Nanaimo apartment buildings are a secure and attractive investment. Rising population, high income levels, a diverse employment market, low vacancy, and balanced rental housing supply all contribute to a thriving multifamily investment market.

Nanaimo is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, approximately 110 km northwest of Victoria, and 55 km west of Vancouver. The city is a primary connection for BC Ferries with terminals at Departure Bay, Duke Point and downtown. As such, Nanaimo connects the British Columbia mainland to most destinations on the northern part of Vancouver Island. Courtenay-Comox, Parksville, Campbell River, Port Alberni, and many of the Gulf Island all connect through Nanaimo.

Nanaimo is home to Vancouver Island Airport with services to Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. Bus service in the city is provided by Nanaimo Regional Transit. Highways 1, 19  and 19A connect Nanaimo to Victoria to the south and Courtenay-Comox to the north.

As a result of its excellent geographical location and desirable coastal lifestyle, Nanaimo is projected to grow still further through 2041 and beyond.

Nanaimo Population

City of Nanaimo population was 94,760 in 2018. Population is projected to reach 100,562 residents by 2023.

Nanaimo Regional District population was 146,574 in the 2011 census, a 5.7% increase over population of 138,631 in 2006. The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation expects population to grow by 30% to 200,811 residents by 2041.

City of Nanaimo contained 40,824 households in 2018, up from 37,865 households in 2013. City of Nanaimo households are expected to continue their growth trend to 43,620 by 2023. As a result, an additional 2,800 households will be coming to City of Nanaimo in the next four years.

  • Nanaimo population annual growth rate is between 1.20% and 1.54% every year from 2013 – 2023.
  • Nanaimo household annual growth rate is between 1.33% and 1.56% every year from 2013 – 2023.
  • In 2018, 67.17% of households own a home and 32.83% of households rent a home
  • By 2023, 66.67% of households will own a home and 33.33% of households will rent a home

In Nanaimo, population growth will continue at a steady rate. Proportion of renters is climbing. Developers and rental housing providers should plan to meet increasing demand.

(Source for Statistics: ESRI & Statistics Canada)

Nanaimo Demographics

Nanaimo Apartment Buildings Rental Housing Infographic

Nanaimo Income & Employment

Average household income in Nanaimo is $85,005 per year. More than 50% of households earn more than $100,000 per year. In addition, only 12% of households earn less than $20,000 per year. As a result, many tenants in Nanaimo come with excellent income, higher than in many towns of a similar size.

Nanaimo boast an extraordinarily high employment rate of nearly 97%. Nanaimo unemployment rate was 30% better than the provincial average in 2018. Provincial unemployment rate in 2018 was 4.5% while Nanaimo was just 3.3%.

Nanaimo’s economy includes diverse jobs in public and private sectors. The retail, health care, accommodation services, construction and education sectors make up more than 50% of the local job market. No single economic sector dominates the job market which means landlords have a diverse group of tenants to choose from. This also limits risk exposure to any one economic sector.

As a result of high income and strong job market, Nanaimo apartment buildings’ landlords have their choice of thousands of financially qualified tenants.

(Source for Statistics: ESRI & Statistics Canada)

Labour Force Participation Rate

Labour Market by Sector

Nanaimo Unemployment Rate







Nanaimo is a beautiful coastal city with a diverse local economy, thriving job market and high household incomes.

Nanaimo Vacancy Rate

Nanaimo vacancy rate has remained consistently low over the long term. Nanaimo vacancy rate was just 2.4% in 2018. Average vacancy rate over the past eighteen years in Nanaimo was just 3.0%. A spike was seen in 2012 when vacancies rose to 7%. Apart from that, the Nanaimo vacancy rate is typically well-below 5%. Accordingly, Nanaimo is a market with a low-moderate vacancy risk.

The vacancy rate in Nanaimo is higher than nearby Victoria. This creates a relatively balanced rental market compared to many markets in British Columbia. There are enough units available for tenants to move up and down market as needed. Landlords must provide clean, safe and well-maintained rental properties to attract the best tenants. 

Given historically moderate vacancy rates in Nanaimo, well-maintained properties in good locations will continue to attract the best tenants. 

(Source for Statistics: CMHC)

Nanaimo Housing Prices

Nanaimo housing prices more than doubled from 2005 – 2018. Prices have risen sharply since 2014. The average price for a home in Nanaimo rose to a record high of $556,820 in 2018.

