What to know before your move to British Columbia

7 Things to know and do before moving to British Columbia

British Columbia is known for its natural beauty and diverse landscapes. With its mountains and hiking trails, you can enjoy outdoor activities perfect for nature lovers. Whether you’re into hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying the serene beauty of the outdoors, this province has it all. 

Moving to any new city or province is a pretty stressful endeavor, especially if you aren’t caught up on what to expect. It is important to consider all factors before moving to British Columbia to ensure it matches your lifestyle and goals. 

This article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to British Columbia

Moving to British Columbia: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to British Columbia

Finding a job 

In October 2023, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was 5.4% in relation to the 4,548,000 population. British Columbia’s unemployment rate makes it the fourth lowest in Canada during September.

British Columbia has their own website to help newcomers look for a job, including its own site for jobs within the government called Work BC.

When finding a job in this city, it is important to look for employment vacancies and use internet job postings. Indeed and LinkedIn are examples of well-known sites.

Labour Force Statistics Highlights (Oct 2023)

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to British Columbia by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to British Columbia. You can book your flight to get there, for example through its major airport, Vancouver International Airport.

If you prefer an alternative mode of transportation, numerous cities in British Columbia offer bus services by companies like Greyhound and regional bus operators too.

Traveling via train is a great option too, Via Rail Canada is the country’s main train service provider, or you can drive your car and plan your trip.

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to British Columbia. You will be more prepared for your new life in the city if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  1. English is the predominant language in BC. If English is not your first language, it would be best to consider improving your language skills for easy communication with locals. 
  2. British Columbia is renowned for its outdoor activities and natural landscapes. Be ready to embrace hiking, skiing, water sports, snowboarding, to name a few. Consider bringing outdoor gear like a snowsuit, walking poles, winter boots, scarves and gloves to keep yourself warm during the winter. 
  3. If you are moving to BC from outside of Canada, ensure you have the necessary visa or residency status. This might include a work permit, study permit, or permanent residency application through Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Program (if eligible).

2. Upon your arrival in British Columbia

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • It is strongly recommended to create a checklist of the addresses of all the places that need to be changed. MovingWaldo can help you update your address in five minutes with every service provider, in a few clicks. 
  • Once you have handled all your administrative tasks, you should also get yourself a local phone number if you come from outside of Canada.The most popular phone services in BC include Bell, Rogers and Telus. Find out more information on how to change your address with your telecom provider.

Exchanging your driver’s licence

According to the ICBC, you must change the address on your driver’s licence within 10 days of moving. It is essential to update your address, this can be done online, by phone 1-800-950-1498 or in-person

If you are moving within or outside of Canada, you have 90 days to switch over your licence in BC. Find out more on how to change your address in British Columbia.

Setting up a bank account 

When moving to British Columbia, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. The main banks you can find in BC are Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), ScotiaBank, TD Canada Trust, BMO, CIBC and HSBC which have multiple locations across the province. 

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance in British Columbia can be obtained through the Medical Services Plan (MSP) or private health insurance. 

The Medical Services Plan in British Columbia covers medically necessary services provided by physicians and surgeons, as well as dental or oral surgery performed in a hospital, for eligible residents of the province.

You can apply by clicking here and if you have any questions, Health Insurance BC administrators can answer any inquiries.

3. Best places to live in British Columbia

Biritsh Columbia

The Province is globally deemed to have an exceptionally high standard of living. Some of the best places to live in British Columbia are the following. 




Most popular and metropolitan city 


Coastal city with lowest unemployment rate in Canada

Fort St. John

Population less than 20,000


Over 120 wineries 


Charming coastal capital

Setting up home services 

Electricity in British Columbia has not been deregulated. As such, all of the electricity system in British Columbia is provided by a publicly owned company called BC Hydro. All residential customers are charged a certain rate for electricity till a specific limit. Beyond that, the rate of electricity increases with increased usage.

