Best Places to Live in Canada

Money Sense Magazine published a list of the best places to live in Canada. You can download the article here. And the top ten list really surprised me. Here it is:

  • Leamington, Ontario
  • Guelph, Ontario
  • Lloydminster, Saskatchewan
  • Grande Praire, Alberta
  • Kitchener, Ontario
  • Cobourg, Ontario
  • Hamilton, Ontario
  • Red Deer, Alberta
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia

Leamington is the best place to live in Canada? A bit of a surprise to me.

Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Leamington enjoys the second warmest climate in Canada after Vancouver Island. Tomatoes are big business in Leamington. And birds migrate in huge numbers at Point Pelee National Park adjacent to the town of Leamington.

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  1. Matt S
    Matt S says:

    Hamilton?? I lived there once. I can’t stand that place! I’ve never lived in Kitchener—but I’m ok with only occaisionally visiting.

    I’ve never been anywhere else on that list, which is suprising based on the number times I have moved.

    I lived on Lake Erie for awhile though, and I really loved it. This Leamington place will soon be visited =D.

  2. Bill Hertha
    Bill Hertha says:

    The same magazine includes an article on the best places to retire:
    “Victoria tops Bland’s list of best retirement spots. London, Ont., scored the second highest, tied with Boulder, Colo., and Portland, Ore. Halifax and the Ontario cities of Stratford and Kingston are among the Top 20 retirement places, while Owen Sound, Ont., Vernon, B.C., Kelowna, B.C., Fredericton and Charlottetown also made the Top 60 list. Says Bland: “Canadian cities are a superior place to live, climate aside, compared to American cities.”

    No rationale given…

  3. Jack Talbot
    Jack Talbot says:

    Hamilton? As soon as I saw that city I knew this list was suspect. Hamilton is a hole. The whole city has this prevading faint smell of bad cheese (from all the industry there I believe). Its a steel town and though some of the downtown has decent old picutresque buildings that hardly makes it one of the top ten of Canada. How embarrasing it would be for our American neighbours to go to Hamilton because of that list! Oy! They would not be impressed. One of the best places is Victoria, BC (and no I don’t live there I am in Torontoland). Hamilton what a laugh.

  4. honey
    honey says:

    April 11, 2007 at 2:30 am
    I have travelled and owned real estate all through Ontario and I can tell you that Hamilton is the worst place in Ontario. It is like a third world country. Most of the people are on social assistance or disability, etc. I had a house there and squatters with 6 kids broke in and lived there for 3 months without paying rent until finally the police kicked them out. I then spent $2,000 to clean it up and renovate. After I did that, some thugs broke in and stole the copper piping in the basement and under the kitchen sink. Would you believe that? I could go on and on. Don’t ever buy real estate in Hamilton. I didn’t actually own property there. My daughter did and I was helping her out. What a horrible place Hamilton is.

  5. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    I live in Hamilton and I love it. It does not smell any better or worse than any other city I have been in, we are not all on social assistance, we are a steel town but every town has industry. I have friends that are steel workers and they are bright and articulate individuals. I am university educated as are most of the people I work with, play sports with and socialize with. Hamilton offers beautiful parks and walkways, a developing waterfront, limitless recreational opportunities for adults, children and families, many summertime festivals and a great summer nightlife in Hess Village, a unique landscape with the escarpment and easy access to Niagara and Toronto, without the crime of Toronto. Every city has it’s problem areas (i.e.Malton/North York/Jane and Finch and many others in Toronto; most of downtown in Calgary and Collingwood in the Vancouver area. Additionally, In 2005 (and I don’t think much has changed since) Vancouver reported the largest percentage of crime against property in all of Canada. It sounds like those of you who have been to Hamilton and have nothing but negative things to say didn’t really do your homework on the go-to areas and don’t really have a clear sense of the common denominators that make up every city.

    • tin
      tin says:

      I lived in Hamilton it is the biggest hole in Canada.There are pollution risk days whe you can’t even go outside.It smells worse than bad cheese,it is a toilet that needs to be flushed just like New york.Try moving and you will see that any where else is better. Good luck

  6. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    A note to Richard: after reading an article in my local paper covering this ‘best places to live’ article in Money Sense Magazine, I searched for the article online and came across your site. Your “top ten” didn’t match the top ten reported in my local newspaper; your list is incorrect, not sure what source you were using. Please refer to the actual list posted here:
    That may clear up the confussion about Hamilton.

  7. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    A note to Lesley: “my” list is correct. You can link to the Money Sense Magazine article from April 2006, as referenced in my original post, here.

