town of niagara on the lake

Ontario town ranked one of the best in Canada for those looking to leave a big city

Toronto residents have been leaving the city en masse in favour of smaller, more affordable towns since the pandemic first hit, and a new report suggests that Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the best places in Canada for those looking to relocate to a more low-key place.

The new livability report, titled Urban Flight: Canada's Top Places to Move to if You're Trying to Escape the City and completed by RATESDOTCA, reveals that of the 12 per cent of Canadians who plan to purchase or have already purchased a new primary residence since April 2020, almost a quarter said COVID-19 played a role in their decision-making.

"One in five (21 per cent) homebuyers have moved or plan to move from a major city hub to a small town/rural area," reads the report.

"Increasingly inaccessible housing prices plague many metropolitan cities and 61 per cent of homebuyers cite affordability as a key criterion when making the decision to relocate."

Respondents also cited wanting to "live in an area with more nature" as one of their primary reasons for moving.

The report ranks Langford, B.C.; Kelowna, B.C.; Trois-Rivières, QC; Bathurst, NB; and Rossland, B.C. as the top five relocation destinations of 2021, and Niagara-on-the-Lake comes in sixth. 

Here are Canada's top 10 livable places in 2021 according to the livability report:

  1. Langford, B.C
  2. Kelowna, B.C.
  3. Trois-Rivières, QC
  4. Bathurst, NB
  5. Rossland, B.C.
  6. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
  7. Cowichan Bay, B.C.
  8. Sydney, N.S.
  9. Penticton, B.C.
  10. Quebec City, QC

"Canada has some incredible hidden gems if you're relocating for a change in lifestyle; places people seldom think about," said Robert McLister, mortgage editor for RATESDOTCA, in a statement. 

"We set out to discover which of these areas have the best combination of affordability, economic momentum and livability."

RATESDOTCA compared more than 150 cities and towns outside the biggest metropolitan area before compiling the list, the entirety of which can be found online.

The top 10 locations were chosen based on factors such as home price growth and mortgage costs, as well as economic and quality of life factors like promising growth trends, amenities and climate.

Proximity to mountains and major bodies of water for scenery, outdoor activities and nightlife were also considered.

"Our first ranked city, Langford B.C. got high marks for growth, affordability (particularly relative to other B.C. hotspots), property tax costs, desirable climate and proximity to spectacular nature," said McLister.

"This and other top 10 locations could see outsized real estate returns in coming years given they check a lot of homebuyer boxes and are relatively cost effective."

Lead photo by

Tony Chisholm/visitniagaraonthelake

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