Best Cities to Live in Ontario

10 Best Cities to Live in Ontario

The best cities to live in Ontario are Ottawa, Toronto, London, Waterloo, Oakville, Thunder Bay, Burlington, Guelph, Kingston, and Barrie. 

This is because they have an affordable cost of living, low crime rates, fair salaries, and cheaper rent, setting them apart from other cities.

CityMonthly Cost of Living (1 Person w/o rent)Rent (1BR)Salary (After Tax)Crime Index
Thunder Bay$1,222.15$1,225$4,20080.75

Based on the factors that made these cities stand out, we even pinpointed which ones are the best choices for singles, families, and retirees

1. Ottawa


Ottawa is Canada’s capital and is home to approximately 994,000 residents, who approximately pay $1,254.85 monthly for their cost of living. It’s neither the highest nor the lowest cost of living for a city and sits comfortably in the middle.

Rent costs about $1,715.77, and Ottawans earn $4,479.13 monthly after taxes on average. Ottawa’s rent is 27.67% lower than Toronto, which has the highest rent at $2,332.19 out of all the cities included here.

The Canadian capital also enjoys a low crime index of 25.96, as citizens themselves reportedly felt quite safe in their city, even if they were walking alone at night. 

Although it’s not the cheapest city to live in, it still has a lower cost of living than some of the other cities included in this article. 

Ottawa is a great place for students thanks to its world-class universities and more affordable education. What’s more, the low crime rate makes it especially safe for those coming from out of town.

For a clearer look at the costs associated with living in Ottawa, you may refer to the table below:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$82.50
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$2.03
Transportation (Monthly pass)$123.75
Basic utilities (Monthly)$163.30
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,703.93
Sports & leisure$32.14
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,613.60

2. Toronto


Toronto is the province of Ontario’s capital city and is Canada’s largest city, according to the last national census in 2016, housing approximately 2,794,356 residents. However, it has grown by 2.3% since then.

Residents earn an average of $4,292.40 and pay $2,263.78 to rent a 1BR apartment near the city center. On average, they pay $1,363.56 for the city’s monthly cost of living, not including the rent.

It also has a moderate overall crime index of 46.04, but because of how diverse it is, hate crimes in particular have low chances of being committed.

Toronto is known as a multicultural city filled with people from all walks of life. In fact, there are over 250 ethnicities and 170 languages present, making this melting pot one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Because Toronto is known as a world leader in business, finance, technology, entertainment, and culture, it has a lot of job opportunities as well. It’s not surprising that people have gathered here thanks to its opportunities.

However, for all its great job opportunities, the cost of living in Toronto is more expensive compared to its neighbors. You may refer to the table below for a closer look at the breakdown of the cost of living, plus the average salary in Toronto:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$101.20
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$2.16
Transportation (Monthly pass)$156.00
Basic utilities (Monthly)$171.04
Rent (1 BR apartment)$2,263.78
Sports & leisure$23.48
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,292.40

3. London


London’s a small city with approximately 404,699 residents, and its strength lies in its world-class higher education, medical research, technology, and manufacturing. On average, people earn $4,616.08 and pay the 2nd lowest cost of living at $1,194.15.

Rent is also cheaper than in some of the other cities at $1,808.41 for a single-bedroom apartment. It has a lower crime index than Toronto, receiving a moderate score of 58.66 for its overall crime. 

The city of London is known as the “Forest City” thanks to its abundance of green areas and stunning architecture. There are approximately more than 4 million trees in London, and for every 1,500 trees annually cut down, the city replants 5,000 more.

These many trees make the air within the city less polluted, so residents with respiratory issues are healthier here.

Check out the table below to see what the average costs and salaries to expect in London, Ontario:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$106
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$1.84
Transportation (Monthly pass)$95
Basic utilities (Monthly)$175.03
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,808.41
Sports & leisure$39.29
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,616.08

4. Waterloo


Because Waterloo is situated so close to Toronto, it makes for a great alternative due to its $1,650.91 rent being 25.61% lower than its much bigger neighbor.

What’s more, it enjoys an average monthly net salary of $5,616.67, 32.62% higher than Toronto.

Waterloo also has some of the lowest crime rates in Ontario with a low score of 27.48 for its overall crimes. 

Even better, the average cost of living here (rent not included) is $1,204.56, making it the 3rd cheapest city in this list in terms of the cost of living.

The city of Waterloo is situated along southern Ontario and is conveniently just an hour away from Toronto. It’s made up of approximately 113,520 residents, with 25% of immigrants calling this city home.

It’s the ideal place for those who want to be near the big city without having to pay its astronomical fees. 

