Moving to Canada – best places to live?

Discussion in 'Canadian Trip Planning & Community Board' started by Syzygy, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Syzygy

    Syzygy Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    71
    What are the best places to live in Canada? :confused3

    Revewing the rankings published by MoneySense’s “Canada’s Best Places to Live” in 2010 & 2011, they list the following as the best options:

    Ottawa-Gatineau
    Victoria
    Burlington
    Kingston
    Brandon

    The Economist's ranks the World's Most Liveable Cities in 2011 as:

    No. 3 Vancouver
    No. 4 Toronto
    No. 5 Calgary

    The Mercer 2010 Quality of Living Survey ranks Vancouver as No. 4

    Taking into consideration standard topics such as: family friendly, housing affordability, incomes, job prospects, crime rates, access to health care, and weather; any recommendations as the best places to live in Canada? :confused: [Also, any specific neighborhood recommendations are welcome]. Thanks in advance! :thanks:
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. Ken_Breadbox

    Ken_Breadbox Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    202
    Any ranking is likely not to jibe with your own personal assessment. The Economist's subscriber base tends to skew rich, so 'affordability' is not in their criteria. Vancouver is a gorgeous city outside about a six square block radius, but it's almost San Diegan in terms of living expense. Toronto has cheaper ancillaries but its housing is very pricey. Calgary, likewise, has seen a massive boom that has hit the infastructure hard and skyrocketed the prices.
    So...first, where are you coming from, and what do you like/dislike about where you are now? What kind of environment suits you? Do you like a big cosmopolitan metropolis or is a smaller city more to your liking? When you say 'weather', what kind of weather are you looking to avoid? Is rain okay, so long as it isn't snow very often? Or do you prefer it sunny as much as possible?
    Job market--what kind of job do you do/are you looking to do?
    Nobody can just flat out say "this is the best place to live in the country". There are waaaay too many variables.
     
  4. Syzygy

    Syzygy Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    71
    Thanks for all the background information! Regarding the clarifying questions:

    - Coming from the Midwest U.S.
    - Generally pleased with current, but looking for a change (scenery/people/culture/environment).
    - Would like to be in proximity to a larger cosmopolitan metropolis, while actually living in a smaller city (suburb) with access to nature (perhaps mountains or water).
    - Variety in weather is good; would like to avoid year-round snow.
    - As long as there is access to internet, job market neutral. Would prefer low unemployment and thriving technology (entrepreneur) market.

    Thanks again!
     
  5. Davey-D-99

    Davey-D-99 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2007
    Messages:
    670
    Sounds to me like you are exactly describing the Waterloo, Ontario region...Home of RIM BlackBerry and many, many other tech companies. It's one to two hours away from everything else you have described as well....from Blue Mountain to beautiful Muskoka and Georgian Bay to all that the Greater Toronto Area has to offer as well.

    It's especially good if you a really looking for variety in your weather:eek:

    Autumn is amazing in Southern Ontario....However we get some cold, snowy winters and hot, hot summers.
     
  6. pad406

    pad406 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2010
    Messages:
    1,073
    Subbing onto this as we are also thinking of potentially moving to Canada.
     
  7. Gigi22

    Gigi22 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2009
    Messages:
    3,720
    OP, ducking flames here possibly--I guess I will be the first to mention the elephant in the room--are you willing to learn French? I ask because moving to Ottawa-Gatineau more or less requires a knowledge of French, unless you are in a very technical/specialized field--and never intend to work for any level of government. You can work for companies like Alcatel, for example, and not know any French. (FYI, the language laws in Quebec can be challenging to negotiate as well).
     
  8. Ken_Breadbox

    Ken_Breadbox Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    202
    I live in Waterloo myself and would heartily second it. The city is actually three cities, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, and each city's denizens are fiercely proud of their own part of town and resist every urge to amalgamate. But truth be told, if you're not from here, it's hard to tell where one city ends and another begins.
    The total population of the three cities is close to half a million, but they retain a small town feel. (I kid you not--the local paper once featured the headline POTBELLY PIGS MAKE PERFECT PETS on page A1 above the fold.) Toronto beckons a little over an hour away. It's a good place. Crime is minimal, there's lots of greenspace, and if you have kids it's a great place to raise a family.
     
  9. Ken_Breadbox

    Ken_Breadbox Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    202
    "The room" that contains that elephant, it should be noted, is primarily along the Ontario-Quebec border, in New Brunswick, or in a choice few other areas outside Quebec itself. Nobody will care a fart in a glove if you know French in Vancouver (though Mandarin's a definite advantage in that city.)
     
  10. TagsMissy

    TagsMissy It's not always easy being the wife of a soldier.

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Messages:
    4,562
    Being from Vancouver, Cantonese is more widespread here.
     
