Why the Okanagan is Cooler than Vancouver…and Cheaper!

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Usually when we think about a place to live, we have to consider trade offs between amenities, attractions, entertainment and the cost of living.  Not so if you are looking to relocate to the Okanagan in British Columbia Canada.

My name is Michael Huber and I moved to the Okanagan in the dead of winter 2014.  Minus 60 (with windchill) was the temperature in Regina on the day I drove out.  When I arrived in the Okanagan, the temperature here was barely below zero.

During the 6 years I’ve lived here, I’ve become more accustomed to the relaxed pace of life but also immersed in a wide variety of big city-esque attractions.  There is a even a top notch professional Symphony Orchestra, Opera Society and Scottish Country Dancers. Seriously.

I can’t pick one thing that stands out above others when people ask me why I love living here.  But here are a few of my favourite things…

Every season has advantages and activities.

Since arriving here in 2014, I’ve skied well over 100 days at Big White, Silver Star, White Water, Apex and Salmo. The BC Interior is full of sweet ski destinations. Season pass holders can get discounts throughout the region.

The Okanagan community is small enough that amongst the ranks of my local business mentoring group there is a former national ski coach with whom I get to cruise slopes. My skills are improving fast.

I drink beer at fantastic craft breweries. Red Bird, Kettle, Tree, BNA, Bad Tattoo, Cannery, Vice and Virtue all come to mind.

On top of that hoppy wonderous-ness, you can coast up and down the valley and take in 185 licensed wineries. Calona Vineyards (Sandhill) was the first in 1932 and now the valley hosts 8,830 planted acres. We won’t run out of wine.

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In the spring, the hills are alive with colour and the scents of lilac, lavender and balsam root. Native plants thrive here and are used as medicine and food source. I plant my garden in this region that is warmer and more arid than Napa Valley, California and watch the landscape become green and alive. Free veggies from May until February.

Speaking of food, Okanagan cities and towns all host friendly Farmers’ Markets. Come out for locally sourced crafts, art, music, meats, veggies and community. As well, in most locations, Community Supported Agriculture businesses like Urban Harvest in Kelowna deliver fresh produce, dairy and other goodies right to your front door, year round.

In the summer, enjoy access to a few hundred kilometres of Okanagan Lake beach, over 40 golf courses, boating, hiking, biking, rock climbing and endless camping.

Award winning coffee, local bookshops, yoga galore, sound healing, plant medicine ceremonies, silent meditation retreats, sunny patios, organic ice cream, Italian gelato, German schnitzel, Indian curry, Japanese sushi, Los Jarros Mexican, Turkish tea and…Ogopogo.

Bernard Avenue is full patio this year. COVID is driving us outdoors so we’ll make do as best we can 🙂 I think transforming south Bernard into a no-car patio district will, at least temporarily, be a welcome destination where we can meet, mingle, eat and drink.

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Music scene…check! The Okanagan is a hotbed of house concert activity. What’s a house concert? They’re not super common in other parts of Canada but here’s the gist. Homeowner hosts a musician in their home and invites guests to attend the show (each donating a suggested $20 for the entertainment). Usually it’s BYOB and some food is served. The listening environment provides an opportunity for the musician to share stories and music while guests enjoy a world-class “unplugged intimate and interactive”. After the show, these gigs often turn into open mic events ensuring that the show goes on while the guests mix and mingle.

Okanagan VS. Vancouver Real Estate Cost Comparison

The benchmark price for the Central Okanagan in May was $685,900 for Single Family Homes.

The benchmark price for apartments in Metro Vancouver was $685,500!

If you are living in a shoebox in Vancouver and are looking for some space to breathe outside of the hussle and bussle of the metropolis, think about the Okanagan.

An even bigger shocker comes when you see the difference in Single Family Homes between Metro Van and the Okanagan.

$1,456,700 vs. $685,900

That’s basically a decent sized retirement fund worth of difference.

Thanks to über pro realtor Jared Franczak for providing these Real Estate Board of Metro Vancouver and Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board stats.

If you want to learn about Kelowna, check out 150 Local Things To Do In Kelowna by Sarah at Navigator Multimedia

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