If you are thinking about moving to Canada, the province of British Columbia is a beautiful place to call home. Prince George is a great location if you prefer a smaller city, a rural setting and the outdoors. Where you choose to live will have an immediate impact on your lifestyle, finances, and career opportunities. It’s not a decision to take lightly.
Is Prince George a city you are considering? Use this guide to get helpful information about living in Prince George, B.C.
About Prince George, British Columbia
Prince George is the “Northern Capital” of British Columbia. It’s the largest city in the northern area of the province. Situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, and the crossroads of Highway 16 and Highway 97, Prince George has an important role in British Columbia’s economy and culture and acts as its service and supply hub.
Many skilled immigrants choose Prince George as their home in Canada, because of its safe and embracing community, and easy lifestyle. Its economy is experiencing steady growth and there is an influx of new businesses in the community.
The city has roots dating back to 1807 when it was originally established as a fur trading post named for George. It was set up by Simon Fraser in the name of King George III. It was officially incorporated as a city in 1915.
How Many People Live in Prince George, British Columbia?
Prince George has a population of 76,708 people as of the 2021 Census. The population has grown 3.7% since 2016. Overall, the population has remained about the same since the mid-1990s. The city’s Aboriginal community comprises 15% of the population.
How to Find a Job & Build a Career in Prince George
Prince George’s Local Economy
The service industries dominate Prince George’s economy. Previously, the forestry sector was the dominant one. The city’s education sector also contributes about $800 million to the local economy every year.
The area is seeing sawmill closures and the creation of ‘super mills’. More closures are expected to follow, and some see mining exploration and development as the future of Prince George.
The city is a staging centre for mining and prospecting, and major regional transportation, trade, and government hub. Several major retailers are increasing their presence in the Prince George region.
The top industries in Prince George are:
- Professional services
- Transportation and warehousing.
Major Employers in Prince George
Prince George is home to a diverse range of businesses. Here are the top employers in the city:
- Canfor Pulp
- Canfor Wood Products
- City of Prince George
- College of New Caledonia
- Government of BC
- Government of Canada
- Northern Health
- School District 57
- University of Northern British Columbia.
Career Pathways in Prince George
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!
The Prince George Housing Market
Prince George offers housing options in many neighbourhoods. You can look to rent or buy in areas such as Austin East & West, Blackburn, Chief Lake, College Heights, Cranbrook Hill, Crescents, Downtown, East Central Fort George, Fraserview, Hart Highlands, Lansdowne, Perry, South Fort George, Van Bow, Van Bien, and West Bowl.
Is Housing Expensive in Prince George, British Columbia?
Prince George is an affordable city. It is consistently cheaper to rent or buy a home when compared to other mid-size cities in B.C. and across Canada. It has a more affordable cost of living than most cities in the country.
Finding a Place to Rent in Prince George
Renting an apartment or housing unit is a common first step for newcomers. The average rent for an apartment in Prince George is $950 for a 1 Bedroom and $1,400 for a 3 Bedroom.
Use Rentals for Newcomers to search for available rental units. Here, you can also find current rental prices in Prince George. When renting a home or apartment, it’s also important to consider buying . This will provide you with added protection for your home if it were to be damaged.
Get more information about renting a home: Renting in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know.
Buying a Home in Prince George
According to the BC Northern Real Estate Board, the average selling price for a home in Prince George is $519,979, as of March 2022. This is up from $450,901 in March 2021. Find out more about buying your first home in Canada: First Time Home Buyer: Newcomer Tips.
Driving & Public Transit in Prince George
Driving in Prince George, British Columbia
The city serves as a transportation hub for Northern B.C. You can expect a high volume of commercial traffic. Roads are in a grid formation. If you live in one of Prince George’s residential areas, your largest commute downtown will be about 15 minutes.
All drivers must have a valid British Columbia driver’s licence to operate a vehicle. Learn more about driving in Canada with these 10 essential facts.
For information on driving in British Columbia and how to get a licence, see Driving.
Prince George Public Transit
Prince George Transit System, or PG Transit, is the main public transit provider. Click here to find the current cost for fares including a monthly pass. Purchasing a monthly pass offers a discount for unlimited travel throughout the month. This may be more cost-effective if you plan to use public transit often.
Prince George Airport is in the southern part of the city. With its international airport (YXS), VIA Rail daylight passenger train service, Greyhound Bus and good highway infrastructure, Prince George is a convenient transit hub.
The primary air connection to the rest of the world is provided by multiple daily flights out of YXS to Vancouver on Air Canada and WestJet. A few smaller airlines and charter flights fly to regional and smaller centres.
Greyhound Bus Lines supplies daily bus service south to Vancouver, west to Prince Rupert, east to Edmonton, Alberta and north to Fort St. John.
Get more information about driving in Canada:
Community Support for Newcomers
Newcomers to Prince George have access to community support through organizations such as:
- Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society (IMSS)
- Immigrant Services Society of BC – Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants
- Le Cercle des Canadiens Français de Prince George – Welcoming Francophone Community
- Library Champions Online
- Northern Immigration Services (NIS)
- Multicultural Heritage Society of Prince George
- Immigrant Employment Council of BC.
