Considering a big move to one of the best countries in the world (aka Canada)? If so then be sure to read this comprehensive guide to the best places to live in Canada first.
Trust me, I’m an ex-pat who has lived all across the globe throughout the past 15 years.
Therefore, I know all about the many things that you need to consider before moving to some of the best cities to live in Canada.
You know, sometimes not so sexy things like crime rates, cost of living, unemployment rates, language barriers, and more.
However, luckily for you, I’ve created this secret insider’s guide to all of the top places to live in Canada.
This way, you can quickly and easily decide on the best place to live in Canada based on your personal needs.
So, stop stressing and start making an informed decision about moving to Canada today!
Please Note: All prices are in Canadian Dollars unless otherwise specified.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
If you’re booking a trip right now then I IMPLORE you to get travel insurance – even if it’s not from me.
After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especialy since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic.
Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
Which City is the Best in Canada for Living?
If you’re looking for the city in Canada with the overall best quality of life then it has to be Vancouver. And that’s mainly because there are so many natural attractions for residents to enjoy.
However, it is a notoriously expensive place to live in Canada since the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is a steep, $2,200 per month.
Where is the Most Affordable Place to Live in Canada?
Some of the most affordable cities in Canada are:
- Edmonton, AB – No no payroll tax or health premium so super affordable
- Oshawa, ON – Way cheaper than Toronto
- Winnipeg, MB – It’s really sunny, has low housing prices, and great job opps
- Calgary, AB – Consiistantly ranked as one of the five most livable cities in the world for great health care, infrastucture, affordability, etc.
- Hamilton, ON – Also close to Toronto and a lot cheaper to live here
- Ottawa, ON – Way cheaper than Toronto since one bedroom apartments start at $1,230 per month outside the city center
- Vancouver, BC – It’s pretty expnsive to live here but New Westminster in Metro Vancouver is perhaps the most affordable area to live
- Montreal, QC – Way cheaper to love here than Toronto and Vancouver and the city offers subsidized daycare
- Halifax, NL – A lot cheaper than most capital cities and really friendly too
Pro Tip: The city that is the most affordable place to buy a house in Canada is St. John’s, NL (closely followed by Regina, SK) with an average home here costing around $307,619.
Which state is the Best Place to Llive in Canada? (PSST…they’re actually provinces)
Some of the best provinces to live in while in Canada include:
- British Columbia – Pricey but an exceptionally high quality fo life
- Ontario – Culturally diverse and lots of jobs available
- Alberta – More relaxed life and lower cost of living
- Quebec – Very cultural, friendly, and a very European feel
- Nova Scotia – Natural beauty, low crime/cost of living, and quiet
Where Shoould I NOT Live in Canada?
While Canada is a beautiful and amazing place to live, some places are less than stellar and are best avoided.
So, some of my picks for places in Canada you do NOT want to live include:
- Quesnel, BC – Not a lot of jobs and has the highest crime rate in BC
- Sarnia, ON – Lots of pollution from nearby factories and chemical plants
- Miramichi, NB – Not a place that welcomes minorities and diveristy
- North Battleford, SK – Second most dangerous city in Canada
- Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC – Pollution, lack of great schools/ammenities, and few employment opportunities
- St. John, NF – The weather is just really cold, wet, and dreary most of the year
- Iqaluit, NU – Isolated, snows all year round (except in July), limited job opportunities, and the price of food is high
- Thompson, MB – It’s the most dangerous city in Canada and winters are brutal
Best Places to Live in Canada – Quebec
1. Boucherville (Best for Rural Life)
Looking to get away from the sometimes frenetic pace of life in the city? If so then Boucherville is easily one of the top places to live in Canada for you.
Not only is it within close proximity to Îles-de-Boucherville National Park, Oka National Park, and Yamaska National Park, but rents here are really affordable too.
In fact, the average one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area will only cost you around $850 per month.
Therefore, you’ll have plenty of disposable income that you can use to hop across the border since the US is just a 50-minute drive from the US border.
Additionally, it sits within close proximity to Montreal and is just an all-around safe place to live. On the downside though, this is one of the best cities to live in Canada that is pretty quiet.
Accordingly, you won’t find much of anything going on in the downtown area and will have to travel to nearby areas if you’re looking for something fun to do beyond the great outdoors.
