Get a Quote

Is Moving to British Columbia Right for You? Complete Guide

British Columbia, a breathtaking and diverse province in Canada, offers a multitude of opportunities for those considering a move. Whether it's the coastal cities and picturesque surroundings or the thriving job market and high quality of life, British Columbia has something for everyone. Before taking the plunge and relocating, it's vital to arm oneself with practical information about the province, including the cost of living, transportation, and healthcare, to ensure a smooth transition.

From bustling urban centers like Vancouver or Victoria to smaller towns nestled in the spectacular mountains, British Columbia caters to a wide range of lifestyles. In addition, the province's strong economy attracts newcomers seeking employment in various industries, such as technology, natural resources, and tourism. With its focus on education and international studies, British Columbia is also an ideal destination for students looking to further their education.

British Columbia's reputation for being one of the most multicultural and welcoming provinces in Canada further adds to its charm. The region provides a multitude of resources for new immigrants, including language and integration programs, making the transition to life in Canada as seamless as possible.

Reasons to Move to British Columbia


British Columbia is known for its breathtaking scenery, boasting stunning landscapes that encompass the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. The province's natural beauty makes it an ideal place for those seeking a change and wanting to be surrounded by picturesque surroundings. From coastal beaches to snow-capped mountains, British Columbia offers diverse and captivating views all year round.

Outdoor Activities

The province's diverse landscape creates ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. In British Columbia, residents can enjoy various activities, such as skiing and snowboarding at renowned ski resorts, hiking or mountain biking in the Rocky Mountains, or exploring the numerous forests and provincial parks. The Pacific Ocean also opens doors for water-based sports, including surfing, kayaking, or simply relaxing on the beach, making British Columbia a prime location for those who prioritize an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Quality of Life

British Columbia consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in Canada because of its high quality of life. The province boasts excellent education and healthcare systems, providing residents with the essential services they need. Additionally, the city of Vancouver has earned accolades as one of the best cities to live in worldwide, reflecting the province's commitment to maintaining a high standard of living for its residents.

Job Opportunities

British Columbia offers a robust economy, creating a diverse range of job opportunities for those considering a move to the province. Industries such as tourism and hospitality thrive in British Columbia due in part to the spectacular scenery and outdoor activities available. Moreover, the province is a hub for other thriving sectors, including biotechnology, alternative fuels, software development, and finance. This dynamic economic landscape makes British Columbia an attractive destination for individuals seeking new employment opportunities.

Cost of Living and Housing

Housing Prices

In British Columbia, housing prices have increased over the years. Between 2010 and 2021, the average rental price in Metro Vancouver rose by 52.8%. Units with three bedrooms or more experienced the most significant escalation, with prices rising by 65.0%. Some cities, such as Vancouver and Victoria, are particularly notorious for their high cost of living and housing. For example, the average home price in British Columbia is $932,979, and a 2-bedroom rental averages $3,750. .

Renters have several options for accommodations, including basement apartments, shared accommodations, and studio apartments. However, the prices for these types of living spaces may also be affected by the overall housing market trends.

Expensive Cities

Vancouver is known for being one of the most expensive cities in Canada and the world. The average cost of living in Vancouver is $2,344, ranking 272nd out of 9,294 cities globally and 5th out of 153 cities in Canada. Additionally, the median after-tax salary is $3,423, which covers living expenses for approximately 1.5 months.

Victoria, the provincial capital, also has a high cost of living. A smaller city compared to Vancouver, it still faces similar issues with expensive housing and tight rental markets.

Inexpensive Cities

Despite the high housing and living costs in some cities, there are more affordable places to live in British Columbia. Saanich, Fort St. John, and Kelowna are examples of relatively less expensive cities. According to a report on the top 10 cheapest places to live in BC [source], these cities offer more affordable housing options and lower rental prices compared to Vancouver and Victoria.

When considering a move to British Columbia, it is essential to research the cost of living and housing options in different cities. While places like Vancouver and Victoria are well-known for their high cost of living, there are more affordable options in cities such as Saanich, Fort St. John, and Kelowna.

Immigrating to B.C.

Immigration Programs

There are several immigration programs available for individuals seeking to move to British Columbia, including the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP). This program offers several immigration streams:

  • Skills Immigration: For skilled workers, healthcare professionals, and other qualified individuals with the necessary skills and experience.
  • Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled Workers: This stream is designed for individuals in entry-level or semi-skilled positions, mainly in the hospitality, tourism, and long-haul trucking industries.
  • Express Entry: This is a federal immigration program that allows candidates to apply for permanent residency in British Columbia more quickly.

