Canada is a beautiful country with so much to offer ITDs and immigrants looking to build a new life. From the rolling hills of the East Coast to the rugged mountains of the West, this nation is brimming with charm and culture.
As more people from across the globe look to relocate here, choosing where to live in Canada is becoming easier said than done. There are so many attractive options for the best cities to live in in Canada based on the cost of living, job opportunities, quality of life, entertainment, attractions, and more that it can be a bit overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of some of our favorite Canadian cities from coast to coast that are great for immigration. So whether you’re thinking about moving abroad or simply looking for your next travel destination, consider these 11 cities to find work and life as an ITD in Canada.
What are the Best Cities to Live in Canada?
So many factors go into answering this question, though, that it's not always easy to know where to start. Canada is a vast country, ranked second largest globally, with only Russia above it. However, it is 39th by population. That means there is a lot of land to explore and enjoy without feeling like you are packed into apartments like sardines.
The total population is over 35 million people strong who speak primarily English and French. Some areas will have more French speakers than others. Still, you can easily get by with English because so many tourists enjoy the natural beauty of Canada. It is located just above the United States, which primarily speaks English.
There is a lot of opportunity in Canada, which made narrowing down the list to only 11 cities to live in challenging. We looked at factors like:
♦ Cost of Living
♦ Job Availability
♦ Crime Rate
♦ Quality of Education
♦ Total Population
As an ITD, it will come down to where the opportunities are, but this list will give you a general idea of some more welcoming areas that are more open to people from other cultures. The entire country is a warm, inviting place to build a home, but many immigrants like to start where people from their country have also moved to Canada. Let’s dive in.
1 - Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada and the second-largest city in the country. It's also one of the most educated cities in Canada, with 45% of its population having a college or university degree. That is probably because there are two major universities in the city - the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
Ottawa was named after a native tribe meaning "to trade," which was fitting for its location on what was originally a crucial Aboriginal trading route between east and west. Today it's home to many government offices as well as being considered one of North America's greenest cities - something you'll notice when you visit.
With over 1 million people living there, Ottawa isn't too big or small. The population is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. In addition, it has new investments from Canada’s immigration drive.
There are many well-groomed outdoor paths for riding a bike or enjoying a walk in the hotter summers. While the winters can be pretty cold, the city comes alive with great activities, festivals, and events.
This is a bilingual city that speaks both French and English, meaning that many public services will be available in either language.
The job market in Ottawa is vibrant because this city is home to Canada’s federal government offices, which employs a considerable number of the population. That means there is a low unemployment rate and a high demand for services to the middle to upper-class families, which dentistry benefits from.
At a Glance:
♦ Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
♦ Median Family Income: $102,000 CAD
♦ Cost of Apartment: $700-$1,400 CAD
♦ Cost of Gallon of Milk: $9.49 CAD
♦ Population: 1.3 million
♦ Foreign-Born Residents: 23.4% of the population
♦ Fun Fact: More engineers, scientists, and PhDs per capita than any other city in Canada.
Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia and the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. It's located on the south shore of Burrard Inlet, a natural harbor home to one of North America’s biggest ports.
The city has been growing steadily over the past few decades, but it hasn't become overcrowded or overly developed like other cities with similar populations. Vancouverites celebrate their natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle as a point of pride (and they're probably right). This is a place where you can go hiking or snowboarding for half your year and has plenty of indoor activities to keep you busy during those cold months when outdoor activities aren't possible.
There are stunning beaches, islands, and coastline, as well as a vibrant urban center with many entertainment and knowledge centers rivaling most major cities across the globe. However, that also makes it one of the more expensive destinations on our list. If you can find lucrative job placement, then this is an excellent place to move.
Vancouver is on our list of best cities to live in Canada because it is so diverse and has a thriving economy. A colossal entertainment sector brings in many supportive jobs in the area, and plenty of housing is easier after the city converted much of the 2010 Winter Olympic centers into apartments.
