The Best Cities to Live in Canada

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  • Canadian cities offer many employment and educational opportunities
  • Most cities provide access to beautiful parks and picturesque outdoors nearby
  • Some cities are more suitable to young business professionals, while others may align more with family values and needs
  • Metropolitan areas tend to attract more cultural diversity
  • Arts and culture are a focus of some cities, while others emphasize industry and technology

When people think of living in Canada, their imagination often jumps to scenes of winter storms and months of snow pack. The reality of many Canadian cities is much more appealing than the sometimes cold first impressions, with some even being rather mild or temperate.

Canadian cities offer diverse opportunities in all lifestyle aspects, such as careers, real estate, climate and recreation. Since the country is so large, you can find a mix of city density levels, too. Nearly anywhere you live in Canada, you’ll have access to beautiful parks and outdoor sports without ever being too far from culturally rich metropolitan or suburban areas. Whether you’re a young and active adult exploring different cities or a new family looking to settle down, there’s a Canadian city for you.

1. Montreal, Québec

Known as the hub of Canada’s art and culture scene, Montreal is home to a vibrant and diverse community. Many artists, writers and musicians move to Montreal to take advantage of the low rent and cost of living while developing their careers. As the largest French-speaking city after Paris, Montreal appeals especially to French or bilingual speakers, although those who speak only English may struggle more to find jobs or friends.

Although the road infrastructure leaves something to be desired, many Montreal residents enjoy the bike lanes and networks to get around town. As long as you can tolerate the winter months, you’ll appreciate the summers picnicking in the city’s beautiful parks, connecting with artists and eating at diverse restaurants.

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2. Vancouver, British Columbia

Located on the southern coast of British Columbia, Vancouver is often ranked as one of the best places to live in the world. Downtown Vancouver is dense and highly walkable, giving access to a variety of restaurants, nightlife and shopping. Getting out of the city for the outdoors is easy, since Vancouver is tucked between impressive mountains and the beautiful ocean. 

Although Vancouver is known for frequent rain, the seasons are generally mild. This means residents can access all kinds of outdoor activities year long, including hiking, snow sports, biking, climbing and more.

The major drawback of Vancouver is its high cost of living. Real estate and rent are expensive, and utilities and amenities can add up quickly too.

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3. Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is centrally located in southern Ontario, surrounded by busy suburbs with other major Canadian and American cities only a few hours’ drive away. It’s one of the largest cities in North America with a strong multicultural presence. Although rent and cost of living can be expensive, Torontonians have access to prestigious job markets.

The city also has ample nightlife and restaurant entertainment. A car is a worthy investment to get around the city or venture to the nearby outdoors for hiking and more. Just be sure to check the forecast before planning outdoor adventures since Toronto experiences well-defined seasons.

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4. Whistler, British Columbia

If you’re an outdoors enthusiast with an interest in adrenaline-inducing sports, living in Whistler is nothing short of experiencing an adventure vacation on a daily basis. Whistler is a remote city about 75 miles from Vancouver, and it welcomes hordes of tourists each year to its enormous ski resorts and iconic mountain ranges. While the city itself is small, its main village has plenty of cool mountain town bars, incredible places to shop, and restaurants for stellar après-ski entertainment!

Although rent can be competitive in this tourist town, there are many job opportunities for those working in tourism or guiding.

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5. Québec City, Québec

A cousin of Montreal, Québec City is similarly home to rich history and culture. While Montreal has reasonable rent and real estate prices, Québec City is even more affordable. This city is one of the safest in Canada, and it’s home to families and young students alike across many friendly suburbs.

Located along the St. Lawrence River, Québec residents can easily access sports and outdoor markets during the warmer seasons. During the winter, the city hosts the Carnaval de Quebec with winter-themed entertainment. No matter the season, you’ll always find something to see and do in this beautiful Canadian city!

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6. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax is located on the east Atlantic coast of Canada in one of its smallest provinces, Nova Scotia. Although it’s far from other major cities, Halifax is growing rapidly at about 2% or 10,000 people each year.

It’s no surprise that there are more people flocking to Halifax in recent years. Halifax’s major draws include beautiful coastal landscapes such as Cape Breton Highlands and provincial parks, as well as its relatively slower pace of life compared to other metropolitan areas. Halifax is known for its affordable housing, beautiful scenery and friendly locals, making it a wonderful place to put down roots.

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7. Calgary, Alberta

Named one of the world’s most livable cities according to the, Economist Intelligence Unit Calgary is nestled among some of Canada’s most impressive mountain ranges. World-class ski destinations like Banff are a relatively short drive away, and residents can partake in other sports like mountain biking, hiking and climbing during warmer months.

Calgary is also the largest city in Alberta and has an extensive metropolitan core with much to explore. Although it’s known for the Calgary Stampede and as the “Texas of Canada,” downtown Calgary is modern and clean and has a sophisticated selection of arts, music and restaurants to pick from.

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8. Ottawa, Ontario

Although Ottawa is Canada’s capital city, it has a laid-back and family-oriented feel. It’s similar to Toronto in terms of vibrance and entertainment but has a less cutthroat and more approachable energy. Its winter is unfortunately also similar to Toronto, but Ottawa residents can take advantage of natural skating rinks, skiing and snowshoeing. During the summer, you can picnic in public parks and enjoy local festivals.

The city is also known for its health and cleanliness, with scenic and well-maintained biking and walking trails. There are many local professional opportunities and the city is known to be an  extremely safe one to live.

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9. Edmonton, Alberta

The second largest city in Alberta, provincial capital Edmonton is the sister city to Calgary. It likewise enjoys the lower taxes and the profits of the oil industry. Its economy also focuses on tourism, technology and agriculture, which means Edmontonions have diverse job opportunities across various industries.

The city is known for attractions like the West Edmonton Mall, festivals and cultural activities like live music and galleries. Rent and cost of living is also quite a bit lower in Edmonton than Calgary. If you’re a big outdoors person, you’ll be happy to know that Edmonton ranked as Canada’s second sunniest city.

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10. Boucherville, Québec

One of the oldest municipalities in Québec, Boucherville is located about 10 miles from Montreal but has a quieter and more family-friendly feel. The city is rich with natural beauty, and residents can enjoy a range of sports and outdoor activities. This former parish possesses historical architecture and heritage buildings, reminding residents of centuries past as they visit festivals and enjoy culinary experiences.

In addition to a more relaxed environment, residents may choose Boucherville over Montreal to take advantage of higher incomes, low unemployment and better housing prices. Boucherville has a slow pace of life, yet many local gems to be explored.

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11. Victoria, British Columbia

British Columbia’s capital city is the picturesque city of Victoria. It’s located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, meaning it has an even better climate than nearby Vancouver. The city receives less precipitation than the average across Pacific Northwest cities, and the weather is mild nearly all year.

Entertainment is never lacking in Victoria, either. Outdoors enthusiasts can easily access biking, hiking or various water sports within the city or a mere 20 minutes outside. The suburbs are easily accessible to downtown and contain many well-preserved heritage homes. Downtown features many restaurant and entertainment options while still maintaining a small-town feel.

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Why Canadian Cities Are Great Places To Live

These are only a few of the great cities Canada has to offer. Overall, Canadian cities have a high quality of life with decent standards of education and health care. Metropolitan areas like Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver tend to have higher degrees of cultural diversity, which is often reflected in entertainment options. 

Most cities have good access to parks and outdoors, with harsher climates limiting access only a few months out of the year in certain cities. While cities like Vancouver or Toronto may have gatekeeping real estate and rental prices, they offer many opportunities for careers and education. Whichever Canadian city you choose to live in, it’s sure to be a worthwhile place to call home.

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Alannah Koene

Alannah Koene

Alannah Koene is a content writer based in Victoria, British Columbia. Although she writes for a range of topics, her professional writing often focuses on business, health, and lifestyle. Spending much of her time exploring the outdoors through sport, Alannah aims to share her perspectives through writing and content. She’s happiest reading a book in her hammock with her dog napping nearby.

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