Learn more about Ontario’s many cities beyond Toronto

Julia Hornstein
Published: December 27, 2023

Ontario is the most popular immigration destination for new permanent residents. In 2022, 42.2% of new permanent residents chose Ontario as their initial destination in Canada.

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Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the capital of the province of Ontario. Toronto remains the most popular city for newcomers in Canada, and more than 128,000 new permanent residents came to Toronto in 2022. In comparison, Montreal, which welcomed the second-largest number of newcomers, had nearly 53,000 – less than half of the number of newcomers who settled in Toronto.

Beyond the busy streets of Toronto, Ontario offers a myriad of cities each with its unique character and opportunities. Smaller cities provide benefits like enhanced quality of life, greater affordability in living expenses and less competition for job opportunities. Newcomers can still find comparable services, career prospects and cultural communities in smaller cities than they can in big Canadian cities.

Ottawa

Ottawa is Canada’s capital and the fourth largest urban region in the country with over 1.4 million people. As a political hub, the city offers access to many government jobs.

Ottawa is a major economic engine, offering jobs and opportunities in high tech industries, government and important sectors like health and education.

The city has a rich ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity, making it the second largest destination for immigrants to Ontario, and is a major attractor of Francophone newcomers.

In addition, the city has many parks and beaches along the three major rivers and historic canal that define Ottawa as a city.

According to the city of Ottawa’s website, a study by Canadian Business ranked Ottawa as Canada’s best place to live based on incomes, car ownership, unemployment rate, housing, weather and lifestyle. Cultural factors were a key element of Ottawa’s high ranking.

Kingston

Located halfway between Montreal and Toronto, Kingston is not too big and not too small with a population of almost 150,000. Compared to Toronto, the cost of living is 55% less.

Kingston has a stable and diversified economy that includes global corporations, innovative start-ups, and all levels of governments. Kingston also offers access to world class education and research institutions.

The city also boasts a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, a plethora of eclectic restaurants and a university town atmosphere. Moreover, Kingston is home to some of the best sailing you can find in Canada, featuring both the open water of Lake Ontario and the scenic channels of the Thousand Islands.

Windsor

Windsor is Canada’s southernmost city and is situated on the left bank of the Detroit River, opposite Detroit Michigan. This allows residents to take advantage of the many opportunities available in both Canada and the United States.

The city is home to a diverse range of industries, including automotive manufacturing, healthcare, education and more. With a growing economy and many companies looking to expand, it’s a great time to start a new career in Windsor.

One of the biggest draws to Windsor is the low cost of living. Families and individuals on a budget can appreciate how affordable housing, food and other necessities are compared to other Canadian cities.

Finally, the city is home to a tight-knit and welcoming community, making it a great place for families and newcomers to settle down.

London

London, also known as the “Forest City” boasts natural beauty, trees, and a lot of green space. Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario between Toronto and Detroit, London is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. London is quickly becoming a mecca for business, entertainment, recreation and more.

For newcomers, the city offers affordable housing, low crime rates, excellent education, and healthcare facilities.

London is also home to Western University. As one of Canada’s largest research-intensive universities, Western is home to researchers, teachers and graduate students who are leaders in their fields.

Finally, the city has a thriving culture that provides entertainment and excitement for all of its residents of all ages, with festivals, museums, sports and fine dining.

Kitchener-Waterloo

As one of Ontario’s largest cities, Kitchener-Waterloo has a population of over 378,000, with the whole region at just over 575,000.

Kitchener has a bustling tech and entrepreneurial scene with one of Google's headquarters and numerous start-ups. There are several other strong industries, such as healthcare, education, and manufacturing.

The area boasts the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College, where students can benefit from affordable housing, nearby amenities, and employment opportunities for young workers.

Moreover, Kitchener is home to the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany. Every October, Kitchener celebrates its German heritage, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the multi-day festival.

To conclude, Ontario offers a wealth of cities. If you are looking to settle in Ontario, consider other cities beyond Toronto, as each offer a unique blend of opportunities and lifestyles.

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