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Kelowna is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada – and for good reason. It has good food, great weather, easy access to nature and outdoor activities, and it’s beautiful to boot. 

In this guide, we’ll talk about moving to Kelowna and answer some common questions about what it’s like to live in this awesome city.

Aerial photograph showing downtown Kelowna, British Columbia

Where is Kelowna?

Kelowna is located in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada, in the Okanagan Valley. It’s about 130km north of the US border to Washington State and about 250km east (and slightly north) of Vancouver, Canada

Kelowna has the Columbia Mountains (a range of the Rockies) to the east, the Cascade Mountains to the south, and the Coastal Mountains to the west. The city is beside the Okanagan Lake, the biggest lake in BC by surface area at 135 km in length and 4-5 km wide.


About Kelowna 

Kelowna is lovingly known as ‘Kelownafornia’ by locals. It’s a playful comparison between Kelowna and California that stems partly from Kelowna’s long summers and mild winters, laid-back lifestyle, and, of course, its world-famous wine.  

Kelowna is a smaller city in the scheme of things, with around 150,000 people. But it’s the largest city in BC’s interior, and it is growing quickly. The population increased by 13.5% between 2016 and 2021, compared to the Canadian average population growth of 5.2%. 

If you asked us to guess why – we’d say it’s because it comes with all the benefits of Vancouver living without the Vancouver price tag. Like Vancouver, there’s exceptional access to watersports and the mountains, as well as stunning skylines dotted with high-rise buildings, great beaches, and a high quality of life. You can ski in the morning and hike in shorts in the afternoon during Spring. 

But since Kelowna is a smaller city, you get some small-town perks. An example is that one downtown street is often closed to cars in summer so restaurants can expand their outdoor space. There’s also less traffic in the city generally, so less time is wasted on commuting. 

Photograph of Kelowna and Lake Okanagan from Knox Mountain at sunset

Things To Do in Kelowna

Kelowna is famous for its outdoor activities, scenery, lakes, food, and beverages.  

Kelowna Restaurants 

Kelowna’s vibrant restaurant scene caters to every taste and budget. From upscale fine dining to casual cafes and food trucks, here’s a taste of some of the most popular restaurants in Kelowna:

Fine Dining:
  • Raudz Regional Table: Known for its farm-to-table fare, Raudz offers unique and upscale dining.
  • Waterfront Wines Restaurant & Bar: This stunning waterfront restaurant has breathtaking lake views and an exquisite menu. Its locally sourced seafood and international dishes receive rave reviews. 
  • Little Hobo Soup & Sandwich Shop: This local favourite serves tasty soups, sandwiches, and salads made with fresh, local ingredients. Think hearty and filling! 
  • Central Kitchen + Bar: This popular spot features an eclectic menu with dishes from around the world, including Thai curries, burgers, and pizzas. All meals focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients.
  • Cantina Del Centro Kelowna: Authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist, vibrant atmosphere, and extensive tequila selection.
  • Okanagan Street Food: This food truck park features a diverse selection of local vendors, from tacos and burgers to vegan dishes and sweet treats.
  • Kelowna Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market: Held every Sunday throughout the summer, this market is a treasure trove of locally grown produce, artisan crafts, and delicious food vendors.
  • Krafty Kitchen + Bar: This casual gastropub offers a creative and comfort food menu alongside a wide selection of local craft beers.

This list only scratches the surface of the culinary delights waiting to be discovered in Kelowna. 

Kelowna Wine, Beer, & Non-Alcoholic Beverages

There are over 190 wineries in the Okanagan Valley, and Kelowna is right in the heart of it. The local wineries receive awards and recognition on the global stage – thanks to the area’s sunshine, cool nights, and sandy volcanic soil.  

Helpfully, there are plenty of winery tours arranged by local providers. So you won’t need to worry about who is driving to the next one. 

But Kelowna is not a one-trick pony. It is a haven for craft beer enthusiasts, with more than 20 independent breweries. The city brews diverse beers, from traditional lagers to adventurous sours. 

Kelowna also caters to those who don’t drink. Most restaurants and breweries offer mocktails and craft sodas. And there are non-alcoholic tasting rooms at the award-winning Farming Karma and the Motherlove Ferments kombucha bar. 

Kelowna’s Great Outdoors:

No matter the weather, there’s always something to do outdoors in Kelowna. 

Summer Activities

Kelowna is a hotbed for hiking and a mecca for mountain biking. There’s a mountain (called Knox Mountain) just 5 minutes from the downtown core that is always busy with hikers, bikers, and those out for a stroll with their friends – four-legged or otherwise.

And then there’s the lake. The lake attracts swimmers, stand-up paddle boarders, canoeists and kayakers, and a large crowd of water sports lovers. 

But there’s more. Kelowna has a multitude of regional and provincial parks nearby. You can explore the famous Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a decommissioned rail bed with sweeping bridges you can ride or walk across. 

Okanagan Mountain Park is another hidden gem, just 20 minutes south of downtown Kelowna. Once you pop over the first crest in the park, you forget that there’s a city nearby. It feels like it’s just you and nature. It’s a massive park that’s popular for overnight hikers. Once a year, ultra-runners run from Kelowna to Penticton through OK Mountain Park’s rugged terrain. 

