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Pros and Cons of Living in Comox, BC

Nestled in the Comox Valley, you will find places like Courtenay, Cumberland, and of course, Comox. When choosing the perfect place on Vancouver Island to live, it’s important to grab as much information as possible so you can make the best decision for yourself and your family.

Ballard Fine Homes is a custom home-building company on Vancouver Island. We regularly build homes in central Vancouver Island, so we have the knowledge you are looking for when making a more informed decision. Read our article to find some potential pros and cons for living in Comox, so you can see if this is the right place for you. If you have any questions about building a custom home or want more information on the areas we build, please contact us at your convenience.

What makes Comox such a desirable place to live?

When you have other island choices like Parksville, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Port Hardy, how do you decide which one is the best? While advantages and disadvantages can be subjective, we feel these are highly important for most people to consider. Face it, you aren’t just here to learn about Comox’s weather but rather, to grab more insight on what this town is like.

Is Comox safe? Absolutely!

That’s right, Comox is a relatively safe place to live on Vancouver Island. While crime rates have been on the rise island-wide, they are still moderately low in Comox.

The main issues you may encounter include things like property theft and some areas with slightly elevated instances of drug use and homelessness. While no place is free from these issues, they are quite minimal in Comox compared to other island communities.

Comox is safe because of several factors, such as the due diligence of the local RCMP and the presence of the Royal Canadian Air Force Base. Additionally, most of the area is suburban, which naturally contains less crime than in densely populated city centres.

If you’re wondering what the crime rate of Comox is, at the writing of this article it appears to be 31% lower than the national average.

Crime rate averages in Comox, BC compared to the rest of Canada

Larger homes are easier to find

Do you have your heart set on a 3-bedroom home? Comox is a great place to look for this type of real estate listing.

Most homes in Comox are on the larger size (3+ bedrooms) so they are great for large families or those that appreciate a little extra room. If you work from home and need a dedicated office, homes in Comox are the perfect size. Not to mention, the view is outstanding.

Don Ballard and his team are experts in building custom homes, including Comox. If you find yourself looking for a renovation or want to have full control with a custom build, we will be happy to talk to you about your goals and budget.

A closeup of the MacDonald Wood boardwalk in Comox, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Surrounded by ocean and beautiful scenery

The geography of Comox is stunning. Surrounded by ocean on three sides and forest on the other, it’s no mystery why families and retirees love living in Comox.

There are many things to do in Comox, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Residents enjoy sailing, hiking, and walking down to the waterfront to admire the view. Places like Goose Spit Park and Kye Bay are perfect for a relaxing stroll along the beach. Mount Washington Alpine Resort is also nearby, a local favourite place to ski and snowboard.

If you prefer city amenities, there is a more concentrated shopping district in Courtenay but the overall vibe is a relaxed, small town that appreciates the great outdoors.


Community spirit and amenities

The real attraction of Comox is its strong sense of community. The town fosters a strong sense of belonging and community cohesion because of its warmth and friendliness. This friendly environment is appealing to retirees, families, and anyone looking for a close-knit community.

Access to necessary facilities and services is also guaranteed by Comox. High-quality medical facilities, leisure hubs, neighborhood markets, and a wide variety of cultural events are advantageous to the local population and give daily life more substance and energy. Its proximity to larger urban centers, such as Nanaimo and Victoria, despite its smaller size, preserves the tranquil and serene living environment while providing convenient access to extra services, employment opportunities, and cultural experiences.

The town of Comox offers an outstanding quality of life due to its unique combination of natural beauty, community involvement, and a balanced lifestyle. This makes it a desirable destination for people looking to establish permanent residence.
The Comox Glacier across an empty dairy field

Considerations and potential negatives about living in Comox

Comox is a smaller town and it can be hard to find a doctor

One of the notable drawbacks of living in Comox, is the challenge many residents face in securing a family doctor. The demand for healthcare services often exceeds the supply, resulting in extended wait times for medical appointments. This can be particularly concerning for families in need of consistent healthcare support.

The limited availability of primary care physicians can make it difficult to establish a long-term healthcare relationship and receive timely medical attention. However, this is an issue that is not unique to Comox but is rather apparent all over Vancouver Island. Those who are coming to Vancouver Island from elsewhere should be made aware of this potential drawback.

Real estate prices are rising here, too

Although there are many benefits to living in Comox, there has been a steady rise in property values in the town. This can present difficulties, particularly for people looking for smaller, more affordable homes. Furthermore, even though Comox offers necessary services, employment options may be more scarce than in larger cities, which may affect some people’s ability to pursue careers in this field.

The town has recently witnessed a rising trend in real estate costs, which could potentially challenge its affordability in the future. As more individuals and families discover the charms of Comox and seek to make it their permanent residence, the demand for housing may continue to drive property prices higher. This is a trend we have seen all over Vancouver Island and in other parts of British Columbia.

This spike in real estate prices can potentially pose challenges for those looking to enter the housing market in the area – especially for single-family homes. However, it’s essential to note that Comox’s strong sense of community and natural beauty continue to make it an attractive place to live, even as real estate costs evolve.

Is it expensive to live in Comox?

While Comox currently enjoys the advantage of relatively affordable real estate, especially when compared to the soaring property costs in nearby cities like Victoria and Vancouver, there is a looming concern that this favourable situation may not last.

The cost of living in Comox is relatively low for the area. However, if you are learning about Comox from another part of the country, plug your city into this cost of living calculator to see how it compares with Comox prices.

In comparison to Vancouver and Vancouver Island, Comox has a generally reasonable cost of living. Though generally still less than in bigger cities, some factors, like housing—especially larger or waterfront properties—can be comparatively more expensive because of the location’s high demand. Despite this, the cost of groceries, transportation, and services is generally comparable to the national average or slightly less, making living reasonably priced. Recreational activities, healthcare costs, and utility bills all stay reasonable.

All in all, Comox has a generally balanced and reasonably priced cost of living, though some aspects might be slightly higher because of its desirable location and amenities.

Curious to learn more about Comox? Talk to the professionals at Ballard Fine Homes

When it comes to crafting your custom home in Comox, Ballard Fine Homes is your trusted partner. We take pride in our solid reputation as one of the premier custom home builders in the Comox Valley. Our recent development, Edgewood Estates, provides families and seniors with a scenic, private, and quiet place to call home.

From the very first conversation to the final finishing touches, working with Ballard Fine Homes promises a seamless and stress-free homebuilding experience. We are committed to delivering the highest quality, paying meticulous attention to detail, and tailoring our approach to meet your specific preferences.

Choose Ballard Fine Homes for an opportunity to create your perfect living space in the vibrant and picturesque community of Comox.

Small Vancouver Island Towns You Need To Visit

Are you planning a road trip to Vancouver Island? Maybe you’re already aware of the capital city of Victoria, surfing in Tofino, and landed on Vancouver Island via Nanaimo, but now you are looking to branch out a little bit more. For those that want to get the full Vancouver Island experience, check out these smaller towns and attractions.

And hey, if you like it so much, why not make it permanent? Choose your own piece of paradise with your own luxurious custom home.

This article was originally published on September 20, 2023 with 5 great suggestions. We have since expanded it, offering you a closer look at other small towns on Vancouver Island. 

Love sandy beaches? Visit Parksville

Parksville is a small, seaside town about a 15-minute drive from Nanaimo. It is known for its long, sandy beaches and annual sand sculpting competition. During low tide, the ocean retreats, leaving long stretches of sandy shoreline, making it a fantastic place for beachcombing, building sandcastles, or simply relaxing by the water.

If you arrive during the summer months, be sure to book a camping spot at Rathtrevor Provincial Park (or pack a picnic for a day trip) and check out the Parksville Beach Festival to be truly amazed at what these artists can create with sand. Without a doubt, the sandy beach section that draws guests to its tranquil shores is the highlight. The beach, which is well-known for its golden, soft sands and glistening waters, provides a pleasant and safe swimming and tanning area. Families are welcome to come here to unwind and take in the tranquillity of the coast thanks to its gently sloping shoreline and calm waters.

If you visit during other times of the year, Parksville still has plenty to offer in its vibrant downtown core, wildlife viewing (bald eagles, deer, seals, and sometimes even orcas along the coastline), and the nearby Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is a beautiful spot for hiking and exploring waterfalls. It is also conveniently located near other popular Vancouver Island attractions, such as Nanaimo, Tofino, and Victoria, making it a great base for further exploration.

Tucked away in Parksville, the Community Park and Beach is a classic family-friendly spot with lots to offer. This large park offers a variety of attractions, one of which is a well-kept playground that makes kids happy with its swings, slides, and climbing frames. The park’s verdant surroundings, which include covered picnic areas furnished with chairs and tables, are perfect for hosting family get-togethers or peaceful picnics in the arms of the natural world.

Laid back living in Qualicum Beach

Near Parksville you will find another community on Vancouver Island worth visiting: Qualicum Beach. This town is also located along the shoreline, making Qualicum Beach and Parksville part of the Oceanside region.

While Qualicum Beach is one of the best places to retire on Vancouver Island, it is also a great place to visit. The laid back lifestyle allows residents and visitors to enjoy prestigious year-round golf courses, local breweries, beach activities, and local hiking trails.

The Shady Rest is a local gem, a waterfront restaurant that’s been in business for many years. Their menu has a variety of cuisines, perfect for picky eaters and large groups. After eating, visitors enjoy swimming at the beach, going for hikes, or taking a chance at whale watching.

Similar to Parksville, Qualicum Beach offers many outdoor activities in addition to a local museum, Saturday Farmers’ Market, and other opportunities for shopping and attending local events.

For accommodations, many visitors have enjoyed Free Spirit Spheres, which are treehouse-like spheres hanging within the forest. This novel experience can only be found within Qualicum Beach.

Its relaxed atmosphere extends to the charming downtown adorned with cafes, galleries, and boutique stores, offering unique treasures to explore. Discover the lush Woodland and Milner Gardens or wander the tranquil paths of Heritage Forest for serene nature encounters. The town’s dynamic array of year-round events, including music festivals and community markets, embodies its cultural diversity and communal spirit.

Comox Valley (Comox and Courtenay)

North of Nanaimo and Oceanside, the Comox Valley is home to several towns and communities on Vancouver Island. Comox and Courtenay are the main attractions, but you will also find merit in places like Cumberland and Hornby Island.

Outdoor enthusiasts love visiting the Comox Valley for its large number of hiking trails, access to Comox Lake, and Mount Washington Ski Resort. Just off the coast are two unique islands, Denman Island and Hornby Island. These islands are filled with local artisans, a relaxed atmosphere, and an appreciation for the outdoors.

At Mount Washington, visitors can enjoy the usual snow activities like skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing. It doesn’t end there – there’s plenty to do in the summer months, too. Alpine hiking, zip lining, mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, and outdoor BBQs are some of the main attractions.

Denman Island & Hornby Island are short ferry rides just south of the Comox Valley. These islands contain local shops, artisans, and hiking trails, and are popular with campers.

With its gorgeous waterfront, Comox Harbor welcomes visitors to enjoy boating, fishing, and just relaxing on the tranquil shoreline. It also has a busy marina. Discover Goose Spit Park, a stunning peninsula offering breathtaking views of the Strait of Georgia and ideal for hiking, beachcombing, and birdwatching.

To the west of Comox, Courtenay can be considered the cultural hub of the Comox Valley, a vibrant artistic community. Its downtown is a hive of varied stores, galleries, and neighbourhood restaurants that invite discovery of handcrafted goods and unique dining experiences. Live performances by musicians, actors, and dancers highlight the town’s diverse cultural heritage at the Sid Williams Theatre. The Courtenay Riverway, which provides picturesque walks alongside the Puntledge River amid luxuriant vegetation, is just one of Courtenay’s parks and trails that contribute to its allure.

