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The Best Provinces to Live in Canada

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One of the most commonly asked questions amongst Canada’s potential immigrants is ‘What are the best provinces to live in Canada?’ Well, this country has a lot to offer, and at the end of the day, the best place to plant roots will depend on what you’re looking for. 

Best provinces to live in Canada for students, new comers, for good weather & more

If you’re looking for job opportunities, Canada’s big cities are the best places. But, to enjoy the unbeatable natural beauty, you might want to head out of the major cities and into the more rural areas.

Canada’s diverse geography is no secret, and there is something for everyone. So whether you’re looking to get a job in Canada or searching for a Rocky Mountains retreat, we’ve got all the tips to help you settle into your new Canadian life.

Here are some of the best provinces to live in Canada

Best Provinces To Live in Canada – Major Cities & More 

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What to know about Canada’s provinces

Canada is the second largest country in the world, separated into ten culturally diverse provinces. Narrowing down the best province to live in might be one of the most complex parts of Canadian immigration. 

Canada’s provinces and three northern territories cover 3.8 million square miles. Quebec is the country’s largest province and offers a rich cultural heritage. Although to blend into Quebec City, you’ll have to at least attempt to speak French. 

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province. This small maritime region is the perfect picturesque escape for some peace away from the big cities and great seafood. Between the two, there are eight other Canadian provinces to choose from. 

Where we have lived

Salil and I started our journey as students in Ontario’s capital, Toronto. I won’t get into all the details of my experience as an expat, but I quickly fell in love with all things Canada.

Since 2009, we’ve lived in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and are now happily settled in Alberta.

Although we’ve only lived in three provinces in Canada, we’ve done our fair share of traveling since becoming permanent residents. But, we’ll start with our home province, Alberta.

Alberta

  • Population: 4,500,917 (2022)
  • Median salary: $61,865 (2022)
  • Winter temperatures: -5°C or 23°F (High) / -15°C or 5°F (Low)

Alberta is one of three prairie provinces of Canada, alongside Saskatchewan and Manitoba. This region is known for its flat land and friendly farming community. Alberta’s more laid-back way of life makes it the perfect province to take root or settle down with your family. 

Calgary one of the best places to live in Alberta
Calgary Downtown

If you need some hustle and bustle in your life, you might find Alberta’s largest city, Calgary, a pleasant combination of urban life and lush greenery. Although, after living in Alberta, the harvest parties might become something you enjoy.

Calgary is affectionately called ‘Cowton.’ If you get a ticket to the famous Calgary stampede every July, you’ll quickly see how the region’s farming sector comes to life. 

Edmonton, the province’s capital, has been our home since 2015. Over the years, we’ve come up with our pros and cons of living in Edmonton. It is worth noting that this city has a good selection of stable corporate jobs and plenty to do in terms of recreation.

Edmonton Downtown

As Alberta is in the South of Canada, it’s completely landlocked and shares a border with the USA. The best part is that the Canadian Rockies surround this province. So if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to love in Alberta.

If you’re looking for something to do this summer, Jasper National Park is only around three hours away from Edmonton. It’s the largest Rockies national park in Canada and is known for its spectacular natural scenery. 

For a quick day trip, you can hike around the park. But, to truly experience the best of Jasper National Park, you’ll need to spend a few days here to soak up the sights and sounds.

Jasper in the winter

This is one of the provinces in Canada that has something for everyone. Whether you settle in the rural areas to enjoy the great outdoors or Calgary, the world’s third most livable city, you’re sure to feel at home in this southern province.

Alberta boasts Canada’s highest average income per capita. It also has low living costs and the highest labor demands of all the provinces, which makes it a popular province for expats.

The few downsides to living in Alberta are the city’s weather and traffic. Around Calgary, you’ll experience some large hail, frequent downpours, and fairly severe storms compared to other areas. 

