If you are planning a move to Canada and looking for city life, then living in Vancouver vs Toronto is probably two of your main contenders. Both have diverse populations and are popular with newcomers to Canada.
People who have lived in both cities seem to agree that Toronto is a great place for young people. It has a fast-paced and dynamic urban culture and great job and business opportunities. The availability of jobs is one of the reasons the Toronto area is the most popular destination for new immigrants To Canada.
Vancouver has a slower, more laid-back pace of life. Despite being a city, it is popular with people who enjoy the outdoor life, and people generally seem to have a good life balance. Its position on the ocean and its close proximity to the mountains give plenty of opportunities for recreation within easy access to the city.
We have compared Vancouver and Toronto partly using statistics (size, weather, economics etc.) but also based on the opinions of people that live there. Why do Torontonians like living in Toronto, and why do Vancouverites like living in Vancouver?
Living In Vancouver Vs Toronto (An Overview)
With a population of approaching 3 million, Toronto is easily the biggest city in Canada. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and a popular destination for new immigrants.
It is a great place to be for job and business opportunities, and if you are very focused on your career, then Toronto could be a good fit for you. People tend to be more ambitious and work-oriented compared to Vancouver, and some people find the competitive, high-paced lifestyle stressful.
On the other hand, Vancouverites value their work-life balance and are more likely to escape the city to enjoy nature on their doorstep.
Vancouver has a slightly “hippie” vibe in the same way that San Fransisco in the US does, while Toronto is often likened to New York City.
Crime rates in Toronto and Vancouver are both somewhat higher than national Canadian averages. This is perhaps to be expected of larger cities, and they are still relatively safe compared to most North American cities.
Some basic statistics and information for the two cities are given below:
|Population 2021 Census||662,248||2,794,356|
|Population Growth 2016/2021||4.90%||2.30%|
|Retail Sales Tax on Goods 2022||56,525||99,170|
|Time Zone||PST (UTC -8)||EST (UTC -5)|
|Ave Cost Real Estate Jan ’22||$1,255,200||$1,259,900|
|Average Income 2019||$103,000||$106,100|
|Median Income 2019||$80,300||$80,100|
|Crime Severity Index 2020*||105||105|
|Violent Crime Severity Index 2020**||100||106|
|Retails Sales Tax on Goods 2022||12%||13%|
|Lowest Income Tax Band 2022||5.06%||5.05%|
|Highest Income Tax Band 2022||20.5%||13.16%|
* Canadian Ave 73.44, ** Canadian Ave 87.03 (Lower is Better)
Where Are Toronto And Vancouver?
Toronto is located in southeastern Ontario on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. The lake forms part of the border with the United States and is part of the St Lawrence Seaway, which connects Toronto to the Atlantic. The city is generally flat, and the Greater Toronto Area is surrounded by a combination of farmland and forest.
Vancouver is around 3360km from Toronto, as the crow flies. It lies on the southwestern coast of BC, around 50km from the United States border. With the sea on three sides of the city and mountains to the north, it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Vancouver lies on the Strait of Georgia, and across the water sits Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is home to Victoria, BC’s 2nd largest city. And beyond Vancouver Island is the Pacific Ocean.
Does Vancouver Or Toronto Have The Best Weather?
People have differing opinions on which city has the best (or worst) weather. It depends a lot on whether you are more able to tolerate rain and clouds or extreme cold and snow.
Vancouver’s location on the Pacific Ocean means that it has a very moderate but very wet climate. The benefits are that its average monthly temperature rarely drops below zero, it doesn’t snow much, and spring comes around sooner than for most of Canada.
On the flip side, Vancouver is very wet. I once stayed in Vancouver in November, and it didn’t stop raining for 4 straight days. It is literally possible to go weeks without seeing the sun in the winter.
Conversely, Toronto has a climate of extremes. Its weather is partially moderated by its position on Lake Ontario, but it is much colder than Vancouver in the winter and hot and very humid in the summer. You will suffer if you don’t have air conditioning during the hot months.
