Which neighbourhood in Victoria, British Columbia should we live in?
June 30, 2016 5:53 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I are moving to Victoria from St. John's, Newfoundland. What neighbourhoods should we focus on to find an affordable stand-alone house to rent?

We're academics moving to Victoria for a year or two of research. We spent the last two years in St. John's, Newfoundland after finding a great spot thanks to everyone's advice back then. Before that we lived in New York City and Brooklyn. After years of NYC apartments we have loved the big trees around our house here, along with space for a garden, and living in an actual house. We'd like to continue doing that. Even better if we could also walk to a spot with local shops and grocery since in St. John's we've had to drive all the time and prefer to bike or walk.

Technically we don't need to be near anything in particular as we'll be working mostly from home and out in the field, but we do need to be able to get to UVic and out West Saanich Road near the Observatory by public transit once a week at least.

This question was asked on here ten years ago, when video stores were an indicator of good areas to live. What has changed since then? We've been told repeatedly to live in Fernwood - is that good advice? We need a quiet place because we spend most days at home doing research and writing. Where would you avoid? If you were working from home and could rent a house anywhere in the area, where would you choose? We're also open to considering other places in the region (beyond greater Victoria, other islands, lower mainland, etc.).

In St. John's we're paying $1250 for recently remodelled 1400 sq ft with 3 bedrooms. We hear the housing market in Victoria has been getting worse, so by 'affordable' we're thinking ideally $1500-1800 for 2 bedrooms with an office. Is that realistic? Any and all of your Victoria neighbourhood advice is welcome. Thanks!
posted by jardinier to Travel & Transportation around Victoria, BC (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I live on the edge of Fernwood. It is an awesome neighbourhood - very walkable, close to downtown, cute houses. I can't believe I'm actually going to use such a west coast phrase, but it has a great vibe. To give you an idea of prices, I pay $1800 for a 2 bedroom with no office but some extras that bump up the price a bit. Other neighbourhoods to look at are Fairfield and Cook Street Village. James Bay is nice but I find it a bit far from everything and it is full of tourists all summer. I'm happy to answer any questions!
posted by atropos at 6:17 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I currently live just south of Fernwood, and if I were looking to rent a house and work from home, it would be my pick. It's centrally located between the university and downtown, with a lot of quiet, tree-lined streets, pretty houses, and good amenities. If you're willing to rent just part of a house, there's definitely a possibility of getting what you want at the upper end of your price range. However, I'm also seeing duplexes go as high as $2500 in that area, so you might have to look carefully.

If you have your heart set on a house of your own, however, you might be better off starting your search outside of Victoria proper, in Saanich or Esquimalt. I really wouldn't recommend the mainland or the gulf islands if you have to get to UVic once a week, or the lower mainland in general if Victoria is too pricey. However, if you're willing to look further afield, Langford might be in your price range. It's a lot more suburban, but there's still a lot of gorgeous scenery.
posted by northernish at 6:20 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Waving from my house in Fernwood! Great neighbourhood, centrally located, with some cool coffee shops, restaurants, a pub, corner stores, some fun festivals, I could go on and on. It's definitely one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Victoria. It's pretty central to the university, although not so much to the observatory. Oaklands is another neighbourhood that is pretty much the same as Fernwood, and the Jubilee area also borders.

Vic West/Esquimalt might also meet your criteria and rent is usually lower there. This area has changed a lot over the last 10 years. More amenities/gentrification. You know, in a good way.

Happy to answer any questions as well!
posted by rozee at 7:28 PM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Where would you all draw the borders for Fernwood? Looks like maybe it goes further north than the boundaries on google maps and the city maps suggest? Any parts to avoid or seek out? How about Esquimalt? That seems like a big area, any best parts to look at or avoid? We're stuck having to do our search from 7,000 km away so unfortunately we can't visit places before renting. Thanks for all your super helpful answers!
posted by jardinier at 7:56 PM on June 30, 2016

I haven't lived in Victoria since 2009, but when I was there I lived in Fernwood and in Esquimalt/technically View Royal (which is what comes after Esquimalt). I enjoyed both!

Fernwood was much much better for access to downtown and also to UVic. It had more of a community feeling. (Based on recent visits I can confirm that's still true.) View Royal was also quite nice, though--I still had easy access to shops and such, and the area is well served by the city bus (there is one that goes to UVic with no transfer from that area). In View Royal I had the benefit of being in a house which had its backyard on the Gorge. Lots of really beautiful park and waterway area around there. I would say that View Royal was quieter, though Fernwood was also fine.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:49 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks again everyone, much appreciated! Based on the suggestions so far, we're focusing on Fernwood, Oakwoods, Jubilee areas, Also keeping an eye on places in Langford and Saanich that might be on a trail or good transit route. Not seeing listings showing up in Esquimalt really at all. Not much showing up in Fairfield and Cook Street Village area either, but keeping an eye out. The market at the moment for detached houses seems to be around $1800 for a small 2 bedroom house from the 50s-60s without renovations or $2800+ for anything renovated or newer.
posted by jardinier at 10:29 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

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