Explore the landscapes and take in the vibrant cultural offerings of the Comox Valley.
Woman in a kayak on the river on the scenic sunset

Luxury living on Vancouver Island

Have you fallen in love with Vancouver Island yet? We don’t blame you, it’s a beautiful island with great people, amazing scenery, and opportunities. It’s a lovely place to visit, but it’s an even better place to live.

In your search for the best place to live on Vancouver Island, are you looking for a waterfront property? A quaint home nestled in the forest? Or perhaps you want to live in a small town but have more control over practical matters, such as your home’s layout and functionality. On Vancouver Island, you can have it all.

Living the dream is possible with Ballard Fine Homes. Turn your vacation home into your full-time home, using the endless possibilities of a custom-built home. We specialise in building luxury homes in only the best spots on the island.

Take a moment and consider:
A beautiful home, just steps away from the water. The ability to jump on a jet ski, boat, or have a relaxing swim or kayak doesn’t have to be preserved for vacations. You can have it anytime you want.
Access to the best, fresh seafood caught that very same day. Shared with friends on your outdoor patio overlooking the beautiful ocean or mountain views. Topped off with a glass of wine from a local vineyard.
A walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom for yourself and another one for your spouse. Who said you have to only have one to share?
A home media room with a projector and comfortable seating for family movie night. Invest once and never overpay for theatre popcorn again. Best seats in the house, guaranteed.
Lay on your private beach, away from prying eyes. Listen to the water, the wind through the leaves, and the occasional bird chirp. Feel safe that you can leave your belongings on the beach and they will still be there when you get back.

For luxurious, custom-built homes on Vancouver Island, Ballard Fine Homes is only a call away. What are you waiting for?

North Vancouver Island Hidden Gem: Sointula

Known as the “place of harmony,” this small community off the northern coast of Vancouver Island was once home to a large Finnish population. Today, Sointula is a great piece of history and a haven for art lovers.

Named after the Finnish utopian settlement founded in the late 1800s, the town’s name translates to “Place of Harmony.” It is found on Malcolm Island, off the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island, and offers gorgeous coastal views, beautiful beaches, and a laid-back atmosphere. At the Sointula Museum, visitors can discover local art galleries, stroll through the charming town centre, and gain insight into the area’s distinct history.

For those who prefer a slower pace of life off the beaten path, Sointula offers many hiking trails and an escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. For this reason, it is a popular destination for camping for those who prefer to be off the beaten path a bit, but still close enough to civilization.

orcas swimming near Vancouver Island

Ucluelet (Ukee to the locals!)

Likely you have already been to Tofino, but did you stop in to visit Ucluelet as well? Ukee has lots to offer in terms of activities, mainly suited for outdoor enthusiasts. Surfing at Long Beach, whale watching, storm watching, and hiking.

Ucluelet is located near the entrance to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Visitors can explore various hiking trails, including the Wild Pacific Trail, which offers stunning views of the rugged coastline, rocky cliffs, and the Pacific Ocean.

In the late fall, storm watching is a popular pastime as the wild weather and crashing waves create a dramatic and awe-inspiring experience. On the other hand, the Barkley Sound is popular for kayakers due to its sheltered waters and pristine natural surroundings.

Check out Denman Island & Hornby Island for your next camping trip

Do you enjoy camping? Then you’ll have to check out Denman Island and Hornby Island.

While technically not on Vancouver Island, they are so close we couldn’t leave them out. You can visit these beautiful islands by taking a short ferry ride from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. From there, you can take another ferry to Hornby Island.

Both are great places to visit, but we feel the best place to camp is on Hornby Island. Don’t get us wrong, Denman Island has Fillongley Park – a beautiful place to visit – but we appreciate the high number of choices at Hornby Island. During peak season, it can be a little bit easier to find a spot if you’re looking on Hornby Island.

Why is camping so good? A semi-remote island, surrounded by beautiful ocean waters, thick west coast forests, and a local community full of great people are all you need for a memorable vacation.

A beautiful golf course and scuba diving in Nanoose Bay

Madrona Point is a dive site you will want to write down. Scuba divers agree, this is one of the top places to dive in central Vancouver Island. The reason is that there are a few different areas to explore at varying depths with an opportunity to run into local animals like sea lions, octopi, sea stars, crabs, and eels.

If staying on land is more your style, you’ll want to check out Fairwinds Golf Club. This is a year-round, 18 hole golf course nestled in the heart of Vancouver Island. Surrounded by lush greenery, tree-lined fairways, and ocean views, that’s reason enough to visit. Fairwinds also offers PGA-certified teaching professionals and an outstanding restaurant, the 19th Hole Cafe.

Did somebody say “Goats On The Roof”? Only at Coombs

If you’re hiking near Qualicum Beach, you’ll want to make a stop in Coombs.

Coombs Country Market is the quaint pit-stop you never knew you needed. Grab an ice cream cone and view the goats that are, literally, on the roof! The market has a grass covered roof where a few goats like to relax and have a bite to eat.

That’s not all Coombs has to offer. Boutique shops, Butterfly World, a Dutch import store, and several quirky stores are other fantastic places to stop by.

A fishing boat at sea, much like the ones found near French Creek, BC

Fishing enthusiasts love French Creek

In central Vancouver Island, there is a lesser-known place to fish that locals love: French Creek.

While Campbell River and Port Alberni battle over which is the fishing capital of the world, locals know that there are other great options including French Creek. Chinook salmon is the prized catch of the day, but you can also find cod and halibut in these waters.

Turn your vacation into a Vancouver Island custom-built home

Is it time to turn your vacation into home? If you are wondering where to live on Vancouver Island, then hopefully you have a bit more of an idea of your preferences based on our list.

At Ballard Fine Homes, we build custom homes on Vancouver Island and would be privileged to work with you on building your own piece of paradise. If you are still on the fence about choosing a location or simply want to know more about each place before deciding, contact our team at (250) 586-9077 for any questions.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Parksville, BC

The beautiful seaside town of Parksville is known for its long, sandy beaches, vibrant community, and small-town feel. With a population of around 14 000, the quaint feel of Parksville can’t be beaten. But is this town the right fit for you? When moving to a new town or city, it’s always a good idea to weigh the pros and cons to help come to a better decision about relocating. We’ve listed some commonly asked questions and concerns about Parksville below.

First, where is Parksville, BC located?

You’ve probably heard of Vancouver, maybe you’ve heard of Vancouver Island, but Parksville? We don’t blame you, it’s one of BC’s best kept secrets.

To the west of Vancouver is a large island of Vancouver Island. The province’s capital city, Victoria, is located on the southernmost tip of the island. In comparison, Parksville is a small, seaside town farther north, in the central part of the island. Its beaches face east, across the Strait of Georgia towards the Lower Mainland.

Located centrally, it’s fairly easy to expand out to other nearby towns and cities by vehicle. Starting from Parksville, driving to other parts can be expected to take:
– 20 minutes to Nanaimo (contains an airport and ferry terminal)
– A little under an hour to Comox (contains an airport)
– 3.5 hours to Port Hardy (northern area of Vancouver Island)
– About 2.5 hours to Victoria
– Also 2.5 hours to Tofino/Ucluelet for surfing
– About 2 hours to Vancouver (that’s 20 minutes to Nanaimo, plus about a 1.5 hour ferry ride, give or take. Can be less if flying out from Nanaimo)


A map of Vancouver Island

Advantages & benefits of living in Parksville

Is Parksville the best place to retire on Vancouver Island?

A slower pace of life, beautiful natural scenery, and a slight bias towards an older demographic are key features for why Parksville is a great place to retire. The median age of a resident is 62 years old and this is accommodated by warm ocean waters for swimming, a vibrant seniors’ centre, and an assortment of year-round golf courses nearby.

For retirees seeking peace and beauty in the outdoors, Parksville’s mild climate and serene setting make it a haven. Long sandy beaches, verdant parks, and a tight-knit community that promotes a laid-back way of life are what make the town so charming. Away from the bustle of big cities, retirees frequently find comfort in a slower pace of life as long as they still have access to first-rate medical care and other necessities.

Qualicum Beach is about a ten-minute drive from Parksville and offers many of the same amenities plus a few more. Together, these towns are referred to as the Oceanside region. In terms of amenities, they contain options such as a health centre, grocery stores, fitness and aquatic centre, and several religious organizations. Retirees especially enjoy the impressive golf courses of Qualicum Beach.

The high number of recreational opportunities in the town is another draw for retirees. Parksville provides lots of options for staying active and involved, from golfing to beachcombing, fishing to nature walks. There’s always something to explore and take part in thanks to the thriving arts and culture scene and the numerous festivals and community events. Furthermore, convenience is offered without compromising the tranquil atmosphere thanks to Parksville’s close proximity to bigger cities like Nanaimo. Retirees can take advantage of the peace and quiet of their coastal retreat while having easy access to extra facilities, entertainment choices, and medical resources. Those that prefer big city living, are only a 15 minute or so drive away from ferries and an airport to Vancouver from Nanaimo.

Parksville weather: mild climate, enjoy nature year-round

Parksville’s moderate coastal climate is one of the main reasons it’s a desirable place to live, especially for people looking for a more temperate environment. It benefits from the same mild, temperate climate as the rest of Vancouver Island. Winters are generally mild and bring a small amount of snow each year. Summers are comfortably warm with rare instances of heat waves.
Temperatures range between 3 and 22 degrees Celsius on average, making it very comfortable to go for a walk or take a dip in the ocean. As it is a waterfront town, a small breeze usually comes in with the waves. View Parksville’s weather forecast and have a look for yourself.

Residents enjoy a respite from the harsher winter conditions that are frequently encountered in other regions. Small amounts of snow accumulate each year, but it is nothing compared to the storms on the east coast of Canada. On the other end of the year, summers are pleasant and comfortable for outdoor activities because they are not overly hot. A very hot day reaches about 30-35 degrees celsius, but isn’t generally the norm.

Chairs around a fire pit facing the beach on Vancouver Island.

Community and lifestyle in Parksville: embracing tranquil living

Parksville flourishes as a community-focused sanctuary that promotes a unique way of life. The town has a cosy atmosphere where relationships between neighbours are encouraged.

It’s strong community ties, which are fostered by residents’ frequent participation in a range of group activities, are one reason why it is so special. The town’s noticeably slower pace appeals to those looking for a calm and welcoming atmosphere because it invites a laid-back way of life.

The close-knit community spirit is enhanced by neighbourhood projects, gatherings, and volunteer opportunities that promote involvement and foster a sense of togetherness among the locals. The tranquillity of the coast and the coziness of a tightly knit community are valued by the locals, who frequently adopt this distinctive way of life, making it a pleasant place to call home.

Parksville real estate – waterfront and waterview homes a’plenty

Parksville, which is renowned for its breathtaking coastal scenery and tranquil way of life, has a wide variety of real estate choices that will appeal to different types of buyers. A variety of property types are available in the town’s real estate market, ranging from waterfront estates to single-family homes with large lots to more condensed living options like townhouses and condominiums. Property values frequently take into account elements like the property’s size, amenities, town location, and proximity to the ocean.

If you are dreaming of a waterfront home, where you are mere steps away from sandy beaches and warm ocean water, you’ve found the right place. Parksville is filled mainly with two to three-bedroom, single-family homes that are either on the beach or within walking distance of it. A small number of townhouses and condos are also found, notably a few newer buildings near the waterfront in downtown Parksville.

If you are more interested in acreage, then you will want to look inland. Moving in the direction of Coombs and Hilliers will open more opportunities for hobby farms and similar properties.

Compared to Vancouver, real estate listings in Parksville are relatively more affordable. While some homes are older, custom renovations are fairly popular. Another option that has been growing in popularity is building a custom home. It’s a perfect marriage between an ideal location and a home built based on the homeowner’s lifestyle.

The real estate market in Parksville showed indications of strength and desirability as of the most recent update in early 2022. Properties were consistently in demand because of the town’s natural scenic charm and reputation as a retirement destination. We saw a balanced or seller’s market depending on the circumstances, with competitive situations emerging for desired properties like those with views of the ocean or close to parks and beaches.

