Best Places to Live for New Canadians (2018)

Sara Rosales had a checklist to help select the Canadian city to move to from Mexico with her family.
The city needed to be close to good universities and colleges, since she was going back to school and her children would eventually need somewhere to study too. It had to be in a central location for job hunting. And most importantly, it had to be family-friendly.

Oakville, Ont. checked all of her boxes. “Being able to raise a family was one of the key points why we stayed here,” said Rosales, 43.

In addition to being this year’s overall winner, Oakville took the top spot in our ranking of the best places to live for New Canadians. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of visible minorities in Oakville has increased from 18 per cent to 31 per cent, according to the census. It is the 35th most linguistically diverse city in the country, with about 30 per cent of residents speaking a language other than English or French. People from all over the world see the same things in Oakville as Rosales

Oakville, On
Living in Oakville allowed Rosales to continue her studies at Sheridan College, her husband to find a job in IT service management and her children to take advantage of the city’s many family-focused activities and events. For New Canadians who want access to the Toronto-area job market without paying downtown prices for housing, it’s easy to see why Oakville is a popular pick.

Still, affordability is a challenge, Rosales said. It would be difficult to make ends meet here for a family that didn’t have at least one breadwinner with a middle class job, she said. “You really need to be stable economically in order to live there,” she said. “It’s hard to afford.”

Our ranking of the best places for new Canadians is based on the same 10 categories as the main Best Places to Live ranking, but with the weightings adjusted to reflect the needs and interests of immigrants. We award points to cities with a large percentage of the population speaking languages other than English or French and increase the importance of a low unemployment rate, affordable rents and access to an airport.

       Best Places for New Canadians — by region

                            Atlantic Canada:    Halifax, N.S. (no. 194)
                            Quebec        :    Mont-Royal (no. 3)
                            Ontario        :    Oakville (no. 1)
                            Prairies        :    Brandon, Man. (no. 28)
                            Alberta        :    Red Deer (no. 17)
                            British Columbia:    Delta (no. 8)

Source: … -2018-100/

Thanks for this

British Colombia is a beautiful place to live, if you can afford to, the life here is very peaceful and weather wise better than many other Provnices in Canada

Hi There, Not many posts here...  :/  We want to live on the East side (closer to family in Europe and time zone is not too bad for calls).
I have selected Ottawa thinking: calm, cheap (have enough of my shoebox size house in the UK) and seems easy to live. Still, plenty of museums and staff to do but I have so many doubts. I love nature and culture. Anyone in Ottawa?
I still thinking about Toronto and Montreal because of shows of international artists but Toronto is expensive, Someone knows how good is the suburb (commuting for work, and nice neighborhood)? Montreal is beautiful and I am bilingual. My partner will have to learn French (which he can) but I am scared that people might be less welcoming as they have this independence culture and might be less friendly with my partner who is not bilingual. The labor market might be tough... Anyone wants to have a chat with me and give me his/her opinion. Thanks, guys ! :)

Hi, Jul Of!

I have been living in Montreal for a bit over a year now and I must say I was surprised by how much English I hear here, I thought people would speak almost exclusively Canadian French but turns out the city is very bilingual; in businesses people welcome their clients in both languages and switch very easily between French and English. Some areas are even mostly English-speaking. And if your partner is open to learning French on top of that, I don't think you would have any problem with languages here :) Considering you'll come from London, you'll probably find the housing in Montreal more affordable too!
I have been to Toronto but have never lived there. It's a very nice city with a more "American" vibe to it (whereas Montreal feels European in some ways) and there sure are tons of stuff to do, but unfortunately it has gotten quite expensive as you mentioned, so the suburbs are more affordable. I will ask around what the nice neighbourhoods to settle in are. :)
As for Ottawa, I must say I haven't visited it yet, it seems very nice and way more affordable than Toronto, people usually say it's very pretty, but I don't know how much there is to do when you live there. Then again, I have never been, so I'm no expert!

Have a great weekend!

Hi Tameran,
Thanks for your answer! :) Great to hear positive about Montreal and that you are happy there. I have read that commuting is easy. About Ottawa, I read so much positive except that some folks seem to get bored. I have a 15 years old and surely this one needs a lively town center. Now folks who say they are bored in Ottawa might just think about nightlife (clubs and so on). As long as the city center is lively until midnight on the weekend it is good enough for us. If you have friends who know Toronto neighborhood that would be great. I am wondering about commuting and I do not want to end up in a London like place, spending 2 t 3 hours on trains and tubes.
Have a great weekend too!

It depends on what you are looking for.  I was born and raised in Toronto.  Living in Toronto is very different then living outside of Toronto in what is called the GTA.  The further outside of Toronto you live the more you will need to depend on driving instead of taking public transit, biking or walking.  The further outside the city the worse pubic transit.

You can raise a family anywhere.  People raise families in the middle of the jungle so again it depends on what your expectations are and how much money you plan on brining in to the country to pay for all this.

