Stunning natural landscapes, friendly people, awesome food and vibrant, cosmopolitan cities…the reasons to visit Canada are endless! Americans are Googling “How to move to Canada” more than ever right now, so if you’re also interested in escaping to our northerly neighbors then these are some of the best cities Canada has to offer.
Quality of life is important when shopping around for a new place to live. We’ve rounded up the best big cities in Canada to live, based on low unemployment (so lots of jobs on offer), high incomes, affordable housing, access to health care, weather, low crime, whether the city has a strong arts and sports community and whether it’s easy to walk/bike/take public transit around. From the country’s capital, to a favorite on the West Coast and lots in between, take your pick!
Where would you like to live in Canada?
You can’t get any more grand than living in Canada’s capital. This place is dynamic, bilingual (Parlez-vous Français?) and loves to have a good time. Ottawa scores points for good weather too. The summers are gorgeously warm and the winters aren’t all that harsh. The city’s strong art scene can be found downtown and has some very passionate sports fans (Go Sens, Go!).
Taxes and crime are both very low and people generally earn high incomes here, compared to other Canadian cities. Plus, Ottawa is one of Canada’s most accessible cities for walking and biking. It’s also well connected by air, making it easy to book flights to Ottawa and travel elsewhere.
What’s the big appeal? Ottawa’s gothic parliament buildings are stunning, you can skate along the canal in winter instead of taking the bus and in summer, the city hosts the biggest Canada Day celebration in the country.
If you’re after a city with total European charm to it, Quebec City is the best you’re going to find. They even speak French here! Think cobblestone streets, an UNESCO World Heritage protected Old Town, soaring church spires from the 17th and 18th centuries… we could go on!
As far as liveability, Quebec City has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. There are lots of jobs on offer here, health care is easily accessible and this city rates among the best in Canada for walking, biking or taking public transit.
What’s the big appeal? Quebec City is one of Canada’s most walkable cities. It’s small in size, has plenty of charm and lots of jobs for newcomers.
Winni-where? While Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, doesn’t have the reputation that other cities like Vancouver and Toronto have, this central Canadian city still has plenty going for it. This metropolis in the prairies pack a surprising punch, especially now with the world-class Canadian Museum of Human Rights open to the public.
Winnipeg also boasts a fantastic foodie and theatre scene and with the population growing at a healthy rate, this is also a great city to raise kids.
What’s the big appeal? This city doesn’t mind being the butt of a Simpsons joke (“That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!”), in fact it’s a little bit proud of it! Easygoing and unpretentious is Winnipeg in a nutshell.
London has very little in common with its namesake across the Pond, but it is still one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. It’s right in the middle between Detroit and Toronto, in Southwestern Ontario. For newcomers it’s at the top of the list for affordable housing, beautiful parks, a top-rated university and lots of culture.
What’s the big appeal? Also known as the “forest city,” London boasts a beautiful array of art-deco buildings downtown, is lively and young thanks to the University of Western Ontario students and has tons of parks and forests to explore.
Many say that Toronto is a reflection of Canada. It’s one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with 140 languages spoken here. More than half of the city’s residents were born outside of Canada, so chances are, you’ll feel right at home in this cosmopolitan place. Toronto likes to have fun. Dine at some of the best restaurants in the world, discover Toronto’s alternative side in Kensington Market and get in with the locals at a sports game.
Their sports teams aren’t too bad! The Raptors rule in basketball, the Blue Jays give American teams a run for their money and the Maple Leafs… well, let’s just say, they’re due a come-back after not winning the Stanley Cup since the 60’s.
What’s the big appeal? Residents pay low taxes, the city is easy to get around thanks to its underground subway system and street-trolleys and for culture and diversity, there’s no city that can compete.
Still looking for more Canadian inspiration?
These cities ranked highly too, according to data collected by Statistics Canada.
- Vancouver: Vancouver has so much going for it. While house prices are the highest than any other Canadian city, being on the coast has its advantages and the scenery won’t disappoint. It’s also easy to reach from other Canadian cities, with cheap trains from Seattle connecting the two.
- Edmonton: With easy access to the Rocky Mountains, Edmonton is a great Alberta city to live. It’s easy to get around, is a popular place to raise kids and taxes are low.
- Mississauga: Being so close to Toronto, Mississauga is home to lots of commuters working in the city. The weather is generally mild here, even in winter and it’s a growing city.
- Hamilton: The arts community in this Southern Ontario city is booming. It’s downtown has a nice small-town feel and there’s a real sense of community here. It’s also close to Niagara Falls and the popular Niagara Region.
- Calgary: If you’re looking to make money in Canada, this is the place to be. Residents earn higher incomes than average in Calgary, the Rocky Mountains are at your doorstep and the annual Stampede is world famous.