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Your Guide to Salt Spring 🌿🌊: Dive into Island Life & Real Estate Insights! 🎥🏡

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring is part of the Gulf Islands, located between Vancouver Island and the BC coast.

It is both the largest of the Gulf Islands, at around 182 square kms, and the most densely populated–with the 2021 census indicating a population of 11,635. Salt Spring Island accounts for over two thirds of the total Gulf Islands population.

Vancouver Island is often talked about as having a slower-paced lifestyle, and this is embodied to the next level on Salt Spring. It’s very popular for artists, musicians, and people who appreciate holistic living.

While there are a significant number of retirees, there is a variety of age demographics and young families. Salt Spring also attracts many visitors and second homeowners.

Getting to Salt Spring: From Victoria and Vancouver

Salt Spring (Fulford) is only about a 35-minute ferry ride from Victoria (Swartz Bay).

From Vancouver (Tsawwassen) it’s about one hour and 25-minutes non-stop; however, it’s more likely there will be shared stops between a few of the Gulf Islands which typically makes the ferry ride from Vancouver somewhere between two to three hours.

There are three ferry terminals on Salt Spring island: Vesuvius Bay, Long Harbour, and Fulford.

There are also many Salt Spring residents and visitors who take their own boat travelling between Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and mainland BC.

Another couple points worth noting:

You can’t make reservations for the Salt Spring ferry from Victoria, so you’ll want to check the schedule and ensure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the terminal.

For two people and a car, we paid $60, which also covers our trip back.

General Overview of Salt Spring

We do not own property on Salt Spring, so our perspectives are as visitors, and based on our knowledge of the Salt Spring real estate market. However, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend extended time here with our friends whose family had a place on Salt Spring Island up until this past fall.   

I remember when I visited Salt Spring Island for the first time in October of 2017, I described it as “all my favourite things in one place”. It has a peaceful, whimsical energy to it.

Community

There are farms, wineries, and orchards on the island. You’ll spot plenty of roadside stands offering a variety of local produce and handmade signs directing you to different artisans and craftspeople. The Salt Spring Market is a beautiful reflection of all of this! The market takes place in Ganges, the business district of the island, and happens each Saturday from March to October.

Salt Spring Island is a part of the traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, more specifically the Hul’qumi’num First Nations, Chemainus First Nation, and WSANEC First Nations, whose relationships with the land continue today.

Economy

The economy is characterized by a mix of agriculture, arts, tourism, and small-scale industries.

Local farmers cultivate a wide range of produce, and the island hosts a vibrant arts community with numerous galleries and studios.

The tourism industry thrives due to the island’s natural attractions and cultural events.

Schools

School District 64 includes Salt Spring, as well as Galiano, Mayne, Saturna, and Pender Island.

Salt Spring has the greatest number of schools for the district.

Villages

The island is bigger than one might expect, as I mentioned earlier–around 182 square kilometres, and about 27 km, or 17 miles, and 14.5 km, or 9 miles, across and its widest point.

In addition to Ganges, there are three other villages on Salt Spring: Fulford in the south end; Vesuvius Bay, with a west-facing beach; and Fernwood in the north-east.

Provincial Parks

There are several provincial parks on the island where you can enjoy the natural beauty of Salt Spring and coastline views:

Mount Erskine Provincial Park
Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve and Provincial Park
Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park
Ruckle Provincial Park
Mount Tuam Ecological Reserve

Climate

Similar to Victoria, Salt Spring enjoys a temperate climate.

There is a fair amount of rain during the winter, but quite a bit less than other regions on the West Coast, and the summers are sunny with average high temperatures of 20 to 22 degrees. 

Real Estate on Salt Spring Island

The MLS home Price Index uses data from sales history to calculate benchmark price as the value of a typical home based on what has been bought and sold in the area.

The Gulf Islands as a whole have a benchmark price of $751,500 as of December of 2023.

Looking at this graph (above) we can see the sharp climb from 2020 to 2022, and then the market’s response to the eight consecutive interest rate increases in 2022, which brought the Bank of Canada policy rate up from 0.25% to 4.5%.

Since then, prices have started to creep up again, sitting at a similar spot to that late 2021 period.

Whereas, looking at this line chart (above), which shows the average sold price by month for single family detached homes on Salt Spring in the past five years, we can see the average sale price on Salt Spring is quite a bit higher than that benchmark value for the Gulf Islands.

Please keep in mind that the benchmark calculation is not the same as average sale price, as the benchmark calculation is first using data to determine a “typical” home, and then calculating the average sale price based on that; whereas the average sales price by month is simply taking all sales into account.

Therefore, if there are less sales happening in a given month, but those sales are luxury listings–then the average sale price is going to be higher than if the sales taking place were your more commonly seen homes.

Just for fun, at the time of this blog post, there are 82 listings on Salt Spring, with an RV site listed at $138,000 and a luxury home listed at $11,975,000.

As always, please reach out if you’re interested in a more specific stats package relative to what you’re looking for.

Salt Spring real estate is made up of primarily low density detached homes, although there are some townhouse and low-rise apartment developments.

Another big characteristic of Salt Spring real estate is that we’re not seeing development happen on the island the same way that we are seeing in the Greater Victoria area. And, even with the development in Victoria, we often talk about the need for a greater supply of housing. Affordable housing, which is a huge topic BC-wide, is also a challenge on Salt Spring.

Of course, a big consideration for building on Salt Spring is the infrastructure of the island, so even with new developments being proposed, it’s unlikely the housing density on Salt Spring will change significantly.

All that being said, Salt Spring Island is a pretty special place to live, whether year-round or temporarily.

There is a lot of love and energy poured into the community and hospitality shared with visitors from all around the world.

Contact us: 250-634-2141 (call or text) or [email protected]

Schedule a call with us: https://calendly.com/alex-nph/30min?month=2024-01

Download our (free) guides: https://northpacifichomes.ca/guides/

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