Canada is an exciting, diverse country to live in but choosing where to base yourself can be a challenge. We share the best places to live in Canada so you can find the best option for you.
Canada Travel Guide
Best places to live in Canada
Vancouver Island, BC
If you love Vancouver but don’t find the busy city too appealing, check out Vancouver Island. There are plenty of nice places around the island to move to. Victoria is just a ferry ride from Vancouver City, Canada, and Port Angeles in Washington, US. Nanaimo and Sela Bay are the other two areas to consider as your new home for their accessibility and incredible nature.
Another reason why people move to Vancouver Island is because of the magnificent climate during summer. It’s cold in winter, but not as cold as the northern part of Canada. It’s also very culturally diverse with a lively setting. There are lots of activities regardless of your age and interests.
One thing you have to keep in mind is the cost of living on Vancouver Island. Just like the other areas in British Columbia is higher than in the rest of the country. Buying your own home is also a lot higher while the median income is much lower.
Winnipeg is a big city and the capital of Manitoba province. This is a fantastic place to live in Canada if you seek diverse culture and various job opportunities in different sectors. Winnipeg has been getting lots of attention lately especially from young professionals due to its low cost of living in general.
There are also two major lakes near the city and lots of hiking trails around Poplar/Nanowin Rivers Park Reserve or in the northern part of the region. You could even save more money by taking the well-connected metro or taking advantage of being a cycling-friendly city. You can try traditional Canadian food here but also try the many European and Asian influences too.
The only not-so-great part of living in Winnipeg is the extreme weather during winter. This city gets very cold and moving around on a bicycle will not be possible. It’s best to visit Winnipeg in winter first to see what it’s like before making your move.
Quebec City is known for being a place with a lot of well-preserved cultural architecture and is one of the best cities in Canada for travelers. From historical buildings, top-notched museums, and as a UNESCO World Heritage treasure – this city is suitable for people who love culture and history. Learn how the occupancy of France changed this city and contributed to what Quebec City is today.
This metropolitan city is also popular as a safe place with friendly locals. As you walk through its cobbled stone street, you’ll forget that you are in North America. With half a million population, you’d be surprised how Quebec City is still affordable while offering a high quality of life.
It’s a great choice both for young professionals and families. The job opportunities range from tourism, retail shops, and healthcare, to education. The catch about living here is the high-income tax together with high sales tax, heavy traffic, and also strict policies in place when it comes to buying hard liquor.
For people who love to be adventurous when it comes to food, Ottawa is a lovely place to live in Canada. Due to its diverse culture, you can pretty much find lots of different cuisines in the streets of Ottawa. The city also attracts international and private business owners which results in high-paying jobs and high quality of life.
As the capital city of Canada, it’s understandable that Ottawa has a high cost of living, however, it’s still 18% lower than cities in British Columbia and the prospect of buying a home shouldn’t be impossible. If you speak both English and French, you have a higher chance of landing a better job with great perks and better pay.
The disadvantage of living in Ottawa is the public transit. Although the local government has been making lots of progress, it can still be a while before getting around will be accessible for those who don’t have a private vehicle. Riding your bicycle is highly encouraged especially from spring through fall.
Toronto is the number one most expensive city to live n in Canada. For people who don’t like the idea of leaving Toronto or want to live near Toronto, Burlington is a great compromise. Residents here benefit from the great quality of life, lots of parks, and it’s located right next to the water.
It’s also a fantastic choice for a family with children because Burlington has plenty of schools with impressive performances. Toronto is only half an hour’s drive, while Hamilton, a bigger city than Burlington is only a 15-minute trip in case you need a shop that’s not available in Burlington.
The cost of living here is still on the higher end but it’s the accommodation that’s taking the biggest chunk. Food, transport, and some leisure activities are quite affordable. The traffic jam can also be a drawback while the inter-city transport is not the best yet.
Calgary is a suitable choice for pretty much anyone. The city itself is vibrant and lively, there are great schools around, and it’s near the best national parks in Canada. Whether you are a young family, a retiree, or a young professional, Calgary is easily one of the best places to live in Canada.
It’s also significantly cheaper to base yourself in Calgary compared to Vancouver. Due to its location, Calgary has one of the cleanest air in the country and the very few cities that offer lots of open space. Low taxes is also another thing that encourages people to move to Calgary.
The weather is definitely a big pitfall of the city. The winter is long, it’s not overly cold but it gets below freezing. Summer is extraordinary, but some people might not enjoy the flux of tourists during this season.
