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Top 10 Ontario Cities Best Places to Live

Top 10 Ontario Cities: Best Places to Live

Ontario is home to some of the most vibrant and diverse cities in Canada, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to settle down. But how do you decide which place to call home in Ontario?

The best cities to live in Ontario include Ottawa, Toronto, Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Waterloo, Guelph, Kingston, London, and Markham. These places offer exceptional living standards, ample employment opportunities, and access to a wide variety of amenities. 

Not only are these cities safe (row 81. Safest Place to Live in Ontario), but they also have unique features that make them desirable places to live. Our guide will help you explore each city’s highlights, giving you a better idea of what each has to offer.

Ottawa

Toronto

Ottawa is an excellent choice for those who value a vibrant cultural scene, unique architecture, and easy access to nature while also seeking high-quality employment opportunities and top-tier education.

Ottawa, known as the Capital of Cool, has something for everyone. With its seamless blend of art, history, and nature, it’s no wonder this city has such a dynamic atmosphere. 

As a Canadian city and the capital of our great country, Ottawa offers plenty of job opportunities with low unemployment rates and high living standards. 

But that’s not all — Ottawa is also a hub of cultural diversity and heritage, which is evident in its many museums, galleries, and cultural events. 

One of the things that makes Ottawa so special is its stunning architecture, such as the historic Parliament Buildings and the majestic Rideau Canal. 

If you’re someone who loves spending time outdoors, you’ll also love the many parks and nature trails that Ottawa has to offer. Whether you’re in the mood for a hike or a bike ride, there’s something for everyone here. 

And let’s not forget about education — Ottawa is home to some of the best universities and colleges in the country, such as the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. 

With such great institutions, you’ll have access to amazing educational opportunities. 

So if you’re looking for a city that has it all — a vibrant cultural scene, unique architecture, easy access to nature, top-notch job opportunities, and excellent education — Ottawa is the perfect fit for you.

Living in Ottawa
ProsCons
• High living standards
• Low unemployment rates
• Vibrant cultural scene
• High cost of living
• Long winters
CategoryDataNotes
Population1.4 million (metro area)High
Ottawa is the 5th Canadian city with the largest population
Average Cost of Living$4,875 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
70% more expensive than other Canadian cities
Transportation Options• Bus
• LRT (Light Rail Transit)
Ottawa has extensive cycling and walking trails, but snow and ice during winter can make it challenging. For longer distances or heavy loads, public transportation or driving may be more practical.
Traffic Commute Time Index35.02Moderate
Quality of Life Index181.35High
Diversity Score70 out of 100High
Safety Index70.63High

Toronto

Toronto's Homepage

Toronto is the perfect fit for those who are looking for a diverse and thriving job market, energetic art and culture scene, world-class education, and a bustling city lifestyle.

Toronto is located in the heart of southern Ontario, and it’s the largest city in Canada. It’s a city full of life, diversity, and endless possibilities. We have a booming job market, a vibrant arts and culture scene, and a public transportation network that makes getting around the city a breeze. 

If you’re looking for some excitement, you’ll definitely find it in Toronto’s downtown core. It’s the heart of the city, filled with an abundance of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment. 

From small local shops to large department stores, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget about the food! You can find delicious cuisine from all over the world. 

But Toronto isn’t just about the downtown core. This city is made up of many unique neighbourhoods, each with its own personality and charm. 

Whether you’re looking for the bohemian vibe of Kensington Market or the historic charm of Cabbagetown, there’s a neighbourhood that suits your preferences. Toronto is a great place to raise a family, start your career, or retire. 

This city is full of opportunities and resources for people of all ages and backgrounds. Plus, we have an active lifestyle that encourages people to get out and explore the city, whether it’s through walking, biking, or taking public transit. 

Toronto is a big, bold, and beautiful city that has something to offer everyone.

Living in Toronto
ProsCons
• Diverse and vibrant community
• Great food
• Excellent education
• High cost of living
• Traffic congestion
CategoryDataNotes
Population6.4 million (metro area)High
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the 4th most populous city in North America
Average Cost of Living$4,071 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
Living in Toronto is more expensive than in most other Canadian cities
Transportation Options• LRT
• TTC 
• GO Transit
• UP Express
• Taxis
• Car-sharing Services
Most Torontonians rely on public transportation due to traffic congestion and expensive parking.
Traffic Commute Time Index43.32High
Quality of Life Index177.68High
Diversity Score85 out of 100High
Safety Index59.71High

Burlington

Burlington's Homepage

Burlington is a hidden paradise of scenic beauty, with excellent schools, low crime rates, and easy access to Toronto. It’s a perfect place to call home for families or anyone who loves nature and a close-knit community.