  11. ccudmore

    ccudmore DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Keep in mind you can't simply show up at the border and say you want to move to Canada and look for a job. You'll probably have to have a job already lined up before you move and your employer will have to show that they were unable to find a qualified Canadian for the job. Now having said that there are exemptions in NAFTA for people who are in high-demand job areas including the technology field. I'm not sure what the Canadian equivalant is but the US has the TN status visas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TN_status) for this type of thing. Probably good idea to talk to an immigration lawyer or consultant before going too far down the path.

    Now as to where to live, some thoughts:
    - If you're looking for a thriving technology market, Waterloo is the place to be for sure. Tons of tech companies thriving there plus you're only an hour to Toronto if you want more of the big city. Very livable place to live (I spent 5 years there for University) and the entire Southern Ontario area has a lot of diversity.
    - Ottawa is also a great place to live (I live there now). I don't speak French and it's never been an impediment to me for work. I work in the tech field and there's also a pretty good tech job market as well, although not as good as it once was. Ottawa is very much an ourdoors city - tons of hiking, biking, skiing, etc. Vibrant cultural scene, although not as much as Toronto or Montreal.
    - Another "out there" choice is Saskatoon. It's the fastest growing city in Canada with a big influx of tech jobs in the past couple years. Closer to your mid-west roots but not close to much outside the city.
    - Kelowna. All the beauty of the mountains and lakes in BC but without the huge crowds and expenses of Vancouver. Plus Disney Interactive Studios has a large development shop there if you're looking for a job.
    - Calgary. Not as nice as it once was. The population boom has overwhelemed the city's infrastruture but it still has a lot of western charm.

    About 14 years ago my wife and I spent over a year looking at cities across North America to decide where to relocate. Based on all of the factors that were important to us (good job market, lots to see and do, great place to raise a family, not too far away from relatives) we chose Ottawa. The only things we miss from Southern Ontario are the great lakes beaches and going to Stratford. Other than that, we don't regret the move at all.

    I've lived in or spent a fair bit of time in most Canadian cities so feel free to ask about other options here as well.
     
  12. dgkjh

    dgkjh Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    68
    I will chime in from Guelph, which is not far away and not considered part of the "tri-cities" area, but has a lot of similarities.

    I live in Guelph and work in Waterloo, at a high tech firm and have done the short commute (30 minutes door to door) for 15+ years. Guelph is a more distinct city with respect to city limits in that it doesn't blend the way that Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge do and it is slightly closer to Toronto.

    Waterloo has two universities and so that is a significant factor in the city. Guelph also has a university that is known for it's agriculture and veterinary programs.

    I grew up in southern Manitoba and spent several summers in my university days working in Calgary. Have had family in Ottawa and so made a lot of visits there as well. I have often said that if we were to move, I would seriously consider Ottawa, largely due to the great outdoor opportunities and one could likely get by with one vehicle, utilizing public transportation for work. Great cycling and running paths. Calgary is the same, but as has been noted, it has grown a lot and the cost of living has risen.

    To me cost of living is a huge factor and so Vancouver and that region is pretty much out of the running, though the area is gorgeous and the outdoor opportunities are excellent.

    In terms of weather I find that SW Ontario is a bit iffy in the winter in that it often can't make up it's mind if there is going to be rain, freezing rain, or snow, with the temps often closer to 0 (32F). A place like Ottawa is a bit more consistent in that it will be colder and thus snow will usually stay on the ground, as opposed to a lot of snow/melt/snow again cycles. For those who like winter, and winter activities, that can be a factor. Winter is good, but thankfully in all of the big centers it does end and we have good to great summers.

    Those listings from MoneySense (to me) carry a bit more weight and are easier to believe.

    As I have often heard before (and subscribe to), Toronto is a great place to visit, but not necessarily live. We love living in Guelph and having fairly easy access to world class events in Toronto - theatre, concerts and stuff like that. Pearson International Airport is huge and modern and gives you access to the world, but (as with most Canadian airports) is fairly expensive. As has been noted in the Canadian side of things with respect to Disney and flights to Orlando, living near Buffalo has advantages as well.

    Ok, back to the tri-cities (and Guelph) area. Another great thing is that you could live in one city and work in another and so really one has the option of 4 locations, and the ensuing combinations, for living and work. The commuting is not bad at all so one doesn't have to find work in the city that they live in, though of course that is always a nice situation to have.

    Looking forward to what others have to say.
     
  13. roxysmum123

    roxysmum123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,030
    Personal top Canadian areas to live in are Vancouver, Toronto, Guelph, Hamilton, Barrie, Charlottetown. If money wasn't a factor I'd be in Vancouver in a heartbeat, but since it is Guelph, Hamilton or Barrie are prob where I'll end up.
     
