Canada is a beautiful and diverse country; a big, lovely melting pot of food and culture. From mountain peaks and forests, to bogs, beaches and big cities, each Canadian province has something special to offer its residents. Whether you’re on the hunt for a family-friendly location, somewhere urban and edgy to let loose or a quaint town tucked into the landscape where you can slow your life down just a tad, Canada most definitely has a place that’s perfect for you. As you explore this list, keep in mind that what we consider the “best” places in Canada may not be the best for you and this list will undoubtedly require tweaks and adjustments depending on what’s important to each individual reader.
Best Place To Live (Overall)
This is a big title, and one we don’t give away easily. From coast to coast, you’ll find beautiful picturesque towns, big bustling cities, industrial ports and beach getaways that are sure to check all the boxes on your ever-specific list of needs. But when it comes to an overall best place to live, we took a look at a few different sets of criteria:
– Median income
– Average house price
– Crime rates
– Cost of living
– Unemployment rate
– Average monthly rent
Factoring in all this criteria, the overall best place to live in Canada is……Quebec City!
Aside from the obvious fact that you’d have to learn French, Quebec City is a beautiful historic place full of things to see and do. It’s a great place to find a job, buy an affordable home (or rent an affordable apartment) and experience world class dining, entertainment, culture and arts.
Best Places To Find Work
While this answer should be based on your specific industry and career to be considered more accurate on a personal level, there are a few locations in Canada that offer more career opportunities across the board. Each of these three cities was listed at the very top of the Bank of Montreal labour market performance report for 2020:
Kelowna, British Columbia
This region has a well-diversified economy with health care, education, construction, tourism and agriculture in the forefront. The mild weather in Kelowna makes it a popular tourism destination year-round which in turn fuels many other industries. The temperate climate also makes it a particularly great place for most careers in agriculture.
The city of Guelph is a vibrant community of 120,000 located in the heart of southern Ontario. Advanced manufacturing, agri-innovation and technology are booming industries in the Guelph area and have been labelled as projected areas for continued growth. Its close proximity to Toronto (about an hour drive west) also makes it an ideal location to commute elsewhere for work if needed. Consistently making an appearance on the top list of places to live in Canada, it’s no surprise that the “Royal City’s” high standard of living is paying off.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia’s capital city has one of the fastest growing information and communications technology sectors in Canada. The area is home to many government department headquarters and as a result, the government is one of the largest employers currently. As it’s a port city, The Department of National Defence is another large player when it comes to jobs. Overall, employment in Halifax is dominated by the service sector which accounts for over 85% of jobs. The healthcare sector is also growing strong as well as fishing, mining and forestry.
Best Places To Buy An Affordable House
The Canadian housing market has been hot as ever these past few years with average home prices soaring across the country. Saskatchewan ($288,500) and Newfoundland and Labrador ($308,000) are the two provinces with the lowest overall average home prices so far in 2021. If you’re looking to enter a less competitive and expensive real estate market, one of these two provinces would be a great place to start. If neither of those locations suits your needs or piques your interest, you can also consider these other three affordable housing pockets:
Saint John, New Brunswick
One of the oldest cities in all of Canada, Saint John sits picturesquely on the Bay of Fundy. Home to an active port, this is very much an industrial city, but low real estate costs have brought with it an influx of new residents which, in turn, has created rapid expansion in other employment areas. The average house price here is only $200,961 so you’ll likely be able to snag a great deal on a home if this location is well suited to your needs.
Nestled in between Montreal and Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres is a beautiful little city with an average home price of $212,329. This old, historical city boasts beautiful architecture and quaint streets and buildings. It’s a fairly quiet area with a population of 138,480 but if you’re open to learning French and commuting to Montreal or Quebec for work, it could be the perfect place to put down roots.
Nelson, British Columbia
Home to one of the last affordable housing options in the province of British Columbia, Nelson is a small gold rush town boasting a population of only 10,000 and a lower average home price than surrounding areas by far. If the mountains are calling and you’re on the hunt for a close-knit, art and culture focused community, Nelson may be the perfect fit for you. Keep in mind you’ll need a vehicle in this location as there’s a lack of centralized transit. Given that it’s a small community you could also have issues finding employment depending on your career or industry of choice so be sure to do your research on the local labour market in advance.
Best Places For Outdoor Activities
Canada is an incredible place to explore by foot, boat, surfboard, bike, kayak or sled.British Columbia
There is so much beauty to discover in British Columbia! Ski hills, snowboarding playgrounds, hiking trails, hidden lakes, beautiful islands and tranquil swim holes. If you’re interested in exploring beyond the beaten path, there are plenty of outdoor wonders that await you here at any time of the year.
Home to some of the most stunning lakes and snowcapped mountain ranges, Alberta has no shortage of outdoor activities. Visit the world-famous Calgary Stampede or take the trek to Lake Louise to gaze in awe at the glacier-fed lake and beautiful scenery. With breathtaking places like Banff National Park and Icefields Parkway, you’ll never run out of adventures to take in Alberta.
