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When we hear of Canada, often we think of diversity and then that it is extremely cold. Fortunately, not every part of Canada is as cold as these thoughts so there are options based on the weather you would like. It’s always helpful to know the basics of a country before visiting or moving. Several other bloggers who have lived in different parts of Canada have shared their experiences to help with this. Also included is the cost of living of the nearest city. These figures are as a comparison to New York which is 100. So anything lower means it is cheaper, and higher is more expensive than New York.

This is not a ranking but rather listed in alphabetical order.

Related links: Best Cities in USA

Fun Facts

  • Canada is a monarchy of the United Kingdom under Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Population is 38 million (2020).
  • There are two official languages – English and French.
  • With 9,984,670 km² of land, Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia.
  • At 125,500 miles, Canada has the longest coastline.
  • Currency is the Canadian dollar.
  • The southern border of Canada is the longest in the world, 5,525 miles.
  • Canada’s Thanksgiving is in the middle of October.

1. Campbell River, British Columbia

Recommended by BucketListPlaces
Cost of living index: 75 (Closest city: Victoria)

A hidden gem on Vancouver Island, Campbell River is a seaside village that has a bit of everything. From delicious restaurants to fantastic shopping, there is a bit of something for everyone. At a fraction of the cost of living of the nearby stateside cities, this is a great place to live for expats who love sailing in the San Juan Islands.

An average apartment goes for around $1,000 per month. The city is small and very walkable, but a car is suggested to be able to explore everything Vancouver Island has to offer. There are also ferries running to get you to the mainland and surrounding islands. 

Being located on the water means the weather stays temperate year-round. Campbell River doesn’t experience the heavy snow and deep cold that many other parts of Canada is known for. Be sure to have an umbrella handy, especially in the winter there can be quite a lot of rain.

During winter there are highs of 6°C (43°F) and lows of 0°C (32°F). On the other hand, summers range from 24°C (75°F) to 10°C (50°F).

As an insider tip, be sure to explore some of the surrounding islands and inlets by boat. You have a high chance of even spotting Orcas right from shore at several locations on Vancouver Island and even from Campbell River itself. 

2. Canmore, Alberta

Recommended by Bailey from Destinationless Travel
Cost of living index: 74 (Closest city: Calgary)

Canmore, Alberta is one of my absolute favourite places in all of Canada. Although technically a “town”, Canmore is home to around 15,000 people, many of whom are expats. 

The appeal to Canmore is the many things to do there. Canmore sits on the edge of Banff National Park making it the perfect place for exploring the beautiful Canadian rockies.

Should you need something from a major city, Calgary is only just over an hour away too. 

Canmore gets cold in the winter, it can easily reach -35°C (-31°F), but that’s all part of the appeal. Winter sports are super popular here and as long as you gear up with lots of warm winter gear (and a house with a cosy fireplace) you’ll fit right in. The summer can be warm, getting up to 30°C (86°F) with plenty of sunshine. 

The only public transport in Canmore is a bus system. It is easy to use, and you can even take it to Banff town if you want.

Many people who live in Canmore work in Banff and do this commute daily. The cost of living in Canmore is significantly cheaper than Banff, which makes it appealing to expats who want to enjoy all Banff has to offer without the price tag. With that said, most people own a car in Canmore to get to all the ski fields, hikes, and other outdoor activities.

Related links: Best Cities in South America

The only downside to living in Canmore is that, although cheaper than the tourist town of Banff, it is still expensive when compared to other Canadian cities. Finding a place to rent can be a challenge, and I paid over $1,500 a month for a super tiny one-bedroom apartment not even in the downtown area. Buying a house is nearly impossible with most houses being worth millions. 

When I lived in Canmore, the housing price didn’t bother me too much because most of the things I did for fun were free! The outdoors is what Canmore is all about. Hiking and exploring the mountains is totally free – which saved my budget. 

3. Edmonton, Alberta

Recommended by Bailey from Destinationless Travel
Cost of living index: 74

Contrary to what you might’ve heard, Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is a great city to live in Canada. I lived in Edmonton for more than 10 years and in that time, grew to really love the city. 

Many people stay away from Edmonton because of the weather. Sure the winters are long and cold, but there are still plenty of things to do in Edmonton in the winter, and if you are prepared for the weather, then it shouldn’t be a problem. 

Typically, it starts to snow in November, and it will stick around until April or May (depending on the year.) Winter temperatures range from around -10°C to -30°C, with the latter being only a few days a year on average. In the summer, it is usually between 20°C and 30°C (68-86°F).

