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Here Are The 11 Best Places To Live In Ontario

Dreaming of a fresh start in Canada's second-largest province? You're not alone. Ontario is the leading destination for immigrants to Canada, and between 2016 and 2021, the province welcomed 44% of all new permanent residents.
By · November 2, 2023
Here Are The 11 Best Places To Live In Ontario

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This surge reflects the allure of Ontario's towns and cities, with their fusion of vibrant cultures, promising job opportunities, and diverse living experiences. However, with such a vast range of choices, pinpointing the perfect spot can be a tad bit challenging.

But don't worry, we’re here to guide you through the maze.

  • We’ll dive into the 11 best cities and towns in Ontario you might want to call home.

  • Unpack the key factors you need to weigh in making your decision.

  • Compare the cost of living across different locales.

  • And, shed light on job opportunities and cultural events that make each place unique.

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Key Factors for Choosing the Ideal Place to Live in Ontario

Ontario, teeming with vibrant cities, diverse landscapes, and endless opportunities, offers a diverse range of living options. Diving into this sea of possibilities, how do you anchor yourself in the right spot?

Here, we're peeling back the layers, guiding you through factors that can shape your Ontario living experience.

1. Cost of Living

Let's get real—you want a place that’s kind to your wallet. Ontario offers a spectrum, from amazing cities with skyscraping living costs to small towns where your buck stretches like a Sunday morning yawn.

Look for comparisons, and assess housing, utilities, transportation, and food. It’s not just about spending less but getting more!

Top Move Tip: Leverage online cost-of-living calculators. They give you a snapshot of what to expect and help you budget right.

2. Employment Opportunities

Job prospects can be the North Star guiding your move. Cities like Toronto and Ottawa are buzzing hives of opportunities, but smaller towns too have their fair share of honey. Research the job market, explore industries, and scout for companies—you might just stumble upon your dream job in an unexpected corner.

Toronto, Ontario’s capital for example, hosts over 200,000 businesses, making it a fertile ground for job seekers. Keep your eyes on trends and forecasts; they’re your guiding stars to promising shores.

3. Education and Healthcare

When you’re packing your life into boxes, you want to unpack it in a place that values education and healthcare. Check healthcare facilities and education opportunities including schools and universities. A place with top-notch education and healthcare is like a good investment—it pays off.

4. Lifestyle and Recreation

Do you fancy a Friday night at a jazz bar, or is a quiet walk in the park more your tempo? Ontario’s got the rhythm to match every beat. Don't forget to explore the recreational spots, cultural events, and lifestyle options. Every city has its unique melody—find the one that gets your foot tapping.

5. Climate and Geography

Ontario is a land of contrasts. From the chilly whispers of the north to the milder murmurs of the south, the climate can be a deal-maker or breaker. If you’re a fan of a variety of seasons, cities like Ottawa offer a colorful palette of weather changes.

Consider your weather preferences and geographical needs. Do you dream of snow-capped winters or crave a gentler breeze?

6. Community and Safety

Finding your tribe and feeling safe is essential. Explore the communities, dive into demographics, and examine the crime rates. A sense of belonging and security can turn a house into a home and a city into a sanctuary.

By now, you might be sketching out your Ontario living map, pinpointing locales, and weighing the treasures each holds. So, let's now delve into the best places and discover what each has to offer you.

11 Best Cities to Live in Ontario in 2023

1. Toronto

Population: 2.93 million

Explore Toronto, the capital city and heart of Ontario and also Canada's largest city, where opportunities and diversity are boundless. Recognized as one of the most livable cities worldwide, this thriving metropolis showcases Canada’s multicultural tapestry through a vibrant mix of cultures, cuisines, and career paths.

Pros:

  • Diverse Job Market:Whether you’re intrigued by the tech startups in MaRS Discovery District or aspiring in the Financial District, opportunities in the city, especially downtown Toronto are vast. Giants like Shopify call this city home, enhancing its employment appeal.

  • Vibrant Cultural Community:Toronto is a cultural goldmine, hosting events like the renowned Toronto International Film Festival and housing treasures like the Royal Ontario Museum. Representing many ethnicities, its culinary scene offers a flavorful journey around the globe.

  • Top-Tier Education: Renowned institutions such as the University of Toronto (Ranked #1 in Canada) make the city a nexus of academic excellence and innovative research.

Considerations:

  • Average Living Cost: $2640per month. Living costs are significantly higher than the national average and in the top 6% of the most expensive cities in the world. However, the range of amenities, employment opportunities, and cultural experiences provide a compelling trade-off.

  • Traffic: Being the most populated city, traffic congestion is part of the daily puzzle. Yet, the extensive options provided by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) alleviate commuter strains.

