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Top 10 Cities to live in Ontario 2024


When evaluating the top 10 cities to live in Ontario, several factors come into play to determine their appeal. Location is a key aspect, along with affordability, educational opportunities, job market prospects, average living costs, and property prices for buying or renting. Safety, population size, and whether it’s a student town with a university also factor into the equation.

Understanding the community vibe, types of available jobs and sectors, and its proximity to major urban centre are essential elements for anyone looking to relocate or settle down in one of the top 10 cities in Ontario. These considerations collectively shape the livability and desirability of a city, providing a comprehensive view for prospective residents.

Here are Ontario’s top 10 cities to live in based on location, affordability, schools, job market, cost, safety and more:


Population: 2.93 million

Toronto, the vibrant heart of Ontario and Canada’s largest city, offers boundless opportunities and celebrates diversity at its core. Recognized globally as one of the most livable cities, it proudly showcases Canada’s rich multicultural fabric through its diverse cultures, cuisines, and career avenues.


  • Diverse Job Market: Whether delving into tech startups at MaRS Discovery District or pursuing roles in the Financial District, Toronto’s employment landscape, especially in downtown areas, is expansive. Home to industry giants like Shopify, the city’s job market holds immense appeal.
  • Vibrant Cultural Community: Toronto is a cultural mosaic, hosting prestigious events like the renowned Toronto International Film Festival and housing iconic institutions like the Royal Ontario Museum. Its culinary scene mirrors its multiculturalism, offering a delectable journey across the globe.
  • Top-Tier Education: Renowned institutions like the University of Toronto (ranked #1 in Canada) establish Toronto as a hub of academic excellence and groundbreaking research.


  • Average Living Cost: Around $2,640 per month. While living expenses are higher than the national average, Toronto’s amenities, job opportunities, and cultural richness offer a compelling trade-off.
  • Traffic Congestion: As the most populous city, traffic can be challenging. However, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) provides extensive transit options, easing commuter burdens.


Population: 994,837

Ottawa, the political and technological nucleus of Canada, harmonizes historical charm with modern vibrancy. Renowned for its high quality of life (ranking 14th globally in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey), Ottawa epitomizes a balanced blend of cultural richness, tech innovation, and political dynamism.


  • Government Jobs: With Parliament Hill anchoring its public sector, Ottawa offers abundant career opportunities, especially in government roles, fostering professional growth.
  • Recreational Delights: From skating and biking along the iconic Rideau Canal to hiking and skiing in the Gatineaus ,or exploring national museums, Ottawa delights residents with a plethora of recreational activities.
  • Educational Excellence: Home to prestigious institutions like the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, Ottawa stands as a beacon of academic prowess and innovative research.


  • Weather Variability: While winters can be chilly, Ottawa transforms into a winter wonderland, ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Nightlife Scene: Relatively subdued compared to larger cities, Ottawa’s nightlife embraces cozy cafes and pubs, fostering a relaxed evening ambiance.


Population: 579,200

Hamilton, a hidden gem nestled amidst industry and nature’s tranquility, offers an enriching yet affordable living experience. Renowned for its burgeoning arts scene and proximity to breathtaking waterfalls, Hamilton beckons with its unique charm.


  • Affordability: With housing costs offering more value, Hamilton’s average house price of $798,978 ensures budget-friendly living compared to larger cities.
  • Nature Trails: Explore the natural splendor of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and revel in over 100 enchanting waterfalls.
  • Growing Arts Scene: Vibrant galleries, eclectic festivals, and live music events define Hamilton’s creative pulse, offering cultural immersion.


  • Industrial Landscape: While industrial prominence may not suit all, ongoing revitalization projects enhance Hamilton’s urban appeal.
  • Public Transportation: Compared to larger cities like Toronto, Hamilton’s public transit options are more limited, although connectivity projects are underway.


Population: 404,699

London, reminiscent of its English namesake with a Canadian twist, captivates with historic charm and educational excellence. Home to renowned institutions like Western University and Fanshawe College, London fosters a vibrant community spirit and educational opportunities.


  • Educational Institutions: Western University and Fanshawe College anchor London’s reputation as a hub for academic excellence and innovative learning.
  • Community Engagement: Over 100 annual public events and festivals animate London’s community spirit, fostering a vibrant social tapestry.
  • Affordability: Enjoy a cost-effective lifestyle without compromising quality, making London an attractive choice for residents.


  • Public Transportation: While London Transit services the city well, personal vehicle ownership can enhance mobility convenience.
  • Job Market Competition: New graduates may face competition, but networking events and job fairs hosted by educational institutions offer entry points.


Population: 135,474

Guelph, known as the “Royal City” of southern Ontario, epitomizes superior living standards, economic strength, and cultural vibrancy, making it a cherished place to call home.


