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The Best Cities to Live in Ontario

Written by Jessica Steer
Did you know that Ontario makes up over 40% of Canada’s overall population and, while it is the second-largest province in Canada, it takes up 908,699.33 square kilometers? Ontario is a very diverse province that has multiple different landscapes.
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    Like every other province, some cities are more expensive than others, some are more city-oriented, and some are more rural. No matter what kind of lifestyle you prefer, there’s something for you in Ontario.

    Is Living in Ontario Expensive?

    In Short, yes. Ontario is one of the most expensive provinces in Canada to live in. However, just like anywhere else, the closer to the city center you are the more expensive it is. One of the main reasons for this is there’s a higher demand for homes than what’s available. For example, Toronto is the most expensive city in Canada for rent and is the second most expensive when it comes to purchasing a home. As you move farther from the city though, the prices don’t differ too drastically from the rest of Canada.

    Affordable Places to Live in Ontario

    While Toronto is the second most expensive city to live in Canada, there are cities and towns cheaper than Toronto. Here are a few of them with the average cost of living compared to Toronto.

    City One Person Family of Four Average Monthly Salary of Residents
    Sudbury $1526 $3629 $6661
    Sarnia $1500 $3471 $3398
    Windsor $1821 $3982 $2718
    Thunder Bay $1568 $3563 $3242
    Peterborough $1592 $3722 $1282
    Barrie $1431 $3436 $3479
    Kingston $1573 $3598 $3260
    London $1666 $3876 $4209
    Toronto $2254 $5184 $4509

    As you can see it is significantly more expensive to live in Toronto if you are going to live in Ontario. Also, Toronto doesn’t even have the highest salary compared to other, less expensive, towns.

    Cheapest City to Live in Ontario

    The cheapest place to live in Ontario is Sudbury. It has the highest monthly average salary compared to the cost of living. Sudbury is known as the hard rock mining capital of the world. They have 9 mines, 2 mills, a nickel refinery, and 2 smelters.

    Cheapest Place to Buy A House

    While Sudbury is the cheapest place for the overall cost of living, it is only one of the cheapest places to buy a house. The rest are:

    • Thunder Bay
    • North Bay
    • Windsor
    • Cornwall
    • London

    The average housing price in Thunder Bay is $273,308 while it is $305,000 in North Bay and $372,000 in Sudbury. As you go further north in Ontario, the cheaper it is to purchase a home. Because of how the housing market currently is, interest rates are quite low making it even more affordable.

    Which City has the Lowest Property Tax?

    However, when we look at property taxes, it ends up being the more expensive cities to live in that have the lowest taxes by percentage. Here is a look at the most recent percentages from 2021.

    • Toronto – 0.611013%
    • Markham – 0.632908%
    • Richmond Hill – 0.659549%
    • Vaughan – 0.669976%
    • Milton – 0.683333%
    • Oakville – 0.721512%

    As you can see, the most expensive city to live in has the lowest property taxes. Sudbury, however, has property taxes of 1.55%.

    Safest City to Live in Ontario

    Now that we have looked at the different costs of living in Ontario, what about the safest places to live in Ontario? Well, the province in general has lower crime rates but there are a few Cities that stand out.

    • King City was the overall safest city of 2021. The total crime rate is significantly lower than in other cities and mostly consisted of people with a median income. It is also relatively affordable and in 2018 was one of the 20 best cities to live in Canada.
    • Markham is located in the Greater Toronto Area in Southern Ontario. Crime rates here are below the national average and the city is close to Toronto making it easy to go downtown. It is also more population-dense with around 350,000 people.
    • Guelph, also known as the Royal City, is filled with culture and is well known for its limestone structures. There’s also a lower cost of living here and the crime rates are 10%-15% lower than the national average. There are a lot of great things about Guelph including the employment opportunities, schools, and the affordability of homes. Just like Markham, Guelph has a slightly higher population. There are roughly 150,000 that live here.
    • Essex, just like the cities above, is also a very safe place to live. It has a crime rate roughly 60% lower than the national average and a population of just over 20,000.

    What are the best small towns in Ontario to live in?

    While Ontario has some of the safest towns in Canada and the cost of living there isn’t exorbitantly more, they also have some places that are considered to be the overall best towns to live in based on safety, affordability, and scenery. Here are the top 5.


    This is a small farming town in Ontario and is involved in the wine-making industry. It is close to Lake Ontario in the countryside. It is also a town very into the arts and has a lot of boutique shops, diverse restaurants, and markets. There’s access to healthcare close by and has lots of outdoor activities and beaches.


    Napanee is close to Prince Edward County and Lake Ontario. It is a popular retirement town that’s population is slowly on the rise.


    Goderich has a population of around 8,00 people. It is within walking distance from Lake Huron and has a lot of historical buildings as well as cultural events. This town is known for being one of the prettiest towns in Canada.


    Collingwood is a great town for those who love outdoor adventures. There are beaches in the Summer and Blue Mountain is close by for skiing and snowboarding in the Winter. Collingwood also has an affordable housing market which also draws people here.


    Gravenhurst is in the Muskoka region of Ontario and has amazing landscape and lake views. It is also a town that loves art and history and tends to be a very quiet town with very little nightlife.

    All of these towns are considered to be peaceful with great views.

    Safest Small Towns to Live

    If cities aren’t the best option for you. There are also few towns in Ontario that have low crime rates and are some of the safest places to live in Canada.

