Things we love about living in BC, Canada

Five reasons to live on BC's Sunshine Coast

This post was written using a transcript from the above video. It’s been edited for clarity.

PAUL: We're Paul and Val. We're originally from Edmonton, Alberta, but we moved to BC’s Sunshine Coast in 2014. We're not in Vancouver, but we can see Vancouver from where we live. The Sunshine Coast is a beautiful place to call home and in this post, we want to share five reasons you might want to move to BC, why you might want to move to the Sunshine Coast specifically, and what we love about this kind of lifestyle.

We live next to the ocean

VAL: Number one is we live right by the ocean. We're in Gibsons, which is a coastal town, a seaside town, and it's just beautiful, living by the ocean.

PAUL: We're spoiled by the ocean. The town is gorgeous. Basically everywhere we go, there's a million dollar view, whether it's the library or the town hall or our place, or pretty much anywhere you go, it's gorgeous. Look east and you’ll see the North Shore Mountains in the background and to the west, we can see Vancouver Island in the distance. The scenery is gorgeous.

Very mild winters

PAUL: Another benefit of living in Southern BC is the weather. I was sick of Alberta’s snow and I was sick of the cold. What hated shoveling snow all the time, driving in the snow, getting stuck in your alley, letting your car run, having to plug in when you go to work, when you come home, it just wasn't fun. It wears a person down.

VAL: With the cold and the snow, I just wasn’t motivated to go outside. I wasn't a winter sports person. I like the summer in the sun. Those bitingly cold Alberta winters get long. Winter in Edmonton can start as early as September and stick around until May Long Weekend. But even then, it’s not unheard of for Alberta to get snow on the May Long Weekend. Winter would drag on and you ended up with summer lasting June, July, and August. Which is barely having a summer.

PAUL: That’s not nearly what it is here. We maybe get a combined week of snow in the wintertime.

VAL: A week of snow would be a lot of snow for us. This winter (January 2021), we haven't had any snow yet.

PAUL: No, not one day of it.

VAL: Our first year here, we had snow on November 30th and it lasted half a day. And it was like-

PAUL: An inch?

VAL: Not even. The amount of snow on the Sunshine Coast varies. Maybe between one day to a week or so. If we went from no snow to a foot of snow, that would be a lot. We’ll see it snow up the mountain and if you look right now, you’ll see snow on the mountains, but so far, we haven’t had any snow down here at our level.

PAUL: By the time we get to February, trees are starting to bud. It's spring for us by middle to end of February. Maybe it’s not t-shirt weather at that point, but we're definitely in the home stretch. By end of March, it IS t-shirt weather. Winters on the Sunshine Coast are cool, and it obviously rains a lot in the wintertime, but it's not cold like it is in Alberta. We're not letting our car run. We don't have to let their windows defrost. We’re not scraping windows. That's a pretty awesome part about living here.

VAL: I get so excited in springtime, like March, when all the flowers are starting to bloom. We get cherry trees in April and then the apple trees next, all the blooming of the trees. It's so beautiful.

Lots of outdoor activities

VAL: Because we live in a milder climate, we can do a lot of activities. There's hiking year round here, even paddling and kayaking, and people do actually go swim and dip in the ocean in the winter but I prefer keeping my beach days to just the summer.

PAUL: There's a marina full of big boats, power boats, rowboats, kind of whatever. If you like being on the water, if that's your thing, you can do it year round here without any problem.

VAL: We have a lot of mountain bikers up on the mountain. And if you do want to go find some snow, you can go to Dakota Ridge and go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

PAUL: In the summer, we go to the beach.

VAL: Yeah, absolutely.

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PAUL: Our summers are really nice for the beach. We have a few sandy spots on our beaches, but mostly, they’re a lot of small pebbles. You’ll want to wear a little pair of shoes when you go to the beach, some sandals or something like that. But the upside of that is that when the water comes up on the beach, it's super clear. The water is just crystal clear. If you’re eager, you can start going in the water like in May but it's pretty fresh.

PAUL: And the water at our beaches never gets Hawaii-warm on the Sunshine Coast, but by July and August, when temperatures get into the high 20s, you're more than happy to dive into water that's a little bit cooler than what you expect.

VAL: The cooler water is amazing when it's hot outside.

PAUL: Summers hang around longer, too. We've been to the beach in September and October.

VAL: September can be very nice for sure.

