Expat guide to Canada: Where to

Picture of a person studying an expat guide to Canada

Canada is like a magnet for people from all around the world. Everybody knows that it offers a good quality of life, communities that hold together, a strong economy, and so much more. With all this, it’s easy to see why so many expats choose Canada as their new home. Our expat guide to Canada will show you what the best Canadian cities are for people from other countries, what to expect from them, and where to find top movers Toronto – seeing as you will likely start your search from this Canadian expat hotspot.

What is Canada like?

Canada is the second biggest country in the world, covering 9,093,510 square kilometers. Therefore, it offers a lot of lifestyle options that will keep moving from Ontario to British Columbia interesting and refreshing. 10 provinces and 3 territories are part of Canada – each of them offers something unique. Some of the globally famous Canadian cities are Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. Many people from around the world have for sure heard about these cities. This country is home to 38.93 million people, who are spread over this large area, resulting in a population density of 4 people per square kilometer.

People from other countries are drawn to the Land of Maple syrup for its stereotypically famous friendliness and attractive job opportunities. The country is home to 8 million immigrants, which is roughly 20% of the population, making it one of the countries with the biggest immigrant population.

Picture of a person holding a maple leaf
Our expat guide to Canada covers anything you might need to know before moving

Key cities for expats

Canada has over 8,016 cities and towns, and all of them offer something unique. But looking at the things that expats need, such as a friendly community, job prospects, and affordable housing costs, we have listed the best of the best. Some of them include:

  • Toronto
  • Montreal
  • Edmonton
  • Vancouver
  • Ottawa
  • Calgary
  • Boucherville
  • Charlottetown
  • Halifax
  • Saskatoon

Rest assured that whichever one you choose, our interprovincial movers can get you there in no time!

Picture of a highway in Toronto, a must-visit according to every expat guide to Canada
Many cities in Canada are great for people coming from other countries

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is, without a doubt, the biggest city in Canada, and it has to be covered in almost every expat guide to Canada. It is located in the South of Ontario along Lake Ontario. 2.9 million people call this city home, which makes it the city with the largest number of residents in the country. The population density is 4,427 people per square km, which is quite dense compared to the national average.

Housing prices in the city are high. The average home costs CAD 1.6 million, and renting an apartment costs CAD 3,500 a month. The average utility cost is CAD 380, while food per person for a month costs CAD 500.

Housing and living in the city is expensive, but it offers various employment opportunities. The strongest industries are finance, technology, and arts. The biggest job opportunity generators are the Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, and Rogers Communications. The average household earns CAD 167,000 a year, which justifies the high costs of living.

As far as entertainment goes, Toronto doesn’t disappoint. If you are an outdoor lover, there are parks and recreational areas wherever you might find yourself in the city. From High Park and Toronto Islands to Humber Bay Park – there is something for everyone.

As far as eating out is concerned, Toronto has options that cater to every taste and budget. According to reviews, the best local favorites are Alo, Canoe, and Scaramouche.

Toronto is also globally known for its festivals, the most popular ones being the Toronto International Film Festival, Caribana, and Nuit Blanche. All of these happenings draw in large crowds from surrounding areas and all around the world. If you plan on hiring long distance movers Toronto during the duration of the festival, calculate potential delays due to traffic and limited parking spots.

Toronto is also known for its festivals, such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Caribana, and Nuit Blanche.

Picture of the Toronto skyline
Toronto is, without a doubt, the most multicultural city in Canada

Montreal, Quebec

If Toronto’s international character has lured you, you are not alone. But it might not be to your liking. In this case, moving from Toronto to Montreal is a viable choice, but expect to see a complete change in lifestyle and overall vibe.

Montreal resides on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. It is also the largest city in Quebec, with 1.78 million residents. The population density in the area is around 4,800 people per square kilometer, which means that it is more densely populated than Toronto.

Finding a house in this city can be more affordable than in Toronto, but that is not always the case. It greatly depends on the area that you are looking at. The median home price is CAD 782,000, while renting costs CAD 2,500 a month.

The City of Saints is globally known for its European feel and beautiful arts and architecture. The major industries in the city are aerospace, technology, and gaming. Bombardier, Ubisoft, and Bell Canada are the biggest employers in the area, but thousands of people are not working there. The median household income is around CAD 111,000 before taxes.

In case you want to enjoy the outdoors after a long day at work, don’t hesitate to visit one of the city’s beautiful parks – Mount Royal Park, Jean-Drapeau Park, and Lachine Canal. If cooking is not your thing, eating out is a viable option, and this Canadian city doesn’t disappoint when it comes to restaurants. Whether you visit Joe Beef, Toqué! or Le Club Chasse et Pêche, you will be in for a culinary treat.

Montreal could be an interesting place to visit for festival goers. Between the Montreal Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs, and Montreal International Fireworks, there is plenty to choose from.

Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton is located in the central part of Alberta, alongside the North Saskatchewan River. About 980,000 people call it home, much smaller than Montreal and Toronto. So, if you are thinking about moving from Toronto to Edmonton, expect a much lower population density. As one would expect, the population density here is lower than in the previous two cities, at 1,320.4 people per square km. Expect to pay around CAD 626,000 for a home in Edmonton. Rent costs around CAD 2,000, which is quite affordable nowadays. As an expat in this city, I think it is a better idea to rent than commit to buying a home – at least in the first few years.

