Why Move to Nanaimo

Moving to the Nanaimo Region might just be the best decision you ever make, in my opinion having done just that.

Stretched like a long, lean finger along the east coast of south-central Vancouver Island, British Columbia’s sixth-largest city gets its identity, history, and a wealth of recreation from a lovely, island-sheltered harbour right in the heart of town.

Where else can you easily access world class hiking, golfing, mountain biking, fishing, boating, kayaking, and even scuba diving — literally within city limits.

Stroll along the bustling waterfront watching seaplanes take flight, catch a play or listen to one of the many talented musicians that call Nanaimo home, or check out one of the area’s legendary artisan studio tours or art galleries.

And they’re no crowds or traffic in the way either.

In fact Nanaimo was selected as one of the top five most desirable and livable“micro” cities in North America.

Nanaimo is the largest urban area north of Victoria, with a growing population base of some 100,000 people.

All major Island transportation corridors lead to Nanaimo, and the city is a gateway between the Island and the mainland, with two BC Ferry terminals that serve passenger, vehicle, and commercial traffic. The airport and float plane terminals provide an even quicker access to Vancouver and beyond.

Today, the City of Nanaimo (population 84,228) is a fast-growing urban centre that is no longer merely the premier gateway to Vancouver Island.

A boldly revitalized downtown core, delightful harbourfront walkway, sparkling new museum, affordable art galleries, and a wealth of cool shopping and dining alternatives are good reasons why we love it here.

Nanaimo enjoys a relatively low cost of living with every service and convenience you can think of. Home to a disproportionate array of artists and musicians, you’ll find multiple theatre options, frequent, high quality live music performances and artist studios seemingly everywhere.

Nanaimo infrastructure makes it easy to get around with a great road network and a relatively low number of cars on those roads. As a result people here spend far less time getting around, and more time getting things done as a result. In Nanaimo you really do spend more time being there – and less time getting there.

Nanaimo’s role as a service centre for central Vancouver Island ensures that the region continues to experience strong growth. It is projected that the recent strong, positive net migration will persist and the region will continue to expand rapidly. Often missed from the highway, Nanaimo is so covered by forest and lakes that many people drive along the highway and never see it. In fact from beaches and world-class sport fishing to an endless choice of awesome hikes, Nanaimo offers unparalleled access to practically every outdoor activity you can think of.

The Nanaimo metro area is filled with plenty of great restaurants and shops, but you’ll never feel swallowed by the city. Instead, Nanaimo will wrap you warmly in Island hospitality and make you feel like you’ve always belonged. No matter what you miss from home, you’ll find something just like it—or maybe even better—right here in the Harbour City.

Nanaimo is home to many great schools including a well established private Christian School and Aspen Grove, a private IB school — and Vancouver Island University (VIU).

Often referred to as “hub city”, Nanaimo boasts more retail space per capita than almost anywhere. From Costco to Lowes, Home Depot to Superstore, from Sapporas to the Gap, we’ve got it all. And you can always find a place to park.

So what are you waiting for? This gorgeous, vibrant, exciting city is just begging to be your new home.


While history may not be your “thing,” there’s no way you can deny Nanaimo is fascinating.

The Native people of the area that is now known as Nanaimo are the Snuneymuxw.

The first Europeans to find Nanaimo Bay were the Spanish back in 1791. The actual town of Nanaimo began as a Hudson Bay Company trading post early 19th century. In 1849 the Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun (“Coal Tyee”) informed the Hudson’s Bay Company of coal in the area. Exploration proved there was plenty of it in the area and Nanaimo became chiefly known for the export of coal. In 1853 the company built a Nanaimo Bastion, which has been preserved and is a popular tourist destination in the downtown area.

Indigenous Nanaimo people

Hudson’s Bay Company employee Robert Dunsmuir helped establish coal mines in the Nanaimo harbour area and later mined in Nanaimo as one of the first independent miners. In 1869 Dunsmuir discovered coal several miles North of Nanaimo at Wellington, and subsequently created the company Dunsmuir and Diggle Ltd so he could acquire crown land and finance the startup of what became the Wellington Colliery. With the success of Dunsmuir and Diggle and the Wellington Colliery, Dunsmuir expanded his operations to include steam railways. Dunsmuir sold Wellington Coal through its Departure Bay docks, while competing Nanaimo coal was sold by the London-based Vancouver Coal Company through the Nanaimo docks.

The gassy qualities of the coal which made it valuable also made it dangerous. The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion killed 150 miners and was described as the largest man-made explosion until the Halifax Explosion. Another 100 men died in another explosion the next year.

In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.

Today we’ve become a city that embraces culture and learning with open arms—one that learns from our mistakes and strives to be an example through our love for all music, art, culture, and history. Our roots are strong, and they get stronger every day.


According to the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo’s population is expected to grow by almost 40% by 2036 from the 2011 census figure of about 146,000 throughout the regional metro area.

Somewhat depressed for many years, the Nanaimo area housing market has gone mainstream and has been rising pretty much continuously now since 2013 with the average detached home going from about $380,000 two years ago — to over $500,000 today.


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