But all seasons of the year you can expect lots of sunshine, with Edmonton getting more hours of sunshine than any other large Canadian city!

Edmonton is a large city that is quite spread out, which makes traffic typically a non-issue. When compared to main cities in Canada, I find the traffic in Edmonton to be much better. Most people drive in Edmonton for this reason.

There is a light rail, but it only goes to a couple of places and there is no other train system. There is a public bus system too.

The other bonus of living in Edmonton is that it is relatively cheap. House prices are significantly cheaper than places like Vancouver or Toronto, and thus, rent is also cheaper. I paid around $1,000 per month for an apartment downtown when I lived in Edmonton.

Gas is more affordable than most other provinces too, usually 20-30 cents a litre cheaper than British Columbia.

4. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Recommended by Nina of Nina Out and About
Cost of living index: 75

I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years and still believe it’s the best city in Canada. It’s a refuge for students, employees, nature lovers, and retirees. Basically, no matter who you are, you’ll love living in Halifax!

Not only is it one of the most affordable cities, but it also has the most bars per capita of any Canadian city!

Average apartment rentals downtown run close to $1,800 for a one bedroom. If you go to Bayers Lake or beyond the student areas downtown, your rent will be closer to $1,200.

Food is reasonably priced, with many delicacies costing less than they would elsewhere. As a student, I lived on scallops, lobster rolls, and salmon from the Seaport Market, thanks to the cheap prices!

Getting around is easy by foot or by bus. However, within downtown, cars are not your friend.

Halifax is a historic city that has small roadways. The one-way streets by the waterfront confuse me to this day!

Bus fare is cheaper than in Toronto or Ottawa, although it seems to be ever changing. Avoid carrying change by buying a pack of bus tickets from a local convenience store.

Halifax is windy, so women will want to tie their hair back.

In winter, temperatures are between 0°C to -9°C (32 to 15°F) causing Halifax to routinely get blizzards that close the city. This means adult snow days! Often, the snow isn’t even that bad, but the winds close the bridges into the city for commuters. Be sure to pack your winter gear before moving!

My favourite part about living in Halifax was the ease of escaping the city. You get the best of all worlds with a vibrant downtown, blossoming suburbs, and a ten-minute drive to forested trails. This is perfect for summer with highs of 23°C (73°F) and lows of 15°C (59°F).

Related links: Best Cities in Central America

5. Kamloops, British Columbia

Recommended by Casandra from Karpiak Caravan

Canada is known to have some seriously gorgeous scenery with stunning rivers, mountains and forests, but it has so much more to offer than just that. The city of Kamloops in British Columbia’s interior is an outdoor playground and a great place to settle in Canada.

The cost of living in Kamloops is 26% lower than the British Columbia average and housing in Kamloops is 41% lower than the national average.

There is public transportation located throughout the city and you will rarely ever experience rush hour traffic.

The most popular neighbourhood in Kamloops is in Sahali where there is majority of the shopping and is one of the safest areas in the city. You can expect to pay $1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment. The downtown core of Kamloops is a great location for using transit as the major bus exchange is located downtown on Lansdowne Street. A two bedroom on average will cost $1,800.

Kamloops is a popular city due to its sunny climate, which allows for four seasons and where the sun shines throughout the cold winters. Locals love the May long weekend as it’s when summer begins, and they can enjoy their outdoor lifestyle.

Summers reach highs of 29°C (84°F) and lows of 15°C (59°F). Here people cycle, go camping or fishing, play golf or tennis and keep fit with hiking and yoga, there are endless things to do in Kamloops all year round.

You can get your fix of culture in Kamloops by visiting the Art Gallery and the popular street art walk in downtown Kamloops.

One of the best things about Kamloops is that there are two ski resorts within 45 minutes of the city. Winters can get pretty cold with highs of -8°C (17°F) and lows of -2°C (28°F). Skiing and snowboarding are immensely popular in Kamloops during ski season which begins at the end of November up until April/May (depending on how much snow they get).

If you are looking to relocate to a smaller, sunny city in Canada and love the great outdoors then Kamloops is perfect for you.

6. Ottawa, Ontario

Recommended by Claire from Claire Pins Travel
Cost of living index: 75

As the capital city of Canada and the centre of the federal government, Ottawa is the second largest city in Canada. It is popular with expats, there is a significant population of diplomatic employees along with international students attending the two local universities.