One of Ballard Fine Homes' show homes, view from the living room.

Price trends in Parksville’s real estate market

Parksville’s real estate market has shown some notable swings, sometimes favouring sellers, especially for homes with desirable features like easy access to the town’s natural attractions or views of the ocean.

Property values in Parksville have fluctuated up until the start of 2022 due to a number of important factors. The main factors influencing the cost of homes in this peaceful seaside community are their proximity to the shore, their size, the amenities they offer, and their exact location within the town. Desirable properties frequently saw competitive bidding scenarios, which was indicative of the town’s appeal as a popular retirement and vacation destination.

All over Vancouver Island, housing prices have gone up. Currently, Parksville is on the higher end of real estate prices, with the average home selling for $861,000. Compared to nearby communities of Comox, Port Alberni, and the Cowichan Valley, Parksville is priced the highest. Condos and townhouses are also coming in at around $642,000.

Custom home options make Parksville more affordable

As prices increase, buyers are finding themselves frustrated more often because they feel they should be getting more value out of their budget. At Ballard Fine Homes, we have a perfect solution: a custom-built home.

With a custom-built home, you are more in control of where your money is going. Instead of compromising with someone else’s design that you’re probably going to change anyways, building from scratch allows you to design your home exactly the way you want it. This can save you from purchasing a home that will immediately require a costly renovation. In addition, you can decide how luxurious or humble you’d like your home to be designed.

Larger properties, such as acreages or farms, can also directly benefit from a custom home for functionality. Creating a home that fits your lifestyle isn’t reserved just for suburban life. An attached greenhouse, multiple car garage, and dedicated grow/canning room are a few ideas that can be brought into suburban homes, too.

With other home builders, this process can seem overwhelming and too much to handle, but we are not like other home builders. We want you to enjoy the process, stress-free. Our in-person showroom in Parksville has many samples of materials and finishes that you can put in your home. You are invited to browse the showroom and talk to our staff about our previous builds, to both gain inspiration and insight on the building process.

Fresh air and a clean town

Are you looking to get away from the city smog? The air in Parksville is fantastic due to the ocean breezes and plentiful amount of trees and forests. The water tastes great, too. An overall low level of pollution puts Parksville high on the environmentally-friendly scale.

Those seeking a healthier lifestyle will appreciate the cleanliness of the town, the freshness of the city, and the lack of wear and tear on the overall environment. If you or a family member suffers from a breathing problem such as asthma or COPD, then you may find the environment in Parksville will benefit your health.

Considerations about Parksville

Parksville jobs

As a small town, there is a limited number of businesses and job opportunities. Some people choose to live in beautiful Parksville and commute to work in nearby Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, or Port Alberni.

The unemployment rate may look startling to some, but it’s important to keep in mind that Parksville is a preferred place to retire so that will heavily affect any statistics regarding employment. Of the available jobs, working in retail and health care provide the bulk of the workforce. In addition, many remote positions have opened up in recent years due to the pandemic, making Parksville an ideal location for your home office. Where else can you leave work and head straight to the beach?

The town’s economy thrives on small businesses, retail, healthcare, and tourism. Seasonal positions in accommodations, dining, and leisure activities by the coast are available, particularly during the summer tourist influx.

Healthcare services provide substantial job opportunities in clinics, retirement communities, and related facilities. Retail positions in local stores, service sectors, and specific professional services also cater to the town’s needs.

However, for specialized or high-skilled roles, neighbouring cities like Nanaimo offer more options. Commuting to Nanaimo, around a 20-minute drive away, can grant access to a broader job market, including various industries, larger companies, educational institutions, and government offices.

Things to do in Parksville

In terms of things to do similar to larger cities like Vancouver, you can think of Parksville as containing some of those things on a smaller scale, but with the addition of outdoor recreation at your doorstep.

While you won’t find a large venue for concerts or NHL games, you will find the beautiful Rathtrevor Provincial Park, mini golf, various golf courses, restaurants, local businesses like cheese shops and breweries, and endless opportunities for embracing nature.

The long tides mean the sandy beaches have ample time to warm up in the sunshine, which causes the incoming waves to get a little bit warmer and more comfortable for swimming. Families enjoy Parksville beaches for swimming, building sand castles, and relaxing on a warm summer day. Adults enjoy creating sand castles, too. An annual competition at the Parksville Beach Festival involves a sand sculpting competition that is a must-see. These gorgeous works of art are on display for a few weeks until the elements wear them away.

Visitors can also indulge in classic beach activities like building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, and flying kites along the well-known sandy beaches. Several beaches provide opportunities for beachcombing, birdwatching, and exploring tidal pools. Nearby, Englishman River Falls Provincial Park boasts scenic hiking trails and stunning waterfalls, ideal for hiking, biking, and horseback riding enthusiasts.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre highlights the island’s abundant biodiversity for those who enjoy animals. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy scenic rounds at Fairwinds Golf Club or Morningstar Golf Club. Paradise Fun Park offers family-friendly entertainment options like mini-golf and go-karting.

If you are seeking family-friendly activities, outdoor adventures, cultural exploration, or simply beach relaxation, Parksville promises a diverse and fulfilling experience for all.

There’s also a large variety of things to do in Nanaimo if you are able to make the 20 minute or so drive.

Community services in Parksville

Parksville places a high priority on social well-being by offering a variety of assistance programs. These services, which are frequently provided by nonprofits and community organizations, are meant to help people and families who are dealing with different kinds of problems.

The town also prioritizes senior citizens, offering special centres and programs that support social interaction, health education, and leisure activities. These support networks help a variety of demographics, such as parents, caregivers, and individuals in need of guidance. By volunteering, residents actively participate in neighbourhood projects and philanthropic causes, fostering stronger ties between neighbours.

Parksville is also dedicated to providing its youth with programs and resources that are specifically designed to support their academic and recreational goals. Not only do these facilities cater to the needs of young people, but they also enhance the general liveliness of the community. Parksville is the perfect example of a community committed to working together, diversity, and the overall well-being of its residents thanks to these extensive support networks.

Public transportation

Do you have a driver’s license? While you may have gotten away without one on the Lower Mainland, you’ll likely need it in Parksville.

Parksville’s public transportation network, while not as extensive as in larger cities, remains a crucial means of connectivity within the town and to neighbouring Vancouver Island areas. Operated by regional transit authorities, buses follow regular routes linking essential spots in Parksville and nearby towns like Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo.

Many shops and amenities are within walking distance and there is a local bus that gets the job done. However, having your own wheels will come in handy for places like Rathtrevor Beach, travelling to nearby towns, or any other local area that isn’t serviced by the city bus.

Parksville does not have numerous bus routes and a SkyTrain system for users to get around. Some private companies offer bus service to other parts of Vancouver Island, but this can be a costly option if you need to commute regularly.

The perk to this situation is that traffic in Parksville is virtually non-existent. Gone are the days of finding yourself crawling along the highway just to get to work or home. If you want stress-free driving, then you should consider Parksville.

Emergency health care is limited

While most health concerns can be addressed by the local health centre, the nearest hospitals are in Nanaimo and Port Alberni. Granted, it does take about 30 minutes by vehicle to drive to either location (with favourable traffic conditions) but that can make some people nervous. If you are the type of person that wants a hospital in your hometown, then Parksville might be a little too small for your needs.

In general, most residents are highly satisfied with the healthcare situation in Parksville. Staff competency, equipment standards, friendliness of healthcare staff, and speed in completing examinations are all reported with more than satisfactory ratings. Specialized care may require visiting neighbouring larger cities for services, but Parksville’s medical facilities are a dependable resource for the community’s general medical needs.

However, Vancouver Island is running a little short on available family doctors. While you will be able to see a physician during a visit to a walk-in clinic, finding a family doctor may take a while. This problem is not unique to Parksville, but it is worth planning ahead if you do decide to relocate.

Ready to dive into Parksville’s real estate market?

At Ballard Fine Homes, we personally believe Parksville is one of the best places to live on Vancouver Island. As a custom home-building company, we have built homes all over the Oceanside region and can’t speak highly enough about the benefits of owning a home in Parksville. We are passionate about building beautiful homes on Vancouver Island that our clients love.

For more elaborate builds, we offer an extensive selection of high-end finishes and designs for that professional touch. Smaller renovation jobs are also welcome, including any questions you may have about our process. If you are looking to renovate or build your own custom home, we would love to get in touch with you to make that a reality.

With an exceptional attention to detail, we provide a broad selection of premium finishes and sophisticated designs made specifically for luxurious home builds. We look forward to working with you to make your dreams come true. Take the first step toward realizing your real estate dreams by reaching out to us today.

Kitchen design trends for 2024 you won’t want to miss

As the heart of the home, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any house. It’s a space where families gather to share meals, entertain friends, and create memories. As we move into 2024, kitchen aesthetics are evolving to meet the changing needs and desires of homeowners. From colours and textures to technology and functionality, here are some of the top kitchen design trends to watch out for in 2024.

Reflecting on 2023: Evolutionary Trends in Kitchen Design

As 2023 came to an end, kitchen design had undergone several changes, with a number of cutting-edge trends reshaping cooking areas.

The year was characterised by a tasteful fusion of functionality and technology, where traditional kitchen elements were skillfully combined with clever integration. Vibrant and dark color schemes created a strong impression, and the combination of different textures and materials gave the kitchen’s design depth and personality. Statement lighting has become a design hero, adding flair and functionality to spaces it illuminates. Also, the growing emphasis on sustainability and environmentally friendly appliance and material selections made a lasting impression, highlighting the growing significance of eco-friendly practices in kitchen design.

At the heart of every household, the kitchen embodies family gatherings, the creation of delectable meals, and the preservation of cherished memories. As we step into the realm of 2024, the canvas of kitchen design undergoes an enchanting transformation, mirroring the ever-evolving desires and aspirations of homeowners. This year brings innovative design trends that will transform kitchens for years to come. These trends include striking colour schemes, distinctive textures, and the smooth incorporation of technology.

Let’s explore kitchen trends of 2024, influenced by the many of the same features we saw in 2023.

Natural and Organic Materials

Natural and organic materials were a dominant trend last year. Homeowners are looking for ways to bring the outdoors inside, and raw materials like wood, stone, and metal are perfect for achieving this look. We saw wood kitchen cabinets and floors as popular choices, as was stone countertops and backsplashes. Metal accents like copper, brass, and gold were on-trend, adding a touch of warmth and luxury to the kitchen.

Modern white and grey kitchens complement the organic trend very well. The neutral palette is the ideal choice for the softer greys and subtle markings of stonework, as well as warm earth tones as accent options.

Mixing Materials for Texture and Depth in 2024

Kitchen designs leading up to 2024 were all about texture and diversity in materials. The trend leaned towards combining various textures and finishes, such as blending wood with metal, contrasting matte surfaces with glossy accents, or mixing different types of stone. This method enhanced the visual appeal and depth of kitchen design. We are continuing to see this trend in 2024.

Rise of Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Elements

Leading up to 2023, there was a growing emphasis on sustainability and eco-conscious design in kitchens. Homeowners increasingly sought out sustainable materials, energy-efficient appliances, and the incorporation of recycling stations. The trend reflected a broader movement towards more environmentally friendly choices in kitchen remodelling and design.

Wood Cabinets

There’s a new kitchen cabinet trend you might already be familiar with. As homeowners look for ways to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in their kitchens, wood cabinets are often a perfect choice. From light, natural woods to rich, dark stains, there is a wide range of options to choose from.

One trend to watch for in 2024 is the use of mixed woods in kitchen design. Rather than sticking with a single wood type, homeowners will mix and match different woods to create a unique and personalised look. For example, light wood cabinets can be paired with a darker wood floor to create an agreeable contrast.

