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The Cheapest Places to Live in Ontario

Written by Jessica Steer
Not only is Ontario one of the most expensive provinces, it is also the province in Canada that has the largest population. That said, just like the other provinces, there are plenty of towns that are much more affordable than the larger cities. It really just depends on the type of environment that you wish to live in. In Ontario, there are plenty of options. All the way from rural areas to larger major cities, based on your budget and lifestyle, there are options for everyone.
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    Cheapest Small Towns

    If big city life isn’t really your style, there are plenty of small towns in Ontario to choose from. Depending on which part of Ontario that you live, some of these small towns are more affordable than others.


    If you are looking for an affordable town to live in, then look no further than Sudbury. Not only does it have a low cost of living, strong employment opportunities and a strong education system. This makes it an attractive place for families to move to. It’s also ideal as it has a ton of good restaurants, but not a ton of nightlife. There are even a ton of outdoor activities.

    While Sudbury isn’t exactly a small town, it’s a mid-size town. It has a population of 161,531 people and an average rent price of $1,350 per month.

    Rainy River

    Rainy River, on the other hand, is a very small town with a population of only 2,826 people. It is located on the southern border of Ontario. It is different from Sudbury in the fact that it’s more rural. There aren’t a lot of jobs here, so most people who live here either commute or are retired.

    With all that in mind, Rainy River is a really popular destination for those who like outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. It also has a low cost of living with the average rent prices sitting at around $1,100 per month.

    Niagara on the Lake

    Another small town to consider in Ontario is Niagara on the Lake. It sits on the shores of Lake Ontario and has a population of around 18,000 people. This town consists of old historic buildings, wineries, festivals and theatre productions. The average cost of rent here is around $1,300 per month for a one bedroom apartment.

    Cheapest Places to Live Outside Ontario

    If you are drawn to city life, but don't exactly want to live in the heart of the city, there are plenty of places that are within travel distance, but are a bit more affordable.


    Ajax is located just 40 minutes outside of Ontario on the banks of Lake Ontario. As you can imagine it has beautiful scenery which is why a lot of people choose to live here. There aren’t a ton of jobs, but most people who move to Ajax commute into the city.

    They have a town centre with shops and restaurants. They also have quite a few parks. There is train access for those in Ajax who don’t want to drive. Because Ajax is located along a major highway that has traffic going into the city, many people do choose to use the transit provided.

    While Ajax is nowhere near the size of Toronto, it still has a population of 110,042 people. The average cost of rent here is around $1,500 per month.

    St. Catherines

    Another option close to Toronto is St. Catherines. St. Catherines is one of the more affordable cities in Ontario. The average rent here is around $1550 per month. It isn’t too far off from Ajax and is only an hour's commute away from downtown Toronto. If you don’t want to commute to Toronto, there are plenty of job opportunities right here. There are even a few major Universities close by.

    The population here is around 140,000 people. This makes it significantly smaller than Toronto. You may have even heard of it referred to as the Garden City since it’s surrounded by lots of gardens, parks and trails. This is ideal for someone who prefers the less urban parts of the city.

    Cheapest Places in Southern Ontario

    Since Ontario is so large, there are plenty of places to choose from. Toronto is located in central Ontario, but there are plenty of other regions. One of these is southern Ontario.


    Waterloo is a city located within the Region of Waterloo, the third largest city actually. . It has a population of just over 113,000 people and is around 94 km southwest of Toronto. Not only is it affordable, it's also one of the safest places to live in Ontario. There are plenty of festivals here, as well as cultural events. It’s also home to 2 universities.

    The cost of rent in Waterloo is $1,900 per month for a one bedroom apartment. While this is a little more expensive than other towns and cities in Ontario, the cost of living is still lower than that of Toronto. There is a good local job market as well but you do have the option to commute to nearby places for employment.


    Paris is a small town with a population of just over 12,000 people. They have tons of boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants. They even have some historic stone buildings. There isn’t a ton of nightlife here, but they do have plenty of outdoor activities such as:

    • Kayaking
    • Canoeing
    • Hiking

    Another great thing about Paris is that there are quite a few job opportunities as well as a diverse culture. The rent prices here also average $1,300 for a one bedroom apartment. While it’s hard to describe the exact appeal of Paris with words, it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Canada. That is just one of the many reasons that people choose to live here.

    Cheapest Places for Seniors

    As you get closer to retirement, you may be looking for somewhere a little quieter and/or more affordable to settle down. In Ontario, there are quite a few places recommended for those who are retired. Here are just a few.


    Merrickville-Wolford, is a small town located just an hour away from Ottawa. It doesn’t have a lot of transit but it does have a lot of gift shops and specialty stores. It even has a community health centre nearby. The main attraction is the cost of living. To rent a one bedroom apartment is on average, between $500 to $600 per month. That is less than half the cost of a lot of other places in Ontario.

    The population here is only around 3,000 people so you really get the small town feel. However, you are still quite close to the city. If you prefer outdoor activities, there is plenty to do here.

    Elliot Lake

    Elliot Lake is considered to be the most affordable city in the province. The cost of rent for a one bedroom apartment here is only around $650 per month. There is also access to transportation. You have plenty to do too with restaurants, markets and outdoor activities available.

