best small cities canada

Five small Ontario cities ranked among the best places to live in Canada

The lives, habits and real estate prospects of young people in Toronto have changed significantly since lockdowns lifted for good (fingers crossed) in early 2022, but two years of work-from-home mode did a number on how we view big cities vs. smaller towns.

Contrary to what one might assume now that most downtown Toronto offices have reopened, the "urban exodus" we started witnessing in 2020 doesn't appear to be letting up much.

People are still ditching expensive-as-heck Toronto for larger, cheaper living spaces in smaller communities at a clip, per recent census data.

Given the fast-rising rent prices, inflated grocery bills and general living costs in Canada's biggest city, it makes sense that people are still leaving to start families elsewhere in the province or country. The pandemic only amplified the exodus, after all — unaffordable housing is initially started pushing young people out of Toronto years ago.

Interest in idyllic small Ontario towns spiked wildly during lockdown times, based on our own web traffic. The rush on small towns seems to have petered out a bit, allowing prices to normalize a bit in areas that had seen house prices jump more than 50 per cent, year-over-year, by early 2022.

As rent prices rise and property remains out of reach for the majority of Toronto residents who don't already own a place, it stands to reason that more people are thinking about ditching the city for a life that doesn't involve paying $800,000 for 500 square feet of bachelor condo.

If you're one of those city-slickers who might be considering a move, you may be interested in a recently-released ranking of Canada's best small cities.

Compiled by the global marketing consultancy Resonance, which has offices in Vancouver, Montreal and New York City, the rankings were determined by analyzing factors like employment rates, weather, safety, culture, outdoor recreation spaces and nightlife.

Five cities in Ontario made the top 10 list for 2022: They are Kingston, Niagara Falls, Waterloo, Burlington and Guelph.

Some might take up issue with the consultancy calling these cities "small," or the fact that they've been included as some of the best to "live, work and invest in Canada right now," but Resonance did provide extensive rationale for why each spot was chosen.

You can read all of it right here after peeping the full top 10 list of Canada's best small cities for 2022 below:

  1. Victoria, B.C.
  2. Kelowna, B.C.
  3. Kingston, Ont.
  4. Niagara Falls, Ont.
  5. Waterloo, Ont.
  6. North Vancouver, B.C.
  7. Burlington, Ont.
  8. Guelph, Ont.
  9. Fredericton, N.B.
  10. Lethbridge, AB.
Lead photo by

Waterloo, Ontario, via Resonance Consultancy.

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