Saskatchewan

  • Population:  1,186,308 (2022)
  • Median salary: $54,371
  • Winter temperatures: 0°C or 32°F (High) / -24°C or -11°F (Low)

We lived in this province for four and a half years, and it’s safe to say that we were never short of things to do in Saskatchewan.

Another one of Canada’s prairie provinces, Saskatchewan, has diverse landscapes that range from sandy dunes to abundant green forests.

Bridges and Downtown buildings, River Valley Trails in Saskatoon in winter
River Valley Trails in Saskatoon in winter

Saskatoon is the province’s largest city and the best place to seek job opportunities in life sciences, mining, biotechnology, and many other sectors. This beautiful riverside city is well suited for new expats as it isn’t too big nor too small. 

Saskatchewan’s capital, Regina, is the vibrant heart of the province. Here you’ll find a culturally diverse population and a deep appreciation for the arts and the community.

Regina Saskatchewan Legislature

Regina wasn’t the best city for expat in previous years, but recent changes have resulted in a job market boom.

The city of Moose Jaw is one of Canada’s most notorious cities. Famous for its underground tunnels and for housing Chinese immigrants in the 1900s. Nothing exciting happens in Moose Jaw anymore, but it’s still a great little town to settle down in.

Moose Jaw Town
Moose Jaw Town

The biggest draws to living in Saskatchewan are free (and plentiful) healthcare and affordable education. Saskatchewan also offers some of Canada’s lowest tax rates and very reasonably priced housing. 

This province helped us a lot as new immigrants to the country. Without an Express Entry, we received our permanent residency via the provincial nomination program here!

The Canadian government makes efforts to preserve the cultures of the indigenous people. They inhabited the region thousands of years ago, and many indigenous communities still live in the province today.

Although one of the downsides to living in Saskatchewan is the crisp winter temperatures, an unforgettable display of the Northern Lights might make it worthwhile. 

Ontario

  • Population: 15,007,816 (2022)
  • Median salary: $55,524 (2022)
  • Winter temperatures: -1°C or 30°F (High) / -7.7°C or 18°F (Low)

Ontario was the first Canadian province that Salil and I lived in. As students and young expats, we loved our time in Toronto and still miss it today.

Home to Canada’s capital, Ontario attracts visitors and expats from around the world, so you’re sure to settle in quickly.

Toronto city view

Bordering the USA and the Great Lakes, Ontario, the second largest province in Canada, offers diverse natural landscapes. I think it’s fair to say that Ontario is one of the best provinces to live in Canada because it boasts several of the country’s best cities and plenty of beautiful nature. 

Some interesting facts about Ontario are that it’s home to two UNESCO sites and has five national parks. 

Although Ontario is the most populous province, the city of Toronto is only the fifth most populous city. This province is home to two major cities, Toronto and Canada’s capital, Ottawa.

Because of these two Canadian cities, Ontario is one of the best provinces in Canada to find job opportunities. Overall, compared to other provinces, what makes Ontario one of the best places to live in Canada is the balance between nature and the fast-paced cities.

British Columbia 

  • Population: 5,286,528  (2022)
  • Median salary: $53,516
  • Winter temperatures: 6°C or 43°F (High) / 2.2°C or 36°F (Low)

British Columbia is the perfect province for adventure enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys a mountain escape now and then. This is Canada’s westernmost province, home to the major city of Vancouver and bordered by the Pacific Ocean. 

Vancouver waterfront

Living on Canada’s western coast offers a fantastic quality of life, especially during the summer. British Columbia provides Mediterranean-like warmth and tons of fun at the Pacific Ocean coast and the province’s beautiful lakes in the summer. 

The great weather here, compared to other provinces, is what makes British Columbia one of the best provinces to live in Canada. Winter along the coast is a lot easier to bear, you’ll find that it still gets pretty cold, but the snow doesn’t stay long. 

Although, the interior regions of British Columbia aren’t as lucky. Temperatures here are harsh, and the snow falls heavily in November and only begins to disappear in March.

