Travel

Home Swap or get away in BC From Toronto

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 15th, 2020 6:46 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Aug 19, 2007
187 posts
96 upvotes
Toronto

Home Swap or get away in BC From Toronto

Thinking about spending time out west with the kids from January-Feb/March. Current ideas are Victoria or outside of the city (but can still be close). Would like to work remote, remote learning for the kids, and share our beautiful country with them, outdoor activities, milder climates for the winter with Covid concerns looming.

Wondering if anyone is thinking the same, and main point for the post is if anyone knows of where to find a good long term stay option in the area for a family of 5. Ideas on where to stay, and even if someone would home swap. We have a beautiful home in Toronto with lots of amenities I would consider house swapping with the right family.

Thanks RFD!
12 replies
Deal Addict
Oct 3, 2013
1211 posts
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West
No leads on a house-swap for you, but figured I'd give my two cents on your idea.

Having lived on the Island for a decent amount of time, I would say that unless you guys are waterproof (or just that miserable in the winter in ON), it would not be a great time of year to visit Victoria. While milder than TO, it'll likely be grey, cold and rainy 24/7, meaning it may be pretty miserable to explore the absolutely stunning Vancouver Island much. Hikes will be muddy as heck, the water will be choppier, and you will be pretty wet/cold anytime you do something outdoors. Most people say that the "damp" cold of the west is actually worse than the dry-type in ON.

What sort of outdoor activities are you interested in?

Do you guys like snow activities at all? It would probably mean a shorter trip, but you will probably be able to get a hotel and ski for relatively cheap at smaller hills this year that presumably won't be getting much international traffic.
Sr. Member
Oct 22, 2016
566 posts
446 upvotes
Comox Valley
I think the previous post covered some good points. However keep in mind, the worst weather we have is November, and December. I think Jan-Mar is doable. You will have to get use to the rain, even in those months, and when it does get close to zero, and below the cold gets right into you. Look at the monthly data for those months.

For house sharing, I would have thought a lot of those housing is available when people go south, obviously not this year. Might be tough to get one?

Activities might be cut back, due to the second wave. But even enjoy the great outdoors, I think your family would love it.

Best of luck to you.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Aug 19, 2007
187 posts
96 upvotes
Toronto
Great points made and truly appreciated. Is there a difference in climate to Vancouver or better areas in/around the area. We’d love to ski, hike, and don’t mind being indoors a lot of the time as will have to work (but imagine a much nicer backdrop). I’ll keep doing my research and check into historical weather.

We’d likely do a week or so at whistler as well.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2017
4731 posts
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SW corner of the cou…
Victoria is milder than Vancouver. Warmer in winter and does not get hot in summer - probably the narrowest range between high and low. The climate is quite a bit cooler as you go up the island (evidenced by a significantly-shortened growing season once you go north of Nanaimo). It can get cold on the inland side. Only ski area is Mt Washington (geographically mid island) which is at least 4 hrs drive from Victoria.

Good luck getting a home swap or even a medium-term rental, especially this year.
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Deal Addict
Jan 11, 2004
4926 posts
517 upvotes
Victoria
The reality is this. Having grown up on the island it seems completely normal to me that there are two seasons : summer and rain. It sometimes rains for a few weeks straight. Like everyday all day. For me this is normal but apparently a lot of people don't like it lol!
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Deal Fanatic
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Sep 6, 2002
8365 posts
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Vancouver
As someone who moved to downtown Vancouver from Toronto. I can’t speak for the island

I was warned about this “chill to your bones cold” I’m used to Toronto’s -20 windy bs weather and like it here. It does rain but in downtown van the past two years it’s more of a on and off drizzle. This whole chill to the bone thing is exaggerated in my opinion and while I’m more tolerant of cold in general here I usually wear a sweater and a gore tex jacket and not much more. Daily grey skies for sure. Yes it did rain everyday in January this year however it’s sort of on and off drizzle, not a total washout like when Toronto gets rain.

People here love to complain about Weather and traffic. Some are even convinced metro vancouver traffic is worse then Toronto which I always laugh at.

Airbnb is probably your best bet.

I don’t do the outdoor stuff in winter but you’ll find something to do.

Gore tex is the uniform of the pacific north west. Get good gear layer properly and you should be fine. Wool is also a great material in this climate.

When I return to Toronto in February and do the whole starting the car cold thing I’ve noticed my Tolerance for that type of cold has gone down as I acclimatize to this province.

The hostels are pretty empty got a few buds staying in them. While it may not be an ideal family set up. You could get an entire room and use the savings to explore. Many hotels are also lacking guests they may have good monthly rates. Just be careful as some are also being used to house homeless which may also include drug abuse and mental health issues.

Great idea! It’s a beautiful place. Also only 5% tax on food at restaurants (except alcohol) so hey a little 8% discount from Ontario though the province tends to be pricier in other ways. Lots of cheap craft beer around and great happy hour specials which help the grey days
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Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2017
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SW corner of the cou…
Just for perspective yearly average high and low in Victoria (at least according to MSN/Microsoft Weather) is 23/2 with records of 35/-12 and 12 snow days/year.