  • Quality of Life: Elevated living standards and a tight-knit community ethos define Guelph’s appeal, fostering a wholesome lifestyle.
  • Economic Opportunities: Low unemployment rates and a diverse job landscape across industries offer ample career avenues for professionals.
  • Cultural Engagement: A vibrant calendar of festivals, art galleries, and music events infuse Guelph with cultural vibrancy and community bonding.


  • Housing Market Dynamics: A bustling real estate market with rising property prices necessitates strategic planning for housing needs.
  • Small City Dynamics: While charming, Guelph’s small-city dynamics may differ from larger urban centers in terms of amenities and pace.


Population: 205,960

Burlington, nestled between Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment, offers a serene yet urban lifestyle, accentuated by natural beauty and modern amenities.


  • Natural Beauty: Waterfront vistas and diverse outdoor activities amplify Burlington’s allure, appealing to nature enthusiasts.
  • Safe Community: Low crime rates and a warm neighborhood ambiance create a secure and welcoming environment for residents.
  • Proximity to Major Cities: Convenient access to Toronto and Hamilton enhances connectivity and lifestyle options for Burlington residents.


  • Population Growth: Increasing population trends signify heightened demand for services and housing, necessitating strategic planning.
  • Average Living Cost: While slightly higher at $2,165 per month, Burlington’s amenities and lifestyle offerings justify the cost.

Thunder Bay

Located conveniently on the shores of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay boasts abundant sunshine and stunning natural scenery, making it a desirable location for a fulfilling life.


Natural Beauty: Proximity to green spaces like Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and Kakabeka Falls offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and relaxation.

Affordable Living: Thunder Bay is among the most cost-effective cities in Ontario, with reasonable housing prices averaging around $308,750, maximizing value for residents.

Educational Opportunities: Home to reputable institutions like Lakehead University and Confederation College, Thunder Bay provides a conducive environment for academic growth.

Interesting Fact: Thunder Bay hosts the annual Dragon Boat Festival, a vibrant event attracting teams and spectators regionally.


Remote Location: Being distant from major cities contributes to a smaller population and longer travel times, aspects to consider when planning your lifestyle.

Job Market Specificity: While the job market is growing diversely, it may be sector-specific, requiring research and preparation to align with your career goals.

Average Living Cost: Approximately $1673 per month.


With its strategic location providing access to outdoor activities and a growing economy, Barrie entices residents seeking a balance between nature and urban amenities.


Outdoor Recreation: Barrie is a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering year-round activities like skiing, hiking, and water sports on Kempenfelt Bay.

Economic Growth: The city’s economy is expanding, providing diverse job opportunities and a rising business sector.

Community Vibe: Harmonious neighborhoods and a calendar filled with community events create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for residents.


Commute Times: As the population grows, commuting may require careful planning due to increased traffic congestion.

Winter Weather Preparedness: Heavy snowfall during winters necessitates investing in suitable winter gear for a comfortable experience.

Average Living Cost: Around $1779 per month.


Dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Canada,” Waterloo shines as a tech hub with excellent educational institutions, vibrant community engagement, and a dynamic startup culture.


Tech Hub: Home to notable companies like Shopify, Waterloo fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, making it an attractive destination for tech enthusiasts.

Educational Excellence: With renowned institutions like the University of Waterloo, the city emphasizes technology, innovation, and academic growth.

Community Engagement: A plethora of events and activities reflect Waterloo’s vibrant community spirit, creating a lively and engaging environment.


Housing Demand: The tech sector’s growth impacts housing availability and prices, necessitating proactive planning and budgeting.

Student Population: A significant student presence contributes to the city’s dynamic atmosphere and diverse cultural landscape.

Average Living Cost: Approximately $2033 per month.


Situated along Lake Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, Oakville offers a blend of suburban tranquility, excellent schools, safety, and a vibrant downtown scene.


High-Quality Schools: Oakville is renowned for its excellent public and private schools, providing a strong educational foundation for families.

Safety: With one of the lowest crime rates in Ontario, Oakville offers residents peace of mind and a secure living environment.

Vibrant Downtown: A rich array of shops, restaurants, and cultural venues in Oakville’s downtown area cater to diverse interests, ensuring an engaging lifestyle.


Property Prices: High demand contributes to rising home values, which should be factored into housing decisions and budgeting.

Average Living Cost: Around $2293 per month.

Final Thoughts

Toronto earns its top rating in Ontario due to its unparalleled diversity, offering a rich tapestry of cultures and a robust job market across various industries. The city hosts prestigious educational institutions, fostering innovation and research. Toronto’s extensive amenities, efficient public transportation, and vibrant entertainment scene contribute to its high quality of life, despite the competitive real estate market and cost of living. Overall, its blend of economic opportunities, cultural richness, and infrastructure makes Toronto a highly desirable city to live, work, and explore.

by Myles Shane

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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