Newcomers may also be eligible for the Introduction to British Columbia program through the Immigrant Services Association of British Columbia. Find out more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
Language Support in Prince George
New immigrants can get access to language support programs through community settlement agencies such as The Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society (IMSS), and WelcomeBC.
Personal Finance & Banking
Opening a bank account and getting your personal finances organized is an important step when settling into a new community. All banks and credit unions offer services for immigrants to help them open a bank account. You can also apply for a credit card, line of credit, and even a mortgage. Visit a local branch to get started.
Get more banking tips for newcomers:
Prince George’s Education System
Elementary and High School Education
Prince George has 40 elementary and eight secondary schools, as well as eight private schools, and many options for early childhood care including childcare centers and home providers.
It is also home to a public francophone elementary and secondary school, both of which are part of School District 93 Conseil scolaire francophone, a province-wide francophone school district.
The Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) is a free program to help the children of newcomers to the public school system and supplies services in Chinese, English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu.
Post Secondary Institutions
Residents have access to several post-secondary education choices. The regional College of New Caledonia (CNC) offers over 75 programs to over 5,000 students. British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and the Open Learning Agency have integrated their local programs with CNC.
The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) campus overlooks the city and offers spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains to the east. It offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs. UNBC is home to an active international student population from over 40 countries.
Read more about education in Canada:
Where To Get Medical Care in Prince George, British Columbia
Prince George offers access to high-quality medical care at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. The city’s healthcare services include the B.C. Cancer Agency Centre for the North, family doctors, dentists, walk-in clinics and the full range of health care professionals.
In case of an emergency call 9-1-1. This number is the same no matter where you live in Canada.
Residents have access to two health insurance plans in BC. They are the Medical Service Plan (MSP) and PharmaCare. For those, who can not afford to pay the monthly MSP premium, there is Premium Assistance. You also have the option to purchase individual .
How to Find A Family Doctor
Finding a family doctor is an important step to ensuring you can receive regular medical care in Canada. Check out the list of physicians accepting new patients from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.
What is Day-to-Day Life Like in Prince George?
Things to Do in Prince George
Prince George is a gateway city to Northern British Columbia and an excellent starting point for exploring the region. It offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the amenities of a city and wilderness opportunities just minutes away.
Hiking, camping, fishing, golfing and cross-country skiing are just a few outdoor activities that the city has to offer. Dog-sled racing is an exciting Northern BC experience and has been a popular winter pastime in many northern communities. Other winter sports include skating, curling, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling.
Public Spaces & Attractions
The Prince George Railway Museum, The Exploration Place Museum & Science Centre, and Two Rivers Gallery are popular attractions. For a more rustic attraction outside the city, you can explore pioneer history and agricultural ways at Huble Homestead.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The city has several great places to eat and socialize. You can check out the Northern Lights Estate Winery, CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery, Treasure Cove Casino & Bingo, and Trench Brewing & Distillery.
Nature & Natural Landscapes
Fort George Park is Prince George’s main urban park, but there are many other natural landscapes to visit. They include Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, Pruden Lake Provincial Park, Teapot Mountain, Connaught Hill Park, and Cottonwood Island Nature Park.
Sporting Events & Concerts
The city is home to the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. It is also home to several other minor hockey league teams. If you want to see live music or concerts, check out the local listings at CN Centre and Busker Rock Merch and Venue.
Culture & Diversity In Prince George
Prince George is an increasingly diverse city. About 9% of the population identifies as a visible minority. 3.5% identify as South Asian. Others include Filipino (1.4%), Chinese (1.3%), and Black (1%). Over 15% of the population is Aboriginal.
Over 7,100 people speak a language other than French or English. The largest number of newcomers in recent years are from India, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, the United States, Germany, and China. The city is also home to many cultural associations for immigrants from around the world.
The Weather in Prince George
Prince George has a humid continental climate and four seasons. You can expect lots of sun between May and September and lots of snow between November and March. The average January temperature is −10 °C, and there’s an average of 38 days from December to February where the high reaches or surpasses freezing.
Summer days are warm, with a July high of 22°C, but lows are often cool, with monthly lows averaging below 10 °C. The transitions between winter and summer, however, are short. There is some precipitation year-round, but February through April is the driest period. Snow averages 216 centimetres each year.
Common Questions Immigrants Ask About Living in Prince George
Is Prince George Part of Vancouver?
No. The city is regarded as the “capital” of northern British Columbia. But it’s about 800 kilometres north of Vancouver. It’s closer to Edmonton, Alberta, which is approximately 740 kilometres west of the city.
Is Prince George a Good City for Immigrants?
The city is seeing an increase in the number of immigrants moving to the city. The region’s economy is growing and offers greater job opportunities. The city is diverse, and it offers newcomers the opportunity to live in a beautiful rural part of Canada.
What are the Pros and Cons of Living in Prince George?
This city has much to offer newcomers. It has a lower cost of living and more affordable real estate compared to other mid-size cities in Canada. There is a lot of space with wonderful outdoor experiences all around you. Even though it’s small, there are good career and education options.
A couple of potential drawbacks of the city are job opportunities are limited to certain industries, the city is in a more remote location, and there are fewer amenities compared to bigger cities.
For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle successfully!