There are other federal immigration programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Trades Program, that applicants can explore if they are not eligible for the BC PNP.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for immigration to British Columbia varies depending on the specific program or stream. Some common eligibility criteria include:

  • Age: Candidates must generally be between 18 and 35 years old; however, some programs have a maximum age of 30.
  • Work experience: Applicants typically need relevant work experience, usually within the last five years.
  • Language proficiency: Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in English or French through an approved language test.
  • Proof of funds: Applicants may be required to show financial stability with access to sufficient savings.
  • Job offer: Some immigration programs require a job offer from a British Columbia employer.

Application Process

The application process for immigrating to B.C. typically consists of the following steps:

  1. Research and choose an immigration program: Review the available immigration programs and select the one that best suits your skills, experience, and qualifications.
  2. Check eligibility: Determine whether you meet the program-specific eligibility requirements.
  3. Gather required documents: Assemble all necessary documents (e.g., government-issued identification, proof of citizenship, language test results) and, if applicable, obtain an employment offer from a B.C. employer.
  4. Submit an application: Complete and submit the application online, along with any required documentation and fees.
  5. Receive a decision: Wait for your application to be processed and reviewed; processing times can range from a few months to over a year.
  6. If approved, apply for permanent residency or work permit: If your application is successful, you may then apply for a Canadian work permit, temporary visa, or permanent residency, depending on the program or stream you used for immigrating to B.C.

Finding Work in British Columbia

Job Market

British Columbia has a diverse job market for both skilled and unskilled workers. Industries such as technology, forestry, mining, and tourism offer a variety of job opportunities. The B.C. government is also an employer with numerous positions in different sectors. Keep in mind that competition can be high in certain industries, and it is essential to research the job market before moving to B.C.

Job Search Resources

When searching for work in British Columbia, these resources can be helpful:

  • WorkBC Employment Services Centres: With 102 centres across B.C., they offer employment services such as job-search support, personal employment planning, skills assessment, training (including apprenticeship), and work experience placement.
  • WorkBC website: Their website includes a job board that lists opportunities in a wide array of industries.
  • Job Banks: Websites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor are popular job search platforms covering many industries and job positions.
  • B.C. Government Jobs: For finding a job within the B.C. government, visit their dedicated job portal.


Networking is an essential part of finding a job in British Columbia. Expanding your network can open up opportunities that may not be advertised through traditional job-search resources. To increase your network:

  • Attend industry-specific events: This allows you to meet professionals working in your field of interest and can provide insight into job opportunities.
  • Join social media groups and forums: Online platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn offer groups dedicated to specific industries or job postings within B.C.
  • Reach out to local communities and professional associations: Engaging with these organizations can help you find work and gain knowledge about the local job market in British Columbia.

Healthcare and Education

Healthcare System

British Columbia offers a healthcare system with nearly free services for its citizens, permanent residents, and some temporary residents. The primary healthcare insurance in the province is known as the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Newcomers to British Columbia should register for B.C.'s Medical Service Plan (MSP) upon arrival. There is a coverage wait period, which consists of the balance of the month in which residency is established, plus two months before benefits can start.

Once registered, MSP beneficiaries can access a wide range of medical services, including:

  • Hospital services
  • Physician services
  • Laboratory services
  • Most medically necessary services

Education System

The education system in British Columbia is renowned for its high quality. It offers public and private schools across the province, from kindergarten to grade 12. The curriculum emphasizes skill development, innovation, and preparing students to be successful in the globalized world.

In British Columbia, public education is free for residents, while private schools charge tuition fees. The province also boasts a robust post-secondary education system with respected colleges and universities like the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. These institutions offer a variety of programs and degrees to fit the needs and interests of students.

To ensure a smooth transition for newcomers, British Columbia provides resources and support services such as immigrant settlement services to help with language and cultural adaptation, as well as qualification recognition for foreign-trained professionals looking to continue their careers in the province.

Transportation and Driving

Public Transport

British Columbia offers a variety of public transportation options for residents and visitors alike. In Vancouver, the SkyTrain system is a popular mode of commuting, connecting the city center with various suburbs and providing efficient and reliable connectivity. Additionally, buses and taxis are also widely available throughout the province, ensuring accessible transportation for all.