For Toronto, it's 28/-8 with records of 36/-28 and 83 snow days.
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Deal Guru
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Oct 5, 2008
13121 posts
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Toronto
Petro99 wrote: Thinking about spending time out west with the kids from January-Feb/March. Current ideas are Victoria or outside of the city (but can still be close). Would like to work remote, remote learning for the kids, and share our beautiful country with them, outdoor activities, milder climates for the winter with Covid concerns looming.

Wondering if anyone is thinking the same, and main point for the post is if anyone knows of where to find a good long term stay option in the area for a family of 5. Ideas on where to stay, and even if someone would home swap. We have a beautiful home in Toronto with lots of amenities I would consider house swapping with the right family.

Thanks RFD!
assuming you mean the kids will remote learn from their schools here, don't forget the 3 hour time change and how it impacts your other activities.

Meaning school would start at 6 am or earlier.

Same for your work as well
Deal Fanatic
May 9, 2007
8763 posts
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Vancouver Island, BC
I have lived in Toronto, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island. I guess there might be a unicorn that would want to do a house swap in that time period, but I have never known anyone from the south coast or Island who wanted to be in Toronto in the winter.

I endorse the comments about the effect of weather during winter months. I have relatives on the Sunshine Coast (Sechelt area) who have hosted multi-month guests from southern Ontario during winter months. For months my relatives heard complaints about the rain. Finally they pointed out that if someone wants to live in a rain forest they ought to expect rain. :)

The first winter or two can be challenging for people whose usual climate is more sunny. I knew a person who moved to the Island from Alberta. He developed a clinical depression related to the weather during his second winter and moved back to Alberta for his health.

In addition, I understand that the usual winter rentals on the Island are more difficult to get this year. I have a relative on the Island who grew up in Flin Flon . They know a lot of Flin Floners who winter on the Island. They tell me that the Island rentals are created by Islanders who can afford to winter in snowbird communities in Arizona, California, or Mexico. They go and rent out their homes to the Flin Floners. Many of those Islanders are not going south, meaning that their Island homes are not available, even to repeat renters. This is also creating vacancies in snowbird places like Arizona, California, and Mexico.

I appreciate the theoretical attraction of Vancouver Island (I live here), but you might have more success finding a several month rental in one of the southern snowbird communities.
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Dec 27, 2009
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Victoria, BC
Phonophoresis wrote: No leads on a house-swap for you, but figured I'd give my two cents on your idea.

Having lived on the Island for a decent amount of time, I would say that unless you guys are waterproof (or just that miserable in the winter in ON), it would not be a great time of year to visit Victoria. While milder than TO, it'll likely be grey, cold and rainy 24/7, meaning it may be pretty miserable to explore the absolutely stunning Vancouver Island much. Hikes will be muddy as heck, the water will be choppier, and you will be pretty wet/cold anytime you do something outdoors. Most people say that the "damp" cold of the west is actually worse than the dry-type in ON.

What sort of outdoor activities are you interested in?

Do you guys like snow activities at all? It would probably mean a shorter trip, but you will probably be able to get a hotel and ski for relatively cheap at smaller hills this year that presumably won't be getting much international traffic.
Not really. I'm from Victoria (lived in Ottawa for 7 years, but now I'm back in Victoria). Victoria will likely have lots of grey weather and some rain, but it will still be much warmer than most of Canada at that time. The cold here is a damp cold though, so can chill you pretty bad. There is a lot of natural beauty here. If OP likes hiking or being out in nature, it is hard to beat the Island.
Last edited by Chickinvic on Sep 15th, 2020 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dec 27, 2009
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Victoria, BC
Petro99 wrote: Great points made and truly appreciated. Is there a difference in climate to Vancouver or better areas in/around the area. We’d love to ski, hike, and don’t mind being indoors a lot of the time as will have to work (but imagine a much nicer backdrop). I’ll keep doing my research and check into historical weather.

We’d likely do a week or so at whistler as well.
Victoria has far better weather than Vancouver. Vancouver gets twice the rain Victoria gets (Victoria is protected by a rain shadow).
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Jul 7, 2017
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Chickinvic wrote: Victoria has far better weather than Vancouver. Vancouver gets twice the rain Victoria gets (Victoria is protected by a rain shadow).
Not really. What it is is the mountains and the prevailing winds from the west. The wet humid clouds generally coming from the Pacific have to rise when they meet mountains so they have to lose moisture to climb (hence why the western slopes of the mountain ranges that primarily run generally N-S in BC all the way to the Rockies are wetter on the west side than on the east). There are rain shadows on the east side of Vancouver Island but Victoria isn't really protected to that large a degree by the local mountains (way too low - but that also depends on where in "Victoria" you're in) but the good news is that there are no mountains on the leeward side where the rain has to drop.

Go over to Vancouver and you have the Coast Mountains so you get a lot more rain. FWIW, places like North Van, Lynn Valley in particular, get drenched with rain while "Vancouver" readings (actually the airport which is in Richmond) is quite a bit lower, and lower still as you go south to say Tsawwassen.
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