The Top Canadian Cities to Live and Work for Millennials | Blog

The Top Canadian Cities to Live and Work for Millennials

By Staff Writer | September 12, 2018

More than any other generation before them, millennials put a special emphasis on their lifestyle. The way they live and work is so important to them that they will sacrifice a lot in order to have the exact life they want.

Millennials are generally considered to be those who reached adulthood in the 21st century (born after 1981), and many of their beliefs are guided by their early exposure to the Internet and globalisation. Often it is said that millennials are lazy or entitled, but perhaps they just have different priorities. As a group, they have the lowest willingness to commute or put up with unnecessarily long hours.

So knowing that lifestyle is extremely important to this group, the question becomes “where do these people most want to work within Canada?” Not only is this helpful for millennials to understand, but also employers, since it will help them make better investment decisions on where they set up their offices.

Below we will go through a few of the top cities in Canada for millennials to live in. This can be determined by looking at economic factors, like the wages and unemployment rate, as well as less tangible factors, such as climate or life satisfaction. However, sometimes the best indicator of a millennial-friendly city is one with a higher percentage of them, as that would generally indicate the millennials have already made somewhat of a decision by voting with their feet.

Quebec City, Quebec

Most will find this rather unexpected, but Quebec City is often ranked as the best city in Canada for millennials. This is mostly due to its affordability and the low unemployment rate, as these both create a yearly income that is above the average. The unemployment rate in Canada has been hovering around 5.9% for 2017, meaning that places like Quebec City, with 3.9%, have an actual shortage of employees. Because of this, there is less stress financially, which has become a major factor for millennials. The low unemployment rate helps you to sleep better at night knowing that you would likely be able to find another job if you lost your current one.

The city is known for having exceptional architecture and a great amount of culture, and the swath of millennials who are moving there has created an even higher demand for great restaurants and bars. For those with more traditional taste, there is also a myriad of museums and parks that are perfect for both daytime and nighttime recreation.

The climate may leave something to be desired, however, the high level of safety and family friendliness more than makeup for that.

Victoria, BC

Vancouver is generally seen as the darling of the west coast, but Victoria actually has many upsides in comparison. Its close proximity to outdoor mecca, Tofino, is part of what gives it the top rank in terms of life satisfaction. It has the 2nd largest amount of millennials in the whole country, who have a higher level of education than most other places.

Additionally, a CBC article based on studies conducted by UBC has ranked Victoria among the most “bikeable” cities in Canada, which adds to the quality of life significantly.

Because of its strategic position between Seattle and Vancouver, merged with the advanced technology as the engine of the economy, Victoria has a nice blend of industries where there could be something for everyone, both outdoors and inside. Many Millennials who work in the IT industry even have the option of working remotely in Seattle and living in Victoria where the real estate prices are significantly lower while being able to jump over the border to the office at a moment's notice.

Calgary, Alberta

Until the oil crash of 2012, Calgary would have been considered one of the best places to live in Canada. The mix of outdoor experiences and a booming economy provided residents with the best of both worlds, but at a much more affordable price than the big 3 (Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal). Once the price of oil tumbled, Calgary fell on hard times, but it looks to be experiencing a comeback.

From the perspective of a new hire, things are actually looking pretty good. The unemployment rate has begun to drop, and starting wages are higher than the average across Canada. As oil continues to rebound, this could be a great place for millennials to settle in and benefit from the comeback.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Looking now to the east coast, Halifax has developed as a strong hub for business and trade in Canada. The result has been a strong housing market, and a thriving downtown area. Even with the housing affordability, as more developments are being made, the prices of real estate are not likely to rise too sharply. The presence of several large post-secondary insitutions in the town adds educated individuals to the workforce and creates a vibrant nightlife. Halifax has become the fifth-largest technology hub in Canada, which when combined with the Maritime habitat, creates a wonderful place to enjoy your 20’s while growing a career.

There is a sense of combining historic significance and academic achievement with a modern sense of global business which makes Halifax a good place to live. If your work is mostly done remotely or is mainly project-oriented, you will be able to enjoy a calm day in the Halifax public gardens while not on the clock.

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario

A small city outside of Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo prevents a great alternative to the continually growing rents of Downtown Toronto. As a well-known technology hub within Canada that is now growing in reputation worldwide, the economic opportunities are aplenty here.

In economic terms, Kitchener-Waterloo is teeming with opportunity, especially for those in the IT sector and services. The median household income in this region in 2017 was around $78,000, surpassing the national average by $8,000 dollars and surpassing the neighbouring Toronto by a whopping $12,000. Additionally, this area has a much lower crime rate, which contrasts with housing prices which are about half as much as they are in Toronto.

For a slightly experienced developer or designer, this could be one of the few places in the country where they would benefit from a stable job market and would even be able to get a ‘'walk-in job'' for many positions. 

Unexpected Results

Many would have thought that Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver would be the best places for millennials, but the high cost of living makes that less likely. This has created opportunities for many other cities, as millennials are more willing to move to new places if there is likely to be a better lifestyle.

Even just the decrease in stress that comes with a lower cost-of-living makes it far more likely that millennials move to a smaller city like Quebec City or Victoria. The top insight that should be taken away from this article is that big cities may be slightly “overpriced” in terms of their demand, which means there are many opportunities in other cities as well.