You may be wondering if Central Saanich is a good place to live or not. A Mcleans article boasted that Central Saanich is the second most livable city in British Columbia, so that’s certainly a good sign. Just like with any city, there are pros and cons to living in Central Saanich. To find out if this is the perfect place for your family, read on to discover some advantages and disadvantages of life on the Saanich Peninsula.
ADVANTAGES OF LIVING IN CENTRAL SAANICH
QUAINT VILLAGES AND COMMUNITIES
Brentwood Bay is on the western side of Central Saanich. This small village has a car and passenger ferry that travels to Mill Bay. This is very convenient as it means travelers can skip driving ”into” Victoria area and then driving up and over the Malahat . The Malahat is a highway that leads into Victoria, which has been known as being less safe when weather conditions are unfavourable. For peace of mind, this alternative travel option into beautiful Central Saanich from Mill Bay is a huge plus. The waterfront village is also great for kayaking and enjoying beautiful views from a seaside restaurant.
Brentwood Bay is also the home of a very popular tourist attraction - the Butchart Gardens. This magnificent garden is a piece of history and contains several themed flower gardens for visitors to enjoy. Many people travel to the Greater Victoria area and then out to the Peninsula specifically to take in the world renowned gardens. Those that love nature will not only thoroughly enjoy visiting the Butchart Gardens, but living in this general area offers them the opportunity to take on a Seasons pass and walk the gardens throughout all the seasons.
Saanichton is another village found to the northeast of Brentwood Bay. Saanichton is a village within Central Saanich known for its relaxed pace of life, surrounded by farmland, beautiful gardens, and outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and golfing.
Central Saanich has ocean access on both the west and east sides of the region. While much of the land is agricultural, the small communities within Central Saanich give the region a small-town, friendly feel.
GREAT AMENITIES AT HOME AND NEARBY
Central Saanich is a bit on the rural side, but it does contain essential amenities. Grocery stores, the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, gyms, gas stations, and fire stations are a few examples. Centennial Park is a local gem for sports like basketball, pickleball, and even horseback riding. The smaller population of Central Saanich compared to Victoria means that these services and amenities are usually less crowded and easier to access.
The Victoria International Airport and ferry terminals are located a short distance from North Saanich and Sidney. This is great for those that love to travel, as the trip home from the airport is no problem. The last thing anyone wants to do after getting off a plane feeling jet-lagged is to drive several hours more to get home to bed. With the airport right there, usually within a 10 minute ride, taking a cab home is still an affordable option. The ferry terminals in Sidney at Swartz Bay lead to the Lower Mainland for trips to Vancouver. Another smaller passenger only ferry also can take you over for day trips to the Sidney Spit. A third option which is the Sidney to Anacortes ferry allows tourists to come and go from the United States.
LARGER PLOTS AND ACREAGE PROPERTIES
The ruralness of Central Saanich means the possibility of finding a home with acreage is much more likely than in other Greater Victoria regions. An abundance of local farm stands and outdoor markets give a hint of what kind of residential real estate options are available in this region. Single-family homes on moderate to large acreages are one of the benefits the area can offer.
In places like Saanichton and Brentwood Bay, newer builds for detached homes are commonly found. Mid-century and rancher-style homes are also common in the area. Several older homes are varied in their architectural style, so finding a home with character or a unique feature can be easier to attain.
MILD WEATHER YEAR-ROUND
The weather for Central Saanich is generally mild year-round. A warm and temperate climate means summers aren’t too hot and winters are not too harsh. There are hot days here and there, and it does snow on occasion. However, extreme weather is rare. The abundance of beautiful, farm fresh produce supports this claim, as the agriculture in the region is well known and plentiful. Mitchells Farm with the lovely bright blue building just off of Island View Road, Firbank Farms or Silver Rill corn and fresh produce are all staples for the locals to enjoy.
A quick peek at today’s Central Saanich weather forecast can also give insight into what it feels like each day.
CENTRAL SAANICH IS A SAFE PLACE TO LIVE
Wondering about crime in Central Saanich? While some local crime rates may be on the rise in Victoria, Central Saanich is a different story. The overall crime rates for Central Saanich are significantly lower than the provincial average. This can be due to the friendly nature of residents, the more rural landscape, and the hard work provided by the Central Saanich Police Department. Whatever the reason may be, the statistics show that Central Saanich is a safe place to live. This doesn’t mean that no crimes ever happen in Central Saanich, just that there are far fewer reported incidents than in neighboring regions.
POTENTIAL DISADVANTAGES OF CENTRAL SAANICH
LIMITED BUS SERVICE
The bus system is provided by BC Transit, with many bus routes going in and out of Victoria. The ruralness of Central Saanich does mean that some bus services are limited. This can be seen through long waits for the next bus and the small variety of routes available. Around 10 routes service the entire Saanich Peninsula, in which most pass through Central Saanich. About a third of these go between Victoria and Swartz Bay in Sidney, which means they can be packed with ferry passengers. For this reason, owning a vehicle or a bicycle might be something worth considering. However the advantage of being linked by transit to BC Ferries and to the airport is that the number 70 route running between Victoria and the Peninsula is a great option for people wanting to commute in between the two areas on the more direct route bus that number 70 route offers.
An overview of all the bus routes on the Saanich Peninsula can be found on BC Transit’s website.
FERRY TRAFFIC DELAYS AND TRAFFIC CONGESTION
We mentioned sometimes the ferries can make some of the bus routes packed full of travelers. Those ferries also carry vehicles and that can create some traffic congestion during peak times. Most of this is usually seen on the Pat Bay Highway, so side streets are generally left alone and only really causes a traffic back up that lasts a few extra minutes so many residents will during summer peak months use the secondary route of West Saanich Road to take the quieter more rural route in and out of Victoria.
DriveBC usually has traffic webcams available to view online. These cams show road conditions and how heavy traffic is at any given time. It is worth checking out if driving causes some anxiety, or if you just want to be prepared before you head out on the road.
HOUSING PRICES HAVE GONE UP
High housing prices are not unique to Central Saanich but are a small piece of the puzzle. All over Vancouver Island, housing prices have gone up for single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums. Being next door to the province’s capital city Victoria doesn’t help draw prices down, either. The Greater Victoria region contains a highly sought-after real estate market for several good reasons. The abundance of amenities, services, things to do, and its mild weather all contribute to making the South Island an ideal place to live. The Victoria Real Estate Board provides reports on the number of homes sold, the average or “benchmark” price of a property, along with any noticeable trends. The increase in the real estate market means it can be more difficult for buyers to get their foot in the door of their dream home but as always I am here to explore all the options and get you started on the way to your dream home through thoughtful planning and “stepping up” into the market until you achieve your goal of your dream property. My skill set includes helping you navigate good buying decisions, thoughtful renovations and the contacts that can help guide you through the best ways to do those renovations.