2. Quebec City (Best for Culture)
If you want to live in a stunning metropolis of culture, then Quebec City maybe your idea of one of the best cities to live in Canada.
After all, the downtown area of this immortal city more closely resembles a charming French village than it does a bustling North American center of commerce.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that sections of Quebec City are actually designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites that will seamlessly transport you to the ethereal bliss of rural life in Europe.
Add in a few uber-fab festivals like the Winter Carnival, the Summer Festival, and the New France Festival and you have an incredibly fun and culturally enriching place to live.
However, before you pack up and move to Quebec City, just know that it gets REALLY cold up here since you’re pretty far north.
You’ll also probably need to know/learn French since that language is primarily spoken here.
Additionally, just moving here can actually be fairly expensive, as are monthly rent prices, which can hover between $931 and $1470 depending on where you live in the city.
Pro Tip: Although Quebec City may seem expensive when compared to some of the other best cities to live in Canada, living here is actually 33.27% cheaper than living in New York. Crime rates are also super low and Quebec City has actually been named the safest metropolitan area in Canada to raise children.
3. Montreal (Best for Food and Drink)
Known for its quaint cobblestone streets and wealth of cultural attractions, Montreal is an easy pick for one of the best places to live in Canada.
After all, this vibrant city offers residents shockingly low rents that start at just $1,350 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
Sigh, if only NYC was that affordable too.
Other than that, Montreal offers people a decadent array of restaurants to choose from – places that serve some of the best food in all of Canada.
So, stop by Restaurant Paulo & Suzanne for popcorn chicken poutine, Wilensky’s Light Lunch for their signature sandwich (beef salami, bologna, cheese, and mustard), Snowdon Deli for decadent smoked meat, Chalet Bar-B-Q for their charcoal broiled bird, and St-Viateur Bagel for, DUH, bagels.
On the downside though, Montreal always seems to be under construction. Therefore, that’s something you’ll definitely have to deal with if you decide to move here.
You also might have to learn French since a majority of the population speaks French. Other than that though, it’s one of the best cities to live in Canada with a young and vibrant population that is reflective of the many universities in the area.
Best Places to Live in Canada – Alberta
Home to upwards of 1.5 million people, Calgary is known for being the largest city in Alberta.
Therefore, it is a bustling hub of activity that is well-connected to the great outdoors since it lies near the Rocky Mountains and the bow/the elbow river.
It also features 180 distinct neighborhoods with their own unique culture and history, making this one of the most diverse cities in Canada.
That’s why, if you’re looking for quaint mountain town charm that is coupled with big-city amenities (great infrastructure and public transit), then you can’t beat life in Calgary.
So, take a walk through Prince Island Park before heading back to your affordable one-bedroom apartment, which starts at around $1,201 per month.
Then, enjoy low daily living costs and a large array of job opportunities in the finance, health, film, and tourism industries.
5. Edmonton (for families)
If you want to start a family – or already have one in tow – then Edmonton may be the perfect place for you. In fact, the school system here is one of the best in the country.
So, no need to worry about your kids getting a top-notch education. Plus, your children will have plenty to do since there’s a giant mall in the city, in addition to several film and music festivals that are hosted here annually.
Unfortunately, violent crime rates are 18% higher than the national average. Therefore, although the city is safe, this is something to take into account before moving here.
The public transportation system and local infrastructure (i.e. roads and street lights) also leave something to be desired. Therefore, consider all of these factors before just going rogue and moving here.
Oh, and the price of a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area is pretty affordable too at $1,194 per month. So, it’s pretty reasonable but not as cheap as some of the other best cities to live in Canada on this list.
Best Places to Live in Canada – Nova Scotia
6. Halifax (known for being a rural escape)
Nestled along the shores of Nova Scotia, Halifax is one of the best places to live in Canada if you’re looking to enjoy the awesome beauty of nature.
And clearly, a lot of people are since the capital of Nova Scotia is actually the second fastest-growing city in Canada, with around 6,000 ex-pats moving here annually.
Therefore, Halifax is way more than the quaint fishing village that you might imagine. And while rent prices are a bit steep at an average of $1475 for a one-bedroom apartment, salaries also tend to be high with individuals earning an average of $60,000 per month.
So, consider moving here if you want to get back to nature by living along the wild Atlantic Coast or are looking for great job opportunities since the healthcare and service industries thrive here.
Plus, added bonus? Halifax sits right near Dartmouth too. So, you’ll have access to great healthcare, education, and employment opportunities in both places.
