About living in British Columbia
Communities in B.C. are culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse, with immigrants accounting for approximately 27 per cent of our population. An additional five percent of the population is made up of indigenous Aboriginal peoples.
English and French are Canada's official languages, with English being the main language of B.C. There are many other languages spoken in B.C. including multiple Aboriginal languages, Chinese, Panjabi (Punjabi), Korean, and more.
- WelcomeBC provides detailed information about B.C., our people, economy, and facts and trends.
- EmbraceBC provides resources and tools that promote multiculturalism and anti-racism.
- HelloBC provides information on B.C's geography, culture and people.
- BC People is a unique storytelling project that showcases BC's cultural, racial and ethnic diversity.
Quality of life
The standard of living is high in B.C. and Canada. The United Nations Human Development Index consistently ranks Canada as one of the world's best countries to live in. The people of B.C., like the rest of Canada, are friendly and welcoming. People from many cultures call B.C. their home, creating a diverse and vibrant society that welcomes international students.
Seasons and climate
The Pacific Ocean and mountain ranges have a strong effect on B.C.'s climate and it will be different depending on where you live. Find current weather conditions on the WeatherOffice website.
There are four distinct seasons in B.C.
March - May
June - August
September - November
December - February
Vancouver Island, the coastal regions of B.C. and Vancouver have a mild climate with pleasant warm, dry summers and mild, wet conditions in spring, fall and winter. It rarely snows in the lower areas of this region and if it does snow it usually doesn't stay around long.
Thompson-Okanagan and the Cariboo region enjoy pleasant temperatures during spring. Summers are some of the hottest in B.C. with temperatures often in the high 30's (degrees Celsius). By late October the temperature drops and brings a cooler fall with temperatures continuing to drop through to winter.
Kootenay region is in the southeast corner of the province. The climate in this region is known to fluctuate and change suddenly. Temperatures range from mild to cold in spring, fall and winter, and warm to hot in summer accompanied by high winds and dramatic lightning storms.
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast stretches from the Cariboo and Columbia mountains in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, with a vast plateau area in between. The climate will vary dramatically as you travel across this region. The Cariboo and Chilcotin areas typically enjoy warm and dry summers while winters are cold but not damp. The coastal parts of this region are mild all year-round with October-February being the wettest months and May-August being the driest.
Northern B.C. encompasses more than half the province. Temperatures in this region are typically cooler than in the southern regions of B.C. for all seasons. Northern B.C. has high rainfall levels for spring, summer and fall, and cold winters.
Wherever you decide to do your studies in B.C. you should make sure to pack good wet-weather gear that includes a rain jacket, boots, waterproof shoes and an umbrella. For the winter months you should bring a nice warm jacket, gloves, and a warm hat. During summer, B.C. is pleasantly warm and shorts, t-shirts, skirts, dresses, and sandals are ideal for our summer temperatures.
B.C. has many alternatives to help you get around our beautiful province. Some options for you include:
- B.C. Transit: B.C.'s public bus system that services most areas. Visit B.C. Transit for more information about bus schedules in your region of study.
- Taxis: are a fast and easy way to get around without the hassle of owning a vehicle. There are many taxi companies throughout B.C. Find a taxi company in your area.
- B.C. Ferries: will help you experience B.C.'s breathtaking ocean views. B.C. Ferries is a convenient way to get to our beautiful islands and inlets.
- Car rentals: are found in most major cities in B.C. You must be a minimum of 21 years of age and have a valid license - other restrictions may apply so please consult with car rental companies.
All provinces in Canada use the Canadian dollar for currency. It is recommended that you use Canadian currency when you first arrive and while you are living in B.C. You can visit any Canadian chartered bank, trust company, credit union, or a foreign exchange broker to exchange any of your currency.
Cost of living
The cost of living in B.C. varies depending on where you live. WelcomeBC's Cost of Living Calculator lets you compare things like housing, healthcare, taxes, utilities and transporation in different regions of B.C.
Employment in B.C. is expected to grow by an average of 1.8 per cent each year through to 2019, creating a total of 450,000 new jobs. Visit WorkBC for an overview of regional labour market information including employment information by industry and workforce breakdowns.
Visit WelcomeBC for more information on B.C.'s Economy.