Ontario vs. Alberta: Which Province is Better to Live In?

Is Ontario or Alberta Better to Live In?

If you’re torn between moving to Ontario or Alberta, there are several considerations you should ponder. These considerations include the cost of living, wages, the overall economy, and lifestyle. From the stunning lakes and bays of Ontario to the natural beauty in Alberta, each province presented unique opportunities and factors to weigh in your decision. 

Read on to explore the main similarities and differences between Ontario and Alberta. 

Cost of Living: Is Ontario More Expensive Than Alberta?

When comparing the cost of living between Ontario and Alberta, you'll find differences in expenses like housing and taxes. Alberta generally boasts a lower cost of living than most other provinces, including Ontario. This is, in part, because they do not have provincial sales tax (PST). In turn, this makes everyday expenses more affordable. There are also differences in housing opportunities in Ontario versus Alberta, even outside the GTA. 

Cost of Living in Ontario

The overall cost of living in Ontario tends to be more expensive compared to Alberta due to higher housing costs and living expenses.

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is around $2,500. On the flip side, most homes are priced from the $700s, and it’s not unheard of to see homes reach upwards of $20 million. This costly housing market adds to the heightened cost of living in Ontario overall.

Outside of the GTA, the cost of living in Windsor and similar areas can be much lower. The overall median price of homes for sale in Windsor, for example, is closer to $500,000 than Toronto’s $1 million.

Ontario’s population sits at over 15 million—this aids in an active job market and the overall economy. The average salary falls around $55,000 per year, with salary varying greatly depending on your occupation. 

When compared to other provinces, Ontario's cost of living also surpasses Newfoundland, Labrador, and Quebec, shedding light on the financial aspects of residing in Canada.

Cost of Living in Alberta

Comparing the cost of living between Alberta and Ontario reveals notable differences in expenses and affordability. In Alberta, the livable wage ranges from around $23 in Edmonton to $39 in Canmore, with a minimum wage of $15.

Alberta's Cost of Living Index is higher than the Canadian average, with Calgary at 74.6 and Edmonton at 69.0. Additionally, housing prices fluctuate depending on location. For instance, homes in Edmonton range from around $60,000 for an apartment home to over $5 million. 

While public transport costs are high in Calgary and Edmonton, gasoline prices are among the lowest nationally. Despite some higher costs, Alberta's overall cost of living remains competitive compared to other provinces.

Home Prices in Ontario

Neighbourhood of Homes in Brampton, Ontario

In assessing the cost of living, Ontario's home prices present a key factor when comparing its affordability to Alberta. Recent trends show significant declines in Ontario housing prices, with cities like Burlington experiencing decreases in single-family home prices. Homeowners in Markham, Mississauga, and Kitchener also showed declining prices.

While Toronto is known for its high real estate values, housing in Windsor, Essex County, and other smaller cities is far more affordable. Homes in Windsor are typically priced from $200,000 to $1.8 million, while Essex County homes have a median price in the $600s.

The condo market in Ontario has witnessed similar declines, influenced by changing buyer preferences and economic factors. Factors affecting Ontario housing prices include increased affordability, expanded options for buyers, and reduced competition in the market. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for navigating the Ontario housing market and making informed decisions as a buyer or investor.

Home Prices in Alberta

When considering the cost of living, Alberta's home prices serve as a crucial factor in determining the overall affordability compared to Ontario. The average home price in Alberta reached nearly $500,000, showing a significant year-over-year increase. Concerns about affordability persist for potential homeowners in the province despite its relative affordability compared to Ontario and British Columbia.

The housing market in Alberta has experienced volatility influenced by economic conditions and policies. Regional highlights point towards cities like Calgary and Edmonton playing pivotal roles in driving housing market trends. Insights suggest that economic fluctuations, construction challenges, mortgage expenditures, and migration dynamics are key drivers impacting the housing market in Alberta.

