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Vancouver vs. Toronto For Your Working Holiday in Canada

Moving to Canada for a working holiday but stuck between choosing Vancouver or Toronto to live in?

It’s a common decision IEC working holiday participants have to make. This comparison may help you make the right choice!

Read on to discover some of the differences between living in Toronto and Vancouver, two of Canada’s biggest cities.

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View of Vancouver city in British Columbia
Downtown Vancouver and Canada Place

Vancouver vs. Toronto: 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 Canadian 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.

View of Toronto City with CN Tower
Downtown Toronto with CN Tower

Vancouver vs. Toronto: 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 major cities in North America – Ottawa, Montreal, New York City and Chicago can all be reached relatively easily.

Vancouver in comparison is a little stuck out on its own with only Seattle for near company. 

But on the other hand, you will have all of beautiful British Columbia to explore instead. 

Street scene of downtown Vancouver in the evening
Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver vs. Toronto: 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 Vancouver 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.

Waterside apartments in Vancouver at sunset
False Creek area of Vancouver

Things to do in Vancouver and Toronto

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.

High rise buildings from CN Tower
Downtown Toronto from CN Tower

People of Vancouver and Toronto

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 East Asian influence (specifically Chinese) than Toronto and First Nation culture is more prevalent.

Carved wooden totem pole
First Nation totem pole in British Columbia

Vancouver vs. Toronto: 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 skyline from near Granville Island
False Creek area in Vancouver from Granville Island area

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 in Vancouver for weeks. For a handful of days every year, the rain falls as snow in the city.

Toronto skyline at sunset from across the water
Toronto skyline at sunset

Choose Vancouver if you like:

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

Book Vancouver accommodation on now

Choose Toronto if you want:

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

Book Toronto accommodation on now

Which will you choose, Vancouver or Toronto?

Read these working holiday Canada articles next:

Vancouver vs Calgary for Your Working Holiday in Canada

A Guide to Arriving in Vancouver for a Working Holiday

Visiting the USA while on a Working Holiday in Canada

Vancouver and Toronto are two of the most popular destinations for working holiday participants in Canada. For lots of people, it is a difficult decision which to choose. This breakdown may help!

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Tuesday 12th of July 2022

You're like 10 degrees off on the average summer temp in Toronto. They have heat waves. And humidity can make it feel hotter some days. But the AVERAGE summer temp is literally never 35 degrees celsius.


Thursday 9th of April 2020

You did a great job of providing an unbiased, informative answer to what can be a rather explosive topic between Canadians! I grew up in Vancouver but have spent plenty of time in Toronto, and would say your article is correct - an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with the two cities.


Friday 9th of March 2018

I spent over a year in Toronto and cannot complain. If you like a bigger city, watching sports and so. Choose Toronto :]


Saturday 10th of March 2018

Good tip Emil!