Canada’s excellent quality of life makes it one of the most popular countries for immigrants from across the globe. The country, which is the second largest in the world by territory after Russia, has plenty to offer newcomers; universal healthcare, excellent schools, cultural diversity, and a strong economy are just some of the reasons about half a million people immigrate there each year. But Canada is also a place of stunning beauty — from its rugged coastlines dotted with islands to its national parks, glacial lakes, and snowy landscapes, the country is a treasure trove of memorable sights and landmarks.
Here, we rounded up nine of the best places to live in Canada, according to local real estate agents.
Toronto may be Canada’s most populous city, but thanks to its many neighborhoods — each with its own character and vibe — and 1,500 parks (yes, that last zero is not a typo), it affords residents plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and lacks that overwhelming feeling of a big city, according to Jessica England, a sales representative at Bosley Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International. “Along with neighborhood diversity, Toronto also boasts cultural diversity, which contributes to cuisine, entertainment, and a vibrancy that never stops expanding,” England added. “During the summer months, there are endless opportunities to take part in one of Toronto’s street festivals, celebrating the many small neighborhoods that make up our large city.”
The city ranked ninth in this year’s ranking of the most livable places in the world, scoring perfect ratings in the stability, healthcare, and education categories. “Some of the city’s most popular high-end neighborhoods include Rosedale, Forest Hill, Yorkville, Lawrence Park, The Bridle Path, and The Annex. Rosedale is one of Toronto’s most prestigious neighborhoods, featuring grand homes, tree-lined streets, and a tranquil atmosphere. It’s known for its historic mansions and elegant architecture,” Elli Davis, the senior vice president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Toronto, explained.
Alberta’s capital city sits on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, resulting in many riverfront neighborhoods enveloped in greenery and idyllic views. And with a strong job market, affordable cost of living, and reasonably priced real estate, the city draws many young people in their 20s and 30s.
“Edmonton’s current real estate market is balanced and affordable. The average price for a detached home in August of 2023 was just $495,005,” Robby Halabi, founder and real estate agent at Rimrock Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International, told Travel + Leisure. “Crestwood, Glenora, Laurier Heights, Parkview, to note a few [neighborhoods], all offer large mature trees, beautiful streetscapes, and at least a few streets that feature the coveted river valley backyard.” Because of the city’s construction boom, buyers can find many contemporary homes with large windows, open floor plans, and modern aesthetics.
“Canada’s capital city has shaken off its government town roots to become a burgeoning metropolitan city. Hosting a population of just over one million residents, it retains a multitude of green spaces enhanced by two rivers and the World Heritage-renowned Rideau Canal,” said Randy Oickle, president and broker at Innovation Realty Ltd, noting that the city embraces both of Canada’s official languages — English and French — resulting in a distinct multicultural experience. Oickle recommends looking into neighborhoods such as upscale Rockcliffe Park, Glebe, Westboro, and Kanata.
As the gateway to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Calgary affords easy access to one of Canada’s most scenic regions, located about an hour from Nakiska Ski Area and an hour and a half from spectacular Banff. “There are numerous public art amenities and venues, as well as parks and recreational facilities. The downtown core is also quite picturesque as two rivers, the Bow and Elbow rivers, meet right in the center,” Derek Timmons, an agent at CIR Realty, explained. Timmons added that there is an uptick in new residents to the city, especially urbanites moving from pricier markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, seeking affordable housing. The average price of a single-family home in Calgary is approximately 2.9 times less than a single-family home in Vancouver, he pointed out.
“Some of Calgary’s most established and popular high-end neighborhoods include Mount Royal, Elbow Park, Lakeview, and Britannia. These neighborhoods are known for their luxury properties, tree-lined streets, and proximity to downtown,” Renata Reid, a sales associate and senior vice president of sales with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Calgary, added.
“Vancouver is renowned for its stunning natural scenery, with mountains, ocean, and forests all within a short distance. The relatively mild winters and warm summers are a major attraction for many people,” Sara Fakhari of Macdonald Realty/Luxury Portfolio International told T+L. This multicultural city is a hub for various industries, including technology, film, tourism, and natural resources, attracting many young professionals from across North America and the globe. It was the highest-ranking Canadian city in the annual Global Liveability Index, placing fifth, with perfect ratings for healthcare and education. However, its real estate market is notoriously expensive.
“Vancouver has a reputation for being a high-demand real estate market in Canada, with prices that reflect this. The benchmark price for a detached home in the metropolitan area is $2,018,500, while within the city itself, it is $2,634,000,” Kevin O’Toole, managing broker with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Vancouver, said, also adding that condominiums in the city have a benchmark price of $811,000.
What is life like in Victoria? “It is an inclusive community culture, close-knit neighborhoods, natural beauty of the Pacific West Coast, temperate climate, top-tier schools — all removed from the frenetic pace of large urban centers, yet within easy access to Vancouver or Seattle,” Cara Priddy of Macdonald Realty, said. The capital city of British Columbia is located on the southern edge of Vancouver Island and is full of charming neighborhoods like Fairfield, worth checking out for its historic homes, and the waterfront James Bay, Cadboro Bay, and Cordova Bay.
“Kelowna is an amazing place to live and offers an abundance of activities for people to enjoy, including boating on Lake Okanagan, wine tasting, cycling, hiking, skiing Big White, and world-class farm-to-table cuisine,” Justin O’Connor, senior vice president of sales with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Kelowna, said. He added that the city’s growing student body makes Kelowna a much more vibrant place to live. In fact, it is now one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, with a median age of 42.5 years old, a steady decrease since 2016, when many young people started moving in. “The Pandosy Village along Okanagan Lake south of Downtown Kelowna is a favorite for singles and couples alike. This walk-friendly neighborhood is vibrant and growing. Housing varies from stunning lakeside homes to quaint, parkside condos and townhomes,” Doris Maria Bregolisse of Macdonald Realty Interior/Luxury Portfolio International explained. She added that families gravitate towards quieter neighborhoods such as Glenmore, the Upper and Lower Mission, and Shannon Lake in West Kelowna.
With a distinctly European vibe, world-class cultural and design scenes, top-notch restaurants, and a variety of neighborhoods, no other city has the charm and vibrancy of Montreal. As Richard Church, a brokerage lead at M Immobilier/Luxury Portfolio International, said, access to outdoor recreation is another significant benefit to living here. And he doesn’t just mean the city’s namesake Mount Royal Park.
“I can hardly think of another city that allows you to leave your desk in the downtown core and be on world-class ski slopes within an hour. Want to head to Vermont or New York State? That’s a half hour away! Cottage country? Head to the Eastern Townships or Laurentians, and you’ll be on one of the country’s most pristine lakes in an hour or less,” Church added. And with so many beautiful neighborhoods, even he has a hard time picking his favorites. “A few that I always have a soft spot for are the Sud-Ouest, Le Plateau, Westmount, and Old Montreal,” he said, noting that the Plateau’s residential duplexes with their exterior spiral staircases are the most sought-after properties.
Nova Scotia is known for its stunning coastal landscapes, and Halifax is no exception. But the province’s capital also offers its residents all the amenities and advantages of a city, including top-notch entertainment and sports. Halifax is also a burgeoning business hub. “We have established companies and start-ups alike working on leading-edge technologies in aerospace, information technology, ocean sciences, and medical research,” Dawn Dauphinee, owner and realtor at Domus Realty, said. In 2022, Halifax was the second fastest-growing city in Canada, and its population currently stands at more than 480,000.