Thinking about Moving to Kelowna? Learn what Living in Kelowna is Like
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to relocate to, full of friendly and fun-loving people, you don’t need to look any further than Kelowna in British Columbia. It’s the third-largest city in the province, which is saying something when the largest and second-largest are Vancouver and Victoria. What you probably want to know is what it’s like living in Kelowna. Before you decide on moving to Kelowna, we’ll go over all of what the city’s about, and if the Kelowna lifestyle and it’s people are right for you.
The People You'll Meet in Kelowna
If you are looking for somewhere where you can fit in, it won’t be hard as a newcomer in Kelowna. Between 2011 and 2016 Kelowna’s population grew 8.4%, making it one of the fastest-growing areas in all of Canada. With so many people moving to Kelowna, most people you meet will have been in your shoes at one time. So no matter where you're from, there will surely be people you'll meet with similar interests and backgrounds. Here’s a breakdown of some of the larger demographics:
* 84% White
* 6.3% First Nations
* 0.8% Black
* 0.6% Hispanic or Latino
Living the Kelowna Life
Sometimes Kelowna can feel like vacation central with the number of fantastic resorts and amenities the town offers. Activities like boating, hiking, biking, golfing and skiing are popular in Kelowna. As such, the service industry is what hires the most people here, catering to its tourism industry that’s been known to make $1 billion a year. Kelowna’s also known for it’s internationally recognized and prestigious vineyards.
Altogether, it means that the locals of Kelowna can oftentimes be fun and kind people like the type you see working in the service industry. Tourists are pretty common, but not overwhelming, and there’s a lot of local culture to be found in the town’s appreciation for wine.
After spending a day in Kelowna, it will be evident that locals take staying fit seriously. Part of the Kelowna lifestyle is staying healthy and fit and it really shows, everywhere you look there are people enjoying the great weather. The list of exercise options in Kelowna is secondo to none, whatever your into, you'll find it here. From spin class to CrossFit
Getting Around Kelowna
A few locals can remember a time when Kelowna was a small town, with the look, feel, and namely, the traffic of a small town. Today, however, traffic is another story. As Kelowna has grown, the traffic has gotten a lot heavier, and it’s a lot more noticeable in Summer. If you aren't familiar with the area, you might get stuck in traffic during peak hours. Alternitvy Kelowna's Bike Lane Network is incredible and features nearly 300 kilometres of on-street bicycle lanes and 40 kms of separated paved multi-use paths
With that said, it’s by far not the worst traffic in the country, especially if you’ve lived in a bigger city in the past. However, as Kelowna’s growth has taken off, it means the city’s going through growing pains. There are a few major arteries into different Neighborhoods in Kelowna and during peak times these can be pretty busy.
Kelowna Food & Wine
Known for its hot summers and temperate winters, Kelowna is quickly becoming the another great food destination. Using the freshest local ingredients, Kelowna's top chefs bring you innovative creations to wow your senses. A few of the local favourites include.
- Waterfront Wines focuses on comfort food reinvented with fresh, seasonal ingredients and paired with an excellent selection of wines. The restaurant is led by Mark Filatow, who is both a chef and sommelier and whose expertise is evident in all areas of the restaurant’s menu.
RauDZ Regional Table
- RauDZ Regional Table is a reincarnation of the four-diamond, multi-award-winning fine dining restaurant Fresco. After a successful eight years, Rod Butters and Audrey Surrao decided to realize their dream of opening a new contemporary restaurant featuring fresh local dishes in a comfortable relaxed space.
- Bouchons specializes in classic French cuisine in a relaxed environment. Headed by husband-and-wife team Richard Toussaint and Martine Lefèbvre, the restaurant’s interior feels very Parisian with its bright yellow walls and red banquettes.
The Okanagan is known for its great wines and vineyards, so naturally, there are many Wineries around Kelowna that have become home to world-class restaurants with million-dollar views.
Home Block at CedarCreek Estate Winery
- At Home Block Restaurant, they embrace the bounty of the Okanagan while their name pays homage to the Home Block Vineyard which surrounds them. Their building is crafted from fieldstone and 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood and the cuisine draws on those elemental roots. “We integrate natural cooking methods like our wood-fired grill fueled by timber from local orchards and seasoned barrel staves.”
