Living in Victoria: 11 Things to Know Before Moving to Victoria 
Posted by Ron Neal on Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 at 1:19pm.
Affectionately nicknamed the "City of Gardens," the city of Victoria is one of Canada's most vibrant places to live. Every year, more than three billion flowers bloom in all the top neighbourhoods, lighting up the cityscape with all the rainbow colours. A thriving job market, numerous schools, and endless fun activities to enjoy are just a few things that make this city a wonderful place to live, work, and play.
More than 400,000 people proudly call the capital city their home, but there's always room for more. By searching for Victoria's real estate listings, you're opening yourself up to the chance of living in the capital of Canada's most gorgeous province (British Columbia). And by deciding to live in one of the world's finest cities, you're giving yourself the best opportunity for a high quality of life. To see what this area offers its residents, here's a look at what to expect when moving to Victoria.
Cost of Living in Victoria
While Victoria's real estate prices are high compared to the rest of British Columbia, lower costs in other areas bring the overall cost of living close to national averages.
By some estimates, the cost of living in Victoria is now higher than in the city of Vancouver. Housing costs are 12% more than the average in British Columbia. Single-family homes typically sell for around $1 million, while condos for sale in Victoria typically list at around $510,000. Home prices have decreased drastically since they peaked in March 2022. Still, the 2010 housing boom still contributes a large volume of new construction homes in Victoria.
Renting a home costs anywhere from $1,200 to over $3,500 per month, depending on the property type, neighbourhood, and amenities. In Downtown Victoria, for example, studio apartments cost $1,350 per month, while two-bedroom units are $2,300.
Fernwood has more affordable apartments, ranging from $1,200 to $1,890 per month. In most areas, single-family rentals cost around $2,000 to $3,500 each month.
Other regular household expenses in Victoria include:
- Utilities: $130 per month for a one-bedroom dwelling
- Groceries: $250 per person each month
- Public Transportation: $85 for the monthly BC transit pass
- Car Insurance: $150 per month or $1,800 per year
- Gas: $1.80 per litre for premium unleaded
- Diesel: $2 per litre
- Parking: Up to $3 per hour
Entertainment adds up to $240 per month to the household's expenses. Most attractions cost around $20 per person, although theatre shows can reach $100 for each ticket. Restaurants cost anywhere from $20 to $100 per person, depending on the eatery's quality and overall vibe.
More information about cost of living in Victoria:
Real Estate in Victoria
Now is the time to follow your wildest fantasies and seek to live somewhere famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and incredible culture. Here's what to expect in Victoria's real estate market.
Basics About Buying
While there aren't restrictions on foreign buyers purchasing real estate in Victoria, local financing can be tricky to get your hands on. As such, experts suggest that Americans looking to purchase a property in Canada should obtain funding through a US-based lender. Those intending to move from the US to Victoria should hire a local lawyer ASAP. Your local attorney will help with reviewing contracts and ensure due diligence, including property inspection and title investigation.
Where are Victoria's Top-Selling Neighbourhoods?
In recent years, Victoria's top-selling neighborhoods have been Saanich, Victoria, and Langford. Both Victoria and Saanich offer convenient locations near the core, coupled with more accessible price points than the Oak Bay community. Alternatively, Langford is affordable for families if they're okay with living in the Westshore markets, most known for its parks and amenities.
Popular Home Styles in Victoria
Here's a list of the types of architecture you can expect to find in Victoria:
The Tudor Revival style home stands out amongst almost all other types of architecture, comprised of brick or stone exteriors. This style really peaked in the 1920s and 1930s as streetcar suburbs led to pitched-roof cottages boasting decorative half-timbering and masonry veneer. Generally, a Tudor Revival house can be cottage or mansion-style and possesses an asymmetrical appearance with a steep roof with multiple gables.
Edwardian homes are often decorated with trellises, cheerful patterns, and built-in furniture. These aren't very flashy or status-driven homes and are more focused on filling the inside space with light. These homes are also known for ornate decorate details such as:
- Floor tiles
- Stained glass
- Large rooms with high ceilings
Craftsman homes have low-pitched roofs with double (or protruding single) gables and overhanging eaves. Intentionally exposed beams, brackets, and rafters are found on the exterior of Craftsman homes. There are also wide, open front porches perched upon thick tapered columns. Additionally, Craftsman homes are–at most-1.5 stories tall, and the home design can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.
