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Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

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London England
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Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

My Partner and I are thinking of moving in 2-3 years to the Okanagan Valley to retire/semi-retire (I'm Canadian from Toronto and my Partner is English from Guildford,Surrey and we're currently living in Guildford area. I'm 57 and my Partner is 54)

Neither of us has been to the Okanagan but are planning on a 3 week trip next August to visit Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Whistler for holiday and Penticton and Kelowna for holiday + fact-finding for the purpose of eventually relocating. We have 3 questions:

1/ Is the Okanagan a good place to retire to? What are the good points and disadvanages to living there?

2/ Where is the 'best' location in the Okanagan to retire to? Vernon, Penticton, Kelowna or where? What makes the preferred location the 'best'?

3/ As we're both pretty young, fit and active are there part time jobs available and if so in what areas? We're both marketing consultants in the UK and certainly don't expect to be able to replicate our work in this area but I've heard there's a burgeoning wine industry in the Okanagan and of course the tourist/hospitality industry; are there potential part time jobs in these areas that would serve to keep us busy, offer an opportunity to meet people and put some 'beer' money on the table!!

Many thanks for your advice.

Coquitlam, B.C.
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1. Re: Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

If you're in Surrey, UK, I''m not able to comment. If you're in the Guildford area of Surrey, B.C. and you are ok with its traffic and type A drivers, then Kelowna (pop. 100,000) is for you. You will feel right at home with the traffic. If you have to work and your job is there, you'll just have to endure it, but I see no benefits of jumping out of the frying pan, etc. You will understand when you get there and try to drive around . There are the usual long waits for the bridge, which you have to cross to get into or out of town (the main highway goes through town and it seems all the tourists in B.C. come here). It's really busy in the summer. And it's just like Surrey's King George highway, with its proliferation of malls and shopping centres. As for Vernon, I cannot comment, as I haven't been there. Now Penticton, a city of 30,000 has a rush minute. (Except in the summer, when the pop. hits 100,000). It's a clean, quiet place most times, and has the best climate in Canada (source: Chamber of Commerce). A slower pace there, probably due to the higher seniors population. Plenty of jobs in the South Okanagan ( try networking to get the scoop on employment), and plenty of real estate rising quickly. Wait two years and you might miss the boat. Also check out the smaller surrounding towns; the prices are not yet as steep. Lots of outdoor activities, wineries, golfing and skiing. Look up the info you want on Google; it might help. So could the Chamber of Commerce. Best of luck.

Port Moody, Canada
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for Vancouver, British Columbia
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2. Re: Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

I am assuming you are living in England...if you want better feedback I think you need to specify a little more what your interests are.. skiing, hiking, arts, theatre, bookstores,... what do you really need in your community to be happy???I don't live in the Okanagan but go there often ..Each community has differing appeal. In terms of what is the best some would want a major hospital others want to be able to walk to everything...Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton all have hospitals I would only live " downtown" (near things to walk to) in Penticton...maybe.. and none has really great transit.

You can fly into Kelowna but weather in the winter is a real issue because of fog/cloud so you can fly out for travel.. from the other places you will have to drive to kelowna although penticton has a small airport ( or it used to as I have flown in there)

Positives.. great summer weather fewer people.. orchards, wineries, lakes, easy outdoor access, good winter sports.

Negatives...too many people in summer.. poor community planning..lack of cultural activites due to smaller population.. lack of specialized medical facilites due to small population 4-6 hour drive to vancouver

Kelowna is the largest.. there is a huge traffic jam on the bridge and a horrible strip mall development through most of town.. having said that there is also an excellent art gallery and concert venue ( Elton John even plays there) and the lake is great. The summer is very warm and the winter is mild (especially by TO standards) BUT be warned it is very gray and cloudy for much of the winter. .. not sunny and cold as you would expect. Close to Big White for skiing

Vernon much less developed and not as many cultural events..but 2 great lakes and a wonderful year round resort SilverStar within 20 minutes drive.. excellent skiing and hiking etc.

Penticton... the weather may be warm in winter but you still have the cloud cover.. most of the Okanagan valley has this problem in the winter.. near to Naramata with great wineries.. has a good beach but lots of summer rowdies.. has been better lately.. also very provincial when it comes to art etc ( had to remove a sculpture of a naked man fromdowntown as politicians were offended!) Close to Apex for skiing

Other places to check out

Summerland.. on a high bench between Kelowna and Penticton...good arts community.. orchards.. still small but some good restaurants.. not as much cloud as down in valley

Naramata.. very small.... drinking water problems to watch out for if you buy a place there... close to wineries for part time work

Oliver...another wine center more spread out than Naramata.. in desert area great hiking.. a little more "old fashioned"

Oysooyos.. south of Oliver.. another great lake.. desert climate.. lots of fruit.. big summer population very small in winter...

Hope this helps some

Portola Valley...
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3. Re: Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

I'd consider just south east of Kelowna some new houses near a burned out forest - looks like a nice part of town and central. On the other hand you may want a lakefront property.

If you are central then in the winter you can ski Big White, resorts near Penticton or Silver Star near Vernon.

They call the Okanagan the Riviera of Canada and summer 2005 I went there after going to Santa Barbara in California - the temperature was about the same - nice and warm - as was the water temperature - pleasant to lie on the beach and swim.

You can get from Kelowna quite quickly to Merritt for Country and Western Music Festival and then on to Vancouver on a freeway.

Big White and Silver Star are owned by Australians so there are a fair number of Aussies around. Your Brit folk will like it too!

Kelowna has decent hospital, Walmart, a shopping mall with The Bay store (not a very big one) and a very good gelato/chocolate shop downtown.

I am not a great wine fan - but the wine I've had there is good - especially the Ice Wine which is a treat for dessert.

Portola Valley...
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4. Re: Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

I don't know if you are interested in lecturing but the college in Kelowna has recently become part of the University of British Columbia - so lecturing might be an option.

Also you could take a ski teaching course and teach skiing in the winter - I had lessons with a Brit who taught skiing near Gloucester in the summer. Big White gives lessons for ski instructors and has many kids who need lessons.

You might also consider helping the tourism and real estate industries market in the UK to retirees similar to yourselves.

London England
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5. Re: Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

Many thanks for your input. My wife and I are very interested in the South Okanagan and have booked a week in a B+B in August there to look around, talk with a real estate agent and see if we could live there permanently. Does anyone have an opinion specifically on the desirability of Naramata as a location? The new Stonebrook development looks interesting; has anyone been to the sales presentation site and have a view on the quality and vision of the development? It's hard to form an opinion from their website.

Many thanks.

6. Re: Choice of Location to Relocate in the Okanagan

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Removed on: 3:10 pm, February 07, 2007