Top Move Tip: Planning a move to Toronto and wondering about transporting your vehicle to navigate the heavy traffic? Connecting with reliable car transporters through Top Move in Toronto will make your life easier.

Resident Insight: One of the residents remarked on Toronto’s diversity comparing it to mega-cities like NYC, LA, and Houston: "Over half the population is non-European in origin, and they come from all parts of the world. American cities have less diversity - a large proportion of ethnic minorities are either Hispanic or Black.”

2. Ottawa

Population: 994,837

Step into Ottawa, the heart of Canadian politics and technology, where the echoes of history and the buzz of modernity harmonize seamlessly. Here, cultural richness is interwoven with a vibrant tech scene and political vigor.

Stat Insight: Ottawa boasts a high quality of life, ranking 14thglobally in Mercer's Quality of Living Survey.

Pros:

  • Government Jobs: With Parliament Hill at its core, Ottawa presents abundant job opportunities in the public sector, making it a haven for career growth.

  • Recreational Activities: Whether it's skating on the world-famous Rideau Canal or exploring national museums, Ottawa brims with recreational delights.

  • Educational Excellence: Prestigious institutions like the University of Ottawa and Carleton University elevate the city's stature in academic prowess and innovative research.

Top Move Tip: If you're aiming for a government career, consider studying at these universities. Already enrolled in one? Here are college packing tips to optimize your experience.

Considerations:

  • Weather: While the winters are chilly, the snowy scenery creates a winter wonderland, perfect for outdoor activities.

  • Nightlife: More subdued, yet dotted with cozy cafes and pubs offering a relaxed evening atmosphere.

  • Average Living Cost: $2005per month. The average house price stands at $908,000, reflecting a 1% increase across the province. Nonetheless, what's considered affordable and the desired amenities vary according to individual budgets.

Resident Insight:"As expected the region has a good number of people working directly for the government or in industries supporting government. Ottawa has the highest average salary and level of education of any city or region in Canada."

3. Hamilton

Population: 579,200

Hamilton is a hidden gem where the hum of industry harmonizes with the tranquility of nature. Known for its marvelous arts scene and proximity to over 100 enchanting waterfalls, this city offers an affordable yet enriching living experience.

Pros:

  • Affordability: Your budget stretches further here, offering more value in housing and amenities. The average house price is currently at $798,9786.

  • Nature Trails: Explore the scenic beauty of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

  • Growing Arts Scene: From vibrant galleries and eclectic festivals to live music events, creativity thrives here.

Top Move Tip: Explore the James Street North area for a concentration of art galleries and trendy eateries.

Considerations:

  • Industrial Landscape: The prominence of the industrial sector might not appeal to everyone, but the city’s ongoing revitalization projects are enhancing its urban appeal.

  • Public Transportation: More limited compared to some of the other cities like Toronto, but development projects are in the pipeline to enhance connectivity.

  • Average Living Cost: $2048per month

Resident Insight:One thing to note is the change and investment in the city. Between the LRT & billions of dollars of investments in downtown and the redeveloping of the waterfront, the Hamilton you know today will certainly not be the Hamilton your children will experience as they grow.”

4. London

Population: 404,699

Uncover a piece of England in Ontario’s London, complete with its Thames River and quintessential charm. Beyond its enchanting historic architecture, London stands as a great city of educational opportunities and community spirit that’s evident in every corner.

Pros:

  • Educational Institutions: Renowned seats of learning and major universities Western University and Fanshawe College call London home.

  • Community Events: Engage in the never-ending festivals and activities that bring the community closer.

  • Affordability: Enjoy an affordable cost-effective lifestyle without compromising on the quality of life.

Stat Insight: London hosts over 100 public events and festivalsannually, truly living up to its reputation as a vibrant community hub.

Considerations:

  • Public Transportation: While London Transit services the city well, having a personal vehicle can be convenient for getting around.

  • Job Market Public Transit: New graduates might find the competition stiff, but opportunities abound for the determined.

  • Average Living Cost: $2095per month.

Top Move Tip: Leverage local networking events and job fairs organized by educational institutions to gain a foothold in the competitive job market.

Resident Insight:A local observes, “ Victoria Park serves a lot of purposes but is best known by Londoners as its "go to" venue for civic events. it's the treed scene for annual summer music festivals, food festivals, Remembrance Day ceremonies, Christmas tree lightings, etc.”

5. Guelph

Population: 135,474

Welcome to Guelph, the “Royal City” of southern Ontario, a place synonymous with superior living standards, a thriving economy, and a tapestry of diverse cultures.

Pros:

  • Quality of Life:Enjoy an elevated living standard and experience a tight-knit community vibe.

  • Economic Strength: Benefit from a low unemployment rate and a spectrum of job opportunities across industries for young professionals.
    Stat Insight: Guelph has experienced consistent job growth, with its unemployment rate falling as low as 3.2%in July 2022.

