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Old 01-05-2012, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Temporarily in Niagara Falls, Ont. Canada
167 posts, read 716,545 times
Reputation: 139

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Hey everyone! I've spend hundreds of hours over the last two years reading up on all sorts of cities in Canada, the US and recently in Australia but now I'm more confused than ever! Information overload maybe? I'm looking to get away from long, cold snowy winters and short, hot summers. Currently I'm stuck in Barrie, Ontario which gets lots of lake effect snow during its long cold winters. And the summers are short and hot. I am NOT a winter person at all and I don't really like scorching hot weather, but I'll take it over cold weather. Warm, rather than hot, is what I like, and year round would be ideal. Since immigrating to another country is not quick or practical, I'll keep that in mind for long term living further down the road. Short vacations to the US are possible, and easier from BC. But for immediate gratification, I can move somewhere warmer within Canada. I'm thinking of:

- Victoria, BC: short, mild winters, virtually no snow, but cooler summers. Better than scorching hot though. Would be a nice change of scenery though. I hear it's more laid back and slow paced. I'm thinking I'd enjoy an older mature neighbourhood in the downtown area. Or maybe outside of the city in a semi-rural area, but not a cookie cutter suburban neighbourhood. Victoria seems to be a bit more urban and less car-dependent if living in the city. Obviously if I was outside the city in a semi-rural area I'd be car dependent. But on the flip side, it's nice to just get away from it all.

- Nanaimo, BC: I hear it's similar to Victoria for weather, which is good. Summers are a bit cooler than I'd like, but at least not scorching hot. Both Nanaimo and Victoria seem to be fairly dry, but that makes for dry, brown lawns, etc. Not too appealing. Nanaimo is more affordable than Victoria and smaller, so maybe even more laid back and slower paced? Though I hear it's becoming a typical sprawling suburban city. I'm trying to get away from that. Though the mountains and more mild temperature would help offset that. Close to Victoria for an occasional trip, but not on a daily basis. Cost of renting or buying is lower than Victoria and I know someone who could help me get into a rent-to-own house in Nanaimo for between $1400-$2000 a month. A bit steep, but at least it's going towards home ownership, and prices have come down based on what they were a few years ago.

- Duncan BC: Just recently started considering it. Between Nanaimo and Victoria, but within a reasonable driving distance of Victoria. Lower cost of housing (whether renting or buying) but maybe a bit too small? Perhaps lacking in bigger city amenities?

- Kelowna, BC: I've lived there for just under a year in 2007-2008. Nice, but a bit too similar to Barrie for my liking (sprawling suburb in the middle of nowhere and it still gets snow in the somewhat shorter winter, though not as much and the summers are still hot). Not much middle class - either low income or upper class. I grew up middle class, so not sure I'd fit in unless I move my way up. Also a dry area, so lots of brown dryness, but the mountains make it different and nicer looking. Seems very busy with traffic and very car dependent. Some very nice neighbourhoods though, including gated communities as you get north of the city. A bit cookie cutter-ish but I found them appealing. But, an expensive place to live.

Lower Mainland: I've lived there before, 1991-1995. I hear it's changed, people seem less friendly. Even when I lived there, I never felt accepted, like I was an outsider, anther transplant from Ontario. But, I like the West Coast feel and vibe. The constant drizzle can get annoying but makes for lush green lawns and vegetation. Lots of amenities and opportunities for work. Short, mild winters, though I know from experience the summers are a bit on the cool side. But, I'd rather have that than scorching hot summers.

So, none of those places are perfect. But all are contenders. I'm 39, so arguably about half way through life. I've spent most of my life in Ontario and and am soooo ready for a change of scenery and change of pace. I like Montreal and the suburbs (lived there too, became fluent in French, but still gets cold snowy winters and short hot summers). So, if I had to pick a place in Canada, it's going to be in BC. I'm a single gay male, hoping to meet someone when I move. BC seems more open minded, alternative and gay-friendly than Ontario, and even Quebec. I'm not into partying, drinking or drugs, though people may think I am based on my appearance (long hair, beard, earrings and a few tattoos).

