Report: Canada’s top five happiest cities are in Ontario
Ontario is home to the top-five happiest cities in Canada according to a recent report by Point2, a real estate website that analyzes national housing trends.
The five happiest cities are: Caledon, Milton, Halton Hills, Clarington, and Burlington, which are all located in southern Ontario. While not every city in the top five scored high in every category, they made up for it in other areas.
The study used 30 metrics graded on a 100-point scale. The metrics were further grouped into four categories.
- Economy and real estate
- Health and well-being
- Community and environment
- Location and demographics
Caledon scored 67/100 for overall happiness. Its highest scores were in the economy and real estate category with more than 89% of households owned and a median after-tax income of more than $107,000. The town is about an hour’s drive from Toronto and has a more rural setting.
Census 2021 data shows that 29.2% of Caledon’s population is foreign-born, with the top three countries of birth reported as India, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Recent immigrants (those who arrived between 2016 and 2021) make up 6.9% of the population and the majority are from India, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
The report findings highlight the locations that people are likely to be happiest based on their priorities, which may help newcomers who are deciding where to settle in Canada.
Economy and real estate
Despite Caledon’s high overall ranking, Point2 shows that three Quebec towns ranked the highest for happiness based on economy and real estate.
Terrebonne, Blainville, and Repentigny were all found to have the lowest poverty rates among the 100 ranked cities. All three towns are north of Montreal.
Blainville was also found to have one of the lowest unemployment rates.
Health and well-being
Health and well-being were evaluated based on life expectancy, perceived health, perceived mental health, perceived life stress, mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, mania, or dysthymia), regular participation in sports and hours worked.
Granby, Saint-Hyacinthe, Lévis, Québec City, Drummondville and Trois-Rivières in Quebec were the top cities in Canada for happiness in health and well-being.
The report says this is in part due to Quebec having shorter working hours than other provinces and a reported lower share of residents dealing with mood disorders.
Statistics Canada data from 2022 shows that only 6% of Quebecers reported having a mood disorder in 2021. This number went up to 10.5% in Ontario and over 12% in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Community and environment
According to the report, those who prioritize tight communities and nice neighbours are most likely to find it in some of Canada’s smaller cities, and mostly on the east coast.
St John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador was found to be among the greenest cities, as well as the highest-ranking spot for charity donations. A Statistics Canada report from earlier this year showed that in the last quarter of 2022, over 55% of Newfoundlanders had a high rate of life satisfaction (on a scale of 1-10). This is somewhat backed up by the Point2 report that says only 12% of St John’s feel that most days are either quite a bit or extremely stressful.
Cape Breton (which was evaluated as a city although it’s an entire island of more than 10,000 square km) ranked higher than St John’s for a strong sense of belonging.
Regina and Saskatoon took the top spot for the highest number of volunteers in their communities. Saskatoon also ranked as the second most stress-free large city in the country.
Location and demographics
Among the cities where residents felt the safest, Milton, Halton Hills and Burlington were in the top four (the other was Oakville ON, which placed 6th overall in the rankings). These cities were ranked as having the lowest crime severity index.
This category also included commute time and walkability. The 10 happiest cities in terms of location and demographics show that most residents have a 15–30-minute commute time. Mississauga was ranked as the most walkable city.
The report also factored in marital status under demographics and found that Milton had one of the lowest rates of divorce in Canada, at 7.5%. Statistics Canada data shows that in 2020 there were nearly 43,000 divorces in Canada. On average, the mean duration of marriages that ended in divorce was shown to be 15 years, with 31% of divorces filed jointly.