There is a rumour that you should avoid the downtown core. It is "rougher" looking than say north nanaimo. But it has so much more community, personality, and things to do for young ones. Living downtown or somewhee in that area gives easy access to the waterfront where there is a farmers market (and its wonderful) and tons of festivals and events. Central Nanaimo is also nice because then you are closer to the commercial area of nanaimo but still close access to things for kids (like walking distance) as well as many parks. But it was a bit too busy. North nanaimo is newer and thus costs a little more, and the houses are newer, but there are of course beaches nearby. People claim it is safer, and it may be - but I never once felt unsafe living in the "south end." Long and McQuade is located right near the heart of downtown so if I were you I would head there - it really is a great place to raise kids. Plus they have a local homeschooling group in that area, and a crunchy group who meets at a park on Knobb hill quite regularly for potlucks and what not.