Ontario Economy vs Alberta Economy

When comparing the economy in Ontario with Alberta’s, it's essential to look at their biggest employers. Ontario's economy is driven by the finance, technology, and healthcare sectors, with major companies such as the Big Five banks and tech giants like Shopify.

In contrast, Alberta's economy heavily relies on the oil and gas industry, with companies like Suncor Energy and Canadian Natural Resources playing significant roles in the province's economic landscape.

Biggest Employers in Ontario

Comparing the employment landscape in Ontario and Alberta reveals significant differences in the prominence of major companies within various industries. In Ontario, notable employers include Cisco Systems, a leading IT and software company headquartered in Toronto. The University of Guelph, headquartered in Guelph, is recognized as one of Canada's top employers in higher education.

In regions like Southwest Ontario, the employment landscape is quite different from that of the Greater Toronto Area. The most abundant work opportunities in Windsor, for example, are in education and health services, followed by manufacturing. In the nearby Chatham-Kent economy, the healthcare and manufacturing sectors are closely followed by retail and agriculture.

Financial and investment sectors are also prominent, with Onex managing substantial assets and TD Bank employing over 100,000 individuals. These companies offer diverse job opportunities and benefits, contributing significantly to Ontario's economic landscape. Whether you're interested in technology, education, or finance, Ontario presents a range of employment options across various sectors.

Biggest Employers in Alberta

Alberta has many jobs in the oil sector. Pump jack in Springbank, Rocky View County, Alberta.

Now, shifting focus to Alberta's economic landscape and the significant companies that drive its employment market. Alberta's biggest employers include energy giants like Suncor Energy and Canadian Natural Resources Limited, providing numerous job opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

Additionally, companies such as Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta play vital roles in the province's economy, offering employment in healthcare and public administration. The construction industry is also prominent, with PCL Construction Holdings and Ledcor Group leading the way.

Best Places to Live in Ontario

If you're considering the best places to live in Ontario, look no further than Southwest Ontario, the Greater Toronto Area, and Hamilton. These areas offer a mix of urban convenience and scenic beauty, catering to various lifestyles and preferences. Southwestern Ontario boasts charming communities, while the Greater Toronto Area provides bustling city life.

Southwestern Ontario

Southwestern Ontario is located adjacent to Detroit, Michigan, and it’s home to many of the best towns on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. Here you'll find vibrant communities offering diverse housing options and a range of amenities to suit various lifestyles.

  • Tilbury, known as 'The Light Between the Lakes,' provides easy access to Windsor and Detroit with single-family detached homes ranging from $200,000 to over $800,000.
  • Windsor offers a mix of housing options, proximity to Detroit, and amenities like riverfront parks and Windsor International Airport.
  • Charming Blenheim boasts single-family homes from the high-$200s to $900,000
  • Tecumseh offers waterfront access and abundant green spaces.
  • Essex features a mix of homes from $200,000 to over $2 million
  • The Belle River community provides waterfront living options starting around $500,000.

Hamilton

Hamilton, Ontario, is a Good Place to Live

Consider Hamilton—located less than 70 kilometres from Downtown Toronto and just over 200 km southeast of the Chatham-Kent area—as a prime location for a vibrant and affordable lifestyle. With a growing economy and job opportunities across various industries, Hamilton boasts natural beauty like parks and waterfalls.

Enjoy a rich arts and culture scene with museums, galleries, and festivals while being well-connected through highways and public transit. Despite traffic congestion and cold winters, Hamilton offers affordable housing, lower property taxes than Toronto, and lower living costs offsetting slightly lower wages.

The city's strong sense of community and friendly atmosphere make it an attractive option for residents seeking a balance between quality of life and cost-effectiveness. Explore Hamilton's diverse entertainment options, food festivals, and scenic surroundings for a fulfilling living experience.

Greater Toronto Area

Discover the diverse neighbourhoods and vibrant communities within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), offering an array of amenities and lifestyle options.