A photograph showing trestle 14 of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Kelowna, BC
Trestle 14 of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Kelowna, BC

Winter Activities

Kelowna doesn’t disappoint during the winter months, either. While Kelowna’s winter is relatively short and mild, it still offers outdoor skating at a rink downtown. Plus, there are several ski resorts within 1-2 hours. 

Big White is the most well-known ski resort in the region. It’s about 1 hour east of Kelowna, up Highway 33. Silverstar and Apex are also within a 1.5-hour drive, while Sunpeaks and Revelstoke Resorts are just over 2.5 hours away. 

Of course, there’s also winter hiking, snowshoeing, and a dedicated mass of mountain bikers who ride their bikes all year round (using fat and/or studded tires in the winter).

Is Kelowna a Good Place to Live? 

If you aren’t already packing your bags to move to Kelowna, here are some other features that make Kelowna a good place to live. 

Kelowna Weather

Summers in Kelowna are hot!

The average summer temperatures are around 28°C, but the city usually gets a week or two with temperatures above 35°C each year. (You see why the lake is such a draw here!)

Winters are quite mild compared to the rest of Canada. Kelowna does get some snow each year, and it’s colder from December to March. But you only see temperatures as cold as -25°C for one or two weeks per year. Most of the time, winter temperatures hover around 0°C. 

Fall is also a magical time of the year in the Okanagan. As you’d expect, the leaves in the foothills and parks turn orange and yellow. But the alpine larches make Fall special. 

If you don’t know – alpine larches are a particular type of ‘deciduous conifer’. Most conifer trees don’t lose their leaves (like Christmas trees!). But alpine larches do – they’re part conifer, part leafy tree. And they put on a spectacular show before their leaves drop. They turn a vibrant golden-yellow for about two weeks each year. 

Finally, there’s Spring. Spring is the time of year in Kelowna when you can ski in the morning and wave surf in the afternoon. It’s a buoyant time in the city, where people are shaking off the winter and spending more time outdoors. 

Kelowna is Bike-Friendly

Kelowna is one of the most bike-friendly cities in Canada. It has the most extensive bicycle network in Canada for a city its size. The local government is also investing in more cycling infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes and shared pathways. 

While plenty of bike-friendly paths exist, two are particularly well-known and loved. 

The Okanagan Rail Trail

The Okanagan Rail Trail connects downtown Kelowna to a nearby city, Vernon. The multi-use pathway is 50 km long and car-free (other than a short stretch along the highway). It’s stunning – especially the part that runs alongside Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake (the lake of many colours). National Geographic noted Kal Lake among the world’s top 10 most beautiful lakes at one point.  

The Mission Greenway

Kelowna’s Mission Greenway is a gravel path that runs from downtown in the Mission area right through to East Kelowna. It’s entirely separated from traffic (besides a few road crossings) and runs beside Mission Creek. You can see the Kokanee salmon migrate here in September and early October.

High-Quality of Life

People living in Kelowna enjoy a high quality of life. Some factors contributing to Kelowna’s high quality of living include its good health care, short commute times, and low pollution. 

An International Airport

One unexpected quirk of Kelowna is that it has an international airport. It’s not as well-connected as the major hubs, but you can get to plenty of destinations without connecting within Canada. 

Moving to Kelowna: The Nuts and Bolts

Kelowna: Cost of Living

Kelowna is in BC, Canada – and BC has the highest cost of living in Canada. (Some joke that BC is short for ‘Bring Cash’.) 

But compared to larger cities like Vancouver and Victoria (BC’s Capital City), Kelowna is more affordable.  

How much does it cost to live comfortably in Kelowna?

The average cost of living in Kelowna in 2024 is about $3,300 / month for a single person who rents a one bedroom apartment. Here’s a breakdown of some average monthly costs: 

Housing $1886 
Transport $537
Groceries $500
Utilities $173
Restaurants $300
Leisure/Entertainment $162

Meanwhile, the average salary in Kelowna is $54,900 for a single person. After-tax, a person on this salary would bring home $3,373 each month, which means money is tight at this salary. As a result, many younger people choose to live with roommates to save money on rent. 

In other words, to live comfortably in Kelowna, you need to earn more than the average salary. A salary of at least $64,000 for a single person or $120,000 for a family of four is a suggested salary for anyone looking to live comfortably. 

Working In Kelowna: Finding Work

BC Business considers Kelowna one of BC’s most economically resilient cities and amongst the best communities for work. It notes that Kelowna has strong population growth and relatively low unemployment rates, both of which contribute to the community thriving. 

Kelowna is a hot spot for start-ups and entrepreneurs (especially in the tech space). It’s ranked as the most entrepreneurial-friendly large city in Canada by the Canadian Federation of Business. Kelowna is also the base for over 600 technology companies, with over $1.8 billion in annual revenue

There are plenty of opportunities for people looking for employment, too. Some of the biggest industries are: 

  • Healthcare. 
  • Aviation. 
  • Manufacturing. 
  • Construction. 
  • Agriculture. 
  • Tourism. 

