Canada is taking North America by storm as one of the best countries to live! In Mercer’s quality of living ranking, Canadian cities score the highest in North America, ranking no lower than 32nd out of 231 cities across the globe. In the Economists 2019 Global Liveability Index, which ranked the most liveable cities in the world, three Canadian cities ranked in the top 10! Therefore, it is only right that we write a blog on the best cities to move to in Canada, since there is such a great selection.
You might have assumed that Toronto or Vancouver would be at the top of the list, but Calgary actually outshone both of these cities in the Economists Global Liveability Index. Calgary, in Alberta, ranked 5th – scoring full marks for stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure. If you are an outdoor activity kind of person, then you will love Calgary. With the largest network of urban pathways and bikeways in North America, there is an endless amount of space for bike rides, walks, and runs. Or, if you wanted to hit the slopes, you wouldn’t even need to leave Calgary as the city is home to WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, where you can take part in a range of activities – from skiing, to snowboarding, to bobsleighing and ice-skating. Also, only a 90-minute drive away is Banff National Park on the slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains as Canada’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with three ski resorts and over 1,600 km of trails for hiking!
A big advantage of living in Calgary is that it is a lot more affordable than Toronto and Vancouver when it comes to both housing and living costs. It was reported in December 2019 that there has been a 2.2% decline in the average price of a new home in Calgary since July 2018, and that the benchmark price for a home in Calgary was $419,100. Calgary is home to 180 residential neighbourhoods, and some of the top ones include Varsity, Edgemont, Beltline, Signal Hill, Arbour Lake, and Huntington Hills.
Since the crash of oil prices in 2014, there has been a rise in Calgary’s unemployment rate. Calgary was reported to have the highest unemployment rate in Canada in March 2019. However, in the latter part of 2019, there was a more positive outlook on employment in Calgary as data showed that there was a 6% gain in jobs throughout 2019 and further gains are forecast for 2020.
Only just behind Calgary in the Economists Global Liveability ranking, Vancouver ranked 6th in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world. In Mercer’s quality of living ranking, Vancouver has been the highest-ranking city in North America for the last 10 years, scoring high for social and economic conditions, healthcare, schooling, transport and other factors. Vancouver has got something for everyone! You can enjoy the buzz of a big city, whilst also having the opportunity of taking in Vancouver’s world-renowned natural beauty – the city’s coastline offers many stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Rockies. If you use Vancouver’s SkyTrain to travel to work, then you would get to enjoy these views on your daily commute. There is so much of the outdoors to explore in Vancouver – whether you want to go for a walk on the beach or do a hiking trail in the surrounding mountains. Also, a 2-4 drive from the city will get you to numerous world-class ski resorts.
Vancouver has one of the mildest climates in Canada, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing, making for the best climate for spending time outdoors all year round. You can ski in the mountains during the winter and enjoy the beaches on a warm summer’s day. Due to Vancouver’s popularity, it is one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada. Residential areas in Downtown Vancouver are where you will expect to pay the most. These include the West End, Yaletown, Gastown, and Coal Harbour. The West End is said to be the most affordable, with monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment starting at approx. $900-$1,100. Other areas outside of downtown that are considered to be more affordable include Kitsilano, South Granville, Burnaby and neighbourhoods in North Vancouver.
With regards to employment in Vancouver, the technology sector seems to be driving job growth. According to a report in November 2019, Vancouver was ranked as the third best market for tech employment in Canada. The primary tech industries are software/app developers and digital media/gaming. However, regardless of the industry, as the main employment hub in Canada, finding a job in Vancouver won’t be too difficult!
As Canada’s largest city and economic capital, Toronto also claimed a spot in the Economists ranking of the 10 most liveable cities in the world, coming in 8th. Toronto is recognised as the most multicultural city in the world, with around half of its population born outside Canada. The city celebrates its diverse range of cultures as nestled throughout the city are areas like Little India, Chinatown, Little Portugal, Little Italy, Greektown, and many more. This means that Toronto is home to some of the best international cuisine in Canada!
If you are a city person at heart, you’ll love the big city buzz in Toronto. However, if you aren’t used to large cities, then you may be a bit overwhelmed by the size and fast pace of Toronto. One of the main disadvantages of living in Toronto are the prices to buy and rent, which have been skyrocketing for years. It has been reported that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit in Toronto is $2,300. There are some neighbourhoods where rent falls below the city average, with prices ranging between $900-$1,000. These include areas like Guildwood Village, Weston, Black Greek, Rexdale, East York and a few others.
With a thriving business and entrepreneurial scene, there are lots of job opportunities in Toronto, particularly in the tech industry! In the latest Canadian Tech Talent Ranking, Toronto ranked first as the best market for tech employment in Canada. Big-name technology companies like Google, Shopify, Microsoft, Oracle and many more, are bringing tonnes of jobs to the city. The highest paying and most in-demand jobs in Toronto are said to be those in technology, business and finance, and life sciences.
Housing is said to be a lot more affordable in Ottawa than in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, with the average price of a house reported to be C$420,300 ($320,000 USD). Ottawa is another great city to live if you are seeking an active life outdoors, with one of the highest percentages of parks to residents in Canada – there are more than 1,300 parks and open spaces. Also, 10 minutes away you have the Gatineau Hills, offering plenty of hiking and skiing opportunities. Ottawa is one of the biggest centres for tech-focused businesses in Canada, the latest Canadian Tech Talent Ranking listing Ottawa as the second-best market for tech employment. Some of the other top industries include federal government, finance, insurance, real estate, trade, health, education. The average salary in Ottawa is typically between 60,000 and 70,000 CAD (45,000-52,800 USD) per year.
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