  14. Tower

    Tower DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Messages:
    1,577
    Being from the Greater Toronto Area, I do second the Waterloo Region. Not as rush-rush as Toronto, but close enough to the 'big smoke' when you need to be. Waterloo does have an international airport, though not many commercial flights come through. While no mountains (then I'd recommend Calgary), it's a great place.
    The only reason we don't move there is because we have our roots close by and we like to be close.
     
  15. gifchick

    gifchick Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2001
    Messages:
    87
    I am currently in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, and it is true that 85% of the jobs need you to be billingual. You can get by fine in Ottawa without knowing French however sometimes in Quebec you will get some people who don't know English.

    That being said, I love the area and wouldn't change anything about it.

    If you have any other questions about the area send me a PM and I can answer your questions.
     
  16. two*little*birds

    two*little*birds <font color=green>LOL I am the ultimate ride wimp!

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,158
    Was going to chime in with the same details but you already covered it... :thumbsup2
     
  17. ferris198

    ferris198 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Messages:
    758
    Given Dalton McGuintys election platform it may not be a problem if he is reelected.
     
  18. SmilingGrump

    SmilingGrump Dis Dads Club Member #584

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    394
    You'll get a lot of Ontario responses because most of the Canadian members on this board are from Ontario so I'm bucking the trend and would recommend Alberta.

    Unlike the other provinces, there is a massive worker shortage here in Alberta. Workers are being imported not from just around Canada, but from around the world. There's quite a growing high tech sector, if that's what you're looking for, but there's also lots of other jobs, particularly anything connected to the oil and natural gas and Alberta is on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to those. Other posters mentioned that there's been a recent housing boom here ... well, it has slowed down a bit, but it is still growing and that's because there's tons of jobs here.

    Living near Edmonton, I'm no fan of Calgary (it's a sports rivalry thing), but Calgary does have a lot going for it. It's much closer to the US border and to the mountains. Winters are milder then Edmonton with chinooks blowing in frequently. It has fantastic flight connections, and it has a large number of corporate headquarters. Yes, its traffic sucks (for Canada) but it does have a few outlying communities that aren't so bad (Cochrane and Airdrie are great places).

    Housing prices are more affordable in Cochrane and Airdrie, but even in Calgary you're looking at considerably less then Toronto or Vancouver (expect $1mil+ for Vancouver, and you won't get much). Kelowna is also quite expensive for home prices.

    Alberta is also cheaper to live in. There's no provincial sales tax and there's much more of an entreprenurial spirit. The closest similarities to Albertans would be Texans and those from Colorado.

    While I'd love to recommend Edmonton, we're farther from the mountains here (3-4 hours instead of Calgary's 45min), our winters are harsher, and our flight connections are poor (though that should improve with the newest terminal expansion). Edmonton is more blue collar while Calgary is white collar ... though Edmonton is the HQ for Bioware :)

    As for Toronto or anywhere along the Great Lakes, the winters there can be much worse then here. Personally, I'd much rather face -30 out here then -15 in Toronto, the humidity there cuts right through you.

    Vancouver, though much warmer, is very much like Seattle. It rains. A LOT.

    Someone recommended Saskatoon, and it is a great city. However, it's even more remote then Edmonton in terms of flights to the US. It's even farther from mountains, though some of the lakes in the area are quite nice. There's a joke here on the prairies that it's so flat if you live in Saskatoon you can wave to your friend in Winnipeg.

    Speaking of Winnipeg ... avoid it if you have a choice. The people are great, but picture a city with the wind of Chicago and the bitter coldness of the high arctic :scared1:


    In the end, you need to really decide what kind of job you'd like and what kind of lifestyle you'd like to live. If you're looking for something close to midwest US, then you'd likely have more in common with those in Alberta or Saskatchewan. If you want to do lots of skiing and boating, then British Columbia, Calgary or some parts of Ontario might be better suited.

    If you're able to get a bit more specific in the type of job you're looking for, I'm sure we'll all be able to point you a little closer to a possible destination (or, more likely, several destinations lol)
     
  19. ccudmore

    ccudmore DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Not that I'm defending him, but that's not at all what the election platform says.
     
  20. ferris198

    ferris198 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Messages:
    758
     
  21. GrtWtNorth

    GrtWtNorth DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    Messages:
    1,047
    The best advice I received was from a corporate VP who was working on a project with me when I was employed with a not-for-profit corporation in Ottawa:
    "There are only three decent cities for doing business in Canada. They are the only metros not corrupted by being national or provincial capitals: Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal." For the most part, his advice rings true.

