Ontario is a beautiful part of the world with breathtaking scenery, over 250,000 lakes, Niagara Falls and multicultural cities. It is Canada’s second-largest province and covers an area larger than France and Spain combined.
The province has four distinctive seasons. In the winter, the temperature can drop as low as -40°C, but the summers can be very warm with temperatures reaching 30°C.
Ontario has always been popular with immigrants. In 2022, 42.3% of the 437,120 people who moved to Canada chose Ontario as their new home. That is 184,725 new residents. The Greater Toronto area was the most popular destination for immigrants, receiving 159,679 of the total number of new residents in Ontario.
For anyone considering moving to Ontario, it is important to research different areas to find the location that matches you and your lifestyle the best. So what are the best places to live in Ontario?
Here are the top ten places in alphabetical order.
Aurora is part of the Greater Toronto area. With Toronto only 40 minutes away, it is popular with commuters. Aurora has great shopping options, beautiful outdoor spaces and plenty of employment opportunities.
Aurora is a great place to live for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking or spending time in nature. There are over 62 parks connected by over 60 kilometres of trails and boardwalks.
For culinary lovers, there are many restaurants to discover and there is no shortage of nightlife, with plenty of clubs, bars, breweries, and music venues to choose from.
Aurora is a great place for its natural beauty and reasonable living costs. There are plenty of great schools to choose from, with opportunities for further education at one of the many colleges in the area.
Aurora is an ideal location for anyone not looking to live in a large city, but still preferring to be in proximity to one. With a variety of neighbourhoods, each with its own amenities and areas of natural beauty, you can pick a part of Aurora that meets your needs.
Located on Lake Simcoe, Barrie is a great option for anyone looking to combine city life with living on a lake. It is a place with an abundance of local amenities to entertain and enjoy.
Barrie’s waterfront offers a scenic harbour with bicycle paths and a boardwalk. In Barrie, you can spend your day at the beach without leaving the city, including the world’s longest freshwater beach Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.
Lake Simcoe also offers Barrie’s residents great opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming. In the winter, you can ice fish or go for a spin with a snowmobile.
Many people choose Barrie because of lower house prices and lower living costs such as gas and food.
Besides incredible nature, Barrie offers all the urban comforts, the best of which are in the downtown area. Dunlop Street in the downtown is full of restaurants, cafes, bars and small breweries. It is also the centre of Barrie’s nightclub scene.
Barrie is a great choice for anyone after a hassle-free life with plenty of amenities, easy access to Toronto and all the benefits that come with living by a lake surrounded by natural beauty.
Burlington, on Lake Ontario, is a great alternative for those who are not looking to live in a busy metropolitan city. Residents of Burlington enjoy a high quality of life with a low rate of unemployment, high wages, low crime and a healthy population growth.
This waterfront city has many family-friendly neighbourhoods, an abundance of recreational activities, shopping malls, annual festivals and a booming economy.
Burlington also has some of the best weather in the country. In 2015, 125 days were warmer than 20°C, making it the perfect place to get the most out of lakeside living.
The city has a thriving social scene with the local authorities arranging concerts, festivals and art exhibitions. It also boasts strong sports communities and plenty of options for an active life.
Burlington offers plenty of opportunities for urban fun with a host of restaurants, bars and clubs in the downtown area.
For anyone looking to live in a peaceful place with plenty of sunny weather, Burlington is a great choice.
Cobourg is a small lakeside community on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Founded in 1798, Cobourg is rich in history. The downtown and surrounding residential area is designated as a Heritage Conservation District with a well-preserved main street. Cobourg is also home to Canada’s oldest drive-in.
The town is a great place to live, work and raise a family. It has excellent schools and plenty of childcare options for working parents. Cobourg has all the amenities, including healthcare and leisure options.
In Cobourg, you have easy access to shopping, dining and entertainment. The town also has many parks for leisure and sports and a beautiful beach, making it easy to stay active.
Cobourg is a combination of natural beauty, buzzing town life and a relaxed lifestyle, making it an idyllic place to live.
Oakville, a town in the Halton Region on Lake Ontario, always ranks high among the best places to live in Ontario. In 2018, it was voted the best place to live, not just in Ontario, but in the whole of Canada.
Oakville offers new and existing residents great employment opportunities, with Ford Motor Company and Halton District School Board being among the major employers. There are plenty more job opportunities in Toronto, within an easy commuting distance, for those who like to work in a city but not to live in one.
Oakville is great for raising a family with plenty of brilliant schools and recreational activities to choose from. People into sports have many options, including soccer, Lacrosse, Golf and the largest skating club in Canada.
And if sports are not your thing, Oakville offers plenty for art and culture lovers, too. Residents can enjoy films, theatre and other performance arts right in their own town. Oakville is also home to many museums, and art galleries and hosts various cultural events throughout the year. It has great shopping facilities where you can find everything you need.
Oakville is a great choice for anyone wishing to live in a peaceful town with a slower pace of life, but still within a commuting distance of Toronto.
Ottawa is a multicultural city with a large immigrant population. It always ranks high in studies of the best places to live in Canada because it offers a high quality of life with a low cost of living.
Ottawa has great employment opportunities with many high-tech industries in the city. There are also many job opportunities within the health and education sectors.
