If you plan on starting a business in Canada, you have a wide range of choices. Each of the country’s cities has its own unique advantages for the entrepreneur. This list covers a few of the best cities in Canada for business, from global business hubs to smaller cities. Each of these towns offers something special for your business, from government support to highly-educated workforces to affordable business premises or low taxes. No matter what the needs of your business are, there’s a Canadian city that’s right for them.
On the one hand, Canada’s largest city seems like an obvious destination for aspiring business owners. On the other hand, being obvious doesn’t mean something isn’t true. Toronto’s population of nearly three million makes it the country’s largest market, and its diversity, with residents from over 200 countries, makes it an unmatched talent pool. Although the city on the shore of Lake Ontario plays a role in every sector of Canada’s economy, it’s especially critical in the technology sector. Toronto’s tech firms employ nearly a quarter of a million workers. It isn’t just large tech enterprises, either: the city’s vibrant business culture is home to thousands of start-ups. Although costs are high in Toronto compared to other cities in Canada, they’re affordable compared to other tech-intensive regions like Silicon Valley.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is a growing city with many advantages for the business founder. The city boasts a highly-educated workforce, with university graduates making up nearly half of the working population. Halifax also ranks highly on other business-positive metrics such as population and economic growth. Despite this, Halifax is an affordable location for new businesses and workers alike. Its lower cost of living and shorter commuting times, combined with a vibrant culture, make this city an attractive destination for potential employees.
Vancouver, British Columbia
One of Canada’s foremost startup cities, Vancouver has been ranked among the top 20 cities in the world for starting a tech company. The city’s bustling tech sector is home to newer success stories like Hootsuite as well as more established companies. With a strong pool of technical talent, Vancouver is a great place to build a team. Although costs of living are high compared to smaller cities, they’re manageable compared to similar tech hubs in the United States. Overall, Vancouver combines a tech culture with affordable costs of doing business, making it a great place to get into the tech sector. The city isn’t just about tech, though: Vancouver is also known for its arts scene and lively nightlife.
Calgary is an oil town at heart, and many of the largest businesses in the city are part of the energy sector. But there’s more to this booming city than just oil and plenty that makes it attractive to new businesses. Calgary scores high on multiple indices of business-friendliness, including both urban growth and increasing employment. It’s also home to a well-educated workforce, with over 50% of workers being college graduates. Calgary is eager to diversify its economy, with startup incubators to help give businesses the support they need. Relative to other major Canadian business cities, Calgary also boasts a lower cost of living, making it attractive to potential employees. Although Calgary is Alberta’s main business city, the provincial capital, Edmonton, also has a smaller but growing startup culture, with some prominent incubators helping to develop the sector.
Your new business in Canada doesn’t have to be in one of these larger cities. Smaller communities like Waterloo, about 60 miles west of Toronto, have a lot to offer to new businesses. Waterloo is one of Canada’s most startup-dense cities, many of them drawing on the talent pool produced by the University of Waterloo. Close enough to Toronto to take advantage of its resources but far enough that costs aren’t quite so steep, Waterloo is increasingly popular with startup founders. Despite being smaller than Toronto, Waterloo isn’t exactly tiny – nearby Kitchener adds to the population, bringing it up to a medium-sized city. For years, Waterloo has been seen as one of the hidden gems of Canadian business, but it may no longer really be hidden; the time has come to recognize the city’s importance in Canadian business.
Like other great cities for new businesses, Montreal boasts a highly-educated talent pool fuelled by graduates of McGill University. World-leading incubators and accelerators can help new businesses get the support they need, and the cost of both living and doing business is lower than in cities like Toronto. This Francophone city has a bilingual business culture, and French fluency will be important to the success of any business in Montreal. This culture also gives Montreal businesses access to wider international business connections. Close to other major North American business hubs but with cultural connections to Europe, Montreal is a truly cosmopolitan city. With a population of over four million in its metropolitan area, the city offers a diverse pool of potential hires. Perhaps more than anything else, it’s Montreal’s unique culture that makes the city such an attractive place for a new business.
All of these cities have something to offer new businesses of all kinds. Whether you’re launching a tech startup, opening a retail or hospitality business, or working in another field altogether, these are just a few examples of the advantages of locating your business in a Canadian city.