    Hamilton is number 7 on that list.

    The site you reference on the Canadian Business website is based on economic factors only. The Money Sense article took economic and non-economic factors into account when they set their list of best places in Canada.

    Hope that clears up your confusion on the two different lists.

  8. Andrew J
    Andrew J says:

    Honestly GTA people have attitudes of those that are in New York City and there is no originality down here in the GTA everyone wants to be like a new yorker. Miami, Honolulu are the best places to live in the world.

  9. Annie
    Annie says:

    Hello Everyone!

    Interesting that many of these places I have looked at in Ontario. My husband and I spend the past 2 years seekng a place with low crime and great sports activities and a safe community to raise our children. A few of them I have lived in. Well, I live in Saskatoon now … we left Ontario to avoid the skyrocketing house costs and urban sprawl and flipped a coin between Saskatoon and Winnipeg – actually Saskatoon won because of the increased hours of sunshine and the many beautiful parks. My husband and I had great jobs instantly – I’ve had 1 pay raise and he’s had two job promotions and we’ve only been here for 5 1/2 months. (I am in healthcare and he is in finance. Both salaried and non-union).

    We went from working evenings, weekends, holidays … always casual and no benefits – trading off our daughter and never being a family – to having a great community and great family life. Our life has changed drastically – research research research and believing that there is a perfect place led us to the land of opportunity – wonderful for our baby’s future.

    All the best everyone!


  10. ron stevens
    ron stevens says:

    I have lived from east coast to west coast over the last 40 years and the most redneck city where potholes are so deep and people do not know what stop signs are there for and red lights at intersections has got to be fort st john bc. I have never seen such arrogance with people in a community and you know what it all stems from the mayor, council men,and city hall people. Wear a dust mask because you will need it. Recently i read in the local newspaper where fort st john bc was voted the 53rd best place in Canada to live. Excuse me i have to run as i am laughing so hard.

  11. Peter Varsek
    Peter Varsek says:

    Vancouver- which is regularly on the MERCER top 3 cities worldwide-#1 on The Economist Listing -doesn’t really care what a Rust Belt Canadian rag thinks of liveability.
    Stay east of The Rockies and enjoy 8 months of winter!!

  12. John
    John says:

    Since “best” is very subjective, I wonder if any website has done a personalized version of the best places to live. I’d like to have my say about what kind of population growth or climate or whatever is important to me and then generate the top ten.

  13. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    I really enjoyed reading the various descriptions of Canadian cities.My husband & I have been RVing for several months in the southern USA.We are now looking for someplace to call home again in Canada.Your comments will be considered & the links researched.Thanks!

  14. Alexis
    Alexis says:

    Keep in mind that Burlington, Ont. (a beautiful place to live) is lumped in with Hamilton (as well as Waterdown, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, ect). Downtown Hamilton may not be very nice but the sourounding cities are why they are on the list.

  15. ANN
    ANN says:

    I have lived in Cobourg, Ont. Red Deer AB, and now live close to Grande Prairie,AB and I have to agree that those places are some of the best places to live, although I would put GP on the bottom of the list!
    I also agree that Hamilton is nothing special.

  16. Joey K.
    Joey K. says:

    So, most of the remarks against Hamilton have been negative so far. I’ll give readers a few positive comments about it. #1; Hamilton has the largest collection of lilacs in the world in one place. Royal Botanical Gardens (the garden which contains these lilacs, is property of RBG. The RBG is comprised of 4 such excellent gardens) is one of only 6 gardens in the world to be classified Royal. #2; The Police force in Hamilton is one of the best in the world. It had recently ranked 3rd best in the world (behind Austrian and German cities). #3; It contains excellent trails for exercise in and along the Ancaster, Dundas, Hamilton corridor. Their conservation areas are many and a revitalized waterfront looks like a current and future attraction. #4; The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the current AHL Calder Cup champion Hamilton Bulldogs reside there. #5; MacMaster University, one of the top Universities in Canada along with some of the brightest researchers and scientists in the world, can be found there. Hey, if Hamilton is a spot some of the worlds smartest choose to call their home, it must have something to offer. I have a lot more I can offer for submission, but this list is getting long. One last comment; Sometimes it isn’t what a city is truly made of that matters most (No knock against Hamilton, this is just an extra point for you guys), it’s what it is surrounded with that matters most. If you take a look at Hamilton, it is right in the middle of all the action. On top of it, 2 of the other 10 best in Canada are within 30-40 minute drive. Good job Hamilton – In my estimation, you definitely do deserve to be on the list.

