13 tips to choose the best place to live in Canada

Updated: Jul 24

One of the most challenging decisions to make before travelling to Canada is choosing the city or town where we want to live.


You may be wondering what is the best city to live in Canada? Honestly, I think there is no correct answer to this question because it will depend on different factors that suit your preferences.


However, here are 13 tips on the factors to consider to make an informed decision.


I leave here the story of how we decided on the city of Mississauga, located in the province of Ontario, but if you are still starting your search, you can check out the table of contents below.


Table of contents

1. No specific preferences

2. Migration program

3. Job offer

4. Weather

5. City or small town

6. Type of work

7. Study

8. Near tourist attractions

9. Permanent residence

10. Lifestyle

11. Outdoor activities

12. Language

13. Budget


In our case, we went through several alternatives. I had been in Toronto for three months in 2015, so we ruled out that option at first.


Our first option was to look for information regarding the Atlantic provinces; Aldo wanted to go to New Brunswick because it was like the south of our country.

I don't remember why we started to like Ottawa, maybe because it is close to the French area but still part of Ontario.


Because of the COVID situation, the requirements to enter Canada on Working Holiday changed and a job offer was required to travel, so we could no longer freely choose which city to go to.


I started looking for a job, which wasn't easy in Chile. On the one hand, I applied to a couple online but never received a response.


On the other hand, when I presented my resignation to my manager, she encouraged me to look for an internal option in the same company but in Canada. I never thought about this option because, in my mind, this work permit was for a temporary job. By the way, I have been working in this company for almost five years.


Long story short, I found an internal program. I applied for it and got a position in Canada. As the physical location of my job was in Brampton and Aldo was going to study in Toronto, Mississauga was in the middle for both trips, so we decided on Mississauga.




I have seen that this question is repeated in the different forums of foreigners in Canada: which is the best city to live in Canada?


I will tell you that there is no right or wrong answer because it depends on personal and professional preferences, but to make this search easier... I bring you 13 tips to find the best place to live in Canada.


You will find some characteristics to consider to choose the place that fits your interests.


Here we go!


1) No specific preferences


Suppose you have no idea which province you want to go to. I suggest you start with a general review of the information available on the internet about each province that belongs to Canada.


In case you don't know, these are the provinces and territories of Canada: Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The three territories are the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.


Doing this exercise will give you a general idea of each province's main characteristics and may allow you to choose one of your interests.



2) Migration program


It is essential to be clear that you must manage the documentation allowing you to enter Canada as a student, worker, permanent resident, etc.


Therefore, you should check if there is any requirement in the program you are going to migrate or use to travel that binds you to a job offer, a specific province, or something that limits your alternatives.


For example, the working holiday program allows you to settle in any province in Canada. Another example is that the Atlantic province migration program is restricted to Atlantic provinces.


3) Job offer


If you are coming to work and a job offer is required. You should focus on looking for a job before choosing the location, as was our case.


For more details, you can read How to get a job in Canada as a newcomer.


If a job offer is not required, that will give you the freedom to check other features.



4) Weather

This is one of the things to check, although, with all the climate change, the seasons are a bit crazy and in places where it never snows now, there are snow storms, but you have to be prepared.


Usually, the west coast has milder winters, not as cold, not as snowy, but you have to like the rain.


Places near the lakes have snow, but less than the northern areas.

Cooksville Creek Trail. Winter day.
Photo of a morning walk on the Cooksville Creek trail on a winter day | Photo by @djshockchile

5) City or small town


If you like to have everything close at hand, access to big supermarkets, shopping malls, entertainment and the movement of big cities, you probably prefer to choose a city.


Some examples are Toronto and Ottawa in Ontario, Quebec and Montreal in Quebec, Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta, Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia, Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan, and Halifax in Nova Scotia and more.


But if you like calm, quiet, a little more silence or fewer people, you will have to choose a smaller town or city. Some examples are Niagara on the lake in Ontario, Jasper in Alberta, Squamish in British Columbia, etc.



6) Type of work


Suppose you do not need a job offer but have experience in certain areas. It will help if you are looking for specific provinces where it is easy to find a job.


For example, suppose you have experience in hospitality services and ski jobs. In that case, you should look for something in places like Banff in Alberta, or experience in finance - look for cities with financial industry or experience linked to the sea - you could look in the Atlantic provinces.


7) Study


This is easier; if you are coming to Canada to study, try to find a place close to your university or institution where you are going to study.


8) Near tourist attractions


If you are a person who enjoys taking pictures or you want to feel like you are always on vacation, and you like to travel, you can consider looking for a place that is close to the tourist attractions you dream of seeing.


This way, you won't need a big budget to go there.


For example, we love Niagara Falls, and I think it has been the place we have visited the most since we have been here, it is only a two-hour bus ride away (it is less by car), but we enjoy going there.

Niagara Falls viewed from Niagara SkyWheel on our last trip in February 2022 | Photo taken by me

9) Permanent residence


If it is in your plans to migrate permanently to a particular province, you could start by checking what programs are available so you can move there first to see if you want to settle there permanently.


One option is applying for Express Entry; visit How to create an Express Entry Profile if you want to know more.


10) Lifestyle


Do you consider yourself a quiet person, or do you like crowded places with lots of events?


This may give you a clue about a particular city or town.


11) Outdoor activities


I will say that so far, most places I have visited in Ontario have lots of parks and green spaces, and during the summer, there are activities everywhere.


But in this case, if you like to run every day or have a dog that needs to go out daily, you might want to look for areas with parks all over the city.


I would recommend Mississauga; we love it. There are so many green areas that every day we can go to a different park and it is safe for families and with activities for every family member.


If you want to know more about Mississauga, visit this collection of 14 parks and trails to visit with your family in Mississauga.



View of the closest park to our home (750 m) Zonta Meadows park, Mississauga, Ontario | Photo taken by me

12) Language


There are two official languages in Canada: English and French, but not in all provinces; both languages are commonly used.


If you are better at French, I recommend you to look for the province of Quebec. From what I understand, English is more commonly used in the rest of the provinces.


13) Budget


Another thing to take into account is the budget. The prices of houses, apartments, basements and all the options can vary if you are in the center, near the main streets, near the subway, etc.


So check beforehand how much you can afford to pay for a place and go with that.


 

As I mentioned at the beginning, there is no right or wrong answer because it depends on personal preferences. I hope this article has helped you decide.


And tell me... what cities or towns are you considering coming to and living in Canada? Let me know in the comments below to nurture this community with more information.

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