PAUL: Our beaches aren’t the same as in the Southern states or in the tropics, but for Canada, they’re pretty nice. We’re also very close to a wide assortment of activities in general. When we were in Edmonton, we would talk about going to Jasper, and then that was like a four or five hour drive. But we thought, “Oh, we live so close to the mountains!” And then Calgary is even closer. Drive for an hour-and-a-half, or two hours, and you're in Canmore or you're in Banff. But two hours seems like a long drive to us. We're a 5-minute drive from our house. If we want to go be in the trees and walk along creek, it's all around us here. It’s the same with the beach. We could walk to the beach in the summertime if we wanted to. There are lots of things that are literally minutes from our doorstep.

Welcoming community

VAL: The Sunshine Coast is a friendly community, and you're not in the big city. And so it's just a little bit more tight knit. And very family friendly. Or just friendly, in general. Did I mention it’s friendly?

PAUL: Friendly is a good word for it. If want a big city, Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast is not that. If you're after a slower pace and seeing smiling, friendly people when you go out, then the Sunshine Coast ticks all the boxes. My last few years in Edmonton, I was sick of people. I was always parking at the back of a big parking lot. I was always standing in line for something. Maybe it's my sunny disposition, but I felt like everyone was crabby and impatient. It was easy to be crabby in Edmonton. Here on the Sunshine Coast, I feel like it's harder to be crabby.

VAL: We’re not a half-hour drive to every appointment or every restaurant or eery store. In Gibsons, everything is close by. But if you find you miss the big city and you want to go to Vancouver, you're just a 40-minute ferry ride away. That said, we thought we would miss being in a city when we moved out here. We expected that we’d go into Vancouver with some regularity, but I don't think we've been there for like a year-and-a-half now.

PAUL: If we’re driving back to Alberta to visit, we'll drive through Vancouver. But specifically choosing to go to Vancouver to go shopping? We don't do that anymore. Not unless we need something REALLY specific. We have a London Drugs here, which is a pretty handy store. If we need something they don't have, we can order it through their website and it'll ship here. Amazon delivers here, too. There's no issue with receiving packages. We used to go to do big Costco shopping trips, but when we figured out the time it took us and how much we had to spend for it to make it worth the effort, we just stopped doing that, too.

VAL: All the shops cover it here. There's Trail Bay Source for Sports. There's food, obviously. You've got the IGA and the SuperValu. And what's the other one?

PAUL: Your Independent Grocer, which is like a Superstore in Edmonton.

VAL: We even have a Canadian Tire in Sechelt.

PAUL: Gibsons doesn’t have a Home Depot or that kind of thing, but we have a Home Hardware.

VAL: There’s also Gibsons Building Supplies. They’re excellent. Let’s just start listing everything. We've got Kenmac Autoparts. There’s the Seasoned Kitchen.

PAUL: We also have a good sized hospital.

VAL: Sechelt Hospital.

PAUL: It’s pretty well equipped for a community this size. We can even get a CT scan at that hospital if we need.

We're still in Canada

PAUL: When we were sick of Alberta’s cold weather, we looked at going to the United States.

VAL: Hawaii. We were looking at Maui very closely.

PAUL: Since then, there's a whole host of problems that make us very happy that we opted to stay in Canada. Unlike changing countries, moving from one province to another is relatively straightforward. You’ll need to change your driver's license and you'll need to change your mailing address. Transfer health insurance from Alberta to BC. But most of those things are just forms that need to be filled out. There's not a whole rigmarole that goes along with it. If you're sick of cold weather in other parts of Canada and you want to move someplace warmer, BC is the way to go.

VAL: When we got here, we started hearing that the Sunshine Coast is like the Hawaii of Canada. Being here is almost like living on a vacation. Instead of working lots and then taking two weeks off and going off to on a holiday, we live and work and play all at the same place. We haven't booked a vacation in forever. Vacations turned out to be trips back home to Edmonton and visiting family. It's nice.

PAUL: So those are the five-ish things, we really like about living in BC, specifically here on the Sunshine Coast. If you like the post and this kind of stuff is interesting to you, sign up for our newsletter so you can see more content like this. If you have questions about living in BC or what it's like to move between provinces, leave a note in the comments, and we might do a post or a video on that topic.

This post was written using a transcript from the above video. It’s been edited for clarity.


Connect with Val & Paul

We're Val and Paul and we're a married couple who live on BC's Sunshine Coast! We moved from Alberta to Gibsons in 2014 and love our life on Canada's West Coast! Subscribe to our YouTube channel and email newsletter and you'll learn what it's like to live in the most beautiful place in Canada.