A major benefit of Toronto is that it sees more sun than Vancouver and doesn’t experience long periods of wet, gloomy weather and dark skies.
|Ave Hrs Sun/Day||5.3||5.7|
|Ave Jan Temp (DegC)||4.1||-4|
|Ave July Temp (DegC)||18||22|
How Do The Economies Of Vancouver And Toronto Compare?
Vancouver (along with most of BC) is dominated economically by the forestry industry, with tourism as its 2nd biggest industry. It is a natural seaport and home to Port Metro Canada, the biggest port in Canada and the 4th biggest in North America.
Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area also have one of the biggest film industries in North America, earning themselves the nickname “Hollywood North.”
Toronto’s prominence initially developed from its position on the North Lawrence Seaway, and it is now the biggest business centre in Canada. It is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Canada’s 5 largest banks, and all the major networks and media outlets in the country.
Of all the Canadian cities, Toronto’s economy is probably the most diverse, with strengths in technology, financial services, aerospace, tourism, arts and too many more to mention here.
Does Vancouver Or Toronto Have The Highest Cost Of Living?
Both Toronto and Vancouver have a reputation for a high cost of living. House prices in both cities are now almost the same, with an average real estate cost of over $1.25 million. These are the highest in Canada and among some of the highest in the world. As you might expect, property rental prices are also high.
Many other living costs are also on par. Vancouver has higher vehicle gas costs, but the cost of public transport is less than in Toronto.
What Are The Cultural Differences Between Vancouver And Toronto?
Both cities are culturally diverse relative to the rest of Canada, with around 50% of their population defined as visible minorities.
There is a difference in the balance of immigrants. In Vancouver, around two-thirds of immigrants originated from Asia, with half of these from East Asia (particularly China).
Toronto’s immigrant population is much more varied, with a greater proportion of people originating from Europe, Africa and the Americas than in Vancouver.
Vancouver Vs Toronto For Outdoor Activities
Most people agree that Vancouver has better options for outdoor activities. With the sea on three sides and mountains to the north, it has endless options for hiking, biking and boating. The moderate weather also means that you can enjoy the outdoors at any time of year (assuming it stops raining for a while!!).
A major benefit of Vancouver is its close proximity to Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. A drive of fewer than 2 hours will take you to one of the best ski resorts in Canada (and probably the world!). This ski resort has over 200 marked trails and covers both the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The entire resort is open from late November until late April, with some runs remaining open until late May.
In the summer, Whistler becomes a hiking and mountain biker’s dream. Some of the lifts remain open, allowing you to take your bike up the mountain, so you just get to ride down!. A word of caution, though – stick to the green runs unless you are an experienced mountain biker. Our first trip to a Canadian hospital was the result of my husband trying out a blue run on his bike!!
Boating is also popular amongst Vancouverites, and they will tell you that in spring, you can ski in the morning and then boat in the afternoon. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding are all possible options.
Toronto doesn’t have Vancouver’s mountains, but it does have around 50km of waterfront and many marinas and beaches within the urban area.
Toronto is also the winner when it comes to urban parks. Vancouver does have the famous Stanley Park covering more than 4 square km, but Toronto has an extensive system of small and large parks, which allows you to relax outdoors without leaving the city.
Transportation In Vancouver And Toronto
Between them, Vancouver and Toronto have the two biggest airports in Canada, and they both have a great range of domestic and international destinations.
Toronto Pearson International Airport is still significantly larger, with almost double the passenger numbers of Vancouver International Airport. However, Vancouver is an easier airport to navigate and, in my experience, much less crowded than Toronto.
ii. Inter-City Rail Transport
Vancouver and Toronto are connected to each other by the Viarail passenger rail service, and they both have connections to cities in the US. From Toronto, it’s possible to continue east to a number of other Canadian cities, including Montreal, Quebec and Halifax.
iii. Public Transit
Toronto also has an extensive range of public services, including buses, trains, streetcars and the Subway. Some people complain that it is expensive and suffers from overcrowding at times.
