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Retiring Abroad: Retiring in Kelowna, BC - Part II

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Retiring in Kelowna, BC - Part II

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. In writing it, 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. You can find the first blog post here.  Comments from one more person will be on a subsequent post.

Climate

“You couldn’t ask for a better general climate. It doesn’t snow until the beginning of December and my husband was golfing by the latter part of March (which is later than most years). In general, the snow doesn’t stay for more than a day or two if you live down in the valley.  As you move up the mountain-sides, the snow accumulates in the winter. 

Being from Alberta, I was bracing myself for a grey, depressing, soggy winter. Yes, it is overcast most days, but not as bad as I thought it would be (though I do understand that people with SAD are affected). You can, however, leave your leather winter boots in Alberta because they aren’t compatible with the wet, slushy winter. Ugly as they are, rubber boots are the way to go. That also goes for outer wear - rain resistant is best. The dampness is still cold, so winter attire is still necessary. 

Given the wet and therefore icy roads in Kelowna and area, winter tires are mandatory. In addition to this, all out of province vehicles must be inspected before they can be insured. More on insurance later.” 

Recreation

“Kelowna has it all, from winter powder skiing at Big White or Silver Star to summer lake fun.  

Although Big White can be foggy, when it’s clear there is loads of powder and amazing skiing on a huge hill. I’ve never been in the lift line for more than 2 - 3 minutes. Both ski areas also have extensive cross country groomed tracks and snowshoe paths. 

Summer is a playground of fun and people are very active. The lake provides loads of water fun - boating, canoeing, kayaking, SUP, parasailing, lake tours, and, of course, swimming. The roads have great cycling lanes, and they are well used. Off road, there are wonderful scenic trails along creeks, and the Rails to Trails should be open later this summer, on which you can cycle from Kelowna to Vernon. I’m not a mountain biker, but have heard that it is amazing. 

The Kelowna Newcomers Club is very active, and a great way to get involved and meet new people. They organize activities from pickle ball, golf, tennis, etc. to bridge, book club, and beer and wine tasting. There are also very active groups in the arts, culture, and higher education areas. UBCO and Okanagan College offer many courses both for credit and for continuing education. 

I’m not sure if wine tasting would count as “recreation” but it is very popular. In and around Kelowna there are lots of wineries that offer wine tasting. It is also convenient to travel to Penticton, Naramata, Oliver and Osoyoos for an amazing exploration of BC wines. Beer, ciders and spirits specialty shops are also popular. 

On a lifestyle/fashion note - Kelowna is extremely casual. It has a resort town atmosphere. Most events do not require formal wear. I don’t think I can recall even seeing a man in a suit there.” 

Cost of Living

“Now we come to the downside of living in Kelowna. The biggest surprise was the cost of vehicle insurance - almost double the cost from Alberta. 

Get ready for PST in addition to GST. That, plus the cost of gasoline, can be a shock. Generally, you’ll pay more for almost everything. 

Some people have told me that dental procedures are less, but I can’t verify that. 
The housing prices have been on the rise and finding rental accommodation is a challenge. However, I think utilities are about the same as Alberta.” 

Ease of access (transportation to and from): 

“An international airport makes connecting to your destination easy. Leaving and landing can be an issue if there is fog.”

Health care (quality and access): 

“Finding a family doctor can be a challenge, but there is quick access to medical service. I’ve been able to see specialist within a few weeks here, compared with months in Alberta. ...or maybe I’ve just been lucky. I’ve found the access and quality is great.”

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