Whistler in the summer

Besides the weather, British Columbia offers high living standards, healthcare, and education. In terms of cost of living, British Columbia is fairly expensive. Vancouver is the most expensive city to live in Canada, although you’ll find great job opportunities for immigrants.

Contrary to popular belief, Vancouver is not the capital of BC but is the province’s largest city. Vancouver Island is home to BC’s capital, Victoria. This city is a popular destination for tourists and students.

Quebec

  • Population: 8,653,184 (2022)
  • Median Salary: $51,735
  • Winter temperatures: -6°C or 21°F (High) / -13°C or 7°F (Low)

Some of the biggest draws to living in Quebec are the fantastic standard of education, beautiful environment, and rich cultural heritage. This is a great province if you’ve been granted permanent residence, as you’ll receive special rates on education. Although, education fees in Quebec are already the lowest in the world.

Quebec City skyline

Quebec City is the province’s capital and compared to other cities, the cost of living is very reasonable. The capital is gorgeously decorated with colonial-style architecture.

If you’re an appreciator of history like me, you’ll love strolling through the picturesque streets of Quebec City.

Montreal is one of the best cities to live in Canada. Montreal has a generally low cost of living compared to other cities and brilliant access to healthcare and education. Abundant job opportunities make it one of the best provinces to live in for immigrants.

Olympic National Park Montreal
Montreal Downtown

Winter can be a downside to living in Quebec. Temperatures at this time can be especially harsh if you aren’t accustomed to the Canadian cold.

The snow mainly affects large cities like Montreal and Quebec City. However, it doesn’t put a freeze on the fun. Quebec is the best province for winter sports this time of year. 

Quebec is a beautiful place to live in Canada, but you’ll have to dust off your dictionaries. While most people speak English, (Québécois) French is the sole official language here.

Nova Scotia

  • Population: 1,007,049 (2022)
  • Median salary: $48,740
  • Winter temperatures: 0.5°C or 33°F (High) / -7°C or 19°F (Low)

Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s three maritime provinces. Here, you’ll undoubtedly feel the laid-back atmosphere of the east coast. Nova Scotia can be the best province for immigrants because of its small community.

Smaller towns are a great way to adjust to a new environment, especially if you aren’t from a major city.

Halifax Nova Scotia

Because of its smaller economy, Nova Scotia has some of Canada’s most affordable housing. Property here can sell for up to 90% cheaper than in Toronto. But, small communities always face the downfall of a tough job market. 

Construction and fishing are the best industries to be in if you’re looking for employment opportunities in Nova Scotia. Because of this, this province is better suited for young remote workers or older expats looking to settle in a small city.

Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia. It’s by no means as large or busy as neighboring capital cities but has everything you might need. Halifax is also one of Canada’s safest cities to live in.

Nova Scotia has unbeatable scenery, where rolling green hills seem to meet the ocean. This province changes with the seasons and is especially beautiful in the Canadian fall. 

The coastline here, which is never further than 30 minutes from any location in the province, is lined with beautifully painted homes. Plus other maritime provinces like New Brunswick are just next door!

Manitoba

  • Population: 1,393,179 (2022)
  • Median salary: $49,661
  • Winter temperatures: -10°C or 14°F (High) / -18°C or -1°F (Low)

Manitoba has the most stable provincial economy in Canada. This makes it a wonderful place to live for anyone starting their journey in the country. It is home to over 1.3 million people (in 2022).

Manitoba’s low cost of living, an abundance of job opportunities, and high standards of healthcare and education attract many people from all over the world every year. 

St Boniface Winnipeg

Winnipeg is the province’s capital, the largest city in Canada’s prairies, and the fourth most sought-after city for expats. Winnipeg is generally an affordable and safe city. It offers the ideal environment for families or young couples.

There’s a lot to learn about Manitoba. It also ranks highly for its magnificent landscapes. You can enjoy lots of time outdoors in Riding Mountain National Park or Wapusk National Park. 