It all boils down to what someone values most.
As someone that loves to have lots of things to do and multiculturalism my top 2 picks would be Toronto or Montreal.  If you don't plan of learning French then I would choose Toronto.  You can get around in Montreal without speaking French, but you are not going to be first pick for jobs.  If you speak French and don't plan on learning English don't bother coming to Toronto.

Regarding Oakville.  It you are okay with being bored then you picked a perfect spot of raise a family, grow old and die lol.

Both Toronto and Montreal are fun!  Lots of free excellent events all year long in both cities.

Hi and thanks for coming back urbanshopping  :)
In Toronto, I am scared of spending 2 hours in my car if I want to go to a concert. It puts you off going out and kills the benefits of living in a big city. Montreal transportation network has a better reputation.  If I am wrong about it, please tell me which neighborhood is good for commuting  (good train for downtown, family orientated, etc).  Funny that Ottawa is never mentioned. I watched a documentary called 'Ottawa the city that fun forgot'. Is it really that boring? There is a Uni, usually, it brings life into a town. Oakville no Uni, so not perfect for me,  this is why I was also considering Ottawa.On paper, it is what I am looking for (smaller city, space, uni,  calm and green but this boring reputation... :/ still life is what you made of it).
Ideally, I do not want to live in town centers (I am tired of it). I need a suburb with fast trains.


Regarding Toronto.  The key to getting around Toronto faster is living near the subway line.  For example I wanted a detached house with a large yard.  I wanted the most value for my money so I live in South East Toronto.  So I am between 2 ttc subway stations and 2 go stations.  I could never advise driving to a concert in Toronto because you have to pay for parking. 

I am a huge music fan and my favourite time of year is coming up because extra concert go on.  I literally go to a ticketed concert most weeks ... sometimes a few week not including free music events that take part almost daily in some parts of the city.

So driving to a concert with cost you $20-$30 for parking.  If you take ttc $3 each way or go transit $5-6 each way.  I work downtown and it would take me 45 minutes drive unless bad traffic and it could take more.  Or I can take ttc which takes 1 hour, but I get 20 minutes exercise walking to the bus stop and then off the subways to work and while on the subway I can related listen to music or do something else.

The key is living in short distance to the subway.  Don't live in the centre but the edge preferable alone the eastern or western areas of the bloor/ Danforth subway line.  North Toronto feels more detached for the fun stuff going on in the city centre.

I am a 30 minute walk to a swimmable beach too.

Lots of new condo builds going to in the city.  The city is changing for much so buying anywhere is going to be worth it.

Property, rent and car insurance is a lot cheaper in Montreal.  I stayed somewhere on Rue Sherbrook last year and I was amazed at how much cheaper places were.

I love Montreal too, but Toronto seems to be bigger and have more options.  But in my opinion the 2 best cities in Canada to live in.

I do have a car, but don't actually drive because if you work down town and enjoy doing things in the city then it is not worth paying for parking.  You hop on and off subway trains, buses and street cars.  It is also a easy way to increase your physical activity level.  My friends living outside of the city always try to shame me for not getting my full license, but they don't understand that our lifestyles are very different.  After I leave work I often walk to a market to buy fruit, shop, buy dinner to take home for my family, go to a show or concert etc.  I don't have to rush back home in traffic to pick up kids from day care or make dinner etc.  Some times I meet my daughter at the subway and we go to the aquarium, out to eat or shopping.  Also if you live in Toronto the city has lots of free classes for kids and adults.  Also especially May to September there are FREE street festivals all over the city every weekend from Friday, Sat, Sun with live entertainment.  Often multiple events going on at the same time.  That is also why I don't like leaving the city from May to September.  There is too much to possibly miss out on.  I also live by a swimmable beach so why would I want to go up north to a cottage lol.  If you want an action packed like Toronto or Montreal are seriously the best cities in the country to for this type of lifestyle.  So many options making difficulty to get bored.

I had friend that went to Carlton and when we went to visit her it was just sad compared to Toronto.  People don't dress up as much to go to clubs either.  It was a pretty place... but not enough action compared to Toronto or Montreal.  When you are use to lots of choice it is hard to settle.

When I went to Montreal in August in one day I went to the shopping festival, the cirque festival and went to the fireworks.  It cost nothing to take part in any of these events.  Plus I got to explore the street art, cafes, restaurants etc.  When you live closer to the city centre this has the ability to enrich your life.  Toronto has a nice balance because you can live near the edge of the action to enjoy nature and quite and then hop of a bus/ train and be in the heart of the city for $3 in 30 minutes.

Waw thank you for your long reply. It definitely helps to put colors on Toronto. I have just received a big map of the city with subway lines and will deep dive into Toronto, looking for good areas to commute. Swimmable beach... It is definitely a massive plus !

Good luck : )!  Feel free to message me if you have any more specific questions.

Glad you moved to Toronto, its one of the best cities in Canada... a little crowded, but if you don't mind that its a beautiful place to live in.

Ottawa is way better.

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