Moving to Canada for a working holiday but stuck between choosing Vancouver or Toronto? This comparison may help!

Lifestyle

Toronto is THE big city in Canada, the financial and cultural centre of the country. Vancouver is undoubtedly a bustling place too, but it just doesn’t quite have the global city vibe that Toronto has. The nightlife, shopping and eating options are generally better than Vancouver. If you’re looking to live in a mini-New York City, Toronto is the place for you.

Laidback and health-focused with a dash of hippy, Vancouver is perfect for those who like their cities a little more on the relaxed side (think San Francisco or Melbourne). Vancouver has all the essential conveniences you would expect to find in a city plus a bunch more opportunities you typically wouldn’t. Skiing and kayaking, for example, can both be done within a 30-minute drive from downtown.

Location

Surrounded by ocean and mountains, Vancouver must be one of most beautiful cities in the world. Toronto isn’t an ugly duckling by any means (that skyline!) but any city would find it hard to compete Vancouver’s eye candy. Where Toronto does excel is its proximity to other cities in North America – Ottawa, Montreal and New York City can all be reached relatively easily. Vancouver in comparison is a little stuck out on its own with only Seattle for near company.

Photo credit: City of Toronto via Creative Commons License

Cost of living

Toronto and Vancouver are both expensive places to live when considering the average wage, housing costs and the price of day-to-day living. Vancouver, however, does edge Toronto out when it comes to things like rent, utilities and groceries. Salaries in Van are also lower, on the whole, just to exacerbate the problem. The demand for affordable rental properties in Vancouver means that you must be ready with a deposit when viewing a place. If you don’t, the next potential renter through the door probably will.

Things to do

Want to work in a city and play outdoors every evening or weekend? Vancouver is the place for you. Hiking, biking, running, skiing, paddling, diving…it’s all here and within a short distance of downtown. There are plenty of city-based activities (great restaurants! fun festivals! art galleries!) for those not interested in the outdoors, but the best Vancouver has to offer is most definitely found outside the city streets.

Toronto is for city-lovers. It has everything any city slicker would want and more. Having said this, there are still many opportunities to explore and experience nature from the city (though the drive to do them is most certainly longer). Crossing country skiing, ATVing, skating and snowmobiling are all popular activities in Ontario. Canoeing is almost a right of passage in this area of Canada. Living in a province of lakes, it is a tradition for Torontonians to ‘escape to the cottage’ every long weekend.

People

Home to just under 6 million residents in the metro area, Toronto is two and a half times bigger than Vancouver. The city is also often named the most multicultural city in the entire world, having representation from over 200 nationalities. Such diversity is clearly represented in Toronto’s many ethnic neighbourhoods (Little Italy, Koreatown, Little India et al) and a huge number of festivals and cultural events.

Over in Vancouver, more than half of the local population speak something other than English as their first language. Being on the Pacific Ocean, the city has more of an Asian influence than Toronto and First Nation (native American) culture is more prevalent.

Weather

Toronto, with its drastic temperature fluctuation, is both hotter and colder than Vancouver. Summer temperatures hover around 35c with high humidity and then dip as low as -30c in the winter….plus wind chill. Ever heard of an ice storm? These happen in Toronto and are as fun as they sound.

Vancouver, on the other hand, has mild winters (0-4c) and warm to hot summers (25-30c). The West Coast is often nicknamed the ‘Wet Coast’ for a good reason – it rains a lot here. It can be grey and gloomy for weeks. For a handful of days every year, the rain falls as snow in the city.

Choose Vancouver if you like:

Anything outdoors, cheap sushi, mild winter weather, being by the coast, relaxed vibe, rain!

Choose Toronto if you want:

Big city life, a ‘real’ winter of snow and freezing temperatures, slightly cheaper lifestyle, central location, more going on

Which will you choose, Vancouver or Toronto?

Gemma
Author

One half of a Canadian/British couple currently living in Penticton, British Columbia. Gemma is happiest with a paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

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