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Ever wondered what the best cities in Canada are?

Thinking about moving, buying a house, or just looking to save some money, but not sure where’s the best place to live? We were wondering as well, and, after digging through piles of statistics and reports, we’ve got an answer.

It’s true, “best” depends entirely on what’s important to you…so, since we’re fans of getting the biggest bang for your buck, we largely based our rankings on economic factors, including estimated cost of living, average house prices, and average rental costs, among other things.

Here you’ll find our 2020 list of the top 10 best places to live in Canada. Let’s dig in.

The top 10 best places to live in Canada

So here it is, our list of the top 10 places to live and work based on income levels, housing costs, estimated cost of living, current unemployment rate, and crime rate.

Rank City Median household income Avg house price Avg rent for a 1 bdrm apt Est cost of living per month Min wage Unemp rate (Feb 2020) Unemp rate (Jul 2020) Crime rate per 100,000
1 Quebec City $66,200 $254,700 $883 $2,009 $13.10 4.1 8.6 3075
2 Moncton $74,240 $213,000 $883 $1,924 $11.70 5.3 8.2 8220
3 Saint John $52,132 $200,961 $814 $2,016 $11.70 7.0 9.8 4215
4 St. John’s $69,455 $239,500 $854 $2,264 $11.65 8.1 11.7 5508
5 Hamilton $88,124 $504,101 $1,367 $2,280 $14.00 4.9 11.3 3953
6 London $62,011 $484,884 $1,230 $2,202 $14.00 4.9 10.5 5963
7 Ottawa $85,981 $575,600 $1,600 $2,784 $14.00 4.2 9.2 3898
8 Edmonton $87,225 $319,900 $910 $2,356 $15.00 7.8 15 8779
9 Charlottetown $53,736 $277,000 $1,350 $2,093 $12.85 7.8 13.6 N/A
10 Calgary $97,334 $410,000 $1,186 $2,406 $15.00 7.4 15.5 6176

So, let’s take a look at what each of these cities has to offer.

#1 Quebec City, Quebec – Best overall

Best Places To Live In Canada: Quebec City

Quebec City is the capital of la belle province (Quebec), and is an absolutely beautiful place to live, work, and visit. It is chock full of historic places to see and things to do. Quebec City is a historical and cultural gem.

One thing to keep in mind about Quebec City, however, is that it is a very francophone place. If your French isn’t as strong as it could be, you’ll want to start practicing (or learning).

City Quebec City, Quebec
Population (2016) 531,902
Land Area (km2) 453.38
Population density (per km2) 1,173.2
Minimum wage $13.10
Median household income (2017) $66,200
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 4.1%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 8.6%
Average house price $254,700
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $883
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,009
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 3,075
Median age N/A
Average yearly rainfall 899mm
Average yearly snowfall 303cm
Temperature high and low 35C to -36C

#2 Moncton, New Brunswick – Best place to find work & cheapest place to live

Best Places To Live In Canada: Moncton

We here at creditcardGenius are actually located in Moncton, so we may seem biased, but we swear that this is how the numbers worked out.

Moncton is a city on the rise, with an increasing number of people moving here from other parts of Canada to take advantage of the low house prices and cost of living. Surrounded by natural beauty, and the commercial hub of the maritimes, there’s something in Moncton for everyone.

City Moncton, New Brunswick
Population (2016) 71,899
Land Area (km2) 141.92
Population density (per km2) 506.5
Minimum wage $11.70
Median household income (2017) $74,240
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 5.3%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 8.2%
Average house price $213,000
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $883
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $1,924
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 8,220
Median age 45
Average yearly rainfall 842mm
Average yearly snowfall 282cm
Temperature high and low 35C to -34C

#3 Saint John, New Brunswick – Best place to buy a house

Best Places To Live In Canada: Saint John

Saint John is the one of the oldest cities in Canada, established in 1785. On the Bay of Fundy, Saint John is an active port and industrial city, but is rapidly expanding into technology and other more modern businesses.

Not only is Saint John a beautiful city surrounded by some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the country, it also boasts some of the lowest real estate prices in Canada. If you’re looking for a move and can either work from home or find a tech job in Saint John, you’ll probably be able to get a pretty sweet deal on a house.

