Buying a Home in Nelson, BC
by Leslie Mulrooney
So you've decided to move to the City of Nelson, in the West Kootenays of British Columbia. Maybe you spent your vacation here in the summer, or took a skiing trip in the winter, fell in love with the funky style of Nelson, and concluded that this is the place to be. Or perhaps you're just looking for a second home or vacation property to visit a few times a year. The 2008 BC assessment showed that the average home price in Nelson is $319,000, the result of double digit % growth over the last few years. This article will give you some other factors to consider if buying a home in Nelson.
Do I want a home in Nelson or outside Nelson?
The first decision to make is do you want to live in Nelson, or outside the city? This is an important consideration, because it will determine how much time you spend driving and how close you are to services. If you decide to live outside Nelson, say on the North Shore, or between Nelson and Castlegar, your driving time to Nelson will be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes each way. If you plan to make several trips per day (e.g.: work, kids activities and sports, shopping) this driving time can add up. If you work from home or don't have kids, this might not be such a factor in your decision.
Also, if you're outside Nelson, chances are you'll need a well for water or need to be on a watershed supply from mountain streams, and you'll have a septic system. If everything works fine then great, but eventually you'll need to spend extra time on your water source or septic tank for some reason or another.
Where to buy a home in Nelson?
There are three main parts to Nelson, called Fairview, Uphill, and Rosemont.
Fairview is on the north side of town and faces south, so it has the least snow in the winter time. It is close to the beach, Lakeside Park, a high school, an elementary school, Dairy Queen (not open in winter), RCMP station, and Safeway. Fairview is generally known as the 'nicest' part of town (less hills), and homes tend to be more expensive in this area.
Uphill Nelson is the area above Baker Street, which is the vibrant downtown of Nelson. You can find some nice heritage homes just above Baker Street, but the further you go uphill the newer the homes are. There are some streets with steep pitches in Uphill, which sometimes makes winter driving interesting. The higher you go uphill, the more snow you'll have in winter, but your view of Elephant mountain and Kootenay Lake also improves. If you'll spend a lot of time on Baker Street, it's handy to live in Uphill. You'll also be close to a junior high school, elementary school, hospital, City police station, and multiple churches.
Rosemont in on the south side of Nelson, and generally has the coolest aspect and most snow in winter. To get to downtown Nelson you'll have to cross the highway, but it's still close. Selkirk College and the golf course are in Rosemont.
Buying a home outside Nelson
People commute to Nelson from as far as Castlegar to the west (40 km), Salmo to the south (40 km), and Balfour to the north (35 km). Each drive can be up to 45 minutes long, especially in the winter if road conditions aren't great. There are all sizes of subdivisions in between as well. One advantage of buying outside Nelson is you might be able to get a larger property, which is great if you have animals or need more storage area for things like an RV or boat. You can also buy a home on the lakefront or with a lake view in some areas. Living between Nelson and Castlegar can be convenient if you need to spend time in both cities. Living closer to Salmo puts you nearer to the US border and Alberta. Living further north puts you closer to Ainsworth Hot Springs and Kaslo.
Get a home inspection
Since many homes in Nelson are older (Nelson is over 100 years old), it's a smart idea to get a home inspection. Sometimes competition is so fierce for heritage homes that come on the market, that buyers waive the home inspection to get the deal done. If you can't afford a nasty surprise in the way of home repairs, then make sure to get an inspection.
Future Home Sales in Nelson
Barring a severe downturn in the Canadian economy, Nelson home sales will likely stay buoyant for the next decade. Nelson is the type of place where people move to get away from the ratrace of the big city. The pace is slower, there are lots of activities for families that are easy to get to, year round outdoor recreation, and don't forget Nelson is known for it's active art scene. The city is bounded by mountains or lake on all sides, so there is no room for city expansion. If demand for homes increases, there is no new supply to meet it within Nelson.