Although I have an old college diploma in Business Administration - Marketing, it never got me anything and is so out of date now, probably useless. I've been stuck doing unskilled or semi-skilled jobs. Currently I drive a school bus part time. Very low pay, but perhaps a stepping stone to working with BC Transit in Victoria? Much better pay that I could live on. I also work part time from home doing websites and Internet Marketing, but have not built it up to something I can live on. If I really work hard, I could probably build it up to a nice income and be home based, so I can work from anywhere with my laptop and an Internet connection.

Regardless of where I move, I'd probably look for a short term rental. I need about 6 months to sell off most of my stuff to make the move easier and to raise some money for the move. I'd like to get a house on a rent-to-own basis eventually, but would rather not jump into it right away until I know the cities and neighbourhoods better. So, I guess better to waste some money on rent for a few months or even a year to get used to the area. I've got a 30 pound dog who is very well behaved and quiet (Boston Terrier/Boxer mix) but that cuts me out of a whole bunch of rentals that do not allow pets. Maybe I really should go for a place on a rent to own basis? I could keep my dog there and not be wasting money on rent (well, at least not all of my money on rent).

Right now I'm stuck in Barrie, Ontario which is so NOT the right place for me. My elderly parents keep pressuring me to move back to be with them, but I can't take them or the city any more. Every time I move away, I'm so happy but they keep convincing me to move back (and they aren't willing to move). This time, I'm moving for good. And if they want to join me out west, they're welcome to it. Any tips, suggestions, etc for those cities mentioned above for a guy like me would be greatly appreciated, and let me know if I have the facts right or wrong please, thanks!
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:35 PM
 
Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
51 posts, read 130,418 times
Reputation: 108
Like you, I am a transplant from Ontario to BC. I live in Victoria and have checked out Nanaimo and the lower mainland. I wouldn't live in the Van area personally. This weekend past I had to go for work, and as I was on the ferry home, and the Island loomed up closer and closer, I began to relax and realized that my entire time in Vancouver I had been clenching my cheeks with stress and frustration!

Nanaimo is decent, but not much happening there as far as dining, shopping, nightlife, etc goes. Real estate is MUCH better than Victoria, but it's the trade-off you get.

I would stay away from Duncan at all costs. It's small enough to have no jobs, which means commuting over the single-lane Malahat every day to get to work in Victoria. The traffic at rush hour over this mountain is backed up for miles, and the money you'd save in rent would be offset by the $1.40/litre gas you'd be burning every day to get to and from work. Plus Duncan is a real hick town with a lot of rusting pick-up trucks and a fear of outsiders.

Sooke is a good choice for lower real estate. It's rainier than Victoria but within driving distance (there's even a bus route from downtown Vic to Sooke), and a lot of younger people are moving there, resulting in a real estate boom and a growing town.

Myself, I love Victoria. I love the Cook Street Village/Quadra Village area for it's old Victorian charm and how close everything is. You can find a decent 1-bedroom apartment for under $900 in this area (lots for between $750 and $850), which isn't too much different from Ontario prices. Victoria is just big enough to have a stable job market and lots of entertainment, plus it has to be the most beautiful city in Canada (I've seen almost all of them...that's why I chose Vic). I could never actually buy a house here, but that's why there's always Sooke when the time comes!
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:26 AM
 
Location: Vancouver
72 posts, read 242,850 times
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If you're going to move to BC, might as well move to the centre of the (BC) universe - Vancouver and the lower mainland. To address what you've mentioned about the lower mainland:

Yes, the area has changed a lot since 1995. More condos, a longer skytrain line, a more developed residential downtown core, and trendy neighbourhoods scattered around Vancouver. Less friendly? I don't think so, but I have heard people mention how it's difficult to meet new people in Vancouver. But, the good thing is, there are so many amenities and activities to participate in, I'm sure it would be easy to meet friends. And that's the biggest draw of the lower mainland - the fact that there are so many options and things to do. You can stay in town and enjoy the seawall, parks, beaches, and trendy neighbourhoods like Commercial Drive, Main Street, Yaletown, and Kits. You can go to Whistler in an hour and a half, cross the border to Seattle in 3 hours, or head to Kelowna in 5 hours. Living on the island would make it more difficult to access all these amenities and is more expensive to access too (I think the cost of the ferry ride from Victoria to Vancouver with a car is roughly $60-$70 one-way).