City Saint John, New Brunswick
Population (2016) 67,575
Land Area (km2) 315.96
Population density (per km2) 213.9
Minimum wage $11.70
Median household income (2017) $52,132
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 7.0%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 9.8%
Average house price $200,961
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $814
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,016
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 4,215
Median age 44.2
Average yearly rainfall 1,076mm
Average yearly snowfall 239cm
Temperature high and low 34C to -34C

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#4 St. John’s, Newfoundland – Best place for outdoorsy types

Best Places To Live In Canada: St. John's

St. John’s is a tourist mecca, of course, being one of the most picturesque cities in Canada. It’s also a bit famous for being a party town, but that may be as much a legend as it is the truth. If you’re ever looking to get “screeched in,” however, St. John’s is where you’ll want to be for the full fish-kissing experience.

And while St. John’s has a median income on the lower end of things, the house prices are too. And if you love hiking and camping, Newfoundland is the place to be, with endless trails and breathtaking views. Doubly so if you love the snow, given its average of 234cm of yearly snowfall.

City Saint John’s, Newfoundland
Population (2016) 108,860
Land Area (km2) 445.88
Population density (per km2) 244.1
Minimum wage $11.65
Median household income (2017) $69,455
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 8.1%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 11.7%
Average house price $239,500
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $854
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,264
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 5,508
Median age 40.4
Average yearly rainfall 1,157mm
Average yearly snowfall 234cm
Temperature high and low 28C to -20C

#5 Hamilton, Ontario – Ontario’s up and comer

Best Places To Live In Canada: Hamilton

Commonly known by its nickname, “Steel Town,” Hamilton is an industrial city that is transforming into a more modern city for more modern times.

On the GO transit line, Hamilton is a bedroom community for commuters to the Big Smoke (Toronto), but the city centre has been gentrifying quickly. Where once Hamilton lacked upscale restaurants and entertainment, the city is now an embarrassment of riches.

Beware, however: house prices have been skyrocketing lately, so bargain hunters may have missed their chance.

City Hamilton, Ontario
Population (2016) 536,917
Land Area (km2) 1,117.29
Population density (per km2) 480.6
Minimum wage $14.00
Median household income (2017) $88,124
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 4.9%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 11.3%
Average house price $504,101
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $1,367
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,280
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 3,953
Median age 49.1
Average yearly rainfall 516mm
Average yearly snowfall 97cm
Temperature high and low 29C to -23C

#6 London, Ontario – Best city for digital creatives

Best Places To Live In Canada: London

London, Ontario is another of Canada’s older cities, having been incorporated in 1793. It has since become a centre for medical research, insurance, manufacturing, and (like so many others) information technology.

Today, London is moving further away from manufacturing, and transitioning more to technology with a focus on the “Digital Creative” sector. The city also hosts numerous festivals and other cultural events throughout the year.

City London, Ontario
Population (2016) 383,822
Land Area (km2) 420.35
Population density (per km2) 913.1
Minimum wage $14.00
Median household income (2017) $62,011
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 4.9%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 10.5%
Average house price $484,884
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $1,230
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,202
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 5,963
Median age 39.3
Average yearly rainfall 846mm
Average yearly snowfall 194cm
Temperature high and low 33C to -25C

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#7 Ottawa, Ontario – Best place for adventurous foodies

Best Places To Live In Canada: Ottawa

As the seat of the Canadian government, you wouldn’t think there’s a lot to really get excited about in Ottawa, but you’d be wrong. Sure the city does tend to be a bit quiet (they say they roll up the streets at 10pm), but it’s also very safe, and there’s always something going on.

If you love eating, you’ll love Ottawa. With so many embassies and visitors from around the world, you can find an excellent restaurant serving up almost any type of food you can imagine.

And of course, Ottawa hosts the biggest Canada Day celebration in the country, with a huge amount of downtown area being closed for the party. And the fireworks are not to be missed.

City Ottawa, Ontario
Population (2016) 934,243
Land Area (km2) 2,790.3
Population density (per km2) 334.8
Minimum wage $14.00
Median household income (2017) $85,981
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 4.2%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 9.2%
Average house price $575,600
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $1,600
Estimated cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,784
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 3,898
Median age 40.1
Average yearly rainfall 882mm
Average yearly snowfall 279cm
Temperature high and low 34C to -26C

#8 Edmonton, Alberta – Best city for renters

Best Places To Live In Canada: Edmonton

With its (relatively) high minimum wage, reasonable cost of living, and low rental rates, Edmonton is a great place to live while you’re still renting.

Situated in the heart of Alberta, Edmonton has long been the home of some of Canada’s top technology companies, as well as hosting a range of entertainment and cultural events. And with the median age being on the low end, it’s great for the younger crowd.

