This Ontario town was just named the best city for students in Canada

Picking a university or college is hard enough as it is, and that can be even more difficult when you have to consider the pros and cons of the city you’ll be living in for the next four or more years. According to a new ranking by HelloSafe, you might want to move a certain Ontario town higher up on your list. Kingston just received the top honour of being the best city for students across Canada — and Toronto is not far behind.

HelloSafe looked at 47 cities across the country and assessed each one based on a set of 18 criteria combining academic excellence, student life, quality of life and attractiveness. Their 2023 ranking saw Kingston move from number three in 2021 to the top spot on the list. Hamilton and Toronto were the only other Ontario cities to earn a top 10 ranking, at number nine and 10, respectively. Though for Toronto, that’s five spots down from its 2021 ranking. Ottawa and Guelph ranked at 11 and 12, respectively, Waterloo at 14 and London at 16. Sault Ste Marie earned the lowest Ontario spot on the list, at number 44 out of 47.

While HelloSafe editor-in-chief Alexandre Desoutter acknowledged Kingston’s ranking came as a “surprise,” he said a look at the numbers shows the city deserves the top spot. “If the city does not particularly shine in one or another category, it presents an overall balance that allows it to rank well everywhere, whether in terms of academic excellence, student life, living environment or attractiveness,” he said in a statement.

Despite Toronto’s lower ranking this year, the city still earned top marks for other categories, ranking number two for student life and number five for “excellence.”

Ontarians might be surprised to learn that Ottawa earned the top spot for the “attractiveness” category, but don’t be alarmed — the category doesn’t refer to the relative prettiness of the city. It instead aims to measure the economic opportunities that a city can offer to a population of students who will find themselves on the job market tomorrow, looking at factors such as the city’s proximity to large urban areas, accessibility and transportation network and economic indicators such as the city’s unemployment rate and average household income.

Unfortunately for Ontarians, Kingston was the only city to place in the top 10 for the “quality of life” category, which assesses housing accessibility, air quality, climate and environmental conditions, access to nature and the size of the city — to no one’s surprise, cities in Québec took the top two spots.

For the full ranking and more insight into where Ontario cities place, click here. 

The top 20 best cities for students in Canada

  1. Kingston
  2. Montreal
  3. Vancouver
  4. Sherbrooke
  5. Calgary
  6. Edmonton
  7. Quebec City
  8. St. John’s
  9. Hamilton
  10. Toronto
  11. Ottawa
  12. Guelph
  13. Winnipeg
  14. Waterloo
  15. Burnaby
  16. London
  17. Surrey
  18. Trois-Rivières
  19. St. Catharines
  20. Victoria

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