Willows Beach attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every weekend from around the world and throughout B.C. (Octavian Lacatusu/Oak Bay News)

Oak Bay voted as best place to live in B.C.

The tiny district earned points for its scenery, friendliness, accessible transit and charm

Oak Bay is one groovy place to be in, after a recent study revealed the district is the best place to live in B.C. today.

In the study, conducted by moneysense.ca, Oak Bay also scored as top three best places to live in Canada overall, coming just behind Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que., and Ottawa Ont. North Saanich came in fourth, and the District of Saanich came in 11th overall.

Not bad B.C., not bad, but Oak Bay does outshine others in ways that are hard to match, scoring fairly high on criteria such as having a robust economy, high wealth and incomes, home affordability, low taxes, being transit friendly, health accessiblity, low crime and weather.

“I’m not surprised, because I do personally believe that it’s one of the best in Canada,” said Jason Binab, a local real estate advisor, adding that Oak Bay’s old school prestige, choice of luxury real estate and access to services is one delicious mix.

“We’ve got some of the best public schools in the country and in B.C., with Willows School, Monterey, Oak Bay High, Glenlyon Norfolk Junior Campus, St. Michael’s Jr. Campus, so it feels like a safe and practical place to raise a family.”

Most importantly though, it’s all connected, with nothing being too far away, including the world-renown Victoria Golf Club, one of the top golf courses in Canada.

“You’re in downtown Victoria in seven minutes, out of town to the highway in 15, 20 mins, you’re close to everything,” he said, adding that bike connectors such as Dallas Road can make for one scenic bike ride to home or work.

When it comes to ocean views, gorgeous sunsets overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait to the south, or towards Mount Baker in the east come easy, while strolls past old beautiful trees in south Oak Bay can be a special occasion any day, let alone checking out estate-like homes with wide streets in Uplands, and of course, Uplands Park itself.

Oak Bay’s charming multi-million dollar homes also attracts buyers worldwide with the same elegance and prestige they did when built more than a century ago. Still, many are willing to pay for all that charm, considering much of the same magic is rapidly fading in bigger cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

“Vancouver is an amazing city, but the Vancouver sellers who come here as buyers understand that it is no longer the same magic city it was,” Binab said, adding last year, almost 40 per cent of buyers in Oak Bay were from Vancouver.

To date, Oak Bay is one of the 10 wealthiest areas in the country, with an average household net worth approaching $2 million, and while it’s once of the most expensive real estate markets around, it’s still cheaper than Vancouver’s market.

“Victoria is where Vancouver was 5 to 10 years ago, so even though we’re finding all the million dollar homes in Oak Bay expensive, those [$1 million] homes in Dunbar or Kitsilano area 10 years ago was considerably more daunting than it is now. Today $4 million is something that’s considered ‘decent’,” Binab said.

There’s also the realization that Oak Bay will automatically provide more bang for the buck, even if it costs the big bucks.

“The American dolllar is 30 per cent stronger, so you could sell a $15 million average condo in New York City and come here and have any piece of property you want,” he said.

For all its wealth, Oak Bay residents are well engaged and highly attentive when it comes to their community, something Oak Bay District Coun. Hazel Braithwaite is happy to be a part of.

“I have lived in and visited many places around the world, but I would honestly choose no other place to live than here,” she said. “We have it all, we have the the beach, the ocean, gorgeous streets, beautiful houses, and a lot of beautiful art, which adds to what people get out of living here.”

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