Moving to Ontario: Where Should You Live? – 2024

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, with approximately 15 million residents. It is known for its natural beauty, surrounded by open areas and big lakes, providing residents with easy access to leisure as well as one of the largest outdoor art scenes.

If you’re thinking about moving to Ontario, there are plenty of places to choose from. However, if you want to save money while living in a major city, you need to know that there are more affordable cities in Ontario, and safety should also be considered. The ability to pick the finest areas to live in Ontario is based on individual preferences and budget without sacrificing quality of life.

To help you compare, read on to discover the top 7 best places to live in Ontario with the best quality of life in 2024.

Methodology

Based on “best” being a subjective word, below is our methodology to compile the best places.

Using our existing ranking of the safest and cheapest places to live in Ontario, we based our ranking on three criteria: safety, affordability, and quality of life. 

Our safety ranking methodology is based on a careful analysis of the total number of crimes, which is derived from the data from Statistics Canada for 2022. To ensure accuracy, we calculated the number of crimes per 1,000 people. The data are incident-based crime statistics, including detailed violations of police services in Ontario.

Affordability takes into account the prices of housing and renting. Statistics come from the Canadian Real State Association (CREA) for the average cost of buying a property in November 2023 and Zumper for the average cost of rent for a 1- to 2-bed apartment in January 2024.

The “best quality of life” aspect is measured based on feedback from real people who have moved to this area in our database or real people from trusted online forums. More specifically, we look for positive feedback on job opportunities, quality of education, quality of healthcare, feeling of safety, public transportation, environment (cleanliness), as well as availability of recreational facilities and parks.

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Barrie

Barrie-city-image-april-2024 - Lake Simcoe
  • Crime Rate: 37 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,858
  • Average cost of buying a property: $575,400

Barrie stands out as one of Ontario’s safest places to live, boasting a crime rate of just 37 crimes per 1000 people. The city’s picturesque waterfront, spanning 6.7 kilometers, is a major draw for both locals and tourists alike. Explore downtown Barrie for unique local shops, award-winning restaurants, craft breweries, and the renowned Barrie Farmers Market. With over 300 restaurants and 160 attractions, there’s always something new to experience. 

Barrie’s commitment to the community is evident through its programs for all ages, ensuring a fulfilling lifestyle. From green spaces to recreational programs, Barrie offers a safe and high-quality lifestyle. Discover all that this diverse and exciting city has to offer, and let your family’s adventure begin in Barrie. In terms of housing and rental fees, as of December 2023, the average cost of buying a property is $575,400, with an average cost of rent for a 1-bed apartment of $1,858.

Barrie (Apr 2024), Tourism of Barrie (Apr 2024), Statistics Canada (2022), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

Barrie, Ontario

Windsor

Windsor-city-image-april-2024 - Skyline Image
  • Crime Rate: 38 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,441
  • Average cost of buying a property: $563,700

The City of Windsor, situated as the International Gateway between Canada and the United States, is a hidden gem in Ontario. Windsor offers an unparalleled living experience because of its world-class entertainment, rich historical and cultural landmarks, and stunning waterfront parks and gardens.

Originally formed from separate villages and towns, Windsor has evolved into a vibrant community that prioritizes physical and social activity, contributing to a high quality of life. In terms of housing and rental fees, as of December 2023, the average cost of buying a property is $563,700, with an average cost of rent for a 1-bed apartment of $1,441.

With a low crime rate of 38 crimes per 1000 people, Windsor prioritizes safety through programs like Emergency Preparedness and partnerships with Windsor Fire and Rescue and the Windsor Police Service. Residents enjoy peace of mind in their daily lives. Windsor’s Parks and Recreation offer rental opportunities for private parties, leisure activities, receptions, and family reunions, ensuring residents have access to a variety of amenities and activities.

City of Windsor (Apr 2024)Statistics Canada (2022), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

Windsor, Ontario

London

London-city-image-april-2024 - Downtown
  • Crime Rate: 53 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,741
  • Average cost of buying a property: $577,400

London, one of Ontario’s safest places with a crime rate of 53 crimes per 1000 people, offers residents a high quality of life. The city is focused on revitalizing its core area, including Downtown, Richmond Row, Midtown, and Old East Village, to create a thriving cultural, civic, and economic hub. 

Home to Labatt Memorial Park, the world’s longest continuously operating baseball grounds, London offers a rich sports history and a variety of recreational activities, including aquatics, day camps, skating, and golf. The city provides numerous recreation opportunities for seniors, keeping them active and engaged.

With its strategic location and extensive transportation networks, London serves as a vital transportation and industrial center, connecting the surrounding agricultural region and contributing to its rich agricultural heritage. Residents enjoy a balanced lifestyle, combining urban amenities with access to nature and agricultural landscapes. As of December 2023, the average cost of buying a property is $577,400, with an average rent for a 1-bed apartment at $1,741.

