Is Prince Edward Island a good place to live? You might be asking yourself this question if you stumbled across this post.
PEI is somewhat overshadowed by other bigger Canadian provinces such as British Columbia or Ontario, but this small island offers a lot, especially for nature lovers.
There are pros and cons to living anywhere, and PEI is no exception.
Before deciding where we wanted to live in Canada, we spent a lot of time researching all the different provinces. This included researching the pros and cons of living in PEI.
In this article, we share our insights on whether or not Prince Edward Island is a good place to live.
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PEI Basic Facts
PEI population: 167,680 (2022)
PEI size: 5,660 km2
Prince Edward Island is the least populated and smallest province in Canada. To give you a comparison, Canada has 17 national parks, which alone are bigger than the whole of PEI.
The primary industries are tourism, fishing and farming.
Prince Edward Island is famous for its potato farming. It even has a whole museum dedicated to potatoes! As a big potato lover, this makes me really excited.
Prince Edward island produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes.
Besides potatoes, PEI is known for red sand beaches and seafood.
Four local delicacies on the island are potatoes, ice cream, heavily salted butter and lobster.
Seafood is fresh here like nowhere else.
PEI forms part of the Canadian Maritimes. There are two major cities in PEI, the capital city Charlottetown and Summerside.
There are also several smaller towns such as Cornwall, Tignish, and Georgetown.
Living in PEI Pros and Cons
PRO: Beautiful Scenery and Beaches
No matter where you live on PEI, the ocean is never more than a few minutes away. The beaches are mostly sandy and the grass is lush and green.
What’s unique about PEI is the abundance of red soil. This is due to a high level of iron.
You can even DYI your clothes with red color from the sand.
Red Rock Tours provides a dirt shirt tour.
Some popular sand beaches are:
- Brackley Beach
- Cedar Dunes
- Chelton Beach
- Cabot Beach
- Panmure Island
Thunder Cove Beach is one of PEI’s most beautiful and secluded beaches. It’s a bit of a drive from Charlottetown but definitely worth it. Along the way, you’ll spot some spectacular large red sandstone cliffs and red sand beaches.
There are also many scenic drives for road trip lovers, such as Blue Heron Drive, The Lighthouse Route, and The Covehead Bay Coastal Drive.
One of the must-see attractions on PEI is Cavendish Beach. It’s considered one of the best beaches in Canada.
CON: Becomes Overcrowded in Summer
PEI has a population of a little over 150 000 (2019).
During the main tourist season – from May to September, there can be over a million visitors on the island. This is a significant increase in numbers.
Many Canadians have holiday homes on PEI and spend their summers on red sandy beaches. So in the summer, it can get a little overloaded with tourists.
If you plan to move to PEI because you like that it’s a bit isolated and possibly quieter than other places in Canada, then it’s something to keep in mind.
PRO: Family Friendly Place
If you’re searching for a place to raise your kids, PEI might be the perfect spot.
It’s been ranked as one of the top places to live in Canada for young families, primarily because of its safety, rush-free roads, close communities, clean environment and rural lifestyle.
There are also many family outdoor activities and attractions on the island, such as:
- The Anne of Green Gables Museum
Anne of Green Gables is a children’s novel written by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery and published in 1908. It’s a real-life story about an orphan girl who was adopted and raised on Prince Edward Island. Reading a story to your kids could make the visit to the museum more fun and interesting.
- Avonlea Village
If you stop by Avonlea village, try the ice cream at Cows Creamery.
Many family-friendly events also happen throughout the year, such as Fall Flavours, PEI Shellfish Festival, and Island Fringe Festival.
CON: Limited Higher Education Options
When it comes to higher education, PEI has two main post-secondary institutions on the island – the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and Holland College – as well as a few smaller colleges and institutes.
For such a small province, it’s still impressive, but you might not find a field that you’re interested in.
UPEI offers programs in four faculties (Arts, Education, Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine) and two schools (Business and Nursing.)
