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Best 15 Cities in Ontario for Newcomers

Many cities in Ontario abound. Find the city that is right for you.

Did you just say Ontario? Yes, you did, and a great choice too. Ontario is one of the great provinces of Canada. It is in East-Central Canada and borders the US and the Great Lakes. The cities of Ontario are large and numerous.

Little wonder it harbors over 14 million people, with the majority being immigrants. Do you know that 40% of Canada’s population lives in Ontario? 40% of Canada cannot possibly be making a wrong choice by choosing Ontario.

Despite, Ontario has more than 50 cities, the top cities highlighted below will give you a taste of the great province.

Where is Ontario?

Ontario is located in the east/central part of the country. In terms of total land area, it is Canada’s second largest province.

From the Mixedwood Plains in the southeast to the boreal woods and tundra in the north, it has a wide range of physical features.

Ontario is believed to mean “beautiful waters” in the original Iroquoian language. It is rightly named, what with the many lakes and natural scenery that make it a home for all.

The city has the longest street in the world called Yonge Street, with a distance of more than 1,896 kilometers.

Some of the best celebrities in the world are from Ontario. Beautiful people like Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, Matthew Perry, Mike Myers, Ryan Gosling, and Jim Carrey.

Top 8 Cities in Ontario for Newcomers

Although, Ontario has more than 50 cities, these top 10 cities will give you an insight of the great province of Ontario.

1. Toronto – the Queen City

Ontario’s capital city is Toronto. Toronto is special. It is a city that accommodates different kinds of people from different races. With a population of over 2.9 million residents, Toronto is the largest city in Ontario.

Toronto possesses a smiling economy, as it is Canada’s main financial-services center. Most businesses and financial institutions have their headquarters in Toronto. This is significant for young people and job seekers as Toronto has various job opportunities.

In addition, a lot of work and time goes into making a city as beautiful and spectacular as Toronto. For that reason, one may say that their lifestyle is expensive.

But, the one thing that Toronto has going for it, is its stable economy. Toronto’s economy is strong.

As a matter of fact, Toronto is the financial, industrial, and commercial backbone of Canada. Most offices move to Toronto because they love the work atmosphere. All these contributed to strengthening the economy of the city.

Naturally, many employment opportunities abound for the newcomer, because of the many and diverse businesses situated in Toronto.

All these atributes makes Toronto one of the best cities in Ontario province.

2. Ottawa

The capital of Canada is Ottawa. Ottawa is in Ontario. It has a population of over 994,837 people. It is a city filled with history, and one can see it from the buildings and museums.

How a city can combine both the modern and the dated, is a wonder that can be found in Ottawa. This is what makes it unique – the fact that antiquity runs parallel to modernity in Ottawa.

Another unique thing about Ottawa is that it has small pockets of towns where you can live if you do not want the hustle and bustle of hectic city life. Ottawa is the perfect place for families because of its affordable living expenses, job opportunities, and low crime rate.

Because Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and a government city, its unemployment rate is quite low. Jobs are much easier to come by. That is probably also why it is unarguably the best cleanest cities in Ontario.

In addition, in terms of education, the University of Ottawa is renowned as one of the most competitive institutions of learning in Canada and beyond.

3. Mississauga

With a population of 721,600, Mississauga is Ontario’s 3rd largest city and Canada’s 6th largest city. It is located on the shores of Lake Ontario and is near Toronto. As a matter of fact, Mississauga owes its rapid growth to its proximity to Toronto.

Mississauga was formerly planned as a suburb of Toronto but it grew to become a city in itself. Visiting Mississauga, you will find that businesses like Microsoft, Target, General Electric, and Walmart brought their headquarters to the city.

Although, Canada’s busiest airport is named Toronto Pearson International Airport, it is located in Mississauga. It has more than 480 recreation parks and woodlands.

4. Brampton – The Flower City

Brampton is among the most populous cities in Ontario, with a population of 593,638. The city has positioned itself as a global economic contender. Brampton revitalized its Flower Town Heritage to claim the title of Canada’s Flower City.

