Culture

All about Canadian culture, from people and language to food, drink, books, music, and film

Daily Life

From health care and education, to local eating and shopping, to festivals and things to do, get the scoop on life in Canada

Housing, Jobs, & Money

Finding a home, working, saving, and investing in Canada – here’s how

Immigration

What you need to know to live in, work in, or immigrate to Canada. Citizenship information, too.

Travel

Travel ideas and tips for visiting, touring, and deciding where to live in Canada.

Home » Immigration, Travel

Best Places to Live: Canada’s Top 10 Cities (2011)

Submitted by on April 28, 2011 – 2:40 pm11 Comments

New condos rise above Ottawa's ByWard MarketWhere are the best places to live in Canada?

Every year, MoneySense mag­a­zine weighs in on the best-​​places-​​to-​​live ques­tion, and this year was no exception.

The MoneySense 2011 Best Places to Live sur­vey rated 180 Canadian com­mu­ni­ties with at least 10,000 res­i­dents, com­par­ing such fac­tors as cli­mate, incomes, job prospects, access to health care, home afford­abil­ity, crime rates, and over­all lifestyle.

And for the sec­ond year in a row, the top city was… Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

Why Ottawa? Ottawa’s major ben­e­fit was its con­sis­tency, with decent, if not stel­lar, rat­ings in all categories:

There are jobs to be had, house­hold incomes and real estate are not dras­ti­cally mis­aligned, doc­tors are acces­si­ble, and crime is barely a con­cern. Temperate sum­mers make up for the bone-​​chilling winters…There are plenty of muse­ums and galleries…to keep the culture-​​lover occupied.

Of course, much of the city’s suc­cess is due to the fact that it is home to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Bureaucracy, for all of its unsex­i­ness, means jobs, healthy incomes, local busi­ness devel­op­ment, and amenities.

Ranked sec­ond, despite the high cost of hous­ing, was Victoria, British Columbia, which earned points for its improv­ing job mar­ket and its com­pact, walk­a­ble city cen­ter, as well as its com­par­a­tively mild climate.

But it’s not just tem­per­ate B.C. that scored well for weather. In Southern Ontario out­side of Toronto, Burlington scored third, pair­ing high incomes and respectable job prospects, with a low crime rate and (sur­prise!) a gen­er­ally decent climate.

Here’s the com­plete MoneySense Top 10:

  1. Ottawa-​​Gatineau, ON
  2. Victoria, BC
  3. Burlington, ON
  4. Kingston, ON
  5. St. Albert, AB
  6. Fredericton, NB
  7. Brandon, MB
  8. Edmonton, AB
  9. Repentigny, QC
  10. Winnipeg, MB

In gen­eral, smaller cities and sub­ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties scored higher than Canada’s larger cities, with Toronto ranked #88 and Montreal at #123. For many peo­ple, though, par­tic­u­larly new­com­ers to Canada, the vibrant cul­tural life and over­all career prospects in the major cities out­weighs some of the drawbacks.

Among the better-​​scoring large cities, beyond the Top 10, were London (ON) at #14, Calgary at #16, Halifax (NS) at #21, Quebec City at #25, and Vancouver at #29.

What do you think? Would you rather live in a large city, despite the has­sles of urban life? Or do you think that new­com­ers fare bet­ter in smaller communities?

Please leave a com­ment and share your opin­ion. Thanks!

And for more infor­ma­tion on the MoneySense sur­vey, check out the Best Places to Live 2011 list and related arti­cles.

Planning to relo­cate to Canada? Get help plan­ning your move with our free refer­ral ser­vice.

New con­dos rise above Ottawa’s ByWard Market Photo © Carolyn B. Heller

11 Comments »

  • Adam says:

    Hi,
    I cur­rently reside in Toronto for the past few years, I stud­ied at HUMBER busi­ness school. I think job mar­ket in Toronto is not very good. Its just a wel­come house for new comers.Toronto is filled with peo­ple who likes to do labor jobs. However Toronto is really good to live, expen­sive pubs and rapid growth of pop­u­la­tion, com­pe­ti­tion, Crimes occur at only cer­tain places exam­ple. Jane and finch. Perhaps Toronto has mix­ture of city life and rural lifestyles. The gov­ern­ment changes rules very often and is now strin­gent in giv­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dents. Lots of wait­ing lists. At Humber school for inter­na­tional stu­dents the fee is 6000$ a semes­ter and if an inter­na­tional stu­dent fails in just ONE SUBJECT he needs to pay a fee of 1200$, which is really bad. Car insur­ance is expen­sive. Government increases bus fare often.
    Thus I would say Toronto is a lovely place to hang­out, safe but in long term set­tle­ment this is not the right option. Please give your sug­ges­tions on good place to set­tle in Canada no mat­ter the tem­per­a­ture but fac­tors like house afford­abil­ity and high­est income/​hourly pay. Thanks.