Stone Countertops and Backsplashes

Stone countertops and backsplashes are continuing to be on-trend. From classic granite to modern quartz, there will be a wide range of stone options to choose from.

One difference in 2024 is the use of textured stone. Rather than a smooth, polished finish, stone with a more natural, textured surface will be the more popular design. This can create a more organic and natural look in the kitchen.

Luxury kitchen sink.

Darker and Bold Colors Take Center Stage

There has been a noticeable change from the traditional white kitchen trend, as darker and more striking hues have become more popular. Rich greens, deep blues, and even black were starting to gain popularity as colour choices in 2023. These darker colours offered a change from the conventional lighter palettes and gave kitchen spaces depth, sophistication, and a hint of drama.

While neutral colours like white and grey will continue to dominate kitchens in 2024, we will also see a continued return to bold, vibrant hues. Colours like navy blue, emerald green, and deep purple will be popular choices for cabinets and walls, while brighter shades like lemon yellow and coral will be used as accents. These colours can be used to create a dramatic statement or to add a pop of colour to an otherwise neutral kitchen.

Navy blue cabinets can create a dramatic statement in the kitchen, especially when paired with white or light-coloured countertops. Emerald green, a rich, jewel-toned choice, pairs beautifully with natural and organic materials. When used correctly, these bold colours draw positive attention towards a statement piece, accent wall, or as minimal ways to increase colour in a space.

Open Shelving

Are you looking for the next kitchen cabinet trends? Instead of traditional cabinets, homeowners are opting for open shelves to display their dishes, glasses, and cookbooks. Open shelves create a more airy, open feel in the kitchen and allow for easy access to everyday items. They also provide an opportunity to showcase beautiful dishes and decorative items.

Smart Technology Integration in the Kitchen

Technology is changing the way we live, and it’s also changing the way we design our kitchens. Smart appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers can now be connected to the internet, allowing homeowners to control them from their smartphones or other devices. This technology will also allow appliances to communicate with each other, creating a more seamless and efficient cooking experience.

Touch-screen refrigerators, automatic sensing trash cans, temperature control coffee mugs, and voice-activated microwave ovens (via Amazon Alexa) are a handful of smart kitchen appliances you will start spotting in stores.

Mixed Metals / Metal Accents

In 2024, mixing metals and using them as accents will be a hot trend in kitchen design carried over from last year. Mixing and matching different metals like brass, copper, and stainless steel creates unique and personalised looks. For example, a copper range hood paired with brass hardware and stainless steel appliances can create an eclectic and pseudo-steampunk appearance. The use of mixing metals can add depth, texture, and character to an otherwise plain kitchen.

Multifunctional Islands

Kitchen islands have been a popular trend for several years, partly due to how convenient and functional they are. Multifunctional islands that serve as both a workspace and a dining area will be a top trend. These islands can include built-in appliances like stovetops and ovens, as well as seating areas for casual dining. They can also be used for prep work and storage, making them a versatile and essential element in any modern kitchen.

With more open-concept designs trending year after year, multifunctional spaces like kitchen islands are looking to stick around for the long term, especially for homes with larger families.

1165 Robertson rendition of a beautiful white kitchen with island (seats 4)

Statement Lighting Steals the Show

Lighting is an essential element in any kitchen, and in 2024, statement lighting will be a top trend once again. We will see more striking lighting fixtures with sculptural patterns, vintage-inspired elements, and large pendants.

When incorporating statement lighting into your kitchen design, it’s important to consider the overall style and aesthetic of the space. A modern chandelier may look out of place in a traditional kitchen, for example. Similarly, a rustic pendant light may not fit in with a sleek and contemporary design.

It’s also important to consider the placement of your statement lighting. Statement lighting should be positioned in a way that draws the eye and creates a focal point in the space. This could mean hanging a chandelier over a dining table or clustering pendant lights over an island.

Sconces are another option. While they may not provide as much light as a chandelier or pendant, sconces can be used to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. They can be mounted on the walls above cabinets or on either side of a range hood.

Custom Home Designs

What are your thoughts on 2024’s upcoming kitchen design trends? With an emphasis on natural, raw materials mixed with bold colours and smart appliances, it appears this will be a year to remember for kitchen aesthetics. If you feel a little overwhelmed, don’t worry. We are here to help.

At Ballard Fine Homes, we provide clients with a showroom demonstrating many of our designs. Our example of a white modern kitchen is the perfect blank canvas to experiment with mixing metal finishes, exploring stone backsplash options, and seeing in person what design samples look like in natural lighting. If there is something you are curious about but don’t see on our website, our friendly staff are more than happy to accommodate your ideas. Reach out today and experience the Ballard Fine Homes difference.

Your ultimate list of things to do in Nanaimo

Are you looking for a mega guide for tourist attractions in Nanaimo? You’re in the right place! Our list of 25 fun activities in Nanaimo is sure to hit all the right marks, no matter what crowd you are hanging out with.

This article was originally published on August 16, 2023 with 17 activities in and around Nanaimo. We have since expanded it, offering you even more fun things to do in Nanaimo.

At Ballard Fine Homes, we are a custom home-building company on Vancouver Island. One of our top places to build is in Nanaimo, so we wanted to share some of the things we love the most about Nanaimo, including the variety of things to do.

You may have landed on this article because you are looking for tourist attractions, or perhaps you are considering moving to Nanaimo and want to see what is available. If you are interested in building your own custom home in Nanaimo, give us a call. Otherwise, enjoy having fun with any of these suggestions!

* Disclaimer: Always verify with each company for current prices, hours of operation, and safety information.

Table of Contents

  1. Harbour Air Seaplane Tour
  2. Nanaimo Bar Trail
  3. Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park
  4. Nanaimo Farmers’ Market
  5. Go kayaking
  6. Paint Nite
  7. Nanaimo Bar Cocktail Tour
  8. Nanaimo’s Escape Rooms
  9. Play a round of disc golf
  10. VRCore Virtual Worlds
  11. Nanaimo Museum
  12. Have a picnic at Neck Point Park
  13. Hiking at Westwood Lake Park
  14. Discover the Nanaimo Waterfront
  15. Maffeo Sutton Park
  16. WildPlay Element Parks
  17. Shopping at Woodgrove Centre
  18. Thrift Shopping
  19. Swim indoors at a wave pool
  20. Visit Linley Valley Cottle Lake Park
  21. Watch a movie or film
  22. Check out a live show
  23. Hunt for fossils at Ammonite Falls
  24. Learn history at a military museum
  25. Visit the Art Gallery

Harbour Air Seaplane Tour

Soar through the skies and take in breathtaking aerial views of Nanaimo’s stunning coastline. Prices start at around $140 per person. Suitable for adventure seekers and nature lovers. The seaplane terminal is located at 100 Port Drive.

Nanaimo is known for its picturesque coastline, and what better way to appreciate its beauty than from above? Hop on a Harbour Air Seaplane and prepare for an unforgettable adventure. As you take off from the Nanaimo seaplane terminal, the excitement builds, and soon you’ll find yourself soaring high above the glistening waters.

During the tour, you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping panoramic views of the rugged coastal landscape, with its lush forests, hidden coves, and majestic mountains. Keep your camera ready to capture snapshots of the stunning scenery. The experienced pilots provide informative commentary, pointing out notable landmarks and sharing fascinating facts about the area’s history and wildlife.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique perspective on Nanaimo, the Harbour Air Seaplane Tour is a must-do activity. It’s an opportunity to create lifelong memories and see the city’s natural beauty in a whole new way. So buckle up, get ready for takeoff, and prepare to be awe-inspired! Check out their website for more information.

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Nanaimo Bar Trail

Calling all dessert lovers!

Nanaimo is renowned for its mouthwatering Nanaimo Bars, and what better way to experience the city’s culinary delight than embarking on the Nanaimo Bar Trail? This self-guided tour takes you on a delectable journey through downtown Nanaimo, where you’ll have the opportunity to sample different variations of the famous treat.

But wait, what is a Nanaimo bar?

This delicious and iconic Canadian treat is a no-bake dessert that consists of three distinct layers. The base layer is made from a mixture of crushed graham crackers, cocoa powder, coconut flakes, chopped nuts (usually walnuts), and melted butter or margarine. The middle layer contains custard, and it is all topped off with melted chocolate. It is served chilled and is a perfect combination of sweet and smooth custard and chocolate.

At each stop along the trail, you’ll be greeted with tempting displays of Nanaimo Bars, each with its own unique twist. From classic recipes to innovative flavor combinations, you’re in for a treat at every corner. Sink your teeth into layers of chocolate, custard, and crumbly goodness while exploring the charming streets of Nanaimo.

The Nanaimo Bar Trail is suitable for dessert enthusiasts of all ages. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, it’s a fun and delicious way to immerse yourself in Nanaimo’s culinary culture. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to pick up some Nanaimo Bars to take home as souvenirs or gifts for friends and family. Get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth and embark on a delightful adventure!

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Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park

Catch a ferry to Newcastle Island and spend the day hiking, cycling, or picnicking amidst beautiful nature. Ferry tickets cost $15 for adults and $7 for children. Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and families. The ferry departure point is at 10 Wharf St, near the iconic copper capped Beacon condominiums.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture to Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, a serene oasis just a short ferry ride away. Located in the Nanaimo Harbour, this island paradise offers a wealth of outdoor activities and natural beauty. Catch the ferry from the departure point and prepare for an adventure.

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by pristine beaches, lush forests, and scenic trails waiting to be explored. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a picturesque trek through the island’s network of trails, leading you to breathtaking viewpoints and hidden coves. If you prefer cycling, bring your bike along and pedal your way around the island, taking in the sights at your own pace.

Newcastle Island is also a fantastic spot for picnicking and relaxation. Pack a delicious lunch and find a cozy spot by the waterfront or under the shade of towering trees. Listen to the sounds of nature, feel the gentle sea breeze, and let the island’s tranquility wash over you.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking adventure or a family looking for a day of fun in nature, Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty, make memories with loved ones, and discover a hidden gem just off the shores of Nanaimo.

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Nanaimo’s Farmers’ Market

Discover local produce, artisanal crafts, and delicious treats at the Nanaimo Farmers’ Market. Entry is free, and prices vary for products. Suitable for foodies and those seeking unique gifts. There are several markets, so check out this list for what is currently available.

Nanaimo Farmers’ Markets are a hub of activity every week. As you step into the market, you’ll be greeted by a bustling atmosphere filled with the aroma of fresh produce and the sound of cheerful chatter.

Wander through the stalls, where local farmers proudly display their bountiful harvests. From vibrant fruits and vegetables to fragrant herbs and homemade preserves, the market is a haven for those seeking the freshest ingredients for their culinary creations. Be sure to strike up conversations with the friendly vendors, who are always happy to share stories and offer cooking tips.

But the Nanaimo Farmers’ Market isn’t just about food—it’s also a haven for artists and crafters. Discover unique handmade jewelry, beautiful artwork, and intricately crafted pottery. Support local artisans by purchasing one-of-a-kind treasures that reflect the spirit of Nanaimo.

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Beautiful young couple kayaking on lake together and smiling

Kayaking Rentals

Rent a kayak and paddle along the tranquil waters of the harbour, soaking up the scenic beauty of the area. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and water lovers. Rentals can be found at Adventuress Sea Kayaking, Coastal Expression, and other facilities.

Are you ready for a splash of adventure on the waters of Nanaimo Harbour? Grab a paddle and hop into a kayak for an exhilarating experience. Kayak rental shops in Nanaimo offer you the opportunity to explore the stunning coastal scenery at your own pace.

As you glide through the calm waters, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views of the harbour and its picturesque shoreline. Feel the refreshing mist on your face as you navigate past rocky outcrops and hidden coves. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, such as seals, sea birds, and even occasional glimpses of playful dolphins.

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, paddling through the Nanaimo Harbour is an accessible adventure suitable for all skill levels. So grab a friend, don a life jacket, and embark on a memorable kayaking journey in the heart of Nanaimo.

