Our 2015 review of the “best places to live in Canada” rankings from MoneySense.com has consistently been our most-visited page.
The rankings, now updated for 2017, emerge from a complicated formula that combines weather, local employment and incomes, crime rates, tax rates and much else.
Vancouver Island is well represented near the top of the 2017 list, with four communities in the top 15. However, British Columbia’s warm, rainy climate does not qualify as “nice weather,” and, overall, the ranking formula comes up with results that will surprise some visitors. For example, Weyburn, Saskatchewan — a small, somewhat remote town with very cold winters — ranks higher than any city in Greater Vancouver or the Fraser Valley.
The MoneySense.com 101-point scoring system is explained on a methodology page. Various measures of income and wealth take up the biggest chunk of the available points. Crime may be a critical concern for some people, but it accounts for just 7 scoring points. The number of people using transit is worth up to 5 points, and the combined number of people who walk or cycle is worth up to 6 points. Property tax totals are scored at 1 point or less.
I’ve posted a few results for the Fraseropolis region in a matrix below, comparing the national ranking for selected cities to median household income, crime rates and property tax figures. All of the high-ranking cities in the Vancouver region are affluent, but not all affluent cities (e.g. Richmond) are high-ranking.
For 2017, MoneySense has recognized that not everyone has the same priorities. Users can now play with the formula online to give extra weight to their own preferences and create their own rankings. These rankings, as with the the default MoneySense rankings, may provoke some interesting discussion and debate. The underlying data is actually more informative than the rankings, and worth exploring. In the end, however, the quality of individual neighbourhoods is probably more important than washed-together numbers for large cities taken as a whole.
The MoneySense property tax amounts appear to be based on a “property taxes per person” calculation, which in my view is academic. On the chart above I have added figures from the Government of B.C. on average property taxes and charges for the representative house.
The Metro Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge, our home town and a place that comes in for occasional knocks on this site, is ranked nationally at 119.
The 417th or bottom-ranked community in Canada is Colchester, Nova Scotia, with a median household income of $61,903, lower property taxes than any of the cities shown in our table, and a violent crime index about one-third that of the City of Vancouver.