On the plus side, there are many international students and Charlottetown is a small city with fewer distractions.
Therefore, it might be easier to connect with others, have a sense of community and focus on your studies.
PRO: Little Traffic
The roads on PEI are well maintained and there is little traffic, even in the summer.
This is one of the benefits of living on an island with a small population. You don’t have to deal with big traffic jams.
And since the island is so tiny, you can get anywhere you need to go within a reasonable amount of time.
You can drive from one end of the island to the other in about 3 hours.
Taking coastal rides and driving around the whole island would take approximately 8 hours.
CON: Limited Public Transportation and International Flights
Although there is a public bus system on PEI, it’s not very extensive and only covers Charlottetown and Summerside.
You’ll need a car to get around the island if you live in a smaller town or village.
There is also an airport in Charlottetown. However, most available flights are only domestic.
Besides airport connections, PEI is linked to New Brunswick by the Confederation bridge. It takes about a 10-minute drive to cross the bridge and you’ll only be charged once you leave the island.
There is also a ferry from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia and Quebec.
So basically, to leave the province, you have to pay something, whether it’s a ferry, flight or the toll to cross the bridge.
PRO: Strong Community
In PEI, people are friendly and welcoming. Due to the island’s small population, islanders tend to be more closely knit.
There are many ways to get involved in the community, such as volunteering, joining a club, sports team, or taking courses at a local college.
There are also many cultural events happening throughout the year.
Some popular cultural events are:
- Victoria Day Celebration
- Canada Day Celebration
- Fall Flavours Festival
- Charlottetown Jazz and Blues Festival
- Island Fringe Festival
- Cavendish Beach Music Festival
CON: Lack of Diversity
Most people are from PEI and have lived here all their lives.
Their social life is set around family and friends from childhood. Although they are friendly and welcoming, they’re not necessarily in need of new friends.
As a newcomer, you might sometimes feel a bit isolated or lonely.
PRO: Affordable Housing
Housing is relatively affordable on Prince Edward Island compared to British Columbia or Ontario.
However, house prices have skyrocketed all over Canada, including PEI. In 2022, the average cost of a house hit a record high of around CA$ 400 000. Housing prices are up by almost 20% compared to 2021.
Rent is also affordable. You can still find good deals for renting a one-bedroom apartment in Charlottetown at $1100 plus monthly utilities.
CON: Lack of Housing
The downside is that the vacancy rate for housing in PEI is very low, so finding accommodation can be a challenge.
Although entire Canada is facing a form of housing crisis, some provinces have it worse than others. Nova Scotia and BC are the only two other provinces with worse vacancy rates than PEI.
It seems that the island can’t keep up with the population growth.
In other words, many people are moving to PEI, but houses are not being built fast enough to accommodate all newcomers.
PRO: Safe Environment
Prince Edward Island has an excellent reputation for safety. It has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada.
This is probably thanks to the ‘know-your-neighbor‘ type of environment.
You can feel secure walking around at night.
After spending some time living in Ecuador and South Africa, this feels like a significant benefit.
According to crime severity index statistics from 2020, PEI is in the TOP 3 safest provinces in Canada.
CON: Lack of Job Opportunities
Unless you’re looking for a job related to farming, fishing or hospitality, you might find it challenging to get employment in PEI.
Therefore, it’s advisable to have a job lined up before moving to the island.
Charlottetown is not a major business hub nor a big city, so the job opportunities are limited.
The minimum wage in PEI is CA $13.70 per hour.
PRO: Mild Climate
Let’s face it, winters can be long and harsh in Canada, but PEI isn’t too bad compared to other Canadian provinces.
The average temperature during the day in winter is -7°, and in summer around 20°. So as far as temperature goes, it hits a good sweet spot. It doesn’t get too hot or too cold. And you get a pleasant ocean breeze in summer.
However, as PEI is an island, there is no mountain to stop the windchill. This can make the temperatures feel a lot cooler.
