If you are thinking about making a move to Kelowna or the Okanagan in general and are having a hard time deciding on where to live, then keep reading. Today’s blog is going to compare living in Kelowna to living in Kamloops.
There are 5 topics that I am going to cover where I point out the similarities as well as some of the differences.
Both Kamloops and Kelowna are located in the Okanagan Valley region, but they have their unique characteristics that set them apart from each other.
Today we are going to explore the five distinct similarities and differences between these two cities.
Geography and Climate
Kelowna and Kamloops are both situated in the Okanagan Valley region, but their geography and climate are quite different. Kelowna is located on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake and has a semi-arid climate with warm summers and mild winters.
Kamloops, on the other hand, is located in the Thompson Valley and has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and colder winters.
If you like a more desert-like landscape, then Kamloops is definitely for you. Kelowna on the other hand certainly has some of that desert like landscape going on but I would say it has more lush greenery including orchards and vineyards.
One last major difference is that Kamloops is what I would call a river city where Kelowna is a lake city right on the eastern shore of Okanagan lake.
Both areas certainly have their share of water-sports right there in each city during the summertime. One thing that may be overlooked is the amount of lakes and camping outside of each city, you can be at multiple camping sites and fish stocked lakes within an hour of each location.
Ok number two on the list…
Population and Economy
Kelowna and Kamloops are both growing cities, but Kelowna has a larger population than Kamloops. Kelowna's population is around 142,000, while Kamloops' population is around 90,000.
Kelowna has a diverse economy that includes tourism, agriculture, and technology. Kamloops, on the other hand, has a resource-based economy that includes mining, forestry, and manufacturing.
That being said though, Kamloops has successfully been able to diversify its economy to include technology, bio energy, tourism and manufacturing.
In fact, Kamloops kind of reminds me of growing up in Prince George. They are definitely a river city with forestry as one of the main drivers of the economy and they have a pulp mill within the city itself.
If you’ve lived in a town with a pulp mill, you know what kind of smells you can expect in the middle of a hot summer downwind from the mill!
Kamloops has a lot of the amenities and access to shopping that Kelowna does including all of the major big box stores that a city of almost 100 thousand people should have like a Costco, Home Depot and Canadian Tire.
Alright, number 3…
Recreation and Outdoor Activities
Both Kelowna and Kamloops offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Kelowna has a wide range of recreational activities, including hiking, cycling, skiing, and water sports.
The city is also known for its beautiful parks and beaches. Kamloops,is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with numerous hiking and mountain biking trails, fishing spots, and golf courses.
The summers in Kelowna are amazing with multiple beaches right within the city if you’re into lounging. If you want a little more excitement you can take in some para sailing or rent a boat for the day and head out and explore the lake while at the same time, getting your surf on.
If you’re into skiing in the winter months, you are about 45 minutes from Big White, an hour and a half to Apex out by Penticton and about an hour to Silver Star by Vernon.
In Kamloops you have the Thompson and the North Thompson Rivers which converge in the city which offers boating, fishing and paddle boarding options. The awesome part about living in Kamloops, if you are into the outdoor lifestyle, is the over 100 lakes that are within a 1 hour drive of the city.
In the winter the ski hill closest to Kamloops is Sun Peaks, which boasts 16 square kilometers of rideable terrain. This is the second largest in the entire country second only to Whistler Blackcombe. Of course we can’t forget to mention Harper Mountain, which is a great smaller ski hill that is only 30 minutes from the city!
On to number 4, one of my favorite topics, the housing market…
I have talked at great length on this channel about the housing market here in Kelowna and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, here are some quick stats once again.
The benchmark price of a home here in Kelowna is now sitting at around $977,000. The average days on the market is 37 and we are right now sitting in a buyers market.
Kamloops on the other hand is a lot more affordable with the single family benchmark price coming in at $605,000 for January 2023. The single family days on market is sitting at 52 days on market and the market also currently favours the buyer, albeit with about a month less of supply than Kelowna.
Of course Kamloops is a smaller in terms of population than Kelowna, but the overall size of the city is quite a bit larger at 297.3 square kilometers compared to 218 square kilometers in Kelowna giving it a little more room to expand which will ultimately keep pricing lower than the Central Okanagan area.
Lastly, number 5 on the list is…
Education and Health Care
Kelowna and Kamloops are both home to several educational institutions, including universities and colleges. Kelowna is home to the University of British Columbia Okanagan, while Kamloops is home to Thompson Rivers University.
Both of these schools offer great opportunities for students to stay here in the Okanagan, close to home and to get a great education. Both of these schools also offer a lot of employment opportunities for the residents of these two cities.
According to the invest kelowna dot com website, the education sector accounts for approximately 8300 jobs here in the Central Okanagan.
Both cities also have well-established health care systems, with hospitals and medical centers that serve their respective populations.
The healthcare and social assistance sectors in the Central Okanagan is the second largest employer in the region with about 13,700 employees. Kelowna of course has Kelowna General Hospital with many walk in and family clinics in the city as well as Lake Country and West Kelowna.
I can tell you that there is a shortage of doctors in the Central Okanagan and if you are looking to make a move, be prepared to get yourself on a wait list for a family doctor.
According to Venture Kamloops, the health care sector is also the leading employer for the region with just under 8000 people employed. Kamloops has the Royal Inland Hospital which is a 254 bed acute care facility and one of only two tertiary care centres in Interior Health District.
Now, I can’t speak to the health care system there as I don’t live there, but the entire province is experiencing health care worker shortages so I have to assume that I would give you the same advice if you were looking at Kamloops as an alternative to Kelowna, get on a waitlist early!
There are a lot of similarities between these two southern interior cities, the biggest differences are in size/area, population and geography/landscape.
Kelowna and Kamloops are two beautiful cities that have their unique characteristics. Both areas offer plenty of outdoor activities, a thriving arts and cultural scene, and excellent educational and health care systems.
So what do you think? If you were making a move to BC and specifically to the Okanagan, which city would be right for you?
If you are thinking of making a move to or selling your current home in, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country or Peachland, then we should talk. You can call me at 778-716-7527 or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org