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#1 Posted by Vahleticar (294 posts) -

Hi dudes, I'll be visiting Montreal next month, then early next year I will book a trip to another city, I'd love suggestions on that! I'm also in Canada to investigate options to totally emigrate out of the UK one day. I'll be there to look at house prices and jobs available and I would love advice on that from happy dudes all across Canada. I've worked as a support worker in a homeless shelter for nearly 10 years and I picked up some experience on factors surrounding it like drug/alcohol abuse and mental health but I feel I would like to switch, and I'm not too picky what I'd do. I'm looking for some fun, a fun place to live and work that's cheap. Thanks dudes!

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#2 Edited by Junkerman (524 posts) -

Seriously consider moving to the any of the Arctic provinces: Northwest Territories or Nunavut.

You'll find better pay, greater opportunities, more room for growth and way less competition. It may not look like it at first glance but more affordable housing as well when you compare it to hotspots like Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto etc.

Most of these provinces offer considerable tax breaks, vacation allowances that offset increased travel costs (generously) and a host of other benefits that might not seem readily apperent.

If you're even half-way adventurous you owe it to yourself to check it out. You'll more often then not find yourself in friendly, eclectic and close-knit communities that practice a host of hobbies the rest of the world will never even consider.

For example, one of the houseboaters in the bay where I live puts a sheet over his house one night every September and everyone comes out in their canoes, kayaks, 12ft jon-boats and makes a little flotilla to watch movies he projects onto the side of the place. Bowls of popcorn are passed around, thermoses of Hot-Chocolate and we watch films into the wee hours of the night. One year, the sky was clear and the northern lights were out and the lake was calm and you could not tell where the sky ended and the water began.

You could find yourself fishing char on an arctic coast just because you befriended a bush pilot that needed another hand for the day or you could be looking after a team of sled dogs while their owners are away on holiday. Maybe you'll be ice fishing, or riding a snowmobile to work in the winter. Cross country skiing in the tundra or making a silly film with your neighbours to enter into the cheesy film-festival your town puts on every year. Maybe you'll live in a remote village like Pond Inlet, or a city like Iqaluit or Yellowknife... one thing they have in common is that you can kiss your commute goodbye. I used to spend two hours in traffic every day in BC where I grew up. Now I can walk to work in 20 minutes. Rush hour? That's just the joke you make to your colleague about having to wait for 30 seconds more then usual before you turn left on the main thoroughfare.

There is a lot of people struggling to make it work in the many (beautiful) places to live in the south, and you can always move south when you've had your fill of the North. After you've made a good living with money in the bank, a host of experiences most people will never be able to picture or understand and a hell of a lot of fun!

That's my soap box anyway.

(Theres also lots of mental health related jobs as well, that's what my wife does; just forewarned there can be a lot of poverty in the communities and if you're in that world it can be some pretty heavy stuff. Though those issues exist everywhere in that field. Much respect.)

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#3 Edited by Inresurrection (463 posts) -

@junkerman: That's is some great advice. Yukon is a beautiful place to live. My cousin lives in Whitehorse and the arts are so prevalent there.

Just don't move to Ontario. The police (OPP) are awful and over-police everywhere, and the Ontario government is a joke. I am getting out of this province as soon as I can. (Source: Lived here for 26 years.)

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#4 Posted by PeteyCoco (280 posts) -

@vahleticar: i would recommend Montreal since it is cheap and great, but it's hard to get jobs in certain fields without French. Toronto is expensive, but it's also nice. You can find somewhat affordable places if you get a roommate or two. As a maritimer I never really liked vancouver and it doesn't help that it's absurdly expensive. People I know in Halifax really like Halifax, but it's too close to home for me. No idea about other cities, but I'm sure they're nice too (I like Winnipeg but I've heard the weather is really extreme )

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#5 Edited by 1momosauky (279 posts) -

Alberta is pretty booming, visit in the winter so you know what you are getting into.

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#6 Posted by Rejizzle (1103 posts) -

Places like Vancouver and Toronto are great places to visit, but super expensive to live in, and affordable housing is non-existent sadly. Even Montreal is getting pricey. As for cities to actually move to, there are a few on the upswing that are still pretty affordable.

Saskatoon apparently has a booming tech centre. Not what you'd expect from a city as small as it, but it is undeniably gorgeous in the summer. Also, its name doesn't rhyme with genitals, making it the preferable of the larger Saskatchewan cities.

