The 10 Cheapest Places to Live in British Columbia in 2024

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Home to spectacular mountains, lakes, and rivers, British Columbia is one of the most attractive places to visit and live in Canada.

But with all this beauty, BC is also one of the most expensive provinces in Canada to rent and live in. In big cities like Vancouver, the rent price of a one-bedroom apartment is upwards of $2,000, and buying a house can cost well over one million dollars.

That said, some cities and small towns in BC are still affordable and have a lower-than-average cost of living.

This article covers 10 of the cheapest places to live and rent in BC.

Cheapest Places to Live in BC

Below is a list of the top 10 cheapest places to live in British Columbia.

Most of these cities and towns have a 30% lower than average cost of living, making them more affordable than all other cities in the province.

CityAverage Rent CostAverage Cost of Buying a HouseCost of LivingPopulation
Castlegar$1,500 (2 bedrooms)$393,00030% lower than BC average9,000
Cranbrook$1,225 (1 bedroom)$510,00030% lower than BC average21,000
Dawson Creek$1,000 (1 bedroom)$305,51230% lower than BC average13,000
Hope$1,400 (1 bedroom)$663,00029% lower than BC average6,700
Port Alberni$1,800 (2 bedrooms)$566,00030% lower than BC average19,000
Prince George$1,687 (2 bedrooms)$520,000$1,286/month (single person, without rent)76,000
Prince Rupert$1,200 (1 bedroom)$350,00030% lower than BC average13,500
Smithers$1,450 (2 bedrooms)$475,00030% lower than BC average5,400
Vernon$1,250 (1 bedroom)$686,476$1,271/month (single person, without rent)44,519
Williams Lake$1,250 (1 bedroom)$254,35731% lower than BC average11,916

1. Castlegar

  • Average rent cost: $1,500 for 2 bedrooms
  • The average cost of buying a house: $393,000
  • Cost of living: 30% lower than the BC average
  • Population: 9,000

Located in the Selkirk Mountains, Castlegar is the second-largest community in the West Kootenay region of BC.

This city is a regional transportation and trade center, with the main economy being forestry, mining, and tourism.

Castlegar is one of the top places in BC for the most promising growth.

There are many opportunities for outdoor adventure, with two full-sized ice rinks and many recreational options within 30 minutes of the city, including a regional and provincial park, three ski hills, four campgrounds, and five golf courses.  

2. Cranbrook

  • Average rent cost: $1,225 for 1 bedroom
  • The average cost of buying a house: $510,000
  • Cost of living: 30% lower than the BC average
  • Population: 21,000

In southeast British Columbia on the west side of the Kootenay River, Cranbrook is a small, family-friendly city.

It is the largest city in the Kootenay Rockies and is located in a valley with the Purcell Mountains to the west and Kootenay National Park to the east.

It is the basecamp of the Kootenay Rockies and home to the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel. In the city, you can take a self-guided walking tour through the restored heritage buildings.

Surrounded by mountains and rivers, there are many trails for hiking and cycling in the summer and winter sports when the snow arrives.

3. Dawson Creek

Located in the Northeastern region, Dawson Creek is one of the cheapest cities to live in BC. The city’s name comes from the creek of the same name that runs through the city.

Located in the Peace River County prairie land, this city is nicknamed “Capital of the Peace.”

Dawson Creek was once a small farming community but became a regional center after the expansion of the Northern Alberta Railways in 1932.

Some attractions include a heritage interpretation village, an art gallery, and the N.A.R. Station Museum.

A fall fair and rodeo are also hosted annually in Dawson Creek.

4. Hope

  • Average rent cost: $1,400 for 1 bedroom
  • The average cost of buying a house: $663,000
  • Cost of living: 29% lower than the BC average
  • Population: 6,700

One of the cheapest places to live in lower mainland BC, the town of Hope is located at the confluence of the Fraser and Coquihalla rivers.

There are many lakes and rivers surrounding the town, providing excellent fishing opportunities as well as an abundance of wildlife.

Some of the town’s attractions include the Othello Quintette Tunnels and nearly 100 sculptures and carvings throughout the town, which visitors can explore through a self-guided tour.

Hope is an affordable place to live with a low cost of living. However, real estate prices have gone up in recent months.

cheapest places to live in british columbia

5. Port Alberni

  • Average rent cost: $1,800 for 2 bedrooms
  • The average cost of buying a house: $566,000
  • Cost of living: 30% lower than the BC average
  • Population: 19,000

One of the cheapest places to live on Vancouver Island, Port Alberni is a deep port city within the Alberni Valley at the head of the Alberni Inlet.

It is known as the salmon capital of the world, as many people come to the city to fish salmon and halibut.

Port Alberni is home to Sproat Lake, one of BC’s superior freshwater lakes for kayaking, swimming, waterskiing, and more. There are also many short-access trails leading visitors around the park.

Some attractions include the Alberni Valley Museum, the Maritime Discovery Centre, and the Harbour Quay.

6. Prince George

  • Average rent cost: $1,687 for 2 bedrooms
  • The average cost of buying a house: $520,000
  • Cost of living: $1,286 (per month for a single person, without rent)  
  • Population: 76,000

Prince George is situated on the traditional lands of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, which means “people where the rivers come together.”

It is the largest city in Northern BC, with access to many outdoor recreational activities.

With over 100 parks and green spaces in the city, visitors can explore the extensive park and trail system.

The city is home to the Fraser and Nechako rivers, as well as five ski hills within a two-hour drive from the city. This is one of the most affordable cities in BC, perfect for outdoor lovers.