Summerhill Organic Bistro at Summerhill Pyramid Winery
- The two things that really stand out at Summerhill Pyramid Winery are the giant pyramid that sits at the entrance and the massive statute of a wine glass and pouring bottle that’s great for a photo. The food is always made with local, organic ingredients and the views from the terrace make the perfect backdrop.
Mission Hill Family Estate’s Terrace Restaurant
- Named one of the Top 5 winery restaurants in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine, the alfresco Terrace Restaurant is at the forefront of the local Cuisine de Terroir movement.
Old Vines Restaurant at Quails' Gate
- Rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada, Old Vines Restaurant is an all-season farm-to-table culinary destination. Chef Roger Sleiman and his team create spectacular dishes from the freshest local ingredients, providing a true taste of the Okanagan.
If you aren't lucky enough to get a corporate relocation or are just thinking about new opportunities, then the good news is that Kelowna offers the most employment diversity in the valley. With its steady growth, Kelowna has a lot to offer professionals looking to relocate or medical staff just starting out. To give you an idea of who they employ, here are a few of the big industries in Kelowna:
- Health Care
- Professional Services
Weather in Kelowna
Kelowna has been said to have some of the best weather and climate in Canada. It’s four seasons are nicely pronounced without being as cold or humid as some parts of the country. The Okanagan Valley and the lakes that run through it moderate the temperatures, especially in the winter. Summers in Kelowna are typically warm and dry while winters can be a little cloudy but less cold.
It’s one of the few inland cities in Canada where the high temperature is above freezing for every month of the year. In general, it is one of the warmest cities you could move to with an average yearly high temperature of 14.3. So if you’re tired of -30c, frozen lakes, and brutal winds, the weather here is one of the best things Kelowna has to offer.
- Kelowna has an average high temperature that is above freezing every month of the year - an exceptionally rare phenomenon for an inland Canadian city.
- Kelowna has the greatest percentage of "calm" wind observations for any major city in Canada.
- The city averages about 380 mm (15 in) of precipitation per year, with about 1/5 of the precipitation falling as snow, the bulk in December and January.
- Kelowna receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually.
Spending your Time in Kelowna
Socializing and having fun is a pretty big factor for most people when deciding to move to a new city. You might be wondering what kind of hangouts, music and social events you can attend in Kelowna, and the good news is there’s plenty. Here are a few ways that you can spend your free time in Kelowna:
Arts, Culture & Nightlife
No matter what time of the year you visit, you'll find a show, exhibit, festival or cultural event to invigorate your senses.
Kelowna is no longer all about award-winning wines. In the last few years has developed a rich culture of small-batch, locally-made craft beers that are defiantly worth a try. Most of the microbreweries offer tasting rooms where you can not only taste their great beer, you can also learn the stories behind them.
Kelowna is in the middle of a Valley, which makes it a great area for people who enjoy hiking. There’s a great number of high and low difficulty trails, with many different features to prevent you from getting bored with the sights. If you’re a nature lover or would just like a refreshing way to get your exercise, there’s plenty to do exploring the parks and trails of the Okanagan Valley. Some of the notable hiking experiences include:
Knox Mountain - This hike is a little more difficult but provides sites of both the Okanagan Lake and downtown Kelowna. The view of the town from the mountain’s higher elevations provides a sight that’s worth the extra challenge to see.
Kuiper's Peak Mountain Park - This is a simple and open trail that provides a great spot to relax. Its calming atmosphere is appreciated by many who are looking for a more relaxing trail to walk on.
Hardy Falls - Hardy Falls is another low difficulty hike that would be good for even inexperienced hikers. Its waterfalls are quite full and powerful, which is a pleasant treat for anyone with a few seconds to stop by and see.
Mill Creek - Regarded as an easy trail, Mill Creek provides less of a challenge coupled with beautiful sights of creeks, and a waterfall at the end. It’s a short hike, but that makes it good for getting some light exercise or walking the dog.
