Picture a small city with sandy beaches, lakes north and south, and mountains east and west. It has hot, dry, sunny summers and is surrounded by orchards, vineyards and wineries. This is what living in Penticton is like.
If you are planning a move to Canada but don’t want to live in a major city, there are many attractive small towns and cities in BC: and the number of options can be overwhelming.
In this post, I have tried to give you the facts about living in Penticton and my perspective as someone who lived there for nine years.
Living In Penticton, BC – The Facts
|Population Growth 2016/2021||9.60%|
|Population Born in the UK 2016 Census||Not Available|
|Ave Cost Real Estate Jan ’22||$1,057,000|
|Sales Tax||5% GST + 7% RST|
|Prov Income Tax Low Band*||5.06%|
|Prov Income Tax High Band*||20.50%|
|Crime Severity Index 2020**||180.9|
|Violent Crime Severity Index 2020**||121.81|
Where Is Penticton?
Penticton is a small city in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. It lies in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of the area.
The city is sandwiched between Okanagan Lake to the north and Skaha Lake to the south, with a distance of just 7km between the two shores.
Penticton’s closest significant cities are Vancouver, around a 5-hour drive to the west, and Calgary, an 8-hour drive to the east. It is also around a 1-hour drive from the US border, although you have to drive for several hours to reach anywhere sizeable in the US.
The only nearby cities are West Kelowna and Kelowna, around 1 hour north of Penticton; they have a combined population of around 180,000.
What Is The Population Of Penticton in 2023?
The population of Penticton in 2023 is around 36,821, based on the latest government of BC estimates released at the start of the year.
The town has seen steady growth in recent years. The latest federal census data (released in 2022) showed a population of 36,885, representing a growth in the population of Penticton of 9.3% between 2016 and 2021.
The average age of the population is 48.9, which is 7 years higher than the national average of 41.9, and the population of Penticton is predominantly white and English-speaking.
According to the latest census data, visible minorities account for around 9% of the population. The largest minority group living in Penticton is South Asian, followed by Filipino, Chinese and Black.
What Is The Weather In Penticton, BC, Like?
The weather in Penticton is not typical of Canada and is one of its biggest attractions.
Penticton has a semi-desert climate, with very low precipitation for most of the year. It has four distinct seasons: long, hot summers, short cool winters and pleasant spring and fall months.
Despite the beautiful summers and low precipitation, the weather has a couple of downsides when living in Penticton.
Penticton is one of the cloudiest places in Canada during December and January. Once the cloud settles in the valley, going for weeks without seeing the sun is possible.
For some, this is a small price for the mild, dry weather seen for the rest of the year. Others who are used to cold, crisp sunny Canadian winters find it more of a problem.
The other downside is that temperatures often hover around freezing during the winter, leading to freeze/thaw cycles and very icy conditions.
|Annual Rainfall (mm)||298.5|
|Annual Snowfall (mm)||58.7|
|Ave Hours Sunshine/Day||5.3|
|Ave Jan Temp (DegC)||-0.6|
|Ave July Temp (DegC)||21|
What Is The Cost Of Living In Penticton Like?
The cost of living in Penticton, especially house prices, has grown recently. A 2021 study gave the living wage rate for Penticton as $18.55 per hour. The living wage is the amount each parent from a family of two children must earn to cover basic living costs.
The Penticton living wage was the highest in the Okanagan Valley but still somewhat lower than in Vancouver, where the rate was $20.52.
What Is The Main Industry In Penticton?
Penticton’s primary industries are agriculture, tourism and service industries.
The agricultural industry focuses on fruit production. The Okanagan is a major exporter of apples and the second-largest wine-producing region in Canada (after Niagara).
The beaches and warm weather attract families to the area in the summer months, and the valley is a hub for wine tourism. The area has more than 120 wineries, spirit distilleries, and a growing craft beer industry.
There is also a correctional facility in nearby Oliver that offers employment opportunities nearby.
Does Penticton Have Good Transport Connections?
BC Transit operates bus services within the city and through the Okanagan Valley. Services are available along the Kelowna, Osoyoos and Naramata corridors and to Coalmont via Princeton.
If you want to travel further afield, then you will need to either fly or drive. Unfortunately, there aren’t any passenger rail services within the valley, and long-distance bus services stopped operating in the region a few years ago.
Penticton has two options for air travel. Penticton Airport is a tiny airport based at the city’s south end. Flights are pretty limited, but the Airport operates regular flights to Calgary and Vancouver for onward connections to many domestic and international destinations.
The Airport is very user-friendly. It is within a 15-minute drive of pretty much everywhere in Penticton. You can either take a taxi or leave your car at the car park (with literally a 1-2 minute walk to the terminal).
Your alternative is Kelowna International Airport, around a 90-minute drive from Penticton. Kelowna offers flights to many domestic and a handful of international destinations, mainly in Mexico.
What Outdoor Activities Can I Enjoy In Penticton?
The lakes, mountains and mild climate make living in Penticton, a perfect location for outdoor enthusiasts. The surrounding area offers endless hiking, biking, boating and fishing opportunities.
