As the largest city in the Canadian Prairies, Winnipeg is often affectionately referred to as the Heart of the Continent. Winnipeg’s long, cold winters mean that the city of almost one million people is also home to the slightly less-charming moniker of “Winterpeg”. However, despite the harsh winters that Winnipegers endure, their spirit and hospitality remains strong. This friendly and welcoming reputation is one of the main reasons why an increasing number of newcomers to Canada have chosen to make Winnipeg their Canadian home. So, let’s learn more about living in Winnipeg, Canada’s most centrally-located city.

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Where is Winnipeg, Manitoba?

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba. The city is located towards the eastern end of the Canadian Prairies. As far as Canadian cities go, Winnipeg is about as central as it gets, and the city sits at the meeting point of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.

Population and immigrant communities

Winnipeg was recently ranked as the third-fastest growing economy among Canada’s major cities, and is also considered to be one of the most diversified across the country, but that’s not the only thing attracting newcomers to live in Winnipeg, which has been a magnet for immigrants to Canada for decades.

The city may be one of the most isolated in North America, but its appeal among immigrant communities from across the world means that it has become a diverse and multicultural place to call home. One of the strongest immigrant communities in Winnipeg is made up of newcomers from the Philippines.

Winnipeg witnessed its first major influx of Filipino immigrants in the 1980s, and the multi-generational community has grown from strength to strength since then. 

Today, Winnipeg has the third-largest Filipino population in Canada, as well as the largest in terms of per-capita population, with just under 10 percent. In 2016, there were over 57,000 Filipino citizens living in Winnipeg as either permanent residents or naturalized Canadian citizens. However, it isn’t just the Filipino community that is thriving in Canada’s sunniest city.

In 2019, 14,745 permanent residents were admitted to Canada and settled in Winnipeg. The total figure for Manitoba as a whole was 18,905, meaning that almost 80 percent of all permanent residents who settled in Manitoba in 2019 chose Winnipeg. Furthermore, the 2016 census data indicates that there were approximately 180,000 immigrants based in Winnipeg, representing almost 24 percent of the city’s total population. This is an increase from 20.6 percent in 2011, and 17.7 percent in 2006. As a province, Manitoba was the province with the second youngest population in 2019, thanks in no small part to the many immigrant families who settled in the province through Express Entry, or through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), or via the Family Class sponsorship route. Other newcomers to Winnipeg include refugees and some business immigrants, but the majority arrive through Express Entry, the MPNP, or the support of a loved one.

Aside from the established Filipino community in the city, Winnipeg is also home to a growing Indian community, as well significant British and Chinese populations.

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Housing in Winnipeg

Rental costs in Winnipeg are among the lowest in Canada, making the city ideal for newcomers who want to find their own place after arriving in Canada without having to share an address with roommates.

According to Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Winnipeg should set an individual or couple around $1,050 CAD per month. An equivalent sized apartment in the suburbs will about $990 per month. If you plan on living in Winnipeg with a family or simply want a larger place, then you can expect to pay about $1,660 per month for a three-bedroom apartment in Winnipeg’s city centre neighbourhoods. The same apartment a little further out will cost around $1,550. For some additional context, it should be noted that rental prices in Winnipeg are around 12 percent cheaper than equivalent properties in Hamilton, Ontario. This comparison is important because many immigrants in Canada feel that the outer cities of the GTA, as well as other urban centres elsewhere in Ontario, are the only options for affordable city-living in Canada. Living in Winnipeg proves that this is not the case.

If you are moving to Winnipeg with some savings and a solid job or savings, you might want to think about buying a home in Winnipeg, with properties in Winnipeg typically more affordable than in other Canadian cities of similar size, such as Calgary and Ottawa.

Transport in Winnipeg

Like many Canadian Prairie cities, Winnipeg is not renowned for its public transport system. The simple fact of the matter is that the cold winters and urban sprawl means that many Winnipeggers opt for a car before the bus.

If you do choose to use public transport in the city then you should know that the Winnipeg transit system offers a pretty comprehensive bus service and a monthly transport pass will set you back approximately $102 CAD per month.

Finally, if you are a cycling enthusiast, then you will be pleased to learn that there is an extensive bike path network covering large sections of the city. And, with so much flatland, you can rest assured that you won’t have to navigate any tricky or calf-crippling climbs!

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Living in Winnipeg with a family

Winnipeg is home to some of the most affordable childcare options and Kindergarten services in North America. 

Other good news for families in Winnipeg is that there is an extensive primary and secondary school system, with a wide range of public and independent schools to choose from.

Public schools operate directly under the Ministry of Education. These schools are governed by locally elected school division/district boards. All Canadian citizens and landed immigrants residing with a parent or legal guardian in Manitoba have the right to attend public schools subject to provincial regulations.

The operation of independent schools varies. Some schools are affiliated with a specific religious or denominational group. They have their own governing bodies or boards. Independent schools are eligible for provincial funding if they implement the Manitoba curriculum and meet a number of additional requirements. Non-funded independent schools may not follow provincial curricula but must deliver a standard of education to that provided in a public school.

In terms of university education in Winnipeg, the two big-hitters are the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. The former has a dynamic campus that is located across Winnipeg’s downtown core and its international student population is more than 10 percent of the total student body. 

The University of Manitoba is located primarily in Winnipeg’s Fort Garry neighbourhood and is the oldest university west of Ontario, having been formed in 1877. It is Manitoba’s only research-intensive university, and one of the country’s top research institutions. The university also boasts an alumni of over 145,000, living in 140 countries.

Living in Winnipeg

Despite many assertions to the contrary, Winnipeg is actually one of the most culturally-rich cities in Canada. It is home to the recently opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as well as the Centennial Concert Hall and the ever-popular Winnipeg Folk Festival

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Winnipeg skyline.

In terms of sport, living in Winnipeg means that you’ll be sharing a city with the 2019 Candian Football League (CFL) Gray Cup champions, the expertly-named Winnipeg Blue Bombers, while the city’s beloved Winnipeg Jets represent the city and wider region in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Finally, food lovers can sample the culinary delights offered up by the city’s significant immigrant communities in one of the many great Filipino, Indian, Japanese, and Scandanavian restaurants dotted across the city.

Immigrating to Winnipeg, Manitoba

If you’re interested in moving to Winnipeg, there are a few options you may want to consider for immigration to Manitoba. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you want professional advice, we recommend booking a consultation with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant.

Express Entry

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Express Entry is Canada’s main system for managing immigration of skilled workers. Do you have skilled work experience, lots of higher education, and strong abilities in English and/or French? Check out our guide to find out if Express Entry could be an option for you.

International Studies

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If you’re young and planning life long-term, you might want to consider international studies at a post-secondary college or university in Manitoba. Completing Canadian education greatly increases your options when it comes to immigration, plus local experience will give you an edge when it comes to launching your career.

And that’s it, our guide to living in Winnipeg. If you are a newcomer to Canada that wants to live in a diverse Canadian city brimming with culture and job opportunities, while not breaking the bank on rent or mortgage repayments each month, then Winnipeg might be the perfect place for you.

Finally, for the most up to date information on life in Winnipeg and how to make the most of your move, register your Moving2Canada account and avail of newsletters and key resources.

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