  • Caroline says:

    Hello,

    I have been look­ing through the past com­ments and have obtained some good information.

    I was won­der­ing how­ever where the best place to migrate to from the UK. I cur­rently live in the sub­urbs of London and enjoy being close enough to expe­ri­ence city life but far enough away to not be invloved. Obviously in London it is not half as cold has the tem­per­a­tures can reach in Canada but I am open to deal with the cold.

    I will be vis­it­ing Canada next year and hope to migrate in the com­ing years.

    I would appre­ci­ate any com­ments or advice, thanks.

  • Logan says:

    I Live in Fredericton, NB, and love it here. Beautiful scenery and nice peo­ple. i went on a trip to Ottawa before and i very much enjoyed the city, but noth­ing is like home. In my opin­ion Fredericton should be #1 (Not to be biest). Oh and Montreal is a slum…

  • Ruth says:

    I nom­i­nate Kingston, Ontario. It’s gor­geous here. Right on Lake Ontario, loads of things cities this size don’t nor­mally have espe­cially with regard to the arts. Very walk­a­ble. Small but, yet large enough to have good shop­ping and MANY restaurants…more per capita than any other Canadian city. Easy access to the bor­der. So many advan­tages. It’s about equal dis­tance to Ottawa, Toronto or Montreal too. I’ve lived in Ottawa and Toronto too and like it here best of the three cities. I’m quite sur­prised it was not on the list this time as it has been before.

  • bob levert says:

    I would strongly advise against liv­ing in Quebec, period! I returned to Quebec for per­sonal rea­sons about six years ago. My par­ents migrated to California in 1957, I was only one year old. I returned in 2004. After six years, I’m now plan­ning to move to Ontario, Ottawa to be pre­cise. Why? Because the Provincial, as well as the munic­pal gov­ern­ments (espe­cially Montreal), are by far the most cor­rupted bunch of human debris that I’ve ever seen in my life!!! The Prime min­is­ter of Quebec is in bed with the Mafia, the Unions, big Oil Industry, and of course the totally cor­rupted con­struc­tion com­pa­nies. There is some­thing about the French Quebecor’s men­tal­ity that strikes me very wierd. They have this big chip on their col­lec­tive shoul­der, and they have a low self esteme issue. They blame all their prob­lems on the eng­lish, or the Federal Government. Quebec was rated the most cor­rupted province in Canada a cou­ple of years ago by Mclean’s mag­a­zine! We are the most heav­ily taxed province in Canada, have the worst school sys­tem in Canada, the worst health sys­tem in Canada, we are the poor­est province in Canada. Quebec lit­tery gives away it’s nat­ural resources, while charg­ing it’s own cit­i­zen sky high prices! Think about this, Montreal, has more gov­ern­ment work­ers (for as small as it is), than Toronto, or New York!!!! Twenty per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in Quebec, work for the gov­ern­ment. Of course every­one knows about the con­di­tions of our roads, the worst, unkept, patchjobs in all of Canada!! I’ve seen bet­ter roads in Mexico! Because of the cor­rup­tion in Montreal’s munic­i­pal gov­ern­ment, and it’s self serv­ing Mayor, the infra­struc­ture of Montreal is lit­terly falling apart!! We have three bridges that are falling apart because of neg­li­gence. Circulating by car in Montreal is a true night­mare, this com­ing from a guy that lived in Southern California! I’m sure that Quebec has it’s good points, and vis­i­tors may actu­ally enjoy them selves for a few days while on vaca­tion, but vis­it­ing a place for vaca­tion, and actu­ally liv­ing here, is a whole dif­fer­ent ball game. Quebec is far from being “World Class”, as far as I, and many peo­ple I know, Quebec would be the great­est place to live, but only if the Corrupted Municipal, and Provincial gov­ern­ments, the syndicates-​​organized crime, and the social­ist men­tal­ity were abol­ished. There are of cource worse places to live on this planet, like Haiti, Bangledesh, Siberia, Mexico, ect., but, if any­one plans on migrat­ing to Canada, please for the love of God, stay very far away from this criminal’s par­adise known as Quebec. In clos­ing, I per­son­aly can not wait to get the hell out of this twi­light zone of a place. However, what is really sad to me is the fact that indi­vid­u­ally, the Quebecors are great warm, and char­i­ta­ble peo­ple. I just can’t for the life of me under­stand how, or why they per­mit­ted these crim­i­nals in gov­ern­ment ruin this place. Sincerely, Bob

