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Top Ten Places to Live in Canada

by Heather McDowell on 19 Oct 2022

Are you a Canadian looking for a new place to rest your maple leaf? Maybe you're a global citizen who's looking for one of the best places to live when you call the true north, a strong, and free home. We've compiled a list of our favourite cities conveniently located in one place just for you. Let's get going!

To allow readers to compare apples to apples when deciding the best places to live in Canada, we're sharing affordable housing stats (the national average price for a single-family detached house is $859,500), wages and job opportunities compared to the national average (the average salary for the country is $54,630 per year).

The Nation's Capital: Ottawa, Ontario

I'm not sure if it's the diverse communities of Canadian and European culture or the blend of French-Canadian, Anglophone, and Indigenous traditions that make Ottawa have its own vibrance and levity.

Ottawa has made our list as one of the best places to live, not because it's the nation's capital but because it's fantastic in the summer but penultimate in the winter.

In terms of geographic area, Ottawa is the second-biggest of the urban centers in Ontario in terms of geographic area and the sixth largest city in terms of population in Canada. It has a population of 1,017,449 according to the 2021 census.

If you're looking for an affordable home price here, Ottawa remains one of the more affordable major cities compared to other cities and their housing markets such as in the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver.

Many are drawn to Ottawa due to its stable economy and the highest-educated workforce in Canada. The University of Ottawa is heralded as one of the best places in the nation to study life sciences.

Engineers, scientists, and PhDs, oh my!

Ottawa has more engineers, scientists, and PhDs per capita than any other city in the country.

With the lion's share of major employers, it's also recognized not just as one of Canada's metropolitan areas but as a global player due to a booming public sector and a high-tech and interactive media development industry.

Because of its diversity, Ottawa is a highly recommended place to live in Canada for newcomers to the country.

According to prepareforcanada.com,"...Ottawa’s multicultural and bilingual populations make it appealing to new immigrants. About 50 percent of its residents speak English and 30 percent speak French. The remaining 20 percent speak other languages..."

Housing Affordability-Ottawa's Average Price: $817,713 for a single detached house. (source: Canadian Real Estate Association-CREA).

Job Opportunity-Ottawa's Salary:$64,000 per year. (source: payscale.com).

When looking at Ottawa as a contender for the best city beyond just being an industrial city, you may find that strapping on the ice skates and flying down the world's longest skating rink or other winter outdoor activities might just be what the doctor ordered.

Canada's Own Island Vibe: Cornwall, Prince Edward Island (PEI)

PEI is Canada's smallest province and is part of a group of islands. Prince Edward Island is the largest of the other surrounding islands. To overlook it as one of the best places to live in Canada based on its size is to miss a real gem!

There are so many fantastic places that would make the cut of the best cities on the island to live; Charlottetown is the capital city and is almost kinetic with vibrant and youthful city life.

From Shipbuilding to a Thriving Economy

What once began as a community of shipbuilding has become a thriving economy; an affordable city, and job opportunities so varied, they’ll suit almost everyone in any industry. Having said all of that, we have locked in on Cornwall on our list of best cities.

Cornwall boasts one of the lowest costs of living in the nation as well (and this is the kicker- according to realtor.ca), real estate in Cornwall is 35% lower than PEI's average cost for a similar house in size, features, and vintage.

The affordable housing, when coupled with the high livability score that Cornwall offers and access to all the amenities, ensures that Cornwall carves out its place as one of the best cities to live in Canada.

Housing Affordable Places-Cornwall's Price Average: $492,000 for a single detached house. (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Cornwall's Salary: $44,850 per year. (source: payscale.com)

Canada's Ocean City: Halifax, Nova Scotia

The east coast has a special place in the hearts of Canadians. The people are renowned for being nice, even by Canadian standards.

Halifax, Nova Scotia is a sweetheart of the east coast not because of the breathtaking beauty of the rolling sea, sandy beaches, and or cultural energy of city life nor for the over seven golf courses in the greater metropolitan Halifax area but for its je ne sais quoi.

There's something about Halifax that adds a bit of sunshine to your soul. It's for that reason that this capital city is one of the best places to live in Canada.

More than 100 Ethnicities

Culturally speaking, Nova Scotia is a great place to live in Canada for more than 100 ethnicities from all around the globe. It shows in the rich music, food, art, and traditions.

Nova Scotia has five UNESCO Heritage Sites and 26 Canadian National Historic Sites that tell the tapestry of adventure, discovery, and creativity.

StatsCanada puts 66% of Nova Scotia's population between the ages of 15 and 64.

Looking at it from an economic perspective as a place to live in Canada, Halifax boasts one of Canada's best technology hubs and a high concentration of post-secondary institutes.

Halifaxbusinessinc.com states the average commute time in Halifax is just 16 minutes and has a walk score of 70. This makes Halifax one of Canada's most livable cities.