If you want the best schools, hospitals, and medical care with easy-to-use public transportation and surprisingly mild weather, this is the place to be.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
- Median Family Income: $96,423 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $1,000-$2,100 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $10.45 CAD
- Population: 2.1 million
- Foreign-Born Residents: 42.5% of the population
- Fun Fact: Recently ranked as the third most livable place in the world and 10th cleanest city in the world.
3 - Burlington
Burlington is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada, and the capital of the Halton Region. It is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, north of Toronto and south of Hamilton.
The city was ranked as the safest municipality in Ontario by Crime Rate Statistics Canada for two consecutive years (2010–2011), according to its 2011 police statistics report. The City has also been recognized as one of Canada's top ten retirement destinations by Sun Life Financial.
This makes Burlington one of the favorite cities of expats from the U.S. and other European countries. It is also an area that sits between urban living and the great outdoors, due in part to the significant number of parks, walking trails, bike paths, and other quality of life enjoyments.
With so many out-of-towners moving to Burlington, there are a lot of job opportunities due to numerous new businesses popping up all of the time to serve the growing population. It has a broad economic base that adds to the region's overall stability and does not suffer from a single industry overtaking another due to its diversity. A lot of people actually work in Toronto and then use the commuter train to go home to one of the best places to live - Burlington.
While all of Canada is family-friendly, this is known as one of the more “small-town feels” areas of the country that loves younger families. Shopping, dining, and education are all top-notch, and there is a rich active lifestyle supported by local communities that welcome people of all backgrounds.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
- Median Family Income: $93,588 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $900-$1,900 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $10.60 CAD
- Population: 186,948
- Foreign-Born Residents: 24.1% of the population
- Fun Fact: Burlington has more species of lilacs than almost anywhere else in the world.
4 - Oakville
Oakville is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada, part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It's home to over 222,000 residents and has become a popular destination for those seeking to live in the GTA without sacrificing amenities.
The Oakville Chamber of Commerce said it best: "Oakville has been successful because we’re not Toronto." If you're looking for a smaller community with great schools and plenty of green space but still close enough to get into the big city whenever you need to—this is your place.
You are living right up against Lake Ontario, which provides a significant amount of entertainment, commerce, and tourism to the area. This is also only 30 minutes from downtown Toronto and about an hour from Niagara Falls on the U.S. border.
We put this on our list of the best cities to live in Canada for ITDs because of how welcoming it is to younger families and children. Between the broad array of arts, culture, music, sports, museums, festivals, and educational opportunities, this is an incredibly vibrant community for staying busy. No matter your background or interest, you can find plenty to do in Oakville.
Jobs are easier to find here because of the major industries in the area. Siemens, Ford, General Electric, and UTC Aerospace all have significant operations in the area. You’ll find a good portion of the population employed in science, pharmaceuticals, and eldercare.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 6.2%
- Median Family Income: $113,666 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $1,900-$3,400 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $10.01 CAD
- Population: 211,382
- Foreign-Born Residents: 30% of the population
- Fun Fact: More than 1.4 million tourists visit Oakville every year.
5 - St. Albert
If you want access to all the amenities that come with living in a large city without having to deal with all the traffic or busy streets of downtown, then St. Albert is the best choice. The cost of living here is lower than in other parts of Alberta, which makes it an attractive option for those looking for a place where they can still afford rent or mortgage payments but get more bang for their buck.
There is an abundance of high-paying jobs due to numerous industries moving into the area to serve the growing population. In addition, you get all the amenities of schools, healthcare, and recreation, as well as excellent outdoor green spaces along the Sturgeon River. This is a very family-friendly area and hosts the International Children’s Festival, which brings in more than 55,000 people annually.
Even though this is one of the best cities to live in, be prepared for some cold winters that can include temperatures 20 degrees below. A lot of people choose to live in St. Albert and then commute to Edmonton, another place on our list of the best cities to live in Canada. That is partly because there is a significant amount of the population works in the nearby oil, gas, and energy industry. This is a surprisingly vibrant science and technology sector of Canada with a strong IT and biotechnology drive for new innovation.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
- Median Family Income: $131,300 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $850-$1,295 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $9.37 CAD
- Population: 65,589
- Foreign-Born Residents: 23% of the population
- Fun Fact: Voted the #1 best small city to live in Canada by MoneySense Magazine.