  • Cultural Vibrancy: Immerse yourself in a calendar packed with festivals, art galleries, and music events.

Considerations:

  • Housing Market: The real estate market is bustling, with property prices witnessing an upward trend. The median housing price in Guelph is at $822K.

  • Small City Feel: While charming, Guelph may not match the variety and pace of larger urban centers.

  • Average Living Cost: $1881per month

Top Move Tip: Early engagement with real estate agents and local community events can help newcomers seamlessly integrate and find their footing in the competitive housing market.

Resident Insight:“Consistently ranking in the top ten safest cities to live in, Guelph is quickly becoming a haven for relocating families. Low crime rates below the national average give residents peace of mind with less stress and worry leading to a better quality of life”

6. Burlington

Population: 205,960

Discover the harmonious mix of serenity and urbanity in Burlington. Situated between the majestic Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment, this small city is a sanctuary of natural beauty, complemented by many amenities.

Pros:

  • Natural Beauty: Relish waterfront views and engage in diverse outdoor recreational activities.

  • Safe Community: Find comfort in the low crime rates and experience a warm, neighborhood ambiance.

  • Proximity to Major Cities: Enjoy the convenience of nearby cities of Toronto and Hamilton.

Stat Insight: Burlington has a low crime rate, with a nearly 25% decrease in crimeover the last five years

Considerations:

  • Growing Population: This rise signifies an escalating demand for housing and services.

  • Average Living Cost: $2165per month. A slight premium for the city’s allure and facilities is observable.

Resident Insight:“A very well-built city in general! Plenty of communities. Everything is less than 3-6 minutes away. Be it one of our Malls, Schools, Walmarts, Grocery Stores, Banks, Starbucks, or Subway sandwich shops.”

7. Thunder Bay

Population: 110,172

Conveniently located on the shores of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay is the sunniest city in Northern Ontario, offering amazing natural scenery and urban convenience for a happy and fulfilled life.

Pros:

  • Natural Wonders:Proximity to green spaces such as Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and Kakabeka Falls offers endless outdoor adventures.

  • Affordable Living: One of the most cost-effective cities in Ontario, Thunder Bay has reasonable housing prices with an average of around $308,750maximizing value for residents.
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  • Educational Opportunities: Home to Lakehead University and Confederation College, fostering academic growth.

Quick Fact: Thunder Bay hosts the annual Dragon Boat Festival, attracting teams and spectators from all over the region.

Considerations:

  • Remote Location: Since it is situated far from major cities, it has a small population. However, the remoteness also indicates lengthy travel times.

  • Job Market: Diversity in employment opportunities is growing but can be sector-specific. It's wise to scout out job opportunities in your field before making the move.

  • Average Living Cost: $1673per month.

Top Move Tip: For a seamless transition, explore housing and employment options online, and engage with local community forums to get a feel of this small city before moving.

Resident Insight:"The best part of living here is the scenery and the access to the bush. At the end of the day, there are only so many inexpensive pastimes within city limits. Learn to love the flies in the summer and the cold in the winter, and you won't hate it too much.”

8. Barrie

Population: 153,356

Acting as a gateway to the great outdoors, Barrie captivates residents with its access to skiing, hiking, and the serene Kempenfelt Bay, positioning itself as an ideal blend of nature and growth.

Stat Insight: Barrie is one of the fastest-growing cities in Ontario, with a growth rate of 4.5 percentfrom 2016 to 2021, reflecting its rising popularity.

Pros:

  • Outdoor Recreation:A haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a range of year-round activities.
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  • Growing Economy:A melting pot of diverse job opportunities and rising business sectors.

  • Community Vibe: Harmonious neighborhoods and a wealth of community events create a welcoming ambiance.

Top Move Tip: Joining local outdoor activity groups and networking events can help new residents quickly integrate and make the most of what Barrie has to offer.

Considerations:

  • Commute Times: The increasing population brings increased traffic ; you should try to time your commutes wisely.

  • Winter Weather:Bracing for substantial snowfall is a must – investing in good winter gear can be a game-changer.

  • Average Living Cost: $1779per month.

Resident Insight: You could experience a real Canadian winter as it snows heavily in this city (located right by the snow belt). If you prefer a quiet and peaceful environment, this is the place. However, the downtown scene over the weekend is pretty lively if you like spending your free time in a bar/club.

9. Waterloo

Population: 113,520

Dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Canada,” Waterloo is a pulsating tech hub with a vibrant startup ecosystem and prestigious institutions like the University of Waterloo.

Pros:

  • Tech Hub: Bursting with innovation, it's home to notable companies like Shopify, fostering a dynamic startup culture.

  • Educational Excellence: Hosts universities renowned for their focus on technology and innovation.

