Best Canadian City To Retire To: Calgary Vs Vancouver Vs Toronto

Choosing where to live is a difficult decision. There are so many factors to take into consideration: cost of living, weather, schools and more. If you’re trying to decide between buying a home in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, the choice may seem especially daunting. Toronto real estate is very different from Calgary real estate, and both differ from real estate in Vancouver, but don’t worry – we’ve done all the grunt work for you!

In this article, we will discuss some of the differences between these three cities in order to help you make your final decision!

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Cost of Living

Calgary has the lowest cost of living out of these three Canadian cities. Without rent, the monthly costs for a family of four in Calgary are $4,161, and the monthly costs for a single person are $1,168 without rent. Housing prices in Calgary are a whopping 60% lower than those in Vancouver and 50% lower than prices in Toronto.

The cost of living in Vancouver is the highest in comparison to Calgary and Toronto. For a family of four, monthly costs can add up to $4,305, and for a single person expenses can come to $1,171. While this initially doesn’t seem much more pricey than Calgary, that number doesn’t include housing costs, which are significantly higher in Vancouver than in Calgary.

Toronto’s cost of living and housing costs are on the higher end of the spectrum, with most homes averaging around $1 million. While the cost of living is high, there are also ample employment opportunities throughout Toronto, and the average income made in the city can make up for higher expenses.

Winner: Calgary

Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities in Calgary can be limited, depending on the industry you’re looking for. Aerospace & Logistics, Financial Services, and Technology are some of the key sectors of Calgary’s economy, so if you are in these industries, this could be a good place for you. Calgary is also known to have the best income to living cost ratio out of these three cities.

Vancouver has a booming economy with several unique industries coming to the forefront. Tourism, Agriculture, and Manufacturing have always been top sectors for the city, but the Entertainment industry is making headway as of late. With several shows and movies using Vancouver as filming locations, more and more jobs are popping up in entertainment.

Toronto is the largest contributor to the Canadian economy, so there’s no question why people are flooding the area to take advantage of its many job opportunities. As a distribution, commercial, financial, and industrial centre of the world, Toronto is a top city for almost every business sector.

Winner: Toronto


The climate in Calgary consists of hot summers and cold winters, with a lot less precipitation than Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary’s weather tends to be less drastic than many other Canadian cities and the seasons fluctuate rapidly. Summer could last 3 months or it could only last 1, and winters can be anywhere from 10° Celsius to -20° Celsius.

Toronto’s climate is much more moderate with milder summers and colder winters (but not as cold as Calgary). There are also fewer fluctuations, meaning there isn’t quite as dramatic of a change between seasons. Winters can still be extremely cold though! That being said, Toronto does see significantly more precipitation than Calgary.

The climate of Vancouver is very similar to that of Toronto. However, it’s worth noting that there are far more rainy days and the summers tend to be a bit warmer here (although not quite as warm as Calgary). Winters can get cold but rarely dip below freezing, meaning snowfall will likely occur but it won’t stick around long.

Winner: None


While schools aren’t usually a big factor for retirement than can point to things like resale and appreciation.

Calgary has a wide variety of schools to choose from, with both public and private options. The Calgary Board of Education provides public education for Calgary residents, and the Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School Board offers education that specializes in religious learning. Calgary also offers a few French immersion schools. There are several colleges and universities in the Calgary area, including The University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.

Vancouver schools are split into two levels: elementary (K-7) and secondary (8-12). The quality of education in the city is generally high, with test scores reflecting the excellence of the Vancouver Public School District. Vancouver also has several private schooling options, although these can have high costs, so look out for scholarships if you can.

There are four school boards in Toronto, which means they have the widest range of options of the cities on this list. In addition to public schools, Toronto provides private schools, religious education, french immersion schools, and college-preparatory schools. Toronto also has seven universities, four degree-granting colleges, and even more satellite campuses from universities based in other cities. No matter what education you need, Toronto has got it!

Winner: Vancouver


Toronto has a very effective public transportation system. It consists of subways, buses, and streetcars which can get you almost anywhere. In addition, the city is very walkable so you won’t have to use a car as often.

Vancouver’s transportation system is also quite good! The bus system is great, and there are several different train lines that can help you get around the area. In general, it may be a bit cheaper than Toronto, but it can be slightly harder to navigate because of how many different routes there are.

Calgary’s transportation system primarily consists of buses and a light rail, which can get you almost anywhere in the city. Additionally, it has a very walkable downtown area so you won’t have to use a car as often. However, this may vary depending on where you live.

Winner: Vancouver

Calgary Vs Vancouver Vs Toronto

We hope this has given you some insight on living in Calgary vs Vancouver vs Toronto. When looking for real estate in Canada, it’s important to weigh all of your options before choosing a city. Each area has its own pros and cons, so use this list as a starting off point and, if you can, go see the cities for yourself. You’ll be on your way to a new home in no time!