If you have never been to or lived in Canada before, It can be quite tricky to decide which city you should be moving to in Canada, so I decided to compile a list of factors to consider as well as potential cities to make your decision easier.
Here are some of the factors to consider the right city for you –
- Canadian Cities for Early Career Job Opportunities
- Canadian Cities for Experienced Professionals
- Top Canadian Cities for Higher Education
- Canadian Cities for French Speakers in Canada
- Best Canadian Cities for a Vibrant Social Life
- Top Canadian Cities with a Lower Cost of Living
- Best Canadian Cities for Mild Weather
- Canadian Cities With Cultural Diversity
- Top Canadian Cities for Raising a Family
Canadian Cities for Early Career Job Opportunities
If your reason for moving to Canada is primarily due to better career prospects, and you are a recent graduate, then the ideal cities to move to for skilled labor would be –
The reason being not only are most job postings in the country represented by those three cities, but also there will be a ton of other opportunities if you want to go for a career change or just go up the ladder!
If you are wondering where I got the job numbers from, I got them by looking them up on Indeed Canada which is one of the major job sites in the country.
Top Industries For Toronto
- Healthcare/Life Sciences
- Film and Entertainment
Top Industries For Vancouver
- Film and TV
- Natural Resources and Energy
Top Industries For Montreal
- Information Technology
- Creative Industries (Arts, Video Games, Film)
Top Industries For Calgary
- Oil and Gas
- Financial Services
Job Prospects In Small Cities
If you decide to go to a smaller city early in your career then just make a note that there are not going to be a lot of job postings or even companies willing to hire you!
Smaller cities also tend to have jobs in specific industries so make sure before moving to a smaller city that there are jobs in your industry.
Canadian Cities for Experienced Professionals
Being an experienced person can open a lot more options apart from just Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Montreal. You can start considering other Canadian cities like –
- Quebec City
While these cities have relatively fewer jobs, there are still good prospects for experienced folks. I do recommend you to do a search for jobs in your field before making a move!
Before you apply for jobs, it would be ideal to prepare your resume.
Remote Jobs in Canada
If you are in tech/business/marketing industry, then it might be possible to secure a remote job in Canada and then live in a small affordable Canadian town.
Top Canadian Cities for Higher Education
If getting an education from a top institute is your priority then Toronto comes out at the top since the University of Toronto is based there.
You can also consider Vancouver/Kelowna, where the University of British Columbia is based.
Montreal would be an ideal choice if you are a French speaker as it hosts McGill University as well as the University of Montreal. While McGill is an English language institute, the Montreal itself is officially a French speaking city.
Other cities and universities to consider for top tier education –
- Edmonton – University of Alberta
- Calgary – University of Calgary
- Ottawa – University of Ottawa (Bilingual University)
- Waterloo – University of Waterloo
- Halifax – Dalhousie University
Canadian Cities for French Speakers in Canada
Canada has two official languages – English and French. While the majority of the country’s population speaks English, you will find French to be more prevalent in Quebec and in the Western part of New Brunswick.
If French is your sole language, and you are looking for opportunities then the best cities to move to in Canada would be –
- Quebec City
Both Ottawa and Montreal have many people that are bilingual in both English and French. If you are looking to get exposure to English, then both cities would be an ideal fit.
Preferred Provinces For Francophones
The majority of French-speaking immigrants move to either Quebec or Ontario not only because of the opportunities but also because Ontario offers a lot of support to French speakers for them to succeed.
Best Canadian Cities for a Vibrant Social Life
If you are looking for a city with a ton of events happening throughout the year then you will have to move to
Something important to note here is that your Social Life will depend on what you like to do and how fast you are able to make friends after your move. Some people are not able to make any friends despite moving to these big cities!
This doesn’t mean that the smaller cities don’t have much to do but you will find less variety in terms of things to do. Culture in the bigger cities can vary significantly from one neighborhood to another.
Top Canadian Cities with a Lower Cost of Living
If you are looking for an affordable city to live in, forget Toronto/Vancouver! Instead, consider one of these cities –
- Quebec City
- Thunder Bay
where the cost of living is significantly lower than Toronto/Vancouver!
Best Canadian Cities for Mild Weather
A few Canadian cities have a much warmer climate than the rest of Canada.
If you are looking for nice weather in the Eastern parts of Canada, cities to consider moving to would be
- Halifax (Nova Scotia)
- St Johns (Newfoundland)
Cities in Western Canada that have milder weather –
- Victoria (British Columbia)
- Vancouver (British Columbia)
While Toronto does get quite cold in winter, if you are living in the downtown area you would have zero issues due to winter as the roads and walkways are always kept clear of snow!
Canadian Cities With Cultural Diversity
If you enjoy the western lifestyle then you are looking moving either to Alberta or Saskatchewan. Cities to consider in that case would be Edmonton, Calgary, Regina or Saskatoon!
Cowboy Lifestyle In Quebec
Certain parts of Quebec also offer western life (including rodeos and music!) Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, and Montreal are not too from Saint-Tite which is where one of the largest rodeo events in North America is held! Yes, it’s in French!
South Asian Population In Canada
Brampton, which is part of the Greater Toronto Area, has a significant South Asian population, and you will be able to find all sorts of South Asian cuisines. However, note that the crime rate in Brampton is higher than in other Canadian cities. It might just be ideal for you to move to Toronto.
Cities With Chinese Population
Vancouver (Richmond) comes out at the top with the most people of Chinese descent. Other cities being Montreal and Toronto where a lot of people moved specifically from Hong Kong and other Chinese territories.
You will be able to find people from all over the world in Vancouver/Montreal/Toronto. If you want to experience multicultural cities then those cities would be a good place to start!
Top Canadian Cities for Raising a Family
If you are planning to have a family then whichever city you choose, you will most likely be looking at living in the suburbs (away from downtown) as the houses are usually much more affordable than in the downtown core.
If you want your kids to be in a bilingual environment then you would need to either be in Ottawa/Gatineau or Montreal metro. There are other cities that you can consider as well, like Winnipeg, Sherbrooke where there is a significant bilingual population.
If you know of a place that I did not cover then feel free to share that through comments!
Tom Mehra, an Ottawa-based Software Engineer with a Masters in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Dallas, shares insights on local food spots and top attractions in Canada and the US. He’s also a former resident of the US, UK, and India, and in 2023, his blog was nominated for an Ottawa Award by Faces Magazine. He is also a cat sitter.