Canada’s Festival City is well known for being a place where the community is valued. The biggest industries are energy, healthcare, and education, so if you are an expat with a career in one of these, rest assured that you will likely find employment. University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and PCL Construction all hire new people all the time, so make sure to apply well before moving. Expect to gain around CAD 164,000 as a household per year here.

Picture of a bridge in Edmonton
Renting is a better option for expats in this city

Vancouver, British Columbia

In our expat guide to Canada, we cannot help but mention Vancouver. This city is on the Pacific coast, surrounded by the Coastal Mountain Range. Here, you will have the sea on one side and mountains on the other. 675,000 people call this city home, where they enjoy natural beauty and a beautiful climate. This city is densely populated, with 5,749.9 people per square kilometer. Even though the population is smaller than in Toronto, the city is located in a smaller area.

Buying a home here is an investment because a home costs CAD 1.7 million, and the average rent costs CAD 4,000. Both buying and renting here are more expensive than in the other cities. But for the price, it offers a lot, with safety being one of the biggest positive sides. Property crimes can be a problem in some areas, but violent crimes are very rare.

Despite the high costs, many expats and locals are drawn to life in Vancouver. The high costs are justified by the good employment opportunities in one of the main industries – film, technology, and tourism. Lululemon, Telus, and Vancouver General Hospital are the main places where you can find a job here. You can expect to gain CAD 118,000 working here.

For outdoor recreation, Vancouver offers many options:

  • Stanley Park
  • Grouse Mountain
  • Kitsilano Beach

Dining in Vancouver is a treat, with top restaurants such as:

  • Miku
  • Vij’s
  • Blue Water Cafe

Vancouver is also the host to various festivals – Vancouver International Film Festival, Celebration of Light, and Vancouver Folk Music Festival. If you’re considering moving from Toronto to Vancouver, you’ll experience a different climate and lifestyle but with plenty of activities to enjoy.

Boucherville, Quebec

Are you looking for a quiet, suburban lifestyle while not moving to a suburb of Montreal? Boucherville is located on the South Shore of the Saint Lawrence River, offering amazing vistas to its residents. About 40,000 residents call this suburb home. As one would expect, housing here is much more affordable than in the other, bigger cities. You can find a home for CAD 612,000, but renting will still be a more viable option for a newcomer – and you will only pay CAD 2,000 a month.

Even though relatively affordable, this suburb is well known as a family-friendly area with a high quality of life. The quality of life is further boosted by a good annual income of CAD 150,000.

For outdoor activities, Boucherville offers:

  • Îles-de-Boucherville National Park
  • Parc de la Broquerie
  • Extensive bike paths

Popular festivals in Boucherville include Boucherville en Fête, Festival des Saveurs, and outdoor summer concerts. If you plan on leaving Toronto for a more calming, fulfilling lifestyle – don’t wait. Stash your items temporarily into one of the storage units Toronto and start looking for a new life 566 km to the East.

Picture of a highway in Boucherville
Boucherville may not be as famous as other cities, but it is worth considering

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island, sits on the island’s southern shore. It has a population of around 36,000 and a density of 814 people per km². Housing is affordable here, with an average home price of CAD 612,000 and a one-bedroom rental costing about CAD 2,500 per month.

Life in Charlottetown is laid-back and budget-friendly, especially for expats from big cities. Key industries include tourism, agriculture, and fishing. Major employers are the Government of PEI, the University of Prince Edward Island, and Cavendish Farms. The median household income is about CAD 90,000.

Outdoor activities in Charlottetown:

  • Victoria Park
  • Confederation Trail
  • Brackley Beach

Expat guide to Canada – Tips

No expat guide to Canada is complete without tips, and these are our best ones:

  1. Immigration and Visas: You need a valid visa. Options include Express Entry for skilled workers and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Ensure your credentials are recognized in Canada.
  2. Driving: Get a local driver’s license within 90 days of arrival.
  3. Healthcare: Register for provincial health insurance as soon as you arrive.
  4. Work Permits: You need a permit to work. Apply through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program.
  5. Job Hunting: Use resources like Job Bank and LinkedIn. Networking is crucial, so join local expat groups.
  6. Housing: Research housing options before you arrive. Websites like Realtor.ca and Kijiji can help.
  7. Banking: Open a Canadian bank account to manage your finances. Major banks include RBC, TD, and Scotiabank.
  8. Taxes: Learn about the tax system. You’ll need to file taxes annually.
  9. Language: Improve your English or French skills. Language proficiency is often required for jobs and citizenship.
  10. Citizenship: To become a citizen, live in Canada for at least three out of the last five years and meet other criteria.

Knowing these tips can help ensure a smooth transition to living in Canada.

Picture of friends reading an expat guide to Canada on a laptop
A visa is needed for expats in Canada

Are you ready to call Canada home?

Canada offers many cities cities, each with unique opportunities and lifestyles. This expat guide to Canada provides a snapshot of what you can expect in each city. Consider your priorities and preferences when choosing your new home. Thw beautiful Canada has something for everyone.