In addition to the rapid rise in housing prices, the federal government introduced the B20 mortgage stress test in January 2018. B20 requires home buyers to qualify for a mortgage at the 5-year benchmark rate. As a result, Nanaimo homebuyers lose, on average, 20 percent of their purchase power.

The number of housing sales reached a 10-year high in 2016 before falling to close to average levels. Number of sales are expected to drop further in 2019.

The dramatic rise in housing prices coupled with the B20 mortgage stress test combine to create positive circumstances for landlords. Thousands of Nanaimo residents can no longer purchase a home and will remain as renters. These include many stable, high-earning households who make excellent tenants.

(Source for Statistics: Vancouver Island Real Estate Board)

Nanaimo Rental Housing Supply

Over the past couple decades, the number of rental units in Nanaimo decreased every year from 2001 until 2012. Going even further back, Nanaimo saw annual decreases in rental units almost every year from 1991 until 2012.  In 2012, we saw the first new purpose-built rental housing in a generation.

Both 2013 and 2018 saw significant jumps in the rental supply market with additions of 242 units and 181 units respectively. However when smooth out the bumps, rental supply has increased on average 73 units per year for the past 5 years (2013-2018).

Nanaimo rental housing stock is old. Nearly 80% of rental units were built before year 2000. As buildings reach the end of their life, new supply is needed.







Nanaimo’s desirable coastal lifestyle attracts new residents from across the province.

Nanaimo Rental Housing Starts & Completions

In 2018, Nanaimo apartment buildings housing completions reached their highest level in more than a decade. Even with a significant increase in supply, the vacancy rate moved only marginally from 1.9% to 2.4%. This speaks to the extraordinarily high demand for rental housing as the cost of purchasing a home increases and housing affordability decreases.

  • 10-year average number of rental housing starts is 268
  • 10-average number of rental housing completions is 290

Given the proportion of owners vs renters and household growth in Nanaimo, it can be concluded that 1,000-1,200 new rental households will be added between now and 2023. This equates to between 250 – 300 new rental units needed each year through 2023. The current rate of housing starts is meeting the demand and we will likely enter a stabilized rental market in Nanaimo.

(Source for Statistics: CMHC and Statistics Canada)

Nanaimo Rental Supply vs Vacancy Rate

The graph to the left provides a unique perspective into the Nanaimo rental housing market. It shows the rental housing supply trend over top of the vacancy rate trend.

Both lines are 3-year rolling averages, a metric used to show trends and market direction. Housing completions and vacancy rates are parallel through 2013.

However, in 2014 the lines head in opposite directions. Supply increases dramatically, but vacancy plummets to new lows. This coincides with the rapid rise in housing prices which began that same year.

Rental housing completions have exceeded the 10-year average every year from 2016-2018, and yet vacancy rates fell during that time. It could be concluded that high residential housing prices had a significant impact on vacancy rates in Nanaimo, driving vacancy down even as rental supply rose.

Nanaimo Apartment Buildings Cap Rates

Nanaimo apartment buildings cap rates have consistently remained between 4.5% – 5.5% over the past several years. Cap rates and price per unit are remain flat over the past three years.

In Nanaimo, location, age, and condition of the building have significant impact on the cap rate that can be achieved. Length of tenancy can also come into place a certain buildings may have unusually low income from long-term tenants.

Every building is different and should be evaluated based on its individual merits. If you’re looking to buy or sell a rental apartment building in Nanaimo, Call Today.

(Source for Statistics: Multifamily Real Estate Services internal database and primary research)

Nanaimo Apartment Buildings Market Highlights

  • Diverse and stable job market creates ideal circumstances for tenants to earn excellent income, but still not be able to buy a home.
  • Until housing prices drop, we will see many long-term rental households with annual income of $75,000 – 125,000.
  • At least 1,000 – 1,200 new rental households will be created in Nanaimo by 2023.
  • An additional 700 – 1,000 units are nearing the end of their usable life.
  • Vacancy rates will rise slightly in 2019-2020 and stabilize near the 10-year average of 3%.
  • Current rate of housing starts meets current demand and we will enter a balanced rental market in Nanaimo. As a result, rental housing starts will slow by 2021.
  • Cap rates will remain flat. Nanaimo cap rates depend heavily on individual building characteristics.