Nanaimo’s South End neighbourhood is undergoing a continuous revitalization process, and home buyers and investors are taking notice. With extensive renovations to heritage-era family homes ranging from grand Victorians to miner’s cottages, home buyers want the slice of history, the character, and the incredible ocean views that this unique neighbourhood provides.
Meanwhile, it’s providing the ideal footprint for high quality and affordable multi-family housing for investors and buyers being squeezed out of the metropolitan market. Living here, it’s possible to enjoy the best of both worlds—a city lifestyle with a small town price tag, and dreamy panoramic water views.
Parks and Recreation
Between Irwin and Haliburton St is Deverill Square Park, with greenspace, playground, basketball court, and a lit playfield. To get back to nature, visit Petroglyph Park or explore kilometres of boardwalk at the scenic Chase River Estuary. Colliery Dam Park is a great place to visit year round, with 2.5 km of trails that loop around two serene lakes, perfect for jogging, walking, swimming, and fishing. For indoor recreation, head to the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, twin rinks at the Ice Centre, or check out the brand new covered outdoor sports complex at Harewood Centennial Park.
There’s also the gorgeous 3.5 KM harbourfront walkway dotted with art installations and parks to explore. Wander the piers, grab an ice cream, and enjoy the scenery. The harbourfront hosts many festivals and concerts throughout the year, including the famous weekend-long Dragon Boat and International Bathtub Races.
Thinking of a day trip? Hop on a ferry to nearby Newcastle or Protection Islands and enjoy viewing the city from a new angle as you explore beaches and trails, and hunt for clues of Nanaimo’s mining history.
All major amenities are just a few minutes’ drive away, as Haliburton and surrounding areas are just moments south down the highway, with shopping and services from Country Grocer to the Chase River Veterinary Clinic at South Parkway Plaza and Southgate Malls. Downtown Nanaimo is home to Port Place Mall with a large medical clinic, London Drugs, Casino, Thrifty Foods, and fast food eateries.
Skip the north end malls, and explore locally owned retail shops line the streets of downtown and the Old City Quarter instead. From bookstores to quality retail goods at one of a kind boutiques like Quintessential, NYLA, and Sartorial Boutique, you’re sure to find a treasure or two.
Entertainment & Nightlife
Off the walkway and into downtown is the Port Theatre, with an endless array of performances and musical events throughout the year, and home to the Vancouver Island Symphony. For lunch, stop in at the always popular Mon Petit Choux Bakery & Café for a fresh sandwich or pastry and coffee. For more variety, the Bees Knees is a must-try café situated on nearby Wallace Street. Featuring fresh baked goods and delicious authentic Persian cuisine, it’s an eclectic little café that will leave you smiling.
Astera’s Taverna is the perfect place for a date night, with its fabulous Greek menu and unbeatable friendly service, or for something more casual, head to Coach and Horses in the old train station. This newer pub/restaurant features a wide variety of vegan and gluten free options, as well as classic British staples.
Later on, take part in an Escape Room, settle in at the Board Game House, enjoy a live show at the Queen’s bar, or settle in with a cocktail at the Corner Lounge.
Situated between mountains and sea, Nanaimo is a city that has been built lengthwise, and residents rely heavily on two major highway systems—the Old Island Highway (19A) and the Parkway.
From South Nanaimo, it takes approximately twenty minutes to reach North Nanaimo, for an easy, fuss-free commute. With no real rush hour, you can be home from work in a fraction of the time it would normally take in a larger metro area. The Nanaimo Airport is just 13 kilometres south of Nanaimo proper. Constantly growing, it’s now the second busiest on the island and currently undergoing a massive expansion.
Nanaimo is also home to two major BC ferry terminals at Departure Bay and Duke Point, with sailings to Tsawassen and Metro Vancouver. For a quicker commute to the mainland, Harbour Air, Seair, and West Coast Air fly from downtown Nanaimo to the Vancouver Harbour or Richmond (YVR) in about 20 minutes.
Real Estate Activity
Nanaimo’s real estate has seen steady activity, with plenty of new single-family and multi-family homes being built all around the city. The benchmark price for multi-family dwellings as of January 2019 was $323,921, according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, and while prices have increased over the last few years, they’re beginning to soften as the market evens out. Nanaimo continues to expand southward and northward, with new subdivisions being built in both ends of the city, and multi-family developments popping up in heritage neighbourhoods from the Old City Quarter to the border of Chase River.
Based on BC Real Estate Association stats, the population for the city of Nanaimo is projected to grow to 138,476 residents by 2041, from the last count of 83,810 during the last official census in 2011. For the RDN (an area stretching to the Comox, Alberni-Clayoquot, and the Cowichan Regional Districts) the population is sitting at 104,936, and estimated to grow to 160,942 by 2047.
Playing a large role in this population growth is the more affordable housing and for business owners; it’s the prominent position on Vancouver Island as the primary goods and services provider for most of the Island’s smaller communities.
More baby boomers are opting to move here as well, thanks to a warmer and milder climate than the rest of Canada, and a laid back, active lifestyle with the amenities of a larger metropolis.
The average age of Nanaimo residents is 44.2 years, according to Stats Canada, with 66,795 residents between the ages of 15 and 64 years old. Broken down further, an average of 6,500 residents are between the ages of 20-49, while a slightly higher average of 7,500 residents are between the ages of 50-65.
Residents of working age are employed mainly in sales and service, trades and transport, and business, finance, and administration, with an average total income of $76,949 for private households.
Post-Secondary Educational Programming
Also influencing the growing population is the International Education program at Vancouver Island University, which has held enrollment steady at approximately 2,000 students year over year, with the majority of students coming from China, Japan, and India. Many of these students choose to stay in Nanaimo and on the island after completing their education, contributing to the increasingly diverse demographic.