Settlement and housing experiences of recent immigrants in small- and mid-sized cities in the interior of British Columbia (Canada)

Relatively little is known about immigrants’ settlement experiences in small- and mid-sized Canadian cities, including their access to local services and their housing experiences and outcomes—both of which are key factors in successful integration. This study considered immigrants’ settlement experiences, including their access to local services and their housing experiences and outcomes, in the cities of Kelowna and Kamloops, with a focus on the housing rental market, and reliance on community services. The results of the study include recommendations for improving immigrants’ settlement and integration in urban areas in the interior of British Columbia. Survey data were gathered between April and August 2015 from 80 recent immigrant renters in the cities of Kelowna (40) and in Kamloops (40). Findings suggest that immigrants find their housing more difficult than anticipated, largely due to unexpectedly high costs and unfamiliarity with the Canadian housing system. Few immigrants in either city relied on local community organizations or government-sponsored ones to find a place to live and/or a job upon arrival in Kelowna or Kamloops, although those who did found them very helpful. Immigrants relied mostly on their family and friends for initial assistance, but would have preferred to have received more information prior to or on their arrival. They recommended that settlement and housing services offer more direct assistance to new immigrants. For policies to succeed in attracting and retaining immigrants to these cities in British Columbia’s interior depends on the presence of (a) more subsidized/affordable housing; (b) job opportunities that match immigrants’ qualifications and that offer an adequate income; and (c) quality services and programs to integrate new immigrants into the community.

Publication Date: 
May 2017
Journal Name: 
Journal of Housing and the Built Environment
British Columbia, Canada