The Cheapest Places to Live in British Columbia in June 2024

WRITTEN BY Dan Kent | UPDATED ON: May 18, 2024

The Cheapest Places to Live in British Columbia

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British Columbia reigns as one of the most attractive locations to establish residency in Canada.

It is a beautiful place full of picturesque scenery, with spectacular mountains, rivers, and lakes. Importantly, the province offers many opportunities to live a fulfilling life as it has various industries and is one of the safest places to work and live in.

However, British Columbia has a reputation as one of the most expensive provinces to live in. But this does not mean you cannot live in British Columbia, Canada, on a tight budget.

Do you want to live in British Columbia on a budget? This article will reveal hidden gems in the province - the top affordable places to live in BC.

We analyzed all the cities in British Columbia and determined the most affordable to live in based on two criteria - rent prices and average household income. 

Rent is the main element in the “cost of living.” So, for a place to be affordable, home prices must be low. Also, the people must earn enough to pay their bills.

The table below highlights the top 7 affordable places to live in British Columbia in 2023

City

Average monthly rent (3-bedroom apartment)

Average monthly household Income

Rent-to-income ratio

Williams Lake

C$1,578

C$5,750

0.274

Smithers

C$1,900

C$6,250

0.304

Prince George

C$2,262

C$6,488

0.349

Terrace

C$2,400

C$6,667

0.360

Cranbrook

C$2,327

C$6,042

0.385

Port Alberni

C$1,933

C$4,867

0.397

Vernon

C$2,287

C$5,542

0.413


Lets go over them in-depth

What are the post affordable places to live in British Columbia?

  • Williams Lake
  • Smithers
  • Prince George
  • Terrace
  • Cranbrook
  • Port Alberni
  • Vernon

Williams Lake

Williams Lake
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: C$1,578
  • Average monthly household income: C$69,000 ($5,750/ month)
  • Population: 10,753

Williams Lake is a city in the Central Interior of British Columbia. The small town is in the region known as Cariboo and has about 11,000 residents.

Wiliams Lake’s official website calls the city the “Shangri-La of mountain biking.” The city is a hub of outdoor activities like hiking and biking. 

The city also hosts frequent community events, including the Williams Lake Stampede (which was once the second-largest professional rodeo in Canada after the Calgary Stampede.)

The city has a strong local economy centred around tourism, forestry, and mining. So, it’s not the best city for people looking for a corporate job or those who prefer the speed of city life.

However, Williams Lake is exceptionally affordable compared to the rest of British Columbia. A one-bedroom apartment costs C$1,000 monthly in the city center, while a three-bedroom apartment costs C$1,587.

Smithers

Smithers
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: CS1,900
  • Median after-tax household income: C$75,000 (C$6,250/ month)
  • Population: 5,351

Smithers is a small town in northwest British Columbia between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

Smithers has many rivers and lakes. So, it offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor water activities like fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, etc. It’s also popular for hiking, mountain biking, and quadding.

It’s home to the Smithers Art Gallery, which holds exhibitions from local and regional artists.

Besides being a small quaint town with many attractions, Smithers is incredibly affordable. 

The average rent for a 3-bedroom is C$1,900 in the city center. One-bedroom rentals cost C$1,100 in the city center and C$800 outside the center. 

This makes Smithers one of the cheapest places to live in British Columbia for young adults. 

Prince George

Prince George
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: C$2,262
  • Median after-tax household income: C$77,500 (C$6,488/ month)
  • Population: 74,003

Prince George is a Northern BC city where the Nechako River joins the Fraser River. 

It is the biggest city in Northern BC and boasts 74,000+ residents. The city has a lot of job opportunities and access to services. It also has 100+ parks and top destinations for the outdoorsy person.

The warm weather is another good reason to live in Prince George. It’s one of the warmest cities in BC and has mild winters.

Prince George offers a low cost of living in a relatively big city. Its real estate market is more affordable than other similarly-sized BC cities, like Victoria. 

Renting a one-bedroom in the city center costs C$1,275, while a 3-bedroom costs C$2,262.50.