There’s an especially great atmosphere in summer when the friendly locals spend time at the region’s many lakes.

This province is home to one of Canada’s most diverse cities and has welcomed immigrants for more than a century. 

What is the best province for expats?

Ontario is the best place for expats to live in Canada. Although Toronto is second on the list of Canada’s most expensive cities, it’s home to a diverse population.

View of Casa Loma in Toronto

Toronto is the country’s largest city and the economic powerhouse, so naturally, it attracts folks from all over the world. 

Canada is experiencing a record low unemployment rate, which is good news for expats. If your professional skills align with technology, design, marketing, human resources, and administration, Toronto is the place to be.

It is also one of the popular gateways for international students (like us) to get started in Canada!

Toronto’s multicultural population also makes it super-easy to blend in and feel at home. This city was once named the most culturally diverse city in the world, and it’s easy to see why when walking through Toronto’s streets.

What are the most affordable provinces in Canada?

From our list, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are the most affordable provinces to live in as an immigrant. You’ll find a few different answers to this question, but many don’t factor in the complexity of finding employment as an immigrant. 

Saskatoon in Winter

Other provinces like Nova Scotia are arguably cheaper in terms of property and daily costs. But, finding permanent employment is very difficult, and the cost of living in Nova Scotia rises drastically in winter thanks to the cost of heating.

Tax is also a major factor that is often omitted. Provinces with more stable economies like Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec have lower tax rates than other provinces. You’ll also have better access to public services like healthcare and education in these provinces.

What is the safest province to live in Canada?

Compared to neighboring countries and most of the world, Canada has very low crime rates. Of course, you will find some criminal elements wherever you live, but it’s unfortunately unavoidable in the world today. 

Quebec and Ontario are the safest provinces in Canada. Both provinces have stable environments with very little crime, low unemployment, and fairly high-income rates.

Ontario’s LaSalle is the safest city in the region. While the capital, Quebec City, is the safest place to settle in the French-speaking province.

Where to live for the best weather?

Although Saskatchewan is the sunniest province, the coastal region of British Columbia has the best weather. Winters along BC’s coast are much more bearable than other Canadian regions, and summer temperatures reach the mid to high 30s (Celsius), or about 96°F. 

Gorgeous Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia

BC is also a superb location to experience the good weather and the great outdoors. Summer sees locals and tourists enjoying the sun at the magnificent lakes or one of seven national parks.

Saskatchewan is a great place to live if you don’t mind the cold winters. The summer temperatures are moderate, and while the winters are freezing, you’ll get to see the Northern Lights when the conditions are right.

What is the cost of living in Canada?

The cost of living in Canada will vary according to your province. No matter where you are, housing will undoubtedly cost more close to the city. The best way to save on rent is by finding a property outside the city.

Canada’s taxation differs from many countries in the world. Here the tax rates depend on tax brackets but are also calculated by local rates.

Quebec and Nova Scotia have some of the highest local tax rates, but you’ll sometimes find higher quality government services in these higher-taxed provinces. 

Tax rates in British Columbia are currently the lowest. Although, Alberta is also known for its low tax. This is because of Alberta’s oil reserves, which are the fourth largest in the world.

Best Canadian provinces – in summary

As an expat, who once had to navigate the intimidating process of immigration, I know that moving to a new country or province can be daunting. 

Honestly, Canada has so much to offer, which can sometimes add to the difficulty of choosing a place to live. But the great diversity means there is truly something for everyone in this beautiful country. 

Whether starting as a student, as Salil and I did, or heading straight into the job market, there is a lot to consider before deciding which Canadian province is best for you. 

Starting in a big city like Toronto or Vancouver might be pricey. But it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the culture while having all the convenience of being in a big city. 

You can find the best of both in almost every province. For a quiet escape, suburban areas in Alberta and British Columbia are ideal locations to find a good balance between work and relaxation. 

The good thing is that no matter where you go, you’ll always find friendly locals and unbelievably diverse communities and cultures.

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