Island life

Salt Spring Island
Is there a welcome waiting for you on an island in BC?

When we came to British Columbia we chose to live in Vancouver because we wanted to be in a relatively big city, having lived in London. We had thought about living in Victoria but thought that living on an island, however big, might seem a bit strange. (My daughter pointed out that Britain is an island too!)

We now have a bit more experience of living in B.C. and we can see that island life is something we’d now consider. Here are a few things for you to think about if you’re considering island life.

Vancouver Island is the largest island in B.C. and at about 32,000 sq kms it is pretty large (2/3 the size of England). You might not even feel that you’re on an island.However when it comes to travelling you’d need to get a ferry or plane to the mainland. Depending on how you think about it that can be constricting or part of the adventure. From my point of view, from the mainland, I’ve always enjoyed the ferry ride, which is like taking a mini cruise and is pretty relaxing.

You are dependent on the ferries and that’s something that British Columbians love to gripe about. That’s understandable given there’s no real alternative, especially if you’re taking your vehicle. You have to pay the fare. You may have to pay extra to reserve a place if it’s peak time. And any problems with the ferries can really disrupt your journey.

If you’re living on the Island (as Vancouver Island is most often called) then you’re going to pay less for your home than in most places in the Lower Mainland, especially Vancouver’s expensive neighbourhoods. The pace of life is likely to be slower too. (And we found Vancouver pretty slow compared to London, so Island time might well be very slow!

Of course Vancouver Island is only one of the dozens of islands off the coast of British Columbia. The other islands are much smaller, so if you want to get away from crowds these might suit you.

The smaller islands do tend to leave you even more dependent on BC Ferries, and in some cases you’ll be taking more than one ferry in order to get to the Mainland.

If you want to live and work on an island then Vancouver Island offers you the most opportunity to find work. The smaller islands seem to thrive on tourism and often have a lot of artists. I don’t know if they make a living, but if you’re at all artistic then it is a very attractive lifestyle. Even if you don’t make your fortune, you’ll find yourself part of a community that supports artists.

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