  17. Karin
    Karin says:

    Parts of Hamilton are not nice, but where I live in Dundas, it is paradise. Beautiful nature, trails, quaint little shops, a wonderful community, excellent schools, and overall a fantastic place to raise children. I’ve lived all over the world, and I still consider Dundas a beautiful place. Before you knock Hamilton, remember it amalgamated a few years back and now includes some middle -upper class communities.

  18. Keith
    Keith says:

    I think Hamilton is a great place. It is extremely diverse and has great conservation areas and bike trails as well as the picturesque Niagara escarpment. With the exception of some areas downtown and perhaps the east end, mark my words, this area is on the rise. Interestingly enough, those who hate Hamilton, invariably seem to come from the GTA. What does Mississauga or some of Toronto’s suburbs have to offer except overpriced housing, horrendous traffic and cookie cutter strip malls as far as the eye can see? We Hamiltonians would be more than happy to keep this area the next great big secret of Southern Ontario.


  19. Greg
    Greg says:

    With Hamilton being on the list, it is definitely suspect. I agree with you guys: Hamilton is a dump. That website can toss around all the pretty little stats about Hamilton, but if you actually go there, you will no what I mean. And it literally does stink from all the smelly factories and plants they have there.

  20. Harry
    Harry says:

    I recently lived in Calgary for a year and I would definitely not put it on the list. My family and I went there to settle and were welcomed with increasing violent crime, severe poverty, and a sketchy downtown. There are nice aspects of Calgary, but I would never recommend anyone live there. Just visit. For all the Hamilton bashers, I’m originally from Toronto and I always loved going to the Hammer for a great night life, friendly people and nice parks. You want a dump, try living in Timmins, ON. That’s where I am now and this town will never make anyones list of best places to live unless you like living with bears in your backyard, horrible infrastructure, backwards people who could care less about their town and crappy weather.

  21. stephen
    stephen says:

    we might be looking to move to bc in the future. vancover and victoria are too much $$$$. we have 2 young kids and are looking for a milder/warmer location with a small town feel. thinking of the okanagan valley? my wife has family on the sunshine coast but no place to work there. any opinions would be greatly appreciated…….

  22. John A
    John A says:

    Victoria sucks as a town to live and work. No business environment, lack of leadership at every turn, no entrepreneurs. Just a bunch of smug insecure villagers who like to do things as they were done in the Stone Age. No wonder it was voted worst places to run a business.

  23. cher
    cher says:

    Hi, I am thinking of opening a wellness centre in Hamilton, ont. Is there any area I should avoid? What about Graham Avenue south?
    Thank you

  24. rich
    rich says:

    I just bought a house in west oakville (haven’t moved in yet) and already i am looking to move. I’ve looked for a place to move my family for 2 years. I’ve looked everywhere. including hamilton. My wife and i drove there a number of times because the real estate is SO cheap compared to surrounding areas. There are some extremely beautiful spots in Hamilton, but i have to agree it does smell. There is a portion of the downtown area that is very dumpy, sort of a Vancouver east end feel.

    When the steel plants are closed and the Go Train extended to hamilton people living there will be rewarded for their investment. Until then i wouldn’t choose to live there. Stoney Creek is very nice. Need the go Train there.

  25. T
    T says:

    Im american. And I have traveled through BC and visited many cute towns in that area. And Kelowna being one of the finest. I never heard of any of the other towns mentioned above. Like I said I’m american and what would I know about canada. But how can you excluse Chillawack Calagary and Vancouver. To say the least.

  26. Tami
    Tami says:

    Anyone who says Hamilton is a good city is out of their mind. I’ve lived there, and got out as fast as I could. And yes everyone there is on welfare. I still have a house there that I rent out and every single tenant we have had, and there have been many, were trouble. Nobody gets married there, they all have kids with different guys and they are such losers – what an embarrassment! Maybe the person who made this list was thinking of West Hamilton which is okay.

  27. trevor
    trevor says:

    yes i agree Hamilton is def the worst place to live. Everytime we’re crossing the Burlington skyway the smell of pollution fills the inside of the car!! its disgusting, and it is a terrible place to raise a family.

  28. wald
    wald says:

    Hi! Living in 2.Guelph and like it! The population size of these 10 top best cities and others are so different; and- no methods were given how to compare all these cities studied. Kitchener is on – OK, but what about Waterloo near? Maybe Waterloo is even better ? But Waterloo is not even mentioned at all(?) in 10 top ones. Would like to know more about Halifax (NS) from readers.