The city is home to several major museums and hosts notable festivals like Winterlude and the Tulip Festival.

Ottawa has quite a significant variation in weather, as summer temperatures can reach over 30°C (86°F) and can dip below -30°C (-22°F) in the winter, so be prepared for a full range of weather conditions

Related links: Best Cities in Mexico

The public transit system consists of two light rail lines and a transitway bus system with connections to Gatineau in Quebec. There is a limited bike lane system. The major highway across Ottawa is called the “417 Queensway” and gets busy during morning and evening rush hour.

For average housing prices in Ottawa, renting a studio apartment is $1,200, a one bedroom is $1,500 and a two bedroom is around $1,900. Purchasing an average home was $650,000 in 2021.

Neighbourhoods like Sandy Hill and the Byward Market area are popular with students, while Westboro and The Glebe both have many trendy shops and restaurants and are not far from downtown. More affordable rentals can be found in Gatineau, and the suburbs of Kanata, Barrhaven and Orleans are popular for families.

If you want to explore beyond the city, there are many fun day trips from Ottawa you can plan and Toronto and Montreal are easily accessible by car or the VIA Rail train system

7. Toronto, Ontario

Recommended by: Samantha at Continuous Roamer
Cost of living index: 75

Toronto is an interesting city to live in due to its excellent food scene, proximity to incredible nature and plenty of sunshine, even in winter.

Like with any busy city, the cost of renting an apartment can be high. However, when I lived outside Toronto’s downtown core, I could save hundreds of dollars. Plus, public transportation costs are reasonable, so I could reduce my monthly bills compared to people who live more centrally.  

I rented the largest bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment near to High Park and paid CAD 900 plus bills per month. Whereas my 1-bedroom apartment in Yorkville cost CAD 2,700 per month. Yorkville is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Toronto, but it is also one of the most sophisticated. If you are looking for safety in Toronto, opt for a condo building with a concierge in the lobby.

Fresh produce in Toronto can be expensive. I recently bought a packet of four chicken breasts for CAD 17. Whereas in England, the same purchase would cost around a third of the price. 

The most common way of getting around Toronto is by subway. However, rideshare taxis are another popular method of transport within Toronto because the subway does not cover the whole city. 

Toronto experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year. In winter, Toronto gets covered by a thick blanket of snow; but it will also see pink spring blossoms, vibrant orange leaves in fall and scorching heat in the summer.

Between the seasons, the weather can change drastically. It can jump 10°C in a matter of days. My advice is to look ahead at the weather forecast and dress in layers during the transitional months. The day can start with a chill and end with you stripping off layers. In summer, the typical highs are 27°C (80°F) and lows of -18°C (64°F).

The winter can be long and difficult to endure in Toronto with highs of 0°C (32°F) and lows of -7°C (19°F), but my best piece of advice is to embrace every season and the great outdoors. Canada is a stunning country, and the nature around Toronto is breath-taking. 

8. Vancouver, British Columbia

Recommended by Anita Sun
Cost of living index: 74

No matter how far I travel or how many beautiful places I visit, Vancouver remains one of the most charming cities in my heart. The city is young, lively, and full of spirit. As one of the greenest cities in North America, you are never far from nature. If you love the beach or water sports, you are always less than 20 minutes away from a beach or harbour.

If you enjoy hiking and skiing, North Vancouver has a range of mountains and trails for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding. 

Vancouver’s diverse cultures make it a gastronomical destination for Asian cuisines and fusion experiments. As one of the youngest cities, Vancouver’s nightlife is colourful and vibrant. From Kitsilano to East Van, from Davie to Granville, you can find your tribe. 

Public transit is the way to get around: sky trains, buses, and shared bikes. If you go to the mountains in the north or inland, renting a car will be easier. The worst traffic is usually on the highways and bridges, so always check on Google Maps before hitting the road. 

Related links: Things To Do Before Moving Abroad

Known as “Raincouver”, Vancouver’s winter can be pretty rainy with highs of 7°C (44°F) and lows of 3°C (37°F). From December to March, prepare yourself for the never-stopping drizzles – a rain jacket is a must-have.

