Pros and Cons of Living in Kelowna, British Columbia

Whether you’re just curious or planning on moving to the city, you’ll want to know everything about Kelowna. If the growing population is any indication, Kelowna is a fantastic city for many people. How do you know if it’s the city for you?

Kelowna is a city known for its local vineyards that produce delicious wine. It has excellent hiking trails for those who enjoy the outdoors. It is a small but growing city located in the southern area of British Columbia in Canada. Need to know more? We’ll go more in-depth in this article.

The History Of Kelowna

Kelowna Boardwalk
Kelowna Boardwalk

Kelowna is located on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, where settlers lived over 12,000 years ago. In 1859 came the first European settlement, and Kelowna began as a small city in 1905 with 600 people.

This city was named Kelowna because of a story about a settler named August Gillard. August Gillard was said to have crawled from an underground shelter when a group of people passed by. These locals cried out, “Kim-ach-touch,” which meant Brown Bear. This then evolved to Kelowna because it was easier to pronounce. Kelowna means Grizzly Bear.

The Overall Feel Of Kelowna

What’s Kelowna in a nutshell? A great mix of urban, suburban, and rural. Not to mention the weather and climate are great. However, the cost of living and the prices of homes are higher than in other cities and can be too expensive for some.

This city is also small. That, however, doesn’t stop tourists from visiting Kelowna. Its economy thrives partly because of tourism but, the number of tourists isn’t overwhelming enough for you to be uncomfortable. Kelowna also has several hiking trails and other exercise opportunities to stay active or enjoy the outdoors.

As for the food scene, Kelowna has some great wins, and its wineries are tourist hotspots. Although the cuisine isn’t as extensive because it is a small city, it still has many great options for those looking to try different cuisines.

What You Need To Know About Kelowna

Vineyard in Kelowna
Vineyard in Kelowna

There are 5 aspects of Kelowna you’ll need to know more about to make an informed decision. So, let’s discuss these in-depth, starting with the unemployment rate.

1. Unemployment Rate

The city’s unemployment rate has lowered to around 5.3, which signifies that Kelowna has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.

The rate lowered from 7.1% in February to 5.3% in March because companies began hiring again after the pandemic struck. However, this rate is the highest among the four communities within British Columbia.

2. Crime Rate

Unfortunately, Kelowna has a high crime rate compared to other cities in Canada, and it recently ranked 3rd on the national crime severity index list. However, the crimes committed are usually non-violent crimes.

These non-violent crimes pushed Kelowna up the list. The city is small so, according to an RCMP Police Corporal, one or two offenders who commit crimes such as theft from motor vehicles, shoplifting, and mischief can drastically affect Kelowna’s crime statistics. Despite the rank, the police continue to say that Kelowna is a safe place to stay.

3. Education

Kelowna’s educational system and school district otherwise known as the Central Okanagan School District is one of the largest and fastest-growing ones in British Columbia and Canada. There are over 40 elementary, middle, and high schools around the city, and these schools offer free early childhood education programs and are public schools.

But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any private schools. Central Okanagan has several private schools, such as the Lakeside School Kelowna and Willowstone Academy.

As for colleges, Kelowna is home to one of the best universities in the world and this is the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. This university is consistently ranked among the Top 40 campuses worldwide and was recently ranked 6th in North America.

There are over 90 programs for both undergraduates and graduates on this campus. Several other colleges and universities, such as Okanagan College, offer various programs for students looking to jumpstart their careers.

4. Housing Cost

An average home in Kelowna is expensive, and prices have also recently risen. The average single-detached home costs around $1,050,000, which is a 22.3% increase from the average in 2020, which was $850,000. Prices for townhomes also increased by 18.8%, leading to an average cost of $640,000,100. As for condominiums and apartments, the average price is around $430,000.

Kelowna’s real estate prices are pretty high. Although the cost of living is relatively affordable, it still makes Kelowna one of the more expensive cities to live in in Canada.

If you can find and afford a place to live, go for it. If not, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere for now. But, before dismissing Kelowna altogether, contact a real estate agent for some guidance.

5. Healthcare

Kelowna is a city with excellent healthcare. Permanent residents and citizens get free primary health care services because of the Medical Services Plan offered by the British Columbia government. For expats, you are eligible for the Medical Services Plan if you have a work permit of at least 6 months.

The plan covers health services such as access to physicians, specialists, and midwives. It also covers ear and eye exams, blood work, x-rays, dental surgery, and more. You’ll want to check the government’s website for more information on the Medical Services Plan and how to apply.

Let’s Summarize these Stats

Unemployment RateCrime RateEducationHousing CostsHealthcare
5.3% in MarchRanked 3rd on the national crime severity index listOver 40 elementary, middle, and high schools around the city, with some offering free early childhood education programsHigh prices with single-detached homes averaging at $1,050,000Permanent residents and citizens get free basic healthcare because of the government’s Medical Services Plan
One of the lowest unemployment rates in CanadaMost crimes are non-violent crimesThere are numerous private schools, such as the Lakeside School KelownaTownhomes cost an average of $640,000Expats are eligible for the plan if their work permit lasts at least six months.
The highest rate among the four communities found within British ColumbiaPolice continue to say Kelowna is a safe townHome to some top universities such as the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia and the Okanagan CollegeCondominiums and apartments cost an average of $430,000 

Pros Of Living In Kelowna

Now that we know what it’s like to live in Kelowna let’s weigh the pros and cons.

1. Great Climate

One of the reasons why people are starting to move to Kelowna is because of the climate and weather. Kelowna doesn’t have brutal and long winters, and it is a warm city, although it still does experience winter. Their winter, however, is simply a little cloudy and colder than usual.

Kelowna is not as humid as other parts of Canada. Kelowna has the highest percentage of calm wind days compared to other major cities and receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine every year.

2. Nature

If you’re a fan of the outdoors, hiking trails, and the mountains, you’ll thoroughly enjoy what Kelowna has to offer. If you take a look at pictures of the city, you’ll see impressive mountains and accessible trails surrounding the city. You can quickly get your gear prepped and walk around. The views in Kelowna are above and beyond as well.

3. Free Basic healthcare

One of the more appealing characteristics of Kelowna is its free primary healthcare. Although you’ll still have to pay for certain things, such as your needed prescribed drugs and dentists, you will be able to receive free consultations from talented doctors and more.

Cons Of Living In Kelowna

You must also consider the negatives of a decision before making a choice.

1. Notoriously Bad To The Homeless

Kelowna, unfortunately, is not kind to its homeless because of the lack of affordable housing and subsidized rent for those who need it. A recent government report showed that 0.45% of Kelowna’s population is homeless. Unless the government helps out and gives them job opportunities and helps them with housing and monthly expenses, this number will continue to rise.

2. Expensive homes

Speaking of affordable housing, Kelowna is known for its expensive homes. In fact, the average of certain homes is over $1 million which is more than most can afford. Unless you have good enough savings and a stable income, Kelowna will dent your wallet.

The Final Verdict

Overall, Kelowna is a great place to live in for those who can afford it. Kelowna is a relatively safe city with beautiful sights and mountains and excellent education and healthcare, and it’s an option you’ll want to consider. This city offers a high quality of life, and as Annie would say, you will like it here.

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