Re: Moving countries and major life choices
I have lived in Calgary and spent quite a bit of time in Vancouver. Here's my 2 cents worth on the 3 cities you chose:
Vancouver: Good music scene, warm (relatively speaking), housing can be
expensive (especially right in Vancouver), good universities, potential for
longer commutes (depending on where you live in relation to school or work), laid back liberal attitude, quite tolerant of pot smoking (subjective on whether this is a pro or con), close to Whistler and other mountains (skiing, snowboarding, mountainbiking, hiking), right on the Pacific Ocean, close to the U.S. (Seattle, Portland are great cities as well), in winter, much of the season is overcast and rainy.
Calgary: Very prosperous city (this can change quickly if oil prices tank), very close to Rocky Mountains (Banff, Lake Louis, Kananaskis etc.), attractive city full of young professionals (however, there are also a lot of people trying to 'keep up with the Jonses' with regards to materialism (cars, houses)), I was disappointed with the Ecology Program when I interviewed to do my Masters, traffic can be a bi***, housing prices have skyrocketed in the last 5 years, relatively weak music scene (most bands move to Vancouver when they hit it big - e.g. Nickelback - love 'em or hate 'em).
Toronto: Tank's comments are quite accurate from what I understand (Toronto is the city that I have the least experience with). I think you can also add the smog factor (Toronto is also known as 'The Big Smoke').
In Canada, taxes are much higher than our American neighbours (income tax, sales tax). These taxes bring some benfits as well (subsidized education, free universal health care). In most cases, the hospitals are bursting at the seams (due to underfunded public system) so you might not get as quick attention as you would from a private health care provider.
Canada can also get a little cold (Tuesday and Wednesday were -53 degrees Celcius with windchill where I live). However, the summers are nice!