B.C.’s scenic resort communities are not just for seasonal vacations–they’re home to highly livable, affordable neighbourhoods, with recreational amenities as the cherry on top of a nature-rich lifestyle. Here are 13 to consider.
By Michael White
The big story in Canadian real estate this past year-plus has been the so-called “urban exodus” that Right Sizing has predicted for years. Couples and families, suddenly free to work from wherever they choose, are adopting the right-sizing outlook in unprecedented numbers–leaving the big city for good and acquiring a new home (and an exciting new lifestyle) in a smaller community.
This phenomenon is drawing more people than ever to B.C.’s scores of scenic resort communities. While you may hear “resort” and think only of temporary, seasonal accommodation, that’s no longer the case. Set amidst gorgeous landscapes and often loaded with amenities, these coveted properties are now somewhere you might want to consider living year-round. Have a look at this list we’ve put together and see where you most imagine living your best life.
BIGHORN MEADOWS RESORT
WHERE: The village of Radium Hot Springs (population 837), named “Friendliest Place in Canada” in a 2021 survey of Expedia users.
WHY HERE? Two- and three-bedroom town homes (currently preselling) are surrounded by mountain views and The Springs golf course. Resort amenities include a pool, hot tubs, fitness facilities, meeting rooms and more. Onsite management looks after your home when you’re not using it–they’ll even help you find renters to generate revenue when you’re not there.
CLOSE TO: The breathtaking Kootenay National Park (all 1,400 square kilometres of it) is immediately adjacent to the resort. Banff is about an hour and a half drive away. bighornmeadows.ca
CALDERA AT RED MOUNTAIN RESORT
WHERE: The tiny city of Rossland (population just over 4,000), high in the Monashee Mountains–at an elevation of 1,023 metres!
WHY HERE? Phase III of these residential lots is nestled into North America’s eighth-largest mountain. Walk from your front door to the ski lifts in five minutes. Downtown Rossland (a five-minute drive away) has serious small-town charm but with big-city attractions: a gourmet grocery store, cafés and restaurants, spas and Pilates.
CLOSE TO: Drive to Kelowna International Airport in just under four hours. The Frontier-Paterson Border Crossing (connecting with Northport, Washington) is about 30 minutes away. calderaatred.com
FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS RESORT
WHERE: In the namesake Fairmont Hot Springs, an unincorporated community with a population of about 500, located three hours south of Banff.
WHY HERE? Visitors come from all over to experience the hot mineral pools, as well as two 18-hole golf courses, exemplary hiking trails and seasonal downhill and cross-country skiing. Lots in the Mountainside Ridge development average a third of an acre–and true to its name, mountain views are abundant. Satisfy your appetite at one of multiple resort cafés and restaurants.
CLOSE TO: Drive to Calgary in about three hours. On the way, take in some of the country’s most stunning national parks. resortdreamhome.ca
NORTH SHORE ESTATES
WHERE: The town of Lake Cowichan (population 3,651), on Vancouver Island, surrounded by rainforest and home to the warmest climate in Canada.
WHY HERE? Take up to four years to build your custom home (or choose from on several energy-efficient plans) and be part of a family-oriented waterfront community where, boating, fishing, mountain biking, golfing and more are just outside your door. In keeping with a lakeside lifestyle, additional options include a boat slip and kayak/paddleboard storage.
CLOSE TO: Being just over an hour’s drive from Victoria, Lake Cowichan is especially ideal for those who regularly need to pop back to the mainland. Seasonal markets abound, and the island’s increasing number of wineries and craft distillers from a nearby tasting trail. northshoreestates.ca
PREDATOR RIDGE RESORT
WHERE: Vernon (population: 44, 171), the largest city in the North Okanagan Regional District. The annual Vernon Winter Carnival is the second-biggest event of its kind in North America.
WHY HERE? Established 30 years ago, Predator Ridge has grown to now encompass 800-plus homes, two 18-hole golf courses, a fitness centre, tennis courts, a market and a real sense of community. And because this is the Okanagan, sunshine is plentiful and summers are hot. Watch for building lots and fractional ownership opportunities, as well as resale properties that occasionally come to market.
CLOSE TO: Drive to Kelowna International Airport in 30 minutes, or Vancouver in about five hours. Closer to home skiers and snowboarders will be spoiled for choice, with SilverStar and other prime mountain resorts very near. predatorridge.com
QUEENS BAY RESORT
WHERE: Balfour (population of around 500) is an unincorporated community in the West Kootenay region, set amidst the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges (see page 50). The Kootenay Lake Ferry, the longest free ferry in the world, brings thousands here each year.
WHY HERE? The recently unveiled second phase of this 13-acre resort (located within the 18-hole Balfour Golf Course) accommodates manufactured wooden homes of up to 1,000 square feet. Mountain and Lake views, an adjacent marina and year-round services (including fibre-optic cable) make this ideal for both seasonal and permanent occupancy.
