Canada

Cities in Canada | The Best Places to Live, Work, and Study

charlotte

From outdoor adventures to international festivals, there’s never a dull moment in Canada! This beautiful country is the second-largest in the world and full of cultural diversity. All cities in Canada have their charm and uniqueness to discover. If you’re planning to study or live in Canada, you’re probably wondering, “Which city will I choose?” That’s where we step in!

In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular cities in Canada, covering every aspect from study and work opportunities to the pros and cons of living there. After reading, we’re sure you’ll have all of the information and resources to decide on the best city that suits your needs. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Popular Cities in Canada 

Canada’s cities have some of the most majestic geographical features. Did you know that Canada has the most lakes in the world? It’s home to nearly two million of them, making Canada the world’s largest source of fresh water. So, if you’re a fan of fishing or water sports, choosing a city near a lake or river is fairly easy.

Also, you’ll be happy to know that many cities in Canada are exceptionally diverse. This country proudly welcomes immigrants, and it’s evident! About 20% of Canada’s population is foreign-born. And while English and French are the two official languages, over 200 languages are spoken in Canada due to its multiculturalism.

Canada may be a large country, but a large percentage of its population lives in or near metropolitan areas. Some cities in Canada have over one million residents, including VancouverToronto, and Montreal. These three cities, as well as Whistler, are the popular cities in Canada that we will cover in this guide.

Are you looking for the perfectcombination of nature and urban scenery? Maybe you’re seeking a place that exudes adventure and a bustling nightlife? To find out what each city offers, keep reading!

Vancouver

view of Vancouver city with Canada flag

Population:  675,000 (and 2.5 million within the metro area)

Weather: mild, rainy; average high 18°C, low 3.5°C.

Fun Fact: Has the 4th largest cruise ship terminal in the world.

Due to its quality of life, Vancouver was voted as the third best city to live in the world. It stands out for its commitment to the environment, encouraging the use of bicycles and electric cars as methods of transportation. It makes sense why Greenpeace, an international environmental group, was founded here!

Nature is perfectly integrated into the city. While Vancouver sits on the British Columbia shoreline, it’s close to three snow-capped mountains. Living here you can bike, ski, and kayak all on the same day! Thanks to Vancouver’s mild climate, there’s a wide range of activities and outdoor sports that you can do regularly.

There are also plenty of popular attractions here, including its outdoor saltwater pool and the Vancouver Aquarium, which ranks in the top five worldwide. Nicknamed “Hollywood of the North,” Vancouver falls second to Los Angeles as the largest TV production in North America. You may walk past your favorite actor filming a show there!

Working and Studying in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the best cities in Canada to study English abroad, being home to several English language schools. It also has numerous study abroad programs and courses in business, technology, and natural resources. Additionally, tourist attractions and film production make Vancouver a great place to find work. There are plenty of job industries in the area, including television, service, and technology.

Advantages of Living in Vancouver

  • A safe and diverse city
  • Quality academic institutions
  • Mild climate for sports and recreation
  • Plenty of attractions and landscapes

Disadvantages of Living in Vancouver

  • Rainy weather year-round
  • Expensive cost of living

Toronto

city view of Toronto

Population:  2.8 million

Weather: continental, cloudy; average high 20°C, low -8°C

Fun Fact: over 180 languages and dialects spoken here

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and the financial capital of the country. There’s no surprise that it attracts immigrants from all over the world. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in Canada, where almost half of its population was born outside of the country. Whether for sightseeing or business, getting around the city is fairly easy. It has the second-largest public transit system in North America.

You will never get bored in Toronto. With proximity to the Great Lakes, you can plan weekend getaways to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Toronto also has over 1,500 parks to visit and the third largest zoo in the world. From outdoor skating rinks to annual Caribbean carnivals, this is a vibrant and lively city you don’t want to miss!

While living in Toronto, you’ll experience every season. The climate is very continental in Toronto, where winters can reach negative temperatures and summers can exceed 35ºC. From ice hockey to music festivals, there are events and activities to enjoy throughout the year.

Working and Studying in Toronto

Did you know that Toronto was ranked as the 13th best city in the world for students? Many students favor the public transportation system and plentiful accommodation options. Also, there’s a wide range of degree types at universities in Toronto, as well as pre-university courses and vocational schools.

As a buzzing city with millions of visitors per year, Toronto also has an abundance of job opportunities. International students can find work in tourism, hospitality, and even the airport, which provides 300,000 jobs alone! And remember, about 25% of Hollywood movies are filmed in Toronto. The film industry employs about 28,000 jobs in the city!

Advantages of Living in Toronto

  • Numerous job opportunities
  • Diversity and multiculturalism
  • Reliable transportation system

Disadvantages of Living in Toronto

  • Cold winters
  • Can be a bit crowded
  • Generally expensive

Montreal

view of Montreal city in Canada

Population:1.75 million

Weather: humid, semi-continental; average high 21°C, low -9°C

Fun Fact: hosted the first Olympics ever held in Canada

Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec and the second-largest city in Canada. Surprisingly, Montreal is an island! The city is home to a strong French-Canadian culture, where you’ll find music, theater, and fine arts events occurring almost every day.

