Living In Kelowna, British Columbia
The Ultimate Guide
The Okanagan Lifestyle. This Ultimate Guide will equip you with the ins and outs of the city of Kelowna. Bursting with a dynamic history and culture, lush vineyards and orchards, and boundless lake and mountain views, this city has grown into an energetic and vibrant place to call home. Residents and visitors alike agree that Kelowna is the perfect destination year-round. Located in the sunny southern interior of British Columbia , just a four hour drive to Vancouver and a quick two hour drive to the Washington State Border. Here we truthfully get to enjoy Canada’s four seasons, hot and sunny summers, short and mild winters - the best of both worlds. A city that takes pride in having a diverse culture and community, continuously evolving into a bigger, better and more dynamic city. This guide will touch on the location of the city, our economy and industries, education, history, popular restaurants, transportation, activities and entertainment, and more! Why do so many choose Kelowna as their home and vacation destination? You’re about to find out!
Where is Kelowna located?
- Kelowna is a city located in the southern interior region of British Columbia in the sunny Okanagan Valley.
- Kelowna is the largest city in the Okanagan Valley and is located 471 km East of Vancouver. (4 hour drive)
- A 3.5 hour drive from downtown Kelowna will land you at the Washington state border.
- The Okanagan lake spans 135 km long from Vernon to Penticton.
- Nearby communities include the city of West Kelowna, Lake Country and Vernon to the north, and Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton to the south.
- The metropolitan area of Kelowna has a population of 217,214 making it the third-largest metropolitan area in the province behind Vancouver and Victoria.
Kelowna Quick Facts:
Why do people move to Kelowna?
- City of Kelowna population: 142,146 people with the entire Central Okanagan now estimated to be at around 217,000 people
- Average summer temperatures in July: July is the warmest month with temperatures averaging at 27.9°C and a humidity level of 35.6% and 9.7 hours of sunshine a day.
- Average winter temperatures in December: Averaging around 0.7°C to -5.9°C. December is the month with the most snowfall for the Okanagan. Snow falls for 11 days and accumulates about 12.6”.
- Kelowna receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually and 28 cm of rain.
- Average cost to purchase a home in Kelowna (based on 2020 sales): Single Family homes: $868,901, Condos: $370,920, Townhouses: $546,488
Kelowna has something for everybody, big city amenities with the cozy town feel. Vibrant and energetic downtown core, with a mix of quiet neighbourhoods, and endless ways to get out into nature. Here in Kelowna, getting outdoors for some fun and fresh air is a year-round reality. Home to award winning wineries, vineyards, and orchards, there is a reason why we are called the city of “Peaches and Beaches”. Kelowna has so much more than wine and fruit! Home to an abundance of entertainment, culture, art, food, night life, and activities you are sure to always have something to look forward to, for the entire family. Kelowna is continuously growing to be bigger, better, and more diverse than the day before. What more could you need?
What are Kelowna, British Columbia's origins?
9,000 years ago the indigenous Syilx people were the first inhabitants of the region and they continue to live and thrive in Kelowna making it a place of abundant culture, art, and tradition. In 1811, a scottish fur trader named David Stuart was the first non- indigenous person to visit the area. In 1858 oblate missionaries arrived and planted the first fruit trees a few years later. The Father Pandosy mission is a historical site in Kelowna that you can visit today. By 1871, the Hudson’s Bay Company had established a trading post and a grain mill. A townsite was laid out in 1892 and named after the Okanagan word meaning “grizzly bear”. Development picked up and shortly after, there were 11 sawmills, three fruit picking plants and two canneries. As the land continued to become recognized, cattle ranching, hay and grain cultivation, and orchard growing continued to spread. By 1910, Kelowna was the “Orchard City” and we still to this day hold the title. Kelowna’s population grew dramatically after the second world war, by the end of the century Kelowna was home to 100,000 people. Today, about 3.4% of Kelowna's population belong to an aboriginal group of First Nations descent. Kelowna is a city of rich history, filled with heart and soul for the land we all call home.
What are Kelowna’s Key Industries?
The Okanagan's strongest economic trait is diversity. Kelowna has ranked top 3 in Canada for the competitive job market. Home to strong economic sectors such as health care, technology, agriculture, forestry, and construction, there is never a shortage of job opportunities in the Okanagan. Kelowna's growing and thriving industries include tourism, technology, viticulture and wine production, and aviation. We are a very lucky city to have the Kelowna International Airport, University of British Columbia, Okanagan College, Kelowna General Hospital, and the Okanagan Centre of Innovation. The variety in employment opportunities in the Okanagan are endless.
What are Common Kelowna Salaries?
According to payscale.com Kelowna’s average salary is $56,000 a year. While wages and salaries vary highly depending on the person and position. Payscale has published some approximate salaries to expect in Kelowna. Administrative assistants make roughly $41,000, Software Developer $59,000, Human Resources $61,000 and Legal Assistant $42,000. If you are interested in finding a personalized report in your economic field pop over to payscale.com to find out!
Cost of Living in Kelowna:
- The cost of living in Kelowna is cheaper than 64% of cities in Canada.
- Family of four estimated monthly costs: $5,179. (kelowna)
- Single person estimated monthly costs: $2,827.
- When compared to Toronto or similar cities, groceries can be 20% to 50% less expensive.
- According to Statistics Canada, Kelowna residents need to make $52,000 annually to live a comfortable life.