The GTA is divided into Durham, Halton, Peel, and York regions, with a total population of around 6.5 million. The area extends along Lake Ontario, encompassing numerous suburban towns that cater to various preferences.

A few great suburbs include:

  • Brampton: known for its multiculturalism
  • Burlington: rated as a top community
  • Markham: recognized as a high-tech hub
  • Mississauga: a bustling city with proximity to Toronto and diverse neighbourhoods; provides distinct living experiences.

Public transit options and amenities in these suburbs cater to the needs of residents, making the GTA a desirable location for many.

Cities in Alberta

When comparing cities in Alberta, you'll find major urban centers like Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer. Each of these cities offers its unique charm and lifestyle, from Edmonton's arts and cultural scene to Calgary's proximity to the Rocky Mountains.

Whether you prefer a bustling city life or a more laid-back atmosphere, Alberta's cities have something to offer for everyone.

Edmonton

In Edmonton, you'll find a strong job market with opportunities in various sectors, large corporations like Canadian Western Bank and Telus, and a growing population that leads to increased job opportunities. The city boasts a lower cost of living compared to cities like Toronto and Vancouver, with affordable housing prices and rental rates. 

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the proximity to Elk Island National Park and the Rockies parks, as well as over 100 kilometres of pathways along the North Saskatchewan River.

The city's cultural diversity shines through its immigrant population, contributing to a multicultural atmosphere with various languages spoken and international cuisines available.

Calgary

Calgary, Alberta, is a Good Place to Live

Calgary, the largest city in Alberta, offers a vibrant and multicultural community with various opportunities for residents to thrive. Ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world, Calgary stands out for its unique low sales taxes and great work opportunities. Living costs in Calgary are slightly below the national average, which is an amazing feat for a city of its size; costs are comparable to the cost of living in Windsor, a far smaller city.

Known for its cleanliness, Calgary boasts higher salaries and a lower cost of living compared to Toronto and Vancouver. The city provides affordable real estate and rental prices, no provincial sales tax, and lower consumer prices.

With attractions like Canada Olympic Park, a vast urban pathway network, and easy access to the Rocky Mountains, Calgary offers a diverse range of activities and a high quality of life.

Red Deer

Red Deer, positioned between Edmonton and Calgary, offers a diverse economic profile with key industries such as healthcare, retail trade, construction, mining, and accommodation supporting a thriving community.

Red Deer boasts a significant contribution from various sectors. The city, part of the Red Deer Corridor along the QE II Highway, includes vibrant cultural scenes, recreational facilities, educational institutions, community events, and quality healthcare services.

Red Deer, one of the largest cities in Alberta, encompasses both the city itself and surrounding towns in Red Deer County, with a focus on urban area population statistics and the demographics of the region. Public transit, extensive trails, pathways, efficient road networks, and a regional airport enhance transportation options in Red Deer.

Things to Do in Ontario

You’ll find a tremendous and wide-ranging array of fun things to do in Ontario. From relaxing by the lakes and beaches to enjoying various sports activities, Ontario caters to all interests. The province also boasts a rich cultural scene with opportunities to explore art and its fascinating history.

Lakes & Beaches

Neys Provincial Park in Ontario on Lake Superior

Amidst the picturesque landscapes of Ontario, the premier lakes beckon with a myriad of recreational opportunities and natural beauty. Lake St. Clair stands out as a vibrant waterfront playground—perfect for water sports enthusiasts and fishing aficionados—and along with Lake Erie, the bulk of Ontario’s best beaches can be found on their shores.

  • Lake Superior Provincial Park offers a paradise for kayaking, hiking, and camping, blending natural beauty with cultural richness.
  • Lake Huron and Georgian Bay showcase scuba diving, fishing, and unique rock formations for those looking to explore natural splendour and engage in tourism activities.
  • Lake Ontario, a water sports oasis covering a vast landscape, provides sailing, boat rentals, and salmon fishing charters, all against the backdrop of stunning sunset views.

