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One of Canada's most widely-read newspapers, The Globe & Mail has named 20 Canadian cities as the top destinations for newcomers. Just like with the 5 most popular destinations for newcomers, don’t expect only the usual suspects on this list.

The journal has recently released its ranking of the most livable and desirable cities for those who have arrived in Canada over the past five years. It is part of a larger project that lists the Top 100 Most Livable Cities in Canada.

What criteria define the best Canadian cities for newcomers?

This ranking for newcomer-friendly cities is based on three main criteria:

  • Easy integration into the community,
  • Access to amenities,
  • And, arguably the most important, affordable housing.

To establish its list, the Globe analyzed data from 439 Canadian cities, each with a population of at least 10,000.

It identified 10 key categories for anyone deciding to move to a new area, including Economy, Housing, Demographics, Health Care, Safety, Education, Community, Amenities, Transportation, and Climate.

To better reflect the specific needs of newcomers, the Globe gave additional weight to three key criteria in the ranking process:

  • Demographic factors, such as population size, age distribution, and cultural diversity,
  • The economy, considering aspects like unemployment rates, average household income, and predominant industries,
  • Housing, evaluating factors like average rent or mortgage costs and overall real estate values.

Based on these criteria, this article lists the top 20 Canadian cities for newcomers. We focused specifically on the top 5.

You can explore the full list below or use the jump menu to navigate to a city of your interest.

Canada's top 20 cities for newcomers

Pitt Meadows, B.C. named top city for newcomers

Kayaker paddling in a river in Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Pitt Meadows, B.C. was named the number one city for newcomers by the Globe and Mail.

The city of the beautiful Fraser Valley is part of Metro Vancouver, surrounded by the cities of Coquitlam, Surrey, and Maple Ridge. Pitt Meadows’ current population is more than 21,000 people, and is expected to grow 4.8 percent by 2028.

The city has a high average household income of nearly $130,000 CAD per year. Although housing costs are also quite important at an average rent of about $2,000 CAD per month, 19 percent of the population spends more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Which suggests that with their high take-home salaries, most can afford to live comfortably in Pitt Meadows.

While its diversity score is -5 percent below the Canadian average, it is considerably higher than the second-place city for newcomers, which is Victoria B.C. at -18 percent.

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Victoria B.C. second for newcomers, top city overall

Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC

Victoria, B.C. was not only named the second-place contender in the top cities for newcomers, but it ranked number one in all 100 of Canada’s top livable cities.

Why did this west-coast island city take the number one spot? Well, the Globe says Victoria offers a “dreamy seaside way of life.” Indeed, being a port city in one of the warmest regions of Canada is certainly inviting for those who are averse to the cold.

But beyond the aesthetic value of the place, Victoria’s population is expected to grow about 5 percent by 2028. The average household income is nearly $94,000 CAD per year and much like the first-place contender, most people can live comfortably with the high cost of housing. Although rent is an average of just over $1,700 CAD about 34 percent of the population spends more than a third of their income on housing.

Winnipeg, Manitoba named third best city for newcomers and overall

Winnipeg is the capital city of Manitoba, and third on the Globe’s list of most livable cities for newcomers. It held on to its third-place spot in the ranking for all of Canada’s top 100 cities.

You’ll find Winnipeg in the south central region of Manitoba, the central-most province in the country. It’s along Canada’s main highway that connects the east coast to the west, and it is where two rivers meet: the Assiniboine and the Red River.

It is a highly diverse city with a diversity score 26 percent higher than the Canadian average. Its population of more than 797,000 is expected to grow 9 percent by 2028.

The average household income is about $107,000 CAD per year, and only 20 percent of people are spending more than a third of their household income on shelter expenses.

Want to learn about more Canadian cities?

Check out Moving2Canada’s Destination Guides.

North Vancouver, B.C. fourth best Canadian city for newcomers, second overall 

North Vancouver, BC, another city from the top 100 overall best cities list, also makes our list of top places for newcomers. 

Ranked as the 2nd top city to live in Canada, North Vancouver holds the 4th spot for newcomers with a population of 161,649, which is expected to grow by 6.9% by 2028

Being in close proximity to one of Canada’s most expensive cities, the cost of living here is understandably high. The average monthly rent is $2,007, and the average primary real estate value is a steep $1,451,417. Despite these costs, the city has a high average household income of $157,772

However, it’s notable that a significant 29% of households spend more than a third of their income on housing.

Saanich, B.C., closing up our top 5

 

With British Columbia being well represented in these rankings, it’s no surprise that the province hosts Saanich, B.C., the city that rounds out our list 

 

Saanich has a population of 128,212, expected to grow by 4.9% by 2028.

With an average household income of $125,038, residents face an average monthly rent of $1,704, and the average value for a primary residence is around $1,041,145. About 23% of households in Saanich spend more than a third of their income on housing expenses, reflecting a reasonable balance despite its relatively high cost of living.

Retention rates: a marker of provincial success in welcoming immigrants

While The Globe & Mail lists cities that seem the most attractive to newcomers, its ranking doesn’t consider an important long-term welcoming indicator: the retention rate. 

In the context of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), this rate is a key measure of a province’s appeal and success in integrating newcomers. 

In this regard, the provinces hosting the listed cities show impressive results. More than 9 out of 10 immigrants who initially settled in British Columbia remained there at least five years later. Meanwhile, Manitoba demonstrates a strong retention rate, with 7 out of 10 newcomers staying in the province over the same period.

These figures underscore the provinces’ effectiveness not only in attracting but also in retaining new immigrants, a significant factor for newcomers choosing their new home in Canada.

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