Many people rely on public transit in Vancouver and Toronto as the traffic can be horrendous in both cities. People with experience in both cities seem to generally prefer the Vancouver transit system.
iv. Enclosed Walkway Systems
Downtown Toronto has a system of mainly underground walkways called the PATH. This is an almost 30km system of walkways connecting restaurants, shops and businesses, as well as links to the public transit system. It means that the Toronto downtown area can continue to operate during the worst of the winter weather.
Vancouver doesn’t have a similar system, and while it might have been nice to escape the rain, there isn’t really the same need as in Toronto.
Sports Teams Of Vancouver And Toronto
If you are a sports lover, then both cities are home to numerous professional, semi-professional and university teams. Both have teams in the National Hockey League (NHL), the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Lacrosse League (NLL).
They are also home to two of only three Canadian soccer teams in the North American Major League Soccer (MLS). Note that in Canada, “football” refers to “American football.”
In terms of the variety of major sports teams, Toronto is a clear winner. It has teams competing in the US Major Baseball League (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Major League Rugby (MLR). It is the only Canadian city to compete in these leagues.
If you want to try something completely different, Toronto has six teams competing in the Ontario-based Australian Football League (AFL). Otherwise known as “footy,” this unique Australian game is played on a gigantic oval field. It initially looks a little like rugby, but the rules and method of play are entirely different.
Are You Planning A Move To Canada?
Are you wondering whether to make the move and have endless questions?
We have the answers to these and many more questions.
Entertainment And Nightlife In Vancouver And Toronto
Vancouver has some great cuisine and a good selection of bars and clubs. The city centre is pretty compact, with most entertainment spots within walking distance from each other.
However, if nightlife is important to you, then Toronto has a well-deserved reputation for diverse and vibrant nightlife. It has way more bars, restaurants, and clubs than Vancouver, spanning many different areas of the city. Toronto also has easy access to nightlife in other cities, such as Montreal and New York City.
Both cities have the population size and venues to attract big-name shows, although Toronto has a greater number and range of concerts and festivals.
Pros And Cons Of Living In Vancouver Vs Toronto.
There really is no right or wrong answer to this. They both have an incredible amount to offer, so it really depends on the type of life you want to lead. To help you decide I have summarised below the main pros of each city.
Vancouver – Pros Of Living In Vancouver Vs Toronto
- Beautiful location surrounded by ocean and mountains
- The slower pace of life, more laid-back
- Compact downtown area
- Great access to outdoor activities in its surrounding areas
- Close to Whistler resort
- Moderate climate (mild winters, warm summers)
- Good work-life balance
Toronto – Pros Of Living In Toronto Vs Vancouver
- Very cosmopolitan with a vibrant urban culture
- Incredible nightlife
- A dynamic, fast-paced lifestyle
- Great job & business opportunities
- A very green city with a great system of urban parks
- Very multicultural
- More variety of professional sports teams
- Close proximity to other Canadian and US cities
Conclusion: Making Your Choice Between Vancouver And Toronto
Deciding between living in Vancouver and Toronto is no small feat, as both cities offer a plethora of opportunities and lifestyles that can suit different preferences. If you’re a young professional seeking a fast-paced urban environment with diverse job opportunities, Toronto might be your go-to. On the other hand, if you’re someone who values work-life balance and wants to be closer to nature, Vancouver could be your ideal home.
Both cities are multicultural hubs with high costs of living, but they differ significantly in climate, outdoor activities, and cultural vibes. Toronto offers a more cosmopolitan lifestyle with a variety of professional sports teams and a vibrant nightlife. Vancouver, known for its stunning natural scenery, provides a laid-back atmosphere and a plethora of outdoor activities, from hiking to sailing.
Ultimately, the choice between Vancouver and Toronto comes down to what you value most in your day-to-day life. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of Toronto’s business-centric culture or the relaxed, nature-oriented lifestyle in Vancouver, both cities have unique offerings that make them appealing in their own right.
So, what’s it going to be? The dynamic, multicultural melting pot of Toronto or the scenic, laid-back charm of Vancouver? Your ideal Canadian home awaits your decision.