A Foursquare home is between 2 and 2.5 stories, is square in shape, and has four rooms per floor. The Foursquare home has a distinctively symmetrical appearance and offers plenty of versatility. For instance, a living room can take up 50% of the ground floor. Conversely, the kitchen and pantry can be accommodated by the ground floor being extended. Typically, the bathrooms have been located on the second floor in these homes. Foursquare homes are appealing because they've always been budget-friendly while offering plenty of space.
Victoria Job Market
The average starting wage in Victoria, BC, is $33,100 per year. With advanced degrees and the right level of education, residents can make well over $100,000 each year. Well-paying jobs abound at all the top companies in the region, including AbeBooks Inc., BC Public Service, British Columbia Ferry Services, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, and The Great Little Box Company.
The largest companies in Victoria, BC, also hire regularly and offer competitive wages. For example, Lamar Transit Advertising employs 5,000 people in the marketing world, while Pattison Outdoor adds 500 more jobs to the market. Local companies with 10,000 employees are Agropur, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Stantec, Menzies Aviation, and Jacobs.
One of the most popular places to work in the capital is the University of Victoria. This public university employs over 3,000 full-time workers, and another 2,000 work there part-time. In addition to their 900 faculty workers, there are admissions officers, program coordinators, advising assistants, IT specialists, janitors, and many other vital employees.
The ultra-low unemployment rate of just 4.4% can make it difficult for employers to find people to fill their open positions. As a result, they're often willing to increase incentives as needed to attract and retain top talent in their industries.
More information about finding a job in Victoria:
Popular Industries in the Area
Victoria has a relatively diverse job market that reflects its role as the capital of British Columbia. Government and tourism are two of its biggest industries, followed by education, technology, and the military. There's also an emerging business sector. Furthermore, Victoria continues growing its reputation as an agricultural, forestry, and marine research center.
Working for the government involves supporting the successful operations of both federal and provincial agencies. The tourism industry casts a broad net, allowing employees to build rewarding careers at hotels and resorts, fishing charters, gardens, bus tour companies, and other leading attractions.
The education sector serves scholars in preschool through 12th grade, plus technical schools, community colleges, and universities. While working in tech, employees can excel at telecommunication, software, gaming, and web development firms. Joining the military gives residents a chance to serve The Royal Canadian Navy and build a rewarding career down a specialized path.
Things to Do in Victoria
Throughout the year, there's never a shortage of fun things to see, do, and experience in Victoria, BC. The attractions begin in the city centre near the Inner Harbour and continue well past the outskirts of town.
Fisherman's Wharf Park offers a glimpse at seals and other marine life while providing dining and shopping opportunities galore. If you're lucky, you can even seen humpback whales breaching the surface! Dozens of gardens and roughly 1,500 hanging baskets on lamp posts show how the capital earned its nickname and give residents a fantastic spot to enjoy a picnic while soaking in the scenery. Plus, the highly celebrated Butchart Gardens–around since 1904–is just a 25-minute drive from Victoria's downtown core. Stunning architecture adds to the experience, especially at all the local churches, government buildings, and Craigdarroch Castle.
The city's unique small-town atmosphere elevates all the fun and adventures, ensuring residents of all ages always enjoy exploring each attraction. Plus, it's easy to travel between all the different sites thanks to the city's high walk, transit, and bike scores.
The Vancouver Island lifestyle is all about outdoor fun. In Victoria, BC, residents can visit over 100 fantastic parks at their leisure, including Vic West Park, Beacon Hill Park, and Royal Athletic Park. Lush gardens fill out the rest of the green spaces and give visitors a chance to explore the city's diverse botanical treasures. Additionally, the Mile "0" marker for the nearly 5,000 mile Trans-Canada Trail is located in Beacon Hill Park.
WildPlay Elements Park takes the outdoor experience to the next level with challenging obstacle courses. In addition, golfing fun awaits at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort and Spa, while the Beacon Hill Children's Farm offers farm animal encounters.
Residents can go kayaking and paddleboarding along the Inner Harbor for even more outdoor adventures. Brentwood Bay and the Gorge Waterway offer additional explorations whenever watersports enthusiasts need a change of scenery. At the Gorge, it's even possible to rent a hot tub boat and party in style.
Even smack-dab downtown in Victoria, the Juan de Fuca strait and the nearby Mount Rainier and Olympic Mountains in the US offer views that will make you feel at one with nature. You certainly won't feel like you're stuck in a concrete jungle. Moreover, a jaunt down to the harbour allows you to witness the seaplanes taking flight across the water. It's a truly captivating visual.