I’m excited to tell you about Burlington, a hidden gem located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. If you’re looking for a place with a high standard of living, low crime rates, and excellent schools, Burlington should definitely be on your radar.

One of the best things about living in Burlington is the easy access to the city of Toronto, which is just a short drive away. This means you can enjoy all the benefits of living in a smaller, close-knit community while still being close to all the excitement of a big city.

But what really sets Burlington apart is its stunning natural beauty. The city is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, and there are plenty of parks and outdoor recreational areas to explore.

Whether you’re taking a leisurely walk along the Waterfront Trail or enjoying a picnic in one of its many parks, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding nature. 

Burlington is a hidden paradise that offers the perfect balance of urban convenience and natural beauty, making it an ideal place to call home.

Living in Burlington
ProsCons
• High standard of living
• Excellent schools
• Low crime rates
• Limited public transportation options
CategoryDataNotes
Population183,314High
Burlington is a smaller city located between Toronto and Hamilton
Average Cost of Living$3,454 (monthly expenses for a family of four)Moderate
Burlington is more expensive than some other Canadian cities, but more affordable than Toronto
Transportation Options • Bus
• Car-sharing Services
• Cycling
• Walking
Most residents rely on driving due to limited public transportation options
Traffic Commute Time Index28.54 Moderate
Quality of Life Index193.54High
Diversity Score68 out of 100 Moderate
Safety Index86.92High

Oakville

Oakville's Homepage

Oakville is an excellent choice for those looking for upscale neighbourhoods, a beautiful lakefront, and great schools. It’s a quieter alternative to Toronto, with easy access to the city.

Welcome to Oakville — a lakeside haven that perfectly blends serenity and luxury. Oakville is a city that truly captures the heart and soul of all who visit or reside here.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller, a family-oriented individual, or a professional seeking an ideal living space, Oakville has something for everyone. 

The city is renowned for its picturesque tree-lined streets, well-manicured lawns, and upscale neighbourhoods that boast stunning architecture and landscapes.

Oakville’s excellent schools are a testament to the quality of education available here, making it an ideal place to raise a family. 

And if you’re looking for something to do, the vibrant downtown core is a hub of activity, featuring numerous shops and restaurants that cater to various tastes and preferences.

As a resident, you’ll have access to many amenities that Oakville offers, including premium golf courses, stunning parks, and marinas that provide easy access to Lake Ontario. 

The lake is a major draw, providing a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Oakville is an excellent choice for those who appreciate luxury and value the tranquillity of lakeside living. It offers the perfect balance of urban convenience and natural beauty. 

And with its proximity to Toronto, you can enjoy all the excitement of the big city while still living in a peaceful lakeside retreat.

Living in Oakville
ProsCons
Upscale neighborhoods
Beautiful lakefront
Great schools
• Limited public transportation options
• High cost of living
CategoryDataNotes
Population204,718High
Average Cost of Living$3,783 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
Transportation Options • Bus
• Train
• Car-sharing Services
• Cycling
• Walking
Most residents rely on driving due to limited public transportation options
Traffic Commute Time Index32.58Moderate
Quality of Life Index193.04High
Diversity Score59 out of 100 Moderate
Safety Index79.13High
Oakville is considered one of the safest cities in Canada

Hamilton

Hamilton's Homepage

Hamilton offers a unique combination of small-town charm and big-city amenities, making it an excellent choice for those who value the quality of life, affordability, and access to nature.

This is Hamilton, the city of waterfalls, art, music, and industry located in Southern Ontario. Living in this city is a real treat! We’ve got a fantastic balance between urban life and natural beauty.

One of my favourite things about Hamilton is the thriving arts and culture scene. We’ve got a rich heritage, and we showcase it with pride through numerous galleries, museums, and cultural festivals. It’s truly a sight to behold!

Speaking of industry, Hamilton is a real powerhouse. We’ve got excellent employment opportunities for professionals and job seekers, making it a great place to live and work.

And let me tell you, the natural beauty of Hamilton is breathtaking! 

We’ve got the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve, and Hamilton Harbour, which offers water-based recreational activities and scenic views of Lake Ontario.

But don’t worry, living in Hamilton won’t break the bank. We’ve got a range of affordable housing options, making it an excellent place to live for families, students, and professionals.

Living in Hamilton
ProsCons
• Affordable housing
• Vibrant arts scene 
• Natural landscapes
• High pollution levels 
• Lack of high-paying jobs
CategoryDataNotes
Population747,545 (metro area)High
Average Cost of Living$3,232 (monthly expenses for a family of four)Moderate
Living in Hamilton is more affordable than in Toronto
Transportation Options• Bus
• Train
• Car-sharing Services
• Cycling
• Walking
Most residents rely on driving due to limited public transportation options
Traffic Commute Time Index34.52Moderate
Quality of Life Index172.13High
Diversity Score68 out of 100Moderate
Safety Index62.94 High

Waterloo

Waterloo's Homepage

Waterloo is known for its high-tech industry and innovation, making it an excellent choice for those seeking job opportunities in the tech sector. It also offers a vibrant cultural scene, excellent schools, and a thriving arts community.