6 - Boucherville
Boucherville is a city in Quebec, Canada, and is considered one of the oldest places in the country. It's also home to some pretty good eats, with restaurants like Au Pied de Cochon and Maison Boulud nearby.
Commute time from Boucherville to Montreal (where most jobs are located) is just 24 minutes—which means that if your commute takes longer than that during rush hour, then there's something wrong with your car or something else about your life situation that needs fixing.
The average income in Boucherville has been rising steadily over time for full-time workers (like doctors and lawyers). That increase makes this option one of the best cities to live in for building a future with your family.
This is another location that is popular with expats from the U.S. because of the outdoor activities, sporting opportunities, arts, culture, and relative closeness to Montreal. You’ll need to brush up on your French as roughly 90% of the population prefers to speak that over English. That means being bilingual is essential to finding a dentistry position in Boucherville, Canada.
Other areas of job placement include aerospace, software, pharmaceuticals, technology, manufacturing, and transportation.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
- Median Family Income: $97,401 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $1,500-$2,800 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $9.87 CAD
- Population: 40,753
- Foreign-Born Residents: 5-10% of the population
- Fun Fact: Excellent location for nearby festivals like the Montreal Jazz, Le Grand RibFest in Laval, and Igloofest.
7 - Calgary
Calgary is a cosmopolitan city and an economic center for southern Alberta, situated at the confluence of the Bow River and Elbow River in a large valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is home to many cultural festivals, including the Calgary International Stampede, one of North America's most famous rodeos, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, and Truckfest, which takes place every summer at Heritage Park Historical Village.
The economy of Calgary has been built on oil and gas production since its inception, but today it also relies heavily on agriculture (especially beef), tourism, transportation equipment (principally aircraft), financial services, and high-tech industries such as information technology (IT) companies engaged in global business services operations such as call centers for international airlines or hotel chains.
More than 1.5 million people live in this busy city that expanded rapidly after the railway was built. As a result, you get a rich mix of old rural landscapes with young urban development, making this an excellent addition to our best places to live in Canada.
There are many jobs in various industries like film, aerospace, health, tourism, and dentistry. This is due in part to the vibrant influx of new business and the benefits from the highly successful 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic games that helped grow residential and financial opportunities.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
- Median Family Income: $105,060 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $1,300-$2,200 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $8.70 CAD
- Population: 1.33 million
- Foreign-Born Residents: 33% of the population
- Fun Fact: Home to one of the youngest populations in Canada, with an average age of 38.
8 - Halifax
Halifax is a beautiful city on the east coast of Canada. It offers residents an excellent quality of life, a lower cost of living, and access to jobs. If you're looking to raise a family in Canada or move back home after being away for a while, then this could be the place for you.
This is the regional capital for Nova Scotia and the 2nd fastest growing area for expats and immigrants. That is probably because the incredible coastline and laid-back lifestyle make it a lovely place to retire or enjoy a slower pace of life.
Halifax has a sister city of Dartmouth, connected by bridges over the Bedford Basin. Living there means access to twice as many educational, healthcare, and industrial opportunities. This also means double the outdoor development, parks, and natural beauty!
You get some cold temps being so close to the coast and plenty of snow, but the locals make it a fun and enjoyable season with festivals and plenty of places to dine where everyone hangs out together.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
- Median Family Income: $69,553 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $949-$1,850 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $8.51 CAD
- Population: 431,479
- Foreign-Born Residents: 9-12% of the population
- Fun Fact: Halifax rents Point Pleasant, a beloved park, for one shilling a year from the British Government.
9 - Quebec City
Quebec City is the capital of the province of Quebec and the second-largest city in Canada. It was founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608 and became a British colony until 1759 when it was restored to France.