  29. German
    German says:

    Hamilton is a awful ugly stinky city. Should not even be in the ranking! I work in Hamilton lived there for 1 year and I moved. I really tried to see the bright side but there is not much. Ancaster Dundas Burlington are nice towns but this is not Hamilton. And yes in Hamilton downtown most of the people are on welfare I see them every day! I’m from Germany and I’m really disappointed about quality of live in general. The only things I like is the nature part further north and the ethnic and culture mix of people her. But quality of live is not that great in Ontario and Quebec. Sorry.

  30. maria
    maria says:

    i fought with poverty all my life in east montreal
    fought for rent and crazy lease everybody move july first !
    i went banff alberta 10 years struggling for place to live
    trhat is the big deal there place to live but work normal weather also found albertain very helpful and efficient people
    jobs that actually give some money to get by and dont spend 6 months working to give it in taxes to a provincial government i love alberta and the people here and even the government whom let me breathe! but housing yes it is awful

  31. DO Nicole
    DO Nicole says:

    I am French and presentely living in the South West of France. My husband and I sometimes talk about retiring in Canada. ( We both speak English) . I am surprised that none of you mentioned London Ontario. I thought it was a nice place to retire and I was ready to visit the place someday.
    May be somebody may give some advice.
    By the way I thought that it was the French cheese that had a strong smell.

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      London has a lot of nice parks. A fair amount of things to do. Traffic can be a bit of a pain though. It used to be a lot nicer 20 years ago or so. Getting to be a bit congested.
      You’d are better off in Stratford… imho Kim

    • Nicole
      Nicole says:

      Move to Halifax, Nova Scotia!! A truly beautiful place, full of history and culture. It also has a GIANT public gardens! I’ve visited, and am planning to move there.

  32. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    I am very suprised not to see any cities on BC make the list. Victoria has a lot of community resources and excellent recreation facilities and a plethora of parks compared to Halifax that has only one park for a city that size is unbelievable! There are bike lanes and bike trails in Victoria so it is feasible and easy to commute. Victoria has 5 public recreation facilities in the capitol regional district while Halifax only has 1. Crime in Halifax may decrease if there were more funding for rec programs for kids to keep them out of trouble.

  33. Heather
    Heather says:

    I’ve lived in 5 of the 10 cities listed and I moved as fast as I could. I can’t believe these are the best places to live in Canada. I was born and raised in Guelph and although it may look nice the amount of drug addicts and welfare recipients is astounding and what amazes me is the amount of crime that goes on there and it’s never reported by the media. Do not raise your children there. And because I’ve lived in half of the cities listed and wouldn’t raise my dog there never mind my children makes this list seem like a joke or maybe someone is being paid very well for the PR.

  34. Eva
    Eva says:

    What about Chatham-Kent, Sarnia, London? I am researching air quality in these places–I come from Toronto area so these areas compare or are lower. I want to start an environment based business–native plant nursery.


    • Kim
      Kim says:

      I live in Sarnia. I gets a bad rap. It’s a lot nicer than people think. Though I’m likely going to move when I retire just for a change.

  35. Leah
    Leah says:

    Kitchener are they kidding? If you wanted your child to be stabbed I guess it would okay. Kitchener is a bigger hole than Hamilton. Its a terrifying place. No University student will go downtown there alone. I’ve been chased by drug addicts during the day.

  36. sara
    sara says:

    I have lived in Cobourg all my life. Im proud to call it home. With population of about 18,000 its very clean and quiet mixed with the old and new. it has all the basic shops and needs in life. For those who like to visit the city Toronto is only about 1hour half drive and Belville, Oshawa and petebourgh are not too far as well. Cobourg is not only a great place to visit but to live. Charming shops, nice old buildings, Beautiful beach and harbour and the prople are frendly

  37. dugams
    dugams says:

    I currently live in Calgary. I love the city, I live in the NW because of a lot of the good neighborhoods are up here. It is very safe in the NW. Housing can be quite expensive though. Calgary has everything and beyond your needs. Weather is way better than for example Toronto. We get about 2 weeks of cold then Chinook kicks in and it is nice and warm. So it is never freezing cold for too long. And the sunshine! Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada. It makes a huge difference in the winter time when days are shorter. The greatest aspect of living here in my opinion is being so close to Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Great skiing, hiking, fishing. Can’t beat that. I’ve heard people whine about traffic but this is nothing. It’s a piece of cake compared to Southern California where I used to live.

