Living in Nanaimo is its own kind of wealth.

Ryan Coffey
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Fall has just shown up on our doorstep and winter isn’t far behind. The carefree joys of summer ease their way into a time of richer foods, many hued leaves and more layers of clothing. For most Canadians this is the beginning of an annual journey towards the sort of winter that Canada is famous for. Temperatures of minus ten, twenty and maybe minus thirty aren’t that strange and in some places minus fourty or lower are plausible along with who knows how many months of snow. For most, this is just part of the Canadian experience. If you are from Nanaimo, or anywhere on the west coast, the tales of this sort of winter is not something you can grasp without having experienced it yourself. We are so spoiled that we whimper when we get up on a winter’s morning and find that we have to scrape the ice off our windshield. For those of us on the west coast of British Columbia,  winter is mostly a time of rain and as people from east of here will quickly point out “You don’t have to shovel it.”

I see a fairly consistent pattern of who is moving to Nanaimo from elsewhere in the country. For many of them the weather is definitely a factor, but is not the whole picture. I had one client say that living on Vancouver Island is like living in a giant park but you are allowed to live and shop in it. Nanaimo, located at the eastern centre of Vancouver Island, is in such a position that it is a hub of distribution for people and goods for The Island. Vancouver is close and easy to get to yet far enough away so that we don’t feel very connected to daily life there without making a conscious decision to be part of it. You can fly there in twenty minutes or take the ferry and get there in less than two hours or you can just stay on The Island and for the most part forget about that city. If it’s something more natural you crave, you can hop in your car and visit beaches, mountains, lakes or forest in minutes from wherever you are in Nanaimo. In most neighbourhoods you can simply walk or ride your bike to such things and you don’t need to live in a fancy neighbourhood or own a parka to make this easy all year.

I have seen and lived in much of Canada, and a few other countries, and I have noticed that local attitude and culture vary for many reasons that you can discern but also for many reasons that you can’t. One of the things I have noticed about our local culture is that we enjoy a slower pace of life, but most people aren’t aware of it. Rush hour start at around 4pm and at most means a twenty five minute trip from one end of town to the other rather than the usual twenty. When you go out shopping or to use such and such service there isn’t the same intensity in the air that you will see in nearby places like Vancouver or Victoria not to mention most of the other places I have visited aorund the world. But again, they are nearby if that’s what you crave once in a while.

Nanaimo is large enough so that you can easily find the goods and services that you need to make your life comfortable but small enough to that you can feel part of the community. When I go out in public I will usually see at least one familiar face but at the same time I never have the sense that I have met all the people that I want to.

These, and more reasons which I won’t go into for the sake of brevity, are why I think that living in Nanaimo is its own kind of wealth. I have had and continue to have the opportunity to live in many other places but I have chosen Nanaimo as my home as it fits my values and desired lifestyle. I see my reasoning mirrored in so many of the clients that come to me from the rest of Canada and the world. Sharing something with like minded people makes my job easier to appreciate and do.


Ryan Coffey