  • Community Engagement: An array of events and activities fuel the city’s vibrancy.

Top Move Tip: Utilize local online platforms like Waterloo EDCto stay informed about job opportunities and community events.

Considerations:

  • Housing Demand:The rapidly growing tech sector impacts housing availability and prices. You should look out for fluctuating housing pricesand budget your move accordingly.

  • Student Population: A considerable student presence molds the city’s atmosphere.

  • Average Living Cost: $2033per month

Top Move Tip: If you're on a quick move to Waterloo, Top Move would be your best bud. Just enter your details and a reliable transportation van service will be available at your doorstep.

Resident Insight:“Right now the tech sector is drawing in a TON of applications in the region from people who live outside of it. There are also a lot of new immigrants who have job history in IT and tech-related positions who are applying too.”

10. Oakville

Population:211,382

Situated on the Golden Horseshoe of Lake Ontario, Oakville combines suburban tranquility with a refined urban feel, making it one of the most sought-after places to live in Ontario.

Pros:

  • High-Quality Schools: Renowned for excellent schools, both public and private, ensuring a strong foundation for students.

  • Safety: Boasting one of the lowest crime rates in Ontario, peace of mind is part of the package.

  • Vibrant Downtown: Rich array of shops, restaurants, and cultural venues, offering something for everyone.

Considerations:

  • Property Prices:High demand contributes to rising home values, a crucial factor for potential buyers.

  • Average Living Cost: $2293per month. Elevated by the town's popularity and all the amenities, budgeting is key.

Stat Insight: Reflecting its desirability, the average housing price in Oakville is around $1.58 million. Hence, you need to carefully evaluate housing or renting options.

Resident Insight:“Nice, well-designed town, lots of trails and parks. The town is very well maintained. Very family-oriented. People living in Oakville tend to be very successful. Lots of new families moving into our area and are very diverse which is great.”

11. Kingston

Population: 136,685

Brimming with historic charm and contemporary living, Kingston, dubbed the “Limestone City”, is a sanctuary for history buffs and those seeking a tranquil waterfront lifestyle.

Pros:

  • Historic Appeal:Rich heritage, well-preserved architecture, and iconic sites.

  • Waterfront Living: Scenic views and myriad recreational activities along Lake Ontario.

  • Educational Institutions: Home to the esteemed Queen’s University and several reputable schools.

Pro Tip: Engage with local historical societies and waterfront communities to deeply immerse in Kingston's unique lifestyle. Top Move can help you move your boats and yachts to your new home.

Considerations:

  • Limited Nightlife: A more relaxed atmosphere compared to larger cities.

  • Job Market:Competition can be stiff in select sectors.

  • Average Living Cost: $1663per month. Much cheaper than other cities in Ontario offering a fulfilled life to individuals and families.

Resident Insight:“It’s a city that may feel stagnant in growth like many other Ontario cities at the moment but has great potential to be something much larger and if you’re looking to invest in Kingston for many years to come you’ll see the upside of it continuing to grow as the middle ground to our larger cities like Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa”

Finding Your Perfect Canadian City? Smooth Sailing with Top Move!

As we navigate through the distinct charm of each Ontario city, the possibilities seem endless, ensuring there’s a perfect spot for everyone. Each city offers a unique blend of culture, economy, and lifestyle, showcasing a diverse range of living options across the province.

  • Key Takeaways:

    • Ontario is home to cities with diverse cultural scenes and economic strengths.

    • Whether you prefer a bustling metropolis like Toronto or a scenic beauty like Thunder Bay, options are plentiful.

    • Considerations like cost of living, job market, and recreational activities play a pivotal role in your decision.

In this journey of discovery and relocation, Top Move emerges as your reliable companion, Ensuring your transition is as seamless as the Canadian landscapes are diverse.

FAQs Section

  1. Where is the nicest place to live in Ontario?

Ontario boasts several amazing cities, each offering a unique lifestyle. For a mix of urban and scenic living, places like Ottawa, Burlington, and Oakville stand out due to their high living standards, cultural richness, and natural beauty.

  1. Where is the most affordable place to live in Ontario?

Thunder Bay is one of the most cost-effective cities in Ontario, with an average living cost $ 1673 per month and average housing prices of around $323,668, making it a great city for those seeking affordability.

  1. What is the safest place to live in Ontario?

Burlington is renowned for its low crime rates and friendly neighborhoods, making it one of the safest cities in Ontario. It combines safety with natural beauty and proximity to major cities.

  1. Where is a good place to move to in Ontario?

It depends on individual preferences. For tech enthusiasts, Waterloo is a tech hub; for lovers of history and waterfront living, Kingston is ideal; and for those seeking outdoor recreation and a growing economy, Barrie is a great choice.

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