Saint John, NB
If you adore being near the water without the hustle and bustle of Toronto or the high cost of living in Vancouver, Saint John might be the place for you. Located in New Brunswick near Nova Scotia, this city boasts historical buildings and phenomenal bay tides. Life in Saint John is more calm and easygoing but still provides the necessary services and convenience of a big city.
The schools are not overly crowded making it a smart choice for young families. There’s not much difference in the rental cost for a single person and a family of four, making it not suitable for young adults but an outstanding deal for families.
One downside of living in Saint John is the significant smell whenever you drive past the pulp mill or brewery. Some will say it’s a mixture of sulfur and ash some say it’s like wet garbage. You can avoid this by choosing the area where you want to live. It’s definitely worth a few trips here before you decide if Saint John is the place for you.
If the smell in Saint John is a deal breaker, hop on a ferry and head to Nova Scotia. Its capital city is Halifax located on the east side of the island facing the North Atlantic. It’s remarkably cheaper than Saint John’s but still provides a stunning view of the sea and is surrounded by the wilderness.
The cost of living in Halifax is pretty decent, with a median $3,400 after-tax salary. While the smaller population means you can access health care services without waiting too long, and the schools are not crowded. It also has a diverse community and the locals are always welcoming to people migrating into this area. Halifax’s local government is also promoting green energy and has a goal of reaching net zero by 2050.
The problem you might have to ponder on is the fact that there are limited jobs available in Halifax matched with high-tax. If you want to open a business, Halifax is a good place for it. There are about 30,000 small to medium businesses in the city, and the friendly cost of starting a business is also intriguing.
Not everyone loves the cold winter, but there are definitely people who don’t mind it. If you enjoy the wilderness, outdoors, and winter, Regina in Saskatchewan is most likely suitable for you. Regina has one of the strongest economies in Canada and the lowest unemployment rates.
This city is one of the few places in Canada where you get a high salary and pay a lower cost of living. There’s also a wide range of job opportunities. From customer services, oil and gas, education, construction, health services, and a handful of options for teens looking to work part-time.
Medicare was built in Saskatchewan and they are proud of it. This means that residents in the province can access free health care without long waits compared to other superpopulated cities in Canada. While the cost of living here is about $2,000 per single person, the standard salary is 12.5% higher than the average Canadian salary.
One snag about living in Regina is the crime rate. It’s between moderate to high. However, this can be solved by smartly choosing the area you plan to live in. Flooding is also common due to creeks nearby, but then again, being aware of these disadvantages allows you to plan your move better.
Looking to improve your French? Why not head to Montreal, Quebec? Montreal is the second most populated city in Canada and the main language used here is French. This city also draws a lot of love because of its low crime rate and impressive cost of living which is 20% lower than Quebec City.
Montreal is also a great place because it’s near the water, a melting pot of global culture, and has a multitude of activities to do. This city is also one of the most walkable cities in Canada. Riding your bike to work or anywhere else within the city is a good way to get around when the weather is warmer. You can cross the border to Vermont or New York, USA for a quick trip if you fancy it.
The only drawback of living in Montreal is the unreliable public transportation, high tax, and the fact that you have to speak French to get around and mingle. Housing is also competitive, but not impossible.
Sherbrooke is located 2.5-hour south of Quebec City and 1.5-hour east of Montreal. If you don’t want to be too far away from these two major cities, Sherbrooke is a good choice, especially for families. It’s also one of the most affordable locations in this province of Canada.
Whether you are looking for an affordable place to live in Canada or a location near nature, this spot is a good choice. If you dream to be a homeowner, it’s one of the most affordable cities to buy a house if you are on a medium-range salary. An average home cost is $250,000, while the median income is $100,000.
The downside of living in Sherbrooke is the limited number of jobs. The workforce you can find here is often in the field of electronic parts, retail stores, and education.
It’s undeniable how unbelievable the nature surrounding Alberta is. Edmonton is a city directly north of Calgary. It’s an exceptional city to live in for people who absolutely love spending time around nature. The two most popular national parks of Canada are only a few hours west of Edmonton – Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.
If you have never been to this region, you will not run out of things to do in the wild. From hiking, camping, and road-tripping, to a simple morning or weekend picnic. North Saskatchewan River runs right through the city itself while there are a lot of parks to go to for a run, afternoon walk, or weekend reading. You can also see the Northern Lights in Canada from this city too.
Edmonton also has its own international airport that will take you anywhere in Canada and the US. Because of all its perks, Edmonton has one of the highest costs of living in Canada. An average person spends about $3,000 on rent, food, transportation, and some basic leisure activities per month. The winter is another thing you have to consider if you decide to live in this city.