When considering the best places to live, the requirements vary from who’s looking. A place that might appeal to families might not appeal to young adults. While big city-living might not attract an outdoor enthusiast, others embrace all the facilities big cities offer.
In this article, we consider the best places to live in Canada in the following categories:
Table of Contents
Best for Young Adults
When considering the best places for young adults to live in, finding employment is a key factor. As is affordability of living. Many young adults also place importance on how well the city, town or province supports start-ups and young entrepreneurs.
Young adults are also attracted to places popular with other young people offering vibrant entertainment and nightlife as well as plenty of recreational activities. Places that have a reputation for being innovative and dynamic often have more appeal to young people than quiet, small towns.
Toronto comes out on top in this category because despite being expensive, it attracts many young adults with its diversity and civic engagement. In comparisons between cities, it also scores well in entrepreneurship and creative arts.
Toronto also placed high on a global ranking of youthful cities. It came sixth while New York, London and Berlin took the top three places.
Vancouver is popular with younger people thanks to its wealth of public places. It attracts people with its walkability and many sports fields. However, it is an expensive choice. On affordability, Vancouver ranks the lowest in Canada.
Vancouver offers great job opportunities and fosters young talent and entrepreneurs. It is a city with a diversity of cultures. With an extensive public transport network, Vancouver is an easy city to get around without a car. With plenty of recreational activities to choose from, it is easy to be healthy living in Vancouver.
Montreal’s appeal to younger people is based on ease of transit, widely available digital access, great food, entertainment and nightlife. Renting in Montreal is also very affordable compared to average rents in Toronto or Vancouver.
The city hosts more than a hundred festivals a year, its nightlife options are plenty as are the restaurant options. Montreal has lots of green spaces with parks and nature trails for recreational activities. It is also attractive for young citizens because you don’t need a car to get around the city thanks to a great public transport system and many bike lanes.
Best For Families
When choosing a family home, parents need to consider various factors such as the cost of living, proximity to schools and availability of childcare.
Canada is considered a great place to live with benefits such as free healthcare for all and world-class education, high average salaries and excellent employment opportunities.
With some many beautiful towns and cities to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on the best place for your family.
Families are often drawn to places with easy transit possibilities, lower cost of groceries and housing and good schools and healthcare. Parents also look for places with plenty of other families and a lower median age since these are signs of kid-friendly places.
Places that offer longer maternity leaves are often more popular. Families are also more likely to choose places with plenty of recreational activities to keep children busy with hobbies. They also prefer places with a lot of parks and other outdoor spaces for exercise and play.
While major cities might not instantly come to mind when considering family friendly places, Ottawa, Ontario is one of the best places for families in Canada.
Ottawa has a healthy employment market, including plenty of opportunities to get into government work. Ottawa has great schools for children of all ages and top universities for the post-secondary age group. It has a very low crime rate and a great public transport system.
Guelph, a smaller city with just over 130,000 people, is a great place to bring up a family. It is ideal for families as it is not crowded, yet is big enough to find all the amenities you might need. Although housing is fairly expensive, the cost of living is cheaper and Guelph has some of the lowest food costs in the country.
Calgary, Alberta is great for families with one of the highest average household income rates in Canada. There are jobs available in transportation, technology, medicine and construction. It is also cheaper to buy a home with average prices near $400,000. Homes in Galgary are often bigger than in other major cities. Schools in Galgary offer excellent education for all age groups and there is a great university in the City, too, the University of Calgary.
Best for Senior Citizens
For the first time, Canada has more senior citizens than children and this new generation of retirees differs from their parents’ generation. Those approaching or already enjoying retirement have a younger mindset than preceding generations. Therefore, they have a different set of criteria when they look in a place to retire.
Traditionally, many lists looking at the best places to retire in focus on statistics such as real estate prices, tax rates and crime rates. However, the statistics don’t tell us all what a place is like to live in. We also need to look at the median population of the place and whether people in their retirement are actually happy there.
Many people like the idea of retiring in a smaller place with more modest house prices and a relaxed lifestyle. Access to healthcare and the ease of getting around are also important factors.
Victoria, British Columbia, is on Vancouver Island with the downtown right on the water. The city has a high doctor per capita rate. The weather is mild, and it is one of the driest places on the west coast. It is known as the Garden City, which makes it ideal for those who enjoy gardens, but not for those prone to allergic reactions to pollen.
Parksville, also in British Columbia, has been called Canada’s retirement capital and has the highest rate of seniors per capita. It has a mild Mediterranean climate, plenty of sandy beaches, and you can even play golf there in January. With plenty of opportunities for recreational activities, including water-based activities, people retiring in Parksville will find plenty to do with their time.
