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The 20 Best Places to Live in Canada

Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que.

What makes a great place to live? To some extent, it’s subjective- one person may want a vibrant nightlife and hordes of shops to browse, while another may prefer a peaceful community devoid of the trappings of modern life. That said, some things do unite us; safe streets, a prosperous but affordable lifestyle, temperate climes, and well-maintained public services are guaranteed to be on the wish list of pretty much every home buyer in the country. When it comes to safe, welcoming communities, Canada has an abundance. Read on to discover which 20 hotspots make our roundup of the 20 very best places to live in Canada.

20. Whistler, B.C.

Creeping onto our list at 20th position is Whistler, a resort municipality in British Columbia, Canada, located about 78 miles north of Vancouver and 22 miles south of the town of Pemberton. As popular with tourists as it is with locals, Whistler is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering everything from alpine skiing and snowboarding in winter to hiking and mountain biking in summer. Even if the stunning surrounds aren’t enough to keep you permanently entertained, the range of indoor venues, attractions and amenities surely will.

19. Fernie, B.C.

Another entry that’s earned itself a well-deserved reputation as a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts is Fergie. Surrounded on all four sides by dramatic mountain ranges and intersected by the stunning Elk river, Fernie has some of the best skiing, snowboarding, hiking and fly-fishing opportunities in the country. Despite its ever-growing popularity with tourists, Fernie is in no danger of turning into an outdoor Disney World any time soon; its understated, relaxed vibe, clean, leafy streets and stunning architecture keep it eminently livable.

18. Cowichan Bay, B.C.

The stunning Cowichan Bay was the first-ever town in North America to be designated a Cittaslow community, a global movement that been created to slow down the pace of life in towns and develop and protect unique local cultures and traditions. As you’d expect, the end result is a town that has an amazing community feel, a relaxed, easy-going vibe, and some of the best artisanal shops and craft centers you’ll find this side of the Pacific Ocean. Add to that the fact it’s got Canada’s only Mediterranean climate, and you’re looking at one of the most pleasant places to live in the country.

17. Lévis, Que.

If you’re wondering why 147,403 people have chosen to make Lévis their home, a quick glance at the stats should tell you everything you need to know. The unemployment rate is a minuscule 3.4%, the median household income is a very robust $79,323 and the average household net worth is an impressive $387,146. Meanwhile, the crime rate per 100k is a tiny 2,784, the amenities are abundant, and the schools are excellent. What more reason do you need?

16. Toronto, Ontario

Up next is the capital city of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, Toronto. By the last reckoning, 2.7 million call Toronto home, and for very good reason. As well as offering a vibrant, diverse downtown. Toronto is primed to offer neighborhoods that suit every walk of life imaginable, from safe (dare we say staid?) family-friendly communities to up and coming hipster hotspots. Despite its size, Toronto remains a safe city, with a crime rate of just 3,847 per 100k residents. Factor in great schools, superb amenities, and a booming job market, and you can well understand its appeal.

15. Fort St. John, B.C.

Want to live in the kind of affluent city where the average household net worth is $440,481? Then we highly recommend you cast your eyes in the direction of Fort St. John. Located in a prime position next to Highway 97, the city provides excellent commuting access, a stable economy, excellent amenities and some truly exceptional schools. The weather is temperate, the living is easy, and the surrounding landscape is more than worth a second look. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is the crime rate, which at 14000 per 100,000 residents, could stand a little improvement.

14. Saugeen Shores, Ont.

The popular holiday location of Saugeen Shores, Ont. offers an abundance of affordable accommodation, some first-class amenities, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and shopping facilities. It’s not just the leisure resources that stand out: the job opportunities are excellent, affording the average resident the substantial median income of $105,210, and the average household a net worth of $777,845. Crime stands at the reasonably low rate of 5113 per 100,000k, while the clean streets, welcoming, diverse communities, and excellent schools complete the town’s extensive list of highlights.

13. Mont-Royal, Que.

A low crime rate of 4,594 per 100 thousand residents, 124 family doctors per 100 thousand, a temperate climate, a staggeringly high average household net worth of $2,392,238, and an equally mammoth household income of $145,853. Great schools, fabulous amenities and 124 doctors per 10 k citizens. The name of this little Canadian wonder? Mont-Royal, Quebec.

12. Red Deer, Alta.

Red Deer, Alberta is one of Canada’s biggest cities, ranking only after Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge in terms of population. As you’d expect of such a large city, there’s plenty on offer in terms of recreational entertainment, with a great range of arts and cultural programs (Central Alberta Theatre, Ignition Theatre, Central Music Festival, the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra, the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery, and the Red Deer Royals being some of the key highlights). Completing the round of great features is an excellent health care system, good local schools, an impressive infrastructure and an economy that’s able to sustain an average income of $90,844 and a consistently low unemployment rate of just 4.9%.

11. Camrose, Alta.

Situated in an idyllic location in the heart of Alberta, Camrose is one of the jewels in Canada’s crown. Stunning parklands, excellent outdoor activities, first-rate recreational facilities, and big crowd-pleasers like the Big Valley Jamboree and Jaywalkers events have turned this little city into one of the most desirable places to live in the region. It doesn’t hurt matters that its schools are excellent, its crime rate is almost nonexistent, and its job market affords an average household net worth of $519,846, either.

