5 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to British Columbia

You've made the amazing decision to immigrate to Canada! You're wondering how to settle in Canada in the province of your choice, and you're not sure exactly where you want to settle in the second-biggest country in the world.

You mulled over relocating to a bustling city but eventually settled on the idea that a quieter environment might be more appealing. However, you're not inclined towards an excessively tranquil setting that would demand lengthy drives just to find entertainment. Following countless hours of research, you've pinpointed what could arguably be one of the finest provinces in the country: British Columbia (BC). This province occupies the westernmost edge of the nation and is nestled along the shores of the Pacific coastline.

Before you make the final decision, you want to know what to expect. Here are 5 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to British Columbia.

Things to Know About British Columbia

Things to Know About British Columbia

1. You Get the Best of Both Worlds

British Columbia has 52 cities and towns ranging from historical cities like Victoria to modern hubs like Vancouver and small communities of less than 1,000 people like Greenwood. You can live in a large, vibrant international city with just over two million inhabitants, like Vancouver, or live a quieter life. British Columbia is also famous for its nature and wildlife. If you're a nature lover, you'll thrive among the mountains, forests, glacial lakes, and vast land BC offers.

2. It Has One of the Best Universities in the World

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a world-renowned teaching, learning, and research center routinely ranked among the world's top 20 public institutions. In 2023, it is ranked 34th in the world according to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

UBC has opened doors of opportunity for those with the curiosity, ambition, and vision to make a better world since 1915. The institution has two main campuses in Vancouver and the Okanagan Valley. It prides itself on developing the careers of over 65,000 students from Canada and over 140 nations worldwide.

Studying as an international student at UBC will set you back more than 50k CAD; as a permanent resident, expect to pay between 5,000-10,000 CAD for a year of tuition.

3. It's Expensive

We won't sugarcoat it. British Columbia can be notoriously expensive! Even if you agree that it's the best province in Canada, it's objectively more expensive than other provinces. For example, according to Numbeo.com, a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto costs 1,708 CAD against 1,869 CAD in Vancouver.

However, you don't have to live in Vancouver. BC has various options for bigger and smaller towns and cities you can move to. Victoria, for example, is generally cheaper than Vancouver. The city is BC's capital and is located on the rocky southern extremity of Vancouver Island. Compared to the rest of the province, though, BC's taxes are higher, rent is higher, and the living expenses are as well.

4. It Has a Huge Range of Agricultural and Mining Industries

Because the province has a variety of land, forests, and coasts, you'll find that BC has a range of agriculture and mining industries. BC's diverse terrain and climate enable them to produce an astounding range of culinary items. British Columbians can boast over 200 agricultural commodities and 100 marine species harvested in the province.

British Columbia is also home to over 1,500 enterprises that manufacture foods and drinks ranging from wine, sauces, and baked goods. Each agricultural region in British Columbia has its personality and growing circumstances, and each is noted for producing various crops, animals, and processed food items. The marine fisheries, aquaculture, and seafood industries contribute significantly to the province's economy and are the foundation for many coastal villages.

The construction sector significantly influences the province's growth and strength. This industry constructed British Columbia, from houses and business buildings to highways and bridges. Every project is a testament to the professional people who put it together. British Columbia is a world pioneer in key industries, such as mass wood building, technology, engineering, and design. The province also focuses much of its energy on Petroleum & Natural Gas Geoscience and Mineral Exploration & Mining.

5. It Has Moderate Weather

You'll like this one. One of your biggest apprehensions about moving to Canada was probably having to endure the cold winters that hit below 50 degrees Celsius in many places. You'll be happy to learn that most of British Columbia, particularly Vancouver and surrounding areas, experience moderate weather.

When moving to British Columbia, expect cold winters and rain anyway, but the south shore climate is generally moderate all year. Summers on the seaside are hot, with daytime temperatures hovering about 20°Celsius. The coastal parts of British Columbia experience the mildest winters in Canada, with temperatures seldom falling below freezing.

Get Ready to Move to BC

Get Ready to Move to BC

Are you preparing for a move to British Columbia? This stunning province in Canada offers a diverse and vibrant lifestyle that attracts people worldwide. From finding the perfect place to live to getting your driver's license, accessing medical services, and ensuring your child's education, this guide will help you navigate the essential steps for a smooth transition.

Finding a Place to Live

Moving to a new place starts with finding a comfortable home. British Columbia offers various housing options, from apartments to houses. Start by contacting settlement agencies, which assist permanent and temporary residents, including refugees. They can guide you through the housing search process. Additionally, you can explore online rental listings, community "Buy & Sell" websites, newspapers, and local notice boards for vacancy information. Don't forget to check out public places like libraries and community centers where "For Rent" notices may be posted.

