I'm 22, Australian (currently living in the UK) and i'm going to Canada next year. I'm at a loss as I dont know which city to set myself up in. I was thinking Vancouver because it was small, but then I was thinking Toronto because it's close to New York and other US cities. I'll be staying in Canada for 1 year as i've got a 1 yrs working visa.
I love traveling, very spontanious and i'm always up for fun and adventure.
Please if you have any advice to give i'd love to hear from you.
How small do you think Vancouver is? It's smaller than Toronto, but it's not exactly an idyllic, country-side town. It's a pretty lively city.
Toronto probably has better job prospects, unless, of course, you want to work at a ski resort, in which case Vancouver and the surrounding mountains would be easier to find work.
Toronto is closer to New York, Montreal, Boston and Washington (all cities worth visiting). For Montreal you can take a train or drive, but the others are pretty far (10 hours to New York, with traffic), so you might have to fly anyway. Flights to any of those cities from Toronto would be 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Flights from Vancouver to the east coast would be 5 or 6 hours.
From Vancouver, you could visit Seattle. Flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco in California would be relatively short.
Vancouver has mountains and ocean nearby. Toronto has lakes (both big and small), but no mountains or skiing. Both Toronto and Vancouver have lots of opportunities for camping and hiking.
I don't live in either city but have visited both and personally if I had to choose, I'd definitely pick Vancouver! It is not that much smaller than Toronto and in my opinion, has a lot more to offer especially if you are an outdoor/adventure enthusiast. The climate is much more moderate than Toronto in the winter and not quite as hot in the summer months (and doesn't have the humidity that Toronto has) though it does rain considerably more in Vancouver than in Toronto. Personally, I love the combination of coastal mountains and Pacific ocean and it has a great young cultural vibe too. Plus, you're within driving distance of the amazing Rocky Mountains and you're a 3 hour drive from Seattle in the US and a 15 - 16 hour drive from San Francisco. All good perks!
My vote would be on Vancouver too. Like Greg said, Vancouver is not exactly small. When you consider all of the municipalities/suburbs around Vancouver (North Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster, Langley, etc) its some serious urban sprawl.
If you want a "smaller city" you may want to consider Calgary, Alberta which is one hour from the Rocky Mountains also. Calgary is considered to be redneck yet white collar according to many Easterners. Job prospects are fairly decent right now with a lot of employers offering incentives and hiring bonuses because of the worker shortage. While the cost of living is rising in Alberta, its still less than Vancouver or Toronto.
Edmonton is only 3 hours north to visit and has some awesome festivals in the summer that are worth checking out (Heritage Days, Taste of Edmonton, Fringe).
Vancouver is nice but it's isolated. If you stay in Toronto, you can visit the nation's capital (Ottawa) and Montreal on weekend trips. Toronto is also relatively close to NY, Philadelphia, Washington DC so you'll get a good taste for the U.S. as well. I have never lived in Toronto but I visit there when I can - it's a great city, a great Canadian city with a lot to offer.
My vote is for Toronto!
Well I live in Sault Ste Marie(Northern Ontario) So naturally I would suggest that! But I have lived in many Cities in western Canada and I would not suggest Van or TO I would have to say Calgary would be the best place for you to go. It has the best economy in Canada it is close to the mountains has a population of just over 1 million, You are young so you can enjoy the fantastic night life downtown and they have an international airport. but this is just my Advice
Calgary is good, though not much in the way of water sports. The biggest problem I see with Calgary right now is that well there are TONS of jobs (thank you oil money), there is an extreme shortage of housing. Therefore, it'll be hard to find a place to live.
been thinking to visit canada too someday.. :P
Greg W is right. Calgary has been a boom town for the past few years. Finding a place to stay will be difficult.
I you have a car, you can commute! Ahhhh, the North American Dream (???). Commuting 30 kms to get to Calgary was once a sure way to indentify yourself as someone who has just moved in from Ontario ... now, I suspect it is getting more common.
Monteal is cool and very friendly... and you can pickup some French in preparation for future trips to France or Africa!
I'd say Vancouver is your best bet as far as cities go ... beautiful, right near the ocean and has a very nice climate. Toronto and Montreal are okay, but why go to Canada to stay in a city the entire time?! Cities are fun for the first couple weeks ... after that, it becomes blatantly obvious they're pretty much all the same! One place I really would suggest staying for AT LEAST a month or so is Banff. Banff is awesome, and it's a WHV holder's paradise! Many travellers are employed as staff at the various ski resorts (as housekeepers, waiters, concierge ... anything, really), and oftentimes work includes board! You're right in the middle of the beautiful Rocky Mountains and you'll be surrounded by young people. Calgary is another place I'd say to consider (and if nothing else, visit ... especially during Stampede, it's a blast). Wages are high in Alberta and accommodation isn't THAT expensive -- especially if you're willing to board with people. Basically, Canada is a great, huge country with so much to offer ... I really urge you to look beyond the cities and see the real, TRUE Canada that many tourists look past. Check out PEI, Newfoundland ... and heck, even spend a couple days in Manitoba and Saskatchewan! (Winnipeg and Saskatoon are actually quite nice cities -- except if it's winter, in which case, avoid both at all costs!) There is a lot to see, a lot to do, and a lot more than you'll probably be able to fit in during your one year stay.
Sorry for the rantage, but it makes me sad when people visit Canada and spend the majority of their time cruising around big cities. Canada is so much more than that!