It has an economy based on advanced manufacturing, logistics, information technology, life sciences, and retail administration. Driven by immigration to the city, Brampton has experienced rapid population growth.

Did you know, the Hollywood’s famous Michael Cera is from Brampton? Brampton’s Algoma University offers programs in Computer Science and Business Administration.

Moreover, there are numerous schools to ensure that if you are moving to Brampton, your children’s educational needs will be adequately met.

5. Hamilton – the Steel of Canada

With a population of 536,917, Hamilton is Ontario’s fifth biggest city in Ontario. Hamilton gained the nicknames – Steel Town, The Hammer, and the Steel Capital of Canada because 60% of the country’s steel is produced in the city. No doubt, employment opportunities abound.

Hamilton is also an important educational hub, with various institutions of higher education located within its limits.

6. Vaughan

The city of Vaughan is home to more than 300,000 people. Vaughan is not as large as Toronto and Ottawa but it is no less beautiful.

Also, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is one of the famous places to visit.The Vaughan Mills is perhaps the largest Shopping Mall in Canada and beyond.

And it is right beside Canada’s Wonderland which is the most patronized amusement park in the country. Right inside Vaughan Mills is Legoland Discovery Centre.

It is a world of its own where children and adults alike, would like to explore. Inside Legoland Discovery are a 3D cinema, a Lego store, and a play zone.

Furthermore in Vaughan, is the Black Creek Pioneer Village. It is an open-air heritage museum that takes you back in time to early Ontario. The village houses staff who enact the early Ontario times in heritage buildings, furniture, and costumes.

It has a church, general store, schoolhouse, and other important buildings that date it to the 19th century.

7. Oakville – Best Canadian City for Immigrants

In 2018, Oakville was voted the Best Canadian City for Immigrants. With a population of about 211,382, Oakville boasts beautiful scenery and an affordable lifestyle. It is close to Toronto.

The city of Oakville is celebrated for its sporting population. Soccer, Skating, Canoeing, and Hockey are some of the major sporting events which take place in Oakville.

Oakville is a lakeside town with big-city attractions. It houses the Oakville Museum and the Oakville Galleries. The Bronte Creek Provincial Park is an outdoor explorer’s wonder.

8. Windsor – The City of Roses

Windsor is a city in transformation. It is a growing city with a population of over 210,000. Residents of Windsor are known as Windsorites. It is also the only city in Canada that looks north to the US. Windsor is home to Royalty.

In fact, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It is a tourist attraction open to visitors all year round.

The Queen spends most of her weekends at the castle. If you decide to make Windsor your home, you may just catch a glimpse of Her Royal Majesty!

Top 3 Affordable Cheapest Cities in Ontario

If you are looking to settle in Canada, or just looking for the perfect spot to live in, then look no further than than these cities. Ontario has some of the best cheapest cities to live in.

1. Barrie

Barrie was once known as a bedroom community because it is close enough to Toronto, for people who work there to be able to commute. People can live in Barrie and easily go to work in Toronto.

In fact, Barrie is approximately 10 minutes from Highway 400. With a population of 153,356, Barrie is a small but very beautiful city to live happily in. Barrie is known for its annual events like the Barrie Waterfront Festival, the Barrie Film Festival, and the Winterfest.

The many beautiful beaches of Barrie like Johnson’s Beach, The Gables, and Centennial Beach, take the spotlight during summer. There are also skiing, snowboarding, and ice fishing events. All these have made Barrie a popular city to live in.

2. Guelph – the Royal City

Guelph has a population of about 135,474 people. It is known as the Royal City in honor of the British Royal family. Most people choose to live in this location because it’s affordable and is close to Toronto and Waterloo.

Besides, it has low unemployment and crime rates even with a small population. Although it does not have many amenities, it is a clean city with good options for outdoor living. Guelph is known for its limestone architecture, dynamic culture, and high standard of living.

