Topping dozens of world economic surveys and quality of life questionnaires, Canada enjoys a very high rank among highly-developed countries.
Its residents are happier, wealthier, and healthier than 75% of the world’s adults.
More migrants choose to move to Canada than to any other country in the Americas. Yet this country in the “Great White North” is still quite open. If Canada has such a strong economy for real estate, is it the best place for you?
Canada’s seven largest cities offer some of the most expensive costs of living on the globe. It’s true, Montreal and Vancouver attract a lot of attention as dream homes for would-be transplants. But not all Canada is costly. There are hundreds of medium-sized towns lying just outside urban sprawl (and hundreds that lie closer to nature) waiting for new residents.
So, we did the research and picked out the ten cheapest places to live in Canada. You’ll find a variety of options below, from exurb towns within cycling distance of big cities to smaller towns with interesting cultures and people. Living in Canada doesn’t have to break your budget. Read on to discover some northern gems that’ll let you live on the cheap.
- Canada is one of the most highly developed nations in the western hemisphere with massive petroleum reserves, a growing service economy, and low levels of poverty.
- It has become an attractive destination for young people and families to reside in owing, in part, to its natural beauty, good schools, busy nightlife, and healthcare.
- Generally, Canada is less affordable to live in than other North American countries, with higher home prices and rents, though tax rates rank consistently low worldwide.
- Including rent, prices for goods in Canada cost 26% more than in the United States.
- Canada is the 30th most expensive country to live in out of 138 countries according to the cost of living indexes.
- Despite being the home to three of the most expensive cities in the world (Winnipeg, Victoria, and Vancouver) people moving to smaller suburban cities have experienced high wages, low crime, a welcoming culture, and business-friendly tax rates.
10) London, Ontario
If you imagined that all the sites on our list of the cheapest cities in Canada were small and packed away in the countryside away from city life, you might have to think twice. London, Ontario, the sixth-largest city in the province and a cultural axis for the area. Over 360,000 people call it home.
London truly does have a big city vibe. The area hosts a series of community festivals, a large healthcare system, and a country-leading childcare educational network. It’s a town perfect for growing families in particular since crime rates are among the lowest in the province.
The town’s central healthcare industry gathers a lot of attention from young professionals who rent on short and medium-length leases. London would also be an excellent first place for a twenty-something who’s looking for a busy city life before moving to a quieter area outside the city.
The areas best for families would be the suburbs of White Oak or Fairmont. There, the louder city atmosphere fades away into a beautiful stretch of land that experiences all four Canadian seasons. Plus, if your business requires you to visit the US, London is ideally located near the border.
London is affordable for its size and welcoming to new people. The city has some of the most diverse and inclusive populations in the province. Come to London for the best of the city and the suburbs.
• Average Rent in USD:$1,200
• Average Home Price in USD: $405,000
9) Abbotsford, British Columbia
Like London, Ontario, Abbotsford, British Columbia is nestled right next to the US Border. But the lifestyle and atmosphere of this stunningly beautiful city are quite different from cities in the east. First of all, the town is about a third of the size of London at 141,000 people. Of particular note is the city’s high proportion of minorities, including first nation’s people.
Abbotsford offers one of the most diverse communities in the country. A large proportion of minorities plus the large population of university students of the University of Fraser Valley combine to make a patchwork culture welcoming all types.
It’s worth mentioning the education system in Abbotsford. There are eight post-secondary schools and over 50 public and private K-12 institutions in the area. This town is friendly for families looking to start children in a top-flight schooling system from the ground up.
Abbotsford has the advantage of being situated within an hour’s drive of large towns like Burnaby, Richmond, and Vancouver. Locals recommend visiting those cities for cultural performances, shows, and sporting events because the area around Abbotsford is quite rural. About 70% of the city land is federally protected, and it employs over 7,000 residents.
Abbotsford is a great city to live in for renters in particular. High home prices may be surprising, yet they result mainly from the town’s proximity to Vancouver. Drive just a few miles to the edge of town and home prices drop to more comfortable figures.
• Average Rent in USD: $1,000
• Average Home Price in USD: $750,000
8) Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton is a fast-paced city with a heart of gold. Long an attractive hub for young entrepreneurs, active populations, and business-driven groups, today’s Edmonton is welcoming to a much wider group of residents.
