Toronto or Vancouver?

My husband has the flexibility to work from either Toronto or Vancouver. He works for an SF based big tech employer. We are currently based out of Seattle and looking to move in the summer (we have a PR). I am currently between jobs so I will look for something once I get there. I used to work for a pretty big tech company in Seattle in a non-tech role till 3 months ago. I know a bunch of people that are in Toronto and know what their experience has been like but know very few people that live in Vancouver. We are deciding between Vancouver and Toronto and would love to hear about the pros and cons of both these cities especially from people that moved to Canada from the US. How did you choose your city? Anyone here that moved from Seattle to Vancouver? Please do share your experience.

Few things:

  1. We will be renting preferably in the suburbs (SFH or Townhome).
  2. Would like to be in a good school district. Son is just 2 so he won’t be going to a school for sometime.
  3. My husband would need to make visits to SF at least once a month.
  4. I know the weather in Toronto sucks but the weather itself is not a big factor for us.
  5. Would like to be where more job opportunities are. Vancouver has more tech jobs where as Toronto has more jobs in general from what I understand.
  6. Personally the move from Seattle to Vancouver would be a lot easier given it is driving distance and weather is similar but don’t want to make decisions based on just that.
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Congratulations on making the move.

As someone who has had the good fortune of living in both Vancouver and Toronto within the first 4 months of moving here from the US, I definitely can offer some perspective.

If you’re going to be renting, you may find Vancouver a little more expensive than Toronto depending on your luck, amenities you are willing to compromise on, and patience to search. But if you are looking to put down roots and invest in a home, at least for me, the comparison is much more drastic. Just a quick internet search should clarify this for you.

I, unfortunately, don’t have much to offer on school districts from a personal point of view, but hearsay is, that in general there are excellent school districts in both metro areas.

Your husband having to travel to SFO as often as you state would probably have a lot of impact in my book, because flights in general in Canada tend to be much more expensive compared to the US. This is on top of the travel time difference b/w the two options: direct flights between YTO-SFO take a good 5 1/2 - 6 hrs one way compared to a mere 2 1/2 hr flight between YVR-SFO.

Weather wise, it’s not even a comparison. :laughing:

I would have to disagree with you on Vancouver having more tech jobs, there are as many tech jobs (if not more) that pay just as good in Toronto as there are in Vancouver.

There are a couple of other fundamental differences between the two cities that I have experienced.

Transit: If you were to score Public Transportation in both the cities, I would rate Vancouver a little higher than Toronto, but only a little. Both cities have excellent public transit networks spanning the suburbs, but Vancouver maybe doing a better job in terms of access to exurbs as well. Only a little more than a month ago did Vancouver finally allow Uber and Lyft to operate in the area and even those are vastly restricted in terms of the localities they can service, compare this to the GTA where you’d have relatively no trouble finding a ride-share anywhere. If you plan to own a car (especially for commute), be prepared to spend a lot more on gas in Vancouver (for my car that tops at about 50 litres a tank, it would cost me more than CAD $15 more in Vancouver every time I top up). And a lot more for car insurance as well. Insurance providers in either areas do provide credit for driving history in the US, but there is a new-to-the-area surcharge on insurance in BC for anyone who newly moved to the province. With just under 4 yrs of driving history, I pay about 3000/yr in Scarborough, ON for my 2017 Subaru Crosstrek whereas the same car used to cost me 4600/yr in Kamloops, BC and that too Kamloops is a small town, so I’m sure it would have cost me even more in Vancouver (I lived in Vancouver for a while before I got a job in Kamloops, from where I made the move to Toronto). But as no. of years goes on, maybe the insurance rates in BC go down faster than they would in Toronto? I have no idea at this moment.

Outdoors: Somewhat related to the comparison on weather, there is so much of nature to explore in Canada, but especially in BC. If you and your family are into nature, you’ll find more worth living in Vancouver as there is so much you can relatively easily access and explore, whereas it’s a little spread out here in Ontario and may need some driving to get to.

Having lived in Northeast Ohio, Detroit, Atlanta and SFO metro areas in the US, I find Toronto more at home. As the largest city in Canada (yet the relatively lower price tag on basically everything when compared to Vancouver) I find Toronto suits my lifestyle as a 28yo single male. But there are also quite a few Indian families among my acquaintances here that are happily raising kids and working in jobs they love, and with luck permitting this is where I see myself putting down my roots in the future. At the end of the day I’m a Desi guy (who is not at all put off by the weather but) who absolutely wants more bang for his buck, Toronto is the better choice for me. I bring this point up, because if your husband is going to be making the same gross salary no matter where he stays in Canada, you might want to weigh the economic consequences as well when making a decision.


+1 for this point.

If you guys have kids (or foresee children in the near future), you might also want to consider proximity to family members or good friends. One thing I grossly underestimated when moving to Canada was the role of a support network for socializing and in times of need. It will ease the move and prevent any feeling of alienation.

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Thank you all for your replies was super informative. We are still trying to figure out the salary part and will be able to make a decision based on that. Based on our research so far, Toronto seems to be better for job opportunities and also from a cost of living/savings standpoint. Yes, the move from Seattle to Toronto would be painful but I guess that is something we will have to live with.