    * Ottawa-Gatineau : I lived there for 8 years. It's a beautiful city, with great bike paths, waterways (canals and rivers), as well as hiking and skiing in the Gatineau hills. Night-life is a bit dim -- we would drive to Montreal or Mont Tremblant (2 hours) for a night on the town or a weekend getaway. The economy is based on the federal government, plus a cluster of high-tech firms based in the suburb of Kanata. Federal government jobs, as well as many local retail and service jobs require fluent bilingual staff. The climate is challenging with humid heat in the summer and abundant snow in the winter. Spring and fall are ideal.

    * Toronto (never lived here) is the cultural center of Canada, whether we like to admit it or not. Most TV networks are headquartered here, and Toronto is the city in Canada to enjoy Broadway-style theater. It's also the only city in Canada to have US professional MLB and NBA. (Toronto desperately wants a NFL team too.) You may not notice much of a difference coming from the Midwest. The climate of the city is not that different than other cities on the Great Lakes like Cleveland, Chicago and Buffalo. The economy is diverse, and includes the provincial government. The weather is similar to Ottawa, with slightly warmer summers and less snowy winters.

    * Montreal (never lived here) has a very vibrant street culture, with festivals every weekend throughout the summer. Locals are fluently bilingual and new residents are encouraged to speak both English and French. Rent is cheap, but buying a new house is typical for a city of 6 million people. It's also a reasonable 5-hour drive to NYC or Boston. The provincial bureaucracy is a bit of a burden, as all services are offered in French, with a bare minimum also offered in English. Weather is similar to Ottawa, with muggy hot summers. However Montreal tends to get more snow than Ottawa.

    * Vancouver - An amazing city, with a very mild climate, mountain views in every direction, and very diverse cultures. I lived here 4 years and loved it. Rent is reasonable, but buying a home is very, very expensive. (Rule of thumb for buying a single family home: start at $1 million, subtract $200k for every 20 minutes of commuting you are willing to tolerate.) The economy is based more on services, shipping and tourism, with resources (forestry and mining) playing a diminishing role. Since Vancouver is such an attractive destination, employers are able to pay less than would be normal for a city with such a high cost of living. There is also a culture of hiring through personal networks -- you're more likely to find work because of who you know rather than what you know. Surrounded by world class beaches, parks, mountains and skiing, it's an ideal place to call home. My biggest shock at living in Vancouver was a neighbour telling to me on February 15, "Wow. Wasn't that a long winter?" I grew up in rural Alberta, expecting winter snow storms until the end of April. The concept that winter was over by mid-February was a very pleasant surprise. Every year I lived in Vancouver, there were least a couple +20C(+70F) days in February -- perfect for firing up the BBQ and drinking a Corona in the sun.

    * Calgary -- (Lived here +3 years.) The engine of the Canadian economy, Calgary hosts more corporate headquarters than any city in Canada, except perhaps Toronto. There is also a very strong independent and outdoorsy culture. While Calgary has an infrastructure of city parks and river pathways that are expected for a city of 1 million people, it's real value is it's close proximity to the Canadian Rockies, with world class hiking, kayaking, canoeing and skiing. Alberta winters are cold (-30 for one or two weeks each winter), but snowfall is just a fraction of what falls in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and cities in the US Midwest. Calgary is also blessed with a weather phenomenon called "Chinook", which is a warm winter wind that melts most snow and heats the city up to 15C (60F) for about one week per month throughout winter. The economy is resource based, a bit volatile, with significant focus on Canadian and US energy markets. Housing is reasonable, with most single family homes selling between $200k and $800k depending on age and neighbourhood. Rental prices are reasonable now, but prices spike and opportunities are scarce whenever the price of oil nudges over $120 per barrel. Hiring is done partly by "who you know", but credentials are very important. In fact, skilled workers with credentials are highly valued. Head-hunters and recruiters are very active, and companies frequently poach skilled staff from their competitors.

    * Edmonton -- (lived here 5 years) Years ago, Edmonton and Calgary were virtual twins. However, Edmonton has followed a different development path than Calgary. Only a few companies are headquartered in the shell of Edmonton's downtown. However, its proximity to the burgeoning oil sands development makes it a hub for manufacturing, engineering, and energy research. As the provincial capital, Edmonton's economy is also somewhat cushioned from the ups and downs of the oil industry. Summers in Edmonton are wonderful, with a festival schedule that rivals Montreal. However, winters are bleak, with the ground blanketed in snow continuously from November to March. (No Chinook here.) It's also a much longer drive to the Rocky Mountains (5 hours) compared to Calgary (less than 2 hours).

    Note: Shopping day trips to the US are common for residents of Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia. (When we lived in Ottawa, we would make weekend trips to New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. When we lived in Vancouver, we made day-trips to outlet malls near Seattle.) It's important to realize that this is not possible living in Alberta. Edmonton and Calgary are several hundred miles from the border. And even if it were closer, there are no major cities in Montana. It would be cheaper and more productive to fly to Las Vegas and go shopping there.
     

Share This Page