Residents are also close to "Mount Doug." You can hike up to the precipice and enjoy the eye-catching views of the Gulf Islands situated between the Canadian Mainland and Vancouver Island, over Victoria itself, and into the US.
When residents are not smelling the roses at Butchart Gardens, they can be found enjoying:
- Looking at teeny tiny displays at Miniature World
- Exploring riveting artifacts at the Royal BC Museum
- Seeing all the interesting insects at the Victoria Bug Zoo
- Riding the pickle boats run by the Victoria Harbour Ferry
- Learning about marine life at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
- Watching wonderfully crafted shows at the Royal Theatre
- Admiring gorgeous works of art at The Bateman Gallery
- Dropping in for a movie (or two!) at The Vic Theatre
For memorable shopping adventures, residents head on over to Bastion Square. Set in the historic downtown area, this square features tons of cute boutiques, street performers, and artwork on every corner.
Restaurants and Nightlife
While travelling around Victoria, BC, it's always easy to satisfy every craving imaginable. There are more restaurants per capita than anywhere in Canada, boasting nearly five eateries for every 1,000 residents. The cuisine served at the eateries spans the globe, too, giving patrons a whirlwind tour of all the flavours found around the world.
When residents want Italian fare, they just have to go to IL Covo Trattoria, The Old Spaghetti Factory, or IL Terrazzo. For rich curry and more, The Mantra, Namaste Indian Cuisine, and Royal Spice Fine Indian Cuisine easily fit the bill. When burgers are calling, Fatburger, Bimo Burger Stand, and Bin 4 Burger Lounge get the job done.
In the evening, residents can go to their local bars for food, drinks, and live music to remember. The most popular venues include Bard & Banker, Irish Times Pub, and Swans Brewpub. Driftwood Brewing Company, Whistle Buoy Brewing Company, and other brewing companies are the way to go whenever it's time to sip on the latest craft beer releases.
An Amazing Place to Live for Cyclists
One of the most significant boons of living in the city is the opportunity for cycling. Victoria is the Cycling Capital of Canada, famous for its intricate framework of bicycle paths. Specifically, it's possible to cycle from the Schwartz Bay ferry down the bike path until you reach downtown Victoria. From there, you can travel to Sooke. You can even cycle to the Gulf Islands or the Cowichan Valley region.
The wildlife across British Columbia will blow you away, and the oceans surrounding Vancouver island more than hold up their end of the bargain. Residents have easy access to whale and orca watching, or a quick and convenient boat trip for some up-north bear spotting near the national park at the Pacific Rim.
Victoria offers more than larger-than-life creatures. Across the island, there are plenty of roaming deer on the streets. The deer are very docile and can often be found on your front lawn. On those very same southern Victoria streets, you'll also see peacocks, which live in Beacon Hill Park and come and go at their own leisure.
The climate in Victoria is of the sub-Mediterranean variety, perfect for growing all the flowers it's best known for. Summertime brings warm, dry weather, while the winter rarely falls below freezing. The area gets snow each winter, but the yearly accumulation usually reaches about five centimetres, making it the warmest city in Canada.
The summer months bring the most tourists to the city. The bright skies and comfortably warm weather set the stage for delightful visits to the parks and gardens all across town. On the hottest days, temperatures may reach 30°C, although it's usually close to a near perfect 25°C.
The sun continues well past the summer months, totalling over 300 days of sunshine for the year. Autumn stays balmy and dry through mid-October when the rainy days often begin—up to 150 millimetres of rain will usually fall toward the end of the fall season. Despite the rain, residents typically enjoy temperatures in the 10°C to 15°C range.
The rain usually continues in the winter, although snow is always possible. From December through February, it's common to see up to 10 centimetres of rain. Temperatures typically stay in the 5°C range, occasionally dropping below freezing and bringing snowfall. Despite the warm temperatures, homeowners should still winterize their homes every year.
Snowfall continues into the beginning of the spring season. Residents will often see cherry blossoms blooming against snow-dusted hills. Mild spring weather starts in late March and continues until the summer. Temperatures climb up to around 12°C in that time.
More information about the climate in Victoria:
Traffic in Victoria
Over 250 kilometres of roadways crisscross through Victoria, giving residents daily access to all their destinations. The city streets work equally well for people who drive their own cars, take public transportation, and ride their bikes. Thanks to all its well-planned roads fitted with bike lanes, BC's capital ranks as one of the best cities for commuters.