    The population here is around 11,000 people, and that is only getting higher since there is a new non-profit retirement living called Elliot Lake Retirement Living. That said, while Elliot Lake is a small city, it does give a small town vibe which makes it so popular with new residents.

    Owen Sound

    One of the major attractions to Owen Sound for those looking to retire is all of the housing and activities that are geared towards 55+. With a population of just over 21,000 people, it still has a small town feel, even though it is considered to be a city.

    To purchase a home here, the average price is around $190,000. This is some of the cheapest real estate in Ontario. The average rent prices are $900 per month. Either way, it’s still relatively affordable for those on a fixed income. There is even access to transit and a hospital nearby.

    Cheapest Cities to Rent In

    While Toronto may be the capital city of Ontario, there are plenty of other cities as well. They may not be as large but they are more affordable.

    Thunder Bay

    If you are still looking to live in a city, but don’t want to pay Toronto prices, then you may want to consider Thunder Bay. The rent prices here are 75% lower. That is a massive difference. With a population of 108,000 people, it is also smaller than Toronto.

    While Thunder Bay is nowhere near as close as Ajax, it has a ton of economic stability which is why many people are drawn to live there. No matter what industry you are looking for, there is something for everyone. They have:

    • Transportation
    • Mining
    • Forestry
    • Manufacturing

    This is just to name a few. With tons of jobs available and lower rent and housing prices, many families are choosing to live here. They even have Universities available if you want to further your education.


    Another great city you could choose to live in Ontario is London. The population here is larger than Thunder Bay. It’s home to 366,000 people. That said, rent prices here are still 46% lower than Toronto. The cost of living itself is lower as well.

    In London, there are tons of amenities and lots to do. They have a thriving healthcare system. They offer great education. They also offer tons of restaurants and access to lots of other businesses. That is not all they have to offer though. There are tons of parks and nature that contribute to a relaxing small town vibe. Here you get the best of both worlds when it comes to urban and rural life.


    Another city to consider in Ontario is Windsor. It isn’t even that far from Toronto since it’s only a 3 hour drive. With rent prices 56% lower than that of Toronto, for many people it’s worth it to live here. With a population of 234,000 people, there is still plenty of city life here. They also have plenty of art festivals and have their own airport. It is actually home to one of the largest outdoor arts pieces. They are even home to the University of Windsor. Fun fact, it’s actually considered the automotive capital of Canada.

    While there are a lot of big city things to do in Windsor, there are also plenty of outdoor activities as well. The Detroit river actually runs through Windsor as well.

    Cheapest Places to Buy a House

    For anywhere in Canada, purchasing a home can be quite expensive. That said, there are places in Ontario that have lower average housing prices than others. If you are looking into getting into the housing market, here are some of the most affordable cities in Ontario to do so.

    Place Average Home Price
    Thunder Bay $300,000
    North Bay $410,000
    Cornwall $370,000
    London $650,000
    Windsor $534,000

    There are some smaller towns that may have lower housing prices, but these places not only offer lower housing costs, they also offer jobs and higher salaries.

    City With the Lowest Cost of Living

    The city in Ontario with the lowest overall cost of living is Sudbury. The average cost of living is $2,865 per month for a single person. That ssid, we are relating that to the average household income is $74,000 per year.

    Sudbury is known as a mining town. This is where the main employment source comes from and allows them to offer so many jobs with a higher than average income.

    Most Affordable Housing

    Choosing just one place with the most affordable housing prices is difficult, but if we had to choose we would pick Sarnia. This is for a few different reasons. There are over 100 different parks here which make it great for raising a family. They also have average house prices of around $375,000.

    Sarnia is located in southwestern Ontario along the shores of Lake Huron. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here, but there is also a strong music and theatre scene. They also have plenty of restaurants to choose from .

    Best Small Town to Live In

    Ontario is filled with beautiful and affordable small towns. It makes it hard to narrow it down to just one. That said, one of the best small towns to live in is Picton.

    Picton Ontario is a small farming town with some gorgeous scenery and is close to Lake Ontario. They have plenty of restaurants, markets and are heavily involved in the arts. They also have plenty of outdoor activities and green spaces to explore. It’s also home to the historic site, Macaulay Heritage Park.

    Why Live in Ontario?

    There are so many beautiful places to live in Ontario. There are also plenty of places to live that are extremely affordable and are made up of a diverse population. We have gone over a few but we have barely touched the surface. These are just a few of the places that are available. There are still other places like Deep River, Peterborough (the electric city), south bank and many others.

    Being the largest province of Ontario, it’s also broken into different regions such as Southwestern Ontario, Southern Ontario, northwestern Ontario and Northern Ontario. It’s also home to the great lakes:

    • Lake Superior
    • Lake Michigan
    • Lake Huron
    • Lake Erie
    • Lake Ontario

    There are even other bodies of water like Lake Simcoe and the Ottawa River. There is just too much to mention. That said, even if living in Ontario isn’t for you, it’s a gorgeous part of Canada. If you ever get a chance, it should definitely be explored.

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