The island also gets a lot of snow during the winter months.
But if you bundle up and enjoy outdoor winter activities such as snowshoeing, winter will be a breeze.
On a positive note, the island has beautiful weather from the end of April until the end of November. This gives you enough time to soak up the sun on the red sand beaches.
CON: Seasonal Nature of Jobs
According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Charlottetown for a couple renting one bedroom apartment would be around CA $2500.
Although the cost of living in PEI is not high, most jobs available are primarily seasonal, whether it’s tourism or agriculture.
The seasonal nature of jobs makes earning income outside of the season challenging unless you work online or in a different industry.
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Many people live off EI (employment insurance) benefits during winter. EI is a Canadian government program that provides temporary income support for unemployed people due to the seasonality of their jobs or other factors.
Sales tax is also high compared to other Canadian provinces – 15%.
Final Thoughts + FAQ
Is PEI a good place to live?
People who choose to call PEI their home generally prefer a rural lifestyle rather than city life.
If you love slow-paced country living and the ocean, then Prince Edward island might be a perfect fit for you.
Thanks to these factors, the PEI island provides a healthy work-life balance.
However, PEI is not ideal if you are looking for the hustle and bustle of city life.
Before moving to PEI, just be aware that you might not be able to find a job immediately.
Overall, it’s a pleasant place to live with friendly people and stunning scenery. It’s a perfect place to raise a family or retire.
There are many cultural events and music festivals around every corner.
What is the average cost of living in Prince Edward Island?
For a single person living in one bedroom apartment estimated monthly cost is around CA$ 2000. This average figure includes rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, transportation, and other basics.
Is it expensive to live in PEI?
Residents of Prince Edward Island enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, with relatively low living costs, housing and heating costs. As a result, the province has one of the highest homeownership rates in Canada. Although rising house prices and inflation might change this.
Is it worth moving to PEI?
PEI is an excellent place to move with your family. The province has decent schools and plenty of family-friendly activities, especially outdoors. Make sure to share the story of Anne of Green Gables with your kids before you move here.
What are winters like in PEI?
During the winter, PEI gets an average total yearly snowfall of 290 centimeters (114 inches). Temperatures range between -3 to -11°C (26 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit), but cold windchills can make it feel more like it is -20°C(-13 degrees Fahrenheit). The coldest month in PEI is February.
Where is the best place to live on Prince Edward Island?
The best cities in Prince Edward Island include Charlottetown, Summerside, Stratford, Cornwall, Three Rivers, and Kensington. These places provide a good standard of living at a relatively low cost of living.
Does PEI have good healthcare?
PEI ranks high in providing good access to regular health care. In Canada, primary health care is publicly funded by taxes, so minor treatments are free. To access the health care services in PEI, you must apply for a valid PEI Health Card.
What jobs are in demand in Prince Edward Island?
The jobs in high demand in PEI are mostly related to trades, farming, fishing and hospitality.
Agriculture, fisheries, IT, aerospace, and biotech are expanding industries in PEI with plenty of opportunities for both young and experienced employees.
What is the minimum wage in Prince Edward Island?
Although P.E.I.’s minimum wage rose 70 cents on April 1, 2022, to $13.70 per hour, the province faces some of the highest inflation in Canada. As a result, the minimum wage increase isn’t enough to keep up with current inflation. In other words, $13.70 in May 2022 has the same purchasing power as $12.33 in May 2021.
Is it easy to get PR in Prince Edward Island?
Under Express Entry, the Prince Edward Island Provincial Nomination Program enables successful applicants to become Canadian permanent residents extremely quickly, often in less than 6 months.
How safe is Prince Edward Island?
PEI has a good reputation for safety. According to crime severity index statistics from 2020, Prince Edward Island is in the TOP 3 safest provinces in Canada.
How big is Charlottetown?
The city is 44.33 square kilometers and has a population of 36 094 (2016). Charlottetown is the capital city of Prince Edward Island and Canada’s “Birthplace of Confederation”.