Lastly, fishing is one of the top things to do on Lake Erie, which also boasts ideal boating conditions.

Sports

With Ontario's rich sporting culture, there are numerous exciting activities and events to enjoy in the province, making it a vibrant hub for sports enthusiasts. Ice hockey, the most followed sport in Ontario, boasts large spectator turnouts.

Other popular sports include: 

  • The Windsor Express, governed by the Ontario Basketball Association and based in Downtown Windsor, sees strong support. 
  • Rugby thrives at various levels, with the Ontario Rugby Union overseeing the sport's development.
  • Lacrosse, supported by the Ontario Lacrosse Association, includes minor, junior, and senior teams, with the Toronto Rock team being a fan favourite. 
  • Soccer, represented by ten teams in Ontario, also garners significant support and high game attendance.

Ontario offers a dynamic sports scene catering to diverse interests.

Art & History

Exploring the vibrant art and historical attractions in Ontario immerses you in a rich tapestry of cultural experiences and creative expressions. Toronto, a hub for English-language theatre, boasts symphony orchestras, choirs, and the renowned National Ballet Company of Canada. The city also houses esteemed art galleries like the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Ontario hosts successful theatre festivals in picturesque locations such as Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake, offering a glimpse into the province's artistic heritage. Celebrating Family Day in Ontario can be an immersion into the region’s history and art. Additionally, historical sites like Upper Canada Village and Fort York provide re-creations of 19th-century communities and forts, allowing you to step back in time and appreciate Ontario's rich history.

Immerse yourself in Ontario's diverse art and historical offerings for an enriching cultural experience.

Things to Do in Alberta

When in Alberta, you can enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities and sports. From hiking in the Rocky Mountains to skiing in Banff, there's something for every adventure seeker. Alberta's stunning landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for your next outdoor excursion.

Outdoor Activities

Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Alberta

Discover the myriad outdoor activities awaiting you in Alberta—ranging from hiking and rock climbing to kayaking and camping amidst picturesque natural landscapes. Despite being unable to compete with the breadth and quality of Ontario’s best lakes, Alberta's diverse terrain offers opportunities for thrilling adventures in the great outdoors.

Whether you seek the challenge of scaling rocky cliffs, the tranquillity of paddling along serene rivers, or the simplicity of pitching a tent under the stars, Alberta has something for everyone. Popular outdoor destinations like Uplift Adventures, Castle Falls, national parks, coastal beaches, and mountain ranges provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor escapades.

Remember to prioritize safety by carrying essential supplies, informing someone of your plans, checking weather conditions, staying hydrated, and following trail markers. Embrace the beauty of Alberta's natural landscapes while respecting the environment for future generations to enjoy.

Sports

Sports enthusiasts in Alberta can immerse themselves in a diverse range of athletic competitions and events across various disciplines. 

  • NHL teams include the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers
  • WHL teams such as the Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings
  • Football teams like the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL
  • Basketball fans can enjoy watching the Edmonton Stingers in the CEBL 
  • Baseball teams like the Edmonton Prospects and Okotoks Dawgs 
  • Soccer enthusiasts have options like Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton in the CPL 

Whether you prefer the fast-paced action of hockey, the strategic plays of football, the agility of basketball, the tradition of baseball, or the global appeal of soccer, Alberta has something for every sports lover.

Make the Best Decision for Your Lifestyle

Ultimately, whether you choose to live in one of Ontario’s best cities or Alberta’s wide-open communities depends on your preferences and priorities. Consider factors like cost of living, job opportunities, quality of life, and weather conditions to make the best decision for your lifestyle.

Ontario offers vibrant cities and diverse job markets, while Alberta boasts stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities. Both provinces have their own unique charm, so weigh your options carefully before making your move.

If you're ready to move to Ontario, contact Team Goran of RE/MAX CARE Realty at (519) 979-9949 to reach a local real estate agent who can help find your dream Ontario home.

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