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Paint Nite

Join a fun-filled painting session at various local venues in Nanaimo. Prices start at around $40 per person, including art supplies. Tickets can be purchased through their website. Suitable for creative souls and social butterflies. Venues change, so check the Paint Nite website or the local Facebook page for upcoming events.

Get ready to unleash your inner artist at Paint Nite, a unique and entertaining experience that combines painting, socializing, and a dash of liquid inspiration. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner, Paint Nite offers a welcoming and lively environment for everyone to express their creativity.

At Paint Nite, you’ll gather with fellow art enthusiasts at local venues in Nanaimo, such as cozy pubs or trendy cafes. Guided by a talented local artist, you’ll follow step-by-step instructions to create your own masterpiece. With a paintbrush in one hand and a drink in the other, you’ll let your imagination run wild as vibrant colors come to life on the canvas.

No need to worry about bringing art supplies—Paint Nite provides all the materials you’ll need, including brushes, paints, and a canvas. So gather your friends, sip on your favorite beverage, and let your artistic side shine in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

No previous painting experience is necessary—just bring your enthusiasm and a willingness to try something new.

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Nanaimo Bar Cocktail Tour

Are you ready to embark on a tantalizing journey of Nanaimo Bar-infused libations? The Nanaimo Bar Cocktail Tour is a delightful adventure for those with a taste for mixology and a love for the city’s iconic dessert. Prepare your taste buds for a symphony of flavors as you sip on creative concoctions inspired by the beloved Nanaimo Bar. If you have sampled the dessert around the city, scroll down the page a bit more to hit the adult drinks.

Throughout Nanaimo, trendy bars and cocktail lounges put their own spin on this classic treat, blending rich chocolate, smooth custard, and a hint of nutty goodness with spirits and liqueurs. From creamy martinis to decadent shooters, each cocktail tells a unique story and offers a tantalizing twist on the beloved dessert.

As you embark on this cocktail tour, you’ll have the opportunity to explore various venues, each showcasing their own Nanaimo Bar-inspired creations. Prices for the cocktails may vary depending on the establishments you visit, so it’s best to check with the local bars to plan your adventure.

Cheers to the perfect blend of sweetness, creativity, and the spirit of Nanaimo!

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Breakout Nanaimo Escape Rooms

Do you have what it takes to solve puzzles, unravel mysteries, and beat the clock?

Nanaimo’s Escape Rooms are the ultimate test of teamwork, critical thinking, and nerves of steel. Gather your friends, family, or colleagues and prepare for an adrenaline-pumping experience like no other. Prices typically range from $25 to $45 per person, as it depends on how large your group is. Perfect for puzzle lovers and thrill-seekers. Escape rooms are located at various venues in Nanaimo, such as Breakout Nanaimo Escape Rooms and Exit Canada.

As you step into the escape room, you’ll be greeted by a room filled with clues, puzzles, and hidden secrets. Your mission? Work together as a team to unravel the mysteries, crack the codes, and escape before time runs out. The clock will be ticking, the tension will rise, and every decision you make will bring you closer to victory or defeat.

So gather your squad, put your problem-solving skills to the test, and see if you have what it takes to escape the room and claim victory!

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Woman throwing a disc to the disc basket

Play a round of disc golf

Channel your inner Frisbee champion and try your hand at disc golf in Bowen Park. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a fun and active challenge. Bowen Park is located at 500 Bowen Road.

This unique and exhilarating game combines the precision of golf with the fun of throwing a Frisbee, creating a challenging and enjoyable experience for all. As you navigate through the park’s winding trails and lush greenery, you’ll encounter a series of designated targets known as baskets. Your goal is to throw your disc from the starting point and land it in the basket with as few throws as possible.

Disc golf is suitable for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone looking for a fun and active challenge. The cost of playing is generally free, although you may choose to rent discs from local shops if you don’t have your own. So gather your friends, unleash your inner Frisbee champion, and enjoy a memorable round of disc golf amidst the natural beauty of Bowen Park.

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VRCore Virtual Worlds

Immerse yourself in cutting-edge virtual reality experiences at VRCore. Prices vary depending on the duration and type of experience. Perfect for gamers, tech enthusiasts, and those seeking an unforgettable virtual adventure. Game On! Virtual Worlds is located at 2-1585 Bowen Road.

Equipped with high-tech VR headsets, motion controllers, and a wide array of immersive games and experiences, VRCore takes gaming to a whole new level. Whether you’re battling robots in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, exploring fantastical realms, or experiencing heart-pounding adventures, you’ll be transported to an entirely different reality.

Prices for experiences vary depending on the duration and type of adventure you choose. From short sessions to extended gameplay, there are options for every budget and interest. It’s the perfect destination for gamers, tech enthusiasts, and those seeking an unforgettable virtual adventure.

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Nanaimo Museum

Delve into Nanaimo’s rich heritage and culture at the Nanaimo Museum. Admission is typically $2 for adults. Perfect for history buffs, curious minds, and those seeking to connect with the city’s past. The museum is located at 100 Museum Way, Nanaimo.

As you explore the museum, you’ll discover the diverse facets of Nanaimo’s past. From the rich traditions of the Snuneymuxw First Nation to the city’s coal mining heritage, each exhibit offers a unique glimpse into the area’s cultural tapestry. Learn about the challenges and triumphs of early settlers, delve into the world of coal mining through a reconstructed mine, and gain insights into the individuals who have left their mark on Nanaimo.

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Picnic at Neck Point Park

Indulge in a delightful outdoor dining experience surrounded by natural beauty at Neck Point Park. Entry is free. Perfect for nature lovers, families, and those seeking a peaceful getaway. Neck Point Park is located at 1055 Morningside Drive, Nanaimo.

Pack a picnic basket filled with your favorite treats, grab a cozy blanket, and find the perfect spot to unwind and feast amidst the beauty of nature. Whether you choose to sit on the grassy fields overlooking the water or find a cozy nook among the trees, the serene ambiance and breathtaking views will enhance your dining experience.

Don’t feel like packing? Grab something to go at a nearby eatery, like Piper’s Pub or Delish Cupcakes to make it even easier!

So, gather your loved ones, embrace the natural beauty of Neck Point Park, and create lasting memories as you indulge in a delightful picnic experience. Savor the flavors, soak in the views, and let the peaceful ambiance of this coastal haven rejuvenate your senses.

(Note: Please ensure to follow park guidelines and leave no trace behind. Bring your own picnic supplies and take care of any trash responsibly.)

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A mature caucasian couple out for a hike together. Senior man and woman smiling and walking in a forest in nature

Hiking at Westwood Lake Park

Embark on a hiking expedition surrounded by the beauty of Westwood Lake Park. This picturesque park, situated at 381 Westwood Road, offers a network of trails that wind through lush forests and hug the tranquil shores of Westwood Lake. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner seeking a leisurely stroll, there’s a trail for everyone to enjoy.

As you meander along the well-maintained pathways, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding natural landscape. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and feel the invigorating energy of the outdoors. You might even encounter some wildlife along the way!

The entry to the park is free, making it an accessible option for a day of exploration and connection with nature. So, pack some snacks, bring your camera to capture the beauty, and embark on a memorable hike amidst the tranquility of Westwood Lake Park.

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Discover the Nanaimo Waterfront

Take a leisurely stroll along the Nanaimo Waterfront and soak up the charm of this vibrant coastal area. Entry is free. The Nanaimo Waterfront stretches along the Newcastle Channel and is accessible from various points in downtown Nanaimo.
This bustling coastal area offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, marinas, and a vibrant waterfront promenade. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful stroll, capturing stunning photographs, or simply enjoying the lively atmosphere, the Nanaimo Waterfront has something for everyone.

As you traverse the promenade, you’ll pass charming shops, cafes, and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or sip a refreshing beverage. Admire the boats gently bobbing in the marinas, watch seagulls soar through the air, and breathe in the invigorating scent of the sea. The waterfront is also a great spot for people-watching and immersing yourself in the lively energy of the city.

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Maffeo Sutton Park

Discover a gem in the heart of Nanaimo at Maffeo Sutton Park, a sprawling waterfront park that offers a wide range of activities and natural beauty. Located at 10 Comox Road, this park is a favorite destination for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and those seeking a day filled with recreation and relaxation.

As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by lush green spaces, colorful flower beds, and the gentle lapping of the waves. Maffeo Sutton Park is an ideal spot for a family outing, with ample picnic areas, playgrounds, and open spaces for kids to run and play. Bring along a frisbee or a soccer ball and enjoy a friendly game on the grassy fields.

For those seeking adventure on the water, the park also features a boat launch and a public dock, allowing you to set sail or simply take in the views of the harbor. The waterfront walkway invites you to stroll along the shoreline, bask in the beauty of the ocean, and maybe even spot some marine life.

Entry to Maffeo Sutton Park is free, making it a budget-friendly option for a day of outdoor enjoyment. So, pack a picnic, bring your favorite outdoor games, and immerse yourself in the beauty and recreational opportunities that Maffeo Sutton Park has to offer. It’s a place where cherished memories are made and the spirit of nature thrives.

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WildPlay Element Parks

Unleash your inner thrill-seeker and embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure at WildPlay Element Parks, located at 35 Nanaimo River Road.

Are you ready to push your limits and embrace the call of adventure? Look no further than WildPlay Element Parks, an exhilarating destination for adrenaline junkies and adventure enthusiasts.

At WildPlay, you can take on daring zip lines, navigate challenging obstacle courses, and test your courage on breathtaking aerial adventures. Soar through the treetops, conquer suspended bridges, and experience a rush of excitement as you tackle each heart-pounding challenge. With varying levels of difficulty, there are options for both beginners and experienced adventurers.

The prices at WildPlay Element Parks vary depending on the activities you choose to participate in. It’s best to check their website for specific pricing details and to make reservations.

So, gather your courage, strap on your safety harness, and prepare to unleash your inner adventurer at WildPlay Element Parks. It’s an opportunity to conquer fears, push your boundaries, and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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Happy Couple Shopping

Shopping at Woodgrove Centre

Calling all shopaholics! Get ready for a shopping spree like no other at Woodgrove Shopping Centre, Nanaimo’s premier shopping destination. With over 150 stores and services, this bustling retail hub has everything you need to satisfy your fashion cravings, discover the latest trends, and find that perfect item you’ve been searching for. Woodgrove Shopping Centre is located at 6631 Island Hwy N.

From popular fashion retailers to specialty boutiques, you’ll find a wide range of options to suit every style and budget. Whether you’re in the mood for a wardrobe refresh, hunting for unique home decor, or seeking that must-have gadget, Woodgrove Shopping Centre has it all. Explore well-known brands, browse through local stores, and uncover hidden gems as you navigate the bustling aisles.

Aside from a vast array of stores, Woodgrove Shopping Centre also offers a variety of dining options to refuel after a successful shopping spree. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite, a leisurely meal, or a tasty treat, you’ll find a range of eateries to satisfy any craving.

Woodgrove Shopping Centre is a haven for fashionistas, bargain hunters, and anyone in need of a dose of retail therapy. Whether you prefer to shop ’til you drop or simply enjoy the bustling atmosphere, this shopping paradise is sure to satisfy your cravings. So, grab your shopping bags, put on your most comfortable shoes, and get ready to embark on a delightful shopping adventure at Woodgrove Shopping Centre.

Oh and when you’re done, don’t forget to hit up Costco on the way home!

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Thrift Shopping

Are you looking for something cheap to do in Nanaimo? The ultimate treasure hunt, hitting up thrift stores around the city is a fun way to pass the time. Will you find something from your childhood? A hidden gem? Or simply an amazing deal you can’t turn down? If you’re hungry for a bargain, check out these thrift stores.

Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store
Northridge Village Mall, 5800 Turner Rd #202, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6J4

Vancouver Island Thrift Store
1585 Bowen Rd Unit 1, Nanaimo, BC V9S 1G4

Salvation Army Thrift Store
1613 Bowen Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9S 1G5

Salvation Army Thrift Store
6750 Island Hwy N, Nanaimo, BC V9V 1S3

Stoxx Thrift & Vintage Nanaimo
Woodgrove Center, Nanaimo, BC V8T 4T7

Once Upon a Child Nanaimo
6461 Metral Dr #106, Nanaimo, BC V9T 2L9

Leiv it or Love it
7217 Lantzville Rd #2, Lantzville, BC V0R 2H0

Habitat For Humanity Nanaimo ReStore
4128 Mostar Rd #1, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6C9

Good Neighbour Thrift Store
4196 Departure Bay Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9T 4B7

Hospice Shoppe
1925 Bowen Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9S 1H1

Rumours Vintage Collective
163 Commercial St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G5

Funk Revival
87 Commercial St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G3

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Swim indoors – at a wave pool!

Nanaimo has a state of the art recreation facility, which includes an indoor wave pool. Check out their drop-in schedule and plan a trip with the kids!

If you don’t have children with you, it is still a great place to go for light exercise and socializing. 25m lengths and Aquafit sessions are available on most days.

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Visit Linley Valley Cottle Lake Park

If you’re near Departure Bay or Hammond Bay, consider exploring Linley Valley Cottle Lake Park. This is a smaller, easily accessible hiking trail within Nanaimo. The entrance to the trail can be found at 4450 Burma Road or 3669 Rock City Road, depending on what end you are on. The Rock City Road entrance is the more popular choice, as it has a few parking spots available.

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Watch the latest movie or film

When was the last time you watched a movie on the big screen? Take a break from Netflix or Hulu and visit your local theatre. Most venues are equipped with better sound systems, recliner chairs, and that addictive, buttery popcorn!

Here are a few you can visit, depending on what end of town you are cruising around.

Galaxy Cinemas Nanaimo
4750 Rutherford Rd #213, Nanaimo, BC V9T 4K6

Landmark Cinemas Nanaimo
6631 N Island Hwy, Nanaimo, BC V9T 4T7

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Check out a live show

Are you more of a “live performance” kind of person? No fret, Nanaimo has a rich culture scene with plenty of live shows. Here are a few for you to mark on your map:

Port Theatre
125 Front St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 6Z4

Malaspina Theatre
900 Fifth St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5

150 Commercial St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G6

Nanaimo Entertainment Centre
46 Nicol St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 4S8

1941 Wilfert Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9S 3H6

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Ammonite fossil

Hunt for fossils at Ammonite Falls

We can’t help it, Vancouver Island is rich with great places to hike. Ammonite Falls is no exception, and lucky visitors may even find a fossil! Ammonite and bivalve fossils have been discovered in this region, hence its name.

The hike to the falls is of moderate difficulty and located within Benson Creek Falls Regional Park. Be sure to give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy the hike at a comfortable pace. Travel safely and have fun!

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Learn history at a military museum

Visiting the military museum doesn’t cost very much in terms of money or time, but its knowledge is absolutely priceless.

The Vancouver Island Military Museum has an extensive collection of military memorabilia and artifacts. Their displays go beyond WWI and WWII – there are exhibits from the War of 1812 all the up to recent events in Afghanistan. Take an hour or so out of your day to learn about the lives and further impact these brave souls had on our freedom.

You can visit the museum at 100 Cameron Rd.
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Visit the Art Gallery

Is a visit to a new city complete without checking out its local art? The Nanaimo Art Gallery is located at 150 Commercial Street, with a rotating exhibition schedule.

If you’re local to the area or planning on staying awhile, you may be interested in one of their many art programs. From beading to card making, there is something that is sure to pique your interest. They also offer tours led by a gallery facilitator. If you can’t make up your mind, they offer a tour followed by an art project, too.

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sea otter

Impressed by Nanaimo? Move to Vancouver Island and enjoy it year-round!

While we know it takes more than a list of activities to convince anyone to move to another city, it can help churn dreams into motion. Dream building is what we do at Ballard Fine Homes. We build custom homes in places like Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Courtenay.

So, if you happen to be considering moving to Nanaimo, we’d love to hear from you. We’ll give you the inside scoop on how building a custom home can be an affordable way to get into the Nanaimo real estate market, or let you know what areas we think are the best for growing families or retirees. Don Ballard and his team have been building custom homes on Vancouver Island for many years – yours could be next!

If you are still on the fence and want to learn more about living on Vancouver Island, feel free to browse some of our other articles:

Pros and Cons of Living on Vancouver Island

Pros and Cons for living in Courtenay, BC

Pros and Cons for living in Comox, BC

Moving to Nanaimo – what you need to know.

How much does it cost to build a house in Nanaimo?

Pros and Cons for moving to Parksville, BC

Pros and cons for moving to a small community like French Creek

Perks and considerations for living on a lake or near the ocean

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our beautiful island. We welcome you to visit our showroom in Parksville to learn more about how you can get started with your own custom home. Visit us at 546 Island Highway in Parksville, BC or call the office (250) 586-9077 for more information.

How much does it cost to build a house in Nanaimo?

Are you sick and tired of shelling out thousands of dollars only to have to spend more to make it look half-decent? Building a custom home is a great option to consider, but how much does it cost? There are several factors to consider when landing on a firm price, so we will dive into what some of those costs look like. But first, should you buy or build?

This article was originally published on August 9, 2023. Due to its popularity, we have since expanded it, offering you even more valuable information about buying a home in Nanaimo.

Close up focus on keys in hands of blurred joyful young loving african american married couple. Sincere mixed race homeowners celebrating purchasing own flat, feeling excited of renting new dwelling.

Nanaimo average house prices – buy or build?

Should you buy a home in Nanaimo or build it from scratch? The answer to that question depends on what you are looking for.

Many homes in Nanaimo were built a considerable time ago, meaning quite a few have needed extensive renovations over the years. It takes a lot of work to upkeep a property and sometimes these older ones come with repairs and renovations that can be very costly, such as rewiring or re-plumbing a home. For that reason, it could be more cost-effective to build a simple home.

On the other hand, there have been several new developments in the city. Purchasing a new home is entirely possible, but it will come at a cost. Real estate prices on Vancouver Island have been steadily increasing, so these new homes are likely to cost quite a bit. The average price of a home in Nanaimo runs around $700 000 to $800 000 at the writing of this article, for example. (Update as of October 2023, the average benchmark price has changed to $802,500)

The compromise between affordability and having a new home means building your own custom home. In this way, you can make it as lavish or frugal as you’d like. As you are the one to design the home, you won’t have to worry about planning for a renovation only a few years down the road because it’ll be just the way you want it already.

For many people, building a custom home is a great option. So, what goes into it?

3321 Klanawa Crescent kitchen view from living area

Factors that affect the cost to build a house

There are quite a few things to consider when refining your budget for building a home. Below are some things to consider for your checklist, but it is also highly recommended that you talk to a professional builder, such as those at Ballard Fine Homes. Through a conversation, we can help give you a more accurate estimate of what the current prices are for various factors.

But for now, here are a few factors to be aware of:

  • The location of the property. How much is your land going to cost? Did you buy land on a small island near Nanaimo? Transportation costs for materials might cost more.
  • How large the size of the home will be
  • How elaborate of a house design do you want to have? Generally, simpler is a more frugal option.
  • The quality and choice of materials and finishes. Are you installing budget-friendly flooring or high-end marble?
  • Contractor fees
  • Cost per square foot for various contractors, materials, and supply chain.

In Nanaimo, a custom home usually costs between $500 000 to upwards of $2 million depending on these factors. Something like a tiny home will cost far less than a three-storey, waterfront mansion with numerous bedrooms and bathrooms. For this reason, it is misleading to set a firm price on how much it costs per square foot to build a home. Personal taste, budgets, and other factors all are taken into account when determining how much a custom home costs to build.

To see where you fit on the spectrum, reach out to Don Ballard and his team for a chat about what you’d like to have. We offer personalized consultations and can give you a much better idea of what your dream home will cost after we talk to you about your wants and needs, and show you other homes we have build in the past as examples.

If you’re only here for the numbers, WOWA reports the price per square foot to build a house runs between $90 – $260, with the higher range being reported in Vancouver. But like we said, there are many factors to consider so it is best to talk with us at Ballard Fine Homes for a transparent, honest look at your home-building goals.

A gorgeous bathroom seen in one of Ballard Fine Homes' show homes.

Ballard Fine Homes Offers Flexibilty and Customization

Even if you haven’t considered building a custom home, hear us out.

Real estate prices are going up everywhere. Many people are looking for that perfect home, so the demand for higher priced homes is equally as high. With how hectic life can get, people aren’t as excited about fixer-uppers as they once were, but they don’t want to give up that customization that makes the process that much more enjoyable. Building a brand-new custom home is the perfect solution.

Custom homes offer flexibility, customization, and control. Instead of making an offer and crossing your fingers that the seller will accept your offer, you can build your own dream home. In this way, you can control how much you want to spend, what customization options you want, and make your own decisions on what to be flexible about.

We understand that although it sounds great, sometimes the more options you have, the more overwhelming and difficult it can be to make a decision. That’s why we are here to help. Our in-person showroom in Parksville is an opportunity for you to see what finishes we have available, with samples of how they can come together.

With Ballard Fine Homes, you are in control of how your space looks. Our Custom Features page goes through each room with a suggested list of items you can choose to include in your build. We stand by our motto, “Dream building is what we do” so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your dream home.

Are there any hidden costs related to house building?

When working with a reputable building company, there should never be any hidden costs. Sometimes, unexpected costs do come up but that is rare and a surprise to both the buyer and the contractor. Transparency and trust are essential components for a successful client relationship, which Don Ballard and his team take quite seriously.

Instead of thinking about hidden costs, consider some costs that may not come to mind right away.

Other factors to consider:
1. Does your property require any special permits? Sometimes protected land can influence what you can or cannot do. Local building codes, permit fees, and regulatory requirements can impact construction costs. Compliance with specific regulations may necessitate additional design or construction elements, adding to the overall expenses.
2. If your home is far from the road, you may need to have a utility company put in new lines to connect your home to the grid. For example, extending water, electricity, or sewer lines, can increase expenses.
3. Does the land need to be landscaped before building? For example, is there a steep slope that will need to be levelled, or is the soil stable enough to support a home?
Seismic activity in the region means that homes may require additional construction measures, such as reinforced structures or specialized materials.

Wife and husband paying utility bill online

Utility Costs

How much does it cost to get BC Hydro hooked up? What about your internet?

Here’s a quick rundown:

BC Hydro: Nanaimo is in Rate Zone 1. New service ranges between $1000 – $3000 depending on how many amps and if you are getting overhead or underground connections.

Natural Gas: Fortis charges about $800.

Internet: This varies a lot depending on how close you are to a current setup. The property owner will need to contact these companies for a more accurate quote: Telus, Shaw, and Starlink (around $800).

Drilling for a well: Best case scenario is $10 000, but it can be upwards of $30 000 or more depending if you find water or not. Note that if you are located in the city, you will be connected to the municipal line instead.

Septic (outside of Nanaimo): $10 000 – $20 000 Inside the city, you will likely be hooked up to the city sewage system.

Connecting to the city sewage system: The Regional District is asking property owners to reach out for a quote.

At Ballard Fine Homes, we take into account these types of costs (and others) to be as transparent and accurate as possible for our clients. This shortlist is meant as a ballpark idea of what these things could cost for someone that has no idea about the subject. Our team provides up-to-date information for all of our clients.

Waterfront at Nanaimo, BC

What is it like to live in Nanaimo?

If you’ve landed here, it means you may have an interest in purchasing a home in Nanaimo or nearby on Vancouver Island. We have already covered plenty of Vancouver Island lifestyle articles – pros and cons, things to do, that sort of thing.

