Money & Career

Is Ottawa really the best place to live in Canada?

A few years ago, my sister and her family sold their house in Toronto and moved to a small town about two and a half hours away. They traded city life for a cheaper house, a laid-back lifestyle and more open spaces for their kids to play in. Since my sister and I are really close, she wants us to move out there too.

A few years ago, my sister and her family sold their house in Toronto and moved to a small town about two and a half hours away. They traded city life for a cheaper house, a laid-back lifestyle and more open spaces for their kids to play in. Since my sister and I are really close, she wants us to move out there too. But right now, it’s not an option for my family. Yes, it’s beautiful where she lives and yes, houses are cheaper — but what would we do for a living? Jobs are tough to come by in the region she now calls home. While we could afford a great house, paying it off would be a big challenge.

This is the kind of debate you see illustrated in MoneySense’s survey, Canada’s Best Places to Live 2011. The annual survey ranks the top cities and towns in Canada based on things like weather, affordability, employment and crime rates. All these factors work together to make certain places better to live than others — for example, Timmins, Ontario is a really cheap place to live, but getting a job is going to be tough (it ranked low on job prospects).

So where is the best place to live in Canada? Ottawa, Ontario tops the list, followed by Victoria, BC and Burlington, Ontario. Toronto, where I live, ranks 88 — not great, but not at the bottom of the list.

Of course, these rankings are bound to ruffle feathers — you might hate the top city or love the places on the bottom of the list. That’s because the reasons why we choose to live where we do are about so much more than what you earn or how much your house costs.

I grew up in Toronto and while I’ve lived in other cities and traveled around the world, I always come back — I love it here. I know a lot of people don’t like the city and at times I can understand why — but at the end of the day, it just feels like home to me. Would I like a cheaper house? Sure, but for now I’m happy.

Like any good survey, The MoneySense report does create debate and discussion about which factors lead us to where we finally settle — and whether we’d be better of living in another place. Where do you live and why do you live there? Where would you like to live if you could choose?

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