Congratulations, millennials! You have globetrotted and figured out that Canada’s three largest cities are the perfect place to work, rest, and play. Don’t ask us – ask the folks at furnished apartment site Nestpick, who earlier this month listed Montreal as the second-best city in the world for millennials, with Toronto in fifth place and Vancouver sixth.
Berlin nudged Montreal into second place, meaning the leaderboard looked a bit like the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last month, with Canada stuck right behind Germany. We’ll get them next time.
The final list was whittled down to 110 destinations from thousands of initial options. Ottawa (22) and Quebec City (27) also rank high among the final list.
The survey looked at 17 different factors across four broad categories including work, affordability, openness, and fun. All five Canadian cities in the top 30 scored 9.9 (out of 10) for immigration tolerance, making them not just near-perfect for millennials generally, but even more so for millennials from abroad.
“For this year’s ranking, we’ve delved deeper into what millennials truly care about,” wrote Nestpick of its final ranking.
“For instance, although they often garner negative press for their perceived sense of entitlement and apathy, most millennials actually care more about housing and human rights than partying.”
So, what makes Canada’s cities so great for Gen Y’ers? Let’s find out . . .
Montreal (#2 in the world, #1 in Canada)
In addition to providing LGBT friendliness and an outstanding, varied nightlife, Montreal is also highly regarded for its festivals. Quebec’s metropolis is home to the largest international jazz and comedy festivals in the world, but also a whole lot more throughout the year. Montreal also scored highly for housing and healthcare.
Why we love it: Montreal bagels, affordable rent, bike-friendly, cinq à sept, most restaurants per capita in Canada, multilingual, Igloofest, F1 Grand Prix, urban art.
Room for improvement: Internet speed, transport links (though a rail line to the airport is planned).
Did you know? Montreal may only be ranked in second overall for millennials, but last year it was crowned by QS Best Student City rankings as the best city in the world for students. Also, John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance was written here.
Toronto (#5 in the world, #2 in Canada)
Canada’s largest city is home to millions of foreign-born residents, with around half the population having been born abroad – including plenty of millennials. Toronto scored particularly well for its food culture and the success of local startups, as well as LGBT friendliness and personal freedom and choice. The fact that Toronto no longer has a crack-smoking mayor is a plus, but the city’s relatively expensive housing leaves room for improvement.
Why we love it: World-class universities, thriving startup scene, streetcars, that skyline, walkability, food trucks, diversity of cultures, architecture, cleanliness, Caribana.
Room for improvement: Housing costs, commute times.
Did you know? Toronto is North America’s third largest screen-based production centre, directly employing more than 25,000 people. Do you remember Tom Cruise behind the bar in Cocktail? That was Toronto. How about Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones jailed in Chicago? Well, it wasn’t actually shot in Chicago. Oscar-winning best picture The Shape of Water was also shot in Toronto, as was legal drama series Suits.
Vancouver (#6 in the world, #3 in Canada)
Millennials love Vancouver, there is no doubt about that. The incredible career opportunities, the great outdoors, the personal freedom . . . Vancouver offers a unique mix of urban living and nature, offering so much to students, young professionals, and entrepreneurs. According to the survey, Vancouver would be even better for millennials if housing was a bit more affordable and a more varied nightlife scene took hold.
Why we love it: Quality sushi, the mountains, mild climate, the seawall, beaches, sunsets, employment opportunities, Moving2Canada HQ.
Room for improvement: Rent costs (especially downtown), nightlife.
Did you know? Botox was invented in Vancouver, and Greenpeace was founded here. Also, Stanley Park is larger than Central Park in New York City (which, in eighth place, is the top-ranked US city for millennials, though still behind three Canadian cities, including Vancouver).
The IEC/graduate generation
The millennial generation is typically defined as those who entered adulthood in the 21st century; in other words, people aged around 20 to 36 today. Coincidentally, this is nearly the exact same age parameters for the wildly popular International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative, which allows international youth from more than 30 countries to live and work in Canada for up to two years.
Canada is also home to nearly 400,000 international students, typically ‘late’ millennials aged between 20 and 25. The University of Toronto alone had 17,452 international students enrolled in the 2016-17 academic year!
The layered identities of Canada’s millennial generation include newcomers who can point to how they moved to Canada, what they do while they’re here, and what their long-term goals are. For the IEC generation, that often depends on which part of your work permit attracts you most: are you in Canada on a working holiday or a working holiday? IEC participants who secure stable, skilled employment have a better chance of building a long-term career in Canada – the immigration system is set up to support them achieve that goal. Participants who work primarily to fund some travel and fun are less likely to set down deep roots in Canada, but at least they’ll have a fully updated Instagram profile with plenty of items ticked off their bucket list.
What’s your tribe?
The perception among some that Canada’s millennials are simply a latte-sipping, work-shy, debt-ridden, overconfident and oversensitive bunch is not borne out by the evidence. WealthSimple Magazine crunched the numbers and found that millennials in Canada are wealthier, better educated, and more financially ready for the future than the generation that came before.
Of course, the millennial generation is not a monolith. Last month, the Environics Research consultancy group brought out a new survey identifying six ‘Millennial Tribes’ in Canada: Lone Wolves, Diverse Strivers, Engaged Idealists, Critical Counterculturalists, Bros and Brittanys, and New Traditionalists. Which Millennial Tribe do you belong to? Take the quiz to find out!
Make Canada affordable again
If millennials of different tribes had a unifying battle cry, it might be to make their communities a bit more affordable. Rising rents and the costs associated with launching a business, for example, may frustrate many, but with some clever decision making these concerns can be mitigated (Montreal, you are excused from the rising rents moan – we love eating our delicious Montreal bagels in our large apartments, which we can rent for a fraction of our income).
Toronto and Vancouver, however, are correctly viewed as being more expensive than most other cities in Canada. However, if you are able to secure decent employment – even in the gig economy, more popular (or pertinent) than ever – you too can make a success of your new life in these incredible cities.
To make your transition to Canadian life smoother (and more affordable!), see our extensive resources:
- Tips on how to find a job in Canada.
- Advice and information on Canadianizing your resume.
- Networking 101.
- How to write a cover letter.
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- Extensive pre-arrival planning resources, including information on getting a good deal on insurance, shipping, and flights.
- Tips and tricks on finding accommodation in Canada.
- Get the best deal on transferring money internationally.
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Nestpick top 10 cities for millennials:
- New York City