City of London (Apr 2024), Statistics Canada (2022), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

London, Ontario

Thunder Bay

Apartment in Thunder Bay
  • Crime Rate: 55 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,250
  • Average cost of buying a property: $322,491

Thunder Bay, on Lake Superior’s shores, is celebrated for its natural beauty and green spaces. Residents enjoy hiking in parks like Kakabeka Falls and family-friendly spots like Chapples Park. The place is pretty safe too, as it has a reported crime rate of 55 crimes per 1000 people. 

The city’s lone hospital is the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center, located in the heart of the city. Transportation here is mainly by car, supplemented by public transit through buses.

The most popular housing type is single-detached houses, followed by apartments. Even though housing prices have been increasing throughout the years, they are still more affordable than in other big cities. As of December 2023, the average cost of buying a property is $322,491, and the average rent for a 1-bed apartment is $1,250.

Statistics Canada (2022), Townfolio (Dec 2023), Local Logic (Dec 2023), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie

Apartment in Sault Ste. Marie
  • Crime Rate: 107 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,310
  • Average cost of buying a property: $286,900

Sault Ste. Marie is a quiet town known for its natural beauty, where residents enjoy the outdoors, surrounded by parks and recreational areas. They claim it has a friendly community, making it a preferred choice for many retirees seeking tranquility. 

To get around in town, a 15-minute drive is typically sufficient, even with minimal traffic. The town offers easy access to shops along the St. Marys River and the border to the US.

The housing options mainly consist of apartment buildings and single-detached houses. As of December 2023, the average rent for a 1-bed apartment is $1,310, and the average cost of buying a property is $286,900. For safety, the crime rate reported is 107 crimes per 1000 people in the area. 

Statistics Canada (2022), Government of Canada (Dec 2023), Local Logic (Dec 2023), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brantford

Brantford-city-image-april-2024 - City Image
  • Crime Rate: 70 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,671
  • Average cost of buying a property: $671,300

Brantford, known for its variety of programs and activities catering to all ages, offers a vibrant community life with plenty of recreational opportunities. From preschool and child programs to activities for adults and seniors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The city’s facilities, including aquatic centers, arenas, and indoor tracks, provide excellent spaces for recreational indoor fun and learning.

Locals can engage in a wide range of activities, including swimming, ice-skating, fitness classes, golf, day camps, and even birthday parties. Brantford’s calm and laid-back atmosphere, as noted in online reviews, contributes to its relaxing ambiance, making it an appealing place to live for those seeking a slower pace of life.

While Brantford offers a tranquil environment, safety remains a priority, with a reported crime rate of 70 crimes per 1000 people. In terms of housing and rental fees, as of December 2023, the average cost of buying a property is $671,300, with an average cost of rent for a 1-bed apartment of $1,671.

City of Brantford (Apr 2024), Statistics Canada (2022), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

Brantford, Ontario

Guelph

Guelph-city-image-april-2024 - picture of a neighborhood
  • Crime Rate: 51 crimes per 1000 people
  • Average cost of rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $2,223
  • Average cost of buying a property: $795,100

Guelph, with its vibrant craft beer scene, diverse dining options, and charming riverside views, offers a unique identity that sets it apart. The city’s historic buildings and cultural landmarks blend seamlessly with its picturesque surroundings, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere.

For residents of Guelph, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy, from nature walks and sporting events to exploring unique shopping destinations. With a variety of community centers and cultural facilities, like the Guelph Civic Museum and the Guelph Farmers’ Market, there’s always something new to discover.

The University of Guelph adds to the city’s dynamic character, renowned for its research-intensive programs and commitment to excellence in education. However, with a crime rate of 51 crimes per 1000 people, safety remains a concern, emphasizing the importance of taking precautions while enjoying all that Guelph has to offer. In terms of housing and rental fees, as of December 2023, the average cost of buying a property is $795,100, with an average cost of rent for a 1-bed apartment of $2,223.

Visit Guelph (Apr 2024), City of Guelph (Apr 2024), Statistics Canada (2022), Zumper (Dec 2023) & CREA (Dec 2023)

Guelph, Ontario

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Conclusion

Moving to Ontario offers a high quality of life with abundant job opportunities, especially in cities like Barrie, Guelph, Thunder Bay, and many more. While the cost of living can vary, small towns in Ontario boast affordable housing and a strong sense of community. With its vast green spaces, natural beauty, and easy access to outdoor activities, Ontario is an ideal place to raise a family. 

Additionally, Ontario provides easy access to diverse neighborhoods and a vibrant cultural scene. With an average rent lower than many other Ontario cities, the listed neighborhoods in this article will give you a high quality of life without going over budget.

Are you moving to Ontario soon? Check out some of the best movers in Toronto, or the best movers in Ottawa, and the surrounding areas.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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