Looking to move to Kamloops? Want to know more about the city?
Here is an article first published on a lawstudents.ca website highlighting the experience of a couple moving from Calgary to Kamloops.
When we moved to Kamloops from Calgary, I thought for sure that I would miss the hustle and bustle of the big city, along with its zany politics and daily happenings. We lived in Hillhurst (inner city) and took advantage of Calgary's many festivals, farmers' markets, restaurants and night life. While I was sure I would make friends and that law school would provide more than enough entertainment, I expected Kamloops life to be otherwise pretty boring. Probably a fairly natural big city perspective. Those coming from Vancouver had much the same expectation I think. Obviously some folks in our class came from smaller venues and to them Kamloops is the big smoke...
We quickly found that Kamloops had everything to offer that a big city does just in smaller doses. It didn't take long for us to find the yoga studios and the farmers' market (which is awesome!), the fine dining (which you can honestly count on both hands) and the night clubs (I think there's three). I was relieved to learn that there was politics here too. In short, all the things that I was finally starting to find cool about Calgary were also happening here. All of this is a round about way of saying that I think Kamloops does have a fairly strong sense of Community in and of itself. The University Community on the other hand has quite a ways to go in building a real campus community. That's a whole other post. But it goes without saying that a very strong community exists around TRU. I could say more about all this but it would be difficult to paint an accurate picture.
As already alluded to the weather is pretty easy to deal with. It was 35 degrees today on May 12th so you can imagine what the summer is like. We moved here in July last year and got the best of summer. Winter is grey and overcast, like most of BC, but coming from Calgary it was nice to not have to contend with -35 every other day. Winter is definitely milder in Kamloops. Even though it gets to minus 30 here, it doesn't last long. I think it mostly hovers around -5 throughout the winter. May want to consult Wiki on this one, rather than rely on my amateur meteorology.
Housing market. The cost of purchasing a home in Kamloops is substantially more affordable than in major markets. I don't know much about this because to be honest I am so far from being a home owner that I don't even bother to look. But this is a known fact. A fair number of folks in our class (who are older or who managed money better than I) bought homes here when they moved! For others you could see the wheels in their heads starting to spin shortly after arriving. I know of one classmate who convinced a family member to buy a property here merely on spec. Housing starts are up up up and the city is on the move. Yes, there are a lot of smiles these days in Kamloops and for a variety of reasons (new businesses opening, new employment sectors opening up). Maybe call the Chamber of Commerce if you need more boosterism facts.
Kamloops is now and has historically been a legal hub. Being the seat of Yale County, a courthouse has been in operation here since the late 1800s. People travel in for hundreds of miles to seek legal advice and lawyers in Kamloops service a vast area that stretches from Merritt to the West, to Williams Lake in the North and all the way to Kootneys in the East. In Kamloops proper it is estimated that there are somewhere in the vicinity of 200 to 250 lawyers. Add to that 75 and now another 75-90 law students and I think its pretty safe to say that Kamloops has solidified itself as a true legal hub.
And lastly, I want to do my best to try to dispel the myth (although maybe I shouldn't for my own sake) that if you chose to go to work in a market like Kamloops (or somewhere even more 'remote') that you should expect to make considerably less than you would in Vancouver or Calgary. I accepted this as the gospel truth for quite a while but at this point, I quite frankly just don't think there's much to it. If you work hard and you're in it to make money, then you will make money in any profession.
I should probably wrap it up here. But I'll finish by saying that when I think about all of this and I put it in perspective, I try to imagine two different scenarios. The first I see myself cramped in a little office in downtown Calgary (hopefully one with a window) trying desperately to fulfill my 2000 billable hour target for the year so I can hopefully impress my principle and all the other partners so that I can make Associate so that I can buy a tiny house on the outskirts of Calgary so that I can get stuck in traffic in -30 weather on my way to my corporate bee hive in order to do the legal bidding of Oil & Gas conglomerates. And then I imagine myself working in a small firm in Kamloops or Salmon Arm or Vernon, with a peach tree just outside of my office, five minutes from where I live, where my kids play in a pool in our backyard (that's actually in use six months of the year) where I maybe serve as a part-time city councilor adding my own brand of zany politics to the laid back mix of BC life. I paint this rosy picture because I honestly believe it to be a possibility.
The honest truth - I may never leave.