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Living in Canada

The Cost of Living in Canada

The average cost of living in Canada varies depending on the city, province, and region, as well as your lifestyle and family size. Visit our Working in Canada section to learn more about salaries and other aspects of the job market. Canada is a developed country where excellent public services are available, making it possible to enjoy a high standard of living. Keep in mind, if you want to make the most of what is available to you and live a luxurious lifestyle, it may be expensive to live in Canada. However, it is possible to live a modest lifestyle at an affordable cost. It depends what you want out of this new experience.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

At a Glance

  • Toronto is the most expensive city in which to live, followed by Vancouver and Victoria. While “T-Dot” and “Hollywood North” are more expensive due to their cosmopolitan nature, Victoria’s magnetism comes from its natural beauty and high quality of life.
  • Workers must contribute to the publicly-funded healthcare system in Canada. These “free” public health services are only available to Canadian permanent residents and citizens.
  • Average university fees are lower than in the US and UK.
  • Rent prices between cities vary greatly. For example, it can cost 1,400 CAD (1,000 USD) more per month to live in a one-bedroom property in Toronto than in Québec.
  • A 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), is charged on purchases nationwide, except for items which are deemed essential. These items include basic groceries, prescribed medication, and feminine hygiene products.

Is it Expensive to Live in Canada?

It can be moderately expensive to live in Canada. Household costs, for example, can take up half of your take-home pay. These include things like housing, utilities, food, clothing, health insurance, and transportation.

Whether you are paying a mortgage or renting, the costliest expense in Canada is typically housing and utilities. Rent prices vary depending on the type of house you have and the location. It is best to do your research and compare different cities and neighborhoods before you move. For more information on housing and rent prices in Canada, read our Housing section.

The Most Expensive and Cheapest Cities

Among Canada’s most expensive cities are Vancouver and Toronto, although Toronto has the highest average cost of living by some distance. Some of Canada’s most affordable cities are Québec, Winnipeg, and Montréal.

Here is a look at the average cost of living across popular expat destinations in the country.

Annual Cost of Living in Canada by Cities

City Average Cost of Living (CAD) Average Cost of Living (USD)
Toronto 45,400 33,900
Vancouver 40,700 30,400
Calgary 33,900 25,300
Ottawa 33,400 25,000
Québec 25,400 19,000
Edmonton 32,600 24,300
Montréal 28,600 21,400
Winnipeg 28,100 21,000
Victoria 34,700 26,000
Halifax 31,200 23,300

Living Expenses in Canada

Costs in Canada include things like healthcare, education, travel and transport, utilities, housing, and food. There are different healthcare costs for expats and permanent residents, and utility costs vary for each province.

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Healthcare Costs

As covered in our Healthcare section, Canada’s universal healthcare system is paid for by taxpayers. The average person pays 6,000 CAD (4,300 USD) per year to maintain their free public healthcare. In this way, healthcare costs, such as childbirth, doctor’s visits, and check-ups are free. However, it is important to note that Canada’s free healthcare system is only available to Canadian permanent residents and citizens. Therefore, newly-landed expats will have to make sure they have some sort of international medical coverage and private health insurance.

Education Costs

In Canada, public elementary through secondary school is free, and offers good quality education to its students. There are some costs you may have to finance yourself, such as field trips, school supplies, extracurricular activity fees, and uniforms.

There is a cost for preschool, daycare, and childcare as the majority of these institutions are private. With regard to cost of living, childcare costs on average 10,000 CAD (7,000 USD) per year or 830 CAD (580 USD) per month. Childcare is most expensive in Toronto, at 1,400 CAD (1,000 USD) per month, while it is cheapest in Montréal, at 175 CAD (120 USD) per month.

If you wish to enroll your child in private school, it can cost anywhere between 4,000 CAD (2,860 USD) to 26,000 CAD (18,600 USD). International schools can also be pricey. In Toronto, for example, the average price of an international school is 2,000 CAD (1,400 USD) per month.

If your child wishes to pursue post-secondary education, tuition fees will apply. Canadian universities are cheaper than ones in the US, UK, and Australia, but also more expensive than in most European countries. Average undergraduate tuition fees per year for international students are 27,200 CAD (19,500 USD). Postgraduate international students can expect to pay an average of 16,500 CAD (11,800 USD).

Language School Costs

If you require language school training, this will also cost you unless you are part of the government-funded program which offers free language classes for permanent residents. The price will vary depending on your level, the type, and length of the class. For example, a two-week English course can cost a student anywhere between 600 and 900 CAD (430 and 650 USD).