7. Prince Rupert

  • Average rent cost: $1,200 for 1 bedroom
  • The average cost of buying a house: $350,000
  • Cost of living: 30% lower than the BC average
  • Population: 13,500

Located on Kaien Island, Prince Rupert is a port city with one of the lowest rent prices in BC.

As the terminal for ferry traffic to Southeast Alaska, Vancouver Island, and the Queen Charlotte Islands, it is the transportation hub of BC’s north coast.

Prince Rupert is surrounded by mountain ranges and deep river valleys. Ocean activities are the main attraction in this city, with many whale watching and fishing opportunities.

You can take a kayaking tour or rent a boat and head out on the ocean yourself.

8. Smithers

  • Average rent cost: $1,450 for 2 bedrooms
  • The average cost of buying a house: $475,000
  • Cost of living: 30% lower than the BC average
  • Population: 5,400

Located in Northwest BC, halfway between Prince Rupert and Prince George, Smithers is one of the best small towns to live in BC.

It is known for its world-class fishing and skiing, with mountain biking, hiking, snowmobiling, and quadding all popular in the area.

Smithers has many rivers and lakes, great for canoeing and kayaking.

You can partake in a self-guided tour through the history of the Bulkley Valley and visit the Smithers Art Gallery, which has exhibitions from local and regional artists.

Smithers is one of the best places for young adults to live in BC, with the town’s low rent prices and attractions.  

9. Vernon

  • Average rent cost: $1,250 for 1 bedroom
  • Average cost of buying a house: $686,476
  • Cost of living: $1,271 (per month for a single person, without rent)
  • Population: 44,519

Located in the Southern Interior of BC, Vernon is one of the cheapest places to live in the Okanagan region.

It is named after Forbes George Vernon, a former government official in BC.

There are many things to do in Vernon, including swimming and playing water sports in Kalamalka Lake, visiting the Allan Brooks Nature Centre, and taking a guided tour of the Vernon Heritage Mural.

Annually, the city hosts the Vernon Winter Carnival, North America’s second-largest winter carnival.

10. Williams Lake

Located in the Central Interior of BC, Williams Lake is the second-largest city in the Cariboo region. It is famous for the Williams Lake Stampede, the second-largest rodeo in Canada after the Calgary Stampede.

This city is home to Scout Island, located on the west end of Williams Lake.

This nature sanctuary and park area are on two islands connected to the mainland via a bridge.

Visitors can check out the nature trails and small wildlife habitats.

FAQs

What city in BC is the cheapest to live in?

Many cities in BC have a low cost of living at 30% lower than the average in British Columbia. Two of the cheapest cities in BC are Prince George and Williams Lake.

What city in BC is the cheapest to live in?

One of the cities with cheaper housing in BC is Williams Lake, with the average cost of a house at $254,357. It tops all other cities and towns on this list for the lowest cost of a home.

What is the poverty line in BC?

If your income is less than 60% of the national average, you are considered to be living in poverty. After taxes, the average income in BC is $35,000 per year, so someone who earns less than $21,000 after taxes would be living in relative poverty.

Additionally, a study by B.C.’s Fraser Institute says that some families who earn as much as $60,000 or more are now considered to be under the federal poverty line.

Is it cheaper to live in BC or Alberta?

It is cheaper to live in Alberta than in BC; however, it depends on the city itself. In BC, you can make 22% less in monthly income and have the same living standard as Alberta. Things like rent, dining, and entertainment are generally cheaper in Alberta.

What are the best places to live in BC for seniors?

BC is a great retirement destination for seniors. The best places to live as a retiree include Qualicum Beach, Comox, and Summerland.

Which province has the lowest cost of living?

New Brunswick is the province in Canada with the lowest cost of living. On average, the monthly living cost in New Brunswick for a single person, including rent, is $1,504.

Conclusion

If you want to live in British Columbia without the high rent prices and cost of living in cities like Vancouver, consider moving to one of the places mentioned above.

Most of these are small cities and towns but have rich cultural history, breathtaking views, and many opportunities for outdoor activities in the summer and winter seasons.

References:

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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5 thoughts on “The 10 Cheapest Places to Live in British Columbia in 2024”

  1. Gravatar for Steve

    Great comparison and good for people to see that there are affordable housing options in BC!

  2. Gravatar for Joanine

    “It is cheaper to live in Alberta than in BC; however, it depends on the city itself. In BC, you can make 22% less in monthly income and have the same living standard as Alberta. Things like rent, dining, and entertainment are generally cheaper in Alberta.” I would love to hear how you can make less in BC and have the same standard of living as Alberta. I live in Alberta, but from BC and would love to go back. There is NO way I can ever afford to do that now, unless I (seriously, I mean this) I won big on a lottery. Housing is a lot more expensive, Alberta doesn’t have sales tax & BC does, gas is a lot more expensive in BC, I believe taxes are a lot higher in BC, as and for a Senior, Alberta looks after Seniors so much better with extra income, and I would lose that as soon as I moved to BC, so how can you make less in BC and still have the same living standard? Unless you are comparing a big city in Alberta to a small town like the above mentioned towns in BC, and thats not a fair or reasonable comparison.

  3. Gravatar for Nicole

    The average cost of an apartment in Vernon is much higher than you have stated here.

    Average rent cost: $1,090 for 1 bedroom, $1,553 for 2 bedrooms

    More like $800 – $900 for a bedroom in a shared living situation.
    $1200+ for a one bedroom apartment plus utilities
    $1850+ for a two bedroom apartment plus utilities

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

      @Nicole: Thanks for letting us know. We will review the rent amounts when this post is updated. Rents have been on a tear across the country lately!

  4. Gravatar for Melissa

    Tumbler Ridge should be #1 on this list.

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