Ottawa is an exciting cosmopolitan city rich in ethnic diversity. One in four Ottawa residents are immigrants further enriching the pool of diverse cultural offerings in the city. This is reflected in the range of bars and restaurants in the city serving cuisine from all parts of the world.
Ottawa has many museums, galleries and theatres for those hungry for culture, including Ottawa Little Theatre, which is the longest-running community theatre company in Canada. For those after an active life, there is plenty to do as well. For example, you can skate, snowshoe, snowboard and alpine ski in the winter and swim, row and kayak in the summer.
Ottawa is a safe place to raise a family with one of the lowest violent crime rates in Canada. The schools in Ottawa provide first-rate education, with students scoring higher than provincial averages in reading, writing, and mathematics.
For people looking to be a part of a multicultural and growing yet safe city, Ottawa is an excellent choice.
Stratford is in the heart of Southwestern Ontario. It offers a peaceful home for its residents with all the conveniences of bigger towns including diverse shopping and dining options.
Stratford has picturesque neighbourhoods that surround the Avon River. It is close to everything yet when in Stratford, you feel you have left the hustle and bustle of the world behind you.
The Avon River offers the residents many recreational opportunities. You can hire a paddleboard, kayak or a canoe to get on the water. Some trails circle the river and beyond with plenty of areas for picnics.
For a small town, Stratford has many entertainment venues, diverse dining options and an abundance of unique shops, all among lush green spaces.
Stratford has great schools and with fourteen elementary schools, most neighbourhoods have a school within walking distance. There are three secondary schools and several options for postsecondary education. There is even a University of Waterloo satellite campus offering studies in Media and IT, Interactive Design and Business and the Stratford Festival offers courses in theatre studies and arts through four different universities.
Overall, Stratford is a small town with many of the benefits of bigger places and a laid-back, stress-free approach to life.
Thunder Bay is on Lake Superior and is an ideal place for those wishing to live somewhere where they can escape the craziness of living in a major city. It is a charming and quiet city with panoramic views of natural scenery.
The city offers beautiful landscapes and is a fantastic place for outdoor activities. You can ski, canoe and hike with a variety of trails in the area. The Kakabeka Falls are easy to visit from Thunder Bay.
Thunder Bay has a range of growing employment sectors, including accounting, aerospace, mining and IT. It is also a great place to start your own business with Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce offering help with professional development and networking.
Thunder Bay is a mix of a modern small city living with the best of nature. It has a multicultural community of creative, professional and skilled people. It is a great place for families with plenty of schools to choose from.
Thunder Bay attracts many young, urban professionals as well as new Canadians and entrepreneurs from all over the world. The city has a beautiful waterfront and a modern downtown with vibrant restaurants offering foods from all over the world. There is no need to look further than Thunder Bay for your shopping, arts, and cultural needs.
Thunder Bay is an excellent choice for anyone who wants the amenities of a city, but loves to spend time in nature and enjoys a calmer pace of life.
Every year Toronto attracts new people from all over the world. It has been ranked the fourth most liveable city in the world based on factors such as healthcare, education, environment and culture.
With 50% of the population of Toronto born outside of Canada, it is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Its residents speak around 200 languages and dialects and according to the 2021 census, 42.5% of the population speak a first language other than English or French. This diversity of cultures also makes Toronto heaven for food lovers. There are over 6,000 restaurants across the city serving foods from all corners of the world.
Toronto has great employment opportunities, being a hub for global finance and business. It is also a great place to start your own business.
There is never time to get bored in Toronto. The city offers plenty for sports enthusiasts, lovers of culture and art, shopping and eating. With over 140 different neighbourhoods, each with its own characteristics and attractions, you are guaranteed to find an area that fits you perfectly.
Waterloo is in Southern Ontario and compared to most other major cities in the area, it is still a very affordable place. It is a city with beautiful scenery, great job opportunities and family-friendly places. It has friendly neighbourhoods, many great schools and easy access to and from the city, all making Waterloo a great place to live.
Waterloo is the smallest of three cities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and adjacent to the city of Kitchener. In fact, the two cities are often referred to as Kitchener-Waterloo or KW for short.
Waterloo has a booming technical sector. It is the home of expanding Google headquarters, Shopify and Vidyard as well as many start-ups, which makes it an ideal place for anyone graduating into the field.
Waterloo has a diverse and friendly community where people genuinely greet each other when walking down the street. This makes Waterloo a welcoming place for all newcomers, including families. There is plenty to do with children in the city and many great schools to choose from.
The city is a great place for people who want to keep active. It has golf courses, tennis and curling facilities, trails for hiking and biking, countless basketball and volleyball courts and ice parks. Within the area of KW, there is a thriving entertainment scene with plenty of live theatre, concerts and performing art events.
Waterloo is an ideal choice for people looking to live in a city with a lot of growth potential, two top-class universities and plenty of parklands and nature for recreational activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Toronto is the largest city in Ontario. Ottawa is smaller, but it is the capital. Both offer big city living with a great quality of life.
In Ontario, there are many options for lakeside living. Some of the best options include Burlington, Barrie, Oakville, and Coburg.
Canada has a great education system, so you will find great schools wherever you choose. Ontario, Toronto and Stratford offer some of the best opportunities for further education.