Cheapest places to live in British Columbia
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Top 10 Cheapest places to live in British Columbia with the Best quality of life – 2023

British Columbia is an attractive place to live due to its picturesque scenery and many opportunities to live a fulfilling life. In BC you’ll see spectacular mountain views everywhere you look! The cost of living in BC is, however, very expensive, especially in major cities like Vancouver where buying a house will cost you over $1M. Do you want to live in BC, but are on a tighter budget? We got you covered! Here are the cheapest places to live in BC with the best quality of life!

Cheapest places to live in BC - infographic

Methodology

We based our ranking of the 10 cheapest places to live in BC on the 2 following criteria: the average housing prices – house and apartment prices. We collected the date from Statistics Canada, The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), and Zumper. To help you compare, the average home price in British Columbia is $932,979 and a 2-bedroom rental averages $2,820. 

We’ve used this data to rank the 10 cheapest places to live in BC while also considering their quality of life (health, pollution, green space and recreation, climate, education, and employment opportunities).

Why Do People Move to BC?

People move to BC for the following reasons: 

  • Stunning nature views
  • Low crime rates
  • Employment and investment opportunities 
  • Mild weather 
  • Top-notch educational institutions
  • To get involved in the film industry
  • Cultural diversity 
  • Outdoor recreational activities: skiing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking and more!

Featured in this article

1. Williams Lake

Best for water sports

Williams Lake - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 11,906
  • Average house sale price: $290,000
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,267

Williams Lake, the central part of the region known as Cariboo, is known for its top-rated water activities, beautiful neighborhoods, and rich cultural heritage. House prices in Williams Lake are extremely cheap compared to the rest of BC, it averages $290,000. Rent is also affordable in Williams Lake and can cost you an average of $1,267 for a 2-bedroom apartment in the city centre! 

(*Statistics Canada, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

 

Williams Lake, BC

2. Prince George

Perfect to admire the Northern Lights

Prince George - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 76,708
  • Average house sale price: $400,000
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,300


Prince George is suitable for outdoor lovers. Skiing, golfing, trails for hiking and mountain biking, you name it, they got it! House prices are affordable and average around $400,000. Rent is also cheap with an average price of $1,300 for a 2-bedroom apartment. 

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Prince George, BC

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3. Castlegar

Great for outdoor recreation

Castlegar - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 8,338
  • Average house sale price: $427,450 
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,600

If you love anything that has to do with the outdoors and art, Castlegar is the place for you. The average house price in Castlegar is around $427,450, which is very affordable. Rent in Castlegar is also affordable and averages $1,600 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Castlegar, BC

4. Cranbrook

Ideal for cycling enthusiasts

Cranbrook - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 20,499
  • Average house sale price: $475,000
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,700

Known for its unique craftsmanship and outdoor activities, Cranbrook is a small and family-friendly town of just a little over 20 000 people situated in the Kootenays. The average house price in Cranbrook is very cheap and is around $475,000 for a house situated on ⅓ of an acre of land. Rent is relatively affordable for the area with an average price of $1,700 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Cranbrook, BC

5. Prince Rupert

Best for animal sightings

Prince Rupert - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 12,300
  • Average house sale price: $485,000
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,200

Located northwest of Vancouver, Prince Rupert is known for its epic wildlife (grizzlies, orcas, bears) along with its job opportunities in the fishing industry. House prices are cheap and average at $485,000. Rent is also affordable with an average price of $1,200 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Prince Rupert, BC

6. Vernon

Best for adventurers

Vernon - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 44,519
  • Average house sale price: $692,705
  • Average rent price: $1,500


Located on the north side of Kelowna, Vernon is a family-friendly city with great job opportunities. In Vernon you can enjoy skiing, relaxing in a park with a picturesque view and spending some family time at the beach. House prices in Vernon are affordable and average $692,705. Rent in Vernon is also affordable and averages $1,500.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Vernon, BC

7. Valemount

Best for connecting with nature

Valemount - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 1,052
  • Average house sale price: $534,000
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,100


Valemount is recognized for its lovely thick snowfall creating picturesque scenery and excellent sledding opportunities. There are mostly cottages in Valemount making the area very calm and serene. Valemount has very affordable housing options where the average house price is $534,000. In Valemount, you can rent a 2-bedroom apartment for less than $1,100 which is extremely cheap for BC.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Valemount, BC

8. Hope

Perfect for family outings

Hope - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 6,686
  • Average house sale price: $590,000
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,500


Situated less than 2 hours from Vancouver, Hope is a stunning suburb where history is rich, and many movies are filmed. House prices are cheap and average at $590,000. Rent is also affordable with an average price of $1,500 for a 2-bedroom.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Hope, BC

9. Nelson

Best for winter sports like skiing

Nelson - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 11,106
  • Average house sale price: $644,750
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,500