St. John's Newfoundland is nice. Icebergs, puffins, Great seafood, the cheapest post secondary tuition in Canada; there's a lot to like about it. It's tough to walk around though. Everywhere is either up, or downhill, and they don't actually plow the sidewalks in the winter. Beautiful scenery though.

Winnipeg is quite nice. Sure, it's far too cold in Winter, and far too hot in Summer, but there's always some kind of festival going on. The festival du voyageur is great. You get to see ice sculptures, skate on the rivers, and enjoy a variety of music during Folkorama. The National Museum of Human Rights is worth a visit, even if you don't intend to move to the city. Also, they have a pretty good NHL team, CFL team, and minor league baseball team if you like any of those sports.

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#7 Posted by TheHT (15836 posts) -

For example, one of the houseboaters in the bay where I live puts a sheet over his house one night every September and everyone comes out in their canoes, kayaks, 12ft jon-boats and makes a little flotilla to watch movies he projects onto the side of the place. Bowls of popcorn are passed around, thermoses of Hot-Chocolate and we watch films into the wee hours of the night. One year, the sky was clear and the northern lights were out and the lake was calm and you could not tell where the sky ended and the water began.

Well shit, the hell am I doing here in Toronto when I could be getting that.

That sounds fantastic.

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#8 Edited by obese_chipmunk (32 posts) -

I've lived in Toronto my whole life and I visit Montreal frequently.

Montréal is known for having the "feel" of a European city. French is of course the main language but everyone there is bilingual. The cost of living is much cheaper than other Canadian cities thanks to Montreal's rent control, but the cost of eating out is a bit pricey (about the same as Toronto). The patios outside of bars and restaurants are actually nice and not gimmicky and right next to huge busy streets like most North American cities. The bike lobby in Montréal is also quite powerful. There are bike lanes everywhere and bikers galore. There's even an entire island on the other side of the river that was built just to host a bike lane - so yeah if you're into cycling, Montreal is a good place to be. The coffee tastes more like "European" coffee -

meaning when you drink it you'll realize it tastes like it's designed for those who wish to enjoy the coffee rather than those who just use the caffeine in the coffee to stay alive/keep working (a fundamental trait of most North American coffees). The winters are pretty damn cold though. And you might be limited in terms of jobs unless you have decent French-speaking capabilities. They have a lively festival scene year round and the summers really are something special.

Toronto is far more north American as far as cars and mediocre coffee go, but it really is booming economically and with finally some (although just some) hope for a new transit strategy to get out of the planning phase, I believe it's on a path to becoming what many people like to call a "world class city." While Montréal is certainly not the least bit homogenous, Toronto has arguably the most amount of diversity of any city on the planet (check the stats - New York may beat it, but not by much). In my neighborhood in the suburbs I have access to four different mega-sized ethnic grocery stores within 15km of one another. The downtown core has the same kind of diversity - just less of the mega, and more of the small shops. The city is so diverse that whenever I visit other places in Canada or the world I always feel weirded out when I encounter large groups of people of the same race. The city is host to a number of cool historic neighborhoods that have grown distinct personalities to make them fun to live in, although rent certainly isn't cheap here.

Hope that helps.

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#9 Posted by Vahleticar (294 posts) -

Thank you everyone for taking the time, that is a ton of good advice!

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#11 Posted by hemmelight (209 posts) -

I would greatly recommend Montreal!

I grew up in Ontario (near Toronto) and I much prefer this city. I lived in Australia and the UK for a few years each, and I have come to appreciate MTL's euro flavour.

Toronto feels like it's more about the rat-race of city life - people seem generally happier and less stressed-out in Montreal compared to TO.

It is significantly cheaper to live here, as well.

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#12 Posted by Xeiphyer (5939 posts) -

Montreal is great, but keep in mind the income taxes in Quebec are very high. It's fine if you're spending all your money in the province, but a lower take home pay makes it more challenging to travel or invest. That being said, you do get access to great social support structures, especially for family and school. Also, I'm sure you know, but Quebec is mostly french speaking, with Montreal being the main exception.

You might want to also consider Alberta, Calgary specifically. It's a clean and modern city, wages tend to be some of the highest in the country, and the local chinooks in the winter are a nice blast of warm air to keep you going till spring. House prices in Calgary are pretty high, but still substantially lower than Vancouver and Toronto, they've also dropped considerably in the last 3 years due to the recession and oil prices. The commuter cities around Calgary have very reasonable prices for nice new homes, and are only around a 20~min highway drive from downtown. If you're searching, look up Airdrie, Cochrane, or Okotoks.

