Nanaimo Relocation Guide

Resources for people moving to Nanaimo and Surrounding Areas

Nanaimo offers a world of opportunities for both yourself and your family. This beautiful West Coast city is known as the Harbour City and provides some of the best living conditions in all of Canada. From the outdoor activities, cultural history, mild climate to phenomenal schools, Nanaimo has something to offer people from all walks of life.

The variety of communities allows individuals to choose from modern oceanfront homes in Dover bay, peaceful mountainside dwellings in Pleasant Valley, luxurious harbour view condos, and picturesque lakefront properties near Brannen Lake. Whether you're a family, retiree, or student looking for the very best Canada has to offer, look no further than relocating to Nanaimo, B.C.

Nanaimo SceneryNanaimo Community Guide

  • Community photos and videos
  • Up-to-date Real Estate Statistics
  • Latest houses for sale


Moving to Nanaimo has been the first choice for many Canadians residing in British Columbia and other provinces. The population has steadily increased by over 5% annually, with an estimated population of over 160,000 in the Nanaimo Regional District. The median age of the people in Nanaimo is around 45 years old. This city offers one of the best lifestyles for retirees and families looking to relocate to a safe West Coast community with excellent outdoor activities, without the congestion and stress of a major city.

In the 1800's Nanaimo was known primarily for its massive production of coal and timber. Today, Nanaimo is known for tourism, education, retirement, technology, and recreation. The largest employment sectors are in medical care services that offer nurses and doctors many opportunities s many opportunities to move to the Island. Due to the booming retirement population, caregivers with varying specialization are all in high demand.

Nanaimo FactsQuick Facts About Nanaimo

The information provided below offers you information about the many advantages of relocating to Nanaimo. It will give you information about the climate, demographics, schools, attractions, annual events, and suggestions on communities that will fit all budgets and living preferences. Use this guide to find out how moving to Nanaimo can improve your work-life balance.

Cities History

  • Nanaimo HistoryNanaimo is known as Snuneymuxw by the Coast Salish indigenous peoples of Vancouver Island.
  • Snuneymuxw translates to "Meeting Place" in English.
  • Nanaimo was first charted on maps by Spanish explorers in the late eighteenth century.
  • The British took control of the area in the early nineteenth century, and a trading post was established shortly after that.
  • The Hudson Bay Company built the first fort here in 1853, known as "the Bastion," a restored landmark of the Harbour City.
  • From the 1850s to the 1950s, Nanaimo was mainly known as a coal mining town, and the harbour served as an ideal port for coal ships.
  • Since the 1950's Nanaimo has had a robust forestry sector as the demand for coal diminished.

Local Climate

Nanaimo ClimateNanaimo has one of the most temperate climates in all of Canada. The winter months average temperatures around 8ºC, while the summer months rarely rise above 25ºC. Rainfall from late October through April is standard, though snow is infrequent and melts very quickly after it falls, while sunshine is abundant in the summer months from May through September. You'll find, unlike most residents of other Canadian cities, Nanaimo Locals don't own snow tires.

  • Climate: Pacific Rain Forest
  • Annual Sunshine: 1940 hours
  • Annual Rainfall: 1100mm or 43 Inches
  • Annual Snowfall: 68cm or 27 Inches
  • Annual Snowfall: 68cm or 27 Inches
  • Avg. Summer Temp: 24ºC or 75ºF
  • Avg. Winter Temp: 7ºC or 45ºF

Nanaimo Statistics

  • Nanaimo StatisticsNanaimo's population is 90,504 as of the 2016 census.
  • Located 23 Km West of Vancouver and 110 Km North of Victoria.
  • Nanaimo is the second-largest city on Vancouver Island.
  • The Local economy is driven by tourism, forestry, and medical industries.
  • Known for its namesake dessert, the Nanaimo Bar.
  • Gateway to many other Islands found in the Strait of Georgia.
  • 23 Meters (75ft.) above Sea Level.
  • 95% Canadian Citizens. 
  • 20% of Residents are 65+.

Nanaimo TravelGetting to Nanaimo

Living on an island is a unique opportunity that awaits people relocating to Nanaimo. But how does one get to a location that's roughly 25 kilometres off the West Coast of Canada? There are no bridges, but there are many options to travel here by sea and air. If you plan to bring your vehicle with you to Nanaimo, a ferry is your only choice of transportation. 