To find out what it is like to live in Nanaimo, Parksville, or the Comox Valley, check out our list below. There are a couple more Nanaimo-related articles, plus a few neighbouring towns we don’t want you to miss out on.

Moving to Nanaimo – what you need to know.

The Ultimate List of Things To Do in Nanaimo

Pros and Cons of Living on Vancouver Island

Pros and Cons for living in Courtenay, BC

Pros and Cons for living in Comox, BC

Pros and Cons for moving to Parksville, BC

Pros and cons for moving to a small community like French Creek

Perks and considerations for living on a lake or near the ocean

Your Nanaimo Home Builders

Are you looking for flexibility and control over your new home? Avoid the headaches, and build your home from the ground up with the help and expertise of Ballard Fine Homes.

We will walk you through the process to make building a home an enjoyable experience you won’t regret. Our clients have reported us as a professional building company with high attention to detail and exceptional customer service.

Ready to take the next step? We are only a call away to get your dreams realized into something truly special. Questions are always welcome!

Moving to Nanaimo – what you need to know

Is Nanaimo a good place to live? Are there any bad areas to be aware of? Those considering moving to Nanaimo have questions like these, and more. In this relocation guide, we will answer the most commonly asked questions about moving to Nanaimo. The pros and cons of living in this harbour city will be outlined so you can make a better-informed decision about where you’d like to live.

This article was originally published on June 21, 2023. We have since updated it with more valuable information. Enjoy!

A piggy bank behind a model of a house.

Cost of living in Nanaimo

One of the most important points to consider is how much it is going to cost to live comfortably. While inflation occurs all over the country, some places seem to get hit harder than others. Those considering moving to Nanaimo might be doing so because it is simply too expensive to live in larger cities like Vancouver.

When comparing the cost of living between Nanaimo and Vancouver, Nanaimo wins on most fronts. Rent, groceries, and other consumer prices are generally lower in Nanaimo than in Vancouver. Other sources support Nanaimo’s more affordable cost of living compared to other British Columbia towns and cities.

Real estate market & rent prices

How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Nanaimo? Like with any city, costs vary depending on location. A one-bedroom apartment will run you around $1500/month, while a larger three-bedroom is $2500 or more. The median home price in Nanaimo is substantially lower than the provincial average, making Nanaimo a strong contender for more affordable real estate options in BC.

How much does it cost to build a house in Nanaimo? While it does vary on factors such as location, land cost, building materials, and contractor costs, we have broken it down in one of our blog articles. As custom home builders, we have helped many families build their dream homes on a variety of budgets. If you’re interested in seeing what options are available for you, we encourage you to contact us for more information. Real estate prices in Nanaimo are continuing to rise, with an average single family home in the $700 000 to $800 000 range at the writing of this article. With prices like that, why not consider building something made just for you?

Nanaimo contains a mix of housing types. Single-family homes are the most common, seen as ranchers, two-storey, split-levels, and usually contain a one-car garage. These homes are usually built in a mid-century modern or west coast contemporary style. More and more people are choosing to consult a Nanaimo home builder to create a custom home, which is more of a possibility given the savings on the property purchase.

If you are looking for waterfront homes on Vancouver Island, then Nanaimo is a great place to consider. Either on the water or with beautiful views, Nanaimo has several great waterfront neighborhoods such as Departure Bay, North Nanaimo, Hammond Bay, Old City, South Nanaimo, and Cedar.

Waterfront at Nanaimo, BC

Employment opportunities

How is the job situation in Nanaimo? Most employed residents work in sales, trades, business, and finance-related occupations, with healthcare and retail being the dominant industries. While you may not find as many jobs as in metropolitan Vancouver, the city of around 100 000 residents does provide a variety of employment opportunities.

Nanaimo weather

Nanaimo is a coastal city on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Like any other city by the sea, Nanaimo experiences a variety of weather conditions and its fair share of wind. However, all of Vancouver Island is known for its mild, temperate climate and Nanaimo is no exception. While not too warm or cool, Nanaimo also experiences rainfall, snowfall, and the occasional thunderstorm.

A smiling family of four

Nanaimo Demographics

With around 100 000 residents, Nanaimo is a vibrant mix of diverse cultures, ages, and backgrounds. The median age of a Nanaimo resident is 45 years old with a median household annual income of around $60 000. Most residents are married or single.

The majority of people are of European descent, but there are some visible minorities within Nanaimo, as well. Of these minorities, Aboriginal, South Asian, and Chinese ethnicities are the most populous. The Snuneymuxw are First Nation Coast Salish people, covering a large territory on the east coast of Vancouver Island. English is the primary language for the area, although you will come across people speaking languages like Punjabi and Mandarin from time to time.

The Regional District of Nanaimo provides some Statistics Canada information about the people living in and near Nanaimo. While the official population count is around 170 000, about 100 000 of that is within the city of Nanaimo.

In our experience, we find a large mix of ages and families in Nanaimo. Retirees are just as likely to live in Nanaimo as are smaller families. In Nanaimo’s old town, the Beacon condominiums are popular for retirees, while small families tend to prefer living in neighbourhoods like Diver Lake, North Nanaimo, and Uplands. The neighbourhood of Departure Bay contains many single-family homes and offers a view of the ferries travelling to and from Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. Many young professionals live near Depature Bay and commute on the ferry to Vancouver for business trips.

Overall, Nanaimo is a very welcoming place for young families, immigrants, and retirees.

Happy students with one in particular giving a thumbs up

What is there to see and do in Nanaimo?

With its strong population, Nanaimo is one of the top places on the island for things to do. Plus, if you don’t find what you want in Nanaimo you are only a short ferry or plane ride away from the mainland.

We’ve done the work for you and compiled a list of things to do in Nanaimo. This list covers local amenities and popular activities. Everything from shopping to escape rooms, and farmers’ markets to seaplane tours are mentioned in that list.

As Nanaimo is part of the beautiful landscape of Vancouver Island, outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy benefiting from the local scenery. Newcastle Island, Hornby Island, and Denman Island are short ferry rides from Nanaimo for a slightly different taste of local activities. Hiking, walking, and boating are also very popular. Westwood Lake is one such example found near the heart of the city.

Are there good schools in Nanaimo?

Nanaimo is a great place to raise a family. Several elementary and high schools are found throughout the city, including some post-secondary options. As part of School District 68, Nanaimo shares this space with nearby Ladysmith to provide twenty-eight elementary schools and six secondary schools. Post-secondary facilities such as Vancouver Island University and Sprott Shaw College further add to the appeal.

Health care worker with arms crossed.

Healthcare satisfaction

In general, Nanaimo residents report a moderate to high level of satisfaction with various healthcare services and facilities. In terms of facilities, Nanaimo contains a regional hospital and several types of healthcare facilities.

However, there has been a challenge among residents on Vancouver Island when finding a family doctor. While this issue is not unique to Nanaimo, it is still affected by the high demand of residents seeking a physician. Those without a doctor can use walk-in clinics and the hospital for emergencies.

BC Ferries

Central location

Nanaimo has a favourable location on Vancouver Island. It feels like a central location because getting to places like Victoria, Tofino, Comox, and even Vancouver all take roughly the same amount of time – usually between 1-3 hours depending on where you are heading.

The BC Ferries have scheduled, year-round services from Nanaimo to Horseshoe-Bay (North Vancouver) and Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver), as well as smaller routes to the various islands within the Strait of Georgia. The Vancouver Island Airport is also located at the southern end of Nanaimo, allowing for flights to Vancouver or Calgary.

Build your dream home with a Nanaimo home builder

Are you now considering relocating your family to Nanaimo? Ballard Fine Homes is a Nanaimo home-building company that takes the pressure off of building so you can spend more time on what matters – getting excited about your dream home. Our showroom and show homes offer an opportunity to see online or in person how various layouts, fixtures, and designs work harmoniously together. Don Ballard and his team are available to answer any questions you may have about how you can turn your dreams into a custom-built home designed perfectly for you. Contact us today to get started.

Pros and Cons of living on Vancouver Island

Have you heard about Vancouver Island? No, we aren’t talking about the metropolitan city of Vancouver, but instead, its next-door neighbour to the west. This large island is home to many small towns and British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria. While many people choose to live on the Lower Mainland, there are even better reasons to make the move to Vancouver Island. In this article, we outline several pros and cons of living on the island.

If you’re finding yourself thinking that Vancouver is too expensive and are looking for other options, you’ll want to give this one a read.

This article was originally published on May 10, 2023. We have since updated it with more valuable information. Enjoy!

Benefits of living on Vancouver Island

We love living on Vancouver Island. As a Nanaimo home-building company, we have helped countless clients build custom homes in Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Courteney. Read on to discover a few of the reasons why people are flocking to the Vancouver Island real estate market.

Outdoor activities

Many people enjoy the dense, west coast environment for hiking, biking, water sports, camping, fishing, and other activities. There are several marinas located on all sides of the island, including neighbouring ones on the Discovery Islands. The ease of stepping outdoors to enjoy an outdoor activity makes this area desirable for a large number of people and interests.

There are a large number of lakes, rivers, and of course, access to the ocean. Other popular activities not already mentioned include kite surfing, paddle boarding, canoeing, floating down the river, water skiing, jet skiing, and picnics on the beach. If you hit the right time of year, you can view an amazing sand sculpting competition at Parksville Beach Fest.

We have mountains, too. In the winter, sports like skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, and tubing are popular. In warmer months, visitors can enjoy the view or participate in fun activities like ziplining. Mount Washington is a hot spot all year round.

A couple walking through Cathedral Grove

Abundant nature

Lakes, ocean, mountains, dense forest – Vancouver Island has it all. Along with plenty of outdoor recreation activities, being surrounded by nature also provides exceptional views and opportunities for local flora and fauna to seamlessly blend into your lifestyle.

Cathedral Grove at MacMillan Park is a protected old-growth forest on Vancouver Island. Visitors are able to walk through serene paths to experience the majestic nature of this beautiful forest. Some of these trees are over 800 years old and include varieties such as Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, and various types of Hemlock.

Up island is a beautiful hiking spot at San Josef Bay. This part of the island is less densely populated and feels more remote when hiking. By far the most popular hiking trail is the West Coast Trail, which stretches from Port Renfrew to around Bamfield and takes usually about a week to complete.

Goats on the Roof at Coombs

Relaxed, slower vibe

Less hustle and bustle means a more relaxed, slower lifestyle than its Vancouver counterpart. This makes Vancouver Island a great place to retire, but it’s also active enough for younger people to enjoy, too. If city living is too hectic for you, consider the slower vibe of Vancouver Island for your mental health.

Say “hi” to the Goats on the Roof in Coombs, wander through the beautiful Butchart Gardens near Victoria, camp near the shoreline at Pachena Bay, or spend a relaxing day shopping downtown in Parksville. Long walks on the beach are a’plenty, as are opportunities to be social and interact with people. The local brewery scene is strong, with several craft breweries such as Tofino Brewing Company, Twin City Brewing, Philips Brewing, Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company, and many others.

Mild climate

Vancouver Island has a mild, temperate climate with relatively warm temperatures year-round, making it an attractive place to live. For example, many golf courses are open year-round – a rare treat in British Columbia!

In the city of Vancouver, rain is a part of life during the cooler months. While this climate does creep onto Vancouver Island, instead of hitting concrete it nourishes the natural plants and trees of the region, resulting in lush forests, vibrant blooms, and the occasional opportunity to observe a beachfront winter storm.

What’s the weather like right now on Vancouver Island? Check it out for yourself – here are some popular towns and cities you can grab that info from right now.

Nanaimo Weather

Parksville Weather

Qualicum Beach Weather

Comox Weather

Victoria Weather

Port Hardy Weather

Less traffic

Sick of getting stuck in traffic? Those days are long gone once you’ve relocated to the island. The worst traffic is usually seen in Victoria during rush hour, but it is nothing compared to the long treks on the Lower Mainland. Imagine pulling out of your driveway and driving to the store and only passing by a car or two. It isn’t a dream – many small towns have plenty of space on the road for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. You might even see someone riding on horseback, depending on the area!

