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Life In the Northwest Territories

Updated: November 21st, 2022

The Northwest Territories are characterized by their stunning scenery, landscapes and the Northern Lights which are known for their glimpses of spectacular colour in the sky. But besides its natural beauty, the province is known for its low unemployment rate with maximum job opportunities for those wanting to nurture their professional growth.

Where are the Northwest Territories on the map?

The Northwest Territories are bordered by the Yukon Territory to the west, Nunavut to the east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north. The summers in the Northwest Territories are short and cool, while winters are long and harsh. Like Nunavut, around 25% of the Northwest Territories are above the Arctic Circle.

Where are the Northwest Territories on the Map?

Overall, the Northwest Territories are the second-largest territory in Canada at 1,300,000km2, yet it is also underpopulated with only 40,000 people.

Climate/ Weather in the Northwest Territories

Climate in the Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories are famous for their freezing winters and surprisingly comfortable summers. When it comes to seasons, the Summer days call for approximately three months of sunny days while the Winter can be fairly harsh with ice-capped mountains and an extremely cold climate.

The summers in the Northwest territories start in late May and end in early September. During the summers, the temperature peaks at around 21°C (69,8°F) and generally don't dip below 13°C (55.4°F).

The winters leave the Northwest territories covered in snow. The coldest month of the year is January when temperatures almost never go above -21°C (-5.8°F). The winters of the Northern Territories are almost exactly as long as the summers, starting at late November and ending in early March.

While the freezing winters are tough for newcomers, the warmth of the people and the cultures of the Northern Territories will ensure you can find your way through the harsh winters.

Cost of living in the Northwest Territories

Cost of Living in the Northwest Territories

The reality of living in the Northwest Territories is that the region is rather isolated and transportation costs affect the price of general purchases. Though these prices can be high, the wages and salaries per hour are some of the highest in Canada. The Northwest Territories encourage skilled workers to make the move here by paying a bonus or supplement to applicants.

According to, the average cost of living in Yellowknife is significantly more expensive than in one of Canada's largest and most expensive cities, the British Columbian metropolis, Vancouver. Below, we can see the vast differences of monthly food expenses per household. 

Average Monthly Food Expenses CAD
Yellowknife $650
Vancouver $584

However, while the monthly expenses may be high, housing costs in the Northwest Territories are very low. For example, here's a comparison between the monthly rent costs in Yellowknife and Vancouver.

Monthly Rent in City Centre Yellowknife Vancouver
1 Bedroom apartment $1,725.00 $2,440.10
3 Bedroom Apartment $2,475.00 $4,515.91

Lean more about how to budget effectively in Canada here.


The territory is rich in natural resources such as diamonds, wildlife, freshwater, minerals and oil which contribute to the bulk of the economic growth. The diamond, oil and gas industry happens to be the main driving force for the territory. However, the low population along with its rich natural resources makes the Northwest Territories the largest GDP in Canada.

Currently, the Northwest Territories economy is based on the extraction of petroleum and natural gas, as well as the mining of gold and diamonds. The land is rich in resources, and mining is, therefore, one of the major works conducted in this region. As a whole, immigrants enjoy various possibilities in the mining field as well as the transport and jewelry industry.

The Territory is well-renowned for its low unemployment rate, competitive income and plenty of job opportunities. Below is a list of jobs with NOC codes that are high in demand in Canada:

Occupation NOC Code
Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors 2271
Early childhood educators and assistants 4214
Public Health Inspectors 2263
Licensed practical nurses 3233
Financial auditors and accountants 1111
Civil engineers 2131
Social workers 4152
Biologists and related scientists 2121
Human resources managers 0112
Restaurant and food service managers 0631
Managers in natural resources production and fishing 0811
Other administrative services managers 0114

Find out more about which jobs in the Northwest territories are in demand here.

Northwest Territories In-demand Occupations

Northwest Territories Nominee Programs

As the Northwest territories have such a small population, there are several fantastic nominee programs to help skilled workers find an easy pathway to permanent residence in the Northwest territories. If you're unsure as to how the Canadian Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) work

The Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP) accepts applications under four categories:

The Northwest Territory PNP Operates Through 5 Streams:

Express Entry for Skilled Workers
Skilled Workers
Entry Level/Semi-Skilled Occupations
Business Stream

Find out more about the Northwest Territories' PNPs and how you can apply here.

Northwest Territories Provincial Nominee Programs

If you're interested in moving to the Northwest Territories, but are unsure if you're eligible or want support through your application process, you may want to speak to an expert. Our team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) have helped hundreds of applicants find their new home in Canada. RCICs can help evaluate you and find which program is perfect for you.


Demographics in the Northwest Territories

According to, the population of the Northwest Territories has been slowly climbing since 1996 and is currently sitting at 45,607. As the Northwest Territories are slightly isolated from the rest of Canada, its people have developed their own unique culture and indigenous identity. People in the territory are known to be friendly and hospitable they place immense value on cultural practice.