Learn more about these costs in our Education section.

Utility Costs

The cost of utilities varies by province. In Ontario, for example, residents pay some of the highest rates for electricity. For water, sewer, and garbage, a house with one occupant can average an annual cost of 700 CAD (500 USD); two occupants will pay 1,100 CAD (790 USD); a family of three will pay 1,520 CAD (1,080 USD); and four people will pay 1,930 CAD (1,390 USD).

Internet, cell phone, and television bills are costly in Canada. In fact, for many expats, this can be one of the biggest surprises since the prices are a lot higher than what they may have paid back home. Many service providers offer packages with all of these services, but you should still be prepared to pay well over 100 CAD (75 USD) a month.

Monthly Utility Costs

Average Cost (CAD) Average Cost (USD)
Basic (electricity, gas, water) 75-250 50-180
Internet 50-100 35-70
Cell phone bill 25-210 18-150

Average Rent Prices in Canada

Canadian rent prices vary depending on the city and province in which you live. Across the country, the average rental price for a one-bedroom in the city center is 1,200 CAD (900 USD), and 980 CAD (730 USD) if outside the city center. For more information on this, read our Housing section.

Average rent prices for a one-bedroom in some of Canada’s main cities are as follows:

City Median Monthly Rent (CAD) Median Monthly Rent (USD)
Toronto 2,270 1,630
Vancouver 2,080 1,500
Burnaby 1,570 1,130
Montréal 1,500 1,080
Victoria 1,390 1,000
Kelowna 1,340 960
Barrie 1,330 950
Ottawa 1,250 900
Oshawa 1,200 860
Hamilton 1,120 800
London 990 710
Edmonton 950 680
Regina 890 640
Québec 880 630

Average Real Estate Prices in Canada

Buying a house in Canada is also an option. While the price of houses varies across the country, the average cost for buying a home in Canada is 495,000 CAD (355,000 USD). Note that if you plan on buying a house in Ontario, you may be subject to a 15% Non-Resident Speculation Tax on any property purchased, with interest.

Here is a look at average prices for purchasing property in Canada, by province and major city:

City Average House Cost (CAD) Average House Cost (USD)
Vancouver 1,092,000 784,000
Toronto 766,000 550,000
Calgary 431,000 310,000
Ottawa 382,000 275,000
Montréal 341,000 245,000
Halifax 316,000 226,000
Regina 276,000 200,000
Fredericton 173,000 125,000

 

Province Average House Cost (CAD) Average House Cost (USD)
British Columbia 730,000 525,000
Ontario 578,000 415,000
Alberta 387,000 280,000
Québec 297,000 213,000
Manitoba 296,000 212,000
Saskatchewan 288,000 206,000
Nova Scotia 249,000 180,000
Newfoundland and Labrador 246,000 175,000
Prince Edward Island 230,000 165,000
New Brunswick 178,000 130,000

Short-Term Rental Prices

If you need a short-term rental when you first arrive, here is the average range for hotels and other types of short-term accommodation:

Accommodation Cost per night (CAD) Cost per night (USD)
Christian Establishments 24-45 17-32
Bed-and-Breakfast 35-105 25-75
Hotels/Motels 45-250 32-180

Other Living Costs

Below is a look at other average prices and ranges for typical expenses in Canada, such as restaurant costs, food, and alcohol prices:

Grocery Prices

Average Cost (CAD) Average Cost (USD)
Carton of milk (1l) 1-4 1-3
White bread (500 g) 2-4 1-3
White rice (1kg) 2-6 1-4
A dozen eggs 3-5 2-4
Local cheese (1kg) 7-23 5-17
Chicken breasts (1kg) 9-20 6-15
Beef (1kg) 9-22 6-16
Cigarettes (1 pack) 12-16 9-12

Eating Out

  Average Cost (CAD) Average Cost (USD)
Budget meal at a restaurant 12–21 9-16
Average meal for two 50–83 37-62
Domestic beer (0.5 lt) 5–8 4-6
Imported beer (0.33 lt) 6–9 4-7

Travel and Transportation

Average Cost (CAD) Average Cost (USD)
One-way ticket local 3-4 2-3
Monthly pass 77-125 57-93
Taxi start 3-5 2-4
Taxi one km 2-3 1-2
Taxi one hour 27-45 20-34
Gasoline (1 lt) 1-2 1

 

Updated on: April 22, 2020
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