9 Best Places/Cities To Live In Ontario 2021

Best Places/Cities To Live In Ontario

Moving can be scary and it can be even scarier if you don’t know what city or town to go to. The good thing is that if you want to stay in Ontario, there are fifty-two great cities and eighty-nine towns to choose from. Keep reading to find out what the best places to live in Ontario are!

Quick Overview

Best Places/Cities To Live In Ontario 2021 –

Name2016 Census Population
1. Toronto2,731,571
2. Vaughan306,233
3. Newmarket84,224
4. Aurora55,445
5. Hamilton536,917
6. Oakville193,832
7. Burlington183,314
8. Waterloo535,154
9. Ottawa934,243

1. Toronto


Arguably the most well-known city not only within Ontario, but in Canada is Toronto. Though Toronto may just seem like a good place to visit, it can also be a great city to live in. With 2.73 million people in the city, there are a lot of great opportunities, either to make friends, find love, get a good job or generally just to start a new life.

Finding a job in a smaller city can be hard, that is one of the biggest benefits of a big city like Toronto. There are plenty of great job opportunities in a multitude of fields like arts, media, tech, or finance. Toronto draws in many expats for this reason.

Another benefit of a big city like Toronto is that there is always something to do. There are constantly events going on like poetry slams, bar hopping, art nights, gallery showings and anything you can think of really. There is also a lot of fun, touristy things to do like Ripley’s Aquarium, the Ontario Science Centre, the CN Tower and many more!

People with families may be worried about crime in such a big city, but Toronto is one of the safest, large cities in North America. The crime rate in Toronto continues to go down every year, so the city is great even for families.

Toronto Crime Rates
Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

2. Vaughan

Photo by Loozrboy / CC BY 2.0

If you’ve been to Canada’s largest theme park, Canada’s Wonderland, then you’ve been to the city of Vaughan. The city does have more to offer though than just a great theme park. With a population of a little over 300,000 people, it is smaller than Toronto. This is a great selling point for people who like living in a city, just not one as busy as Toronto.

Vaughan also has great employment opportunities. The economic growth in Vaughan has actually been higher than the rest of Canada. There are a lot of great business opportunities in Vaughan as the city values entrepreneurship.

There is also a lot to do in Vaughan like going to the aforementioned theme park Canada’s Wonderland. The theme park is typically open for the summer from May to September. It opens again in October for a Halloween themed event called Halloween Haunt. Then finally in November and December for their new Christmas event called Winterfest. Vaughan also has one of Canada’s biggest shopping centres in Canada, Vaughan Mills.

Finally, if you still want to visit Toronto, it is very simple to do so from Vaughan with their great public transportation system. Toronto’s transit system is actually connected to Vaughan, so the cities are connected via subway. Vaughan also has York Region Transit, Viva Rapid Transit and Go Transit, so the city and surrounding area are very accessible.

3. Newmarket

Photo by 123Strike / CC BY-SA 3.0

A bit further out from Toronto and Vaughan is the town of Newmarket. It is also much smaller with a population of only 84,000 people. With a smaller, peaceful community, this may be a great place for families.

One of the big things that are lacking in big cities is green space. Newmarket makes up for this though with over 44 kilometers of trails available to walk or hike on. This makes Newmarket a great place for pets or outdoorsy people. You don’t have to worry about danger when you’re out and about either as Newmarket is one of the safest communities in the country.

Newmarket is also a great location. It is about halfway between Toronto and the area Ontarians call “cottage country” where people go for weekend getaways. This means that in Newmarket, you get a good balance between the convenience of a big city, and the charm of a small town.

Newmarket is also more affordable than bigger cities like Toronto. Your money will go further in Newmarket as the price of a house or apartment are much lower than bigger cities. Similarly, things like the cost of groceries, restaurants, and gas are all cheaper in Newmarket as well.


4. Aurora


An even smaller town just outside of Newmarket is Aurora with a population of just over 55,000 people. Despite its small size, Aurora has actually been ranked in the top 10 wealthiest towns in Canada.

Aurora is slightly closer to Toronto, so if you work in the city, commuting to Toronto is easy! You can drive and take the highway all the way to Toronto, or the GO Train leaves from Aurora and takes you all the way to Union Station in Toronto. The GO train services the area every 15-30 minutes during peak periods towards Toronto on weekdays and every hour on weekends.

Similar to Newmarket, Aurora is very outdoor-oriented. There are a lot of great trails as Aurora is situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine. There are also nice shopping areas and restaurants for those who are not outdoorsy. If you’re an animal lover, there’s also a dog park for your furry friends.

Aurora is a great town for families as the school system is well sought after. Many of the schools in the public school system exceed provincial standards and Aurora has one of the best French Immersion schools in Ontario if you want your children to learn French and English.

The only negative that could be said about Aurora is that there are not a lot of young, independent people like there are in big cities like Toronto. Aurora is more family or couple oriented as there is not a big youth or nightlife scene in the town.

