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Toronto vs Vancouver: Which City is a Better Place to Live?
In 2010, The Economist favoured Canadian and Australian cities in the “Global Liveability Report.” 140 cities worldwide were given a score based on qualitative and quantitative data. Deciding factors were organized under five main branches: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
The top ranking was given to Vancouver. Toronto wasn’t far behind at fourth; placing it underneath Vienna, and Melbourne. Calgary placed fifth.
Similar lists such as “Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey” have also given Vancouver world-class ratings. Undoubtedly there is plenty of hype behind the city of Vancouver as of late. Interestingly it is Toronto that is booming with condo building projects in recent years. Transplants want to live in the heart of Toronto and contractors can hardly keep up with demand. No matter what city you choose, housing in both cities is becoming increasingly expensive. Quality rarely comes cheap.
Many argue that this is an apples and oranges comparison. Toronto is Canada’s New York, while Vancouver is more akin to Seattle. Each city has a unique flavour that must be experienced and that can’t be put down on paper. Still, let’s take a crack at stacking up the pros and cons. It’s fun to do so.
Obviously every individual carries a unique philosophy with them concerning work and play. Some bold generalizations must be made when comparing factors like lifestyle.
Toronto has a play hard, work harder vibe. The scent of opportunity fills the air. Toronto is Canada’s financial hub and home to the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). The best and brightest are all trying to outmanoeuvre one another in order to ‘make it’ or to retain a top position. For the most part, people look well put together and are in a rush to get somewhere or get something done.
People don’t tend to flock to Vancouver in search of riches like they do Toronto. The attraction is the balance between leisurely outdoor activities and access to big city conveniences as well. Although plenty of major companies have a base in Vancouver, the economy relies on tourism due to the sheer natural beauty surrounding the area. Employees itch to get off early on Fridays and employers are lenient towards this attitude. Like the area itself, on average a Vancouverites is a mixture of urban dweller and outdoorsperson.
Cost of Living
When housing costs are compared with average income, Vancouver is the most expensive place to live in Canada. Unlike Toronto, the natural landscape and mountains don’t allow for anything but the best-planned development. The shortage of suitable, flat land has led to scarce housing options.
Finding a place to stay in Toronto is a little easier with all the new high-rise condos going up but it isn’t much cheaper. On average Torontonians have a higher salary so the rates are more realistic for the market.
Traditionally Toronto is seen as the city of opportunity. It is home to a diverse catalogue of industries such as finance, advertising and marketing, IT, industrial design, fashion and life sciences. Toronto has the third largest financial services cluster in North America under New York and Los Angeles.
International trade is a key area for Vancouver's economy. It has Canada’s largest port that ranks first in North America in total foreign exports. Dubbed “Hollywood North,” the city hosts the production of about 10% of Hollywood movies. Other big industries include technology, tourism, finance, international relations and finance.
In 2009, unemployment rate was 10% in Toronto compared to 7.3% in Vancouver.
Determining the better climate depends on your preferences. Toronto has more extreme conditions so the summer heat can get sweltering and the winters are frigid. People that like well-defined seasons tend to prefer Toronto weather.
Vancouver is milder but the downside it that it rains a lot. People tend to forget that Vancouver is built on top of rain forest zones. If long bouts of rain have a negative effect on your mood, you may want to reconsider moving to Vancouver.
Vancouver boasts outstanding air quality. For the majority of common contaminants, the air quality has actually improved over the last twenty years despite of the growth in population and business. Metro Vancouver was the first region in the country to draft and adopt an Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP).
Toronto’s air isn’t half bad for a city of its size. Historically, most days had an air quality index (AQI) from “very good” to “moderate.” Five days in 2010 had a rating of “poor.” On the down side a study showed that five common air pollutants contribute to around 1,700 premature deaths and 6,000 hospital stays each year.
Daytime Attractions and Nightlife
Due to its high concentration of theatres, museums, restaurants and clubs in the city core, Toronto has the edge when it comes to going out. The entertainment district has a thriving nightlife. If you prefer to party into the morning hours there are a variety of after-hour spots to visit after the club.
Vancouver has more daytime options for nature buffs as there is world-class skiing, white water rafting, and climbing sites nearby. It is lacking in the way of theatre and high-end restaurants when compared to Toronto. The nightlife is spread out over a larger area making transportation more challenging. Last call is at 2am and some clubs allow patrons to stick around until 3am. After that, Vancouverites are forced to move the party home or hit the sack.
Toronto and Vancouver both offer something entirely different. Spend some time in each city and familiarise yourself with the surroundings. Soon one will click with you enough to be able to call it home.