Don't Move to Kelowna: The Pros and Cons of Living in Kelowna

Don't Move to Kelowna Without Reading This First

When we started researching our move to Kelowna all the way back in 2019, I wish I had a blog post or an article similar to this so that I could understand all the good points and the not so great points of living in Kelowna.

I've written and done video around living in Kelowna and all of the great things to do in previous posts, this is my first Pros and Cons post, but I am going to try and keep and short.

I am going to give you the great and not so great without any fluff and no BS, this is what I've seen over the last year and almost a half of living in Kelowna.

First: The Cons of Living in Kelowna

I am going to come at this list from my perspective and what I see, more or less, on a daily basis in Kelowna.

Others that have lived here a lot longer than me are obviously going to have a different point of view. That said, if you are reading this and you're a local, leave a comment below and let me know what I missed.

Alright, the number one Con of living in Kelowna is the Traffic + Transit System.

I grew up in Prince George, moved to Edmonton in 1998 and spent 5 years there and then on to Calgary where I spent the next 18 years.

I spent as much time in a small town as I did living in big cities and I can tell you that the big cities have something figured out when it comes to infrastructure.

City council in Kelowna over the last 8 years has been incredibly shortsighted when it comes to approving new housing developments but not planning for the increase in population those developments bring and supporting it with widening of roads or adding overpasses along Harvey or evenn looking at putting in some kind of a ring road system.

Word to the wise, rush hour in Kelowna starts at around 3:30 and it takes forever to get anywhere, where only 30 minutes earlier you could have arrived at your destination in about 15 minutes.

Something that I had to get used to coming from Calgary where it usually started around 5pm.

Number Two Con of Living in Kelowna is the High Cost of Living

As I write this, gas is over $2 per litre.

Groceries have gone up. Property taxes have increased. It costs a family of 4 a minimum of $100 to eat out at a dine in restaurant. Buying a home with a pool? Prepare for utility bills north of $400 per month. GST and PST combined is 12% tax on EVERYTHING.

Not only that but coming from Alberta where there was no land transfer cash grab, it was difficult to stomach having to pay a tax into general revenue with the government and you KNOW none of that money will be spent on what's needed in our area.

But I digress...I told myself I wasn't going to be political in this post.

Prepare to pay more for somethings and less in other areas, comparative to Calgary, property taxes are actually less than what we paid when we lived there. 

So there's that.

Number Three Con of Living in Kelowna is Housing Affordability

Housing prices here have skyrocketed over the last two years, prices are up on single family homes over 30%.

Actually, if you're interested in how interest rates, inflation and a pending recession will affect the market here, then check out our latest blog post on that topic.

This makes it difficult for trades people to move here, for nurses and lab techs to find homes here. 

It makes it difficult for people making a move from say Saskatchewan where housing prices are half of what they are here, if they don't have the equity it is going to make it difficult to find a great home.

Part of the problem is a lack of land that's available as it is protected by the ALC or agricultural land commission. This is a bureaucracy, unlike anything I have seen over 15 years of being in real estate.

If the city could get more land taken out of the ALR, this would lead to more building of rental units, large multi family developments, townhome developments and of course single family homes.

Supply will help to put pressure on pricing and keep up with demand.

Number Four Con of Living in Kelowna is the Crime

Some of my colleagues might roast me for being this blunt, but it is what it is.

If you are coming to town and you've got mountain bikes attached to the back of your vehicle, DO NOT leave them unattended!

You will come out of whatever store you are in and there is a very high likelihood that they will be gone.

Now, I put this as number 4 because quite honestly, I haven't seen a lot of the crime that gets talked about daily here. Maybe because I work from home mostly? Maybe because I don't spend a lot of time in the areas where crime is high.

I can tell you that I saw more and heard about more in my West Calgary neighbourhood over the course of 7 years of living there than I have over the last year and a half.

Don't leave your doors unlocked and your vehicle on your driveway. Don't use a wire lock to lock up your bike when you go to the waterfront, Staples or downtown. Just don't leave your things unattended and you should be fine.

Oh and also, if you go to H2O YMCA, don't leave anything in the lockers where the locker is NOT locked.

My son might be able to tell you more about that...

Ok, What About the Pros of Living in Kelowna?

Well obviously, if the pros didn't outweight the cons of living in Kelowna, we never would have moved our family here.

After having visited Kelowna multiple times throughout the last 23 years I lived in Alberta, I can say unequivocally that Kelowna isn't at all what I good and bad ways.

The 'bad' ways are above, here's what we LOVE about living here:

Number One Pro of Living in Kelowna is the Scenery.

