Living In Nanaimo: What To Expect Living In The Harbour City In Vancouver Island?  

Living In Nanaimo

Nanaimo is one of the central hub cities of Vancouver Island in British Colombia, Canada. It’s one of the most prominent cities on the island with the second biggest harbor. It’s the commercial hub for the region and the home of the famous Nanaimo bar you would often enjoy while living in Nanaimo. 

But does living in Nanaimo worth it? To help you come up with one of the biggest decisions of your life, we have come up with a resource and information guide about what you need to know about this incredible harbor city full of possibilities and opportunities. 

Overview of Nanaimo  

The Indigenous people of Suneymuxw originally populated Nanaimo. It is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island and is surrounded by Victoria and Vancouver. Nanaimo is 111 km northwest of Victoria and 55 km west of Vancouver and is separated by the Strait of Georgia.   

In the earlier days, Nanaimo started its economy through the coal and lumber community, but today the community is diverse, and there is a plethora of exciting opportunities. And now major economies, including the health, rental, and tourism industries, are prospering. 

Although businesses are flourishing, Nanaimo is less crowded than other states like Victoria. The population of Nanaimo is around 170,367, according to the census report 2021. The average age of Nanaimoite is 45.9 years old, which is more than the national median of 41.9.  

Nanaimo has two airports for transportation: Nanaimo Airport and Nanaimo Harbour Airport. It also has three ferry terminals at Departure Bay, Duke Point, and Downtown.  

living in nanaimo

Living In Nanaimo Pros and Cons 

No matter where you live on this earth, there are always advantages and disadvantages. Nanaimo is not exceptional. Check the pros and cons of living in Nanaimo. 


Affordable Housing: 

Contrary to the cost of British Colombia’s lower land, Nanaimo is cheap. It’s cheap, compared with the large urban centers. Since Nanaimo has a growing housing market, it’s easier to buy a dream home. Your dream home will be your solid investment for now and for the years to come.

Affordable Housing

Peaceful Lifestyle:  

Nanaimo offers a better quality of life. Residents can enjoy their leisure and recreation on the island. There’s a lot for tourists, but the locals enjoy the peace and the outdoor environment. And one thing islanders love the most is that, unlike other large cities, lifestyle doesn’t change rapidly.  


Winters are known to be harsher in most of Canada, but that’s not the fact with Nanaimo. The weather of Nanaimo is commonly compared with that of the Mediterranean. It has all four seasons on the island. The temperature rarely drops below 5 degrees Celsius in winter, and even if it drops, that’s for a very short time. And in summer, the weather can go up to 28 degrees Celsius, which is pretty good for sun baths. 

Amazing Beaches and Parks:

Nanaimo is an island, and so it’s gifted naturally with many places to explore. Climbing mountains, exploring rainforests, or whale watching along the coastline may become part of your daily activities while living in Nanaimo. Offshore of Nanaimo are three islands Newcastle, Protection, and Gabriola, so if you are interested in kayaking or paddle boating, Nanaimo can be the destination.


Vibrant community:  

Nanaimo is renowned among many for its wide and diverse community activities. The activities range from sports to arts to entertainment, politics, and even education. There’s a lot to choose from, and the community supports various activities. In fact, the vibrant and friendly community is what makes a living in Nanaimo a pleasant experience. The community is also well known for being unbiased about racism and LGBTQ+. 

Schools and University  

Being an island and rainforest, many schools of Nanaimo have the most beautiful scenes to die for.  For public schools, Nanaimo has the Nanaimo Ladysmith School District. For post-secondary education, Nanaimo has Vancouver Island University (VIU). This university is also popular among international students as it has foreign exchange programs.  

Vancouver Island University

Employment Opportunities: 

Nanaimo has an array of job opportunities for its residents. An average person in Nanaimo makes around $55,000 approximately a year. There are many opportunities for accountants, retail trade, public administration, sales and operations, construction, factory workers, etc.  

Each of these jobs typically pays between $34,125 to $73,694 annually. The average hourly wage is approximately $20.35. Companies like Vancouver Island Health Authority, The Home Depot Inc, and Inn on Long Lake pay anywhere from $14 to $38 hourly based on the job description.



