Toronto and Vancouver have been friendly rivals for a long time. They’re both major Canadian cities with thriving economies. Both host world-class attractions, feature a vibrant arts and culture scene and have breathtaking waterfront scenery. If you have the opportunity to move to one or the other, how do you decide? Should you head out to the Pacific Northwest or the heart of Canada?


In 2016, The Economist named Toronto the ‘best place to live’ in the world. It’s easy to see why: It’s a friendly and progressive city with a healthy job market, especially if you work in finance, tech, fashion or design. It’s also a safe city, with the second lowest crime rates in the world compared to cities of similar size.

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Located in beautiful British Columbia, Vancouver is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Canada. A popular nickname is Hollywood North, due to it being home to the fourth-largest television and film production industry in North America. The rugged mountains are a scenic contrast to the serene Pacific Ocean and its beaches. Where else can you work on your tan in the afternoon and snowmobiling in the evening?

Vancouver vs. Toronto?

Whenever you’re looking for a place to call home, certain factors will influence your decision, such as house and rental prices, cost of living, the job market, and social and cultural opportunities. Let’s see how Toronto and Vancouver fare in each category.


If you plan on living in Toronto and don’t have a high-paying job waiting for you, be prepared to budget because it’s an expensive city. According to HuffPost, if you’re a young person in Toronto, your income this year needs to increase by $5,000 to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living. According to a survey it referenced, it costs a single person $400 per month to cover essentials like food and shelter compared to one year ago, mainly due to the higher housing costs.

If you want to live in Toronto, you’re looking at these average housing costs:

  • Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area: $1,812
  • Monthly rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the downtown area: $3,125
  • Condo purchase price: $555,396
  • Detached home purchase price: $1,276,184

Vancouver is also expensive. For years, it seemed like the two cities were actively competing for which one had a pricier housing market. These days, Vancouver appears to be in the lead, especially with house and condo pricing.

  • Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area: $1,914
  • Monthly rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the downtown area: $3,605
  • Condo purchase price: $682,800
  • Detached home purchase price: $1,600,00

The housing market is reportedly so tight in Vancouver that a B.C. Lions player was offering free season tickets to potential landlords! If you decide to move there, it might be a good idea to visit the city first and see if you can find a place you can realistically afford.

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Cost of Living

If you’re going to live in either city, be prepared to pay more than you would in most other Canadian cities. The cost of living in Vancouver vs. Toronto is similar, although Vancouver is slightly higher in some areas. According to Numbeo, you need around $6,109 in Vancouver to maintain the same standard of living available in Toronto for $5,900.

Basic utilities are more expensive in Toronto, likely due to the weather extremes in central Canada: $143.22 per month for a 915 square-foot living space compared to $79.34 in Vancouver. Food, however, costs more on the West Coast: you can expect to pay 38% more for a kilo of rice and 29% more for a dozen eggs.

Job Market

Toronto is the place to be if you work in finance, tech, or fashion. Five of Canada’s largest banks are headquartered there, making it one of the world’s top 10 financial centres. The city is home to an equally impressive range of tech companies, from Google to Facebook to LinkedIn. If you’re an established or aspiring fashion designer, you’ll be glad to know that the city hosts the second largest Fashion Week in North America after New York.

Vancouver has an equally dynamic job market. Last year it was named the hottest city for jobs in Canada. Thriving industries include:

  • Tech: Vancouver is home to HootSuite, Cymax, and TICO Networks, so if you’re an IT professional you may have the pleasant dilemma of picking and choosing job opportunities.
  • Clean Energy: Vancouver’s “Green” industry is worth an estimated $31 billion. If you work in a related field, such as water purification or waste reduction, finding a job shouldn’t be difficult.
  • Film: In 2017, B.C. film production topped $2.6 billion. Vancouver presently hosts about two dozen TV productions and is a popular site for movie making. If you’ve got stars in your eyes, you might find work!

Shopping and Recreationshopping center

The Toronto vs. Vancouver debate comes to a draw in this area. Both cities have world-class shopping centres and boutiques that meet the needs of singles and families alike. When it comes to fine dining, Toronto has Alo (named one of Canada’s top restaurants) while Vancouver has St. Lawrence, which is home to one of the country’s top chefs. If you have kids, you can go to Canada’s Wonderland outside Toronto or enjoy some wet, messy fun at Watermania in Vancouver. Wherever you decide to move, you’re covered in the shopping and recreation department.

Green Space

If you love the Great Outdoors, are you better off living in Vancouver vs.Toronto? In one sense, yes. You have ski mountains and sunny beaches within driving distance of one another, and access to majestic spaces like Queen Elizabeth Park, where you can admire the cityscape from the area’s highest point. Toronto’s geography is not as diverse, but you can still get your fill of nature by mountain biking along the Don River, climbing up Rattlesnake Point, and even paddling out to Toronto Island with a picnic basket.

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In Conclusion

When it comes to housing prices, the cost of living, job opportunities, and recreation, Toronto and Vancouver are mostly neck and neck. It all comes down to what you can afford, what industry you work in, and what inspires you. Neither choice is likely to disappoint.