Nanaimo FerryB.C. Ferries

The most common mode of transportation to get to Nanaimo is taking a B.C. Ferry, either leaving Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay or Tsawwassen to Duke Point. The ferry ride takes roughly two hours, and the scenery is spectacular sailing through the Georgia Straight. Drivers can expect to pay approximately $60 (not including driver and passengers), and you can book sailing ahead of time, which is highly suggested for the minimal extra cost. Foot passengers pay under $20 per ferry trip and can expect minimal wait times.


When you need to arrive in Nanaimo quickly on short notice, seaplanes are a great option. Seair and Harbour Airare both based in Nanaimo and offer multiple flights per day, weather permitting. The price per passenger varies between $80-130 depending on the time you chose to fly, which typically takes 20-30 minutes to arrive. Flying over the emerald waters and dramatic rock formations is breathtaking, though a bit noisy.


Don't like seaplanes, eh? Well, we have the perfect solution for you. Helijet offers helicopter flights to downtown Nanaimo daily. This mode of transport is fantastic, and kids love the experience of being in a helicopter.


If your flying from other parts of Canada or the rest of the world, Vancouver Island Airport (YCD) is 10 minutes south of Nanaimo. You can book many direct flights to Nanaimo from all over Canada or get a connecting flight through Vancouver Internation Airport. You can rent a car at YCD or take a cab by calling AC TAXI (250) 753-1231.

Why Move Here?

Nanaimo SchoolsNanaimo Schools

Growing up in Canada is a privilege, but growing up on Vancouver Island is a blessing.The rich environment unspoiled by city streets offers children an experience that most only dream of and can't be found anywhere else in the world. These are the earliest memories your little ones will remember. Make it the best memories possible by choosing Nanaimo, B.C.

If you're relocating to Nanaimo with children or moving to Nanaimo and planning on starting a family, picking the best schools is vital to their future success. Use our Nanaimo Ladysmith School District home search or click on one of the following catchment areas to see homes for sale near 'sNanaimo's best primary, secondary, and french emersion (Ecole) schools.


Nanaimo RetirementDownsizing and Retiring

Why go south when you can go West to live on Vancouver Island.Vancouver Island has some of the best retirement, 55+, and active living communities in all of Canada. Whether you want an oceanfront view, an active social life, mountainside living or lakeside bonfires, there is a community on Vancouver Island to fit your needs.

Some of the top choices of individuals looking to downsize and retire on the Island begin their search in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and Lantzville. Each of these communities has somthing unique to offer its residents, but all share the mild West Coast weather and beautiful flora and fauna found on the East Coast of Vancouver Island.


Your Private Island

Central Vancouver IslandMany people become concerned when moving to Vancouver Island due to ferry rides, seaplanes, and helicopters required to leave the Island. However, once you're here, you'll find you rarely want to leave this marvellous place unless taking a tropical vacation in Hawaii, which is extremely easy. Everything you leave behind on the mainland will seem like unnecessary stress that you’ll no longer want to pursue.Nanaimo is a recreational paradise, and most vacation residents find themselves booking holidays in Victoria, Maple Bay, Tofino, and Port Renfrew. Nanaimo has one of Canada's longest shorelines and many lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, caves, and trails to explore. A favourite Local group is called “Take A Hike” Vancouver Island, where 1000’s locals post their daily outings to some of the most remarkable places on the West Coast of Canada.

We don't have rush-hour in Nanaimo, so you can spend more time at home in the morning, enjoying the amazingly mild weather. So when you buy a house in Nanaimo, know that you're going to live on island time. Living here will reduce your stress, increase your quality of life, and make you realize there is more to life than just working.

Top Ten Nanaimo Parks and Trails

Nanaimo ParksMaffeo Sutton Park

Found right on Nanaimo's waterfront, Maffeo Sutton Park has terrific walking trails along the oceanside, a sandy beach, picnic areas, and an expansive new playground for children.

Nanaimo ParksNeck Point

The stunning scenery found at Neck Point is a popular Nanaimo destination for photography. Well maintained trails will lead you to beautiful vistas overlooking the Georgia Straight.

Nanaimo Pipers LagoonPipers Lagoon

Pipers Lagoon is a small peninsula with sandy beaches on one side and a wildlife-filled lagoon on the other side. Shack Island is just off the shore and is full of colourful fishing cabins.  

Nanaimo Jack PointJack Point/Biggs Park

The view of downtown Nanaimo from the shores of Jack Point is breathtaking at sunset. This park is full of intriguing sandstone rock formations and carvings that are exciting to explore.

Contact Your Nanaimo Real Estate Agent

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