Many immigrants have gone through the process of selecting a Canadian city in which to grow their roots. For many, the choices boil down to two places:
Toronto, Ontario or Vancouver British Columbia.
Indeed, the statistics say much of how appealing these two cities are to new and prospective immigrants. In 2019, the province of Ontario welcomed close to 140,000 immigrants. Most of these new immigrants went to Toronto.
Of course, these facts and figures may not help much with your decision-making. Hence, to help you out, here are some of the best things about the two cities. By the end of this article, you may have a better idea of which city speaks to your preferences and personality the most.
What Are The Best Things About Toronto?
Toronto may not be the capital of Canada. After all, that label goes to Ottawa, the country’s political seat of power in the country. Nonetheless, the city stands out as a destination for immigrants and the popularity of Toronto does not just stop with the Maple Leafs and Drake.
Toronto may be safely considered the financial and multicultural hub of Canada. As a city, Toronto is home to more than six million people. Toronto’s population is divided almost evenly between the native-born population and the immigrant population. This makes Toronto arguably Canada’s most multicultural city.
Toronto’s economy is worth a mention too. With no less than 800,000 businesses and a labour force 4.7 million strong, it is no wonder Canadians deem Toronto the Canadian counterpart of New York City. Industries abound in the city, also making Toronto the second largest Financial centre in the North American continent.
Many Jobs In The Tech Industry (Among Others)
The tech industry has always been big in Canada. While the entire country has a place for immigrants with skills in tech-related sectors, Toronto is where tech dominates the job market.
In 2019, more than 60,000 people worked in tech-related industries. Since 2014, the technology industry has continued to grow at an impressive pace. The trend from 2014 to 2019 also shows that employment in the said sector continued to rise at the same pace.
According to Global News, the information and technology sector will continue to be a major source of employment for the inhabitants of Toronto along with others like retail, service, and manufacturing not lagging too far behind.
Hence, if you are an IT professional or have the relevant skills and experience, Toronto can be a great option for you, career-wise. With Toronto’s growing economy and job market, you may be able to find jobs in many other sectors too if you choose to make the move.
That “Big City” Feel
There is a reason Toronto is compared with many major cities worldwide including New York City.
Occupying 630.2 square kilometres and home to more than six million inhabitants, Toronto is Canada’s largest city, both in terms of land area and population.
The city is Canada’s financial hub, with buildings and modern structures at virtually every turn. On top of that, farther away from Toronto’s metropolitan centre are other cities included in Toronto in 1998. These are the metropolitan areas of East York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, York, and North York.
Even farther away from these areas, you will find the suburban communities that comprise what is known as the Greater Toronto Area or GTA. Even most of these suburban communities take on many “city-like” characteristics. Just look at places like Mississauga and Vaughan.
Wherever you go, there is just so much to do. With a growing number of recreational establishments, city life in Toronto can be quite exciting and eventful. Even at night, many establishments are open, making Toronto Canada’s “city that never sleeps”.
In short, if the hustle and bustle of big city living is what you are after, Toronto has this in spades.
Your Home Away From Home
It was mentioned earlier that Toronto is one of Canada’s multicultural hubs. In fact, one travel blog even branded Toronto as “the perfect introduction” to Canada’s cultural diversity. With roughly half of the city population comprising of immigrants, Toronto is, indeed, a city where many cultures abound.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, the immigrant population consisted of immigrants from South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and some parts of Europe. With growing representation from countries like India and the Philippines, this opens up Toronto to more cultural enclaves and pocket communities being established.
As a result, you would probably see places like Little India, Little Jamaica, Greek Town, as well as its own China Town.
This means that, as an immigrant, homesickness may not be as big an issue since you are more likely to:
- Bump into somebody from your home country
- Find a pocket community or enclave that closely resembles your home country (or even hometown)
The progressive “city vibe” of Toronto coupled with the abundance of ethnic groups from many parts of the globe can make Toronto that “sweet spot” between being at home and being in Canada. Quite literally, Toronto offers the best of both worlds.
There Is Always A Way To Get Around
Many would agree that a city’s public transportation can tell you a lot about the city itself.
If this is true, then Toronto might be a pretty good place to grow roots in. Since the amalgamation of five other cities into its locus in 1998, Toronto has invested much into connecting these cities and others in the GTA to the metropolitan centre.
For this reason, you will find many modes of public transportation in the city. Besides the rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, there are many other ways for you to get around town or even visit the suburbs or other GTA cities.
On a budget and crunched for time, the subway would be your best bet. Consisting of three different lines, the Toronto subway allows travellers to travel from the main city centre to other parts of the GTA.
For instance, you can board the 9 AM train and find yourself in the neighbouring city of Scarborough.
Transportation within the city is also ubiquitous. Again, finding a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft is an option in Toronto. If not, there always cabs on many street corners and alongside establishments.
However, if you are in Toronto for the first time, you have got to try riding what is called a streetcar. These are small trams that resemble those in San Francisco and Manchester. These can get you from one part of the city centre to another.
Need a way to get to work and burn that maple syrup-soaked waffle you just had? Last 2018, the municipal government’s transportation department launched Bike Share Toronto. With it, you can borrow a bike left in one part of the town and leave it at a terminal once you are done using it. Of course, always remember to bring the bike back.
What Are The Best Things About Vancouver?
On the opposite side of Canada is a province (British Columbia) that includes a city with a massive immigrant appeal.
Since the late 1700s, Vancouver has welcomed immigrants that have journeyed from the Pacific end of the world. Vancouver is located in the Westernmost part of Canada. With its immigration history dating back to the 1700s, the city has been a destination for many immigrants coming from South Asia (India and Pakistan) and Southeast Asia (the Philippines and Vietnam). The immigrant population in the city also consists of Chinese as well as some European immigrants.
