Moving to Hornby Island - A place to live and work

Families welcome!

Hornby Island offers some special qualities to people looking for an extraordinary place to live and work - or to take a sabbatical.

A place for your sabbatical?

Hornby Island is proving to be an excellent location for professional or academic sabbaticals, particularly for families with elementary-school age children. The natural and cultural context supports reflective and intellectual work. There are incredible off-season housing opportunities and a community school that will provide an enriching educational experience.


Decisions to move to Hornby are generally made on the basis of life-style choices rather than economic opportunity. And what a lifestyle! Removed from the mainstream, Hornby Islanders relish the quality of life rather than focusing upon consumption. There is a supportive atmosphere for those pursuing innovation and alternatives. For a rural community there is unusually strong interest in cultural and intellectual pursuits; many residents have left successful mainstream careers to live a less complicated life on Hornby Island.


House prices compare favourably with those in more settled areas of south-west BC. Below is the average price of non-waterfront homes recently sold on Hornby Island with current (fall 2008) average prices in other locations:

Most lots are at least a half acre in size, providing space, privacy and the opportunity to build a studio, office or workshop for a home business.

Over 40% of homes are owned by non-residents. Many of these are only used in the summer and are available for rent at reasonable rates in the winter. These can include spectacular waterfront dwellings

To check out availability of homes on Hornby Island contact:


The Hornby Island Community School provides an exceptional educational experience for students from kindergarten to grade 8. Small class sizes ensure plenty of individual attention from a caring and experienced staff providing a high quality academic program. The school experience is enhanced by a safe and natural environment. Active community involvement contributes to rich sports, artistic and environmental programs. Hornby Island Pre-school provides loving and professional care for younger children.


A third of Hornby Island is included in three provincial parks, a regional nature park and extensive Crown land offering extensive opportunities for hiking, biking, horse-riding, photography and enjoying nature. The ocean around Hornby provides excellent scuba diving, kayaking and sailing. The Island has an active recreation program and a training facility. The spectacular natural beauty, protected through the mandate of the Islands Trust, is a daily gift for residents. Click to view our Recreation listing.


The many artists, actors and musicians living on Hornby provide an incredibly rich local culture. In addition, performers of national and international stature are regularly brought to the Island by the Festival Society, Blues Society and other organizations. Seldom does a week go by without a cultural event. High caliber local teachers provide an opportunity to develop ones own skills.


Hornby Island has an exceptionally strong community spirit, with a high level of participation in the many community organizations that enhance community life. There is support for people of all ages and types and a variety of opportunities to get together with others. Newcomers are readily welcomed into the community.


For a small community, Hornby Island is well-endowed with services. The local general stores are committed to providing a year-round range of food and other products that far exceed what is usually available in rural areas. There is a credit union branch, high speed internet, a hardware department, good local food and wine products, a library, free store, pub, places to eat, clothing outlets and recreational services. There is quality medical service, with a new clinic being developed and a range of local health practitioners. Visit Shops & Services for more information.

Livelihood opportunities

There are few regular "jobs" on Hornby. Nevertheless, many residents have been able to secure steady, if not hugely affluent, livelihoods. Combinations of self-employment (through a home-based business) with part time or seasonal employment are quite common.

An aging local population provides opportunities for succession in art/crafts, agriculture and trades and services (including services for older residences). Improved internet service opens the opportunity for web-based businesses and telecommuting. There is potential for businesses based upon Hornby's reputation for innovative practices, recreation and personal growth/healing.

Art/crafts: Hornby Island has a thriving and renowned community of working artists and artisans. Many established artists/artisans are in, or approaching there senior years. Younger artists/artisans are welcomed to the community to continue this valued cultural tradition. The Hornby Island Arts Council acts as a resource for local artists. Many visitors come to seek out local works and products. Collective marketing efforts are evolving.

Agriculture: Twenty eight per cent of Hornby's land mass is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Many of Hornby's farmers are in or approaching their senior years opening the potential for succession. Although agriculture presents a number of challenges (such as cost of land and access to markets), there are some successful specialty producers.

Trades: Some important local tradespeople are approaching retirement. There can be delays in securing the services of an electrician, plumber and some other trades. Local work opportunities can be supplemented by clients on nearby Denman Island and mid-Vancouver Island.

Services: An older resident population, a comparatively affluent summer population and loyal returning visitors require a range of household, food, personal and health services. As current entrepreneurs and members of the workforce retire, replacement service-providers will be needed.

Web-based business and telecommuting: A number of Hornby residents have managed to establish a working life here based upon internet access. This includes designers, editors, programmers, educators and researchers.

Innovative businesses: There is potential for innovative businesses, particularly those that build upon Hornby Island's assets and reputation.

Testimonials for living on Hornby Island

Read the following testimonial from Elizabeth Earle and this article in Canadian Living about families who have taken sabbaticals on Hornby Island