10. Halton Hills, Ont.

Despite its considerable population of 65,782, Halton Hills in Ontario has one of the lowest crime rates of any city in Canada, regardless of size (just 2,133 per 100 thousand residents). As well as the usual host of big-city attractions and amenities you’d expect of such a sizable place, Halton Hills also offers plenty by way of outdoor attractions thanks to its easy access to the stunning Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail, both outstanding natural features that make for excellent hiking. Completing the line up of great features include a low unemployment rate of 5.7%, a very healthy median household income of $108,410, and an even healthier household net worth of $1,190,923.

9. Saint-Lambert, Que.

With such notable cultural institutions as Le Balcon d'Art and La Foire d'Art Contemporain de Saint-Lambert, a yearly schedule of events (including the famous Saint-Lambert Days, a four-day event in late August that features a celebratory line up of concert performances, games, and sidewalk sales), an abundance of excellent wining and dining opportunities, some great local shops and businesses, an unemployment rate of just 4.9%, and a robust median income of $83,626, Saint-Lambert, Quebec makes an excellent home to over 22 thousand residents.

8. Nelson, B.C.

Few other cities in North America can rival the appeal of the stunningly situated Nelson. A delightful series of parks and beaches crowd the waterfront, while the town itself is an architectural treasure trove of 350 heritage buildings built between the 19th and 20th centuries. Charming boutiques, unique galleries, quirky cafes and a population of creative, arty types imbue Nelson with a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere that’s a rare treat. Outdoor enthusiasts, meanwhile, have plenty to keep them entertained with the abundant opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and skiing in the majestic landscape of the surrounding area.

7. Westmount, Quebec

If you see a figure of $3,953,205 coming after the words “average household net worth”, you know you’re not reading about any old city. Westmount, Quebec is unquestionably a city that’s doing well for itself: as well as the way above average income expectations of its 21083 residents (who, by the way, earn an average salary of $1117,755), it offers an excellent quality of life supported by superb libraries, a fantastic state education system, numerous parks, and a veritable array of unique boutiques, chain stores, restaurants, clubs, bars, and recreational facilities. Crime is low, the people are welcoming… all in all, a well-deserving addition to our roundup.

6. Milton, Ont.

Some quick facts about Milton, Ontario: the average household income is a staggeringly high $111,875; the average household net worth is an equally mammoth $1,129,276; the unemployment rate is a low 5.7%, while the crime rate per 100000 residents is an equally minuscule 2,133; it’s home to some of the best outdoor attractions in the state (the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area and Hilton Falls Conservation Area being two cases in point) and an equally impressive number of indoor recreational attractions; it’s welcoming, its lively, its diverse…it’s the 6th best place to live in Canada.

5. Lacombe, Alta.

13,906 residents can proudly call Lacombe, Alberta their home city, and proud they no doubt are. Set in the rolling parklands of central Alberta, Lacombe offers easy access to the stunning natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains to the west, and the equally attractive Alberta prairie to the east, along with the big city thrills of Red Deer to the north and Edmonton to the south. Peaceful, safe, and with an abundance of things to see and do, there every reason in the book as to why this little city is one of Canada’s best places to live.

4. Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que.

Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec is a city that enjoys an average household net worth of $864,221, a median household income of $96,757, an insignificant unemployment rate of 4.9%, a great range of amenities and facilities, a stunning setting on the south bank of the Saint Lawrence River, and a well-deserved place at number four on our round-up.

3. Russell Township, Ont.

Few would deny Russell Township in Ontario is a great place to live: its host of arts and cultural organizations include the well-respected The Kin Club of Russell, The Russell Historical Society and the Keith M. Boyd Museum, The Russell Lions Club, The Russell and District Horticultural Society, and The Russell Agricultural Society, while its abundance of indoor and outdoor pursuits provide plenty by way of entertainment to the town’s 17,155 residents. The economy is booming (so much so that the average household is bringing home around $112,644) and the property market is on the up. Top schools and an abundance of parks complete the round-up of attractions.

2. Ottawa, Ont

Ottawa has some of the highest standards of living of any Canadian city or town, and it shows. Not only are the streets clean, the unemployment and poverty rates low, and the infrastructure well maintained, but the average household is so well minted they’re sat on an average net worth of $695,242 (with the average household income coming in at the considerable sum of $93,975). The crime rate is a minuscule 3,782 per 100,000 residents, while the state of the local schools, health care services, and public amenities is all sufficiently exemplary to command a very well deserved 2nd place ranking.

1. Oakville, Ont.

What do you get if you combine a population of 209,039 with an unemployment rate of 5.7%, an average household net worth of $1,742,036, a median income of $112,207, a crime rate of 2,133 per 100k residents, 91 family doctors per 100k, a stunning setting on Lake Ontario, some of the best festivals and music events in the country’s calendar, first-class schools, and a thriving local economy? If you guessed Oakville, Ontario, give yourself a round of applause. With a host of world-class amenities and facilities, and a welcoming, diverse community, Ontario’s largest town is the well-deserved winner of our lineup.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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