Buying a Home in Trail, BC
by T. Wight

So you've decided to move to the City of Trail, in the West Kootenays of British Columbia.  Maybe you spent your vacation here in the summer, or took a skiing trip in the winter, fell in love with the quaint style of Trail, and concluded that this is the place to be.  Or perhaps you're just looking for a second home or vacation property to visit a few times a year.  The 2008 BC assessment showed that the average home price in Trail is around $184,000, the result of double digit % growth over the last couple years.  This article will give you some other factors to consider if buying a home in Trail.

Do I want a home in Trail or outside Trail?

The first decision to make is do you want to live in Trail, or outside the city?  This is an important consideration, because it will determine how much time you spend driving and how close you are to services. 

Luckily, there are many small communities and subdivisions within a short distance (<15km) of Trail.  Rossland and Warfield are located to the west, but be aware that home prices are higher in Rossland, probably due to it's proximity to a ski hill.  Also, even though it's a short drive, most of it is uphill which can sometimes be tricky in the winter if you have to make many return trips.  The communities of Montrose and Fruitvale are located to the east.  These are smaller towns with many people who commute to Trail for work.  Close to the north are small subdivisions of Blueberry and Genelle.  About 26km north is the larger city of Castlegar, which is an easy daily commute.

Where to buy a home in Trail?

There are three main parts to Trail, the downtown area west of the Columbia River, and two areas on the east side of the Columbia River. 

The downtown area of Trail has the Teck Cominco building with the large smokestack, and the older downtown and residential area.  This was the part of Trail that was first settled.  The downtown has all kinds of shopping, and the hockey arena where the Trail Smoke Eaters play.  Homes in this area tend to be smaller, close together, older, and on hills.  If you aren't very mobile, many of the homes in this area might not be for you.  If mobility isn't a problem, then you are close to the downtown action.

The east side of Trail is an extended residential area from the Columbia River out to the area of big shopping stores east of town.  Many of the homes in this area are newer and on flatter ground, with residential parks nearby.  The Trail Aquatic center is in this area, as well as the main mall, Zellers, Walmart and Canadian Tire superstores.

If you take Columbia Ave. to the north, you will enter the third part of Trail.  This is a residential area located north of the downtown, on the east side of the River.  It is a quieter area because there is no through road past this zone.

Buying a home outside Trail

People commute to Trail from as far as Castlegar to the north (26 km), Salmo to the east (40 km), and Nelson to the northeast (65 km).  There are all sizes of subdivisions in between as well.  One advantage of buying outside Trail is you might be able to get a larger property, which is great if you have animals or need more storage area for things like an RV or boat.  You can also buy a home on the lakefront or with a water view in some areas.  Living between Trail and Castlegar can be convenient if you need to spend time in both cities.  Castlegar is convenient if you also want to be close to Nelson.  Salmo is equally distant from Trail, Nelson, and Castlegar.

Get a home inspection

Since many homes in Trail are older (Trail is over 100 years old), it's a smart idea to get a home inspection.  Sometimes competition is so fierce when a nice home comes on the market, that buyers waive the home inspection to get the deal done.  If you can't afford a nasty surprise in the way of home repairs, then make sure to get an inspection.

Future Home Sales in Trail

Despite the recent economic downturn of 2008/2009 in the Canadian economy, Trail home sales will likely stay buoyant for the next decade.  Trail is the type of place where people move to get away from the 'rat race' of the big city.  The pace is slower, there are lots of activities for families that are easy to get to, year round outdoor recreation, and don't forget Trail is known for it's sports scene and Italian community.  The city is close to mountains, lakes and rivers.  Red Mountain ski resort is just over the mountain near Rossland.  Trail has been one of the lower priced communities in the West Kootenays, but people are starting to catch on and prices are catching up to places like Nelson and Castlegar.
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