Home / Home is where the heart is / Where to live: Everything you need to know about choosing your city
View of the city of Sherbrooke View of the city of Sherbrooke

Where to live: Everything you need to know about choosing your city

Published on January 9, 2024

There are many reasons for wanting to relocate, including pursuing an education, finding a job, raising a family, retiring or even needing a change of scenery. Not sure where you should live? There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right city, whether you will be living there over the short, medium or long term.

Here’s what you need to know to find the best place to live during the next chapter of your life.


  • The different types of cities
    • Large cities
    • Medium-sized cities
    • Small cities
    • Towns in the countryside
  • How to choose which city to live in
    • Geographic location
    • Desired lifestyle
    • Jobs available
    • Price of real estate
  • 3 great places to live in Quebec
    • 1. Québec City and Lévis
    • 2. Blainville
    • 3. Rimouski

The different types of cities

Quebec has a wide variety of living environments: a metropolis, regional hubs, cities of all sizes, towns, villages and many rural areas. Although they share similarities, these places have big differences in terms of day-to-day life. This is why it’s important to know the characteristics of the different places so you can compare them and make an informed decision.

Large cities

There are two major cities that stand out. The first, Montréal, is one of the biggest cities in North America. Its population is the 10th largest on the continent1 and it is home to more than 20% of Quebecers.2 Montréal is both the economic and cultural hub of the province.

View of the city of Montreal

Montréal has all the characteristics of a metropolis:

  • Skilled, high-paying jobs
  • A good public transport system, including a metro and suburban trains
  • A variety of neighbourhoods
  • A major international airport
  • A multitude of shops, restaurants and cafés
  • Lots of entertainment to choose from, including Formula 1 Grand Prix races and a series of festivals
  • Leading universities and educational institutions

It also has several green spaces on its territory, such as Mount Royal, which is the oldest protected area in Quebec,3 covering more than two square kilometres. What is more, the Îles-de-Boucherville, Oka and Yamaska national parks are less than an hour’s drive away.

The second largest city, Québec, is not as big as its sister city. This is an advantage for people who want to live in a large urban centre, but who think Montréal is too crowded and expensive. Since it is the province’s capital, civil servant jobs are available and many companies have offices there. It has a population of 557,390.2

View of the city of Quebec

The historic Old Québec district is on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. Québec City also has an airport, a top-ranking university, many shops and a variety of entertainment options. Nearby attractions include the verdant Île d‘Orléans, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, the Mont Sainte-Anne and Stoneham mountains, Village Vacances Valcartier and Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier.

The cities of Laval and Longueuil, which are in Montréal’s orbit, are considered residential suburbs, even though they have more than 200,000 inhabitants.2 The same applies to Lévis, on the South Shore of Québec City. These suburban cities offer the same advantages of a big city, but with a lower cost of living.

Medium-sized cities

Medium-sized cities are distinguished by their large population, strong economic base and role as a regional hub. None are in the immediate periphery of large urban centres, so they are not satellite municipalities.

Here are some of Quebec’s medium-size cities:

  • Drummondville
  • Gatineau
  • Saguenay
  • Sherbrooke
  • Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu
  • Saint-Jérôme
  • Trois-Rivières
View of the city of Saguenay

Small cities

A small city is defined as having a population between 20,000 and 80,000. There are 32 such cities in Quebec as of 2024.2 They have a lot to offer and are known for their affordable properties. Quebec’s small cities include the following:

  • Alma
  • Boucherville
  • Granby
  • Joliette
  • Magog
  • Rimouski
  • Rouyn-Noranda
  • Saint-Georges
  • Saint-Hyacinthe
  • Sept-Îles
  • Shawinigan
  • Sorel-Tracy
  • Thetford Mines
  • Victoriaville

Towns in the countryside

Next come towns and villages in the countryside. Known for their tranquility, these settings usually appeal to people who love the great outdoors, small and close-knit communities and nature. Their economy is often largely based on agriculture, the exploitation of raw materials, transport and tourism.

View of the town of Bic

How to choose which city to live in

Several factors must be taken into consideration to determine the ideal city to live in, especially in terms of location, jobs and real estate prices. The location must also correspond to the desired setting.

Geographic location

This is the first thing to look at, because it is a determining factor. Are there family constraints, such as needing to be near loved ones or a co-parent if you share custody of children? Only focus on options that are realistic. Now do the same with regard to work.

Can’t see yourself living far from the hustle and bustle of a big city? Montréal and Québec City are top choices, but Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Drummondville could also be suitable.

Some regions, such as Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Gaspésie and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean are farther away from major urban centres, but still have their attractions, advantages and major urban hubs.

Desired lifestyle

It is important to consider the daily life you want to lead, and search accordingly. People who like to have services nearby, use public transport and enjoy cycling will prefer large urban centres. Nature lovers will be drawn to regions dotted with mountains and lakes. Students and parents of school-age children often look for areas with places of higher learning.

Jobs available

Before making the decision to settle in a given place, it is a good idea to check what kind of jobs are available in the area. In addition to consulting job boards and compiling a list of major employers, you can contact an employment agency for help finding a job.

Price of real estate

Generally, properties are more expensive and rental costs are higher in the popular neighbourhoods of large urban centres. Prices decrease as you move toward the suburbs, where the size of cities is smaller.

Some resort towns in Estrie and the Laurentians have experienced hikes in real estate prices due to buyer demand for luxury cottages. The prices in some of these places rose significantly in recent years.

Man holding his baby walking with his wife in front of their summer home

Here is the median price of single-family homes in the census metropolitan areas of Quebec as of the third quarter of 2023.4

  1. Montréal – $552,500
  2. Gatineau – $445,350
  3. Sherbrooke – $380,000
  4. Québec City – $362,500
  5. Trois-Rivières – $313,899
  6. Saguenay – $269,750

Discover the latest real estate statistics

3 great places to live in Quebec

1. Québec City and Lévis

Québec City and Lévis regularly appear on “best places to live” lists, for several reasons. Mainly, they offer all the advantages of a big city without some of the disadvantages. There are tons of things to do, interesting jobs are available, real estate prices are relatively low, and residents do not feel crammed together.

2. Blainville

The municipality of Blainville regularly tops the charts thanks, among other things, to its economic vitality and the number of amenities it offers. Located midway between Montréal and the Laurentians, it is a popular place for young families who have to live near the metropolis for work.

3. Rimouski

Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Rimouski combines the benefits of an active environment with the tranquility of a natural setting. It has all the services one could want, a lively downtown area, a university and several entertainment options. The cost of properties makes it possible for aspiring homeowners to make their dream come true.

Now that you have all the necessary information, you don’t need to take a quiz to find your ideal city. There are properties for sale throughout Quebec and there are many opportunities available. All that’s left to do is to decide which city to live in!

Need to sell your property before moving? No matter where you are located in Quebec, you could save on the commission and get the price you dreamed of by selling with DuProprio’s help. Learn about our services by calling us at 1-866-387-7677 or by watching our informational videos.

It's easy to sell commission-free!
1. According to the CityPopulation tool as of December 19, 2023. 2. According to the Institut de la Statistique du Québec in its Estimates of the population of municipalities with 25,000 inhabitants and more in Quebec as of December 19, 2023. 3. According to the Register of protected areas of the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks of Quebec. 4. According to the JLR.ca Real Estate Radar for the period from July 1 to September 30, 2023.