The Mountains Are Calling, Come Home to Kelowna
Coming from the beautiful island of Jamaica, I thought I knew what paradise looked like- then I arrived in the Okanagan Valley. I still remember having my breath taken away back in 2009 by the endless expanse of mountains and Canadian wilderness. To me, Kelowna is the heart of the Okanagan and one of the best places to call home in the world.
Describing the lifestyle of Kelowna is a difficult task as it is so unique compared to the rest of Canada. You could say that this area of British Columbia is a thriving business community, gently wrapped in the spontaneous adventure and wild nature of the great Canadian outdoors. When you walk down the streets of Kelowna, you will be greeted by watersport enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, mountaineers and many warm smiles. The city and its people have definitely been shaped by their surroundings, with a true love for nature and a health-conscious mentality ingrained into everyone.
Being located in the biologically diverse Okanagan Valley brings many benefits to the residents that are scattered throughout it. The views are absolutely spectacular and world class with mountains, crystal clear lakes, beaches and vineyards always filling your field of vision. “Kelownians” regularly feast on the fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and award-winning wines that are produced from the fertile soil of Kelowna. The Okanagan Valley is technically the northern portion of the Sonora Desert, which means that we are treated with a semi-arid climate. That climate creates long balmy summers and short mild winters. Many Canadians that travel from different provinces and territories agree that Kelowna has some of the best weather in all of Canada.
During those long summer days, you will find many residents out on the lake water skiing, paddle boarding, fishing and swimming. When winter rolls around you don’t have to run and hide! If I think the winters are mild coming from Jamaica, then you know they are tame. The main lake that Kelowna is built around, Lake Okanagan, doesn’t freeze, which means people can boat all winter long (although you will want to save the swimming for the summer months)!
You do get the occasional snowfall, however, it will rarely stay on the ground for long periods in the city. If you have a love for the powder, you can always head into the mountains to get your skiing and snowboarding fix at Big White, which is only a 30-45 minute drive from the city centre! Throw in snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter hiking and hot springs, and you have the recipe for the perfect Canadian winter! And don’t forget to mix in some of the famous Okanagan icewine that is produced in this region!
Kelowna Business Sector Is Thriving
The new face of business is Kelowna is being fueled by the creative minds of entrepreneurs. When most people think of “start-ups” they immediately are drawn to Silicon Valley in California, however, that may be set to change in the coming years. The Okanagan tech sector expanded by 30% between 2013 and 2016, with 633 tech companies having a 1.3 billion per year economic impact.
Previously, Kelowna’s biggest success story came from “Club Penguin”, which was created by a small group of entrepreneurs which eventually sold to Disney in 2007 for $700 million. Disney still has an office in Kelowna, however, the company everyone is talking about now is Strawhouse, which was recently named as Canada’s fastest growing startup. Two other startups in Kelowna also found a place on the STARTUP 50 list, which recognizes the top 50 fastest growing startups across Canada. Investors are excited to see what the next success story out of the Okanagan Accelerator might be, which has already helped 615 local entrepreneurs in the Kelowna community.
Kelowna Tourism and Agriculture Also Strong
Although the tech sector is exciting, the other industries of Kelowna are quietly pushing this city to the status of a Canadian powerhouse. According to Tourism Kelowna, the tourism sector generated 8,350 jobs in 2016 and had an economic impact of $810 million in Kelowna alone.
Everywhere you look, a sector is flourishing, including the agricultural industry, which is benefiting from a global demand for high-quality wines. Just last month, the Canadian wine giant Andrew Peller Limited, purchased 3 wineries in the Okanagan for $95 million dollars. It is definitely a very exciting time to reside in the Valley!
It’s the Perfect Time to Call Kelowna Home
When clients visit Kelowna for the first time, they are often very confused.
“Why don’t more people live here?”
So far, it has been Canada’s best-kept secret, but it appears that the secret is now out. New developments are popping up every day for a wide range of customers, which has some analysts calling Kelowna the next great development hub. Strong population and job growth are fueling the demand in Kelowna, also increasing its allure with a higher return on investment (ROI) than Vancouver.