but its local economy mainly surrounds the tourism sector since they get over 600,000 visitors per year.

    The cost of living in Tofino is relatively low as well. The cost of renting a one bedroom apartment is around $1,200 per month and a two bedroom apartment is around $1,500 per month. The housing prices are a bit higher with the median housing prices sitting at $600,000. This has a lot to do with the abundance of natural beauty surrounding the area.


    When it comes to deciding on a place to live, there are so many different factors to consider. Are there any jobs available? Is the cost of living affordable? Is housing affordable? Does it fit your lifestyle? Do you need to commute anywhere? And if you are looking to move your family then there are even more things to consider such as family friendly neighbourhoods and good school districts.

    Throughout Vancouver Island, there are plenty of different affordable places that fit all different lifestyles. The distance to the city all depends on which one you choose. Some are just a shot drive away while others can take a few hours to get there if not longer. The thing about Vancouver Island though, is that since it's one of the most gorgeous places to live, while there are some drawbacks, if you are looking for a quieter and more secluded lifestyle, then it may be the place for you.

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