British Columbia is an expensive province, but we did find the cheapest cities to live in BC. (Hint: we looked beyond Vancouver.) Here’s what you need to know
It is no secret: British Columbia offers some of the most stunning scenery anywhere in Canada. It is a world-class tourist destination for a reason. It’s also no secret that BC is a very very expensive place to live.
In Vancouver, home prices are the highest in the country. How high? The average price of a home here is nearly $2.7 million, according to Zolo. But that is at one end of the spectrum. When considering a place to settle down in BC, it is important to remember that there are options outside of Vancouver.
In this article, we will be looking at the cheapest cities to live in BC. Not only will we look at housing affordability and cost of living in each area, but we will also take a look at quality of life. Here is everything you need to know.
The average price of a home in BC is just under $933,000 and the average rental for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,820. In both areas, the cities and communities on this list are well under the provincial average. Plus, we look at the natural beauty and amenities each of these places has to offer.
Let’s look at the cheapest cities to live in BC:
- Williams Lake
- Prince George
- Prince Rupert
Here is a closer look to give you a better idea of what each has to offer.
1. Williams Lake
The average house sale price in Williams Lake is $290,000—well under the provincial average—and the average rent price for a 2-bedroom is $1,267. Not only is it affordable, but Williams Lake also offers top-rated water activities, culture, and scenic neighborhoods. Located in the central part of the Cariboo region, Williams Lake has a population of 11,906.
2. Prince George
The average house sale price in Prince George is pushing $400,000 and the average rent price for a 2-bedroom is $1,300. With a population of just under 77,000, Prince George offers amenities that you would find in a small city but also easy access to nature for outdoor lovers. This access includes plenty of places to admire the Northern Lights. Living here, you also have access to great skiing, golfing, and trails for mountain biking and hiking.
With a population of just over 8,000, Castlegar offers a lot to residents in the way of the outdoors, as well as art. The average house sale price in Castlegar is $427,450 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is around $1,600.
Not far from Castlegar is Cranbrook, BC, home to 20,500 residents. The average house sale price in Cranbrook is $475,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,700. Located in the Kootenays, Cranbrook is known for its unique craftsmanship and the outdoor activities on offer. It is also an ideal place if you are a cycling enthusiast.
5. Prince Rupert
Known for its epic wildlife, Prince Rupert (population 12,300) is located northwest of Vancouver. Orcas, grizzlies and other bears are common in this area. There are job opportunities in fishing, a major industry in Prince Rupert. The average house sale price in Prince Rupert is $485,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,200, making it one of the cheapest cities to live in BC.
Vernon is located in the Okanagan Valley on the north side of Kelowna. A family-friendly city with a population of 44,519, Vernon offers great skiing, parks, beaches and picturesque views. The average house sale price in Vernon is $692,705 and the average rent price is $1,500.
One of the smallest communities on this list, Valemount has a population of just 1,052. Located near Alberta’s beautiful Jasper National Park, Valemount enjoys thick snowfall that presents perfect sledding opportunities. Home primarily to cottages, Valemount offers a slow, serene pace. The average house sale price here is $534,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is just $1,100.
Hope is located just two hours away from Vancouver. With a population of 6,686, the average house sale price is $590,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,500. Hope is a perfect community for family outings.
Nelson, BC, is exceptional—even within the context of BC—for winter sports such as skiing. The architecture of The Queen City is also stunning, dating back to the days of the silver rush. With a population of 11,106, the average house sale price in Nelson is $644,750 and the average rent price for a 2-bedroom is $1,500.
Penticton is located an hour outside of Kelowna and is famed for its beautiful weather, wineries, and golden beaches. With a population of 36,885, the average house sale price in Penticton is $644,300 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,880. While more costly than most of the places on this list, Penticton has a lot to offer—and is still considerably less expensive than Vancouver.
The city in BC that has the lowest cost of living is Prince George. This pick accounts for more than just the average cost of homes in Prince George. It was determined after looking at average home price, average household income, home price-to-income ratio, and unemployment rate.
The average home price in Prince George is $361,000, the average household income is $107,200, the home price-to-income ratio is 4.91, and the unemployment rate is 6.8%.
To put it into context, we can compare these numbers to the other end of the spectrum—Vancouver. The average home price in Canada’s most expensive city is $2,685,000, the average household income is $117,300, the home price-to-income ratio is 35.14, and the unemployment rate is 4.6%.
No. British Columbia is the least affordable Canadian province, according to summer 2023 analysis by personal finance website Savvy New Canadians. Unsurprisingly, the analysis also found Vancouver to be the country’s least affordable city.
The report reviewed Statistics Canada data for all provinces to create a household income-to-expense ratio. In BC, the average estimated expenditure per household was $79,591. The median after-tax income for an economic family, meanwhile, was $97,800. That means BC had an income-to-expense ratio of 1.23—which was the worst in Canada.
On the other end of the spectrum, Quebec had the best ratio on the list. La Belle Province had an income-to-expense ratio of 1.5. This ratio was the combination of considerably lower household expenditures ($59,770) and lower median after-tax income ($89,400).
When searching for the cheapest cities to live in BC, it is important to consider what else the area has to offer—such as natural beauty and outdoor activities.
The total average listed rent in BC is $2,675, according to Rentals.ca. The average listed rent in all 10 provinces is $2,046. The next highest average listed rent was in Ontario, which had an average of $2,496. The lowest average was in Saskatchewan, at $1,102 per month.
The rent increase hit Canada’s two most expensive markets—Toronto and Vancouver—particularly hard. The annual rent has increased by more than 24% in each Canadian province.
Finding the cheapest place in BC to live may take some research. It is also somewhat subjective, depending on your common expenses. After all, affordability is not based solely on the average cost of homes in any given city or region; it is also important to consider the cost of living and average salary.
Remember: the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be.
If you need help finding the cheapest place to live in BC, take the time to look at the mortgage professionals we highlight in our Best of Mortgage section. Here you will find the top performing mortgage professionals, including mortgage brokers, across Canada.
How is your search going for the cheapest place to live in BC? Did you find this guide useful? Let us know in the comment section below.