Don’t just take our word for it, but rather take a look for yourself at the information we’ve gathered and compiled in the table below:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$82.5
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$2.55
Transportation (Monthly pass)$90
Basic utilities (Monthly)$202.86
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,650.91
Sports & leisure$45.5
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$5,616.67

5. Oakville


Approximately 211,382 people call this area home and earn an average of $4,782.13 while paying $1,313.65 for the city’s cost of living. You can rent a single-bedroom apartment in Oakville for about $1,966.67, not expensive but not cheap either.

Of all the best cities in Ontario, it has the lowest crime index at only 20.01, making it the safest city.

Located just half an hour away from Toronto, the suburban city of Oakville is another great solution to enjoying the job opportunities of the big cities without the high costs. 

If you’re planning on getting work in Toronto due to its many job opportunities but want to save on the costs of living, Oakville might just be the best place for you.

Take a look at the breakdown of the cost of living in Oakville in the table below:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$85
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$3.62
Transportation (Monthly pass)$144.5
Basic utilities (Monthly)$205.97
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,966.67
Sports & leisure$51.65
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,782.13

6. Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay

Situated along Lake Superior in northwestern Ontario, Thunder Bay is home to approximately 110,172 people. According to the data, it enjoys consumer prices that are 10.37% lower than big cities like Toronto.

Residents pay some of the lowest living costs at an average of $1,222.15 while having the cheapest monthly rental cost of $1,225 for a 1 bedroom apartment. You can expect to earn a monthly average of $4,200 here.

However, Thunder Bay suffers from a higher-than-average crime index of 80.75.

Thunder Bay is well-known as the gateway into northwestern Ontario, with 150,000 lakes and rivers in the area. The city’s main industry is forestry, mining, and manufacturing.

Check out the table below for a quick look at the breakdown of Thunder Bay’s cost of living, rent, and average salary:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$65
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$2.75
Transportation (Monthly pass)$80
Basic utilities (Monthly)$294.81
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,225
Sports & leisure$65.71
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,200

7. Burlington


Citizens of Burlington pay an average of $1,313.65 for their monthly cost of living. It is one of the more expensive cities when it comes to rent, costing about $2,085.71. 

However, it makes up for it with an average after-tax income of $5,985.

Compared to the other cities, Burlington has one of the highest average incomes. What’s more, it’s also one of the safest as it scored only a low 22.29 when it comes to its overall crime index.

Like some of the other cities we’ve covered so far, Burlington is just a 45 – 60 minute drive away from Toronto. It’s another relatively small city that houses only approximately 205,960 people.

What makes Burlington one of the best cities is that its residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates and the highest average salaries in Ontario. Not only are you safe, but you’ll be enjoying a hefty paycheck here too!

If you have any doubts, all you need to do is refer to this nifty table below to see just how much you’ll potentially spend and earn here in Burlington:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$90
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$3.12
Transportation (Monthly pass)$69
Basic utilities (Monthly)$142
Rent (1 BR apartment)$2,085.71
Sports & leisure$45.5
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$5,985

8. Guelph


For only $1,703.33, you can rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Guelph, all the while paying $1,246.37 monthly for its overall cost of living. Residents of this quaint city earn approximately $4,566.67 after taxes.

It’s a safe city with low crime rates, reaching only as high as 30.38 for its overall crime index, which is still objectively low on the scale.

Guelph is a city in Southwestern Ontario that’s rich in indigenous history, with a population of about 135,474 people. It’s near downtown Toronto and even Waterloo, yet its unemployment rates are fortunately low despite how small its population is.

Take a look at the latest state of Guelph’s cost of living in the table below:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$100
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$2.55
Transportation (Monthly pass)$80
Basic utilities (Monthly)$171.97
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,703.33
Sports & leisure$51.33
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,566.67

9. Kingston


Kingston has the lowest monthly cost of living (not including rent) at $1,182.42 out of all the cities included in this list. As for rent, you can get a 1BR apartment for around $1,521.11.

Residents of Kingston earn an average of $4,194.44, a bit on the lower end of the spectrum, but the low to moderate costs make it easier with this average salary. This city is also moderately safe, earning a score of 39.15 for its overall crime index.

Despite being a small town of only 136,685 residents, Kingston actually feels like a much bigger city thanks to its multicultural communities. Located in eastern Ontario, it’s known for its historical and cultural heritage sites.

The Kingston Public Market is the oldest in Ontario, and it, alongside four Rembrandt paintings and two film festivals, makes Kingston very tourist-worthy.

