I’ve officially been living on Vancouver Island for over a year now. I held off on doing any Port Alberni specific blogs until I fully got the lay of the land. To do this little gem justice I thought I’d do a series of blogs showcasing why this little-known city smack dab in the middle of Vancouver Island is a well-kept secret. Sorry, the secret is slowly getting out. Here are my top ten reasons to live in Port Alberni, British Columbia.
1. Port Alberni Has The Most Affordable Real Estate on the West Coast
I didn’t actually do much research around real estate prices before moving out here. As we were moving out here for my job, we knew we’d have to live in the city and I was hoping we’d be able to find something comparable to our house in Ottawa. What we immediately found out is that it’s an incredibly hot real estate market. Most houses don’t stay on the market for very long. We were able to find a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house a month after moving to the city. While it has a smaller footprint and backyard to our Ottawa house we think we lucked out because the house backs onto a nature trail system so we don’t have anyone in behind us.
I did find some stats, and according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, “the cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $328,000, a two percent year-over-year increase.” Which is the most affordable city outside of the North Island. Real estate prices can range from $639K in Parksville/Qualicum Beach to $473K in Campbell River. Nanaimo is around $569K and Victoria is around $860K.
2. Very Little to No Snow
When I landed in January 2020, the city was hit with a bit of snow. I definitely needed snow tires on the rental car that I had for a few days before I picked up my CRV at the Nanaimo dealership (I had it shipped across Canada). I was staying out on Sproat Lake at an AirBnB and the road was definitely a bit treacherous a few days. They also don’t really plow a lot out there and wait for the rain to melt most of the snow. This year, we only got one dumping of snow over the Christmas holidays and that was it.
3. You Love The Rain
From November – February you’ll see a lot of rain. One thing that I wasn’t able to discover from internet research ahead of time is that because the city sits in a valley, the winters are comprised of fog and rain. Some days, the sun will be able to melt off all the fog and you’ll find yourself running outside for a walk or a hike but you definitely have to be prepared for a gloomy winter season. If you love the rain, then you’ll love it here!
4. So Many Hikes To Choose From In or Around Port Alberni
I mentioned that we bought a house that backs onto a trail system and we love that we can easily walk out the door and immediately be on a hike. There are such an abundance of hikes either accessible from within the city or just a short drive outside of town. I’m going to do a post dedicated to my favourite hikes so stay tuned for that one.
5. People Smile, Wave And Say Hi
I haven’t lived in a town where people are genuinely friendly. I noticed it immediately upon moving here that people smile, say hi, wave as you drive or walk by and all our neighbours introduced themselves the moment we moved in. Thankfully the city didn’t start to mask up until November of 2020 so until then I was able to experience how genuinely nice everyone is.
6. Port Alberni Is Surrounded By Mountains & Ocean
I’ve had on a vision board for a while that I wanted to be able to see mountains and the ocean or lakes from our house and that we can. We live up on the hill in Port Alberni and I can see the Beaufort Range outside my home office window and we can see the harbour from our driveway. This was probably the top reasons that drew me to move our family out here.
7. Close to Ucluelet & Tofino
One of my favourite places in the world is Tofino. We’ve been able to go multiple times this year because it’s a “quick” 1.5-hour drive. It’s a pretty windy road so it doesn’t feel quick and there is construction on the road at Kennedy Lake so if you don’t time it properly you can get stuck waiting for your turn to go BUT all that being said… I have loved being so close to this beautiful place.
8. You Love Fishing
While Mike and I don’t love fishing it’s been really cool to watch on social media how many people here are avid fishers. You can hire a charter or make friends with other fishermen (women) and get out on the water and catch your dinner.
9. You Love Water Sports
Ok so if you love kitesurfing, wake boarding, wake surfing or just boating in general it’s an amazing place to live. You have so many options from the ocean fjord to Sproat Lake only 20 mins outside of town.
This summer we rented a wake surfing boat from the Fish & Duck Resort and spent a day out on Sproat Lake. They also rent houseboats, which is something I’ve never seen before in Ontario but is a huge thing out here. Such a cool way to spend a summer week or weekend out on the water on an absolutely gorgeous lake.
10. The Air Smells Better in Port Alberni
While there are at times air quality warnings due to the paper mill in town, I genuinely haven’t noticed that the town smells bad. Just by simply stepping outside and taking a big inhale smells amazing out here. And taking some deep breaths while out hiking is an even better experience due to all the types of trees out here.
So whether you’re considering moving to live in Port Alberni, passing through, or coming to visit I hope you enjoy this beautiful city.