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British Columbians’ top Canadian relocation destination? Alberta, says poll

Survey reveals provincial preferences for Canadians considering a move
Calgary, Alta. B.C.'s neighbour over the Rockies is proving to be a popular destination for those leaving the West Coast, according to Research Co. polling.


Earlier this year, we asked a simple question to residents of six Canadian provinces: “Suppose you had to move out of your province and live in any other region of Canada. Where would you move?” The responses gave us a glimpse into what residents would like and what they would dread.

For British Columbians, Alberta emerged as the preferred destination (24 per cent), followed by Ontario at 19 per cent. No other province made it to double-digits, with Nova Scotia coming in at six per cent and Yukon at five per cent.

Close to three in 10 (29 per cent) were undecided—the highest proportion by far of all provinces included in the survey. More than a third of British Columbians aged 55 and over (34 per cent) do not know where to go if they had to leave. There is a sense of adventure among British Columbia’s youngest adults, with 15 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 picking Yukon as their “Plan B” if they had to pack up and leave.

For Albertans, B.C. is the undisputed champion, with 50 per cent of residents saying they would “Go West” if they had to move. Saskatchewan is a distant second at 11 per cent, followed by Ontario at 10 per cent.

In Alberta, the generational divide is pronounced. More than half of residents aged 18 to 34 (54 per cent) and aged 35 to 54 (55 per cent) would make a go of it in B.C. The proportion drops to 41 per cent among those aged 55 and over.

B.C. also emerges victorious in Saskatchewan, albeit by a smaller margin. While 29 per cent of Saskatchewanians would choose British Columbia as their destination for resettlement, 26 per cent pick Alberta and 13 per cent select Ontario.

Manitoba’s numbers are similar to what was expressed by western neighbours: 27 per cent pick B.C., 24 per cent select Alberta and 11 per cent choose Ontario.

Manitobans who voted for the New Democratic Party NDP in last year’s provincial election place B.C. at the top of their list (30 per cent), while the first choice for those who cast ballots for the Progressive Conservatives is Alberta (29 per cent).

In Canada’s most populous province, the fondness for the Pacific Ocean is evident. Almost a third of Ontarians (32 per cent) would move to B.C. if they had to leave their current province, followed by Nova Scotia (15 per cent), Alberta (12 per cent) and Quebec (six per cent). More than a third of Ontarians aged 18 to 34 (37 per cent) would have no problem “starting over” in British Columbia.

Finally, we reach Quebec. While 19 per cent of Quebecers would relocate to British Columbia, more than a third (34 per cent) would head to Ontario. New Brunswick, perhaps attractive due to its bilingualism, is the choice for nine per cent of Quebecers, followed by Alberta (eight per cent).

Ontario is clearly the land of opportunity for Quebecers aged 18 to 34, with 46 per cent selecting it for relocation. The proportions drop to 23 per cent among those aged 35 to 54, and to 18 per cent along those aged 55 and over.

Our survey shows that relocation does not have a one-size-fits-all solution across the country. For starters, British Columbians appear confused, perhaps even terrified, about having to choose another province to call home. For others, regional proximity plays a significant role in what a move could look like. Still, British Columbia is appealing to young and middle-aged Albertans, soon-to-be-retired Saskatchewanians, centre-left leaning Manitobans and urban Ontarians who are already acquainted with expensive real estate.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on online surveys conducted from March 29-31, 2024, among 800 adults in B.C., 600 adults in Alberta, 600 adults in Saskatchewan, 600 adults in Manitoba, 600 adults in Ontario and 600 adults in Quebec. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region for each province. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for B.C. and four percentage points for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, 19 times out of 20.