The biggest complaint about Vancouver is that it's expensive, and yes, it could be. If you choose to live in Downtown Vancouver, then rent is going to be about $1400/mo for a 1-bedroom condo. But, renting a basement suite in Vancouver city but outside downtown may be more like $700-900/mo. You may find more affordable housing options in surrounding suburbs like Burnaby, Port Moody, and Coquitlam. And, with the skytrain line and west coast express running into these neighbourhoods, you can access much of vancouver easily without the need for a car.

Similar to what atethepaint mentioned, real estate is much more affordable outside the lower mainland, but it's the trade-off you get.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:43 PM
 
364 posts, read 1,009,293 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustSomeGuy73 View Post
Both Nanaimo and Victoria seem to be fairly dry, but that makes for dry, brown lawns, etc.

This time, I'm moving for good. And if they want to join me out west, they're welcome to it. Any tips, suggestions, etc for those cities mentioned above for a guy like me would be greatly appreciated, and let me know if I have the facts right or wrong please, thanks!
Nanaimo and Victoria are dry??? Really??? Can anyone confirm this because it rained every single time I went to Vancouver or the Island! lol

What about Kamloops? It's not as sprawling as Kelowna, gets some snow but not a lot. It's hot in the summer, but it's a dry heat, not humid like Ontario summers. And it is cheaper than Kelowna.

I lived out in BC while my parents were back in Ontario and the thing about parents is they get old, start to have health problems and are unable to travel as far as BC. Honestly, I would make the best of where you are and enjoy having them around while you can.

BC is very expensive!
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Temporarily in Niagara Falls, Ont. Canada
167 posts, read 716,545 times
Reputation: 139
Thank you both of you for the feedback!

I'm thinking the Victoria area (or Sooke) is where I should go. I've lived in the Vancouver area for several years (albeit in the early to mid 1990s when I was in my early 20s). But at least I would more or less know the area. I'd live there again, but I remember it being very fast paced, crowded and expensive. But also has just about everything you need and decent public transit. I'm not into clubbing, and would kind of like to live in an area a bit more laid back.

I was kind of looking forward to Victoria - either in an established area downtown or in a smaller neighbourhood further out. I'm in training for a job that will let me work from home. All I need is a high speed internet connection and a land line for the phone. It won't be enough money to live on given the high living costs in Victoria and area, so I will either need to do other work (hopefully from home, self-employed), or work at a job in or near Victoria to supplement the income.

Just this week I've been looking into Sooke a lot more seriously. A bit more rain might be nice so that the lawns and trees don't look brown and dry, though I hope it's not as rainy as Vancouver. I may rent at first, but was thinking of a rent to own house. In Sooke, I might just be able to pull it off, though it would be close. In Victoria, I think owing or rent to own is out of my reach. But not in Sooke. Even still, I should probably rent first to get to know the area. On the other hand, I'd rather save the money that renting would cost and put it into buying a starter home.

It seems kind of scary buying a house (or renting accommodation) sight unseen. Especially since I've never been to the area, just going by what I've read online. I have a small dog (weighs 30 pounds, very clean, very quiet). But most people won't rent to anyone with pets, that's why I thought of rent to own, or if I can swing it, get a mortgage right away.

