A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has ranked 172 cities from around the world according to their 2022 Global Liveability Index. Three Canadian cities made the Top 10 in the list: Calgary (#3), Vancouver (#5), and Toronto (#8).
The EIU, a research division of a sister company to The Economist newspaper, considers several key factors when determining their rankings, including:
- Stability: Prevalence and threats of crime, conflict, and terror.
- Healthcare: Availability and quality of public and private healthcare
- Culture & Environment: Climate liveability, levels of corruption, social or religious restrictions, availability of sport, culture, food & drink, and consumer goods & services.
- Education: Availability and quality of public and private education.
- Infrastructure: Quality of roads, transit options, housing, energy, water, and telecommunications.
Overall, the EIU found that the Liveability Index rose sharply in 2022, largely due to the effectiveness of COVID-19 mitigation measures. However, the global average score remains below pre-pandemic levels.
The Top 10 most liveable cities are:
City Location Rank Index Stability Healthcare Culture & Environment Education Infrastructure
Vienna Austria 1 99.1 100 100 96.3 100 100
Copenhagen Denmark 2 98 100 95.8 95.4 100 100
Zurich Switzerland 3 96.3 95 100 96.3 91.7 96.4
Calgary Canada 3 96.3 95 100 90 100 100
Vancouver Canada 5 96.1 90 100 100 100 92.9
Geneva Switzerland 6 95.9 95 100 94.9 91.7 96.4
Frankfurt Germany 7 95.7 90 100 96.3 91.7 100
Toronto Canada 8 95.4 95 100 95.4 100 89.3
Amsterdam Netherlands 9 95.3 90 100 97.2 91.7 96.4
Osaka Japan 10 95.1 100 100 83.1 100 96.4
Melbourne Australia 10 95.1 95 83.3 98.6 100 100
The Top 10 list is dominated by cities in Canada and Western Europe. The EIU explains these rankings are because “life is almost back to normal in these cities on account of high covid-19 vaccination rates and the easing of restrictions.”
Canada’s Top Three Cities
Three Canadian cities made the Top 10 with Calgary outranking both Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary scored a perfect 100 in the infrastructure category while Toronto and Vancouver lagged slightly behind, possibly due to the lack of affordable housing in both cities.
While all three cities score highly in each category, it is notable that all three received a perfect score of 100 in the categories of healthcare and education, demonstrating the high quality systems Canada has in place to manage both of these domains of public life.
Let’s dive into Canada’s Top Three cities.
Calgary, Alberta — Ranked #3 Globally
Calgary is the third-most populous city in Canada, with a population of around 1.3 million. It is the largest city in Canada’s Prairie provinces, acting as an economic hub for the region.
Calgary’s economy is diverse, supporting a range of industries. Perhaps most notable is Calgary’s energy sector. The province of Alberta is Canada’s largest oil and natural gas producer, accounting for around 80 percent of Canada’s total oil production. As such, much of Calgary’s economy is tied to the energy sector.
Affordability of housing is a major attraction for new arrivals to Calgary. As of July 2022, renting a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Calgary averages approximately CAD$1,372 per month. This is about 40 percent cheaper than Vancouver, whose average cost for the same apartment is $2,260.
The only factor in the EIU ranking where Calgary fell below Vancouver and Toronto was for the category of culture & environment. The city is bustling and offers a range of activities and cultural experiences, like the world-famous Calgary Stampede, but Calgary is less diverse than both Vancouver and Toronto. Calgary is also only a 90-minute drive from the Rocky Mountains, with incredible camping, hiking, and skiing.
Interested in learning more about Calgary? Check out our Calgary city guide.
Vancouver, British Columbia — Ranked #5 Globally
The Pacific Coast city of Vancouver is a popular destination for newcomers to Canada for several reasons.
First, the city has a milder climate than most places in Canada, allowing residents to escape Canada’s harsh winters. Second, the city is surrounded by natural attractions — mountains that offer skiing, hiking, and camping, and oceans that offer sailing, swimming, and beaches. Finally, Vancouver is incredibly diverse, with more than 40 percent of the city’s population being first-generation immigrants. This makes it a welcoming place for newcomers.
Vancouver hosts a range of different industries, with a bustling tech sector, many roles in tourism & hospitality, heavy-hitting construction projects, and even an impressive film & television industry.
The city proper has a population of about 630,000, but Metro Vancouver has a much larger population — closer to 2.5 million.
Availability of affordable housing is one of the biggest issues facing Vancouver. In recent years, prices for buying and renting property have skyrocketed to the highest in Canada. As of July 2022, the average rental price of a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver is $2,260 per month.
Affordability of housing and cost of living are likely some of the factors that cause Vancouver to score below Calgary in the EIU’s scoring for Infrastructure. Those who can afford the high rental prices can find an excellent lifestyle in Canada, but many newcomers seeking affordability are choosing to look elsewhere.
Interested in learning more about Vancouver? Check out our Vancouver city guide, or watch our video tour of the city:
Toronto, Ontario — Ranked #8 Globally
Toronto is the most popular destination for newcomers to Canada. It’s also Canada’s most populous city — with a population of nearly 3 million in the city proper and almost 6 million in the Greater Toronto Area.
As Canada’s largest city, Toronto acts as a hub of many different industries. It’s the financial heart of Canada, hosts some of the country’s biggest law firms and corporations, has a mammoth tech sector, and much more. Toronto has a reputation as a city for ambitious people looking to build a strong career.
But, it’s not all sunshine and roses!
Like Vancouver, Toronto has one of the least affordable housing and rental markets in Canada. With skyrocketing rental prices and a low vacancy rate, finding an apartment in Toronto can be challenging (and finding a cheap apartment is nearly impossible!). As of July 2022, the average rental price of a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto is $2,118 per month, just slightly lower than Vancouver.
For some individuals the high cost of living in Toronto may be offset by higher salaries offered by many companies operating in the city.
Those who can afford to live in Toronto can take advantage of the city’s culture and attractions. A foodie’s dream, Toronto offers both high-end and affordable dining experiences. On any given week, multiple festivals are likely taking place, like the Toronto International Film Festival, the Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival, VELD Music Festival, and even the Toronto Festival of Beer (oh yes).
Toronto is also the most diverse city in Canada, with nearly half of the city’s population identifying as first-generation immigrants.
Interested in learning more about Toronto? Check out our Toronto city guide, or watch our video tour of the city: