Canada is the U.S.’s more peaceful, outdoorsy, and rugged cousin. Canada draws U.S. citizens, and foreigners from around the world, across its borders for several reasons. Our northern neighbor provides universal healthcare (a hot topic right now in the States), competitive wages, and a relatively low cost of living. Canada is home to more nature than even the most avid outdoorsman would know what to do with. Perhaps the great outdoors has a positive effect on people’s mood, because when compared with the States, Canada has an extremely low crime rate. Curious about the lifestyle that lies just beyond our northern border? Here are the best places to live in Canada. (* All prices in Canadian Dollars. 1USD = 1.30CAD).
1) Ottawa, Ontario
The eastern Canadian capital is the fourth largest city in the country and considered one of the cleanest in the world. Ottawa’s population is just under one million people, most of who are gainfully employed. Perhaps this is thanks to Kanata Park, Canada’s largest research and technology hub, housed in Ottawa. Kanata Park employs 21,000 people, and contributes $7.8 billion to Canada’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Clearly, tech business is booming in Ottawa. The bilingual rate is 44% and the city has more engineers, scientists, and PhDs per capita than any other city in Canada. The median family income is around $100,000, making it the highest income city in Canada. The average home costs around $374,000; not the cheapest on the list, but by no means the most expensive. Ottawa also claims low crime rates, rich culture, and plenty of sporting events, festivals, and other entertainment.
2) Vancouver, British Columbia
The beautiful and livable city of Vancouver sits on the Pacific West coast of the country. Vancouver houses the largest port for exporting Canadian goods. As a province, British Columbia’s economy is on the rise and Vancouver has a lot to do with this. The biggest industries are exporting, biotechnology, alternative fuels, and software development. As a city, the vibe here is more laid back when compared to more hectic Toronto. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east, Vancouver is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Winters are mild, with warm and sunny summers, ensuring this scenic city can be enjoyed in all seasons. The population is around 600,000 and very diverse. The unemployed rate hovers around 5%. The only visible drawback? The very high cost of real estate – about $1,000,000 for the average home.
3) Delta, British Columbia
Included in Greater Vancouver, but functioning as an independent municipality, is Delta. If you love the sound of Vancouver, but can’t stomach the exorbitant cost of housing, Delta is an excellent second choice. True to its name, the city is located on the delta of the Fraser River. Nature lovers celebrate the many parks, bird sanctuaries, and beautiful Centennial Beach. Hike or bike around Boundary Bay Park, with views of the bay on one side and mountains on the other. Industry, agriculture, fishing, and commerce are the main businesses. Delta’s population is around 100,000 with an unemployment rate of under 5%. Cost of living is more reasonable when compared to its’ northern neighbors. The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is just over $1,000. Average cost to buy a small two-bedroom home is about $700,000. Still pricey, but there is potential for high income in Delta.
4) Quebec City, Quebec
As the capital of Quebec Province, Quebec City is home to over 500,000 people. It’s the second largest city in the province after Montreal and is predominantly French speaking. Located right on the Saint Lawrence River, this city is an important piece of the province’s history. Due to centuries of French influence, many say the city has an old European feel and is rich in history and culture. The city walls of Old Quebec have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. QC loves its’ festivals, the most famous being The Winter Carnival. Major industries include transportation, tourism, and the service sector. The unemployment rate is a low 3.5%. The median household income is about $60,000. The average cost of a home is $285,000, well below the national average, making QC a very affordable place to live compared to other major Canadian cities.
5) Burlington, Ontario
On the shores of Lake Ontario lies another festival-loving city. Burlington is host to a number of fun celebrations including the Burlington Beer Festival, Ribfest, and Children’s Festival. The Burlington Downtown Waterfront is the place to dine out, people watch, or just get some daily exercise. The location is ideal, making many places like Toronto, Niagara Falls, and the U.S. border very accessible. The Bruce Trail is popular in all seasons for hiking, cross-country skiing, and biking. Downhill skiers will enjoy the slopes at Glen Eden Ski Centre. There’s a strong sense of community amongst the almost 200,000 residents, reflected in the low crime and unemployment rates. Burlington also scores point in the affordability category with a new home averaging about $340,000. The average salary in Burlington is higher than the national average, with a median household income of around $88,000.
6) St. Albert, Alberta
The cost of living in Alberta province is among the lowest in Canada. This makes a high quality of life very attainable in many of its cities, including St. Albert. As a city of 64,645, a large part of community life is the entertainment, events, and clubs. The Servus Credit Union Place, a sprawling fitness and lifestyle center, is visited by one million people a year. There’s over one hundred performances at the Arden Theater annually. It’s also home to the Outdoors Farmer’s Market (largest in western Canada), the International Children’s Festival, and blooming Botanical Gardens. Explore the city via the Red Willow Trail System, 85 kilometers of trails that connect the parks and neighborhoods. With a low unemployment rate and average household income of $136,000, residents comfortably enjoy daily life. Albertans also generally enjoy lower taxes, lower gas prices, and no health care premiums.
7) Regina, Saskatchewan
As the capital of Saskatchewan, Regina is considered the heart of the province. Regina has plenty of restaurants, nightlife, and events for its population of 236,000 to enjoy. Regina takes the great outdoors very seriously, too. Visit the Wascana Centre, a 2,300-acre ecosystem and the largest urban park in all of North America. Regina takes pride in its arts, culture, and entertainment scene. Visit the performing arts center, a craft beer brewery, or any number of galleries and museums. The main industries are finance and insurance and Regina is home to many prosperous firms. The unemployment rate is below the national average at 6.5%. Housing is much more affordable. The average home costs $315,000, which is below the Canadian average. Cost of living is significantly less when compared to other bustling hubs, like Toronto or Vancouver, making Regina a great place to settle.
8) Waterloo, Ontario
Located in southern Ontario with a population of around 105,000, Waterloo is an ideal place for a budding techie. There are over 500 tech companies located here. Waterloo’s growing presence in the technology field attracts many non-locals and foreigners. The percent of immigrants living in Waterloo is now 25%. Waterloo is home to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. These schools are major employers to many residents. Computer technology, insurance, and environmental management are the most prosperous sectors. Waterloo hosts many festivals especially in the spring and summer seasons. Check out the Quilt Festival, Go! Music Festival, Jazz Festival, and Serbia Food Festival. Like many other cities on this list, Waterloo also offer great outdoor trails, parks, and amenities. Low cost of living, low unemployment rate, reasonable household income averages, and low housing costs come together to make Waterloo a sought-after place to live.
9) Gatineau, Quebec
Located on the Ottawa River in Quebec Province, Gatineau is approximately 270 miles southwest of Quebec City. Ottawa lies directly across the river on the southern banks. Gatineau’s population of around 277,000 is mostly French speaking, however 11% of people report English as their native language. The Canadian Museum of History is housed here, along with the popular Casino du Lac-Leamy. There are many parks throughout the city with walking trails, expansive green spaces, and playgrounds. The Gatineau Hills are known for miles of cross-country skiing trails, and beautiful scenery when the leaves change in the fall. Gatineau also hosts many fun festivals – catch the annual Hot Air Balloon festival every September or celebrate winter at Winterlude Snowflake Kingdom. The median family income hovers around $90,000, making it one of the highest income cities in Canada. The average purchasing price for a home is around $250,000.
10) Guelph, Ontario
This city has the charm of a small town with the conveniences of a large city. There is always a way to stay busy in Guelph. Plenty of nature trails, golf courses, and entertainment venues like the River Run Centre compose the city grounds. The Guelph Lake Conservation Area is a popular place for boating and camping. The unemployment and crime rate is among the lowest in the country. Guelph has a very high quality of life and is one of the best places to find full-time employment. Weather here is generally cold winters with mild, humid summers. Median household income is on the higher end of $80,000, however the average home price is around $450,000. Major industries are manufacturing, agriculture-food, and technology. Linamar Corporation employs the most residents in its production of automobile parts. Clearly, this city of 132,000 has a lot going for it.
11) Saanich, British Columbia
Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island just off the west coast of Vancouver, is the small city of Saanich. Real estate here is pricey; for the average home residents can expect to pay over $500,000. The household median income is about $80,000, making Saanich one of the more expensive places to live in the country. However, if you have the money, the other livability factors here are very high. The population of just over 114,000 enjoy beautiful coastal living with multiple long sandy beaches and bays. Saanich has a host of lovely parks and conservation areas. The Mount Tolmie Park has fantastic viewpoints overlooking all of Victoria (the capital of British Columbia) and Saanich. The summit of Mount Douglas boasts panoramic views of Greater Victoria, accessible through Mount Douglas Park. Low crime and unemployment rates are among Saanich’s other bragging rights.