Retiring in Nanaimo…

Ryan Coffey
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brickyard-community-park-PanoramaThe west coast, especially Vancouver Island, has long been a favourite place for Canadians to retire. The natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle and the mild winters are a big draw for people across the country who have reached the retirement stage of their lives. Here are some of the points which experience has taught me to believe is of interest to those who are considering retiring to Nanaimo:

The weather:

I would imagine this is the first thing people from elsewhere in Canada hear about that piques their interest. I was born and raised out this way but have spent a handful of winters in places like Alberta and Nova Scotia. During my travels I was quite surprised that so few people had any idea what it was like in my end of the country. I kept telling them tales of winters where most people didn’t change their tires, or own chains or have any idea how to operate a snow blower. I also talked of mountains covered with giant trees that lie next to oceans full of  giant salmon. A multicultural part of the nation that is not Toronto. From the looks I often got, you would think I was from some far of exotic country and not from the same nation as they.

The weather aspect is measurable though, so let’s look at that. For the comparison of statistics I will refer to statistics from the Canadian Government website on the topic: http://climate.weather.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html#1981

As for the anecdotes that describe the real experience, well saying “At least you don’t have to shovel it.” is only the beginning. You don’t have to dig your car out, worry about frostbite, use remote start to warm up your car, have exorbitant heating costs, put on and take off layers upon layers of clothing every time you go in or out and you are very unlikely to get soaked socks from pools of melted snow that lie next to the front door where you take your boots off.   To be succinct, it’s as if it becomes a rainy fall that is still quite green due to all the conifers. The weather gets stuck in that mode, with only the odd snowy or icy day until the spring arrives. Then, our summers are great because it’s neither super hot or very humid, just pleasant.

Easy access to everything:

Nanaimo is plenty big enough to have everything you need for your daily life, it’s not so big however that you feel like you are in a city that is too large to feel part of a community. Due to its central location, it is a shopping destination for people all over Vancouver Island and the main gateway to the mainland via the ferries. There is also the airport and float planes which will quickly take you to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Seattle via direct flights. From those places you might want to transfer to another plane which will take you anywhere you might want to go.

If it’s bright lights and big city you crave once in a while, Vancouver is just across the water but the advantages are that our real estate prices and commute times are a fraction of what is over there and the social ills associated with that reality are toned down. Conversely, living on Vancouver Island is quieter and comes with a slower pace of life. If you want nature, it’s never far. There are plenty of beautiful parks within Nanaimo and wilderness is just beyond.

Caters to Seniors:

One of the benefits of being in an area where seniors have long been around in numbers is that there are many services, social groups and activities that cater to them. Strata complexes that have an age restriction of 55+ are fairly common and tend to be in good areas.

Access to Natural Beauty:

I once had a retiree client who referred to living on Vancouver Island as like “being in a giant park, except you get you live in it.” Whether it’s boating in the ocean, looking at the ocean, walking in the forest, seeing vistas of the forest, or having wildlife in the background of your daily life Nanaimo has it locally.  In fact it’s possible to have them right on your door step if you so choose.

 Ryan Coffey