Best Places to Live in Nanaimo for Families

Nanaimo is a great place for families. It's centrally located, offers endless programs and activities for all ages, has a strong economy, and offers a well-balanced lifestyle in a growing city with hints of rural appeal. Surrounded by views of the stunning Coast Mountains, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean makes Nanaimo a livelihood that's very hard to top. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, there's a great influx of new residents and families finding themselves in the Nanaimo real estate market, curious about where the best place is to call home. 

Here's a break down on where to find the best Nanaimo community for your family when it comes to convenience, location, and safety:

Surrounded by views of the stunning Coast Mountains, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean makes Nanaimo a livelihood that's very hard to top. Living here provides access to fantastic school districts, public amenities, and recreation. 


The Uplands neighbourhood is part of a major two-lane residential road that starts at Costco, passing through Long Lake, and ending at Departure Bay Road behind The Country Club Mall. This makes the Uplands setting a convenient neighbourhood close to many shopping centers and schools. It's a hilly neighbourhood with rocky ravines, and lakes, offering residents several little parks within the neighbourhood. Many of the homes were built in the 1970s and 80s for thriving middle-class families, so homebuyers will find that single-family residents are abundant. Some older properties have been totally remodeled to suit the desires of a modern home buyer. Many of the Uplands homes for sale come with bigger lots compared to other neighbourhoods in Nanaimo. Home buyers can look forward to mature gardens and spacious backyards big enough for kids to play and have a trampoline. Uplands real estate also offers condos and townhomes, perfect fits for smaller families or first-time buyers looking for low maintenance properties. Sidewalks are found throughout this large neighbourhood, providing a safe journey for kids to get to nearby schools and parks. Residents can take advantage of the many nearby transit stops, the most popular of which is on Uplands Road

Schools: Wellington High School, Uplands Elementary
Transit: Route 40, VIU Express
Parks: Long Lake, Neck Point, Linley Valley, Pipers Lagoon, Rutherford Ridge, Departure Bay Beach

North Nanaimo

This part of Nanaimo is considered newer with most neighbourhoods not much older than 20 years old. You'll find plenty of cozy, well-kept neighbourhoods on smaller-sized lots with access to many trails and beaches throughout the subdivisions. It's close to major shopping centers such as Woodgrove Mall, Shoppers Drug Mart, Costco, Walmart Supercenter, Save-On-Foods, and Home Sense. It's a safe part of town and possibly the cleanest in all of Nanaimo. You'll notice several new developments underway offering new townhomes and one- and two-story homes, as this area has been an impetus in the Nanaimo real estate market. Kids will love the Rotary Skatepark next to a public sports field. Walking is feasible and safe for all ages.

Top Neighborhoods: 
Aspen Grove, Dover Bay Secondary School, McGirr Elementary School, Randerson Ridge Elementary
Transit: Route 40 is the most frequent, but residents have access to over 10 bus routes leaving the North End
Parks: Blueback Beach Access, Neck Point, Lantzville Foothills, Long Lake

Departure Bay

Departure Bay is a well-known water-front neighbourhood in Nanaimo located between two hills overlooking the bay. Families will have plenty of home options to choose from in this established part of town. Everything from mid-range priced apartments to character homes and luxury waterfront can be found here. You'll still find modest-priced homes perched on rocky bluffs overlooking the bay. You'll find mature, lush trees separating lots for optimal privacy. Popular Departure Bay addresses for families include Sherwood Forest, Beach Estates, and Lynburn Estates. It's a hilly neighbourhood but the sidewalks are nicely paved for all family members to use. It's conveniently located next to the ferry terminal and about a 10-minute drive to downtown Nanaimo. Children will love playing at Kinsman Park right above the Departure Bay Beach.

Top Neighborhoods: 
 Rock City, Departure Bay Elementary, Cilaire Elementary, Wellington Secondary.
Transit: Route 20 & 25
Parks: Cedar Skate Park, Cable Bay Trail, Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park


Cedar is one of the more rural areas of central Vancouver Island and is located about 15 minutes from downtown Nanaimo. Cedar real estate ranges from manufactured homes to million-dollar mansions on the waterfront. Cedar is full of rural land, ideal for those who'd like to establish a hobby farm. Some farm land is big enough to have full equestrian stables and cash crop operations. You'll find some of the most the desirable waterfront property in Cedar along Yellow Point with sprawling views of the False Narrows and the Gulf Islands. Cedar has fewer subdivision developments compared to the rest of Nanaimo, but plenty of mid-century moderns suitable for single families can be found here. One of the best features of living in Cedar is the peacefulness. Families will also enjoy trail systems along the Nanaimo River and the beachfront parks found along Yellow Point. The Duke Point ferry terminal is a 15-minute drive away from Cedar. Property tends to be a little more affordable and spacious in Cedar, so if you are hoping to build from scratch, you are likely to find a reasonably priced lot to build on. Residents have shopping and pleasant eateries to choose from at Cedar Village Square.

Schools: Woodbank Primary, North Cedar Intermediate, Cedar Community Secondary, Ecole North Oyster Elementary.
Transit: Route 7
Parks: Cedar Skate Park, Cable Bay Trail, Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park

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