Out in BC is fantastic if you can find work to support yourself. Coming from the UK you'll probably find the weather familiar, which is either good or bad. There isn't much of a winter besides gray skies and rain, and it stays nice and warm year round. The downside is the house prices are insane anywhere remotely close to Vancouver, but there is still a lot of opportunity to be found in the province.

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#13 Posted by whitegreyblack (1953 posts) -

Don't forget us out here in Calgary! A nice, if overly sprawling, city with plenty of nice people and an excellent restaurant scene. Close proximity to the Rocky mountains. A decent international airport. Alberta is home to some of what I consider among the world's best craft beers readily at-hand.

I'll play contrarian to the previous poster and advise you skip the outlying commuter cities unless you really like spending a lot of time in your car driving in and out of town (though since you are from the UK you may or may not be totally ok and used to that?) and want to severely limit your capacity to experience any of the city's best points such as cultural festivals, restaurants, night life, etc. There are plenty of communities in the city where you can get a nice house in a decent neighbourhood for a somewhat decent price, if you know where to look.

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#14 Edited by Nick (1039 posts) -

born and raised in Vancouver, and lived most of my life here. i will say the following about my city:


  • the weather is nice, doesn't get too cold (rarely goes below zero), doesn't get too hot (maybe 30 in the summer during a heat wave). most other places in canada get crazy cold or crazy hot
  • beautiful city and surrounding areas, lots of green, close to mountains and the ocean, really great place if you like hiking or spending time outdoors
  • lots of good local beer and wine if you're into that


  • depends how old you are i guess, but vancouver night-life isn't very good
  • i have been told that people in vancouver aren't very friendly, i think this is true
  • really, really expensive. terrible salary/cost-of-living ratio
  • huge drug problem, a lot of homeless from all over canada come to vancouver because the weather is so mild. they're mostly harmless, just maybe don't go to Main and Hastings on your first day

vancouver is pretty health-minded too. basically, if you're not into the outdoors and being fit, you might find vancouver kind of boring.

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#15 Posted by Cameron (1053 posts) -

I'd consider looking at some of the 2nd tier cities. For example, Halifax, London, St. Johns, Saskatoon, Guelph, etc. They tend to be much cheaper to live in, but still have access to major services and businesses. If you're looking to travel, it's hard to beat southwestern Ontario. You can get to many major cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, Washington, New York, Detroit, etc.) in one day or less of driving. Realistically, if you're coming from the UK, almost anywhere outside of Toronto and Vancouver is going to be cheaper, at least in terms of housing.

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#16 Posted by KingBonesaw (1399 posts) -

Ontario kind of sucks right now so I’d stay far away from here.

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#17 Posted by nick_verissimo (1466 posts) -

If you're looking for affordable housing and (maybe) job opportunities, the best bet is New Brunswick. Cheapest housing in the country and the NB government is investing a lot in call centres, so there will be a lot of work opportunities available. Maritime life if the best life (I live in Ontario) but have spent a few months working in Moncton and absolutely loved it.

That said, if you're looking to move to Ontario, look at Hamilton or St. Catherines. Housing hasn't gotten completely stupid and you can take a commuter train into Toronto - work opportunities will also be plentiful depending on what you're looking at.

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#18 Posted by soulcake (2750 posts) -

The only bad thing about living in the Artic provinces is probably the Ethernet speed.

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#19 Posted by TheRealTurk (506 posts) -

I'm from the U.S., but based on my trips to Canada my advice would be that if you aren't already into it, you should learn at least a little bit about hockey. It's more of a social literacy thing than anything else. Particularly if you end up in someplace like Toronto or Montreal.

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#20 Posted by axl159 (29 posts) -

As someone who has lived in 4 provinces in the west I can say most of the advice here is pretty awesome. I grew up in Nunavut and if you're into the outdoors and don't mind the cold (-40 C and 2-3 meters of snow in the dead of winter) If you get a job with the Nunavut Government I would start with Iqaluit as it is the most "metropolitan" community in Nunavut. Most of the Government jobs come with housing and you can get some kind of relocation. It is definitely a unique experience and something I have treasured and they can definit. Otherwise every major city in Canada is different and has their unique ups and downs, and learn at least conversational hockey. Every other time I have had a "waiting-for-something" conversation it has been about hockey, I don't even regularly watch it.