It doesn't matter where you are in the city, you are either looking at the mountains or the lake. Now granted, the mountains in Kelowna are not the Rockies that we were used to seeing on the weekends while living in Calgary.

But they are beautiful all the same. Getting to head to one of many beaches on any given day from May straight through to September is an added bonus.

We haven't spent near the time at the beach that I wanted to this year, but it is there all the same and we take advantage of it when we can.

Kelowna is not a concrete jungle like most major cities, that is part of the charm of this medium sized city in the Interior of BC.

Number Two Pro of Living in Kelowna is the Neverending Things to Do

Kelowna is a playground, there is just no other way to put it. If you LOVE being outdoors then you will love living here. 

From hiking multiple trails within the city and just outside the city limits to mountain biking to taking in water sports or just hanging out at the beach or teeing off at one of the multiple golf courses that Kelowna has to offer.

There is something for everyone here in Kelowna.

I have created a playlist on our YouTube Channel just so that I can feature all of the amazing things that the Okanagan Valley and Kelowna have to offer.

Number Three Pro of Living in Kelowna is Proximity

Ok so what do I mean? I mean I can be in Lake Country in about 15 minutes and swimming in Lake Kalmalka in about 20.

I mean I can be in Penticton in about 45 minutes and at Skaha Beach and swimming in about an hour. I can be in the US in about an hour and a half. If I want to head up to Vernon and take in Predator Ridge for a golf day, I can be there in about 30-40 minutes.

Also, Kelowna has an international airport and fly's direct to some of my favourite destinations like Las Vegas and Mexico and certain states in the US.

This proximity opens up the playground possibilities, if I wanted to head out camping for the weekend I could be at a provincial camp ground in less than an hour. Or how about skiing/snowboarding in the mountains? Big White is a 45 minute clip from Downtown Kelowna. 

Compare that to 1.5 hours to get to Lake Lousie or 2 Hours to Sunshine Village, it reminds me of how close Nakiska is to Calgary but with WAY better snow!

Number Four Pro of Living in Kelowna is the Food and Beverage Scene

I was DELIGHTED to discover that Kelowna has a budding Craft Beer industry, in fact, some would say that it is exploding.

It certainly isn't on par with the wine scene here in the Okanagan but it soon will be!

The options you have in the food scene here in Kelowna, I would argue, are similar to what you would get in a big city like Calgary. Calgary's food scene was seemingly never ending, you could hit a different restaurant or pub every week and never go to the same place twice. Unless you are a creature of habit like me!

Kelowna is very similar, they have all of the ethnic variety that you would be looking for in Vietnamese, Mexican, French, Canadian, Brazilian etc.

Number Five Pro of Living in Kelowna is Access to Higher Education

Having grown up in a small town of 70,000 people, we had a College in town that allowed for University transfer courses that could be used as credits at Universities throughout the country.

Later on, that same small town wound up getting it's own University, so it was really great to know that UBC actually has a campus here in Kelowna. There is also Okanagan College which is an option to take University level transfer courses in a smaller class sized environment. OK College also offers trades and apprenticeship training, technology, business, continuing education and so much more.

This is great, living in a smaller center allows you or your kids to now attend higher learning campuses right here in the Okanagan instead of having to take on the expense of making a move to a major center like Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary.

Think about it, your kids could keep living with you until into their low to mid 20s!

Wouldn't that be great?!?!

What are the Next Steps?

If you are serious about making a move to Kelowna, Lake Country, Vernon, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton...anywhere through the Okanagan, I would suggest these four points:

  1. If you can, come down here for a week or two and spend some time in the city in the summer AND in the winter. Get to know the different neighbourhoods in Kelowna and get to understand traffic patterns, tour around the schools and time how long it takes to get to certain desitnations from different areas
  2. Get a good understanding of the cost of living here in Kelowna, try using this resource to compare different areas through the Okanagan. 
  3. Research schools if that's important, know what neighbourhoods feed into which schools, you can use this resource here. Get to know churches, rec centres and any other part of your life that is important, like clubs or teams or different sports that are offered.
  4. Ok, here's the pitch. Call, text or email me. I have made this move, this is what sets me apart from all the other Realtors here in Kelowna, I've moved my family from one province to another and have the experience to guide you through the process. 403-827-7527. 
I know that I've missed a lot, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these are the things that I've noticed after having lived here for over a year now.
There will be some follow up posts as I am already making notes of what I missed!
Make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel  as well, you don't want to miss the videos we are putting out every week.


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