Also known as The Queen City, Nelson has exceptional skiing opportunities and stunning architecture dating back to the silver rush days. House prices are relatively affordable in Nelson and average $644,750. Rent is also affordable in Nelson and costs an average of $1,500 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Nelson, BC

10. Penticton

Great for outdoor enthusiasts

Penticton - cheapest places to live in BC
  • Population: 36,885
  • Average house sale price: $644,300
  • Average rent price (2-bedroom): $1,880


Penticton is a town located 1h from Kelowna that is known for its great year-round weather, golden beaches and wineries. The average house price in Penticton is $644,300, which is a bit pricier than some other cities in BC, but much more affordable than Vancouver. Rent, on the other hand, is relatively cheap and averages at $1,880 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

 

(*Statistics CanadaZumper, Numbeo & The Canadian Real Estate Association)

Penticton, BC

 Affordable Housing Options in BC

Even in BC’s cheapest cities, the average cost of buying a home sits around $400 000 which is considered expensive for most people. If you’re looking for a cheap way to live almost anywhere and avoid breaking the bank, check out the affordable housing options below.

1. Coop Housing in BC

Usually for low to moderate income families, Coop housing in BC is an affordable way to own shares on a property without having to live paycheck to paycheck because of your huge mortgage. When living in a Coop, you’ll have to contribute to general maintenance and you’ll most likely have only a small personal space. 

If you meet the criteria, you might qualify for Coop housing in BC:

  • You must either have a family (minimum of two people including a dependent child), be a senior of 55 or above, have disability, or you must be a single couple with a low income.
  • You must be a citizen of Canada and reside in the country.
  • Your assets must be less than $100,000.
  • You must not meet any factors for exclusion like bad tenancy history and fraud.

You can find a Coop housing community in BC on the chfbc website. 

2. Tiny Houses in BC

Tiny houses are small houses of around 400 sq ft. that are usually on wheels so they can easily be parked and transported. A tiny house can cost anywhere from $10 000 to $150 000 depending on who built it, the materials used and how big it is. Just like in the rest of Canada, it’s nearly impossible to find a legal place to park a tiny house full-time in BC. Advocates are pushing to create more tiny house communities across BC so that people can call their tiny houses their primary residences. 

Tiny house communities in BC: 

3. Getting Roommates in BC

With the elevated costs of rent, getting Roommates in BC is a great way to reduce your housing costs each month. Students in Vancouver mostly get roommates so they can be near their university without having to overspend on their rent or travel from far. 

The three main types of roommates in BC are:

  • Co-Tenants
  • Tenants In Common
  • Roommates/Occupants

4. First Time Home Buyer Incentive In BC

The First Time Home Buyer Incentive was initiated in 2019 by the Canadian Government to help home buyers afford the down payment on their first home.

The type of property you want to buy determines the amount that the government will help you with.

  • 5% of the purchase price of an existing or mobile home.
  • 5% or 10% of the purchase price of a newly constructed home.

You’ll have to repay the incentive within 25 years and there is no interest attached to it. 

5. Putting Down the Minimum Down Payment

You can still live in your ideal location in BC, by putting down only the minimum down payment (5%). While putting down the minimum down payment will automatically oblige you to pay the Mortgage Loan Insurance (approx 2.4% of your mortgage), it will allow you to buy a property quicker. 

Minimum down payment regulations in BC: 

  • If the cost of the house is less than $500,000, the minimum down payment is 5%.
  • If the cost of the house is between $500,000 and $999,999, the minimum down payment is 5% of the first $500,000 and 10% of any amount over $500,000.
  • If the cost of the house is 1,000,000 or more, the minimum down payment is 20%.

 

How Much Mortgage Can I Afford In BC?

Mortgages given to you by a bank depend on the amount of money you earn, debts incurred, and your general living expenses. The higher mortgage you can afford, the more expensive a home you can afford to purchase.

Homes are generally expensive in BC, so to find out how much mortgage you can afford, use this Mortgage Calculator Tool based on your household income, debts and down payment amount. 

Mortgage Affordability in BC

Household Income 

before taxes, no debts 

Down Payment

Maximum Mortgage You Can Afford in BC

$65 000

$40 000

$286 792

$75 000

$50 000

$337 827

$95 000

$60 000

$431 633

$130 000 

$75 000 

$593 725

(*CMHC)

 

Conclusion

Though BC has quite expensive places to live in, there are still very affordable places where you can live cheaply and have a quality life. With this list of top 10 cheapest places where you can live in BC, you should be able to make a choice after determining what type of housing you can afford based on your income and lifestyle.

Are you moving to BC soon? Check out some of the best movers in Vancouver and the surrounding areas.

Last year's ranking (2022)

1. Williams Lake
2. Castlegar
3. Cranbrook
4. Prince Rupert
5. Vernon
6. Prince George
7. Valemount
8. Hope
9. Nelson
10. Penticton

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