Housing Affordable Places-Halifax's median price is $569,100 for a single detached house. (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Halifax's Salary: $69,522 per year. (source: payscale.com)

The Nation's Fastest Growing City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

There are many Saskatchewan top cities to live in Canada in the North Saskatchewan River area, such as Humboldt or Shelbrook, that could easily be declared one of Canada's best places to live, but we've chosen to speak about our affinity for the Paris of the Prairie. (We didn't make that nickname, promise! It's even in a Tragically Hip song!)

Saskatoon and its eight bridges are surrounded by gently swaying wheat fields in southern Saskatchewan.

This city may be small in population (just 282,900 people, a bit less than the province's largest city in terms of the population according to the 2021 census), and packs a wallop with its dynamic culture and culinary delights in its downtown area and surrounding suburbs.

Canada's longest-running archaeological dig is located just north of one of our votes for best cities, Saskatoon, at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Here you'll find 6,000-year-old relics that are unearthed almost daily.

Indigenous Collaboration

This proposed world heritage site is perched above the South Saskatchewan River and Opimihaw Creek.

Perhaps due to the large Indigenous population, it collaborates heavily with Indigenous people to celebrate their own history and their sacred connection to nature.

If museums aren't the thing for you, there's still lots of cultures to be had in this entry for the best places to live in Canada.

In the summer, you can bask in the multi-genre, poly-auditory pleasures of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, the city's festivals, or the many art galleries.

This vibrant city also has a tremendous amount of outdoor activities, including hiking trails, bike lanes, and easy access to local agriculture and local produce through the various farmer's markets; All of the amenities of a big city urban centre but the kindness and connectedness found in a small town.

Post-secondary Education in Saskatoon

For those in pursuit of post-secondary education for international students moving to Canada or local students, the University of Saskatchewan is a comfortable, friendly, and affordable option for both housing costs and tuition. The breathtaking campus is renowned for its harmony between natural elements, sculptural, and historical elements.

The University of Saskatchewan is a public research institute, so it's an amazing place to build an impressive academic curriculum vitae that may lead to flexible job opportunities and lucrative employment opportunities.

Housing Affordable Places-Saskatoon's Median Price: $383,700 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Saskatoon's Salary: $76,214 per year. (source: payscale.com)

Skyscrapers and High Rises: Toronto, Ontario

There are lots of reasons why approximately 2,794,356 citizens chose to live in Canada's largest city.

It is a city that can keep pace with international juggernauts such as Los Angeles, London, or Tokyo. Whether you're squeezing in an insanely early workout at the gym or craving Korean beef at 2:00 am, Toronto is always open for business and prides itself on being a multicultural mecca.

The Toronto skyline shares its topography with Lake Ontario and an ever-growing number of skyscrapers and high rises. Living in Toronto can feel very expensive; Narcity.com cites $2,153 per month on average for your one-bedroom apartment.

With a focus and commitment to health and wellness, Toronto is one of the most bike-friendly cities in which to live in Canada.

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Network

If getting around Toronto on a bike is maybe not for you, the Toronto Transit Corporation can get you there. With its network of 75 stations and 76.9 kilometres (47.8 miles) of routes, it will take you almost to the Durham region in the east and nearly to the westerly city limits.

With Toronto being such a popular filming location, often standing in place of New York, it makes a lot of sense that it would host one of the most prestigious events in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival.

Housing Affordable Places-Toronto's Price Average: $1,157,500 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity: Toronto's Average Annual Salary:$93,973 per year (source: payscale.com).

While it's one of the most expensive cities on our list of best places to live in Canada, there's so much to see and do that you'd really have to try hard to be bored; This place seems to have a pulse, it's that much of a living city.

Top Spot by the Financial Post: Calgary, Alberta

The Financial Post has chosen Calgary, Alberta as the top place in its 2022 list of best places to live in Canada. It's easy to note the components that draw folks to Calgary. Prince Island Park, with so many things to see and do, deserves some high praise.

Lucrative Career Options

Calgary, like many of the large urban hubs—like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal—offers the most lucrative career options and jobs.

Calgary has often received praise for the stability of its economy, but this particularly rang true in its economic recovery coming out of the pandemic.

There is, however, one major challenge to the economy in Calgary, Alberta; They also have some of the most expensive real estate in the nation.

Housing Affordable Places-Calgary's Average Price: $596,000 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Calgary's Salary: $68,000 per year. (source: payscale.com).

The Only City in the Territory: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Fun fact: Yellowknife is technically the only city that qualifies as a city in the Territory. The other gathering points in the NWT are mostly hamlets, towns, charter communities, and community governments, and to top it off, there's one village; This is due to its size. Size doesn't necessarily matter for our best places to live in Canada list.

Yellowknife also has the greatest population density in the Territory. According to Statistics Canada, the population of the Northwest Territories is 40,232, with Yellowknife's population of 20,340, over half of all of the people that live in the Territory live in its capital, Yellowknife.

Distinct Languages and Voices of Yellowknife

With five distinct languages spoken in Yellowknife; Dogrib, English, Dene Suline, South and North Slavey, and French, it's one of the nation's most diverse cities. In Dogrib, Yellowknife is referred to as “Sombake”, which loosely translates to “where the money is”, and is recognized as a cultural capital and one of the best places to live.

