Where to live in Canada? Top 4 provinces for living standards
Where is the best place to move to in Canada to have a job with a good wage and not be cold in winter?
Canada is a huge country, the second largest country in the world, so, naturally, its regions are very different from each other. There are popular provinces and some not very popular, somewhere the living standards and wages are higher, and somewhere are lower, somewhere it is easier to immigrate, somewhere it is more difficult.
I have chosen the top four regions to live in Canada, two of which I have lived in, so everything is from my experience. In the article, I will touch on topics such as living standards, wages, prices, taxes, climate, crime, and so on.
The province of Alberta is fourth in my ranking. It is located in Western Canada and is quite popular among immigrants. I think one of the main features of Alberta that interest newcomers are good wages, low taxes, and lower cost of living compared to other top regions.
Alberta has large deposits of oil and natural gas. For a long time, it used to be, so to say, a province of oil workers. Alberta was believed to have extremely high wages and lots of millionaires living there. By the way, it is true about millionaires. The wages there are not low, too. According to official statistics for 2021, the average wage of Alberta residents was more than $1,500 CAD per week before taxes. Many people earn more than $6,000 CAD per month in this province. In addition to the oil and gas sector, other fields are now developing in the region, such as agriculture and forestry, industry, education, tourism, manufacturing, and finance.
If you're used to metropolitans, Alberta has Calgary and Edmonton, the two largest cities, so you won't be bored. They are also the sunniest cities in Canada. If you are a nature lover or a cultural lover, Alberta is home to popular attractions — national parks, mountains, the largest planetarium, and more. Unfortunately, I haven't been there yet, I'll have to remedy that.
Winters in Alberta can be harsh because temperatures can drop to -50 °C in some parts of the province. For those who are afraid of low temperatures and have decided not to go to Alberta, I want to reassure you that this doesn’t apply to major cities. In Calgary, for example, the average temperature in January is only -15 °C. And it can be 35 °C in summer.
The third best region in Canada is Quebec. My family and I lived there for almost four years. I personally think it is the best province in Canada for newcomers, especially for those who immigrate with kids, but only if you know French. Quebec provides strong social support. Until you start earning well, you will get benefits from the federal and provincial governments. For example, we received more than $1,500 CAD per month for our three kids. Also, kindergartens, colleges, and universities are much cheaper in Quebec, and housing is not as expensive as in the province where I now live.
Montreal is the most populous city in Quebec, it is often considered Canada's most cultural city, and Quebec City, the provincial capital, combines history, modernity, culture, and nature. These cities even resemble Europe in some ways. The province has plenty of entertainment in both winter and summer. But the climate is quite harsh, in some parts of the province it can be -40 °C in winter and 35 °C in summer. We lived in the suburbs of Montreal, and I did not notice any discomfort with the temperature.
Despite the advantages, Quebec has serious cons. The first one is French. It’s difficult to live in Quebec without it. Moreover, the government is not very nice to those who speak English. Your kids won’t be allowed to attend English-speaking schools, you’ll have to get public services in French, and so on. The second disadvantage is high taxes compared to other regions. Over time, when you start to earn more, benefits will decrease and taxes will increase. And wages in the provinces are not very high. Partly for these reasons, we left Quebec for another province.
British Columbia comes second. This region was also the second most popular destination for immigrants in 2021.
British Columbia is probably best known for two reasons. The first one is very beautiful nature. The province is located in Western Canada, with popular national parks, mountains, and many of the pictures Google offers when you type in the word "Canada". The second reason is the movie industry. Maybe you didn't know, but many American films are made in Canada, and often Vancouver, the largest city of British Columbia, "plays" different cities — New York, San Francisco, it has even been cast as Moscow and another planet.
Many immigrants settle in Vancouver, but because of this, it’s one of the most expensive cities in Canada, which only Toronto can compete with. The second most popular city in the province is its capital, Victoria. It is considered almost a paradise, because the city is located in the south, on an island, there is a very pleasant climate, beautiful nature, and beaches.
In general, British Columbia is a good option for those who prefer moderate winters. In coastal areas, winter temperatures rarely drop below freezing. You’ll only see snow a few days a year. In the central regions, winters are colder and snowier, but summers are warmer than on the coast.
British Columbia has a strong economy, dominated by services, agriculture, construction, movie and television, forestry, fishing, high technology, manufacturing, mining, and tourism industries. But the province is large, so jobs can be found in almost any sector. Wages are high, not much lower than in Alberta.
I once interviewed a girl, Lena, who traveled all over Canada and ended up settling in British Columbia. Lena talked about the peculiarities of all the provinces she had been to and how she had chosen where to live.
And finally, the first place. From the province of Quebec, we moved to the province of Ontario. Ontario is clearly the leader in popularity among immigrants and Canadians themselves. It has good wages, low unemployment and crime rates, and high living standard. Most people speak English here, but since there are a lot of government jobs in Ontario, there are also francophones.
Toronto is the most popular city in Ontario, the largest in Canada, and generally one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world. But due to housing prices, it is not only Canada's most expensive city but one of the most unaffordable cities in the world in terms of housing. However, Vancouver is constantly competing with Toronto in terms of unaffordability.
Ottawa is the second most popular city in Ontario and the capital of Canada. This is where we live now. Ottawa is considered one of the safest cities in the country, and it's also much quieter and, frankly, sometimes boring. There are only private houses and parks in many areas. There are hardly any high-rise buildings, except somewhere in the center. For entertainment, we go to Toronto or Quebec.
But it's not as expensive to live in the capital as in Toronto. A special feature of Ottawa is working for the government. There are special programs for immigrants to get jobs as officials without any connections or money. On our website, there’s an interview with Lilia about this, who works for the government. She talked about these programs, what the conditions and requirements are, and who can get a job.
Overall, Ontario has a pretty strong economy, producing 37% of the national GDP, the province is also home to almost 50% of all employees working in high-tech, financial services, and other similar industries. There are official statistics for Ontario wages for 2020 only, and they are lower than in British Columbia, about $1,400 CAD per week. But they've probably gone up in these two years.
Let me tell you more about the climate. Ontario can have quite cold winters, with some areas experiencing -40 °C in winter. But, again, keep in mind that this is a big province. I think Ottawa is a little warmer than Montreal, with less snowfall. If you live in Toronto, though, it's even warmer.
Alex Pavlenko, founder of Immigrant.Today