City Edmonton, Alberta
Population (2016) 932,546
Land Area (km2) 685.25
Population density (per km2) 1,360.9
Minimum wage $15.00
Median household income (2017) $87,225
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 7.8%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 15%
Average house price $319,900
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $910
Estimate cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,356
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 8,779
Median age 35.7
Average yearly rainfall 383mm
Average yearly snowfall 107cm
Temperature high and low 23C to -36C

#9 Charlottetown, PEI – Best place to raise kids

Best Places To Live In Canada: Charlottetown

Next up is the small but mighty Charlottetown. This lovely little city is the capital of Prince Edward Island, and is famous for being one of the safest cities in Canada (although we couldn’t find more recent crime statistics).

Winters are somewhat milder than in other parts of Canada because of the surrounding waters, although it does get an awful lot of snow, with a yearly average of 224cm. PEI is one of the prettiest places in Canada, however, so all that snow might just be worth it for the lovely summers you’ll get.

City Charlottetown, PEI
Population (2016) 36,094
Land Area (km2) 44.34
Population density (per km2) 814.1
Minimum wage $12.85
Median household income (2017) $53,736
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 7.8%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 13.6%
Average house price $277,000
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $1,350
Estimate cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,093
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) N/A
Median age 42.8
Average yearly rainfall 1,170mm
Average yearly snowfall 224cm
Temperature high and low 31C to -19C

#10 Calgary, Alberta – Best city for people who love cities

Best Places To Live In Canada: Calgary

It may come as a surprise, but Calgary is Canada’s third largest city, with a 2016 population of over 1.2 million people. And while Toronto is pretty great, Calgary is more spread out, has a lower median age, and is significantly less expensive to live in.

Of course, being in Alberta, Calgary’s economy is heavily influenced by the energy sector, but that’s not all it has to offer. Economic activities also include film and TV, technology, logistics, manufacturing, and financial services. All in all, there’s plenty of opportunities for a wide array of different people and skill sets.

City Calgary, Alberta
Population (2016) 1,239,220
Land Area (km2) 825.56
Population density (per km2) 1,501.1
Minimum wage $15.00
Median household income (2017) $97,334
Unemployment rate (Feb 2020) 7.4%
Unemployment rate (Jul 2020) 15.5%
Average house price $410,000
Average monthly rent (1 bed) $1,186
Estimate cost of living (single person, with rent) $2,406
Crime rate (incidents per 100,000) 6,176
Median age 36.6
Average yearly rainfall 403mm
Average yearly snowfall 129cm
Temperature high and low 31C to -32C

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Methodology

We started by compiling a list of 25 cities in Canada, taking the most populous from each province and territory. We then compiled data, including median income, average house price, crime rates, and everything else we mention in the article.

We couldn’t find a complete set of concrete data for all cities, and we dropped those off the list since judging them wouldn’t be possible or fair.

With a final list of 20, we ranked them on the various factors, assigning points to each. In the end, we added up those points, sorted them, and the top 10 are what you find here.

You can find many of our data sources here.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. Our 2020 list of the best places to live in Canada. Of course, our basis for judgement may not be the same as yours, since these sorts of things are always going to be subjective.

What do you think of our top 10 best places to live in Canada list?

Is your city on the list? Should it be?

Let us know in the comments.

FAQ

Which are the best cities in Canada?

To come up with our top 10 best places to live in Canada, we took a look at a handful of the biggest cities from all provinces and territories, then ranked those based largely on economic factors. In the end, based on those factors, our top 5 best cities in Canada are: Quebec City, Quebec; Moncton, New Brunswick; Hamilton, Ontario; Saint John, New Brunswick; and London, Ontario. Read more about our ranking methodology.

What are the best places to live in Canada for weather?

If you like snow, Quebec City, Moncton, and Ottawa are the top 3 from our list for average annual snowfall. Hate snow? The 3 cities on our list with the lowest average annual snowfall are Hamilton, Edmonton, and Calgary. If you prefer more temperate weather, year round, Charlottetown, St. John’s, and Hamilton are your go-to cities from our top 10 list.

What are the best affordable places to live in Canada?

If you’re looking for overall lowest cost of living, our top 3 cities (from our top 10 list) are Moncton, Quebec City, and Saint John. Looking for the lowest house prices? Saint John, Moncton, and St. John’s currently boast the most affordable average house prices from our top 10 list.

Sources

We collected our data for this article from far and wide, including:

Photographs