I can’t wait to tell you all about Waterloo, a city that truly embodies the best of Canada. Waterloo is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of Canada, and it’s not hard to see why. 

The city is a hub of innovation and creativity, attracting some of the brightest minds in the country and beyond. It is the perfect place for anyone looking for a dynamic lifestyle with a touch of natural beauty. 

There are two top-ranked universities here, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, which provide fantastic educational opportunities. 

And for those looking for work, the vibrant startup community in the city provides ample employment opportunities.

But Waterloo isn’t just about work and study. We’re lucky enough to have access to some of the most beautiful nature trails and parks in the region. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a more intense hike, there’s something for everyone here. 

And if you’re looking for something a little more structured, you can always head to Waterloo Park or RIM Park, which offers a wide range of recreational activities. One of the things I love most about Waterloo is how well-connected it is. 

With easy access to major highways and public transportation, getting around the city and beyond is a breeze. This makes Waterloo an ideal location for commuters or for anyone who just wants to explore more of what Canada has to offer.

So if you’re looking for a city that combines innovation, natural beauty, and accessibility, look no further than Waterloo. You won’t be disappointed!

Living in Waterloo
ProsCons
• Dynamic startup community 
• Excellent universities
• Harsh winters
• Limited job opportunities outside of the tech sector
CategoryDataNotes
Population588,210 (metro area)High
Waterloo is a mid-sized city located in southwestern Ontario
Average Cost of Living$2,845 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
Transportation Options• Bus
• Light Rail Transit
• Car-sharing Services
Waterloo has an extensive public transportation network
Traffic Commute Time Index28.06Moderate
Quality of Life Index177.99High
Diversity Score53 out of 100Moderate
Safety Index77.31High

Guelph

Guelph's Homepage

Guelph is a charming city with a rich history and cultural heritage. It’s a great place to call home for those who value a sense of community, a thriving arts scene, and easy access to nature.

If you’re looking for a city that has it all, then Guelph, also known as Garden City, is the perfect spot for you. I can tell you that this welcoming city in southwestern Ontario has a little something for everyone.

First of all, let’s talk about education. The University of Guelph is one of the most renowned universities in Canada, particularly known for its excellent programs in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and engineering. 

I can say that the university has a fantastic community, and the campus is beautiful. Moving on to the downtown core, it’s one of my favourite parts of the city. 

Here, the streets are lined with unique shops and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines to satisfy any foodie’s cravings. 

The area is bustling with energy, and there’s always something going on, whether it’s a live music performance or a local festival. If you’re an arts and culture enthusiast, you’ll love Guelph’s vibrant scene. 

From art galleries to theatre performances, there’s never a dull moment. And if you’re looking to spend some time outdoors, there are many parks throughout the city, including the picturesque Riverside Park, where you can relax and enjoy the greenery.

But that’s not all; Guelph is also steeped in history. You can see it reflected in the city’s beautiful architecture and museums. 

The Guelph Civic Museum and McCrae House, the birthplace of the author of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields,” are just a few of the many landmarks that showcase the city’s history.

Living in Guelph
ProsCons
• A livable, sustainable city with a strong sense of community• Limited public transportation options
• High housing costs
CategoryDataNotes
Population159,400High
Average Cost of Living$2,885 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
Transportation Options• Bus
• Car-sharing Services
• Cycling
• Walking
Guelph has a limited public transportation network
Traffic Commute Time Index27.04Moderate
Quality of Life Index186.95High
Diversity Score59 out of 100Moderate
Safety Index86.05High
Guelph is considered one of the safest cities in Canada

Kingston

Kingston's Homepage

Kingston is a historic city with a vibrant arts and culture scene, making it an excellent choice for those who value a strong sense of community and access to world-class amenities.

If you’re on the hunt for a city that seamlessly blends history and modernity, then Kingston is definitely worth checking out. 

I can tell you that Kingston, also known as the “Limestone City,” boasts some of the most breathtaking limestone buildings in the country that are sure to leave you in awe.

As someone who loves both history and art, I can attest that this city has it all. Besides the captivating architecture, Kingston boasts a thriving arts and culture scene that caters to all interests. 

You can explore the city’s numerous museums, galleries, and theatres to discover the vibrant art scene. And let’s not forget about education, which is a significant aspect of this city. 

With esteemed institutions like Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston attracts students from all over the world. I can say that Kingston offers a diverse and engaging environment that makes it an ideal place to call home. 