Kelowna also has a thriving film industry and it is well known for innovation in sustainability and ‘green’ initiatives, including passive housing. 

In terms of work availability, Kelowna has an aging population, meaning businesses need workers to replace retiring workers. 

Over the next eight years, Work BC forecasts there will be an increased demand for: 

  • Retail salespersons. 
  • Nurses Aides and Orderlies. 
  • Retail managers. 
  • Registered Nurses. 
  • Administrative offices. 
  • Truck Drivers. 
  • Food Counter Attendants and Kitchen Helpers. 
  • Cooks. 
  • Cashiers. 
  • Light Duty Cleaners. 

Studying in Kelowna

Kelowna is home to a number of post-secondary institutions and over 15,000 full-time students. 

The University of British Columbia Okanagan is the only accredited university in Kelowna. It has a strong reputation as a great place to study in Canada, including among international students. There are plans for a second UBCO campus to open in Downtown Kelowna in a high-rise building. 

Kelowna is also home to several colleges, including Okanagan College, Okanagan School of Business, VanWest College (an English language school), First College, Career City College, and more. Trade programs are also available through the Centre of Arts and Technology and Driving Dynamics. 

Housing in Kelowna

Housing in Kelowna is expensive compared to other similar-sized cities in Canada. There is a high demand for rental properties and principal homes for purchase. It’s also an attractive market for investors because vacancy rates are below 1%, increasing rental prices. 

Average Rental Prices in Kelowna

1 bedroom apartment in the city centre $1800
1 bedroom apartment outside of the centre $1500
3 bedroom apartment in the city centre $3100
3 bedroom apartment outside of the centre $2600

Average Prices for Properties in Kelowna

Single-Family Home $1.1 million
Townhome $710,000
Condo $531,000

Where’s The Best Place To Live in Kelowna?

Kelowna neighbourhoods have individual benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the most popular neighbourhoods in Kelowna, along with an outline of why they are popular: 

Downtown Kelowna

Living in Downtown Kelowna comes with easy access to the city’s parks and beaches, as well as all the restaurants, bars, and events. Since Kelowna is a walkable city, you’ll stay fit walking from place to place. 

Downtown Kelowna has a growing number of residential condos, as well as some single-family homes and townhomes in the outer regions. There is a trend towards higher population density in the Downtown area. 

Upper Mission

The Upper Mission is a safe neighbourhood that lies about 12 km to the south of the city’s downtown district. It offers sweeping views of the lake and mountains, and it has quick access to the Myra-Bellvue Regional Park and the vibrant scene in South Pandosy. 

It mostly has single-family homes, some older and some new developments. As you’d expect given the views and larger homes, it is relatively expensive to live in the Upper Mission. 

Black Mountain

To the east, part way up the mountain towards Big White, lies the suburb of Black Mountain. The views are amazing, and there’s easy access to the Black Mountain Regional Park for hiking and gravel cycling. Another draw is that the lots in Black Mountain tend to be a little larger since they’re further out of town. But there are townhomes and condos at more affordable prices too. 


Glenmore sits to the northeast of Downtown Kelowna. It’s considered to be semi-rural, and it’s known for farms, ranches, bird sanctuaries, doggy daycare, and rolling hills. But it’s just 4.2km from the downtown core, which makes it perfect for anyone looking to stay close to all the action. 


Rutland is one of the most diverse and affordable neighbourhoods in Kelowna. It’s very popular with young families and has an array of restaurants, walking trails, and amenities. It’s located just 10 minutes from the airport (though air traffic noise is not a concern) and a 15-minute drive from the downtown core. 

The Downside: Drawbacks to Living in Kelowna

Kelowna looks like a postcard, but there are some drawbacks to living in Kelowna, including: 

  • Seasonal tourism: Downtown Kelowna is busy in summer. Be prepared for increased traffic, longer wait times at restaurants, and to pre-book your activities.
  • Limited public transportation: The city has buses, but it’s not a perfect system. There can be longer waits between buses and not all city areas are well-connected. 
  • Wildfires: about once every two decades, Kelowna experiences a major wildfire. No lives have been lost in the last two wildfires, but structural damage is not uncommon. 
  • Crime: Kelowna has a higher overall crime rate among Canadian cities. However, the crimes in Kelowna are non-violent property crimes, such as bicycle theft. Kelowna’s violent crime rate is significantly lower than the national average. In other words, it’s a relatively safe place to walk around, but keep an eye on your stuff. 
  • Finding a rental can be tricky: high population growth means that the housing market is tight. 
  • The unhoused population: Due to the relatively mild winters, Kelowna has a large unhoused population. The city is working on initiatives to help, but Kelowna’s tent city is an uncomfortable reality on the fringe of the downtown industrial area. 

A Summary of Life In Kelowna

Kelowna is a beautiful place where life moves at a relaxed pace. It has a high quality of life, but it also comes with the BC price tag. It’s a popular choice for international students who study in Canada, and a landing pad for working holidaymakers who spend winter living at Big White and want seasonal summer work in the tourism industry. 

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