CLOSE TO: The city of Nelson, just half an hour’s drive away, offers both quirky and upscale dining and shopping. Central Mountain Air flies daily out of West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar to Vancouver. queensbay.ca
THE BEACH HOUSE AT SARATOGA
WHERE: Black Creek, a picturesque Comox Valley community so small its population doesn’t get separately counted in the census!
WHY HERE? This three-acre property of 30 two-bedroom homes is the first oceanfront development to come to the community in more than 25 years. Its nearly five kilometres of beach stretch between three provincial parks: Oyster River Nature Park, Miracle Beach Provincial Park and Driftwood Marine Park. Each home is designed and angled to maximize shoreline views.
CLOSE TO: Flights out of Comox Valley Airport (20 minutes away) service Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton daily. Both Comox and nearby Courtenay are home to multiple restaurants, golf and even skiing at Mount Washington. saratogabeachhouse.ca
SHUSWAP LAKE ESTATES
WHERE: Blind Bay (population of about 2,000), an unincorporated settlement on the southern shore of the namesake lake, less than half an hour from Salmon Arm.
WHY HERE? The Shuswap Lake Estates community, surrounded by the Columbia Mountains, has been growing since 1969. Phase 2 of its Fox Glen neighbourhood (sales due to launch this summer) offers freehold lots designed for families, retirees and anyone seeking the tranquillity of mountain-and-lakeside life. Tennis, hiking, cross-country skiing and other outdoor activities are steps away.
CLOSE TO: Drive to Kamloops and Kelowna airports in 90 minutes or less. Bringing your boat? Choose from three marinas. shuswaplakeestates.com
WHERE: The district of Sicamous (population: 2,700), the self-proclaimed “Houseboat Capital of Canada,” is roughly equidistant between Vancouver and Calgary.
WHY HERE? A top snowmobiling destination, Sicamous and the surrounding area are also chock-a-block with golf courses and part of the Okanagan Rail Trail, which is great for cyclists. Energy-efficient homes in this community range from 800 to 1,400 square feet, with options including nine-foot-plus ceilings, finished garage and interior packages.
CLOSE TO: Day trips are a breeze with Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna all within an easy drive. Provincial parks and green spaces galore! sicamous.ca
SUNRISE RIDGE WATERFRONT RESORT
WHERE: Parksville (population: 13, 685), a waterfront city on Vancouver Island with an annual Beachfest that hosts Canada’s only World Championship Sand Sculpting competition.
WHY HERE? Two-bedroom town homes here boast private access to Rathtrevor Beach, a haven for fishing, sailing and birdwatching. The resort itself offers a pool, hot tub, fitness and meeting rooms, an owner’s lounge and more. As with Bighorn Meadows (they’re both owned by Luxury Resorts West), onsite management will help to rent out your home and keep it in tip-top shape if you’re not using it.
CLOSE TO: Drive to Nanaimo in just over half an hour and Victoria in about two hours. sunriseresortparksville.ca
SUNSHINE VALLEY GROVE
WHERE: The unincorporated community of Sunshine Valley (population of around 200), which is known for being made up almost entirely of cabins, small homes and RVs.
WHY HERE? The Valley’s high altitude means a true four-seasons environment: swim and kayak on the man-made lake in summer; skate or cross-country ski in winter or downhill ski at Manning Park, about half an hour away. Fully serviced lots accommodate one- or two-storey cabins, or small homes up to 1,300 square feet.
CLOSE TO: An easy drive along the Trans-Canada gets you back to Vancouver in two hours. Stock up on essentials in the town of Hope, just 15 minutes away. buysunshinevalley.com
WHERE: On the shores of Kamloops Lake, and 15 minutes from Kamloops (population of over 100,000).
WHY HERE? This master-planned community was designed for ease of access to outdoor activities, with 1,000 acres of waterfront and 17,000 acres of ranchland backcountry–you can go fishing and horseback riding in a single afternoon. Choose from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom finished home or custom build. Tobiano’s own golf course was named Canada’s best at the 2020 World Golf Awards.
CLOSE TO: The close proximity of Kamloops makes for major convenience, with all the urban dining, big-box shopping and amenities you could want. The airport services Vancouver and Calgary, and also offers charter flights. tobiano.ca
THE RIDGE AT WHITTAKERS
WHERE: Pender Harbour (population around 3,000), on the northern tip of the Sunshine Coast’s Sechelt Peninsula.
WHY HERE? The final phase of this sprawling property was designed for those who want to take full advantage of its oceanfront geography. Each lot (7,500 to 20,000 square feet) maximizes panoramic ocean views and includes the option of a private boat slip. And because this is the Sunshine Coast, hiking, beach barbeques and all manner of water recreation are year-round possibilities just outside your door.
CLOSE TO: The Langdale BC Ferries terminal is a scenic one-hour drive away. Sechelt‘s plentiful shopping and dining options can be reached in 30 minutes or less. theridgeatwhittakers.com