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Moving to Nanaimo, BC: A Complete Relocation Guide

Moving to Nanaimo

Thinking of living in Nanaimo? We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of facts and information about Nanaimo for anyone considering a move here.

Below you will find information for people moving to Nanaimo including:

About Nanaimo

Nanaimo, sometimes referred to as the Hub City, is the second largest city on Vancouver Island and the fifth largest city in B.C.

It is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island and is approximately 113 km. north of the city of Victoria.

According to ‘The State of the Nanaimo Economy- 2021’ published by the economic development, Nanaimo’s population is estimated to be 102,702 as of 2020. The annual population growth rate is over 2%. The Regional District of Nanaimos (RDN) population was estimated to be 175,071 at the end of 2020.

Nanaimo is famous for the Nanaimo Bar. Yes, it was developed here. In fact there are many takes on the original Nanaimo bar, including a Nanaimo Bar cocktail.

Nanaimo can also claim to be a stunning city with mountains, islands, and ocean as its backdrop. It’s a city that appeals to singles, families and retirees offering an abundance of lifestyle choices.

Read more about Nanaimo: Quick facts about Nanaimo, Brief history of Nanaimo

Getting to Nanaimo

With Nanaimo’s central Vancouver Island location it is easy to get to.

There is an airport just 18km from the city centre offering flights to and from the mainland as well as other domestic locations and some international destinations.

There are two ferry terminals offering service to the mainland. The Departure Bay terminal offers service to Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver and the Duke Point terminal offers service to Tsawwassen on the Lower Mainland. Both ferry rides run between one hour and forty minutes to two hours.

The other options to get to/from the mainland include the float plane services to downtown Vancouver and to Richmond near the Vancouver airport.

If you are already on the Island in Victoria, you can drive to Nanaimo in approximately an hour and a half.

Weather in Nanaimo

Weather in Nanaimo is typically mild in both winter and summer. Winter temperatures range from a high of 8 degrees to a low of not much lower than minus 3. Late Fall, winter and early spring can be wet with only a few snow days each year.

Summers are generally mild with temps. Between 20-26 degrees.

Weather is similar to the weather in Vancouver.

Read more about the weather in Nanaimo: What is the weather really like in Nanaimo?

Things to do in Nanaimo

Outdoor activities

One of the best things about living in Nanaimo is the great outdoors. The city is surrounded by forests, mountains, islands, and the ocean. With all these outdoor options, its no wonder the city appeals to so many people.

Boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, hiking & biking are just a few of the outdoor activities available in this pretty area.

In the City of Nanaimo there are 880 hectares of City parks and 170 kilometres of trails

In the Regional District of Nanaimo there are 12 Regional Parks encompassing 2,072 hectares of land, 78 kilometres of developed Regional Trails, and over 200 Community Parks in the seven Electoral Areas, there are plenty of opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy the benefits of having nature nearby. (Source: Parks service of the Regional District of Nanaimo).

If you enjoy beaches, then you will find no shortage of public access to Nanaimo’s many beaches.

Nanaimo is also known for its pretty lakes. I am told that there are 18 lakes in the Nanaimo area. Some are wilderness type lakes while others, like Long Lake and Brannen Lake have beach areas and boat activity.

Read more about Things to do in Nanaimo: 10 things to do in Nanaimo

Shopping & Dining in Nanaimo

Nanaimo offers a broad selection of restaurants including many ethnic food restaurants including Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek & Italian to name a few.

Restaurants are scattered around the city so no matter what neighbourhood you settle in you will not be far from a restaurant.

Nanaimo has a great shopping area of boutique style stores and restaurants in the downtown area of Nanaimo along with many shopping centres and big box stores.

Nanaimo is a hub for shopping, attracting both locals and shoppers from the communities north of Nanaimo.

Arts & Culture in Nanaimo

Nanaimo is the largest city in the central part of Vancouver Island. As a result it attracts a diverse group of artists and musicians.

The Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Museum, and The Port Theatre are just a few of the venues available to enjoy the arts.

Read more about things to do in Nanaimo: More about Nanaimo shopping, A photo album of Nanaimo

Jobs in Nanaimo

According to ’The State of the Nanaimo Economy’ published by the Economic Development Dept. of Nanaimo, at the end of 2019, the job market in Nanaimo is broken down as follows:

The service industry sector accounted for 83.1% of Nanaimo’s employment base in 2019 and the goods producing sector 16.9%. The greatest number of jobs are provided by the retail and healthcare and social assistance sector followed by construction, accommodation and food services and educational services.

Sales and service occupations made up 27.6% of all jobs in Nanaimo in 2019. The next three categories (Business, Finance, Administration, Education, Law and Social, Community and Government Services and Management Occupations) fall into professional services and together they account for the largest number of occupations (34%) in Nanaimo. The next three categories fall into professional services, together they account for the largest number of occupations (34%) in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo Schools

SD68 is the school district for the Nanaimo and Ladysmith public school system.

As a parent, considering a move to the Nanaimo area, schools will play an important part in your decision.

Here is information from the SD68 website regarding what the school district offers:

SD68 offers a full range of programs from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and have programs for pre-schoolers and adult learners.

  • There are more than 14,700 students enrolled in the district
  • 28 elementary schools (K – 7)
  • 6 secondary schools (Grades 8 to 12)
  • 1 Distributed Learning school – Island ConnectED (K – 12)
  • Secondary Learning Alternatives School
  • Approximately 2,200 employees
  • Population of district (2016 Census): 126,047
  • A consolidated budget of $166 million (source SD68)

Read more about Nanaimo schools: Getting an education in Nanaimo

Nanaimo housing market

Nanaimo is part of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB).

Housing types in Nanaimo include single family homes – resale and new construction, half & full duplexes, condos & townhouses, patio homes, mobile homes, and bare land.

Nanaimo’s real estate market has ups and downs like any other real estate market in the country. During COVID we saw a huge increase in demand which made prices go up considerably. Inventory levels have been extremely low which also has contributed to increasing prices.

For the current market conditions, visit our Nanaimo real estate stats page and our monthly “How’s the Market’ infographic.

Nanaimo Neighbourhoods

VIREB has divided Nanaimo into 18 neighbourhoods for the purpose of real estate.

These neighbourhoods are: Upper Lantzville, Lower Lantzville, North Nanaimo, Hammond Bay, Departure Bay, Uplands, Brechin Hill, Central Nanaimo, Divers Lake, Pleasant Valley, Old City, University District, South Nanaimo, Cedar, Extension, South Jingle Pot, North Jingle Pot & Chase River.

We have an interactive neighbourhood map on this site. On this map you can see how the neighbourhoods are broken up and can view Nanaimo listings by neighbourhood.

Please feel free to reach out to us. We'd be happy to discuss living in Nanaimo and what choices are available for housing in Nanaimo.

Read more about Nanaimo neighbourhoods: Nanaimo home prices by neighbourhood

Additional information on Nanaimo

Below you will find links to additional pages and resources on moving to Nanaimo.

Interactive Nanaimo Relocation Guide

Health care in Nanaimo

Nanaimo churches & places of worship

Moving to Nanaimo with pets

Everything you need to know about moving to Nanaimo

Cost of living calculator

Work with a Nanaimo Realtor

Search Nanaimo Listings

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