Kelowna is a city in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The city is located on the shores of Okanagan Lake and represents the province's third-largest metro area and seventh-largest city. Kelowna is spread across 211.82 square kilometres and has a population of over 142,000 people. The greater metro area is 2,904.86 square kilometres with a population of over 217,000 people.
The city's lakefront location has given rise to its tourist industry while making it one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. Its downtown serves as the heart of the city, with two main thoroughfares cutting through the city centre, dotted with the bulk of the city's commerce and its many attractions.
With tourism playing a $1 billion-plus role in Kelowna's economy, the service industry is the top employer. Boating, golf, biking, and hiking during warm weather months, plus skiing and snowboarding in the winter, serve to attract tourists year-round.
Kelowna's cost of living index is 65.97, which lands it well below the Canadian average. It also falls below the cost of living in major Canadian metro areas, including Calgary at 70.95, Toronto at 73.58, and Vancouver at 72.75.
Kelowna's lower cost of living is driven by its housing costs, which remain lower than other areas of the province, particularly Vancouver.
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Kelowna Housing Costs
The median price for all homes in Kelowna is about $618,000, although prices have started to rise following a 3.9% decrease year-over-year. This is higher than the median price for homes in Calgary ($419,000), but considerably lower than homes in Vancouver and Toronto, with median prices of $823,400 and $952,500, respectively.
Comparison of Median Housing Costs in Kelowna
The price of homes in surrounding communities varies from the prices in Kelowna, with most of them lower. For example, to the south in Penticton, the average home price for a single-family home is about $549,000. To the north in Vernon, the average price is even lower, at about $439,000.
Median Home Price
The median price for a standard two-storey home in Kelowna has dropped 6% year-over-year to $676,843. For bungalows, the median price is $635,863, while condominiums have a median price of $432,927.
The price of homes in Kelowna varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. The median list price in Glenmore-Clifton Dilworth neighbourhood is about $746,000. In Rutland, Kelowna's largest neighbourhood, the median price is $485,000.
Southwest Mission, with its magnificent views, is considered a luxury area with a median list price of $1.1 million. The West Kelowna Estates neighbourhood has a median list price of $699,000. The median list price in the Downtown South neighbourhood is $392,000, while the Downtown North median list price is considerably higher at $630,000.
The monthly rent for a 45-square-metre furnished studio flat is $1,147, though luxury flats will average closer to $1,579. Rent for an 85-square-metre furnished flat averages about $1,720, with luxury flats of this size averaging about $2,194.
Unsurprisingly, flat rents vary by neighbourhood. The median rental for a flat in the Five Bridges neighbourhood is $1,350. In the South Pandosy neighbourhood, the median price for flat rentals is about $1,850. In the North Glenmore neighbourhood, flats have a median rent of $1,300.
Single-family home rent prices range from about $1,600 all the way up to $3,800, depending on living space and other amenities.
The cost of utilities in Kelowna averages about $209 per month for heating, electricity, and gas for two people living in an 85-square-metre flat. The same utilities would average about $78 for one person living in a 45-square-metre studio flat. Internet service averages about $89 per month for 60 Mbps or more.
The average price of homeowners insurance in British Columbia is $1,020 per year or $85 per month. For renters insurance, the average cost is $564 per year or $47 per month. The average across all of Canada is about $74 per month for homeowners insurance and $41 per month for renters insurance.
Homeowners insurance for a two-storey, 1,500-square-foot house with an attached one-car garage in the Hollydell neighbourhood in Kelowna cost about $64 per month on average. Renters insurance for a one-storey house without a garage located in the Central City neighbourhood would average about $28 per month.
Kelowna Food Costs
The cost of food in Kelowna is more expensive than the average across all of Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian household spends around $214 per person each month on food, not counting dining out.
Kelowna Average Food Costs
British Columbia is the only province where food prices were expected to reflect an above-average increase over the next two years. Analysts blame a thriving British Columbia economy on the inflated prices. However, food prices in Kelowna are still expected to trend lower than those in Vancouver, where the cost of living is higher.
Analysts are forecasting grocery prices to increase by 2% to 4% over the next year, which means an increase of about $487 in yearly food costs for an average Canadian family. The cost is expected to edge above that average in British Columbia.
Groceries make up about 31.4% of all monthly expenditures for Kelowna households, on average. Among the most affordable grocery stores in Kelowna are Save on Foods, Real Canadian Superstore, and Marketplace IGA.
As with groceries, restaurant prices in the province are also expected to rise, due in part to the fast-food industry's shift away from single-use plastics.
As with any city, the cost of restaurant food varies in Kelowna, depending primarily on the type of establishment. Dining out in Kelowna at an inexpensive sit-down restaurant will cost about $17.83 for a meal. A fast-food restaurant, like McDonald's, will cost about $9.30. An evening out for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost about $66.45 for a three-course meal. Add drinks at $6 for a domestic beer or $7.97 for a 12 oz. bottle of the imported variety.
Soft drinks average about $1.98 per bottle, while water costs about $1.73 on average. A regular cappuccino will run about $4.54 a cup.
Kelowna Transportation Costs
The cost of vehicle insurance across British Columbia is $1,832 per year on average, making it the most costly province for auto insurance in Canada. This is due in large part to the requirement that all residents must buy a basic policy through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Vehicle owners in Kelowna can expect to pay between $150 and $200 per month, depending on their vehicle, neighbourhood, and driving record.
Kelowna Transit Costs Comparison
Single fares for Kelowna's BCTransit are $2.50 for adults, seniors, K-12 students and post-secondary students. Children age 4 and under ride free with a paying adult. Packets of 10 tickets are available to adults and post-secondary students for $22.50, while the cost to K-12 students and seniors is $20.25. A monthly pass is $70 for adults, $55 for post-secondary students, and $45 for seniors and K-12 students. Day passes are available for $6.50 for all riders.
