Guide to Renting and Living in Kelowna
Moving to Kelowna? After 10 years in Kelowna, here is my guide to renting in one of the most beautiful cities in Canada.
Studying at UBC?
UBC Okanagan has reached record enrollment levels in 2017 and is a major attraction in Kelowna. For the many students moving to Kelowna to study, accommodation does not have to be limited to on-campus dormitories. Many parts of Kelowna offer quick and easy access to UBC by transit, bike, or car-pooling. Living on Academy Hill can be great, you can easily walk to your classes and walk home for lunch. However there is the flip side. Rent is typically higher, you are required to commute to shop for groceries, and you are removed from the arts and culture of the city.
Living off campus can provide cheaper rent and better access to shopping and amenities within the city. However, choose your neighborhood wisely. If you plan to take transit, you want to ensure there is regular bus service. The Express bus is a convenient and fast way to get to UBC. With a depot starting downtown and a few stops along Hwy 97, you can get to/from campus quickly and easily. Bus service from Rutland is also very good, plus you can easily ride your bicycle from Rutland to UBC. Other areas worth looking at are Lake Country and Quail Ridge. Below is an outline of the “preferred” areas, you can live in other areas but commuting can be more involved.
UBC Campus/ Academy Hill $$$: Very short/easy commute to UBC, inconvenient to shop for groceries and access city amenities. Great if you want to live with other students.
Quail Ridge (North of UBC) $$: Short commute to UBC (bus, walk, bike). Quiet country-like setting with access to running trails. Inconvenient for grocery shopping, no restaurants or other amenities within walking distance. This is a popular place for students who want 8 month rentals for the school year.
Lake Country $: Quiet country like setting, everything you need is available in this fast growing area.
Rutland $: Close to restaurants, shops, cheaper rent, short commute to UBC, central to many amenities. Lots of students live in this area.
Glenmore/North Glenmore $$: Easy access to biking and hiking trails, short commute to UBC with the new John Hindle Drive, easy access to grocery stores and restaurants. Good bus service BUT limited hours (does not run all day).
Downtown $-$$: Lots of selection from penthouse lakefront condos to shared homes. Easy access to restaurants, bars/clubs, grocery store. Easy access to UBC with express bus, still close enough to ride your bike to UBC (for those who are fit). Easy access to Knox mountains and parks/beaches.
Working in Kelowna?
Upper Mission: Amazing views, many larger and newer homes to choose from. Easy access to some of Kelowna’s best mountain biking and hiking trails. A car is required as you will be commuting to go anywhere. Traffic can be heavy at times and does bottle neck on Lakeshore Drive.
Lower Mission: Quiet neighborhood, many nice homes and properties to choose from. Easy access to beaches and schools. Easy access to H2O Centre and Mission Greenway for biking and running. Easy to commute by bicycle to many areas as the roads are very flat. Great neighborhood if you have children. The H2O center is in the middle of this neighborhood removing all excuses to get out to the gym or pool.
Kelowna South: If you work at the hospital, this is the most convenient neighborhood for you. You could live here without the need of a car, easy to walk or bike anywhere. Most homes will be smaller and older. Beach access is amazing, central location means you never have to go far for shopping.
Kelowna North (Downtown): This area provides very convenient access to many downtown amenities making the “local” lifestyle very easy. There is easy access to great beaches, city park, Knox mountain, brewery’s, clubs, restaurants, shops. Most homes are smaller and older but the community feeling makes up for it. Most properties are street parking only and spots are limited.
Springfield/Spall: Central location allows you to live without a car, there is an abundance of nice homes tucked away in this area, some “hidden gems” in this area. Rent is generally less than Kelowna South. The compromise is that you are further from the beach. Landmark business area and Parkinson recreation center are at your doorstep, great for business professionals.
Rutland South: Central location for the Rutland business district means you can walk most places. Easy access to shopping centers and Mission Creek Regional Park. This is a great central neighborhood with many rental options that is generally priced lower than areas closer to the lake.
Rutland North: Popular neighborhood for students, quick and easy access to the airport and UBC. Easy access to Rutland business district and Kelowna Family YMCA. There is a good mixture of single family homes and apartments to suit those looking for economical accommodation. There are many nice single family homes as you move East and North towards Ellison and Black Mountain.
Glenmore: Great family neighborhood, central location makes commutes to airport and UBC or downtown easy. Easy access to Knox mountain, biking and hiking trails. Family oriented area with lots of schools and playgrounds.
North Glenmore: An extension of Glenmore, provides a rural feeling while still being only minutes from downtown. Great area if you have children in elementary or middle school. Excellent access to hiking and biking trails. If you work at UBC or YLW this area will be friendly for commuting.
Black Mountain: A fast growing neighborhood, family focused, if you love riding at Big White this may be a good neighborhood for you with the easy access. A vehicle is required as you will need to commute into the city for nearly everything.
Ellison: Rural feeling, some beautiful views from the bench. Great neighborhood if you want a larger property at a lower price-point than lower mission. Located close to the airport, so be mindful that you will see air traffic.
Opportunities Across the Bridge
West Kelowna has seen dramatic changes over the past 10 years and there is no sign of slowing down. There is an abundance of restaurants, shopping, beaches, and even a movie theatre to entertain everyone. The bridge across Okanagan lake gets a bad reputation from many locals. It is a fact that traffic can be very heavy at times (rush hour), especially if there is a stall or accident. However, outside of rush hour you can generally travel across the lake very quickly, so don’t rule this area out!
West Kelowna: This is the area immediately after driving across the bridge. Casa Loma is the neighborhood along the lake just south of the bridge. The drive into Kelowna is very quick and you often get to bypass most of the West Kelowna traffic jams. You have easy access to Kalamoir park, which is full of beaches and hiking trails right at your door. A car is required as transit is not an option.
Westside: The major neighborhood is Rose Valley, which is along the hillside to your right after driving across the bridge from Kelowna. The drive into Kelowna is very quick so long as there is no accident on the bridge. Rent is generally less expensive, and the homes are larger than on the other side of the bridge. You have access to hiking and biking trails from your door. A car is required as transit is not an option.
Lakeview Heights: This is a gorgeous family oriented neighborhood with many large lots and homes. Commute time into Kelowna is again very short (traffic permitting). There is regular bus service, although a transfer is required to get into Kelowna. There is an abundance of wineries, tennis courts, parks, beaches, and hiking trails through Kalamoir park and Mt. Boucherie.
Shannon Lake/Smith Creek: A less expensive alternative but still a very nice area, Shannon Lake is a great hangout! Smith Creek has amazing mountain bike, dirt bike/ATV and hiking trails. There are schools nearby, and shopping in Westbank is a short drive away. Great family neighborhood and a good alternative to Kelowna.
Glenrosa: If you have a family and work in Westbank, this is another fine neighborhood. There are excellent views, easy access to the Westbank shopping centre, and schools close by. The commute into Kelowna can be frustrating at times. I would not recommend this area if you spend lots of time in Kelowna.
Peachland: This is a wonderful small community, easy access to beaches, some fantastic local restaurants and cafés. This is a busy place in the summer and quiet for the rest of the year. Commuting to Kelowna is 25 minutes one-way without traffic, but could double in heavy traffic. This is a community-focused area with a small-town feel.
Fintry: This is country living. Access this area via Westside road, which you will either love or hate – drive it yourself to see what I mean. Once you make it out to Fintry (it`s a short journey to get there) you will be rewarded with nature, trees between houses, and beaches. Housing is a fair bit less expensive in this area relative to Kelowna. If you don`t travel or commute much and want a true country feel, this area is for you.
This post was written by Happipad