When we speak of Canada’s diversity we refer to the geography of the land and the ethnic background of our people. Yet when you crunch the economic data, as we have for Canada’s Best Places to Live 2012, it becomes clear that how we live defines us as much as where we live. Not only is our urban experience varied depending on whether we live in downtown Montreal or in small-town Saskatchewan, but our ability to access health care or find a job or afford a home is as diverse as our land and our climate.
What is more, the economic factors that determine how we live are always evolving. Thirty years ago, the place to be for jobs would have been southern Ontario. Today, as the manufacturing sector falters, we find good jobs are becoming scarce but social services left behind from good economic times are abundant. Similarly, Alberta and Saskatchewan are being transformed by the boom in oil, gas and other commodities. This puts a strain on urban communities as services try and stay ahead of the feverish growth of resource towns, and housing prices skyrocket—witness the average cost of a home in Fort McMurray (Wood Buffalo) is now a half a million dollars.
This year, for the third year in a row, Ottawa takes top honours with a score of 74 points out of a possible 105. Perhaps most notable however, are the number of Western cities that shot up this year’s list thanks to strong economic growth and low unemployment. Regina and Halifax catapulted up more than 15 spots each to rank 4th and 5th respectively. Similarly, Red Deer, jumped from 96th to 9th on our list.
Take a close look at the data and you’ll find the top-rated cities aren’t perfect or even close to it any category. They are however above average in most categories, resulting in an overall high standard of living.
This year’s list has been expanded from previous years to include 190 cities and towns with populations over 10,000. To compile our list we have taken municipal data and ranked the cities in 22 categories and then given all the cities an overall ranking. For a full explanation on how we crunched the numbers, check out our methodology.
We’ve highlighted what we think are the most interesting facts and figures to come out of this year’s data in a series of maps, articles, galleries and interactives for you but the possibilities for the curious mind are endless. Don’t let us stop you from diving right in.
Wondering what our ideal city would look like? Then take a gander at this interactive utopia, which lets you mouse over various structures and visual cues to see just what the most livable city in Canada might look like.
Canada’s 35 Best Places to Live
We’ve crunched the numbers on 190 Canadian cities to find out which places are the most livable.
Canada’s Worst Places to Live
Our rankings were not kind to every city. See which cities placed last in each of our major categories, as well as Canada’s worst overall city.
Canada’s Best Places for Jobs
These 10 cities have the most prosperous economies and best job prospects in the country.
Best Places to Raise Kids
MoneySense ranks Canada’s biggest cities and towns in 10 categories to find out which are the most family-friendly.
Canada’s 25 top places to live 2012 include communities from coast to coast. Use the screen controls on the left side of the map to move around the country and zoom in on the featured cities. Click on each location to see that city’s rating in different categories and why it’s a great place to settle.
To see the complete list broken down by subcategory, download the full spreadsheet.