The province of Nova Scotia is full of so many wonders you’ll want to discover. Whether it’s hiking the breathtaking Cabot Trail, setting sail on a tall ship in Lunenburg, sunbathing and surfing at Ingonish beach or whale watching at Peggy’s Cove, there is a plethora of things to do regardless of the season.
Best Up And Coming Cities
There are plenty of cities across the country that have remained relatively “untapped” when it comes to their potential. These two spots in Ontario have their own stories to tell and if you’re looking for something up and coming, you may want to listen closely.
Affectionately known as “Steel City,” Hamilton has a reputation for being a grimy, industrial city. Once known for blue collar manufacturing and the simple things in life, Hamilton has grown into itself and is quickly becoming a destination for high end restaurants, cool boutiques and world class entertainment. Its proximity via Go Train to Toronto also makes it the perfect bedroom community for anyone who plans to commute to Toronto for work. Beware though, the average price of houses in Hamilton continues to soar so if you want to get in before it becomes too much more competitive, the time is most definitely now!
With fairly low average home prices ($427,733), Kingston is a beautiful city of 135,220 people that’s centrally located within the province, making it the perfect bedroom community for commuters to bigger cities located nearby. The population hasn’t grown much in the past 10 years, so the job and real estate market are a lot less competitive and offer a bounty of opportunities for those willing to look closer.
Best Cities For Food
We all have to eat right?! If food is a big part of your life, then choosing a location with a culturally diverse population and wonderful array of restaurants and cuisines is super important!
Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of Canada and the second in North America, right behind New York! No matter what your taste or preference, there are a ton of remarkable high-end restaurants and dives to explore. From their famous smoked meat to Canada’s favourite humble dish, the poutine, there are restaurants on every corner waiting to be discovered.
When you think of the prairies, great food isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Regardless, Winnipeg is definitely an emerging gem in the culinary scene that you won’t want to pass up. An influx of new chefs paired with the city’s revitalization efforts have created a bold restaurant scene with an emphasis on local and indie breweries, eateries and markets.
Victoria, British Columbia
This harbour city is literally surrounded by the seafood-rich waters of the Pacific Ocean and hearty farmland. While Vancouver often takes all the accolades when it comes to culinary conversations, Victoria has a voice of its own and you’ll want to listen closely. As a result of its amazing location, there is a serious passion in Victoria for farm-to-table cooking and chefs are very passionate about highlighting local products. From un-paralleled fine dining to rustic coastal comfort food, Victoria has you covered!
Best Places To Live For Families In Canada
There are plenty of awesome places in Canada to raise a family but a few stand out from the crowd when it comes to specific criteria.
Charlottetown may be small, but it definitely leaves a big impression! This quaint little city is the capital of Prince Edward Island and has an incredibly low crime rate. The average home price is quite minimal at $277,000 and the cost of childcare is among the lowest in Canada across all provinces ($586-$738 per month on average).
Ottawa is home to many things that make it a great place to raise a family. With affordable home prices ($543,814) and childcare costs that put it a step ahead of most other urban city centres, there are plenty of reasons to consider this a great place to set down roots. The city also has a very family oriented culture hosting many outdoor events and activities for families, so you’re bound to find plenty of things to do to pass the time with your little ones.
When it comes to education, test results show that students in Edmonton public schools perform above provincial averages. Aside from the serious stuff, the city is also home to many unique and fun attractions that are sure to entertain even the most bored of children including the West Edmonton Mall that houses a waterpark, theme park, mini golf, ice palace, aquarium and more!
Best Places To Retire In Canada
Retirement can look very different for each of us so it’s only suitable to choose two options for this category depending on what retirement will look like to you.
If you’d like to retire and own your own home, then the win goes to Charlottetown PEI. The fact that it’s also one of our best places to raise a family isn’t a coincidence. Low housing costs, low crime rate and relaxing island living at its finest. How can you go wrong?!
If you’re thinking you’d like to sell your home and rent when you retire, you’d consider Moncton New Brunswick the winner. With one of the lowest costs of living in the whole country, this city is constantly growing and evolving with plenty of cool new things to explore and do as you edge toward the later years of your life. Plus, you can never go wrong with the relaxing east coast vibes!
We understand that listing places as the “best” in Canada is totally subjective. The choices we made were based on specific data and not personal preference. We only compared major cities that had the same data available to ensure we were comparing apples to apples, or in this case, cities to cities.
There are so many places to see and explore in Canada, each unique in its own way. Hopefully this article can act as inspiration for your next big move and provide some insight into what different areas of the country can offer to different types of lifestyles. Make the time to dig deeper into each individual province and learn more about the terrain, education system, weather, healthcare system, real estate market and cost of living so you can find the best possible location for your individual needs.