I once read a statistic that eleven percent of Canadians want to move to Victoria. While I never could track down that statistic again, it made sense to me. I’ve met SO many people who took just one holiday in our beautiful city, and that cinched their decision to move here.
In my case, I was on a long-distance bike trip with my good friend Anthony Hanmer. I wanted to stop in Sidney to get reacquainted with my mom, and he agreed. We visited, explored the area and enjoyed her hospitality for several weeks. He carried on, and he now lives in Georgia. (The Country, not the US State) … I decided to stay in Victoria.
My wife resided in Calgary. While attending university, she decided to take a summer break and take her vacation on the Island. That one trip was all it took! She spent the next couple of years plotting her move, and she finally made it out. (Lucky me!)
There is no doubt about it. Victoria, with its numerous attractions and quality of life, is a highly sought-after destination for people from every walk of life. Our city promises a remarkable living experience difficult to match globally.
Victoria's allure is its exceptional climate. We have a cool-summer Mediterranean climate zone, and the city enjoys dry summers and mild winters. Did you know Victoria experiences temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) for less than one day per year and below −2 °C (28 °F) for only six nights annually? That’s unheard of anywhere else in Canada. Flowers bloom early in the year here while the rest of the country is still buried under snow.
Victoria offers plenty of employment opportunities and a stable economy that attracts individuals in search of employment. Job prospects include tourism, government, and tech sectors.
Tourism took a massive hit the world over during Covid. Victoria’s pre-Covid tourism industry generated $2.3 billion annually, $1.4 billion in new revenue from visitors each year, which translated to nearly 40 per cent of working Greater Victorians directly or indirectly linked to the tourism industry for employment. Tourism is on the rebound. I don’t know the current numbers, but I’ll be tracking and reporting on them.
CFB Esquimalt, our Canadian Forces base, supports a multitude of trades, including naval operations, engineering, logistics, and maintenance. The base is a vital training center, fostering skill development and professional growth for military personnel. CFB
Moving to Victoria for educational purposes is more common than you might think. The city provides ample choices for both children and adults. A few of these excellent learning centers include:
Pearson College UWC
This prestigious international residential college is one of the United World Colleges, a global network of schools fostering peace, sustainability, and cross-cultural understanding. Pearson College offers a unique two-year pre-university program for students aged 16 to 19 years old, emphasizing experiential learning, community service, and intercultural exchange.
University of Victoria
UVic ranks among the top universities in Canada. It is recognized for its research strength in fields such as environmental studies, business, computer science, and humanities. The university's partnerships with international institutions, research collaborations, and the diverse backgrounds of its faculty and students has helped to contribute to its growing global reputation and Victoria on the world map.
This campus is located at Hatley Park National Historic Site in Colwood. It specializes in providing innovative and flexible programs designed for working professionals seeking to advance their careers. Royal Roads offers a range of graduate degrees, undergraduate programs, and professional development courses. The university blends online learning with short on-campus residencies, allowing students to balance their studies with their work commitments.
This college offers a wide range of programs to over 20,000 students. With two campuses and a supportive learning environment, it provides quality education in business, health sciences, trades, and creative arts. The college emphasizes practical skills through hands-on training, industry partnerships, and modern facilities.
Access to healthcare is another appealing aspect of Victoria. Though it is difficult to find a family doctor here (as it is everywhere in Canada), individuals facing health crises or chronic diseases often choose to move to Victoria to access specialized care and facilities.
BC Cancer Agency and the Vancouver Island Cancer Centre are excellent examples. These institutions are centers of collaborative efforts between top medical professionals, researchers, clinicians, and patients which has resulted in significant advancements in early detection, precision medicine, and improved patient outcomes.
Retirement in Victoria
The city's reputation for a high quality of life, pleasant climate, and a wide range of amenities attracts retirees from across Canada and beyond. Even though the price of housing has risen dramatically over the last decade, the allure of Victoria as a retirement destination is evident. As Retire in Victoria puts it, “Victoria is the California of Canada!”
Victoria boasts vibrant neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm. Notable neighborhoods with a distinct "vibe" include:
Downtown Victoria (DT):
The heart of the city, DT features a mix of historical landmarks, shopping districts, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It's a bustling area with a vibrant nightlife and proximity to the Inner Harbour.
Just south of Downtown, James Bay is a picturesque neighborhood with historic architecture, scenic coastal views, and proximity to popular attractions like the Parliament Buildings and Fisherman's Wharf.