    • LaSalle was the overall safest city in Canada in 2020. It has a population of around 33,000 and is said to be 92% safer than most Canadian cities. It is also relatively affordable making it a great place to raise a family.
    • Kingsville is known for having good schools and a low cost of living. Macleans named Kingsville as one of the safest cities in Canada in 2020 and it has a population of around 20,000. The total crime rate here is around 55% lower than the national average.
    • Petawana is considered to be the second safest town in all of Canada. With a crime rate 66% lower than the national average and a population of only 16,000 it is a great little community to live in.
    • Selwyn is a small town with a population of around 17,000 people. The crime rate here is 73% lower than the national average making it safer than over 90% of cities in Canada.

    Best Places to live in Southern Ontario

    While the places above are great, what if we go south and look at the best towns in Southern Ontario. Here are 3 of the most recommended.

    • Waterloo is the most popular because it is close to Toronto but is more affordable. There are lots of employment opportunities available and a diverse culture.
    • Paris is found in southwestern Ontario. This town is located on a hill providing great views. Like Goderich, it is considered to be one of the prettiest towns in Canada and is known for its cobblestone walkways and historic buildings. It has lots of restaurants as well as developments and subdivisions making it progressive but also affordable.
    • Niagara-on-the-Lake is also a popular town for people who love wine. This is a peaceful town that has a little bit of everything since it has great weather and is close to the water. It also has lower housing prices making it particularly attractive to buyers.

    Best Places to Live on the Water

    Because Ontario is located near so many bodies of water like Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and Lake Eerie there are a lot of towns that have beach access and provide great lakefront views. Most of these towns are located in Southern Ontario.

    • Wasaga Beach
    • Port Stanley
    • Goderich
    • Brighton
    • Port Denver
    • Sauble Beach

    These are the most recommended places to live and they all are very popular with tourists. Being that Ontario has hundreds of miles of shoreline, there are so many different towns that overlook the water and provide gorgeous views.

    Best Places to Live for Young Adults

    The great thing about Ontario is it has a little bit of everything for everyone. Whether you like rural towns or busy city centers, it has it all. Many young adults are choosing to move to Ontario for this reason. Some of the most popular places for these young adults to choose to live are:

    • Ottawa: Ottawa is the capital city of Ontario and is full of markets, breweries, and coffee shops. While it is still city-oriented there are lots of employment opportunities available and the cost of living is significantly cheaper than in Toronto. There’s lots to do in Ottawa for outdoor enthusiasts and the average price of a home is only $435,000 making it affordable to purchase a home.
    • Guelph: As discussed above, Guelph is one of the safest cities to live in but it is also a great commuting distance to other popular cities. It has a similar feel to Ottawa and has an active agricultural community.
    • Waterloo: This City is home to major universities and large company headquarters. Housing prices are relatively affordable at $518,000. It is close to Guelph so it is also within good commuting distance.
    • Kingston: This town has some of the lowest housing prices starting at $335,000 and is home to many lakefront cottages.
    • Hamilton: Hamilton is home to McMaster University which attracts a lot of young adults. There’s lots of entertainment around the city as well as lots of outdoor recreation. A little something for everyone.

    Best Places to Raise a Family

    While living in Ontario can be expensive, as discussed, there are plenty of different towns that are much cheaper and provide a great place to raise a family. They are close to the city, have great employment opportunities, and provide affordable housing. Many of these towns also have great school systems and plenty of places to explore the outdoors. Some of these are:

    • Coburg
    • Waterloo
    • Halton Hills
    • Toronto
    • Thunder Bay
    • Oakville
    • Barrie
    • Stratford

    Depending on what type of environment you prefer, these are all great places for young families to live and grow.

    Prettiest Towns in Ontario

    Ontario is a gorgeous province and, as you probably noticed above, has some of the prettiest towns in Canada. Whether you want to move there or just travel there are some towns you most definitely have to see.

    • Paris
    • Almonte
    • Elora
    • Niagara-on-the-Lake
    • Port Hope
    • Picton
    • Port Stanley
    • Coburg
    • Kleinburg
    • Dundas
    • Blue Mountain Village
    • Creemore
    • Goderich
    • Unionville
    • Merrickville

    A lot of these towns do coincide with some of the best towns to live in and are a considerable distance from city centers giving them that authentic small-town feel. From wine country to lake country and old architecture, these towns have so much to offer.

    Worst Places to Live in Ontario

    While there are plenty of beautiful, safe, family-friendly places to live in Ontario. There are also some places that are known as some of the worst places to live.

    First is Kitchener. It is a smaller city with a population of 260,000 and the main economic source is manufacturing. This city has many seasonal changes and can range from very hot to very cold depending on the time of year. There’s a high crime rate in Kitchener that is 34% higher than average.

    Next is Thunder Bay: In 2015 Thunder Bay was named the Murder Capital of Canada due to the highest number of murders (11) in 2014. It has a high violent crime rating and there’s increased homelessness, poverty, and drug and alcohol use.

    These are the top 2 but there are a few others that also make the list.

    • Brantford
    • Sault Ste. Marie
    • London
    • Windsor
    • Greater Sudbury
    • Kingston
    • Peterborough
    • Catherines-Niagara

    Like Kitchener and Thunder Bay these other towns all have higher than average crime rates for violent and nonviolent crimes. This is something to keep in mind when you are looking to move to a different town/city or just to Ontario in general.

    Why Ontario?

    While Ontario may have towns and cities with the highest crime rates, it also has some of the safest communities in Canada. It is also one of the most beautiful provinces. There are a lot of job opportunities and different lifestyles available to suit your needs. Just like anywhere, before you move to Ontario do your research and find a place that works best for your lifestyle and budget.

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