No concerts or huge city activities  

Nanaimo is an island. And because of its Islandic construct, there are minimal activities than urban cities. It’s best for relaxation and peace, so if you are into concerts or sports, as in some of the busiest cities like Vancouver, or Toronto, Nanaimo may not be the place for you.

Not very scenic  

Nanaimo is a harbor city, and in the case of tourism, it doesn’t have much to offer other than its hub. Because of the ferry terminals, there are a lot of shops around the hub. But unfortunately, there is not much tourist attraction here. However, the surrounding areas of Parksville and Qualicum offer more scenic views.

Higher Crime Rate 

According to Nanaimo News Bulletin, Nanaimo was ranked 37th in an index of 121 for crime severity among 229 major cities across Canada with a population of more than 10 thousand. However, the local authorities are taking the right strategies to make a living in Nanaimo safe and peaceful. 

At present, the crime rate declined; the recent stats revealed that the number of sexual assaults in Nanaimo was 19 percent lower than the national average, cannabis trafficking was lower to 89 percent, and firearm offenses were lower than 23 percent in Canada.

Crime Rate

Cost Of Living In Nanaimo 

Like most places worldwide, the costs of living in Nanaimo have also increased. Even though the prices of living and accommodation have increased, it’s still way less than compared Vancouver and Toronto.

The average monthly rent of 1 bedroom apartment in Nanaimo is around $1,770, which is expensive compared to other non-coastal cities.  

Groceries and other essentials are not cheap like before. Even dining out could be pretty hefty. However, the best thing about Nanaimo is you can get much better healthy and locally grown products than in other locations across Canada.  

Despite the rising cost, Nanaimo is still an attractive city full of life. It has a great community with a wide range of amenities and facilities, which makes it a great place to be called home and an outstanding location to start living. 

cost of living

Bad Areas Of Nanaimo 

There isn’t typically any place that can be called bad, but some areas can be less desirable. Nanaimo was once ranked as the third most dangerous city. Now even though time has changed, before starting to live in Nanaimo or choosing a locality, check the crime stats. It lets you know a lot about the community. However, in a recent survey, about 64 percent of people in Newcastle were dissatisfied with their safety. Residents of other localities like Downtown (59 percent) and south end (57 percent) were dissatisfied with their overall safety.  

Safest areas in Nanaimo 

With every news going around Nanaimo, many wonders if there’s any safe area around it. However, people even voted for where they were satisfied with the safety in Nanaimo. And here we rounded up a few places for you.   

North Nanaimo  

North Nanaimo has the best ocean views in the city. It’s one of the perfect places to live due to its amazing views and security. The housing is priced higher than the other localities. North Nanaimo is one of the newer localities, and homes around this area are relatively new to the rest of the city. 


University District / Harewood  

Besides South Nanaimo, there’s the gorgeous University District. It’s near the University of Vancouver Island, with all the beautiful oceanic views. The neighbourhood of the university district also includes many parks, such as Black diamond park, oak valley, Hawthorn Park, Third Street, etc.  


Brechin Hill

Brechin hill is located on the outskirts of Departure Bay. It’s a well-established locality that has affordable living. And the best part is that most of this locality’s homes are built on the hillside, which goes down to the Departure Bay ferry. So almost every property seems to have an ocean view or at least a glimpse of one. You can watch Departure Bay, Newcastle Channel, and Nanaimo Harbor from Brechin Hill.  

Brechin Hill

Living in Nanaimo: Final Words 

Migrating to a new place requires a lot to consider. Even though Nanaimo was once considered a “not so safe” place to live in, it has bounced back today into a peaceful and calm community. Apart from that, being a hub area, there are more job opportunities than in most other coastal areas. It’s becoming a threshold for new opportunities and possibilities for you to explore! 

FAQs about Living in Nanaimo  

Is it expensive to live in Nanaimo?  

Nanaimo is more expensive to live in than many other coastal cities. But on the other hand, it’s cheaper than cities like Vancouver or Toronto.  

Is Nanaimo a safe place to live?  

Yes, Nanaimo is a safe place to live. Once considered a dangerous place to live, now the area has emerged as one of the safe places to live on Vancouver Island. 

Leave a Comment