Best Places to Retire in Canada: Vernon, British Columbia

Vernon, British Columbia

Incorporated in 1892, Vernon British Columbia is the largest city and the commercial center of the beautiful North Okanagan region. Greater Vernon is large enough to offer the amenities most people want yet small enough to retain small-town charm and low living costs. It is one of the best places to retire in Canada.

Landscape: Embraced by Okanagan, Kalamalka and Swan Lakes and virtually surrounded by forested and snow-capped mountain peaks, Vernon has an idyllic setting.

Climate: Vernon enjoys an invigorating four-season climate characterized by modest precipitation, sunny summers, cloudy winters and marked day-to-day and seasonal changes in weather.

Quality of Life: Excellent. The urban area is well planned and managed and the refurbished historic downtown is a delightful place. Parks and recreation facilities are impressive and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre attracts talent not normally seen in cities of this size.

Housing: Housing is a bargain in Vernon, averaging $170,000 ($128,000 U.S.) for a modest single-family residence. Housing in upscale neighborhoods overlooking Kalamalka Lake is more expensive.

Goods and Services: Goods and services are priced slightly above Canadian norms but generally below U.S. averages by 10% to 20%. Groceries and transportation are comparatively expensive whereas utilities and health care are inexpensive.

Taxes: Federal and provincial income tax rates are modestly higher than in the U.S., but the combined federal and provincial sales tax on goods and services is twice the U.S. average. Property taxes and medical care costs are low.

Transportation: Most residents drive but BC Transit buses provide a convenient alternative to local destinations. Intercity travel is possible via Greyhound Canada buses and by air via Kelowna International Airport, 30 miles south.

Retail Services: Colorful, historic downtown Vernon is a good place to savor the city’s unique character. Typical suburban shopping is available at Village Green Mall.

Health Care: Interior Health, Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Kelowna General Hospital provide good health care services.

Community Services: Like most Canadian cities, Vernon provides excellent basic public services including parks and recreation centers.

Cultural and Educational Activities: The visual and performing arts are well represented in Vernon, from downtown’s historic murals to the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon Museum and several historic and modern performing arts venues.

Recreational Activities: Okanagan and Kalamalka Lakes have public beaches and boat launching ramps. Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park boasts miles of trails. Golf and cross-country and downhill skiing are other favorite activities.

Work and Volunteer Activities: Some part-time jobs are available in the retail and tourism sectors. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful.

Crime Rates and Public Safety: Vernon property and crime rates are above national norms for Canada but these rates may be attributable to the large transient population of visitors. Be that as it may, Vernon feels safe during daytime and evening walks in the downtown area.

Conclusion: If you prefer a four-season climate, enjoy summer and winter outdoor recreation and appreciate small-town virtues, you may find life in Vernon very appealing. Located in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, surrounded by spectacular lakes and mountains, Vernon offers an excellent quality of life. It is one of the best places to retire in Canada.

Ratings courtesy of “Retire in Style, 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada” by Warren R. Bland, PhD (

About Warren Bland

Warren R. Bland, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Geography at California State University, Northridge and author of Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada, Next Decade, Inc., 2005. For more information about Dr. Bland’s books, go to Next Decade

One Response to “Best Places to Retire in Canada: Vernon, British Columbia”

  1. Your description is very good of Vernon. My cousins lived there for several years and really liked it. I will officially be a senior May 2012 and am planning a move from Sparwood. I am an artist and interested in a place with an active art community. Do you have seniors subsidized housing in Vernon?

    Thank you, Shirley