  38. famosogq
    famosogq says:

    alright here’s my take on this. I think enjoyment of a place depends half on personal factors (such as family location, heritage, and personal enjoyment of the city), and half on subjective data (like neighborhoods, shopping, housing and schools).

  39. dude
    dude says:

    Alright, already!.. about the larger centres of this great nation – Canada. Hamilton stinks, and Toronto is colder than hell frozen over. Please look at the criteria that Money Sense used. Chilliwack, B.C. is unparalleled during a sunset in autumn, but what is a banker from New York to do for excitement there – smoke weed with the local Harley gang?!I’ve ridden a motorcycle from coast to coast through all types of weather across this country and was astounded at its beauty…most of us gravitate to cities – because that’s where the money is – not where one always wants to live. Quality of life is purely subjective! Leamington is a great town and not a city – but it has restrictions, like most small towns and for some sort of excitement Windsor or Detroit(oh, boy!) will compensate for the boredom you will encounter…. depending on your age and the work you do. Always research your area of interest to live…make the areas possible homes as opposed to cheap places to retire, otherwise you’ll never find contentment.

  40. francais
    francais says:

    haha so funny .. english person always exclude quebec from canada . but dont want to see this province to be separated

    … seriously dude .. u think none of any town in quebec is in the top 10 .. u r blind and stupid

    seriously i have lived in both places ontario and quebec .. gosh , quebec side is prettier and less poluted then almost every where in ontario .
    hamilton stink like hell and its in the top 10 .. what a joke lol

    quebec city .. cheap house , unployement rate close to 4 the lowest in canada , not polluted , richest history in canada , lots of parcs( plaine d abraham , baie de beauport , domaine de maizereth , bois de coulonge , parc de l amerique francaise , parc de la jacques cartier and thats not even 5% of all the parks over there )
    , surrounded by nature , more then 4 majestic waterfall in the close area ( chute montmorency , chute de la riviere chaudiere , les septs chutes , chute kabir kouba ), no murder in the whole town for a complete year and lots more …

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      Quebec is cool… but my French is limited. I personally like the area south of Montreal. Lac Brome…Bromont…Sutton…Cowansville. Like to visit but not sure I could get by with my limited French.

  41. tk
    tk says:

    i would really like to know what people think of oakville and burlington . we are moving from the uk and would really appreciate any advice

  42. Sherif Baki
    Sherif Baki says:

    Oakville is the best place to live in Canada by far. It has all the requirements of a nice place to live.

    I live there since 3 years moving from Mississauga and since then I love living here

  43. karin
    karin says:

    Waterfront cities…they are both beautiful. Burlington is more affordable than Oakville, although it is also becoming extremely expensive as well.

  44. Chris
    Chris says:

    Forget about moving to Grande Prairie unless you enjoy listening to loud monster trucks & Harley’s 24/7…
    MAJOR noise pollution in this town.

  45. Jayme Dannrath
    Jayme Dannrath says:

    I’m suggesting a place that no one ever seems to think of…although it’s subjective to what someone wants in life. I believe for children/peace and quiet and an old fashioned up bringing with great, friendly people it would be anywhere in CAPE BRETON Nova scotia. My father happened to move there when I was little, and I have been there to visit throughout my whole life. I currently live in Calgary, and have a 5 year old. I lived in Hamilton and went to college ( hated it, and did not want to raise my son there) moved to calgary ( has good and bad points) But, the housing is ridiculous ( although rent seems to be at par with the rest of canada) the cost of buying is high. If you have a high paying job that you cant get in the rest of canada I suggest Calgary. However, I myself am a small business owner, make a decent income, rent, and drive a new er vehicle. But that is the extent of it. The schools are cramped, and I think the student teacher relationships are inpersonal, I dont want to own a half million dollar house and pay on it for 30 years, and have very little time to actually enjoy life and raise my son right, additionally the violence and crime seems to be going up in calgary, and there is no family roots here for me. I have managed to save a bit of money and I am moving to small town cape breton before my son starts school in the fall. Many people dont realize this ( as I believe no one pays attention to Cape breton) but I am buying a small $20,000 house with an acre of land by the ocean within a small, close knit commuinty with almost zero crime. To me that is the best place to live! However, the unemployment rate is HIGH, and there isnt much industry. But the way I see it, why not work ANYWHERE on that island make way less, own your house in 2 years, and enjoy a nice rural living. Or open a business there, ( as there is so many untapped resourses) Cape Breton has my vote!

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