A lifestyle change was the biggest factor in the arrival of 559 new people to Nelson last year, according to the New Resident Survey released by Community Futures of Central Kootenay.
Of the 238 responses to the annual Nelson Welcome Wagon survey — which concluded its data collection May 31 — 140 people cited a “lifestyle change” as the reason for the move to Nelson.
One of the more heartening aspects the survey revealed was that 100 families — consisting of anywhere from one to six people — moved back to Nelson to be near family.
Eighty-two families landed in Nelson for a job opportunity or a transfer, while 59 families came for the scenery and the weather. Twenty-six people came to attend school and 24 arrived to retire (or were semi-retired).
The lure of Whitewater brought seven families to the city, while 11 families sought employment. Two families moved to “raise children.”
The internet is a growing tool to help people find the hidden Kootenay gem that is Nelson, with the vast majority (103) finding information about the city and the region online, with only 11 using magazines or newspapers to do so.
Although 97 per cent of the people that arrived in Nelson said the Central Kootenay region has lived up to their expectations, there were problems. Some people cited a lack of a daily newspaper as one of the major issues wrong with Nelson.
“Terrible that (Nelson Daily News) is out of business,” one person wrote.
And the difficulty of finding a parking spot was an issue, as well as the lack of a movie theatre. No affordable accommodations — especially ones that allowed people to have a dog — was a problem, as was the high cost of rent, and the price not measuring up to the low wages paid by employers.
Others felt the city’s police should “lighten up,” while “Kootenay time” was another major hindrance to adapting to life in Nelson for some. Some felt the city was lacking a “head shop,” missing after the closure of Holy Smoke Culture Shop over two years ago.
But overall they were pleased with the lack of fast food outlets and the city’s charm.
The majority — 51 per cent — of people moving to Nelson did so from other areas of the province, with Alberta (51), Ontario (19) and Saskatchewan (nine) rounding out the top four.
Of the 238 families moving to Nelson, the majority were still couples and single people. There were 89 families comprised of two people, with 65 single people and 41 families of three. There were 33 families of three, five families of five and six families of six.
Within the 559 new people, nearly half of them were within the 25 to 44 age range (240), with 63 people in the five to 14 age range, and 58 aged 45-54. That breakdown mirrors the Nelson demographic in the 2006 census, with over one quarter of the population in the 25-44 age range, and the 45-54 and five-14 groups not far behind.
Family and friends were still the best calling card for the city, with 130 people explaining someone they knew was the reason they had first found out about the region and Nelson. There were 42 respondents that said they has drove through or vacationed in the area and decided to move here.