Vancouver Island is located off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. It is a large island of 31,285 square kilometres and is known for its amazing natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle. The largest city on the Island – and actually the capital city of British Columbia – is Victoria, a city of over 92,000 people, located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
Many people considering moving to the Island, or BC in general, might wonder: what are the pros and cons of living in Victoria, BC? Well, if you’re looking for a beautiful place to live that is surrounded by natural beauty, has safe and family-friendly communities, and is known for a laid-back lifestyle, Victoria is a great choice! There are, however, a few cons as well such as the cost of living and distance from the Mainland, which makes travel challenging.
Let’s review these pros and cons further in-depth so that you can understand what living in Victoria, BC would be like.
Pros of living in Victoria
1. Beautiful natural surroundings
The first major pro of living in Victoria, BC is the absolutely gorgeous surroundings of the city. It is located on the southern coast of Vancouver Island and looks out across the Pacific Ocean to Washington, USA. There are sweeping ocean views from many parts of the city, and the downtown core is set on a picturesque marina.
Just outside of Victoria is access to many of the wonderful natural features of Vancouver Island, including forests, lakes, the ocean, and mountains. There are many options for active recreation year-round and a great place to immerse in an outdoor lifestyle.
2. Good job opportunities
There are a number of excellent job opportunities in Victoria that make it a desirable place to live. One high-demand industry is the Provincial Government, as the BC Parliament buildings are located in Victoria. If you are interested in a career in the public service, Victoria has a lot of job opportunities.
The tourism industry is also a big employer in Victoria; there are over 60,000 tourism jobs across the entire Island. Because of its close proximity to the Mainland relative to other parts of Vancouver Island, Victoria is a top tourist destination and attracts over four million visitors a year. Therefore, there are many jobs to be had in the city in this industry.
3. Little traffic and easy to commute
Victoria may be the largest city on the Island, but it is still relatively small and nowhere near larger cities in Canada like Vancouver or Toronto in terms of traffic and long commutes. Therefore, it is relatively easy and comfortable to drive in and around the city, making commutes to work or school stress-free.
4. Great cultural activities and attractions
As the capital city of BC, there are a number of famous cultural attractions that make Victoria a wonderful place to live. Top attractions include the Royal BC Museum, which has amazing historical and present-day culture exhibitions, and the BC Parliament Buildings, where the Legislative Assembly of BC is held and is open for tours.
Other top attractions include the Craigdarroch Castle (a historical Victorian mansion), the Butchart Gardens (large and beautiful botanical gardens), and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
5. Safe communities
Victoria is a very safe, family-friendly city. This study shows a low crime index and that most people who were polled have low or moderate perceptions of crime and danger in the city. As with most places in BC and even Canada, it is generally safe to walk around the city at all times during the day or night, though caution should be exercised in certain areas.
3. Good weather
Victoria enjoys a mild climate and moderate weather year-round. There are over eight months a year that is frost-free, and it rarely snows in the city. Data shows that there is an average of 2,193 hours of sunshine every year and only 58.3cm of rainfall annually, compared to a whopping 146cm in Vancouver each year.
Cons of living in Victoria
The biggest con of living in Victoria is the cost of living. Like the rest of BC, Victoria is a fairly expensive city to live in and likely the most expensive city on the Island. This cost-of-living comparison tool shows that consumer prices for items like food, gas, or groceries are more expensive than they are in Vancouver.
However, the cost to own or rent in Victoria is lower than in Vancouver. Still, according to recent statistics, purchasing a house in Victoria is, on average, more than $1 million
2. More challenging to travel
While traveling in and around Victoria is easy due to low traffic, it can be more challenging to travel both to the Mainland and internationally. Many people who live in Victoria and on the Island will need to go to Vancouver for larger shopping trips or specialist appointments, and so will have to take the ferry. This is both time-consuming and expensive.
International travel can also be more challenging from Victoria. While there is an international airport in the city, prices are usually higher to fly in and out of it and there are fewer options overall. So, many people will fly out of the Vancouver International Airport which requires a ferry trip or layover, adding time and expense to the trip.
3. Fewer restaurants, entertainment options
Though Victoria is the largest city on Vancouver Island and certainly has its fair share of things to do and see, it still is not the large, cosmopolitan city that some people might like. The downtown area is very walkable and residents will become accustomed to the limited restaurants, shops, and entertainment that are available.
While most people will be satisfied with the selection of things to do, it should not be considered the same as a larger city that offers endless options of places to eat or things to see.
4. Lots of tourists
Because of the natural beauty and many cultural attractions, Victoria is a very busy city with tourists visiting year-round, but especially during the summer months. As of this 2019 study, there were more than four million overnight visitors each year. This means that the downtown core, especially, can be busy with tour groups arriving from the Mainland, which might be disruptive to some residents.
Victoria, BC is a beautiful city with great natural beauty, family-friendly neighbourhoods, and great weather. However, there are some cons, too, such as the high cost of living, a large number of tourists, and distance from the Mainland for more challenging travel.
If you are considering moving to Victoria, take note of these pros and cons in your decision-making. Overall, Victoria is definitely worth a visit and should be considered as somewhere to live in British Columbia!