In addition, the famous bridge over the Speed River was built by 400 volunteers in 1992, for pedestrians, bicycle riders, and wheelchair users. The bridge is covered so that in any weather, one can use it safely. It became part of the Royal Recreational Trail.

Have you heard about the University of Guelph? This is one of the fascinating sights in Guelph, with its historic buildings and the beautiful scenery of bricks and greens.

3. Waterloo – not the Waterloo!

Waterloo has a population of 113,520 and a healthy mix of immigrants. It is close to Toronto but is less crowded than Toronto and Ottawa. People often live in Waterloo because they cannot afford Toronto but love to see the bustle of Toronto.

The city has a mix of urban and rural life. It is less crowded, and there are employment opportunities as a result of some industries situated there.

Also, there are beautiful race and golf courses for lovers of the outdoors. All year round, Waterloo hosts various sporting events.

Of course, the name ‘Waterloo’ has nothing to do with the phrase – to meet one’s waterloo.

Top 4 Beautiful Tourist Attractions in Ontario 

1. Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is on Lake Superior, with a population of 110,172. It has some attractive outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and hunting.

There are many recreational areas as well as an airport, making it easily accessible.

Here, you are exposed to nature, and the freshwater lake makes it even more beautiful. Houses are affordable and security is adequate.

2. Stratford

Ontario’s Stratford lies upon the Avon River and is famous for its theatrical productions, especially showcasing the plays of William Shakespeare.

Apart from being home to performing artists, it’s a favorite for swans. The beautiful swans of Stratford are one of its key attractions to the newcomer.

And that’s not all, lovers of golf have found Stratford to be a good place for the sport. You could also explore downtown or check out some of the trails and gardens. Its population is 32,700.

3. Port Hope

The word – serenity – comes to mind. City dwellers cannot resist the colors and heritage beauty of Port Hope. The Ganaraska River completes the picture as it weaves its way through the length and breadth of Port Hope.

That’s not all, Port Hope boasts of waterfront nature trails, a sandy beach, a historic downtown, quaint villages, and scenic country driving routes. Time spent in Port Hope is well spent. Here, every day is a holiday. Population, 12,587

4. Paris

Yes, there is a Paris in Ontario and predictably, it is a beautiful city. In fact, it was voted Ontario’s prettiest town. It has a population of 12,310.

Surprisingly, Paris, Ontario was not named after Paris, France. It got its name from the gypsum deposits that lay along the Grand River which runs through town. The gypsum was used to create the Plaster of Paris to make walls and ceilings and hence the town became known as Paris.

The Grand and The Nith

Paris is the location where two rivers meet – The Grand and The Nith.

The dreamy riverside town of Paris is picture-perfect. The downtown is a display of beautiful architectural styles — Victorian, Edwardian, Gothic, and Post Modern — but Paris is renowned for its cobblestone buildings, including two churches and 10 residences that are still in use today.

The open-air cafés, bakeries, lovely restaurants, and the blend of history and modern amenities make this small city truly unique.

In conclusion

Conclusively, there are so many other great, affordable and beautiful cities in Ontario. Whether you are looking for the lights of Toronto, the tranquility of Paris, or a halfway between both, the dilemma of choice awaits you.

However, your choice of which city to call home should be made with the following considerations.

  • Plan with what you have. Don’t let the beauty of each city sway you.
  • Your status. Married or not? Bachelors would definitely prefer a city that has lots of nightlife, to cities that are laid back and a bit more old-fashioned.
  • Family size and ages. Wouldn’t it be more convenient to have everything you need, in one city? If you have children of certain school ages, it would make more sense to live in a city that has schools for your children’s age groups. You would not want to live in one city and have your children go to school in another. Likewise other social amenities.
  • Your type of job. Are you a home-based business owner? maybe you want to be in a city that has a constant hub of activities. Are you an educationist? A casual worker? Find a location that will provide you with a ready source of income.
  • Personal taste. You may be an indoors type of person, a loner. Or you may like to get lost in the crowd, loving the sounds of city life. Ontario has it all.

So to the newcomer to Ontario, this is wishing you a happy and exciting city-hunting!