The cost of a taxi ride is $3.50 plus $3.62 per mile. The wait fare is $40.88 per hour. Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are approved to operate in Kelowna, but do not yet do so.
Kelowna Healthcare Costs
Public health insurance is available to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Medical Services Plan, or MSP, is the public insurance plan for British Columbia and covers the cost of most medically necessary healthcare services. Covered services include those provided by physicians and midwives, dental and oral surgery performed in a hospital, medically required eye examinations, and some orthodontic services. Premiums for MSP were eliminated on January 1, 2020.
It can cost about $95 for a 15-minute doctor's visit if the patient is not registered with MSP.
Kelowna residents ineligible for MSP or whom otherwise do not register for the program can expect to pay about $183 for individual healthcare insurance or $549 for family coverage.
Kelowna General Hospital provides a full slate of medical services in the Okanagan Valley area and is located in Kelowna. The hospital has 24-hour emergency and trauma services, ambulatory and outpatient clinics, and diagnostic and paramedical services. Specialities include cardiac surgery, psychiatry, and outpatient nutrition.
If not covered by MSP, a Kelowna resident would expect to pay dental costs of $51 for a new patient limited exam, $74 for conducting a complete exam and diagnosis, $97 for a complete series of radiographs, and $40 for polishing.
Pet-owning Kelowna residents can expect to pay $89 for an initial exam and consultation and $137 for an extended consultation regarding chronic illness.
Kelowna Childcare Costs
British Columbia's Affordable Child Care Benefit provides eligible Kelowna families with a monthly payment to help offset the cost of childcare. Eligibility factors include income, family size, and type of care needed. Families need to reapply for this program annually.
Kelowna Average Monthly Childcare Costs
In 2018, British Columbia's Minister of State for Child Care announced that the province would begin taking steps toward providing universal childcare. The first steps included reducing fees, building more licensed childcare centres, and increasing the number of early learning centres.
The monthly costs of childcare in a group centre for an infant between 0 and 18 months is $1,207 per month, with the median being $1,199. The cost ranges from $975 to $1,400. For a toddler, ages 19 months to 3 years, the average monthly cost is $1,191, with a median cost of $1,188. Costs range from $923 to $1,400.
For a preschool-aged child, ages 3 to 5 years old, the average monthly tuition is $923, with a median cost of $920. The tuition ranges from $770 to $1,080.
The average cost of a nanny in Kelowna is $16.26 per hour. The cost in Kelowna is about 9% higher than the national average in Canada.
Kelowna Entertainment Costs
Kelowna's location on the shores of Okanagan Lake offer the perfect setting for year-round recreational activities. Popular things to do include farm-to-table and winery tours, golfing, water sports, and horseback riding. The city also features beaches, parks, and hiking trails.
Downtown Kelowna is home to the city's cultural district, including art studios, galleries, museums, and theatres. It's also the spot for many restaurants as well as a casino.
The Kelowna Art Gallery offers a number of changing exhibitions of Canadian artists. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are free.
Myra Canyon Bike Rentals offers a guided tour of the Myra Canyon area for $119 per person, including bike rental, helmet, water, snack and transportation from the city to the trail.
Kelowna Stables offers year-round horseback riding with trail rides for adults and children 8 years of age or older. A one-hour trail ride is $75 per rider.
The city is home to a multitude of restaurants, farm-to-table experiences, wineries, cideries, distilleries, breweries and pubs. The cost of a 3-course, wine-paired dinner at the Home Block at Cedar Creek Estate Winery is $80 per guest.
The global sales tax for British Columbia is 12% and includes the provincial sales tax of 7% and the goods and services tax of 5%.
Tourism has become a $1 billion per year industry in Kelowna, and the service industry employs the most people in the area. Other key industries include agriculture, retail trade, forestry, manufacturing, and construction. Growth industries include viticulture and wine production, technology, film, aviation and healthcare.
Monthly Expense Percentages Based on Average Kelowna Salary
Top employers in Kelowna include the City of Kelowna, University of British Columbia, Paladin Security Group, KF Aerospace, Kelowna International Airport, Interior Health, and Okanagan College.
The highest-paying jobs in Kelowna include physician, lawyer, college instructor, corporate sales manager, insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers, human resources manager, software engineer and designer, computer programmer and interactive media developer, civil engineer, and post-secondary administrator.
Kelowna workers earn an average of $54,087 annually. The average household income in Kelowna is $89,977. The average household's after-tax income is $64,951.
The minimum wage across British Columbia is $14.60 per hour. There are seven personal income tax brackets, ranging from a tax rate of 5.06% for those making $41,725 or less to 20.5% for those making over $220,000 per year.
The unemployment rate in Kelowna is 4.2%, lower than the 5.4% national average.
Final Considerations for the Cost of Living in Kelowna
Kelowna is Okanagan Valley's largest city, located along the shores of Okanagan Lake in the southern interior region of British Columbia.
Kelowna's cost of living is nearly 35% lower than the average for all of Canada. Its ranking as the best job market in Canada came about following a year-over-year increase of 14.3% job growth and a 5.4% unemployment rate.
The city's lakefront location and its dry and mild climate has helped it to develop a thriving $1 billion tourism industry, with the majority of the area's residents working in the service sector.
Tourism has also helped Kelowna become one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada.
While agriculture and manufacturing remain significant contributors to Kelowna's economy, emerging sectors include wine production, healthcare and film.
If a move to Kelowna may be in your future, talk to a real estate agent who can provide you with insight about the city as well as the real estate market.