On our list of the cheapest places to live in Canada, Edmonton is the largest city by far. It boasts more than one million residents within its borders. Not only is Edmonton interesting culturally and economically booming, but it also serves as a kind of hub for Alberta and the western part of the country. As such, the city fluctuates with new populations and experiences a vital flow of new residents with diverse backgrounds and heritages all year-round.
The city is large but it doesn’t have the “big city” feel that can alienate some people and some families when moving to a metropolis like Montreal or Toronto. Edmonton is a great mix of small-town friendliness and big-city excitement. Festivals like the Edmonton Fringe Festival draw thousands of visitors every year and the Art Museum and Edmonton Oilers stadium keep the city fresh and vibrant for everyone.
It would be hard to find another large city in Canada with affordable renting prices as low as they offer. One reason the city can keep costs low is its extreme climate. The city is one of the most northernmost in Canada and the winters are brutal. On the flip side, it’s situated so that you can enjoy the Northern Lights regularly throughout the year. Keep climate in mind if you’re planning to live with a family. Living with the cold is just part of the fun of Edmonton life!
• Average Rent in USD: $925
• Average Home Price in USD: $425,000
7) Thunder Bay, Ontario
This city, whose population hovers around 100,000, is formed of two cities, Port Arthur and Fort William. Today, it takes the central place at the head of Lake Superior and the largest city in Western Ontario. It’s a lakeside community with a long history of trade and academia.
The city of Thunder Bay has won awards for air quality, night sky visibility, and water quality for years. It’s no overstatement to call Thunder Bay a gem at the top of Lake Superior. If you enjoy water sports, it’s one of the cheapest places to live in Canada that offers the full range of water-based entertainment.
Lakehead University is located nearby, along with a stellar public school system ideal for bringing up a family. If, on the other hand, you’re planning to live in Thunder City single, it’s a great town for renting or purchasing homes right in the center of the bustling main street.
The US/Canada line to Minnesota is less than an hour away, so international travel is a drop in the bucket. However, there has been a recent uptick in crime in very small districts of the city which residents are solving currently. Overall, Thunder Bay’s low average rent and home prices more than make up for the small-town atmosphere. If you’re craving more excitement, flights to Toronto are very cheap, for singles and families alike.
• Average Rent in USD: $925
• Average Home Price in USD: $265,000
6) Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Ontario features heavily on our list of the cheapest places to live in Canada for good reason. The province is home to some of the most expensive cities in the country, but there are just as many great towns with low rent and home prices in this part of the country. Sault Ste. Marie is one of the most visible and exciting cities in Ontario–and it just happens to have some of the lowest costs of living.
Sault Ste. Marie is the third-largest town in Ontario and it boasts rental prices that are a third of other cities. Its natural surroundings are perfect for exploring with a group of friends or with a family in tow. Check out Agawa Canyon in particular. It’s fair to say that the Canadian lifestyle is close to nature, but Sault Ste. Marie kicks it up a notch.
Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are a central part of life in Sault Ste. Marie. But don’t worry–this vibrant town has entertainment and fun for everyone. Situated to the eastern side of Lake Superior from Thunder Bay, this city sits in the middle of a half dozen industries. If you’re trained in steel, renewable energy, or tourism, then Sault Ste. Marie will be very welcoming.
Local culture is modest but long-lasting and residents take pride in their traditions. Check out the Art Gallery of Algoma to view local exhibitions, or take part in the Algoma Fall Festival, a regional attraction that brings out the best in this small but vital city.
• Average Rent in USD: $900
• Average Home Price in USD: $245,000
5) Quebec City, Quebec
The first city on our list of the cheapest places to live in Canada, that’s in French Canada, Quebec City offers a stunning mix of local culture and affordable housing prices. The city is a regional hub and capital of Quebec. As such, it is the center of a lot of political attention and gathers a sizable population every year as national and provincial votes pass.
But the city is so much more than its capital. For one, Quebec City claims the title as one of the longest settled cities in North America. The history of the trappers, the French and Indian Wars, and so many more moments are painted all over this quaint but fun-loving town.
Families will love to live in Quebec City. The climate is temperate year-round, the housing options are diverse, and the cost of living beats out even those of cheap American cities like Memphis or Phoenix.
The closeby St. Lawrence River defines the town and gives it a European feeling, plus the fortified city walls which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But there’s more to the town than its history. There are jobs available in tourism and transportation–the city is a cultural center, not a manufacturing hub. Visit Quebec City and you’re sure to get caught up in its romantic historical district before settling down in its cheap outlying areas.