Maximizing Summer

If you're Canadian, you know that we try to squeeze out every ounce of summer. The one month when the sun doesn't go down allows citizens to enjoy (from a distance) the pristine flora and fauna through outdoor activities. Bears, wolves, bison, coyotes, foxes, beavers, ravens, and porcupines make their home in the NWT’s forests, rocks, tundra, and waterways. According to the city of Yellowknife, there's no better place in the world to see the breathtaking and majestic northern lights.

Housing Affordable Places-Yellowknife's Average Price: just over $492,000 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Yellowknife's Salary: $75,000 per year. (source: payscale.com).

Although the cost of living is higher in this frontier town than in many urban centers in Canada, it's a hustling and bustling city with seemingly limitless opportunities, a flourishing job market, a very low unemployment rate, and people whose camaraderie and a sense of community is hard to find anywhere else in the nation.  It's for this reason that it has made our list of one of the best places to live in Canada.

Visioning in Victoria, British Columbia

We need to travel to the southwestern end of the country otherwise known as the west coast to get to beautiful Victoria, number 8 on our best places to live in Canada list.

The city, which takes its name from the monarch, Queen Victoria, is known for its old-world charm, with narrow streets teeming with 19th-century stone architecture.

If you enjoy a very outdoor-centric lifestyle, Victoria may be the perfect location for you. You can expect approximately 2,183 hours of sunshine per year, half of the rainfall of New York, and at least eight frost-free months annually.

There's so much to love about this city-the comparatively temperate climate, what I like to call big nature surroundings, the scrumptious food and dining, chill vibe of the people. There is something that’s a disincentive is the high cost of living.

Higher Cost of Living

Although Victoria doesn't have as high a cost of living or inflated housing prices as the other big city in British Columbia, Vancouver, it's up there. One of the main causes is the high average home price.

Housing Affordable Places-Yellowknife's Average Price: Just under $1,400,000 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Yellowknife's Salary: $63,000 per year. (source: payscale.com).

Mountain in Your Heart in Jasper, Alberta

Jasper, Alberta is an alpine town in this pocket of the mountains, it's like it captures all of the zen and joy of its people, recycles it for even more than its worth, and thrusts it back to the people. That's why it's on our list of the best places to live.

Many people may choose Edmonton, the Festival City and home to the world-famous, largest shopping mall, West Edmonton Mall, as the best place to live in Canada. We've chosen to turn our gaze approximately 362 kilometres (225 mi) west of Edmonton to Jasper because it is unlike anywhere else in the country.

Jasper started as the first fur trade outpost and has become a quirky, artisan community complete with fresh elk droppings each day. As peculiar as this might sound, the elk droppings, while adding a touch of whimsy, are also really emblematic of the town's vibe. Jasper embraces its intersection of nature and industry extremely well; it accepts that its downtown core business area is as commerce-focused as any city of the same size, but it also acknowledges that so much of the business is tied to nature that it must work symbiotically.

If you're into astronomy or want to gauge the enormity of the universe, Jasper is the place to live in Canada. It is the world's second-largest Dark Sky Preserve (and certainly the most accessible).

When we assess Jasper through the economic lens, the Rocky Mountains offer great travel and tourism employment opportunities, but it does have a higher cost of living.

Housing Affordable Places-Jasper's Average Price: $787,500 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Jasper's salary: $88,357 per year. (source: payscale.com).

Quintessential Quebec City

Quebec City is noted as one of the oldest European settlements on the continent and the only fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. With its elevated city charm coupled with quintessential European vibes, it strikes the perfect balance of history and modernity.

The most frequent question that I get about living or visiting Quebec City is: "Do I need to know French to live there?" While my answer is emphatic, "No," it certainly helps. More importantly, though, is that it's an enormous opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture, and what a rich culture it is. If you explain to shopkeepers, coworkers, real estate agents, and other citizens alike that you're trying to learn to speak French and that it's a work in progress, everyone that you encounter will go out of their way to support your efforts.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site One made it onto movingwaldo's top 10 safest cities of all Canadian cities. Québec City is divided into six boroughs, each with its own environment and unique socio-demographic profile.

Turning to the economy and cost of living in Quebec City, the cost of residential electricity in Quebec is the lowest in Canada. However, it's worth noting that Quebec City is renowned for its harsh winters. With those harsh winters comes increased heat consumption. Even with that in mind, Quebec City is ranked as one of the most affordable cities in North America.

Housing Affordable Places-Quebec City's Average Price: $362,000 for a single detached house (source: CREA).

Job Opportunity Quebec City's Salary: $63,671 per year. (source: payscale.com).

In Conclusion

Those are our picks for the 10 best cities to live in Canada. There are so many great communities to live in that it was difficult to narrow it down to only 10. As subjective as they are, we hope that this list has helped you to make a decision on the setting of your next big chapter!



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