The city is home to more than 2.5 million residents, with more than one-third being immigrants. These numbers can give you an idea of how well the city competes for immigrants, alongside Toronto and Montreal.
Vancouver’s diverse population, as well as a growing number of businesses within the city, add to the charms delivered by its unique topography and location.
Many Jobs In Other Sectors Besides Tech
Yes, the tech industry has a strong presence in the Pacific end of Canada, particularly in Vancouver. Nonetheless, it might be the case that you would prefer jobs in other sectors or industries. If this is the case, you may want to consider Vancouver as an option.
As mentioned earlier, Vancouver has been the site of numerous film and television productions for a long time. This implies one thing- you can find a job in the film and television industry. According to Production Hub, there are several major television production firms in Vancouver alone.
In addition to the film and television sector, you can expand your job search to other prominent industries in the province. Due to Vancouver’s natural beauty, tourism is big. For this reason, Vancouver’s tourism industry is one of the city’s major industries.
In addition, Vancouver’s manufacturing sector is one of the largest in Canada. It is so large that since 2014, the manufacturing sector has been found to be one of the city’s (and the province’s) major employers.
All in all, in Vancouver, opportunities do exist outside of the technology industry.
Big City Amidst Nature
Vancouver is an example of a place that strikes the right balance between city and nature.
Vancouver’s metropolitan area has a total land area of about 114 square kilometres. Not too far from the urban part of Vancouver is Stanley Park, an urban park that sprawls 405 hectares across. It borders the downtown area of Metro Vancouver. Its total land area makes it one of the largest urban parks in North America.
On top of that, the Vancouver skyline is dominated by a range of mountains. Farther away from the pristine-looking buildings of the city is the Southern sides of the North Shore Mountains. The mountains provide an exquisite backdrop of Vancouver.
This backdrop gives Vancouver its more “laid back” character. On a nice sunny afternoon, hiking or strolling along the shoreline can be on your list of recreational activities. Vancouver truly is a city hugged by the ocean and mountains.
If you prefer a laid-back vibe without venturing too far into the backwood wilderness, Vancouver would be the perfect city for you.
The Hollywood Of The North
If you have seen “Homeward Bound 2”, you might say that the movie took place in San Francisco.
You might claim that the final scene of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” took place on location in Seattle.
Are you a fan of the “Arrow” and “Flash”? At first glance, it looks like the fictitious “Starling City” was New York or Boston.
Also, “The Interview” looks like it was shot in Pyongyang, North Korea.
This might come as a surprise but all of these movies (and more) were actually shot in Vancouver.
That is right. Apparently, the gorgeous backdrop provided by Vancouver’s natural scenery as well as the city’s modern aesthetics makes Vancouver one of the most popular film production destinations.
The city has been the set of more than 20 of television’s most iconic shows. Vancouver, British Columbia has also hosted the production crews of many shows that continue to be pop culture references today- shows like “Kung Fu: The Legend Returns”, “Charmed”, and “MacGyver”.
Walk the streets of Vancouver, and you will likely have set foot in a spot that was used for a film or television program. Vancouver is indeed Canada’s answer to The US’s Hollywood.
Bikes, The Skytrain, And The Seabus
Vancouver’s main tourist attractions as well as anywhere you may have to go to are within reach through Vancouver’s public transportation. While taxis, rideshare services, and buses are mainstays to many Canadian cities, here are some that make Vancouver truly stand out when it comes to getting around the city.
Vancouver is a bike-friendly city. In fact, riding bicycles seems to be encouraged by the city government. In 2016, Shaw Go launched Mobi, Vancouver’s bike-sharing system. To this day, the system continues to make bicycles accessible. It gives Vancouverites an accessible and healthy alternative to other forms of public transportation.
Vancouver is also known for the Skytrain. It is an automated rapid transit system that was launched sometime in 2016. Since then, it has been one of the largest unmanned metro rail transit systems in the world.
Being automated, the Skytrain has been touted as being an efficient and quick way to get around Metro Vancouver.
Last but surely not least is Vancouver’s SeaBus. It is a ferry that allows you to travel from downtown Vancouver to other nearby destinations separated from the city by water. The SeaBus crosses a body of water known as the Burrard Inlet so the trip itself can be scenic.
Whether you are commuting to work or just meandering, Vancouver’s public transportation can be an attraction in and of itself.
Like many other metropolitan parts of Canada, Vancouver is teeming with immigrants. Unlike Toronto, there is a slightly heavier concentration of Southeast Asian and East Asian immigrants in the city.
Vancouver’s culturally diverse population makes it a mosaic of different cultures. Each ethnicity lives harmoniously with other ethnicities and the Canada-born population of the city.
The presence of different ethnicities also means that Vancouver has its own share of pocket communities or enclaves like China Town not too far from Gastown. Along Main Street is the Punjabi Market. There is even a Little Manila somewhere in Joyce-Collingwood.
Toronto can be your best bet if you are a person who loves living in a big city. It may also be the Canadian city for you if you would love to work in the tech industry. The sheer number of pocket communities and enclaves can make Toronto the ideal city for you if you love the idea of experiencing many other cultures other than your own.
On the other hand, if you are more laid-back and a huge fan of film and television, you can go to Vancouver. Vancouver, a city between the ocean and mountains, showcases majestic scenery that hugs a highly-developed and multicultural city. If these sound like your “plate of poutine”, Vancouver can be a sound choice for you.
Ultimately, both cities can guarantee a newcomer a vibrant urban life amidst many ethnicities. It all depends on which you prefer.