And I was hoping to save the money I would spend on a preliminary visit. I know I want to move away from where I am right now. I figure a 1 week visit with return trip airfare, a rent car, hotel and food would cost me $3000 to $4000. I just don't have that kind of money to put out - I'd rather save it for the actual rent or mortgage payment when I get there. That's why I've been trying to narrow this down as much as possible. I basically will drive there with my van and a trailer or get the movers to send my things later. I could stay at a motel for a few days, but ideally I want to be into permanent accommodations as soon as possible. Setting up a rental or rent to own place ahead of time seems to be the only way, but quite a leap of faith. Sometimes places can seem great online but are quite different in person. If I rent, hopefully I could find a month to month rental so it would be easy to leave with 30 days notice. I don't want a dump, so I should probably count on $700 to $1000 a month even outside of Victoria, or more inside Victoria.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Temporarily in Niagara Falls, Ont. Canada
167 posts, read 716,545 times
Reputation: 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luhts View Post
Nanaimo and Victoria are dry??? Really??? Can anyone confirm this because it rained every single time I went to Vancouver or the Island! lol

What about Kamloops? It's not as sprawling as Kelowna, gets some snow but not a lot. It's hot in the summer, but it's a dry heat, not humid like Ontario summers. And it is cheaper than Kelowna.

I lived out in BC while my parents were back in Ontario and the thing about parents is they get old, start to have health problems and are unable to travel as far as BC. Honestly, I would make the best of where you are and enjoy having them around while you can.

BC is very expensive!
Yes, BC is expensive. I'm preparing myself for that. Good incentive to raise my income, which I should have done long ago.

I've lived in the Vancouver area before, and know what to expect for weather if I were there. Even if Vancouver Island is rainy, I hear it's less rainy that the lower mainland. At least there won't be long, cold snow winters. That's what I want to avoid. I'll take rain over snow any day!

My parents are indeed getting old and with heath problems, though they tend to be very dramatic with it and make things sound worse than they are at time, while other times, they minimize things. Whatever works in their favour, lol! I can't stand living in Barrie. I agree, BC was too far, so I compromised and went back to Montreal, but even that was too far away. My parents agreed that we could all move to the Hamilton-Niagara region. Grimsby is a place my mother always wanted to live anyways. Not quite "my" dream city, but it was a compromise I could live with.

I have discovered that my parents change their minds very frequently and have no issues breaking promises. Once I moved to Barrie, which was supposed to be temporary while we relocated to the Hamilton-Niagara region, it became clear that they changed their minds and we were staying in Barrie after all. I was NOT happy about that and said that I did not agree to live in Barrie. We either all move to the Hamilton-Niagara area together or I'm going to BC. I don't like the Hamilton-Niagara area enough to choose to live there on my own. So, once I made it clear I was moving to BC, they suddenly started taking an interest in moving to Southern Ontario. We actually went looking at new and resale houses two weekends in a row. Then suddenly, and very quietly, they changed their minds again.

They want to stay in Barrie because it's easier. I refuse to stay in Barrie. I can't stand the 6 to 8 months of brutal winter weather, can't get a decent job and the city just has the wrong vibe for me. My parents frustrate the he!! out of me and don't appreciate the sacrifices I made for them. They also don't take me seriously. So, I'm at the point now where I am washing my hands of them. I may never see them again if I move to BC. Maybe they'll join me there if I move there, but I seriously doubt it. They'll probably stay in Barrie in a huge 2 story houses (they have trouble with stairs now, and it will only get worse). They can stick it out through the winters and do the maintenance on the house themselves. I don't care anymore.

I know that sounds cruel, but I've had it with them. It's time for me to live my life. I'm almost 40, so arguably half way through life. I'm not wasting any more time in Barrie, and if possible, not in Ontario. I've lost 10 years of my life in Barrie that I will never get back. I loved living in BC before (Vancouver and to a lesser extent, Kelowna). I loved living in Montreal and area, except for the winters (similar to Barrie, though without lake effect snow). I think I'll really enjoy Vancouver Island, or possibly being back in the lower mainland. But in my mind I'm already in Sooke and Victoria.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:30 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley
4,057 posts, read 9,104,743 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luhts View Post
Nanaimo and Victoria are dry??? Really??? Can anyone confirm this because it rained every single time I went to Vancouver or the Island! lol
I lived there 4 years and would never use the word dry to describe it. The island is a rainforest for goodness sake. To me it was wet, wet and more wet (add in lots of dismal grey), that's why I left. I'm someone who likes sun and enjoys feeling lots of warmth in the summer. I suppose my idea of warm is different than that of many others.

