Skip to content

Ultimate Guide: The Top 9 Cheapest Cities to Live in BC

cheapest cities BC

British Columbia is an expensive province, but we did find the cheapest cities to live in BC.

(Hint: we looked beyond Vancouver.)

Here’s what you need to know

British Columbia is known for its jaw-dropping scenery, making it a top-notch tourist spot in Canada. However, let’s be real – living there can put a serious dent in your wallet.

Take Vancouver, for instance. Home prices there are through the roof! We’re talking an average of almost $2.7 million per home, according to Zolo. Yikes! But fear not, my friend. There are more budget-friendly options beyond the pricey confines of Vancouver.

So, if you’re considering a move to BC, fret not. We’ve got you covered with a rundown of the most affordable cities (or, cheapest cities) to call home in this beautiful province. From house prices to everyday living costs and overall quality of life, we’ve got all the deets you need right here. Let’s dive in!

What are the cheapest cities to live in BC?

Based on the real-time information, here are some of the cheapest cities to live in British Columbia:

  1. Quesnel – Gateway to the North’s Hidden Value
  2. Cranbrook – Affordable Living with a Community Spirit
  3. Williams Lake
  4. Prince George
  5. Castlegar
  6. Prince Rupert
  7. Vernon
  8. Valemount
  9. Hope

Quesnel

Quesnel is a city located in the Cariboo Regional District of British Columbia, Canada. It is situated nearly evenly between the cities of Prince George and Williams Lake. The average house sale price in Quesnel is currently around $365,000. The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $900 per month. Explore the scenic trails at Pinnacles Provincial Park or stroll along the historic Fraser River Foot Bridge for breathtaking views. Immerse yourself in local history at the Quesnel & District Museum & Archives or hunt for the whimsical Little People Painted Fire Hydrants scattered throughout the city for a unique experience.

Cranbrook

Not far from Castlegar is Cranbrook, BC, home to 20,500 residents. The average house sale price in Cranbrook is $475,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,700. Located in the Kootenays, Cranbrook is known for its unique craftsmanship and the outdoor activities on offer. Visitors can delve into the region’s rich mining history at the fascinating Canadian Museum of Rail Travel or explore the natural beauty of nearby provincial parks like Moyie Lake and St. Mary’s River. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and fishing in the picturesque surroundings of the East Kootenay region.

Williams Lake

The average house sale price in Williams Lake is $290,000—well under the provincial average—and the average rent price for a 2-bedroom is $1,267. Not only is it affordable, but Williams Lake also offers top-rated water activities, culture, and scenic neighborhoods. Located in the central part of the Cariboo region, Williams Lake has a population of 11,906.

Prince George

The average house sale price in Prince George is pushing $400,000 and the average rent price for a 2-bedroom is $1,300. With a population of just under 77,000, Prince George offers amenities that you would find in a small city but also easy access to nature for outdoor lovers. This access includes plenty of places to admire the Northern Lights. Living here, you also have access to great skiing, golfing, and trails for mountain biking and hiking.

Castlegar

With a population of just over 8,000, Castlegar offers a lot to residents in the way of the outdoors, as well as art. The average house sale price in Castlegar is $427,450 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is around $1,600. For those interested in culture, the Doukhobor Discovery Centre offers a fascinating glimpse into the area’s heritage. Additionally, Syringa Provincial Park and Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park provide opportunities for leisurely walks and picnics amidst scenic landscapes. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or cultural experiences, Castlegar has something for everyone to enjoy.

Prince Rupert

Known for its epic wildlife, Prince Rupert (population 12,300) is located northwest of Vancouver. Orcas, grizzlies and other bears are common in this area. Visitors can embark on unforgettable wildlife watching tours, spotting majestic whales, playful dolphins, and diverse seabirds in the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are job opportunities in fishing, a major industry in Prince Rupert. The average house sale price in Prince Rupert is $485,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,200, making it one of the cheapest cities to live in BC.

Vernon

Vernon is located in the Okanagan Valley on the north side of Kelowna. A family-friendly city with a population of 44,519, Vernon offers great skiing, parks, beaches and picturesque views. Visitors can explore the picturesque landscapes and vineyards of the Okanagan Valley, indulging in wine tasting tours and farm-to-table dining experiences. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as hiking in SilverStar Mountain Resort or swimming and boating in the crystal-clear waters of Kalamalka Lake. The average house sale price in Vernon is $692,705 and the average rent price is $1,500.

Valemount

One of the smallest communities on this list, Valemount has a population of just 1,052. Located near Alberta’s beautiful Jasper National Park, Valemount enjoys thick snowfall that presents perfect sledding opportunities. Home primarily to cottages, Valemount offers a slow, serene pace. The average house sale price here is $534,000 and the average rent for a 2-bedroom is just $1,100.

Hope

the average house sale price in Hope, BC, was around $450,000 to $500,000. However, keep in mind that real estate prices can fluctuate based on various factors such as market conditions, location, and property size. Regarding average monthly rent, it typically ranges from $800 to $1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment and can go up to $1,500 to $2,000 for larger apartments or houses. Visitors can explore the historic Othello Tunnels, offering a scenic walk through towering cliffs and former railway passages. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy hiking in the surrounding mountains, fishing in nearby rivers, and taking in breathtaking views at Hell’s Gate Airtram.

image 2024 06 08 195314549

What city in BC has the lowest cost of living?

Prince George takes the cake for the lowest cost of living in BC, (dare we say, the cheapest city?) but it’s not just about affordable homes there. We considered factors like average home prices, household income, the ratio of home price to income, and the unemployment rate to make this call.

In Prince George, the average home price sits at $361,000, with households bringing in around $107,200 annually. The home price-to-income ratio stands at 4.91, and the unemployment rate hovers around 6.8%. Now, if we flip the script and glance at Vancouver, it’s a whole different story. The average home there costs a jaw-dropping $2,685,000, with households earning about $117,300 yearly. The home price-to-income ratio skyrockets to 35.14, while the unemployment rate sits lower at 4.6%.

What is the average rent in BC?

The total average listed rent in Vancouver, BC is $2,671, according to Rentals.ca. The average listed rent in all 10 provinces is $2,046. The next highest average listed rent was in Toronto, Ontario, which had an average of $2,471. The lowest average was in Saskatchewan, at $1,102 per month.

The rent increase hit Canada’s two most expensive markets—Toronto and Vancouver—particularly hard. The annual rent has increased by more than 24% in each Canadian province.

Is BC cheap to live in?

So, turns out British Columbia isn’t exactly winning any awards for affordability, as per a summer 2023 analysis by the finance folks over at Savvy New Canadians. Vancouver’s unsurprisingly leading the pack as Canada’s least affordable city, no shocker there.

The analysis dug into Stats Canada data to cook up a household income-to-expense ratio for all provinces. In BC, households were shelling out around $79,591 on average, while the median after-tax income for a family hovered at $97,800. Crunching the numbers, that gives BC a not-so-great income-to-expense ratio of 1.23—the worst in the country.

Meanwhile, over in Quebec, they’re doing a happy dance with the best ratio on the list. La Belle Province boasts a sweet ratio of 1.5, thanks to lower household expenses ($59,770) and a slightly lower median after-tax income ($89,400).

image 2024 06 08 195257331

Cheapest cities to live in BC: closing thoughts

Finding the cheapest place in BC to live may take some research. It is also somewhat subjective, depending on your common expenses. After all, affordability is not based solely on the average cost of homes in any given city or region; it is also important to consider the cost of living and average salary. 

Remember: the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be. 

Reach out if you want a realtor referral or to have a chat about what you need to move provinces and qualify for a mortgage.