However, winters here can feel cold, long, and somewhat isolated since Halifax is a bit more removed than some of the other cities on this list.
Although truth be told, winters are probably significantly longer, snowier, and harsher in other places like Toronto.
Pro Tip: Halifax is also one of the best cities to live in Canada if you’re looking to retire or work remotely.
Salaries in Halifax tend to be pretty high, with an average annual salary of just over CA$60,000.
Best Places to Live in Canada – Ontario
7. Burlington (Great Weather)
On the whole, Ontario is one of the more popular provinces among ex-pats in Canada. And that makes sense since Ontario has a lot to offer.
However, Burlington, in particular, is a great place to live since it lies just 45-minutes away from Toronto.
Therefore, you have the convenience of living near a major city while still being removed from the noise, traffic, and large populations associated with urban centers.
Plus, because Burlington lies along the south-western end of Lake Ontario, locals have a ton of natural landscapes available to them.
In fact, Burlington is surrounded by some of the best hiking trails in the world since the Bruce Trail and Niagara Escarpment are both nearby.
However, if nature isn’t really your thing, not to worry because Burlington is home to ton of great museums and festivals too.
Sure, rent here is a bit steep at an average of $1,890 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. But, the quality of life here is so high that it’s worth it to live here if you have the budget for it.
Other benefits include low crime rates, low unemployment (the local economy is also stable and diverse), great weather, and fantastic public transportation – easily making this one of the best places to live in Canada.
Pro Tip: You can also use the commuter train to get into Toronto in about an hour.
8. Toronto (for anyone looking for a job)
Contrary to popular belief, Ottawa is actually the capital of Canada, not Toronto.
However, in spite of that fact, Toronto is still a great place to live in Canada since it is a glorious hub of economic and cultural activity.
It’s also the most populated city in all of Canada and is even home to one of the tallest buildings in the Western Hemisphere – the CN Tower!
Therefore, you’ll have plenty of activities to enjoy if you decide to move here. You’ll also have a wide variety of jobs to pick from since Toronto is home to a stock exchange and some of the largest banks in the county.
That being said, you’ll need a good job to live here since rent is steep and averages around $1,950 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
There’s also a significant amount of air pollution in the city so also keep that in mind before moving here.
But, if you’re looking to enjoy all the benefits of city life (i.e. lots of fun things to do, diversity, tons of delicious restaurants, and great public transportation) then Toronto may be the perfect city in Canada for you.
Oh Ottawa, how I love thee. Let me count the ways.
Okay, but on a more serious note, the Canadian capital is easily one of the best places to live in Canada.
Not only is it a young city (in terms of the age of residents) since many locals attend classes at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, but it’s also a wonderfully clean city that is known for its high quality of life.
It’s also not a mega large city since the population currently hovers around 1 million people.
Plus, if you decide to make the big move here, be prepared to marvel at the gorgeous architecture while taking advantage of ample outdoor activities in this bike-friendly metropolis (The Rideau Canal anyone? It actually becomes the world’s largest ice rink in the winter).
Other benefits include four distinct seasons with great weather, bilingual services in French/English, affordable rents (between $700 and $1400 per month), high salaries, and low unemployment.
One negative is that food prices are notoriously high since everything needs to be imported. Other than that though, Ottawa is an easy pick for the best cities to live in Canada.
Best Places to Live in Canada – British Columbia
Rounding out this list of the best places to live in Canada is the one and only, Vancouver. And that makes sense since this city of 675,000+ residents is regularly rated as one of the best places to live in the world.
Yes, it is fairly expensive to live here – with the rent of a one-bedroom apartment averaging at $2,200 per month – but the high price of living here will afford you (get the pun? lol) access to beaches, mountains, islands, gorgeous suburbs, coastal areas, and a vivacious city center.
This city is also well-connected to the larger world, as well as various surrounding islands. Therefore, it’s easy to get into and out of town quickly.
Other than that, Vancouver has a diverse, growing economy that has recently become a popular filming location.
It’s a city that is also known for great schools, premier hospitals, a stunning harbor, great parks (yes Stanley Park, I’m looking at you), and mild weather that enables you to stay outside year-round.
So, if you can actually find a decent place to live and have a great job, then life in Vancouver can’t be beaten.
Pro Tip: Do be aware that after Singapore, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world.