British Columbia Highway 1 is the only major thoroughfare running through the city. This highway starts with a loop along the coast of the Salish Sea and then heads northward out of town. Travellers will quickly become accustomed to Highway 1 since it's the only game in town, and delays and obstructions are occasionally unavoidable.
The arterial streets running through the city create a grid-like pattern that allows drivers to change their routes and go around problem areas. Major roadways running through the downtown area and beyond include Pandora Avenue, Cook Street, Fairfield Road, Bay Street, and Government Street.
Over 2,000 on-street parking spaces give drivers a convenient place to park when visiting local businesses. In addition, there are electric vehicle charging stations around town, including the Bastian Square Parkade, Centennial Square Parkade, and View Street Parkade.
Getting To and From Victoria
People can travel to and from Victoria, BC, by ferry, helicopter, or plane. BC Ferries regularly takes travellers to the capital from Vancouver, Haida Gwaii, and everywhere in between. Although it takes longer to arrive than by plane, ferries offer unmatched views through every last mile. The ferries also travel across the different Gulf Islands (e.g., Salt Spring, Galiano) and from Victoria to Seattle. Note that these are all RORO ferries, so you can take your car for the trip.
A helicopter ride is another fantastic way to get a phenomenal landscape view while travelling to and from Victoria. This option is popular with people coming from or travelling to Vancouver. Flights only go out when the weather cooperates, so it's best to plan this trip during the spring or summer months. Also, floatplanes arrive in Victoria from all over. Frequently, there are flights from downtown Vancouver.
Travelling by plane is the most popular way to get to Victoria from practically anywhere in the world. Travellers typically arrive at the Victoria International Airport, about 15 miles north of the city. Airlines that operate out of that airport include Air Canada Express, Alaska, Air North, Lynx Air, Pacific Coastal, and many more.
More information about traffic in Victoria:
Victoria Public Transportation
Residents can take Victoria Regional Transit System buses to all their destinations across Victoria, BC. Operated by BC Transit, this transportation provider uses more than 350 buses to serve nearly 40 routes through the city proper. At least 18 community bus lines take travellers outside the city limits to North Saanich, the town of Sooke, and other key locales.
Almost 17 million people ride public buses each year. When paying cash fares, travellers spend about $2.50 per ride. Frequent riders can save a lot of money by purchasing the monthly pass for $85, and it's also possible to buy discount tickets in books of 10 or a day pass that allows unlimited trips all day.
Taxis and ride-share companies offer transportation services as well. Although their rates vary, these companies typically charge a base fee of up to $5 and about $2 per kilometre after that. If riders have their driver wait for any length of time, an additional charge of around $30 per hour applies.
Schools in Victoria
The Greater Victoria School District provides education services for scholars in preschool through grade 12. More than 18,000 students attend school in this district.
There are 27 elementary schools for scholars up to grade five. After that, students move on to one of the 10 middle schools until eighth grade. Scholars in grades 9 to 12 go to the seven secondary schools in the district.
After graduating from high school, residents can earn a post-secondary degree at a technical school, community college, or university. Trade schools are a viable option for those who want to learn how to become an auto tech, electrician, or other skilled workers in two years.
To earn a four-year degree, local students typically end up at the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, or Camosun College. These educational institutions offer programs that help students learn about business, communications, environment and sustainability, leadership, tourism and hospitality, and so much more.
Ready to See All Victoria, BC, Has to Offer?
From the Saanich Peninsula to the town of Langford, the Greater Victoria area truly offers its residents the whole package. The cost of living broadly aligns with the national average. The robust job market gives residents many opportunities to get ahead, and an excellent climate, numerous schools, and many things to do sweeten the deal even more.
With just one visit to this capital city, it'll become clear what's on tap for all its residents. So, don't wait another day to experience the magic. Make your home in Victoria today.
If you're dreaming about living in Victoria, contact The Neal Estate Team at (250) 386-8181 to get in touch with a local Victoria real estate agent who can help you find your perfect home.
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The Neal Estate Group is your #1 source for all of your Victoria BC real estate needs. Get in touch with us online or by phone at (250) 386-8181 to speak with a Victoria real estate buying or selling expert today. With decades of experience as a top selling Victoria REALTOR® and ranked in top 1% globally with over 5,000 transactions and $1 Billion SOLD, Ron Neal & The Neal Estate Group have the industry experience and market knowledge to help you make smart and informed buying or selling decisions.