My favourite activity when living in Penticton was to hike/bike along a section of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail which runs from Penticton to Naramata. This trail (which continues to Kelowna and beyond) runs along the side of the valley, through vineyards and orchards, with unobstructed views of Okanagan Lake.
Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park offers world-class rock climbing, regularly making lists of the best places in Canada to climb. The mild Okanagan weather means it’s one of the first available areas in Canada to climb in the spring.
If downhill skiing is your thing, Apex Mountain Resort is just a 45-minute drive from Penticton. It’s not quite the Rockies, but there is a decent range of runs for all levels.
Apex is quiet during mid-week; you will often find you have the runs to yourself. And, if you get desperate for the sun in the winter, the resort usually sits above the low-lying cloud.
Does Penticton Have Good Entertainment And Shopping?
Entertainment options in Penticton are excellent for a city of its size. It has a good range of restaurants and bars, particularly at the north end of town near Okanagan Lake.
At the north end of town, the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) is a relatively new 5000-seat multi-function arena. It is home to the Penticton Vees Junior A team (see below) and hosts concerts and various other events.
The city is also lucky to have a new multi-screen cinema (Landmark Cinemas) at the north end of town.
For shopping, Penticton has several small boutique stores at the north end of Main Street, as well as some well-known stores at Cherry Lane Mall. It also has a few big-box stores, such as Walmart, Home Hardware and Rona.
You can buy most things you need in Penticton, but sometimes your choices are limited. For clothing and furniture and I would recommend visiting Kelowna.
Penticton Farmers Market runs on Saturday mornings from May to October and is the best farmers market I have been to. There is an incredible selection of fresh, cheap produce, all locally grown.
You will also find food vendors, live music and local arts and crafts on sale. It has a capacity of approximately 80 vendors, with around 8000 visitors each Saturday.
What Sports Teams Does Penticton Have?
Penticton has no professional sports teams, but it is home to the Penticton Vees, one of the most successful Junior A ice hockey teams in Canadian history.
The team is lucky enough to play out of the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC). As ice rinks go, it is warm and comfortable for spectators, with an average game attendance of around 2,500.
What Is The Best Neighbourhood To Live In Penticton?
The most popular residential areas are generally those on the east and western sides of town, away from the central valley floor. A summary of the main areas is given below:
- Uplands/Redlands – On the northeast side of Penticton. I lived in this area for 6 of my nine years in Penticton, and it is personally my favourite location. It is elevated from the main city, and many properties have views over the city and/or lakes. The area is well maintained and very green with mature trees. For me, the biggest benefit was that all of this was combined with easy access to the downtown and beach areas. The Kettle Valley Railway Trail, winding through vineyards and orchards, can also be accessed from this area.
- West Bench – This area lies directly across the valley from the Redlands/Upland area in the northwest of Penticton. West Bench is popular with families, houses generally have spacious plots, and many have spectacular views over the city and lakes. I lived here for around 3 years, and the downside is that it lies further up the valley side than Uplands; you really need to car to get to downtown Penticton.
- North Main and South Main – Much of the lower-priced housing is in these areas. Houses tend to be smaller, and there are more condos. You are closer to the highways and businesses, and so the areas are not so peaceful. The exceptions are the handful of properties close to the lake at the north and south ends of town.
- Wiltse lies at the southeast end of town. There are some large prestigious properties in this area with stunning views over Skaha Lake.
- Carmi & Duncan – These areas are both on the east side of Penticton, elevated from the valley floor. They are both popular areas with families. Properties are attractive and well-kept, and many have views over the city. This area is convenient for many of the shopping areas, including Cherry Lane Mall.
Are You Planning A Move To Canada?
Are you wondering whether to make the move and have endless questions?
We have the answers to these and many more questions.
Is Penticton A Safe Place To Live?
Crime rates in Penticton have increased significantly in recent years and are now higher than national averages. Much of this is due to a growing homeless problem, associated drug issues, and petty crime.
This tends to be largely concentrated in the downtown areas, with residential areas less affected.
During my last couple of years in Penticton, I did notice an increase in homeless numbers and was definitely aware of drug-related problems in the city. However, these were mainly limited to certain downtown areas, and I didn’t ever feel unsafe or threatened in the city.
Air Quality In Penticton
Another growing issue for people living in Penticton has been poor air quality due to forest fires in the province. We didn’t find this an issue in our early years in Penticton, but the impact has been quite significant over the past few years.
It normally affects the city in July and August and can last for several weeks. At its worst, the smoke is such that you can’t see from one side of the valley to the other, your eyes will burn from the smoke, and outdoor physical activity will be difficult.
Very often, the fires aren’t particularly close to Penticton, with smoke coming from northern BC or even from the US.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Penticton
Pros of Penticton
- Hot, dry summers
- Beautiful lakes & mountains
- Penticton Farmers Market
- Outdoor activities
- Apex Mountain Resort
Cons of Penticton
- Gloomy winters
- Rising crime rates
- Forest fires/smoky atmosphere
If you are attracted to the climate in Penticton but would prefer to live in a smaller community, then you may be interested in living in Osoyoos. This town lies around an hour’s drive south of Penticton and has a population of around 5,000.
FAQs – Living In Penticton, BC
Sources of Data Statistics Canada & Canadian Real Estate Association