Although, you can always go to the mountains for a great ski day or enjoy dining out with your friends. Summer in Vancouver is fresh and sun-kissed with highs of 22°C (71°F) and lows of 14°C (57°F), and here is an example of how you can spend a perfect day

Get up to a fresh coffee from Gastown or Yaletown and walk along the water. Later, take a bike and head to Stanley Park for a scenic ride. Cross the bridge to Vancouver mainland; you can explore the boutique store and galleries on Granville Street or thrift and hipster shops on Main Street. A hearty lunch on Main Street or Broadway awaits before you go along the seawall in Kitsilano to experience the west coast active lifestyle. Have a golden hour picnic at the Spanish Bank or Wreck Beach for sunset.   

I lived in Vancouver both as a student and a professional, and it can be a bougie city. A one-bedroom apartment in Yaletown can cost 1,900 CAD per month.

Suppose you are willing to share a house with students and other young professionals. In that case, it will be much cheaper – I’ve lived in the beautiful Kitsilano neighbourhood for only 700 CAD per month, sharing a ground floor 3-bedroom apartment with two other people. The area is so outdoor-oriented and lively that I barely stayed at home.  

9. Victoria, British Columbia

Recommended by Luke from Wild About BC
Cost of living index: 75

If you are a little worried about moving to Canada due to the cold, harsh winters then you should consider moving to Victoria on Vancouver Island. It has the warmest average temperature of any city in Canada. With warm summers and mild winters, this is an excellent place to live. Summers with highs of 20°C (68°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F). And winters not too drastic with highs of 8°C (46°F) and lows of 5°C (41°F).

It is a popular place, so the cost of living isn’t that cheap. It isn’t as expensive as the likes of Vancouver and Toronto but a nice 1-bedroom apartment close to downtown will still cost around $1,900 per month. I would highly recommend living in James Bay or in Cook Street Village as they are within easy walking distance to downtown as well as to the beach.  

Busses and cycling are the main forms of transport here and it is one of the best cities I have ever lived in for bike lanes. They are everywhere and the downtown core is much easier to navigate on a bike versus a car. Traffic here isn’t bad at all as it is such a small city, especially in the downtown area.  

It is a fantastic city to live in as it is very picturesque, it has everything you could need without being too big and you have easy access to Vancouver and Seattle with direct ferry routes and flights. I would highly recommend living here as Vancouver Island is full of hidden gems, like Sandcut Beach and Sombrio Beach waterfall, for you to explore using Victoria as your home base.

Conclusion

Thank you to everyone for their contributions. As I was putting this together, I realised how lovely Canada sounds and now I can’t decide which city I like best! If you had to choose one city in Canada to go to, which would it be?

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13 thoughts on “9 Best Cities in Canada Including Cost of Living

  1. My friend lives in Edmonton because of her job and she loves it. She’s an outdoor person, so the city is perfect for her. But I think anywhere you live in this list, you will get an amazing outdoor views and activities.

  2. As a Canadian I love this! I’d also include Charlottetown, PEI on this list as well! Halifax is incredible and I can’t wait to venture out west in our country! We really are lucky to live where we do!

  3. I’d love to live in Canada for a little while! The tips on how to find cheaper accommodation in Toronto is great! It always strikes me as such an expensive city overall. Vancouver is also somewhere I’d love to spend more time. Thanks for such a great overview!

  4. The only city I’ve visited so far (in this list) is Halifax, Nova Scotia, so I’m glad to hear it’s rated as one of the best! I definitely need to add some of the others to my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to visit Banff, and it’s great to learn that Canmore is right next door. Thanks for sharing all of this info! Xx Sara

  5. I’ve only ever visited Montreal and the towns right over the border from Vermont! I really would love to explore these other cities and regions, especially Toronto and British Columbia – they sound amazing! Banff is really high on my list as well.

  6. I have always wanted to go to Canada, but I would like to have quite a bit of time to be able to visit as many places as possible. Reading your post really made me dream to visit this amazing country asap. Thank you for sharing

  7. Great information here! We have visited several of these cities, but a couple are on our bucket list. Picked up a few great tips!

  8. This is a really helpful guide to the best cities in Canada! I’ve visited a few of them although I’ve never lived abroad. I’ve added a few more to my list to visit. Thanks for the great guide!

  9. Great post! I love all the cities you’ve mentioned that I’ve visited. I guess ones that I love that didn’t make your list are Squamish (right in the mountains between Vancouver and Whistler) and Revelstoke for the friendly vibes, good food and epic mountain adventures.

    Canada really does have some great cities.

  10. I have been to a number of cities in Canada and my favourite is Vancouver. I could easily see living there for a while. While I’m not into the snow sports, I do like the outdoors so I think the climate in Vancouver suits me better than the other cities you mention.

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