Best Places to Relocate in Canada From the US Considering making the move across the border from the U.S. to Canada? You’re not alone. In 2021, close to 12,000 U.S. residents made the move to Canada. Before you make the move, you’ll likely want to think about where in Canada you want to live. Climate, employment, and lifestyle will all play a factor.
We examine the options across the country to give you a better idea of where you should be setting your sights as you plan to relocate from the US to Canada.
As the number of US residents deciding to move to Canada increases, it is important to make an informed decision about exactly where in Canada you want to live.
Visit our ‘Moving to Canada from the USA‘ page to read more about the process of moving to Canada from the US.
While getting permanent residence is the first step towards Canadian immigration, it is also important to decide which province you want to live in. With that in mind, here’s a quick overview of the provinces and capital cities of Canada:
Capital City: Toronto, Ontario
Ontario is the number one destination for newcomers in Canada. Toronto, Ontario is the largest city in Canada. It’s also one of the most expensive places to live in the country.
With easy and efficient public transportation, owning a car in Toronto is not necessary. Toronto is also known as being a very bicycle-friendly city, with cycling becoming one of the fastest growing modes of transportation.
The average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment is Toronto is about $2100 CAD. As the largest economy in Canada, Ontario has many different industries, including finance, tourism, manufacturing, and arts and sciences.
Capital City: Edmonton, Alberta
Situated on the western edge of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta is famous for its beautiful landscapes. Calgary, Alberta, is one of the largest cities in Canada, and a popular destination for newcomers.
The cost of living in Alberta is generally lower than other large cities in Canada. The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary is about $1542 CAD, and just $1244 CAD in Edmonton.
With Calgary being a very spread-out city, having a car can be helpful to get around. Owning a car is Calgary is also useful to access nearby hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities.
Alberta also happens to be one of the only rat-free regions in the world. Since 1950, Alberta’s Rat Control Program has helped to keep rats out of the province; by doing so, they can help to prevent crop damage and the spread diseases carried by rats.
Alberta is one of Canada’s economic powerhouses, and the center of the Canadian energy industry due to the massive Alberta tar sands. Engineers, oil rig workers, or managers working in Alberta’s oil industry can expect large salaries.
Capital City: Victoria, British Columbia
British Columbia is nestled on Canada’s Pacific coast. With beaches to the west and the Rockies to the east, British Columbia is well known for its vibrant outdoor lifestyle.
Vancouver, British Columbia is one of the most popular destinations for newcomers in Canada, in part because of its mild climate. Winters in British Columbia tend to be warmer (and wetter) than most other provinces in Canada.
Vancouver also has a vibrant tech industry, excellent arts and cultural scene, and great social programs. However, it is also one of the most expensive cities in Canada to live in. The rental cost of a two-bedroom in Vancouver will set you back about $2250 CAD.
The public transportation system in Vancouver is one of the most extensive in Canada, so owning a car is not generally needed. However, for those looking to take weekend ski trips to Whistler, or hiking in Vancouver’s nearby mountains, a car may be useful.
Capital City: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Manitoba is a prairie province located between Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Manitoba has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada. The Manitoba economy revolves largely around natural resource exporting. Forestry, mining, and oil are all major economic sectors.
The cost of living in Manitoba is also lower than many other provinces in Canada. The cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Winnipeg is about $1300 CAD.
The public transportation system in Winnipeg mainly consists of buses. While it is possible to live car-free in the city, it is not as accessible as other Canadian cities. For this reason, many Manitobans choose to get around by car.
Winters are also harsher than most other provinces in Canada.
Capital City: Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec is the only officially French province in Canada. However, while speaking French is definitely an asset, it’s not required to live and work in some parts of Quebec.
Larger cities, like Montreal and Quebec city, offer opportunities for non-French speakers. Montreal is also a very popular destination for newcomers to Canada.
While offering many of the economic advantages of other large cities in Canada, the cost of living in Montreal is still relatively low, making it a more affordable option for many newcomers. The average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Montreal is about $1952 CAD.
Montreal’s public transportation system is ranked among the best in the world, making it an easy city to live car-free. In the summer, many Montrealers choose to travel around the city by bicycle.
Capital City: Regina, Saskatchewan
Located in the middle of Canada, Saskatchewan was once known as the “breadbasket of the world”. It is the country’s largest producer of grains and oilseeds.
Regina is an incredibly affordable city – the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment at just $1100 CAD. Like Manitoba, owning a car in Regina is more necessary than other big Canadian cities.
Agriculture is the largest sector of Saskatchewan’s economy, but Saskatoon, the largest city in the province, is also the headquarters of the Canadian mining industry, and an important research and technology centre.
Capital Cities: St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Fredericton, New Brunswick
The provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, together, make up Atlantic Canada.
Smaller provinces, located on Canada’s Atlantic coast, Atlantic Canada is well known for its fishing, farming, forestry, and mining. The Atlantic Provinces offer some of the lowest costs of living in Canada.
Capital Cities: Iqaluit, Nunavut; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
Canada’s northern territories are Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories. Large, but also largely unpopulated, the northern territories’ economies revolve around natural resources. Because they are further north than the other provinces, the territories have some of the harshest winters in Canada.
When you’re researching which province to move to, here are some things to keep in mind:
Provincial Nominee Programs
Every province in Canada operates its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). If you’re eligible for one of these PNPs, you can apply for a provincial nomination. If successful, you can then usually apply directly for permanent residence from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Visit our dedicated page to learn more about the process of applying to a Canadian PNP.
Many provinces operate PNP’s that require work experience in an occupation or industry that has been identified as ‘in-demand’ in the province. That usually means that there are a lot of employment opportunities in those fields in the province.
Keep in mind, though, that the end result of any Canadian immigration program, including PNPs, is Canadian permanent residence. As a permanent resident, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects your right to live and work anywhere in Canada.
In an ideal situation, everyone would secure a job before coming to Canada but unfortunately this is not always possible. Searching for work is always more difficult if you are not physically present in the country. Employers may want to meet you in person first and travelling to the country purely for an interview may not be something that is financially feasible for everyone.
You do not need a job offer to qualify for most Canadian immigration programs, but finding a job once you land in the country is usually a top priority for newcomers.
Canada has had a strong economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and needs newcomers to continue to grow. According to the latest jobs report by Statistics Canada, there are over one million job vacancies across Canada.
Always keep in mind, however, that the industry you want to work in plays a big role. Some provinces have strong markets for particular industries, so it’s important that you do thorough research.
Canada is infamous for its weather, so the climate is definitely something to consider before choosing what part of Canada to move to. Canada may be known for its cold winter weather, but Canada is actually one of few countries that experiences four distinct seasons. While it’s true that the winter months can be cold, the summer months are equally warm.
Certain parts of Canada are colder than others, too. Canada is the second largest country in the world, behind Russia. So the weather experienced in one part of the country can be very different from another part. Most major Canadian cities are clustered along Canada’s southern border, where temperatures stay more mild. Each province has its own distinct climate – don’t make the mistake of thinking that winter in Montreal is the same as winter in Vancouver, Winnipeg, or Halifax.
In Canada, health insurance is handled by the province where you choose to live. Once you reach a new province, you must apply for health coverage. Once you receive a health card, you will be able to receive health coverage, usually after a maximum waiting period of three months.
Since healthcare is operated by individual provinces, there are some differences in service depending on where you choose to live. For example, British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario require you to pay health care premiums for services provided. However, if for some reason you are unable to pay your premium, health care services cannot be denied.