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Retiring Abroad: Retiring in Kelowna, BC - Part I

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Retiring in Kelowna, BC - Part I

There are many incredible places in the world to consider when envisioning your ideal retirement destination. However, arguably one of the best places in the world is right in Calgary’s backyard – Kelowna, BC. It has a wide range of recreational opportunities, incredible wineries, great weather and excellent health care.

This blog post will be in three segments. I chose to ask for comments from actual residents of Kelowna, some whom have lived there for a long time and some whom have chosen to retire there. Here is a collection of comments from one of those people. I will have comments from two others on two subsequent posts.


“Kelowna truly has four seasons. Spring and fall are moderate and comfortable, summer can be quite hot and very dry, and winter is usually moderate from a Canadian standpoint.

I’ve lived in the Okanagan for over 25 years. There have been winters with very little snow (trucking it in for Winter Parade), and quite the opposite. Generally, if we get extreme cold, it lasts for only a couple of days at a time. As a person growing up in Saskatchewan, the first thing I noticed in the winter was that there aren’t plug-ins in the parking lots and the vehicles here don’t come with block heaters.”


“There is much to do in Kelowna, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. We have a well-established series of bike lanes through the city, many designated bike trails, and 16 kms of greenway trails throughout. Lake Okanagan is great for canoeing, paddle boarding, kayaking and of course power boats. There are numerous beaches – the downtown beaches have commercial amenities, and there are many quiet and lesser known beaches in neighborhoods around Kelowna. The lake areas and beaches close to downtown can get congested in tourist season, but there are always areas to access the lake that have less traffic.  

There are numerous hiking trails around Kelowna – within 10 minutes of downtown, you can feel like you are hiking the wilderness. Rock climbing, camping…it is all here.

Kelowna seems to be a hub for entrepreneurs – so there always seems to be something new in the way of recreation – flyboard rentals and lessons, on water and on land water parks.

We have a great selection of restaurants – fine dining and casual.

Wineries… did I mention wineries?  There are plenty – and more opening up all the time.  Some have great restaurants and great tours, and most have a great story. There are numerous tour companies that exclusively do wine tours.

The City of Kelowna runs musical theme nights in various parks through the city. Every weekend through the summer, downtown has live bands performing. 

There are farmers markets in two locations, three times per week, with a great selection of local fruits and vegetables and local-made miscellany.

In winter, of course the big draw is Big White just one hour away with snowshoeing, Nordic and downhill skiing and snowboarding. It is a village unto itself with the amenities of a resort.” 

Cost of Living

“Kelowna is not inexpensive right now.  The average house is around $700,000 and average condo is around $400,000. There is less than 1% vacancy for rentals right now. There is currently a lot of multi-family units being built, but whether or not that significantly eases the rental market is yet to be seen. The rest of the costs to live here are probably close to average in Canada.” 

Ease of access (transportation to and from): 

“Kelowna’s airport is great. Multiple flights per day to Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, Toronto and from there can connect you anywhere to in the world fairly quickly.” 

Health care (quality and access): 

“Kelowna has one hospital and is large and is the major hospital for most of the Okanagan.  It recently became a teaching hospital – well staffed.

As far as personal health care, Kelowna has a lack of doctors right now which can be a challenge for some. I know a couple that has lived here for 10 years and has yet to find a family doctor. Kelowna does have a number of walk-in clinics – unfortunately these tend to have long lineups and less than fully convenient hours – but seems to be the only option for an increasing number of people.” 

For more information on Kelowna, please feel free to check out the following websites:

City of Kelowna Information

Tourism Kelowna

Big White Ski Resort

Kelowna & West Kelowna Wineries