So You’ve Settled on Nanaimo… But What Neighbourhood?

Ryan Coffey
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 Until quite recently there was an online forum where people discussed all thing Nanaimo. (Social media has since taken over.) There was lots of local chit chat on there from the inane, to the spooky, to the humourous. Once in a while when I logged in I would I see someone asking about what neighbourhood they should or shouldn’t live in. This is a perfectly reasonable question for people from out of town to ask and well meaning people will give a lot of different answers. I have certainly thought about this deeply, and although each person will have different standards and tastes, I have over time come up with a stock answer that I think is a good starting point for all.

So here is the answer I gave on one particular occasion:

You’ll see this sort of conversation in many spots throughout the forum. There is the odd street here and there that I wouldn’t want to raise my kids on since there are so many other choices available but the only area I strongly steer homeowners away from is the Haliburton/Nicol area. “Bad” and “good” are relative terms and everyone has a different idea of what qualifies for what. In my eyes the area mentioned above is comparable to living off of Commercial Drive in Vancouver in terms of how safe one feels there. Actually, it’s probably better than that since there are much fewer people. If that’s the worst part of town, it’s saying a lot if you ask me. And really, it’s been getting a lot better these past few years and have friends who are raising kids there with no major issues. It’s one of the spots I would recommend considering for investors.

I guarantee that someone will use the term “Scarewood” to describe Harewood either somewhere on this forum or in a conversation with you. It is my understanding that there was some truth to this 15 or 20 years ago but times are a changin’. I was actually living in Harewood myself for three years during that era and the worst thing I remember to me or those directly around me is that a friend of mine had his stereo stolen. Of course, worse things did, can and do happen there but they also happen in other parts of town. Even in the ‘fancy’ neighbourhoods. Harewood is actually the most likely location for my next home due to affordability and future prospects.

As an aside, if I was only interested in future prospects for investment in a rent out and hold onto situation, I would be likely to consider both of these areas first but then also consider the rest of Nanaimo. Good deals can be found in any neighbourhood. The combination of what we need and can afford are bigger factors in the eventual purchase than what our ideal home is, unless the buyer is rich and not many are.

That’s about it for the big picture. Infinite details can always be mentioned though.
Nanaimo is going through a stage of municipal puberty (yes, I’m using this term humourously) at the moment in that it is changing from small town to little city, but it is still essentially a small town. I can’t spend more than three or four hours walking around downtown without seeing at least one person I know.

To go beyond this stock answer, I would need to know more about the individual asking the question. Someone who has lived in countries other than Canada will probably be less concerned  about what they find here than someone who has lived in Vancouver, and someone who has lived in Vancouver will be less concerned than someone who has lived most anywhere on Vancouver Island. It’s all relative.

Ryan Coffey