5. Hamilton


Going back to bigger cities, we’re talking about Hamilton that has a population of 536, 917 people. It is a bit further out from Toronto as it is 58 kilometres away. But, it is the third-largest metropolitan area in Ontario.

Since it is a bit larger than the towns we’ve been talking about, there is a lot to do in Hamilton. A multi-cultural background is starting to be created in Hamilton as more people move there, so there are niche artisan stores, galleries, themed bars, specialty restaurants and unique stores.

There is a growing community of younger people as well as rent prices are lower than Toronto and McMaster University is in the downtown core. The economy is also growing in Hamilton as well, opening up a lot of job opportunities for residents.

It’s still a great location for families with the lower rent prices and a safe community. There is an abundance of nature areas as Hamilton has a lot more space than it does people. There are beaches and over 100 waterfalls. Hamilton is also connected to the Bruce Trail, so there are plenty of hiking and walking opportunities.

6. Oakville


Oakville is a great town located halfway between the aforementioned cities: Toronto and Hamilton. It is bigger than the other towns we talked about with a population of almost 200,000 people. Oakville has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to live in Ontario and Canada, and here’s why.

The first good thing about living there that draws many people in is actually its proximity to Toronto. Oakville is only 33km away and is well-connected to Toronto via the highways and GO transit. As Oakville is a town, it allows residents to experience both small-town life while not being detached from bigger cities.

Oakville is also known for their beautiful homes and even mansions. Oakville has a lakefront area neighbourhood, but it is not for the faint of heart with mansions worth around $65-million. The lakefront and housing market are a big reason that people retire in Oakville. There are still great, affordable houses in Oakville, you just won’t have a view of the lake.

Oakville is another town that values their nature. Oakville has hundreds of parks where you can run, ride a bike, walk your dog or just go for a stroll. There are also beaches where you can lay on the sand or even partake in water sports in the summer.

7. Burlington


Burlington is another city, located in between Oakville and Hamilton, but is slightly smaller than the two with a population of 183,314. It bears similarities to the two prior cities as it is along the lake as well, but Burlington is still quite unique.

Burlington offers a good balance between fun activities and family-oriented ones. There is good nightlife for those who want to go out, but also great restaurants and shops in the downtown core. There is also a spacious waterfront area that stretches along Burlington’s southern edge. It features parks, lakefront restaurants, a boardwalk and an entertainment area.

There are a lot of different neighbourhoods in Burlington which will allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for in a fitting price range. Lakefront homes are available here as well, but that does not mean that affordable housing is not also available.

Burlington hosts the Halton District School Board which is known to have a high standard of education. This makes Burlington a great place for people with families or those who want to start a family.

8. Waterloo


Many people probably know Waterloo as a University City, but it is much more than that. With a population of 104,986, there is something in this city for everyone.

Waterloo hosts two of the most prestigious universities in Canada, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. This makes living in the city a perfect place for students of these schools. There is plenty of affordable student housing available to meet the needs in Waterloo and living here will allow students to easily meet each other.

Waterloo is not only good for students though, but it is also great for families and young adults who want to start their own independent life. Waterloo has great employment opportunities, especially in tech as Waterloo is known as a technology hub in Canada. There is also a low unemployment rate in Waterloo and the surrounding region. Over 300,000 jobs were created to help this in 2017.

As previously mentioned, housing is also affordable and not just student housing. A home is on average $482,000, to compare, the same home would cost $800,000 in Toronto. So, not only is cost of living low, salaries tend to be the same in Waterloo as they are in Toronto, so you would be able to save money.

9. Ottawa


We’re ending this list of the best places to live in Ontario with Canada’s capital: Ottawa. Though many people outside of Canada think that Toronto is the capital city, the further away city of Ottawa is due to it featuring Parliament Hill. Population wise, Ottawa is smaller than Toronto with 934,243 people.

Similar to Waterloo, Ottawa hosts two prestigious universities, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. There are also popular colleges like Algonquin College and Heritage College. With so many available post-secondary schools, Ottawa is a great place for students.

Since Ottawa is a government city, there are more government jobs available here than in most cities throughout Canada. The unemployment rate is also steadily lowering in Ottawa as jobs are being constantly created. This makes it a good city not only for students but for professionals looking for a new career as well.

It’s also a great city for families as it boasts a low crime rate, low cost of living and generally just being a beautiful place to live. There is stunning architecture that is quite different to most of Ontario and a lot of great nature areas like the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal. Despite being a city, there are a lot of wild animals in nature and over 144 kilometres of hiking trails.

Ottawa seems to encompass all the positives of the previous cities and towns that we discussed, but it is just further away. If you want to be close to Toronto, this is not the city for you since Ottawa is 450km away. That being said, it is closer to our neighbouring province Quebec, so Ottawa would be a good place to settle between the two.

James is a writer based in Ontario who has a background in IT. In his free time, he loves to travel, swim and make a positive difference in the world.
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