- You would need around $6,684 to maintain the same standard life in Vancouver monthly, that you can have with roughly $5,550 in Kelowna. ( https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Canada&city1=Kel owna&country2=Canada&city2=Vancouver )
The Central Okanagan School District serves 190,000 residents from Lake Country to Peachland making it the 5th largest school district in British Columbia. The student population is served by 43 public elementary, middle, and highschools in the Okanagan. Offering a diverse multitude of educational opportunities in English and French Immersion as well as early childhood programs and daycares. The Central Okanagan also has multiple private and independent schooling options for all ages. Kelowna is home to two top rated post secondary schooling options. The University of British Columbia is a top 40 ranked University in the world and top 6 in North America. UBCO’s stunning Okanagan campus is home to 8,600 students in over 90 undergraduate and graduate programs. Kelowna General hospital has a designated UBC Medical School Academic Campus for both extended research as well as instruction. Okanagan College has four beautiful campuses in the Okanagan. Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton offer education to over 10,000 students and have a diverse variety of degrees as well as technical and continuing educational programs. Other post secondary institutions in Kelowna include Centre of Arts and Technology, Sprott-Shaw Community College, First College, Career City College, and so many more!
In Kelowna it is easier than you think to take the transit! The Kelowna Regional Transit System offers 28 routes, 100 buses, over 190,000 hours of service annually, and runs in Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, and the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. Taking the transit is an easy way to save money while also contributing to the environment which is why over 5 million transit trips are made a year in the Okanagan. Monthly Transit passes are available for $45 a month, or a daily fare cost of $2.50. Currently transit and cabs are the only transportation services in Kelowna but ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have been approved by the city as of January 1st, 2020.
Kelowna’s Restaurants and Nightlife:
Being a diverse community, Kelowna is a booming city for culinary experiences. You will never get bored or run out of amazing options to choose from. Kelowna has food from all over the world, and everything in between! Foodie HEAVEN. Goodluck choosing where to go tonight! For a detailed list of all the restaurants in Kelowna and all they have to offer visit https://www.tourismkelowna.com/eat-drink/restaurants/ Some of Kelowna’s top rated and most popular restaurants include:
- RauDZ Regional Table: This distinguished dining venue is one of the top rated in using organic, sustainable and naturally-raised local ingredients. Simple, local, Pacific Northwestern inspired cuisine. You could say RauDZ is famous in the Okanagan. Make sure to book a reservation, they are a hot commodity!
- Waterfront Wines Restaurant and Bar: Named “Best Okanagan Restaurant” by Vancouver magazine for eight years in a row! Specialising in regional Canadian cuisine, the menu incorporates a huge range of flavours and local, fresh ingredients!
- West Coast Grill and Oyster Bar: Vancouver Island meets downtown Kelowna! West Coast Grill and Oyster bar serves locally-sourced modern cuisine with a distinctive flair for fresh fish and seafood. They take pride in fresh farm to table food for those not as interested in fish and seafood, something for everybody to enjoy!
- Social 242 Lounge and Grill: A hidden Kelowna gem for people that love to eat, drink, and socialize. Super laid back atmosphere with incredible Canadian and American influenced dishes. Amazing food for any taste, huge variety of vegan food, appetizers, drink specials, and everything in between!
- Little Hobo Soup and Sandwich Shop: Casual old school diner experience with arguably the world's greatest homemade soups, sandwiches, and comfort food. Food like your granny makes that just warms your soul.. They are only open from 10am-2:00pm and it is common to have a lineup out the door. Don't let the line scare you! Grab some amazing food and head down the street to the beach to enjoy.. So worth it!
Where to Live:
Kelowna, BC offers no shortage for great communities and neighbourhoods that offer their own unique advantages.
What are the best neighbourhoods in Kelowna, BC?
Kelowna Winter Activities:
Kelowna has quite a summer reputation but our mild, enjoyable winters make it an amazing place to call home 365 days a year. Temperatures drop and snow starts to fly but the activities and fun never end. The Okanagan is home to some of Canada’s best and most popular ski resorts. Big White and Silverstar are two of the resorts just a short drive from the city. Both resorts offer a wide range of activities and amenities beyond just skiing and boarding. The Okanagan is also home to Apex Mountain Resort, incredible snowshoeing, Telemark Nordic Park, tubing hills, ice skating, and even dog sledding. Kelowna beams with activities all year round, no matter the season.
Kelowna Museums and Art:
Discover the beautiful culture and heritage of the Okanagan by checking out some of the incredible museums that we have in town!
- Okanagan Heritage Museum
- Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum
- Okanagan Military Museum
- Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame
- The Laurel Packing House
- Kelowna Public Archives
Annual Events in Kelowna:
Not kidding when we say there is always something to do in Kelowna! Annually the city welcomes a variety of events and festivals. Everything from wine and beer festivals, culinary competitions, live concerts, arts and crafts shows and so many more! A few popular ones include:
- Parks Alive
- Apple Triathlon
- Kelowna Ribfest
- Rock The Lake
- Okanagan Feast of Fields
- Fall Okanagan Wine Festival
- Knox Mountain Hill Climb
- Craft Culture Holiday Market
- Great Okanagan Beer Festival
Kelowna is a very popular vacation spot in the summer months, because of this we see a huge increase in travellers and well.. Traffic. With the big increase in population we do get a few problematic areas for traffic congestion mostly in West Kelowna along Highway 97 and on the W.R Bennett Bridge. (The only bridge that connects Kelowna to West Kelowna) When driving in the Okanagan in the summer during “rush hour” just leave home a couple minutes early, or take the beautiful scenic routes. Over the last decade Kelowna has gotten tens of millions of dollars into road infrastructure such as the five-lane bridge spanning over the Okanagan lake, lane expansions, and traffic control. Overall, the traffic in Kelowna is nothing in comparison to Vancouver. Just plan ahead, give yourself a few extra minutes and you will be good to go!