Kingston’s prime location on the shores of Lake Ontario offers picturesque waterfront views and a range of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking. From the fascinating history to the dynamic culture, this city truly has something to offer everyone.

Living in Kingston
ProsCons
• Historic charm
• Great culture and food scene
• Harsh winters
• Limited job opportunities outside of the service sector
CategoryDataNotes
Population169,643High
Average Cost of Living$3,276 (monthly expenses for a family of four)Moderate
Living in Kingston is more affordable than in larger cities like Toronto and Ottawa
Transportation Options• Bus
• Car-sharing Services
• Walking
• Cycling
Kingston has a limited public transportation network
Traffic Commute Time Index24.68 Low
Quality of Life Index192.89High
Diversity Score66 out of 100 Moderate
Safety Index70.86 High

London

London's Homepage

London is a dynamic city with a thriving arts scene, excellent educational opportunities, and a diverse population. It’s an excellent choice for those who value access to big-city amenities in a more relaxed and affordable setting.

London, in contrast to its UK counterpart, is a city that truly embodies the nickname “Forest City.” With its abundance of parks, hiking trails, and scenic greenery, you can easily immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

What’s more, London is home to Western University and Fanshawe College, two of the region’s most renowned institutions of higher learning. I can attest to the vibrant and diverse community that thrives on and off campus.

For those who appreciate the arts and culture scene, London has much to offer as well. You can visit the Museum London, which showcases the city’s rich history, or catch a show at the Grand Theatre, which has been a local landmark for over 100 years. 

And, if you’re a foodie, you can indulge in a variety of culinary delights at one of the many local restaurants. Living in London also means being part of a growing city with many job opportunities, a bustling downtown, and a thriving nightlife. 

London hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, such as the London Ribfest and Sunfest, that bring together the community and showcase the city’s diverse cultural offerings. 

I’m confident that anyone who visits or chooses to move here will fall in love with its unique charm and beauty.

Living in London
ProsCons
• Growing business hub
• Thriving arts and culture scene
• Limited public transportation options
• Long winters
CategoryDataNotes
Population494,069High
Average Cost of Living$3,033 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
Transportation Options• Bus
• Car-sharing Services
• Cycling
• Walking
London has a limited public transportation network
Traffic Commute Time Index30.16 Moderate
Quality of Life Index177.25High
Diversity Score61 out of 100 Moderate
Safety Index63.86 High
While London is generally considered safe, it does have some areas with higher crime rates

Markham

Markham's Homepage

Markham is a growing city with a strong economy, making it an excellent choice for those seeking job opportunities in the tech industry. It also offers a vibrant cultural scene, excellent schools, and a high standard of living.

Markham is one of the most diverse and welcoming cities in Canada. With a population that hails from all corners of the globe, you’ll find a unique mix of languages, traditions, and cultures that create a vibrant and inclusive community.

Markham’s commitment to technology and innovation is also impressive. As the home of IBM Canada’s head office and numerous other cutting-edge tech companies, Markham has become a leader in research and development. 

The city’s thriving business ecosystem offers many opportunities for career growth and entrepreneurship. One of the best things about living in Markham is the high-quality education system. 

It’s home to some of the top-ranking schools in the province, providing excellent educational opportunities for families with children. 

And when it comes to cultural and recreational activities, Markham has much to offer. 

You can visit the Varley Art Gallery, which showcases works from Canadian artists, or explore the Rouge National Urban Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. 

Additionally, Markham hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, such as the Markham Jazz Festival and the Night It Up! Night Market, which celebrates the city’s diverse cultural offerings.

Markham is a city that truly embraces diversity, innovation, and education, making it an ideal place for personal and professional growth. I’m proud to invite you and experience everything that this wonderful city has to offer.

Living in Markham
ProsCons
• High-tech hubs
• Diverse and multicultural
• Good schools
• High cost of living
• Traffic congestion
CategoryDataNotes
Population353,886High
Average Cost of Living$3,787 (monthly expenses for a family of four)High
Transportation Options• Bus
• Subway
• Car-sharing Services
• Cycling
• Walking
Markham has an extensive public transportation network
Traffic Commute Time Index35.75 High
Quality of Life Index181.14 High
Diversity Score75 out of 100 HighHigh
Markham is one of the most diverse cities in Canada
Safety Index72.62 High
Markham

Settling Down in Ontario: Which city is right for you?

Ontario’s cities offer unique attractions for potential residents seeking diverse lifestyles, amenities, and opportunities. 

Your preferred Ontario city for settling down hinges on your preferences and requirements, whether it be cultural richness, natural beauty, or quality education and employment opportunities.

FAQs about Ontario’s Top-Rated Cities

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