5 BC cities where you can buy a house for $500,000

Here are five contenders based on offer, variety, and price tag that hover around $500,000.

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A buyer’s market may be emerging on the lower mainland, but for many, home prices remain elusive.

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Higher interest rates are likely to result in fewer buyers and a slowdown in average price increases. An overall downward trend in home sales volumes and average price increases across the county is expected. However, the median home price likely won’t drop below $1 million anytime soon.

So what is a potential buyer to do? Well, they don’t mind looking outside the lower mainland and into some other corners of the county, homes can still be found relatively affordable. Drawing on the 2022 Moving Waldo survey and 2021 Zolo analysis of the most expensive places to live in British Columbia, we narrowed the number of contenders down to five based on supply, variety, and the price tag hovering around $500,000. (Rates are valid as of August 2).

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“While cities and towns outside the Lower Mainland have seen significant upward pressure on prices during the pandemic, there are still places in British Columbia where $500,000 goes a long way,” said Marie Cleaver, a realtor from the Marie Cleaver Group.

With the recent hike in interest rates, homes in many of these areas are starting to see home prices plummet. I suspect further moves by the Bank of Canada could lead to more affordability in the secondary markets in the coming months.”

Vernon consistently places it on the most expensive lists.
Vernon consistently places it on the most expensive lists. Photo courtesy of the City of Vernon /beng

1. Vernon

It may be the commercial hub of North Okanagan, but Vernon consistently makes the most expensive lists. However, many homes available in the $500,000 range are on leasehold land. Most, if not all, products at this price or less, and on non-rental land, are condominium homes, such as a 1,190-square-foot two-bedroom residence at $499,900.

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2. Prince George

This sunny northern British Columbia city of 74,000 is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and cash-strapped homebuyers. Half a million can still buy a house with three, four, five or even six bedrooms, and there is a fair amount on the market. We love a three-bedroom two-story home with a large backyard and flexible space currently created as a martial arts dojo. It’ll be $485,000, but as the listing says, “At this price point, this home won’t last long!”

3. Nanaimo

Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the name after the famous candy bar and hometown of Diana Krall, mostly contains condos and townhomes for half a million dollars or less. This 994-square-foot, two-bedroom, $489,000 townhouse in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood is close to amenities and opens to a landscaped backyard. The 1,091-square-foot two-bedroom apartment near Long Lake is listed for $499,900. Also available: An 884-square-foot two-bedroom, one-bathroom home near downtown, with nine-foot ceilings, a clawfoot tub, and a small ocean view from the deck. Built in 1914, this is definitely a proven top.

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4. Penticton

The sky is the limit for the half million residents of the southern Okanagan town — if a buyer is in the market for a home or condo. A three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse of 1,500 square feet overlooking Penticton Creek is $495,000, and a 1,085-square-foot two-bedroom condo located alongside the same creek costs $4k more. Three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse at $499.900 sharing an outdoor pool with other units. The advantage of living in Penticton, of course, is the access to the mountains, parks, and lakes that make the area a favorite of golfers, hikers, boaters, and skiers.

5. Nelson

West Kootenay of 11,000 residents boasts a thriving cultural scene, a brewery, and is close to Whitewater Ski Resort and other outdoor activities. Nelson’s housing product for $500,000 or less includes homes, condominiums, and duplexes. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom heritage home of 1,230 square feet at $484,888 features a rooftop and is close to the picturesque downtown of heritage buildings.

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