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February 22 2024 | Neighbourhoods

Where’s the Best Place to Live in Ontario?

While expertise generally lies in Toronto real estate and the GTA, we can’t help but give some love to our province as a whole. To put it simply, Ontario is beautiful across the board. The word Ontario derives from an Iroquois word meaning “beautiful water”. From mountains to farmland, from cities and vineyards to provincial parks, Ontario has a diverse range of terrains that make it a wonderful place to live. 

The Best Place to Live in Ontario?

But with so many great options to choose from, what is the best place to live in Ontario? Ultimately, the best place to live is dependent on your wants and needs. Let’s explore some of the top places to choose from as well as navigate the rich history of our province.

A Brief History of Ontario

Firstly, the land known as Ontario today was originally inhabited by Algonquian and Iroquoian tribes including the Ojibwa, Cree, Algonquin, Iroquois, Petun, and Huron people. After that, around 1610, the area was surveyed by French explorer, Etienne Brule. In 1611, English explorer Henry Hudson made his way to Hudson Bay and staked the area in the name of England. In 1615, French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed the Lake Huron area. 

In the name of the North American fur trade, the English and French set up various fur trading forts across the province in the 17th and 18th centuries. Who controlled the area was of great debate until the Seven Years’ War ended. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris awarded the area to the British, known as New France. 

In 1791, the Constitutional Act divided New France into Lower Canada and Upper Canada which are present-day southern Quebec and southern Ontario, respectively. Additionally, these parts were united again briefly to form the Province of Canada in 1840. However, in 1867, the land was split again and everything east of the Ottawa River became Quebec and the west became Ontario.

Factors to Determine the Best Place to Live

In 2023, Top Move compiled a list of the best 11 places to live in Ontario. The list considered the following to determine what the best place to live is:

  1. Community and Safety
  2. Climate and Geography
  3. Lifestyle and Recreation
  4. Education and Healthcare
  5. Employment Opportunities
  6. Cost of Living

The Best 11 Places to Live in Ontario

Nevertheless, these places were chosen based on the factors above and are in no particular order. 

Kingston, Ontario Stats:

The “Limestone City” offers a charming place to live full of history and a peaceful waterfront. It is home to Queen’s University. For a single person, the average cost of living is fairly lower compared to other cities currently at $1,414/month.

Oakville, Ontario Stats:

This beautiful town located on Lake Ontario has a mix of suburban and urban. There are a variety of types of homes here including mega mansions, bungalows, townhomes and condos. The downtown area has great shops and restaurants that are a mix of upscale and casual. The cost of living here is a bit higher at $2,187/month for a single person or $4859/month for a family of four. 

Waterloo, Ontario Stats:

Home to the University of Waterloo and emerging as a vibrant tech city known as the “Silicon Valley of Canada”, Waterloo is a great city for those looking for a bright job market, renowned education, and community. Companies such as Shopify call Waterloo their home base in Canada. The population consists of a lot of students and housing is in high demand. The average cost of living here for one person is approximately $2251/month. 

Barrie, Ontario Stats:

For nature lovers, Barrie is an excellent city to live in. There is skiing, hiking and Kempenfelt Bay which means there is year-round access to outdoor recreational activities. There are new and diverse job opportunities here and the community is very welcoming. The winters here can bring a lot of snow but the nightlife is worth it! The average cost of living is around $1,425/month for a single person.

Thunder Bay, Ontario Stats:

If you are looking for a place that has scenic nature views, is located on Lake Superior, but also has a city component, then Thunder Bay could be your ideal place to live. There are great outdoor activities for you at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Kakabeka Falls, or at the annual Dragon Boat Festival. There are also great academic opportunities at Lakehead University and Confederation College. It is a bit of a remote location and is far from other major cities. The average cost of living is around $1,844/month for one person. 

Burlington, Ontario Stats:

A beautiful city that is located on Lake Ontario but also situated on the Niagara Escarpment. It is a safe city that is also great for commuters as it is relatively close to Toronto and Hamilton. There are many great outdoor and waterfront activities and is very family-friendly. The average cost of living here is a bit higher at $2,255/month for a single person. 

Guelph, Ontario Stats:

Known as “The Royal City”, Guelph is an excellent city in Southern Ontario that has a strong economy, community, educational opportunities, and culture. It’s a city with more of a small-town feel which many prefer. The average cost of living for a single person here is around $2,431/month. 

London, Ontario Stats:

A charming city with great architecture and educational opportunities. There is a strong sense of community here with various festivals and ceremonies. On average, the cost of living here for one person is $2,062/month. 

Hamilton, Ontario Stats:

A city with the perfect mix of an industrial feel and the gorgeous Niagara Escarpment. There are hiking trails, waterfalls, and a downtown area that is being revitalized. There is also an emerging arts scene that is beginning to thrive here. The average cost of living for a single person is around $2,246/month. 

Ottawa, Ontario Stats:

The nation’s capital is full of history, politics, and technology. There are many job opportunities in the government sector and there are plenty of recreational and educational opportunities. The average cost of living here is approximately $2,193/month for one person. 

Toronto, Ontario Stats:

OK, as a Toronto real estate agent, I may be a bit biased, but this is a vibrant city to live in. There are great educational opportunities with many universities and colleges. The population is diverse with a beautiful multicultural community where you can find cuisine from anywhere in the world. There are excellent shopping, sports and entertainment options, as well as a thriving culinary scene. The job market is strong with lots of varied opportunities. The cost of living here is quite high though with an average of $2,631/month for one person.

Did you find any of these places appealing? Which city would you choose to live in? At the end of the day, what makes a place the “best” to live in is based on your values, desires, and needs. One thing is clear though that overall, Ontario offers some great places to call home.