Put your west foot forward

For many young adults, figuring out where they want to live is a big part of growing up. For several years now, Ontario’s growth has been slowing and many millennials are looking west towards B.C. and Alberta to find what they want.

Sooke in Vancouver Island, B.C. Photo by Brett Bullock

The Sheridan Sun spoke to young adults who have moved from Toronto to Calgary or Vancouver to discuss why they did it and if there’s anything they miss. 

These were the most popular answers:

Cost of living

According to Numbeo, a website dedicated to providing current information on living costs around the world, these are the average monthly prices of a one-bedroom apartment in the centre of each city:

Toronto – $2,148.21   

Vancouver – $2,062.23           

Calgary – $1,213.86

And these are the average monthly costs for a single person:

Toronto – $1,263.54

Vancouver – $1,143.63

Calgary – $1,134.36

With these numbers, it is clear that Calgary is the cheapest city to rent an apartment. The cost of renting an apartment in Toronto and Vancouver are similar, and nearly twice that of Calgary.  The average monthly living costs, however, are similar across the board.

Downtown Vancouver. Photo by Aaron Bowbyes

Sarah Parker, a 25-year-old, born and raised in Ontario, moved to Calgary two years ago and has no regrets. 

“A big factor is how cheap it is to live here compared to Toronto, but you still get all the benefits of a city without the insane rent and without it feeling overcrowded, which always stressed me out about Toronto,” she said.


Canmore, Alberta. Photo by Brett Bullock

Another deciding factor people consider when looking for a new city to call home is the climate and weather. 

While summer months seem to average around low to high 20s in all three cities, winter is where a real difference can be seen. 

Vancouver is significantly more temperate, with average temperatures in January around 3° to 7°

While in Calgary the average temperatures in January hover between -14° to -3°. 

And Toronto sits somewhere in the middle with an average January temperature of between -7° and 0° degrees. 

So, if you’re looking for something different than Toronto, in terms of weather, Vancouver or Calgary will not disappoint.


The common reason to move offered by everyone we talked to was being closer to nature. 

In the last decade or so, climate issues have become more of a concern for younger generations.  Young adults seem to be interested in sustainability and enjoying the natural wonders of the world.  Living in a city surrounded by mountains, forests, lakes and national/provincial parks is something younger people want to incorporate into their daily lives. 

Widgeon Lake in the Greater Vancouver Area. Photo by Jenn Clements.

Aaron Bowbyes, a 21-year-old, who moved to Vancouver two years ago, talked about how pleasant it is to have nature nearby. 

“Having mountains nearby creates many accessible opportunities for sports like snowboarding, climbing, hiking and more. I also enjoy the ocean nearby.  The city makes you connect more with nature, and the vibe here is just unique,” he said. “It seems that Vancouverites are more updated on environmental concerns.  More cities must take ecological threats as seriously.”


Another refrain among the people we talked to was that “The West” has a better lifestyle. Some people added the slower pace of the cities, and how they were less intimidating than Toronto.  While others, who enjoy hobbies like snowboarding, mountain bike riding, hiking or camping, mentioned how much easier it is to fit these activities into their schedules and to find people interested in similar things.

Sun Peaks Ski Resort in B.C. Photo by Brett Bullock

Jenn Clements moved to BC in 2016 impulsively and hasn’t looked back since. 

“The lifestyle is more on par with what I find important in life.  Employers seem to respect work life balance a lot more.  The drinking and party cultures aren’t as prominent.  People value getting up early and going on an adventure,” she said.

The small towns too

We also spoke to Brooke Porter, who spent four summers in Waterton, Alberta. She would return to Toronto for the winter.  Waterton is a small mountain town bordering Montana about three hours south of Calgary.  Even though Brooke wasn’t living in a major city, she echoed thoughts with people who do. 

“I find everything to be slower.  Nature is a more significant part of everyday life.  But most of all the people are much kinder,” she said.

Waterton, Alberta. Photo by Brooke Porter

So why stay?

Everyone we talked to about moving out west mentioned that they didn’t miss anything about Ontario, except for their families and friends. And although it can be tough to move somewhere new where you don’t know anyone or have anything lined up, our interviewees thought that the pros far outweighed the cons.