If you’re a lover of history or architecture, just take a walk through the historic center, known as Vieux Montréal, or “Old Montreal”. Speaking of walking, you will do plenty of it here. Montreal is home to an “underground city,” which is a series of interconnected tunnels beneath the streets. These underground walkways are climate-controlled and consist of malls, banks, museums, and metro stations!

Working and Studying in Montreal

Since Montreal has a largely French-speaking population, this is a great place to learn and study French! Also, tuition rates in Montreal are fairly cheaper than in other cities in Canada.

The city has a large economy and wide job market, including opportunities in engineering, education, and finance. Keep in mind, the official language of daily and business life in Montreal is Quebec French, where proficiency is most likely a prerequisite for many job positions.

Advantages of Living in Montreal

  • Safe and easy to walk around
  • Great place for French-immersion
  • Affordable schools & the cost of living

Disadvantages of Living in Montreal

  • Very cold winters
  • Must speak French for many job positions

Whistler

town of Whistler in Canada

Population: 10,000

Weather: cold and temperate, rainy; average high19°C, low -5°C

Fun Fact: receives 3 million tourists per year

Whistler may be small, but it’s a very touristy town known mainly for being a ski paradise. Also, it’s geographical location is extraordinary in comparison to other cities in Canada. Whistler is surrounded by large lakes and high mountains, away from the busy metropolitan areas. Most tourists come here for the quiet and tranquil scenery, where you can partake in dozens of outdoor sports and activities, including skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, and kayaking.

If you’re not a fan of outdoor sports, Whistler is also home to plenty of museums, restaurants, and bars. During peak seasons, the town population nearly triples in size and becomes a great scene for nightlife. You can also experience several festivals in Whistler throughout the year, from food and wine to art and film. Learn more about exciting events and activities in our article on living in Whistler.

Working and Studying in Whistler

We certainly couldn’t ignore the incredible study opportunities Whistler has to offer. As a popular tourist destination, there are many jobs in hospitality and tourism here. As for studying, you’ll discover many co-op courses available in Whistler as well, where you can receive on-the-job experience and training. Students can earn a degree or professional certification in sports-related jobs, such as mountaineering and skiing, as well as hospitality jobs.

Advantages of Living in Whistler

  • Great for outdoor activities and sports
  • Tranquil, remote area
  • Youthful atmosphere: many bars and restaurants

Disadvantages of Living in Whistler

  • Expensive cost of living.
  • Mostly seasonal jobs
  • Low temperatures throughout the year

How to Choose the Best City to Live in Canada

metro subway in Toronto

By now, you may have an idea of which city you prefer. The next step is to assess each of their characteristics to see which of them best suits your needs and lifestyle. Here’s a list of guidelines that will help you choose your ideal destination:

1. Job Opportunities

There are many advantages to living and working in Canada, especially if you’re studying English or French. By living here, you will fully immerse yourself in the languageand naturally improve your English or French in professional settings. Also, Canada is a rich country. With an abundance of natural resources and a strong economy, many cities in Canada are overflowing with employment opportunities.

When deciding on which city to live in, you have to take into account the type of job industry you’re pursuing. Observe which cities and areas are in demand of that particular job sector.

2. Weather

Your comfort and climate preference of a city are also important. Weather affects the type of activities you can do, spending time outdoors, and can even have an impact on your mood! In this regard, some cities in Canada, such as Whistler, have a reputation for heavy snow and low temperatures. Vancouver, on the other hand, receives a lot of rain throughout the year.

3. Location

Do you prefer the peace of rural areas? Or would you rather be in proximity to skyscrapers and busy streets? These are factors to take into consideration when choosing a city. Toronto, which is in the southwest, is just hours from Montreal and conveniently close to the Great Lakes. If you enjoy traveling and day trips, many cities in Canada are near the border of the United States.

Also, depending on their providence, some cities in Canada speak more French than English. Location is something to keep in mind, not only in terms of convenience but also in language and culture.

4. Cost of Living

Wages in Canada are higher in comparison to other countries, but the cost of living is also. Before moving to any city, explore the accommodation options, such as apartment rental prices, as well as average salaries in the area. Depending on your job and spending habits, you can find an affordable city for your lifestyle.

5. Entertainment & Leisure

Last but not least, don’t forget to explore the cities in Canada with attractions and options for spending your free time. Leisure is just as important as other factors since this is when you’ll be able to adapt and enjoy the city!

If you are looking for a large, vibrant city, Vancouver and Toronto are ideal locations. For mountains and winter sports, Whistler is an excellent choice. And finally, for those who love the French-English fusion of Canada, Montreal will be your favorite destination. Each city offers a different yet unique experience!

Go to Canada with GrowPro

Now that you’re familiar with the main cities in Canada, which one will you choose as your new home? As always, our GrowPro team is here to help you! From our online resources to Student Advisors, we have answers to all of your questions and doubts.

Choose from several ideal experiences we offer, get a free quote, and one of our Student Advisor will contact you. Your next adventure awaits!

About the author

Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!