Driving in BC

Obtaining a BC driver's license is crucial if you plan to drive in British Columbia. You can use your existing driver's license for up to 90 days after moving. However, applying for a BC driver's license is advisable as soon as possible. To do so, you must be 16 years or older. If you're under 19, you'll need parental consent. Book an appointment at an ICBC driver licensing office to apply, and bring two forms of identification. This process ensures you're legally permitted to drive within the province.

Finding a Doctor and Medical Services

Accessing medical services is essential for your well-being. Apply for the Medical Services Plan (MSP) from the Government of British Columbia to cover basic health services. The MSP covers doctor visits, medical tests, and medically required treatments. However, certain services like dental care and optometry aren't covered. The plan is available for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, government-assisted refugees, international students with study permits, and some work permit holders.

Getting Your BC Services Card

To access healthcare services, you'll need a BC Services Card. This card ensures you receive necessary medical attention promptly.

Registering Your Child in School

If you have school-age children, familiarize yourself with the education system in BC Children between the ages of 5 and 16 must receive an education. Most children attend public schools, but some parents opt for private or homeschooling. Contact your local school board to enroll your child in a public school. Be prepared to provide birth certificates, proof of residency, and immunization records to ensure a smooth registration process.

Opening a Bank Account

Setting up a bank account is essential for managing your finances. Research various banks, credit unions, and trust companies to find an account that suits your needs. Different accounts come with different fees and services, so gather information before deciding.

Moving to British Columbia can be an exciting journey with the right preparation. These steps will set you up to successfully transition to this beautiful province, from securing housing to accessing healthcare and education services. Welcome to your new home in BC!

Working in British Columbia

Economic growth supports towns, companies, and individuals throughout British Columbia. The influx of immigrants is one of the key contributors to British Columbia's economic success.

Rest assured that you will be protected as an employer. British Columbia has the Employment Standards Branch that enforces the National Employment Standards Act, which assures that employees in British Columbia get at least basic wages and working conditions.

Finding a Job in British Columbia

Explore job boards, apprentice job matching, job search advice, labor market information, and other services for job seekers and workers. WorkBC.ca, The provincial government's portal to the world of work in British Columbia, has a wealth of services for job seekers. Find out how to apply for jobs in Canada to increase your chances of landing the perfect job. 

Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot

British Columbia invites entrepreneurs worldwide to explore the many business possibilities available in the province's many areas. Entrepreneurs may launch a company in one of British Columbia's smaller villages and see why many families prefer to live outside a big urban hub. The province offers an immigration option for innovative persons wishing to start a new business in a specific community. You could settle in BC through the Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot.

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP)

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP)

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP) is an economic immigration program run by the Immigration Programs Branch of the Government of British Columbia to increase the province's economy by making BC more accessible to foreigners and filling the gaps for jobs in demand.

The program allows the province to choose and nominate foreign employees, international students, and entrepreneurs to assist British Columbia's labor market demands, support government initiatives, and build the province's economy. A successful nomination by the Immigration and Refugee Council of Canada (IRCC) can lead you and your family to become permanent residents of Canada.

Suppose you're convinced that moving to British Columbia is the best choice, whether joining the mining and fishing industries in a coastal town or starting a business there. In that case, you need to start your immigration process today.


How Does Public Transportation Work in British Columbia?

There are various options for public transportation in British Columbia. These include Bus, Trolley, Community Shuttle, SkyTrain (a full-automated rapid-transit system), SeaBus (a passenger-only ferry service), and West Coast Express (a commuter rail service).

If you move to Metro Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, you can refer to TransLink for a public transportation schedule. You can refer to BCTransit for details for the rest of British Columbia. Low-income senior citizens and individuals with disabilities can also apply for a yearly BC Bus Pass at a discounted rate.

What Are Some Must-Visit Natural Attractions in BC?

British Columbia is renowned for its captivating natural wonders. Iconic destinations like Whistler, known for its alpine beauty and outdoor adventures, The Butchart Gardens, a floral paradise, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, with its stunning coastal landscapes, offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in breathtaking beauty and engage in a variety of outdoor activities.

What Is the Lifestyle Like for Residents of BC?

Living in British Columbia offers a unique blend of urban vibrancy and outdoor tranquility. Residents enjoy access to cultural events, diverse cuisines, and a thriving arts scene in cities like Vancouver. Simultaneously, the province's stunning landscapes encourage an active lifestyle, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring picturesque coastal areas. This balance between city life and natural beauty makes BC a sought-after destination for those who value modern amenities and a deep connection to nature.