Affordable real estate

Looking for cheap homes in BC? Vancouver Island has several great choices.

While real estate prices are rising everywhere, they are still relatively more affordable on Vancouver Island compared to the Lower Mainland. In addition, there are more real estate listings generally available for acreages or empty lots for you to build your own custom home.

A map of Vancouver Island

Lower cost of living

When compared to places like Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Richmond, Vancouver Island tends to have a lower cost of living. Paired with more affordable real estate listings, this means you can purchase your dream home and still have money left in your pocket for other things you want – vacations, a second property, a new boat for your lakefront home, whatever you want! With rising prices across the globe, these opportunities to save a bit of money and still have a decent quality of life are becoming rare. Fortunately, Vancouver Island is still a relatively affordable place to live, surrounded by beautiful forests, good people, and a relaxed atmosphere.

There are many resources online for comparing cost of living measures. Whether you’re looking for the cheapest place to retire, somewhere for a fresh start, or the most luxurious home you’ve ever owned, you can find it all on Vancouver Island.

Here are a few cost of living resources that we like:

WorkBC Cost of Living Calculator – enter your desired town and your profession (or yearly salary), then fill out your expenses column to get a customized report.

Numbeo is a crowd-sourced cost of living database. This means that people enter in values based on their experiences. Sometimes this can be a bit inaccurate, but it does give a great picture of what to expect in general for the area.

Townfolio leans more towards general demographics but can be equally as useful as the other resources we have mentioned.

Two people on the beach with arms outstretched looking at the sunset.

Plenty of luxurious waterfront homes to choose from

The abundance of lakes, rivers, and ocean waters means finding a luxurious waterfront home on Vancouver Island is a high possibility, not a dream. Lakefront properties, beach houses, and river view homes are plentiful. Purchase a home that’s already established, renovate it to suit your needs, or start from scratch and build your own luxury custom home. Don’t take a vacation, live the vacation!

Ballard Fine Homes has several developments underway, some of which are right on the waterfront. If you are interested in waterfront home, please reach out to our team for more information.

High sense of community

Do you miss the good old days before smart devices where people talked to each other face to face? While smartphones are still a part of life, Vancouver Island is home to many smaller towns with a large sense of community. In these towns, locals will spark up conversations with each other on the bus, at the grocery store, or anywhere else people gather. When unfortunate circumstances occur, often you will find the community gathering together to offer their help to one another.

Potential disadvantages for island living

Transparency is important to Don Ballard and his team, which is why we want to inform you of some potential disadvantages of living on Vancouver Island, along with the perks. In this way, you can decide for yourself if island living is suitable for your lifestyle.

Less sophisticated public transportation options

Do you rely on the SkyTrain? It doesn’t exist on Vancouver Island, so relying on your vehicle is more important than if you were living on the mainland. While each city or town has its public transportation system, it is limited to city buses that tend to run less frequently than the SkyTrains in Vancouver or Burnaby. So you may need to allocate a little bit of extra time in your travel plans if you are used to getting around in a flash.

The benefit is that these rapid transit options aren’t needed. In most cases, you can drive across town in minutes (not hours), so getting around isn’t that big of an issue.

Potential for urban construction due to the rising population

The word got out and more and more people are relocating to Vancouver Island. What does this mean for you? With a growing population, there is more of a demand for services and housing. These don’t come out of thin air, so some areas will see more of a construction boom compared to others. Sometimes this can mean traffic delays or added noise, but it also means a higher quality of living once these amenities are complete and ready for public use.

Fewer job opportunities

The number of businesses and job opportunities is fewer than their mainland counterparts, so it might be slightly more difficult to find a job. This makes sense, as there isn’t a collection of metropolitan cities crammed side by side like on the Lower Mainland.

orcas swimming near Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island small towns to consider

Did you enjoy our pros and cons article for Vancouver Island? We have a few more related articles for various towns and cities on the island. Check them out below and help fine-tune your search for your beautiful home!

Pros and Cons for living in Courtenay, BC

Pros and Cons for living in Comox, BC

Moving to Nanaimo – what you need to know.

Your ultimate list of things to do in Nanaimo

How much does it cost to build a house in Nanaimo?

Pros and Cons for moving to Parksville, BC

Pros and cons for moving to a small community like French Creek

Perks and considerations for living on a lake or near the ocean

However, with so many jobs having the ability to work remotely from home, this can be more of a perk than a loss. What better place to have your office than in the relaxed, scenic environment found on Vancouver Island?

Ready to make a move?

Have you come to a decision about moving to Vancouver Island? Are you wanting a little bit more information before you make the leap? Contact the team at Ballard Fine Homes to find out more about what it is like living on Vancouver Island. We have built custom homes for clients in areas like Nanaimo, Parksville, Comox, and Courtenay to name a few, and are happy to provide insider information about each of these communities to help you be better prepared.

Starting a Hobby Farm? Build a Custom Home and Save Time Later

Are you dreaming of a life in the countryside, with wide-open spaces, fresh produce at your doorstep, and a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city?

If you’re considering starting a hobby farm, finding the perfect acreage for sale is just the beginning. Places like Coombs, Hilliers, Parksville, Nanaimo, and the Comox Valley are ripe with real estate options, many of which contain acreage.

While many may opt for an existing farmhouse, there’s a compelling case for building a custom home. It’s not only a practical choice but also an elegant way to set yourself up for success in the world of homesteading.

In this article, we’ll explore why custom homes on your acreage can be a game-changer and provide examples of custom features that can make your homesteading experience even more enjoyable.

Modern Farmhouse Dreams

The allure of a modern farmhouse is undeniable, with its timeless charm and contemporary conveniences. Maybe you’ve been inspired by homesteaders on YouTube, or felt the crunch of grocery prices and want to be more self-sufficient. Whatever your reason, the dream of owning a modern farmhouse is beautiful possibility that you can pass down through the generations of your family.

Building a custom farmhouse on your acreage allows you to design a home that suits your vision perfectly. Picture a spacious, open-concept kitchen with a larger-than-life pantry to store your farm-fresh produce, or even a canning/processing room for all your homegrown goods in the cooler basement.

Self-sustainable female chef arranging a variety of freshly picked produce into a crate on an organic farm.

With that acreage, the outdoors are also a blank slate. Imagine fields of vegetable and flower gardens with enough produce to skip going to the grocery store for an entire year. Or perhaps you envision a chicken coop, dairy cows, and other animals enjoying the outdoor space with you.

If you love to entertain, why not include an outdoor kitchen, swimming pool, whirlpool, or sauna? This is your dream home – build it how you want it. With a custom home, these features can be seamlessly integrated into the design, making your homesteading activities more efficient and enjoyable.

Maximize Functionality

One of the key advantages of building a custom home on your hobby farm is the ability to maximize functionality.

Consider having a farmhouse with a garage that not only houses your vehicles but also serves as a workshop for your farming equipment. An attached greenhouse could allow for year-round cultivation, or a mudroom with a pet-washing station could make farm life more manageable. A dedicated growing room for your vegetable starters near your garden or a laundry room on the same floor as your bedrooms with easy access to an outdoor clothes line also help make life that much easier.

These customized features transform your home into a hub for all your farming activities.

Create a Homestead That Fits Your Lifestyle

Every hobby farm is unique, and a custom-built farmhouse ensures that your home aligns with your specific needs and lifestyle. Whether you want a spacious porch to enjoy sweeping views of your land, a barn-style garage that complements the farmhouse aesthetic, or a cozy nook for morning coffee with a view of your garden, the possibilities are endless.

A custom home adapts to your preferences, making it not just a place to live but an integral part of your farming and life journey.

Invest in a Custom Home

Investing in a custom home for your hobby farm is not just about short-term convenience; it’s a long-term investment. As your homestead grows, and your needs change, your home can evolve with you.

Plus, a well-designed custom farmhouse adds value to your property, which can pay off if you ever decide to sell or expand your acreage.

Interested? Chat with us at Ballard Fine Homes

If you’re in the market for acreage to start your own hobby farm, building a custom home is a practical and elegant choice. It allows you to design a modern farmhouse that perfectly fits your vision and needs, from a larger pantry to specialized processing rooms.

Your custom home will maximize functionality, create a homestead that aligns with your lifestyle, and serve as a sound long-term investment. Your homesteading dreams deserve the personal touch and functionality that only a custom home can provide, so let us help you with that.

Ballard Fine Homes is here to help you turn your dreams into reality. Dream building is what we do and that includes modern farmhouse homes. Read our testimonials and either drop by or call/email us to start a conversation. We look forward to meeting you to help turn your dreams into a solid plan for generations to come.

Waterfront Properties in Parksville: Living the Island Dream

Are you dreaming of waking up to the soothing sound of waves lapping the shore just outside your window? Or perhaps you envision evenings spent watching the sunset over the tranquil waters of Vancouver Island? If you’re in search of the quintessential island dream, Parksville, British Columbia, might just be the place for you.

This coastal gem on Vancouver Island offers a stunning array of waterfront properties for sale. From panoramic ocean views to sandy beachfronts, Parksville has it all. But if you truly want to make the most of your waterfront living experience, building a custom home is the ideal choice.

Here, we’ll explore why custom homes are the way to go when it comes to living the island dream in Parksville.

Design Your Dream Home

One of the most significant advantages of building a custom home on a waterfront property in Parksville is the freedom to design a home that maximizes the waterfront experience.

Off-the-shelf homes often don’t make the most of the stunning natural surroundings, but with a custom-built home, you can tailor every aspect to suit your desires. Picture yourself having breakfast at your beach house, or lounging in a living room with panoramic windows that bring the outdoors in. With a custom home, your imagination is the only limit, and Parksville’s picturesque landscapes are the canvas.

Ballard Fine Homes is a custom home-building company located in the heart of Parksville. We have built numerous homes for our happy clients using the highest quality materials and our sharp attention to detail. When choosing a homebuilder, it is important for them to understand the area and the weather patterns. With Don Ballard and his team, you can be sure you are in good hands. Talk to our friendly staff or browse our showroom for your next waterfront home ideas.

Personalized Features, Luxurious Homes

Building a luxurious custom home offers the opportunity to infuse your waterfront property with personalized features that reflect your lifestyle and tastes.

Imagine having your very own private dock, providing easy access to the ocean, or perhaps a fire pit on the beach for cozy evenings with friends and family.

Your custom-built home can cater to your preferences, whether you want a gourmet kitchen with an ocean view, a spa-like bathroom, or a spacious deck for entertaining. Parksville’s waterfront properties are a blank slate waiting for your unique touches.

Chairs around a fire pit facing the beach on Vancouver Island.

Parksville Offers Privacy and Seclusion

Many waterfront properties in Parksville offer an added perk – privacy.

Your custom home can be strategically designed to provide seclusion from neighboring properties while still maximizing your ocean views. This can be done through using the natural scenery to your advantage, such as a tree-line on the edge of your property, or by installing features like fences, shrubbery, and strategically placed structures.

This sense of tranquility and privacy can be a rare find in waterfront living, making Parksville a unique and sought-after location.

Investing in Your Island Dream with Ballard Fine Homes

When you invest in a waterfront property in Parksville, you’re not just buying a home; you’re buying a lifestyle.

The allure of living on Vancouver Island, with its mild climate, stunning beaches, and vibrant community, is undeniable. Parksville, in particular, offers a harmonious blend of nature and urban convenience, making it a desirable place to call home.

If you’re contemplating a move to Vancouver Island and are considering waterfront living, Parksville is an excellent choice. Ballard Fine Homes has several developments on Vancouver Island, a mix between waterfront and forested neighbourhoods waiting to be discovered.

So, why wait? Your island dream awaits on the shores of Parksville, where the possibilities are as limitless as the ocean views. Contact the professionals at Ballard Fine Homes to get started.