• Average Rent in USD: $830
• Average Home Price in USD: $310,000
4) Timmins, Ontario
Timmins, Ontario is first of all a tourist destination for millions of Canadians and Americans every year. Its 500 lakes and rivers give visitors more activities to do than in most areas in the country. Fishing, paddling, kayaking, and boating sports are all a vital part of the city economy and tourist attraction. But did you know that it’s one of the cheapest cities to live in in Canada?
The average rent and home prices in Timmins are especially low for Ontario. There’s a lot to do in town besides visiting tourist areas. The local Timmins Museum National Exhibit Centre, the Urban Park, or the Summer Concert Series in the summer to get the best idea of how this city keeps going year-round.
In the off-season, Timmins slows down and the population drops so that residents get more of a small-town feel. Yet work goes on consistently, as the mining and lumber industries employ the largest proportion of residents. Don’t fear–if you plan to move and don’t work in those fields, Timmins tourism bureau is always welcome and ready to hire new residents.
• Average Rent in USD: $875
• Average Home Price in USD: $200,000
3) Moncton, New Brunswick
Moncton is the only Canadian city officially declared bilingual. French and English speakers commingle in this city of 140,000 people, both equally contributing to its cultural diversity with a variety of voices that make Moncton a one-of-a-kind Canadian experience.
The city offers much more than a blend of languages. It’s uniquely positioned between beaches and several national parks that form the basis of much of the population’s entertainment and free time. Paddling, boating, climbing, hiking, and swimming are all part of what makes New Brunswick a special location to live in.
The downtown area of Moncton is a moderate size but the total population including those living in the affordable suburban districts totals over 1.5 million. With those figures, single residents and families alike will find enough recreation and excitement to power a city lifestyle.
Looking for a job in Moncton? The best way to market new employees is with bilingual proficiency. However, there are plenty of positions in tourism and finance, as well as new tech ventures in gaming and animation. Moncton is a city firmly planted between the old world and the new.
• Average Rent in USD: $800
• Average Home Price in USD: $285,000
2) Rimouski, Quebec
Rimouski is situated along the St. Lawrence River at the heart of its downtown, and the city itself sits on the largest estuary in the world. What more is there to say? This city is a natural wonder, a source of plenty of high-paying jobs, and one of the cheapest places to live in Canada.
The city is steeped in early French and American history. After walking along the St. Lawrence River with your family, you can visit wild forested areas to the south, cross the Hell’s Gate Canyon, read up on maritime history at the Pointe-au-Père historic site, then finish the day enjoying the wildlife at the National Park du Bic. Rimouski is truly at the center of the Quebecois lifestyle.
Rimouski encourages people and families to move to the city with its generous educational system, low crime rates, and affordable housing. Once you visit this city, it becomes harder to believe how much of a value the housing truly is in Quebec.
• Average Rent in USD: $700
• Average Home Price in USD: $220,000
1) Sherbrooke, Quebec
Our final selection of the cheapest places to live in Canada is also in Quebec. Sherbrooke ends our list because its average rent and home prices are the lowest in the nation. And yet, the city itself may just be the most picturesque and welcoming among the bunch.
Sherbrooke is the central cultural hub of Estrie, with the majority of the academic and cultural life of the students living in Quebec centering within its borders. That makes it a thriving town with a booming nightlife that still doesn’t disturb its quaint small-town feel.
Students obviously will find the town a friendly site for study and play. But families and entrepreneurs–just to name two other groups of people–will also be welcome in Sherbrooke. Outdoor life lies just outside the city lines. Mountain access and river adventures are available for half the year, and the rest of the year you can explore the downtown shops.
Sherbrooke is a mere step away from the US too. If you need to travel to and fro from country to country, this city is a perfect home base. But why would you leave? Its stellar public education system and low unemployment make this bargain town a must-have.
• Average Rent in USD: $550
• Average Home Price in USD: $305,000
Canada is a land of contrasts: massive metropolises sit mere minutes from towering mountain peaks, French speakers do business with English speakers, and people can find homes for a third of the price of their neighbors.
In our list above, we discovered that the cheapest places to live in Canada aren’t so hard to find. All you need is to look outside the large metropolises to uncover charming cultural towns that will save you thousands.
See anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Related: Living in Nunavut, Canada