The territory is rich in diversity and boasts 11 official languages; French, English and six aboriginal languages. What makes this area so interesting is the blend of traditional and native Canadians that comes together to form a distinctive cultural identity.

The majority of the population in the Northwest Territories is aboriginal, while the rest of the population is English, French, Irish, Scottish, and German. While this unique province has 11 official languages, English remains the medium of instruction. Some of the aboriginal languages include Chipewyan, Cree, and Inuktitut.

A small group of fewer than 3000 immigrants from around the world choose to live in the Northwest Territories, with the largest group of people coming from the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

Over half of the population follow the Catholic and Protestant faiths, though there are many other religions represented including Sikh, Buddhism, and Hindu.

Close to 20, 000 of the small population live in the province capital of Yellowknife due to the job opportunities in mining and transportation in the territory.


Education in the Northwest Territories

There are only two English colleges in the Northwest Territories; Aurora College, and the Academy of Learning College. Aurora has two campuses, one in Fort Smith and one in Inuvik.

For French Speakers, there is also the College Nordique Francophone.

All colleges offer limited, highly specialized programs, aiming to build the core skill base most needed in the Northwest territories such as accounting, information technology, business, and office administration.

For those interested in studying business management, the Northwest Territories are considered a great academic opportunity with a varied selection of interesting programs.

The Northwest territories also have just under 50 schools to ensure that your children get that world-famous Canadian education, no matter what age.

Major Cities

Major Cities in Northwest Territories

While the Northwest Territories cities don't have the same massive population density that provinces like British Columbia and Ontario do, they do act as a major source of industry and business that helps to build and grow the Northwest Territories' exceptionally strong economy.


The capital city, Yellowknife, was founded in 1934 after the discovery of gold and has since grown into a small, yet bustling center of business and most of the population resides in this area. Yellowknife boasts a wealth of employment opportunities making it the peak rate of employment with some of the highest salaries in Canada.


The lone town of the Inuvik region, Inuvik is primarily home to the buildings of the provincial, territorial and federal government of Canada. If you have an interest in working in the territorial government of the Northwest Territories. The town is located right on the edge of the Northwest territories' phenomenal forests, making it perfect for those who love the outdoors.

Fort Smith

The perfect rural city, Fort Smith is perfect for those who want to truly experience the wilderness of Canada, without going completely off-grid. Steeped in Canadian history, the town provides unrivaled access to the Slave River and Wood Buffalo National Park.

Things to do in Northwest Territories

Things to do in the Northwest Territories

Situated in Northern Canada, the Northwest Territories are every outdoorsman’s dream. The province is a beautifully mesmerizing part of Canada and boasts the country's largest lake, the Great Bear Lake which is 31,153km².

Like other territories, the main attractions are outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, hunting, mountain climbing, dog-sledding, and wildlife viewing. The sports activities in the Northwest Territories are also varied, with fun activities for all ages and interests. From leisure hikes to fishing for Arctic char, this place will have you marvel at its natural beauty with plenty of outdoor activities to choose from making it an adventurer’s paradise.

Life is quiet and comfortable, offering a wonderful region to consider for your new home. If you’re a lover of the outdoors and you’re looking for adventure, then Yellowknife is the place for you.


Life in the Northwest Territories

How can I work in the Northern Territories?

To work in the Northern Territories, you will first have to land a job there. Here's a handy guide on how to apply for jobs in Canada. Once you land your job, you will likely need a work permit to be able to work in Canada. This guide will show you how to get your work permit.

What are the main reasons people move to the Northwest territories?

Here are three simple reasons why people move to the Northwest Territories:

  • The Northwest Territories are rich in culture and diversity
  • Beautiful landscapes and exhilarating outdoor activities
  • Its booming economy

How do you get permanent residency in the Northwest Territories?

Foreign nationals interested in becoming permanent residents in the Northwest Territories can do so via the Northwest Express Entry channel targeted at skilled workers. The Northwest Express Entry program is designed to process applications of skilled workers who wish to settle in Canada (including the Northwest Territories) and gain permanent residence status.

The Express Entry system has a faster processing standard so successful candidates will only pay the federal fees since the applicant won’t have to pay PNP application fees.

Discover What's So Great About the Great White North

Life in the Northwest Territories

Fewer provinces encapsulate the term Great White North as completely at the Northwest territories. With all of the wonders of Canada's wilderness right outside your front door, moving to the Northwest Territories is perfect for those that love that famous Canadian nature.

If you want to get the best start in your journey to the Northwest territories, getting support from the RCICs will help you find the perfect pathway to the Great White North. Our RCICs will give you a full eligibility evaluation, guide you through every step of the application process, curate your CV, fill out your forms and represent you with the relevant authorities.

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