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The Best Places to Retire on Vancouver Island: A Guide for Seniors

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Ballard Fine Homes
March 6, 2024
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Retirement often brings the opportunity to choose a new place to call home, one that suits your lifestyle and offers the amenities you desire.

Vancouver Island, located off the southwest coast of British Columbia, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, mild climate, and vibrant communities, making it a top choice for retirees. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you where on Vancouver Island is the perfect retirement destination for you.

Vancouver Island Has Comfortable Weather

Vancouver Island enjoys a temperate climate, with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Towns like Parksville and Comox boast some of the mildest year-round temperatures in Canada, ideal for those seeking to avoid extreme cold or heat.

The beaches in Parksville have long tides, allowing the sand to warm up for ideal swimming conditions. Some areas experience summer high temperatures of 30C, so being next to the beach or one of the several lakes comes in handy. Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville is one such favourite place to swim.

During winter, rain and snow do fall on Vancouver Island. While the island sees a lot more rain than snow, some snowfalls can bring in between 6 – 12 inches at a time. Victoria, at the southernmost tip of the island, sees far less snow. If you want as little snow as possible, Victoria is a great choice.

Portrait of smiling young nurse in uniform smiling with healthcare team in background.

B.C. Health Care Options

Health care is a crucial consideration for retirees. Vancouver Island is home to several top-notch hospitals, clinics, and specialised care centres. Places like Nanaimo and Courtenay offer comprehensive healthcare services, ensuring you’re well cared for in your golden years.

While a doctor shortage has been apparent all over British Columbia, it may be worthwhile to view Comox’s options first, as they have hired a large number of doctors within the last couple of years.

Major hospitals can be found in the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, and Victoria. Sometimes travel to these places is required for special tests or treatments.

Health visitor talking to a senior woman during home visit

Home Care and Assisted Living

For those requiring additional support, Vancouver Island offers a range of home care services and assisted living facilities.

Here are some examples for you to browse through:

Health visitor and a senior woman during home visit.

Don’t Forget: Pharmacies and Medical Supplies

Access to pharmacies and medical supplies is essential. Vancouver Island towns have a plethora of pharmacies and medical supply stores, ensuring you have easy access to medications and health care products.

Some popular chains include Shoppers Drug Mart, Save On Foods, Walmart, Pharmasave, Rexall, The Medicine Shoppe, and Loblaw Pharmacy. Prefer an independent pharmacy? There are many of those sprinkled throughout the island. If you have active prescriptions at your pharmacy, most can be transferred to a new pharmacy of your choice (this excludes controlled medications like narcotics).

Group of four cheerful senior people, two men and two women, having fun sitting at table and playing bingo game in nursing home

Active Living Groups and Recreation Centers to Keep Your Golden Years Thriving

Staying active and engaged is vital for a fulfilling retirement. Vancouver Island offers numerous senior-focused community groups and recreation centres.

Water aerobics is a popular choice among seniors. Often, aquatic centres will have water aerobics and lanes open for laps during the same session.

Some communities have special groups, like the Sunshine Club in Port Alberni, where an assortment of activities and excursions are available at a low fee. These senior centres are a great way to stay socially and physically active in a supportive environment.

Transit and Transportation

Public transportation and easy access to amenities are crucial for seniors. Most of the island uses BC Transit for the bus system. Larger towns tend to have more routes and buses running. Courtenay and Comox are side by side and share some of the same routes. Parksville is between the Comox Valley and Nanaimo, which does have some buses that extend out into the neighbouring communities. Each town contains taxi services, as well.

Comox, Nanaimo, and Greater Victoria contain ferries to the nearby islands and the Lower Mainland. There are also airports available at these locations. The Royal Canadian Air Force has a base in Comox, too.

What you won’t find are subways or SkyTrain systems. The reason? These cities aren’t large enough to accommodate that sort of infrastructure. Most communities on Vancouver Island are walkable, or you can drive end to end in a matter of minutes.

Nanaimo is one of the largest cities and has a wide variety of amenities. Victoria, the capital city, has more to offer. However, smaller towns like Parksville have everything you need, usually within walking distance. The bonus is that these smaller towns (Parksville, Courtenay, Comox) are surrounded by nature, offering a lovely balance between necessities and beauty.

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Ballard Fine Homes is a Parksville home-building company

Are you looking for your dream home, a place where it feels like you’re on vacation 365 days of the year? Dream building is what we do at Ballard Fine Homes. Our custom homes are known for their exceptional craftsmanship, along with our commitment to full customer satisfaction.

A custom home means that you have more control over the size, finishings, location, and house plan. If you’re looking for a home that is simple, low maintenance, and on the smaller side, we can do that for you. Conversely, we also build luxurious homes that are only restrained by what you can imagine.

Don Ballard and his team build custom homes on Vancouver Island. Our preferred areas include Parksville, Comox, Courtenay, and Nanaimo because we feel they offer the highest quality of life on the island. Our main office is located in Parksville, containing a beautiful showroom you are welcome to browse. Contact us today for more information.