    • Carolyn B. Heller says:

      It sounds as if Bob likes the peo­ple of Quebec but has had neg­a­tive expe­ri­ences with the gov­ern­ment and pub­lic ser­vices. Anyone else want to share your expe­ri­ences with life in Montreal, Quebec City, or other places in Quebec?

      The MoneySense sur­vey put Quebec City at #25 and Montreal at #123 on its Best Places to Live list. How do you think they rank among Canada’s best places to live? Is gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion affect­ing the qual­ity of life?

      Readers, what do you think? Please post a com­ment and let us know.

    • marg says:

      I can relate. I was born in Los Angeles in 1957 but have lived
      here in Montreal since 1978. My Mother was French Canadian but
      pre­ferred to stay in Southern California because of the weather.
      What else. It cer­tainly has been hard to live here but mov­ing back to the States after all these years seems a daunt­ing task.
      At our age it is good to have social­ized med­ical care even with
      all the wait times.

      In the past few months Montreal has become a night­mare to
      get around between the crum­bling all at once infra­struc­ture and lack of will of the pow­ers that be to get it all orga­nized. One
      feels like one is in a banana repub­lic. I know there is prob­a­bly
      a dif­fer­ent set of prob­lems every­where I would go but “go” is cer­tainly on my mind too. Now about the climate.…

  • Ray Stephen says:

    And yes i to agree with the oth­ers on this page Ottawa is the nicest big city in canada hands down so if you have yet to go you should check it out for yourself!

  • Ray Stephen says:

    So for my opin­ion new­com­ers com­ming to canada they would much rather a smaller city in the mid­dle of canada or east­coast of canada the land is way nicer there is more water, more trees, tons of wildlife, and lots of recre­ational stuff, the smaller citys are easy to move to the peo­ple who live there are nicer its not so fast liv­ing where that would bring bad dri­vers like the dri­vers in ablerta (some of the worst in canada) it is just eas­ier to get comfterble in a small nabour­hood than a big city plus there is less crime bet­ter schools eas­ier to go to doc­tors, line ups to every buis­ness are always shorter its just more relax­ing your hous­ing is bet­ter spaced out unlike edmon­ton and all of alberta your house wont be 3 feet from your nabours house park­ing lots and every­thing out in alberta are just big clus­ters of bad dri­ving peo­ple who cause car acci­dents daily. also crime rate are way lover in small places there has already been 22 homi­cides in edmon­ton this year and we are only 1/​4 into the year we will be hit­ting record highs some even match­ing US cities now that is so bad this is canada peo­ple come on learn to get a long.

  • Zhu says:

    Living in Ottawa, I’m not sur­prised to see it #1. Ottawa is a very steady place, sur­pris­ingly afford­able for a cap­i­tal (and a large city by Canadian stan­dards). It’s also very green and family-​​friendly… plus the loca­tion is con­ve­nient since it’s close to the US, Montreal and Toronto.

    • Carolyn B. Heller says:

      Hi, Zhu,
      Thanks for your com­ment. I spent some time in Ottawa in March, and it reminded me what a nice city it is.

      I was espe­cially impressed with Ottawa’s food scene. I had excel­lent meals at Zen Kitchen (deli­cious vegan ravi­oli!), Allium, and the Cordon Bleu Ottawa, plus a yummy Chinese BBQ pork taco at the Side Door. Also attended a great din­ner, orga­nized by Savvy Company and Thyme & Again, with sev­eral local food peo­ple, and got to take an abbre­vi­ated ver­sion of the C’est Bon Cooking “Foods of the ByWard Market” tour.

      I can see why a city with so many great food expe­ri­ences gets high marks for qual­ity of life!

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.