Quebec's climate is quite similar to southern Ontario's, although winters tend to be colder due to its northern location. Summers are also more humid than they are further south due to prevailing winds coming off Lake Ontario.
This is one of the oldest cities in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its architecture and historical importance. There are a lot of cultural amenities in this city and a vibrant food and dining option as many expats with culinary training love to immigrate to Quebec City. However, you will need to know French as less than 2% of the population speak English fluently.
There is a log of timber, aerospace, and hydropower employment opportunities and not so much in the IT or science sector. The reason it is so affordable to live in Quebec City is that you are in store for a harsh winter. While you get some of the most intriguing winter festivals in the world, you also have a long spate of short dark days with more than enough snow.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
- Median Family Income: $59,881 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $949-$1,450 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $7.65 CAD
- Population: 542,298
- Foreign-Born Residents: Roughly 6-8% of the population
- Fun Fact: The delicious french fries in gravy or other dips known as Poutine originated in Quebec City.
10 - Saskatoon
Saskatoon is the largest city in the province of Saskatchewan and is one of Canada’s fastest-growing areas. The strange thing about this place is that it does not feel like a city. When you are walking around the mom-and-pop shops and local restaurants, you get the sense this is more of a village, even though it has more than 273,000 people.
Everything feels outdoorsy in this place to live, with various parks, playgrounds, and recreational opportunities. As agriculture and livestock are major industries, you get delicious local foods. An expanded IT, biotech, and manufacturing interest are growing at a breakneck speed for new job placement.
The cost of living is relatively low because there is so much farmland nearby, but you will have severely cold winters. Unfortunately, this is one of those locations in the world where you have to be prepared for winter because the temps and snowfall can take over all aspects of life in the city.
Despite the rough weather, this tight knight community of happy and fun-loving people welcomes newcomers with open arms.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
- Median Family Income: $79,001 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $900-$1,200 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $8.03 CAD
- Population: 273,010
- Foreign-Born Residents: Roughly 15.6% of the population
- Fun Fact: More than 8,200 local residents gathered in Victoria Park to host the world’s largest snowball fight on February 1, 2016.
11 - Edmonton
Wrapping up our list of the best cities to live in Canada is Edmonton. Here you find a wonderful city that is friendly to pretty much anyone that comes to visit or stay. This is due to the area being host to over fifty yearly festivals in art, culture, folklore, food, holidays, music, and more.
You have plenty of shopping and sporting events throughout the year, as well as a city, focused on creating more green space whenever possible. That makes this one of the best urban environments to still enjoy outdoor living in the world.
The weather here is going to be cold, and the city is spread out a bit without much public transport as of yet. You will need a car to get around the city and surrounding area. This is the capital city of Alberta and has a huge population, so there is plenty to do when things get a little chilly come winter.
At a Glance:
- Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
- Median Family Income: $97,800 CAD
- Cost of Apartment: $975-$1,300 CAD
- Cost of Gallon of Milk: $9.76 CAD
- Population: 981,280
- Foreign-Born Residents: Roughly 24% of the population
- Fun Fact: Edmonton receives 2,299 hours of bright sunshine annually, with some days having up to 17 hours.
Wrapping it Up
All of these cities can offer you a great quality of life ITD option, as well as a high employment rate, low crime rate, and access to amenities. When deciding on the best cities to live in in Canada, think about what you need from your new home and where these needs might be met.
As ITDs exploring new opportunities, we cannot emphasize enough the power of networking. Speaking with fellow peers and mentors will be the best way to connect with these areas of the world. Take your time to explore the different amenities and features of each city before making your decision. All in all, you cannot go wrong with setting up your family through a dentistry career in the beautiful country of Canada!
Also, Check Out the Related Article: How to Immigrate to Canada as a Dentist
About the Author
Karen Nunez was born in Valenzuela, Philippines. She received her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Centro Escolar University in Manila.
Karen currently is a practicing oral health care professional based in Alberta, Canada; and runs a website where she writes a slew of articles to empower internationally trained dentists to integrate into Canadian dentistry.
Read more of her blogs here.