Jul 1, 2004 | Marmot, Summer 2004

Direct from the UK…The Adams Family!

Forget the Alberta invasion: Mount Washington is under a British Invasion!

Mark and Helen Adams moved with their son Edward, daughter Elizabeth and long-haired German shepherd Barney to Mount Washington last April. The Adams family – yes, even they grin when they say it – emigrated from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, near Leeds in the north end of England. The couple left their estate agency business for greener pastures – and the chance to ski or
hike from their front door whenever they wanted.

“We loved Canada the first time we came,” Mark said. “It’s got a lot of open space, beautiful scenery.”

“It’s a great place to bring your children up,” said Helen.
“The U.K. is just so overcrowded now,” Mark said. “Sixty million people live in a space not much bigger than Vancouver Island. “We’ve settled in very quickly,” he added. Helen has joined a women’s hiking
group. Edward, 12, is making a name for himself golfing at Crown Isle.

Elizabeth, in Grade 4 at Brooklyn Elementary, has also taken up golfing, and
loves to snowboard and spend time with her new Jack Russell Terrier, Digger.

The family loves to sail, and joined the Comox Valley Yacht Club so they can use the club’s equipment. They’ve also been renovating their eight-year-old chalet.

The family nearly ended up somewhere else in B.C. They first looked at Kelowna, but changed their minds in favor of Squamish. But nothing really grabbed them about that area either, Helen said. “A waitress in a hotel up there (Squamish) asked us if we’d heard of the Comox Valley, and told us to come up here.”

They drove up the old Island Highway in a snowstorm. “We wondered, ‘what have we done?'” A one-night stay at the Coast Westerly stretched into four nights, and they discovered Mount Washington.

The Adams’ were originally going to buy a house in Comox and a rental property at Mount Washington, but once they came up the mountain and saw the chalet they had selected, they changed their plans. The emigration process took 18 months, but the family said it was worth the wait.

“When you come to Canada from the U.K., everything seems like good value for
the money,” Mark said. “That’s a whole lot of the attraction.”

So are the “cheap” housing prices. The cost of real estate has doubled in the U.K. in the past four years. For example, a four-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot single family home in a standard sub-division costs £220,000 (about $450,000 Cdn.). And that’s just in Yorkshire, where the Adams used to live – London is even more expensive.

“Here, a two-bedroom condo would be 1,300 square feet,” Mark said. “Compared to the U.K. it’s much cheaper here.” The real estate business is also different, Mark said. As a property manager, Helen used to look after 150 houses. “I would sell 200 houses a year,” he said.

The Adams’ are not the only ones who have admitted a love affair with Mount Washington. Gibson has had over 200 inquiries in the last year and a half from the United Kingdom, from people searching for property on Mount Washington or in the Comox Valley.

What attracts them here? “Snow. A great family skiing area. Affordability. If a British family is looking for a ski holiday they can come here for two weeks and it’s still cheaper than one week in Europe – and a more enjoyable experience,” he said.

“Since WestJet opened, the Comox Valley is full of Albertans, but the Albertans tend to shy away from the snow,” he said.

“The Britons, on the other hand, tend to think Mount Washington is the best snow on earth.”

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