When people find out that I moved from Toronto to Vancouver, one of the questions I get asked most is, “Which one do you like better?” or “What is the main difference between the two?”.
It’s a hard question to answer, because despite both being Canadian cities, they are just so different. It’s a classic apples to oranges comparison.
Both cities boast some great attributes and both have a multitude of things I would change about them, but it’s easy to recognize three very distinct (and maybe somewhat obvious) qualities that truly show the difference between these two Canadian powerhouses.
Here are three differences between Vancouver and Toronto:
In my opinion, the weather stands out as the biggest difference between Vancouver and Toronto. Last year, when I was flying to the Caribbean on February 1st, the temperature in Toronto (with windchill) was -40°C in comparison to Vancouver where it was +10°C on the same day. Vancouver is essentially the only city in Canada that doesn’t experience the harsh winters our country is known for, unlike Toronto that experienced its coldest month in recorded history in February 2015.
Greater Toronto’s population boasts more people than the entire province of British Columbia, where there are now over 6 million people living – compared to 2.4 million in the Greater Vancouver area. Moreso, the city of Vancouver “proper” only boasts approximately 600,000 people whereas the city of Toronto has some 2.6 million, making it the fourth most populated city in North America after Mexico City, New York City and Los Angeles.
Despite being a big city, Vancouver has a “small-town” vibe. It’s very walkable, meaning you can essentially get from one side of the downtown core to the other – on foot – in about 30 minutes (depending on how fast you walk). The city of Toronto is huge and can be far more overwhelming and intimidating if you don’t know your way around.
I know I will probably get some flack for this, but it’s a fact. Vancouver isn’t nearly as diverse as Toronto.
Toronto is known as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, where over 140 different languages and dialects are spoken and 30% of residents speak a language other than English or French at home. In Toronto, you can find neighbourhoods that are built around culture, festivals/ events throughout the year that celebrate heritage and diverse ethnic food-filled hubs to satisfy any craving you might have. Toronto really represents what Canada prides itself on; being a cultural mosaic.
In comparison, Vancouver is known for its Asian culture and for a good reason; Vancouver is currently the most Asian city outside of Asia, where 43% of Metro Vancouver residents have an Asian heritage. This of course is not a bad thing in my opinion, but it’s a noticeable difference.
Have you been to Toronto and Vancouver? What differences did you notice?