Living in Canada

Living in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is an expensive city to live in.


It has the most expensive housing market in Canada and is ranked by Demographia as the third least affordable major city in the world, behind Hong Kong and Sydney.

The city has attempted to introduce strategies to reduce housing costs, including co-op housing, increased density and legalized secondary suites. (A secondary suite is a subdivided single home. Secondary suites, or granny flats, usually have their own entrances, living areas, kitchens and bathrooms.)

A large number of people also live in high-rise condominiums.


High density housing is more of a consideration in Vancouver than other Canadian cities because any expansion of Vancouver is restricted by sea and mountains more so than elsewhere.

In late 2012, the average home in Vancouver cost $684,000 – much more expensive than in Toronto, $479,000; Calgary, $420,000; Ottawa, $337,000 or Montreal, $331,000.
Housing in an older Vancouver suburb
Houses in a new Vancouver suburb
Waterside Condos

The Royal LePage House Price Survey (pdf document) of Vancouver summarizing the third quarter of 2012 found that purchasing a standard two-story house would cost:

$470,000 in the North Delta; $860,000 in North Vancouver; $800,000 in Richmond; $420,000 in Surrey; $860,000 in Vancouver East; $1,500,000 in Vancouver West; and $1,300,000 in West Vancouver.

For standard condominium apartments, prices were:

$145,000 in the North Delta; $335,000 in North Vancouver; $325,000 in Richmond; $211,000 in Surrey; $425,000 in Vancouver East; $725,000 in Vancouver West; and $507,000 in West Vancouver.

Most rentals in Vancouver are unfurnished and come with 12 month leases.

Royal LePage estimated the monthly rental prices for standard condominium apartments were:

$950 in the North Delta; $950 in Surrey; and $1,100 in White Rock/South Surrey.

Vancouver’s best neighbourhoods are situated in the city’s downtown, to the west of the downtown, and over the bridge to the North Shore (West and North Vancouver).

North Vancouver has one of Canada’s lowest crime rates.

The west end of the downtown core is the most expensive area, while downtown’s east side is a more impoverished area, with higher crime rates.

Some parts of the eastern city are very run down with some of the worst drug and homelessness problems in Canada.

Moving a little farther out, to somewhere like Burnaby, will be cheaper than the North Shore or downtown and there are plenty of more affordable, family sized properties in areas such as Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Delta, Surrey and Langley.

Each of these areas have some poorer neighbourhoods that families moving to Vancouver might prefer to avoid, but they also have plenty of great places to live too, with lots of amenities that families will find are ideal.

Living in Montreal, Quebec

Each borough of Montreal has its own atmosphere and character.

Before choosing your neighbourhood, it’s best to balance your ability to speak French with your area.

Some areas of Montreal, like Hampstead, Notre Dame de Grace and Westmount are predominantly English, but others like Rosemont, are very French. You will find fewer English signs, newspapers in corner stores, and neighbours with whom you can converse.


Some immigrants have found that living in a predominantly French neighbourhood forces them to practice using the language daily, and actually improves their skills.

Closer to downtown, Plateau or Mount Royal, most of the residents are English, or at least highly bilingual, and can converse comfortably in either language.

Renting is the most popular option for those looking to live near downtown. Montreal has the lowest rental costs of any major Canadian city.

Neighbourhoods like the Plateau, Mount Royal and Rosemont have both low and high rise buildings, and operate like tiny self contained cities.

They all offer affordable housing and low crime. The average rental price for an apartment in these areas can range from $800 to $1,700 per month for a 2 bedroom apartment.

These areas features all of the necessary amenities for their residents, such as grocery stores, hardware and home wares stores, hospitals and clinics, boutiques and cafes, bars and restaurants. These areas also offer easy access to bus and metro transit lines.

Neighbourhoods like Westmount and the Outremount have rental rates of approximately $1,200 to $2,000 for a 2 bedroom apartment, and are considered Montreal’s high-end areas. Police foot patrols are frequent, and these areas tend to have more small boutique style food markets and fewer large grocery stores.

For those interested in buying a home, the average price for a single family home is approximately $331,000 (2012), which is $22,000 less than the Canadian average, but higher than the provincial average of $274,000.

Popular moderately priced neighbourhoods to buy homes are outlining areas like Notre Dame de Grace, Laval and Kirkland.

For those looking for a more expensive home, the Westmount borough features homes costing between $500,000 and $3 million.


Montreal on the whole is safe, but you should use your instincts when traveling the city on foot at night.

Some less desirable neighbourhoods are St. Michel, Park Extension and Montreal North. These areas are some of the most impoverished in the city, and have been subject to occasional gang violence.

Living in Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is a huge, sprawling city which offers any number of neighbourhood characteristics and different lifestyles.

Our Top Ten Toronto Picks

Map DataMap data ©2013 Google
Map Data
Map data ©2013 Google
Map data ©2013 Google

Click a red marker to learn more about any of the areas we’ve picked

Our criteria for selecting good places to live may seem pedestrian to our more avant-garde readers, but they are focused around the fact that the majority of people prefer living in areas with:

›› low crime rates
›› good schools
›› good access to downtown Toronto

We’ll specify what we think are some of the best places to live in Greater Toronto.


If we don’t mention somewhere, that doesn’t mean you should strike it off your list. Many Greater Toronto neighbourhoods meet our criteria – these are just our personal favourites, listed alphabetically.

Some places we suggest have large populations. For example, Markham: we think Markham is a great place to live, but it’s a big place. Within it, you’ll naturally find some neighbourhoods that suit you better than others. Take our suggestions as starting points in your search.


Farther from the city there’s more space for new homes to be built, so you’ll find most of the area’s rapid population growth has been accommodated in places outside the city of Toronto but within commuting distance of downtown Toronto.

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