8 Things To Know Before Moving to Small Canadian Cities

Why do people prefer staying in big and expensive cities? It’s not all just about job opportunities
Why do people prefer staying in big and expensive cities? It’s not all just about job opportunities
Written By
MTC Media inc
Published on
April 30, 2023

Have you ever thought about why do small towns not grow as well as big cities, even though immigration accounts for 80% of all population growth in Canada? Why do people prefer staying in big and expensive cities? It’s not all just about job opportunities.

Here are 8 reasons why small Canadian towns are nowhere nearly as popular as the large metropolitans.

Lack of Entertainment

Some young people will find it boring since there’s no nightlife in towns. Entertainment options are definitely limited. Usually, there are one or two shopping plazas, where you can find stores like Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, LCBO and a grocery shop, a couple of clothing stores and a cinema. That’s where people are usually gathering. Otherwise, streets seem empty.

In addition to this, there are not many festivals in the summer and pretty much nothing is happening in winter. Everything in downtown is usually closed after 6pm. It’s not easy to learn about events - all information about events is spread through the word of mouth. 

Small towns have no online blogs or websites to promote community events - it’s just not worth it. If it’s ever a big event, you will see ads on the billboards along main streets. If it’s something small - you will learn about it from someone you know. It is important to note that if you have your community and friends there - you will definitely find things to do, and of course, it all depends on your interests and what you like to do for entertainment. 

If you like nature - then life in a small town would certainly be for you. You don’t need to escape noise and bustling polluted city to have some quiet time every weekend. Your backyard can be your camping spot and you can finally have your party room, because your home will be big enough, unlike the shoeboxes in Toronto. 

Real estate prices in smaller towns are more affordable. Small towns are typically just a short drive away from nature, you can forget about heavy traffic and enjoy beautiful Canadian nature within 30 minutes or less every day after work.

Limited Dining out options

If you are a foodie, small towns might have bad news for you. Towns usually have limited restaurant options and no diversity in cuisines. You should expect to have 2-3 nice restaurants in downtown area and the rest would be fast food chains like Subway, KFC, McDonalds and Tim Hortons. The restaurants would most likely offer Italian, Chinese or American cuisine. On the flip side, local restaurants are often cozy and family-owned, which creates a great ambiance, tasty food, and awesome customer experience for a much smaller price than in a big city. Moreover, since there are less people in small towns, you won’t have to wait in line to get in. One of the reasons why there are limited restaurant options is lack of cultural diversity in towns.

Cultural diversity lacks

Since there are less people living in towns - there is less cultural diversity. This can result in you feeling lonely, especially if you crave finding friends and talking to people who speak your native language or other immigrants alike. Additionally, if you’re a newcomer to Canada and looking for newcomer services, you might have to travel to a bigger nearby city. 


Very few international students choose to study in small towns. Most prefer bigger cities with more renowned and popular universities. Even Canadians who grow up in small towns often move to bigger cities later in life to pursue high education. Some towns do have colleges but the selection of programmes taught is limited. 


You will definitely need a car, otherwise, you will lack freedom of moving around and exploring. Public transportation in towns either sucks or doesn’t exist. Sometimes there are no sidewalks and bike lanes. So walking or riding a bike is not always an option.

That’s why you won’t see people on the streets - everyone is driving a car. Another reason why you’d need a car is because you will have to drive to the nearest big city every now and then. Usually people do that every week or two. On the flip side, if you’ve ever driven across a big city, like Toronto, you will feel blessed getting from one side of town to the other in 15 minutes. Plus, parking is always easy to find.


Hospitals in small towns are not as well equipped as in bigger cities, so you will need to go to a bigger city for some types of treatment.  On the flip side, waiting lines to see a specialist are shorter in small towns. 

Cost of living and job opportunities

Living in a small town is definitely cheaper. Cheaper real estate and insurance costs, cheaper daycare and schooling costs. Additionally, you’ll spend less on gas, because you can get to any place within 15 minutes or less and there’s no heavy traffic. Going out or buying groceries will cost you 10 - 20% less! You can see for yourself and compare costs of living in different cities and towns of your choice on numbeo.com website. 

On the other hand, job opportunities in some fields are limited, hence, many commute to work to a bigger city. Good news is that many big companies are opening offices in small towns since it’s cheaper for them. There’s one thing that’s happened recently that has the potential to help small towns grow more - remote work. With remote work you no longer have to worry about job opportunities in small towns, while you and your family enjoy fresh air and cheaper cost of living.


Speaking of communities - towns have strong community ties, unlike cities where newcomers may feel isolated. Be prepared that if you’re new to the town, you will be in the centre of people’s attention for some time. 

But don’t be offended. People live a very quiet and stable life there, so anything new is exciting and is discussed in the community. Once you move to a town, within a couple of weeks people will know where you are from, where you live and will make sure to inquire whether you need any help. 

Since some things can not be easily found in small towns people there are generally self-reliant and helpful. Locals will always offer you help when you need to fix or borrow something. 

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8 Things To Know Before Moving to Small Canadian Cities

Make That Change is made by immigrants for immigrants.
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