Terrace

Terrace
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: C$2,400
  • Average monthly household income: C$80,000 (C$6,667/ month)
  • Population: 12,017

Terrace is a city in Northwest British Columbia near the Skeena River. The city’s proximity to mountains, rivers, and lakes means it offers fishing, river rafting, backcountry hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Terrace is a small tranquil city that helps you escape the hustle and bustle of larger cities.

Despite a small population of just over 12,000, Terrace has the largest population base in northwest BC. 

The city also has a strong local economy, as it is the retail and service hub for the part of the province. It boasts many amenities, restaurants, and more.

Terrace has a low cost of living. The average price (monthly rental) of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is C$1,175, while a three-bedroom is C$2,400. 

The average rental price of a three-bedroom apartment outside the city center is as low as C$1,500 per month.

Cranbrook

Cranbrook
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: C$2,327
  • Average after-tax household income: C$72,500 (C$6,042/ month)
  • Population: 20,047

Cranbrook is a city in southeast British Columbia on the west side of the Kootenay River. It is home to the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.

It is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and rivers and is famous for outdoor activities. So Cranbrook is a city that outdoor enthusiasts will love to settle in.

Cranbrook has a small community of just over 20,000 people but is the largest urban city in the East Kootenay region. 

The city’s location makes it the central point of major BC highways. This gives it a strong local economy and provides ample employment opportunities.

Cranbrook is one of the most affordable cities in British Columbia, as the cost of living is meager. The average price of a one-bedroom and three-bedroom apartment in the city center is C$1,200 and C$2,327, respectively.

Port Alberni

Port Alberni
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: C$1,933
  • Median after-tax household income: C$58,400 (C$4,867/ month)
  • Population: 17,678

Port Alberni is a city on Vancouver Island. It lies within the Alberni Valley at the head of the Alberni Inlet.

The city is close to some of the island’s best hiking trails. It is home to Spoat Lake, a famous freshwater lake for kayaking, waterskiing, and swimming in the British Columbia province. 

Port Alberni is known as the “salmon capital of the world,” as the city attracts fishermen hunting salmon and halibut. It has a large port marina to dock your boat or rent one.

With just about 18,000 residents, Port Alberni is a mid-size city. But the population has been growing steadily in recent years mainly because it is one of the most affordable places to live in BC.

On average, a one-bedroom apartment is C$1,216, while a 3-bedroom apartment is C$1,933. Besides being affordable, Port Alberni is relatively warm, as it does not see much snow.

Vernon

Vernon
  • Average monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment: C$2,287
  • Median after-tax household income: C$66,500 (C$5,542/ month)
  • Population: 40,116

Vernon is a mid-size city north of Kelowna. It is located in the Okanagan region of the Southern Interior of BC.

Vernon is surrounded by three lakes, making it a popular destination for fishing, boating, bird watching, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Its proximity to Kelowna means you’re close to an international airport and all the amenities that big cities offer. 

Vernon itself has plenty of restaurants, shopping centers, and clubs. Thus, the city perfectly balances urban city living and living close to nature.

Vernon also has a mild climate with winters that are bearable and summers that are hot and humid. Importantly, the city has a low cost of living. 

Average home prices and rentals are relatively low. The median price of a one-bedroom and three-bedroom apartment in the city center is C$1,222 and C$2,287, respectively.

Takeaway: Settle in British Columbia without breaking the bank by selecting the top affordable places

British Columbia is full of natural beauty, making it one of the most attractive places to live. As a result, the province is one of the most expensive in Canada.

Thankfully, there are many affordable places in British Columbia you can live on a tight budget. These affordable places to live in British Columbia cover every living preference. 

They include quaint towns nestled in nature, larger cities with bustling communities, and mid-size cities that combine fast-paced city living and nature.

The best affordable places to live in BC include Williams Lake, Smithers, Prince George, Terrace, Cranbrook, Port Alberni, and Vernon.

You can’t go wrong by going for any of the seven BC cities above. You may also want to look at BC cities like Nelson, Coquitlam, Penticton, New West, and Port Moody.