Provision of natural gas in British Columbia was deregulated in 2002. As such, you can choose your own natural gas retailer. The most popular and reputable residential natural gas providers in the province are Access Gas Services, Direct Energy, Just Energy, Planet Energy, and Summitt Energy.

For water and sewer services in British Columbia, the Crown is in charge. The application can be done via their website or get in touch with their customer service for assistance.

British Columbia offers their residents affordable internet services through companies like TekSavvy, Oxio and TELUS. Learn more about the best internet providers in British Columbia.

Should you rent or buy?

As of August 2023, the median cost of buying a property in British Columbia is $956,344; as of September 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Vancouver, BC is $2,800.

The rental market in this province is equally competitive, too, because of high demand for rental apartments. Trusted websites such as Redfin, Apartments.com and Zumper are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

CREA (August 2023) & Zumper (Oct 2023)

4. Cost of living in British Columbia

To give you a general idea of the cost of living in British Columbia, here is the comparison of the cost of living between the city of Vancouver (largest city in BC) and Victoria.



1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list 



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 


Provincial Taxes

About 12%





1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($69.42 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 


Provincial Taxes

About 12%



Numbeo (Sept 2023) & Numbeo (Sept 2023)

There are three types of sales taxes in Canada. In the province of British Columbia, they have PST and GST that are set at about 7% and 5% respectively, coming to a total of 12%. Applicable tax on the taxable income includes.

  • 5.06% on the first $45,654 or less, plus
  • 7.7% on the next $45,654 up to $91,310 plus.
  • 10.5% on the next $91,310 up to $104,835, plus. 
  • 12.29% on the next $104,835 up to $127,299, plus.
  • 14.7% on the next $127,299 up to $172,602, plus
  • 16.8% on the next $172,602 up to $240,716, plus
  • 20.5% on the amount over $240,716.

One may argue that the taxes in some provinces are higher in comparison to others, but due to the additional services that are offered to the residents by the provincial government.

Government of Canada

5. The weather in British Columbia

According to ClimateData.org, the weather of British Columbia has many different climates, offering diverse weather conditions throughout the year.

For comparison, the average temperature in Kelowna is 8.4 °C | 47.2 °F. The average annual rainfall is 691 mm | 27.2 in. Whereas the average temperature in Prince George is 4.3 °C | 39.7 °F and the average annual rainfall is 636 mm | 25.0 in.

6. What to do as a local in British Columbia

After you are done settling into your new home in British Columbia, you will probably want to familiarize yourself with the province and all of its attractions. Some of the most popular activities and locations in British Columbia include:

  • Exploring the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which is a lush rainforest protecting the Haida First Nations lands.
  • There are plenty of ski resorts and mountainous landscapes in British Columbia. As such, you can engage in some adrenaline-fueled mountain biking.
  • You can take up magnificent kayaking tours in Vancouver Island North and observe dolphins, orcas, humpback whales, and other sea creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Hike along the Tofino and Wild Pacific Trail located within the Pacific Rim National Park.
  • Explore the mountain resort village of Whistler which is Canada’s prime destination for winter sports. In 2010, Whistler hosted the downhill ski events for the Winter Olympics.

7. Fun facts about British Columbia

  • British-Columbia is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven national parks, seven recreational areas and one sanctuary.
  • 50% of British Columbia’s population is concentrated in the city of Vancouver.
  • British Columbia occupies 10% of Canada’s land surface.
  • British Columbia is one of the world’s leading producers of cranberries and blueberries.
  • Whistler has the world’s longest unsupported cable car connecting the peaks of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort.


Moving to British Columbia is an exciting adventure that promises a unique and captivating experience. It offers an appealing lifestyle, making it attractive to individuals, young professionals, and families alike.

Locals mention that the great views and stunning geography add to the city’s charm, making it an enjoyable place to move.

In need of a trusted moving company to move you to Vancouver,BC? Discover the 5 best movers in Vancouver.


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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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