A highly sought-after neighborhood with tree-lined streets, charming character homes, and access to beautiful parks such as Beacon Hill Park. It offers a mix of residential tranquility and convenient amenities.
Considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods showcasing a blend of elegant homes, well-manicured gardens, and a sophisticated ambiance. Here you’ll find boutique shopping, upscale dining options, and stunning waterfront properties.
A diverse and eclectic neighborhood known for its artistic vibe, community-mindedness, and vibrant local businesses. It offers a mix of heritage homes, independent shops, galleries, and cozy cafes.
A historic neighborhood with an affluent feel, Rockland boasts grand heritage mansions, beautiful gardens, and tree-lined streets. It's home to several heritage sites, including Craigdarroch Castle.
Cook Street Village:
Located near Beacon Hill Park (Victoria’s “front yard”), this neighbourhood is known for its charming village atmosphere, local shops, cafes, and a weekly farmers market. It offers a laid-back lifestyle with easy access to outdoor activities.
The oldest in Canada with a rich cultural experience, vibrant shops, restaurants, and historical sites. This neighborhood blends Asian influences and Victorian architecture.
This up-and-coming neighborhood situated just north of Downtown is undergoing revitalization. It offers a mix of residential and commercial spaces, including shopping centers, restaurants, and residential towers.
Located west of Downtown, Esquimalt features stunning waterfront views, parks, and a strong sense of community. It offers a mix of residential areas, marinas, and access to recreational activities along the Gorge Waterway.
These neighbourhoods create the vibrant, multicultural tapestry of Victoria. (If you feel I've missed YOUR neighbourhood, tell me about it and I'll include it in the next update!)
With Everything Going for Victoria, Why Aren't More People Moving Here?
While our city has numerous attractive qualities, several factors may contribute to people choosing NOT to move here.
High cost of living:
Victoria is known for its relatively high cost of living, including housing prices, rental rates, and daily expenses. This can make it less affordable for some individuals and families to relocate to the city. Stats Canada data from 2021-2022 reported more than 28,000 people migrated from B.C. to Alberta, the highest total in the past two decades, largely due to affordability issues according to Vancouver Island News.
Many financial institutions commonly recommended guideline is the 50/30/20 budgeting rule: 50% of income allocated to housing (rent/mortgage), utilities, groceries, transportation, and insurance; 30% of income for discretionary spending; and 20% of income for savings, debt repayment and retirement. That's a good, life-balanced ratio to aim at, but it's a tough ratio to meet for most families in Victoria.
Price of Homes:
The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single-family home in the Victoria Core in May 2023 was $1,297,600. For a condominium it was $569,300. Woosh! Victoria's home prices are not the highest in Canada, but they are up there! The Housing Affordability Index (HAI) measures how easily the average household can afford a typical home in a specific area, based on income, home prices, and mortgage rates. When police officers, nurses and government workers can no longer afford to live in a city, that's a big challenge. Check out Victoria Real Estate Board's recent stats for more info.
Low Vacancy Rates:
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) 2022 rental report, vacancy rates among purpose-built rental market and apartment buildings rose to 1.5 per cent, but condominium vacancy rates sit at around o.2 per cent. This low rate drives up demand and thus rental rates across the capital.
Limited job opportunities:
Didn't we just say there are great job opportunities in BC's Capital? While Victoria has a thriving job market in certain sectors such as technology, tourism, and government, there are fewer opportunities compared to larger cities like Vancouver or Toronto; especially for young people just starting out in their careers.
We're on an Island. Islanders LOVE that! But some don't enjoy having to travel by ferry or airplane to get to the mainland. It's tougher to access other cities and international travel hubs.
I know it sounds crazy, but some people prefer more extreme seasons. I admit, I too occasionally miss winter activities in the winter, but when the rain gets me down, I remember I need only drive a few hours up to Mount Washington to get my fill.
Is Moving to Victoria Worth It? You Bet!
Whatever your reason, be it family ties, the climate, career prospects, educational opportunities, healthcare accessibility or retirement aspirations, moving to Victoria IS worth it. Despite the challenges those seeking the Island Life face, once you make it out here and get established, you're not likely to leave anytime soon!
Are you planning a move to Victoria? We recommend Hendra’s Moving and Storage as an excellent, family based moving company. They have a variety of helpful articles on moving, including “Switching Provinces with Your Car.”