Calgary, Alberta, ranks among the top cities for quality of life and has been listed by The Economist in the top five of the most livable cities. There are several modern retirement destinations in the city. Calgary offers plenty to do for active retirees with 600 kilometres of bike pathways and a large provincial park. It is also a popular cultural destination and a vibrant metropolis.
Best Big Cities
Canada is a big and diverse country with ten provinces, three territories and many attractive cities with their own landscapes and characteristics. Compared to many cities in the world, Canada’s cities offer high standards of living with good job opportunities and low crime rates.
When thinking of moving to a new city, people consider the opportunities for work and education, the cost of housing and day-to-day living and opportunities for recreational activities and social life.
All Canadian cities have their unique appeal with plenty to offer their residents. If you were to ask 100 people for their favourite city, you would get a range of answers. Most people would name their own city as the best because they know and love the place.
However, there have been numerous surveys and opinion polls based on different criteria for the best overall Canadian city to live in. Cross-reference these results and there are some cities that always rank high.
When comparing different polls, Quebec City is the one that keeps coming up time after time in top positions. The city and the surrounding regions are known for being safe places with one of the lowest crime rates in North America. The rental and housing markets are more reasonable than in other cities of its size and stature.
Quebec City is has a robust economy with a healthy job market. There are opportunities within public administration, manufacturing, commerce and tourism. Residents of Quebec City benefit from an excellent public transportation system. The city is also a haven for cyclists with plenty of well-lit bike paths to and from the city.
Another city that features consistently on lists of best Canadian cities is Calgary. This fourth largest city with a diverse population has been designated as one of Canada’s cultural capitals. Calgary attracts newcomers with affordable housing and living costs, plenty of recreational options and beautiful scenery. It is a combination of small town friendliness and the amenities of a city.
Calgary has been ranked as the world’s cleanest city with extensive recycling programs, good tap water and not much air pollution. It has a good public transportation system with a focus on being environmentally friendly. The city’s light railway is the first wind-powered public transit system in North America. There is also a park-and-ride system in operation to reduce traffic in the town centre.
Montreal, too, scores highly in polls and surveys. It is the second-largest city in Canada and predominantly French-speaking. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city with a more European feal than most other Canadian cities. It has a reputation for a lively nightlife, but it is also a great place for families with a low rate of crime, lots of great schools and comparatively low living costs.
The city has a strong job market and is home to some of the top Canadian employers with a range of professional opportunities. It is an easy city to navigate using either public transport, on foot or on a bike. It is a paradise for food lovers and has an abundance of green spaces for outdoor enthusiasts.
When we cast the net wider than the above categories and look for the best places to live in Canada overall, we end up with a very different leaderboard.
The key criteria when considering the best places to live are safety, living costs, and access to recreational facilities and parks. People in different chapters of their life also have their additional criteria such as education and childcare, job opportunities or a more relaxed lifestyle.
To choose the best overall places to live in Canada, the focus was on the three key criteria.
The place that ranks the highest overall is Deep River, Ontario. It is a place with stunning natural scenery and one of the most affordable housing markets. Deep River is a very safe place to live with the Crime Severity Index at 21.68 compared to the national index of 73.44.
The small city is on the banks of the Ottawa River and home to the largest nuclear research facility in Canada. Whilst this might put some people off, it is worth noting that the research facility is a large employer in the area with higher than average wages.
Deep River offers its residents an outstanding combination of recreational facilities, culture and affordable housing. The recreation opportunities in the area include cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails, a ski hill and plenty of parklands. There is also a yacht club and beautiful beaches.
In the second place overall is Lévis, Quebec. The living costs in Lévis are 25% lower than the national average, making it very affordable. It also benefits from being only 18 kilometres away from Quebec City with additional job opportunities.
Just like Deep River, Lévis is also a very safe community with a crime index of 26.77. It has some fantastic historical buildings and sights, plenty of lively restaurants serving diverse cuisines and lots of recreational options.
Lévis benefits from its location at the heart of three national parks all of which are known for their camping sites, wildlife and hiking trails. As well as hiking, residents of Lévis can enjoy canoeing and kayaking in the summer and hockey, skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
LaSalle, Ontario, is the safest city in Canada. In has a crime index rate of 19.15, which is 74% lower than the national index. The city also benefits from a high-income rate and a low unemployment rate of 3%.
The city has a community-orientated atmosphere and offers its residents plenty of green spaces and reasonable housing prices. There are additional employment opportunities in the nearby city of Windsor.
LaSalle has a public transport system introduced in 2017 which makes it easy to get around the town without a car. In the summer, the city hosts popular festivals. The LaSalle trail network suitable for biking is 40 kilometres long and connects with the Windsor trail reaching to the waterfront and downtown.