If you’re interested in what costs to expect in Kingston, the table below has all the info you need:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$90
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$4
Transportation (Monthly pass)$80
Basic utilities (Monthly)$250.0
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,521.11
Sports & leisure$53.17
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,194.44

10. Barrie


Barrie has housing prices at $1,856.25 for a 1BR apartment, and a low to moderate crime index of 38.41. You can expect living costs to be around $1,373.85 monthly and an average monthly salary of $4,500.

The city of Barrie is located just an hour away from Toronto, with a population of 153,356 residents, and is known as a summer and winter resort. It’s because it’s located just south of Blue Mountain, Ontario’s year-round mountain resort and spa.

For Barrie’s cost of living, you may refer to the table below:

Expense CategoryPrice
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$80
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$0.75
Transportation (Monthly pass)$104
Basic utilities (Monthly)$245.69
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,856.25
Sports & leisure$48.75
Salaries & financing (Average monthly net salary)$4,500

What is the best area to live in Ontario?

In terms of the overall cost of living and crime rates, Guelph is the best area to live in Ontario. It enjoys an average cost of living of only $1,246.37 and has an average rent price that’s 22.22% lower than Toronto, which has the highest rent. 

What is the safest place to live in Ontario?

Burlington is the safest place to live in Ontario because of its Crime Severity Index of only 22.7, meaning that its crime rate is lower than the average. This city has a safety scale of 70.30.

The Safety Scale is calculated depending on how safe residents feel walking alone in both daytime and nighttime. For the daytime, Guelph received a score of 81.22, and at night, 62.85.

What is the cheapest city to live in in Ontario?

Thunder Bay is the cheapest city to live in Ontario because rent for a single-bedroom apartment costs only $1,225, 47.30% lower than Toronto. Meanwhile, basic utilities only cost $294.81 monthly.

It’s why many first-time homeowners choose Thunder Bay to purchase their house due to its affordable costs, especially compared to its neighbors. Singles, couples, and families will definitely benefit from living here.

What city should I live in Ontario?

Generally, Guelph should be the best city for you to live in. Its overall low cost of living and low crime rates make it perfect regardless if you’re single or a retiree.

Best Cities to Live in Ontario for Families

Best Cities to Live in Ontario for Families

The cities of Oakville, Kingston, and London are the best cities in Ontario for families to live in. Not only are these cities providing more affordable housing and lower costs of living, but they’re also all very family-friendly.

CityCost of LivingRent

The rent is much lower in these cities, which makes buying a home for your family easier. Their small populations make it easier to connect with the community. 

We compiled some of the benefits of living in each city in a neat little table below just for you:

Oakville-Lower rent

-Near Toronto

Kingston-Multicultural community

-Walkable city

London-Green city

-Amazing education system

Best Cities to Live in Ontario for Singles

Best Cities to Live in Ontario for Singles

The best cities in Ontario for singles to live in are Ottawa, London, and Barrie, mainly because of their low cost of living. Additionally, their low crime rates make them a lot safer for those living solo. 

CityCost of LivingCrime Index

Singles who are currently students will also benefit from settling in these cities thanks to their more affordable education fees.

We compiled what made each city perfect for singles in the following table:

Ottawa-Lower costs of living

-Lower crime rates

London-Affordable rent

-Small population

Barrie-Quiet nightlife

-Complete amenities

Best Cities to Live in Ontario for Retirees

Best Cities to Live in Ontario for Retirees

The best cities in Ontario for retirees to live in are Burlington, Kingston, and London, because of their cheaper costs of living and low crime rates.

London also has many medical practitioners, about 111 per 100,000. Kingston and Burlington have 138 and 102 doctors, respectively.

These cities are quite safe with their low to slightly moderate crime rates, so there’s little risk of retirees encountering any potentially dangerous situations. Whether it’s daytime or nighttime, retirees can enjoy worry-free living in these cities. 

While London and Kingston have a variety of excellent healthcare options, Burlington is smaller but still has its own hospital and a great variety of retirement options. 

Thankfully, Burlington’s neighboring city of Hamilton is close enough to take care of emergencies.

Take a look at the following table for each city’s compiled benefits, doctors, and retirement homes:

CityBenefitsDoctors (per 100,000 people)Retirement HomesMonthly Cost of Living (1 Person w/o rent)
Burlington-Low crime rates

-Very close to nature

Kingston-Walkable city

-Lots of historical & cultural heritage sites

London-State-of-the-art medical facilities

-Excellent healthcare



Ontario is a big province with lots of great cities, each with its own charms and benefits to living in. So we hope that we’ve sufficiently informed you of everything you need to know about the best cities to live in Ontario.