Big City vs Small City Living in Canada

Once you have decided to immigrate to Canada, thoughts on where to settle are likely to weigh heavily on your mind. This second-largest country in the world has extensive terrain with many places to live. Each region has its unique culture, services, and weather. With so much to choose from, you're guaranteed to find the living setting that best suits your preference. But perhaps the biggest question is - would you choose a big city or small town to settle in when you move to Canada?

Big City Life or Small Town Living?

Most immigrants tend to gravitate toward cities for several reasons. These include:

  • The common notion is that there are more employment opportunities.
  • The idea is that there will already be communities of ex-pats from their own countries, making the adjustment easier.
  • The idea is that cities offer more entertainment, dining, housing options, etc.

Small cities or towns are overlooked for the opposing reasons people choose cities:

  • There's the idea that employment opportunities will be limited
  • The sentiment that already-established and tight-knit communities won't be as accepting
  • The idea is that there'll be nothing to do and only a few places to choose from when picking a new home.

So which would you choose when you move to Canada? The reality is that even if you have people you know in the Great White North, you ultimately have to think about what would be best for you.

Factors That Influence Where People Choose to Live in Canada

Weighing up your options for Canada | Big City vs Small City Living in Canada

Life is different in each part of Canada, so you'll have to consider several factors when looking at your option.

Job Opportunities

The most crucial factor in deciding where to live in Canada will most likely be the place or province that offers the best job opportunities related to your occupation. While it's true that because there are more significant businesses in cities, more positions need to be filled, competition for those positions will be a lot harder. Many open positions in smaller cities or towns are open because they desperately need to fill that position, which gives you a much better chance of success.

Retiring Canadians

Canadian citizens nearing retirement tend to want to see out their golden years in a more peaceful setting, which means they will move away from bustling cities to smaller towns. This creates the situation of a population that spends money but doesn't work. On the other hand, this creates opportunities because restaurants need managers and servers, and construction companies need engineers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc.

By 2036 only 62% of the Canadian population will participate in the workforce. This will significantly burden government spending, which is also why the Canadian government has set high immigration targets. They want skilled young immigrants to help build the economy and start families that will become a part of the Canadian economic boom in the future.

Quality of Life

A view of mountain peaks from wherever you are, rivers and forests surrounding your town, children playing in the streets. While many believe these are luxuries from a bygone era, the reality is that more and more people are finding this kind of life still exists in small-town Canada.

Small towns also offer all the same amenities as suburbs of big cities, with the added benefit of natural beauty and job opportunities. If you enjoy going to the cinema, watching live music in the park or a pub, ice-skating, or just being able to walk around downtown at night, that is all available to you in beautiful small towns such as:

  • Salmon Arm (British Columbia) - Alongside the pristine Shuswap Lake, the average three-bedroom home costs $402,450. In-demand jobs include but are not limited to butchers, nurses, food counter attendants, doctors, carpenters, cooks, and food service supervisors.
  • Burlington (Ontario) - a quick search yielded over 5,000 employment opportunities in this small city. Only a few minute's drive from the world-famous Niagara falls and the US border, the average three-bedroom house costs $659,900 due to its proximity to Buffalo and Toronto.
  • Canmore (Alberta) - The ultimate picturesque small town nestled in the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, Canmore has positions for Cooks, Carpenters, Bakers, Hotel Managers, Restaurant Managers, and more. Apartments start as low as $88,000, and family homes go for an average of $676,000, which is not too bad when you consider the average income per household is $113,230.
  • Weyburn (Saskatchewan) - openness, blue skies, and calm plains that run for hundreds of kilometers surround Weyburn. Opportunities are aplenty for nurses, doctors, cooks, food and beverage serves, and most of all, truck drivers. The average home costs a mere $279,000, and the average household income is $79,502. We will leave the rest up to you.

Canadian Immigration Options

Find your options | Big City vs Small City Living in Canada

Because so many immigrants are attracted to the bright lights and opportunities of the big city, the IRCC has implemented several immigration programs to incentivize skilled foreigners to choose smaller towns as their immigration destination.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

This community-driven pilot was created to spread the benefits of Canadian immigration to participating smaller towns and cities by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled workers who want to settle and live in a small city rather than a big city. Requirements include:

  • A valid job offer from a designated employer in a participating community
  • Qualifying work experience for the position.
  • You must meet the educational requirements of the position.
  • You must meet the minimum language requirements.
  • Show you have enough money to support your transition into the community
  • Show you intend to settle and live in the community
  • Meet the community-specific requirements.

In an update in August 2022, Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, revealed the expansion of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), which increased the benefits of immigration in the 11 participating communities. The improvements put in place support community stakeholders, employers, and candidates by:

  • Increasing the geographic boundaries of some participating communities so that more employers can participate. Communities include North Bay (Ont.), Sudbury (Ont.), Timmins (Ont.), Thunder Bay (Ont.), Moose Jaw (Sask.), West Kootenay (BC), and Vernon (BC)
  • Facilitating easier access to labor markets
  • Giving communities a chance to participate in the pilot for a longer period, until August 2024
  • Aiding community partners in providing better support to candidates and employers
  • Decreasing the amount required for settlement funds

The Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nomination Program also has immigration streams dedicated to bringing critical in-demand immigrants into smaller communities with specific labor requirements and shortages. The Canadian government has an agreement with provinces permitting them to nominate immigrants who want to settle and work in that particular province. To receive a visa through the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), you must choose a province and apply for a nomination. The province will then consider you according to its immigration and labor needs.

The Atlantic Immigration Program

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot was designed to address labor shortages in the four Atlantic Provinces of Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. For this program, you also only require a valid job offer in one of the participating provinces, mostly made up of farms and small towns. Halifax is the largest city in the Atlantic provinces, with a little over 300,000.

Get Settled in Canada

Settle in Canada | Big City vs Small City Living in Canada

Trying to decide where to live in Canada will never be an easy feat. Cities have higher-paying jobs for highly skilled lawyers, accountants, and medical professionals. However, because city life can be costly and get out of control in cities, many opt for smaller apartments or head to the outskirts of cities, creating longer and longer commute times.

With over 100 immigration and visa options, the process can become overwhelming and confusing. But it doesn't have to be. By using our accredited Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs), you will not only improve your chances of success in the visa application process, but you will get expert advice on which program is best for your specific needs. Our RCICs are highly qualified to assist you with your eligibility evaluation, review all your documents and application forms, and submit them to the Canadian government for you. 

Why take the chance of having your application denied because your forms are incorrect or sent in too late? We take care of the fine print while you choose your dream destination in Canada for you and your loved ones. All you have to do is complete our application form to receive your eligibility assessment today. It's just that simple!


Canada | Big City vs Small City Living in Canada

Which Bigger Canadian Cities Should I Consider?

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Montréal, Quebec
  • Vancouver, British Columbia

Which Smaller Canadian Cities Should I Consider?

You may want to research the following cities:

  • Sydney, Nova Scotia
  • Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and Labrador
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Moncton, New Brunswick
  • Trois-Rivières, Quebec
  • Brandon, Manitoba
  • Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
  • Red Deer, Alberta
  • Kelowna, British Columbia

What is the Main Benefit of Living in a Small Town in a Rural Setting?

The Great White North has many rural areas with endless open spaces and fresh air. It would be wise to plant yourself close to a large town if the area you choose doesn't have many facilities.