Our two biggest cities, Vancouver and Victoria, both made it to the top of the pack in recently announced “best of” lists.
Victoria, our capital city, came in at number one in MoneySense’s list of best places to live in Canada. Vancouver came in fifth on the same list. MoneySense looked at 24 factors when they chose their top cities. Amongst the factors they looked at were climate (warm and dry is better than cold and wet), affordability, average salaries, healthcare, crime, transit and local amenities.
These factors cover a wide range and probably include most things that people want when they are looking for somewhere to settle. Your list might be different and the importance of some factors may be higher to you than this average, but still it’s a good place to start.
Here’s a quote from MoneySense on why Victoria edged Ottawa out of first place:
“The West Coast city earned a top score of 73 points on our grading scale. It boasts a nearly embarrassing number of positives. Start with weather: the thermometer drops below zero in Victoria just 53 days a year, making the climate idyllic for gardeners and skateboarders alike. On top of that, the city’s air is clean and fresh and its low unemployment rate rivals that of Alberta’s oilsands regions. There are plenty of doctors, it’s easy to get to wherever you’re going by foot or bus, and tax rates are low. Victoria’s only major downside? High home prices. You’ll pay more than $440,000 to buy an average home in British Columbia’s capital”.
Vancouver may have lost out to Victoria in MoneySense’s list, but it came in fourth worldwide in Mercer’s 2009 Quality of Living survey. Vienna, Zurich and Geneva took the top three spots, with Vancouver tied at fourth along with Auckland. Vancouver has regularly been in the top 5 in these Mercer reports, so we would have been surprised not to have been up there again this year. I thought it interesting that the top cities in North America were all Canadian:
- Vancouver, Canada (tied 4th)
- Toronto, Canada (15th)
- Ottawa, Canada (16th)
- Montreal, Canada (22nd)
- Calgary, Canada (26th)
As someone who lives in Vancouver and knows Victoria pretty well too, I think that both cities are great places to live. We chose Vancouver over Victoria when we moved for a lot of reasons. I can’t say it was very scientific but we had visited both cities on several occasions and did our best to imagine what living there would be like. We still love Victoria and from time to time wonder what life would be like if we moved there in the future.
Whatever city you are considering, whether or not it is on anybody’s list, there is no subsitute for visiting and checking it out in person. You can draw up your own top 5 cities list and let me know the winner!