Carrot Mountain - This one is considered a pretty tough hike, so it’s best attempted only if you have some hiking experience. The reward for Carrot Moutain’s daunting challenge is a sprawling site of West Kelowna, as well as the Okanagan Lake and Shanon Lake.
If you like sports, there are some great local teams you might want to check out. Many events are hosted in venues such as the Apple Bowl which seats 2,314, or Prospera Place, an indoor arena that seats up to 6,800 people.
Hockey - The Kelowna Rockets are a WHL hockey club, and they play out of Prospera Place. If you take hockey seriously, you won’t want to miss a Rockets game.
Football - The Okanagan Sun’s been playing football in Kelowna since ‘81, and they’ve made a name for themselves since then. The team has won two national titles and fourteen BC Football conference titles, which makes them a highlight of the local sports offerings.
Lacrosse - In 2014 the Kelowna Raiders made a name for themselves winning the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League’s Shaw Cup. In addition to that, they’ve won a great number of titles as well.
Baseball - Kelowna’s home team is the Kelowna Falcons. During the summer they play at Elks Stadium. Baseball is a great, casual event in the area for relaxing with a beer on one of Kelowna’s warm summer nights.
Annual Activities to Attend
A good time in Kelowna is a good time that everyone can enjoy, no matter who you are or where you come from. Kelowna’s annual events cater to people of all stripes, so no matter who you are there’s always something to do.
Many of the annual events in Kelowna take advantage of the town’s excellent weather for sports, such as marathons in the warmer months, or events like the Big White Winter Rally in the snowy season. There’s also a good amount of major events that center around the town’s wine industry, which could be pretty exciting even if you’re only a casual wine connoisseur.
Here are some of the popular events held in Kelowna every year:
- Spring Okanagan Wine Festival
- Great Okanagan Beer Festival
- BC Cider Week
- Golf BC Championship: Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada
- Apple Triathlon
- Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival
- Okanagan Feast of Fields
- Skate Canada International
- Okanagan Marathon
- Big White Winter Rally
- Okanagan Bridal Expo
Colleges and Universities
Kelowna is home to some of the best post-secondary schools between Vancouver and Calgary.
UBC consistently ranks among the world’s 40 best universities, and now places among the top 20 public universities in the world. At UBC Okanagan, students and faculty gain all the benefits of a globally respected university within a close-knit learning community. Even though UBCO has over 10,000 students enrolled in various studies, it still feels quaint and has the charm of a much smaller campus.
Okanagan College offers a wide range of academics, trades, apprenticeship and continuing education programs and courses with campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm, and Vernon. It offers degrees, diplomas and certificates and is British Columbia’s second-largest trades training institution.
- University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus)
- Okanagan College
- Justice Institute of British Columbia
- Sprott Shaw College
Cool Trivia About Kelowna
- The wine industry of British Columbia got its start in Kelowna. Calona Wines was the first winery to start-up in British Columbia almost a century ago and lead the way in producing wine. They started by selling apple and fortified berry wines before transitioning to more normal European type wines in the 1970s.
- Kelowna was once a major producer of tobacco. As it turns out, Kelowna’s warm climate is perfect for growing the tobacco plant and at one point they produced enough of the crop to make 800,000 cigars every year.
- The people of the Okanagan First Nation had a long shared story about a bearded settler who lived in an underground home, and they called the man brown bear, or in their language “Kim-ach-Touch”. Planners for the town heard the story and decided on the name of Kelowna, which meant grizzly bear.
- The floating bridge was built in 1958 to connect Kelowna to groups living in Westbank, Peachland and Summerland was once the longest floating bridge in Canada at a whopping length of 1.4km. Later in 2008, the bridge was replaced with the William R. Bennett Bridge, which is also remarkable for its design that features a uniquely elevated deck.
Is Kelowna for You?
After all of that, it’s pretty safe to say that Kelowna is a town that has a lot to offer. It has fantastic weather with four distinct seasons, plenty of opportunities for work and education, a rich history and fun culture among other truly unique qualities about the town. Fun-loving people there are always finding something to do, be it seasonal sports and activities or hitting up the night clubs, there’s rarely a boring day here.