Some of my BC friends felt the urge to take a dip in the ocean (brrr!!!) when the temp climbed up to a balmy 68 . I'd watch them from the sideline with my jacket on.

The grass does get brown in the summer but that's because there is a short period (about 6 weeks, more if you're lucky) when the constant drizzle stops and the lawns dry up, but before you know it, everything is soggy and emerald green again.

Personally if I were the OP, I'd try White Rock, it's close to the big city with a small town feel and none of the hassle of taking ferries.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:56 PM
 
Location: BC Canada
831 posts, read 932,747 times
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Depends, do you want to be somewhat poor, very poor, completely destitute, or just plain live on the streets?
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Temporarily in Niagara Falls, Ont. Canada
167 posts, read 716,545 times
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I don't mind a bit of drizzle. It can't be any worse than Vancouver, and I lived there for 4 years. I got used to it. Never any major downpours like when I was in certain parts of Florida on vacation. I kind of like the rain to keep all of lawns and flowers well hydrated and looking good. It's a bit of a hassle to deal with the wetness all the time, but I'll be so happy not to deal with snow anymore - or at least, very little snow. No more long, cold snowy winters with lots of lake effect snow.

Different people like different things. I like the idea of a moderate temperature year round. Not too hot, not too cold. And a decent (but not excessive) amount of rain to keep the lawns looking green. As long as I don't get soaked all the time. I like being outdoors and I wouldn't look forward to walking my dog in heavy rain all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mooguy View Post
Depends, do you want to be somewhat poor, very poor, completely destitute, or just plain live on the streets?
Hmmm, which city would you consider leaving me poor, very poor, completely destitute or living on the streets? I'm guessing Vancouver would be the latter two. Although Victoria is no bargain, I think I can make it work in the outskirts where it's cheaper to rent (or own). I'm training for a job I can do from home, for a major Canadian company. I won't get rich off of it, but I should be able to pull in $1000 to $2000 a month PART TIME, depending how many hours I work. Theoretically, I could work even more and maybe have enough to live off of, but I want to keep it as a secondary source of income and work part time at it while working full time, or 25-30 hours a week at a better paying job if I can find one. If not, I can find other work from home income, self-employed. Just not as predictable.

I've heard White Rock is really nice, and it's right on the US boarder, which I like for easy day trips to the United States (something that's not feasible where I live now). I suppose if I decided to go back to the lower mainland, I could consider White Rock. But I kind of like the appeal of living on Vancouver Island, being off the beaten path, getting away from it all and the more laid back lifestyle. There's enough amenities in Victoria that I don't think I'd need to leave the island very often, if ever, unless I chose to.

The only things that worry me are income, although worst case, I could work 60 hours a week (obviously beyond full time!) from my at-home job and be able to have a decent place, decent food, though not much spare time. Hopefully I would not need to keep up those kinds of hours forever, but if I was short on cash, it's nice to know I have that option. Or in the worst case, go deliver pizzas if I'm really desperate for money. And of course, the rain. I want a bit of rain, but not daily downpours for hours on end. Vancouver style constant drizzle is OK, but I don't think Victoria gets it to the same extent.
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Verde Valley
4,057 posts, read 9,104,743 times
Reputation: 3424
Found on Google:

Vancouver - Average Annual Rainfall: 1219 mm
Vancouver averages 166 days per year with measurable precipitation, and 289 days with measurable sunshine. Nonetheless, from November until March, it is not uncommon for there to be 20 consecutive days with some amount of rain. The weather pattern known as the Pineapple Express often brings warm rainstorms in the winter.

Victoria Average Annual Rainfall: 1064 mm
Perhaps even more dramatic is the difference in rainfalls on Vancouver Island. Port Renfrew, just 80 km from Victoria on the wet southwest coast of Vancouver Island receives 3,671 mm (144.5 in). Even the Victoria Airport, 25 km (16 mi) north of the city, receives about 45 per cent more precipitation than the city proper.

Each site lists a different number for rainfall. I think Victoria is a little better than Vancouver, so is White Rock.
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