Driving in B.C.

Residents moving to British Columbia must obtain a B.C. driver's license within 90 days of moving to the province. This also applies to those who plan to operate a motorcycle. Here are the steps to switch your existing license to a B.C. driver's license:

  1. Visit your local ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) office.
  2. Bring your original, valid out-of-province driver's license.
  3. Provide proof of residency and identification.
  4. Pass a knowledge and vision test.
  5. In some cases, you may need to take a road test as well.

Keep in mind that speed limits in British Columbia are posted in kilometers per hour (km/h). The maximum speed limit in the province is 120 km/h (75 mph), but it varies depending on the road conditions and location. It is essential to adhere to the posted speed limits and follow traffic rules to ensure safety on the roads.

British Columbia has diverse transportation options, including public transport services and personal vehicles. When relocating to the province, be sure to get a B.C. driver's license within 90 days and familiarize yourself with local driving laws and regulations.

Banking, Taxes, and Services


When moving to British Columbia, it's essential to set up a bank account for handling your finances. There are numerous banks to choose from, both national and regional, as well as credit unions. To open an account, you will need proof of identification (e.g., passport), a Social Insurance Number (SIN), and proof of residency. It's a good idea to research various banks and their offerings, as well as consider factors like branch locations, ATM access, and online banking features.


Residents of British Columbia are required to pay personal income tax on their taxable income. B.C. income taxes are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Forms to calculate your B.C. income tax are included with the T1 Income Tax Return. Even if you don't owe income tax, you may still need to file a tax return to receive certain benefits and credits.

Keep in mind that if you earned income in B.C. or were a resident on December 31, you may need to file an income tax return for the tax year. Additionally, it's crucial to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) upon arrival in Canada, as it will be required for various government services and tax purposes.

Government Services

When you move to British Columbia, it's important to familiarize yourself with, and register for, various government services. Some key registrations include:

  • Medical Services Plan (MSP): Apply for the MSP as soon as you arrive in the province. MSP is British Columbia's public health insurance program, and registration ensures access to necessary medical care. The online application takes around 15 minutes to complete.
  • BC Services Card: This card acts as your government-issued identification, and it's essential to have one while living in B.C. You can get a BC Services Card by registering for the MSP.
  • Land title search, registry, and transfer services: If you plan on purchasing property in British Columbia, you'll need to request land title search, registry, and transfer services.
  • BC Hydro account: Establishing an account with BC Hydro will ensure electrical service at your home or business. To open a BC Hydro account, you can visit their website or contact their customer service team.
  • BCeID: Register for a BCeID, which is an online services account that allows access to various government services. A BCeID is especially helpful for conducting business with the provincial government.

By registering for these essential services, you will be better prepared to settle into your new life in British Columbia.

Settling in British Columbia


When you move to British Columbia, finding a place to live is a top priority. There are 52 cities and towns in the province, each offering a variety of housing options. The most popular and metropolitan city is Vancouver, while Victoria is known for its historical charm. Other cities and towns can range in size and population, providing living conditions that cater to varying preferences. When looking for a place to live, it is essential to understand and negotiate tenancy agreements, as well as set up household utilities.

City Highlights

British Columbia is known for its diverse entertainment and attractions, as well as its opportunities for an active outdoor lifestyle. Some popular activities include:

  • Outdoor activities: The province offers countless hiking trails, biking routes, and water activities like kayaking and sailing.
  • Skiing: Winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy snowboarding and skiing across various resort locations.
  • City attractions: Residents and visitors of both Vancouver and Victoria can experience multi-cultural cuisine, shopping, and entertainment options.

Weather and Climate

The weather and climate in British Columbia vary greatly depending on the location. Coastal cities, such as Vancouver and Victoria, experience mild winters with limited snowfall and moderate wind conditions. In contrast, the province's interior regions can see colder weather with heavy snowfall, making it an ideal location for winter sports enthusiasts.

Overall, British Columbia offers newcomers a high standard of living, diverse cultures, and a wide range of recreational activities, making it an attractive destination for settling down.

Ready to Move to British Columbia? Allied Van Lines Can Help

Moving to British Columbia can be an exciting new chapter in your life. The province offers a beautiful landscape, diverse cultural experiences, and excellent educational opportunities. However, relocating can be a daunting task, especially when moving long distances. That's where Allied Van Lines comes in, offering professional moving services to ensure a smooth transition.

Contact us today for a free no-obligation moving quote.