Are you planning a move to British Columbia but looking for a quieter location away from the big cities? If so, you may be interested in living in Tofino, BC, a small town with a stunning coastal location, just one of the many attractive small towns in BC.
Tofino is a small community on the Pacific Ocean lying on the western side of Vancouver Island. The town is known for its incredible wild scenery, including sandy beaches, rainforests and perfect waves for surfing.
The town is relatively isolated but could be a great choice if you are looking for a quiet, stress-free life by the ocean.
We will give you all the key information you need about living in Tofino, BC. In addition, we will provide you with an unbiased view (based on personal experience) of the pros and cons of living in this town.
Living In Tofino, BC – The Facts
Here are some key facts about this coastal town for anyone interested in living in Tofino, BC.
Where Is Tofino BC?
Tofino is one of the most westerly communities in Canada. It sits mid-way up the west side of Vancouver Island, which in turn, lies to the west of Vancouver. The closest international airport is Victoria to the south of the Island.
Victoria is around a 300km drive from Tofino, but the trip will take close to 4.5 hours as part of the trip is on roads which wind through the island’s mountains.
As the crow flies, Vancouver is actually closer to Tofino than Victoria. However, the trip to Vancouver involves a ferry ride, making the travel time around 5.5 hours.
The most common methods of travelling from the island to Vancouver are:
- Fly via Victoria International Airport, then on to Vancouver
- Take a ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver (around a 100-minute ride)
- Take a ferry from Victoria to Vancouver (around a 90-minute ride)
- Fly from Tofino Beach Airport to Vancouver
The quickest method is to fly from Tofino Beach Airport, which also offers flights to Victoria and Seattle.
What Is The Population Of Tofino in 2023?
The population of Tofino in 2023 is around 2,522, 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 2,516, representing a growth in the population of Tofino of 27.9% between 2016 and 2021.
The average age of the population is 38.5, several years younger than the national average of 41.9, and the population of Tofino is predominantly white and English-speaking.
According to the latest census data, visible minorities account for around 6% of the population. The largest minority groups living in Tofino are Filipino, Chinese and South Asian.
What Is The Weather In Tofino, BC, Like?
Most of Canada experiences cold, harsh winters with pleasant, moderately hot summers. However, BC’s coastal location and mountain ranges mean its climate isn’t typical of Canada.
You will find significant variations in the climate even within the province. Overall the BC weather is milder and wetter than the rest of Canada. The south coast has the mildest winters in Canada and warm, pleasant summers, while the southern interior has very short winters with long, dry, hot summers.
Tofino has one of the mildest climates in Canada, but its location on the west coast means it is also one of the wettest places in the country. Summers are warm and comfortable with some clouds, but winters are wet, windy and overcast and can seem very long.
On the positive side, there is very little snow, less than 50mm per annum on average, and the average January low is a plus 2 Deg C. This is almost unheard of in Canada. The average July high is 19 degrees, and the total annual precipitation is around 3300mm.
What Is The Cost of Living In Tofino Like?
Most immigrants find the cost of living high in Canada, and BC is one of the more expensive provinces. House prices in BC are around 50% higher than Canadian averages.
Rural areas are cheaper but still subject to higher provincial taxes. Sales tax is 12% on most goods (5% GST plus 7% PST) compared to 5% in provinces such as Alberta, and the top income tax rate in BC is relatively high.
On top of this, the average property price in Tofino is over $1.5 million. This is well over the average for BC and more than double the national average.
What Is The Tofino BC Economy Based On?
Tofino was developed around a trading post set up by European travellers in 1854. Traditionally its main industries were fishing and logging, but the town’s economy is now dominated by tourism.
A large proportion of tourists visit in the summer to enjoy swimming and surfing. However, the area is popular year-round with hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers, campers, and whale watchers. Many also come to Tofino to enjoy the dramatic coastal storms in the winter months.
Is Tofino BC A Safe Place To Live?
Canada, Quebec, Ontario and the Maritime provinces have the lowest crime rates, while the highest in the territories. BC crime rates are above average for Canada.
Crimes rates in Tofino are higher than average for BC and significantly higher than the national averages. However, this should be taken in the context of low overall crime rates in Canada. I personally haven’t ever felt threatened or unsafe in the town.
What Are The Schools In Tofino, BC, Like?
Canada has a strong and publicly-funded education system, which consistently ranks as one of the best in the world. Education is administered at a provincial level, and BC has a reputation for excellent education within Canada.
Tofino has just one school Wickaninnish Community School, which is an elementary school covering Kindergarten to grade 7. One downside of living in Tofino, BC is that the closest secondary school is Ucluelet Secondary School, which is around a 35-minute drive from Tofino.
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.
What Is The Healthcare In Tofino, BC Like?
Canada has an excellent publicly-funded healthcare system which covers “medically necessary” care. Generally, hospital and doctor visits are covered, while other types of care, such as dental, optical and prescriptions, are funded for certain groups of people.
In Canada, healthcare is administered at a provincial level, so anyone living in Tofino, BC would be covered through BC Healthcare.
You should be aware that there is currently a shortage of family doctors in much of Canada, and it can be difficult to find clinics taking on new patients. This is especially true of the smaller towns and cities.
Despite Tofino’s small size, the town does have its own general hospital. This hospital has an emergency department and is open 24/7, and has around 10 in-patient beds.
Pros And Cons Of Living In Tofino BC
The pros and cons of living in Tofino, BC will, of course, vary from person to person, but whatever you are looking for, these are key factors for you to consider.
Pros Of Living In Tofino BC
- Stunning ocean location
- Great Beaches
- Mild climate/little snow
- Own hospital
Cons Of Living In Tofino BC
- High rainfall
- High crime rates (for Canada)
- No secondary school