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Living in Vancouver
The Cost of Living in Vancouver
If you are moving to Vancouver, you need to factor in the average cost of living as part of your relocation plan. So, is it expensive to live in the Vancouver? It is. In fact, the city is considered one of the most expensive in Canada, together with Toronto. Even so, Vancouver is a very popular expat destination, scoring high on all international standard of living indexes. It is clean, safe, and offers its residents a vibrant and multi-cultural lifestyle.
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At a Glance
- Rent is particularly expensive here. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs an average of 2,000 CAD (1,500 USD). You will have to consider other monthly expenses, such as mobile phone plans, groceries, and transport, which are pricier than in the rest of Canada. However, wages in Vancouver also tend to be high.
- Vancouver’s public transportation system is called TransLink. It is reliable and covers nearly all of the metropolitan area. It is composed by a network of buses, trains, ferries (SeaBus), and a commuter train service. You can buy single journeys at around 3 CAD (2.25 USD) or purchase a reusable Compass Card with credit, which is deducted for each journey. The monthly transport pass will cost you around 100 CAD (75 USD).
- The quality of the healthcare system in Vancouver is excellent. It covers everyone who legally resides in British Columbia through the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Residents pay a monthly premium, which is deducted from their wages. This provides coverage for all doctors, specialists, and even surgery. The co-payments are low.
- The minimum wage in Vancouver is 14.60 CAD (10.90 USD) per hour and is set to increase to 15.20 (11.35 USD) in June 2021. The minimum wage applies regardless of how you are paid; hourly, salary, by commission or on an incentive basis. If someone’s wage is below the minimum when dividing the hours worked versus the total paid, it is mandatory for the employer to cover the difference.
Average Cost of Living in Vancouver
What is the average cost of living in Vancouver? Living in Vancouver is not cheap. Together with Toronto, they are considered the most expensive cities in Canada.
The average salary in Vancouver is about 75,000 CAD (56,000 USD) per year. To put it in perspective, the monthly cost of living in Vancouver for a single person is estimated at around 1,180 CAD (885 USD), while the average for a family of four comes to about 4,350 CAD (3,250 USD). These estimates do not include rent. Read on to learn the difference in rental prices between accommodation in and outside of the city center.
For everything you need to know about what life is all about in this Canadian metropolis, read our Living in Vancouver section.
Is it Expensive to Live in the Vancouver?
Vancouver is is an expat favorite because the city offers a high quality of life. Canada in general, is consistently well-ranked in the quality of life indexes (e.g. Quality of Life, Health and Well-Being, Safety and Security) in the Expat Insider Survey. Moreover, Vancouver itself ranked Nº3 in the latest Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking.
It is undeniable that life in Vancouver is good. But overall, is it expensive to live there? It is indeed, but wages are high. Therefore, how comfortably you live will mainly depend on your lifestyle. The most important expense to factor in the is the cost of accommodation.
What are the Rent Prices like in Vancouver?
Vancouver is notorious for high rent prices. Below, you can find a comparison between the average rent pricesfor apartments in Vancouver in and outside of the city center.
Rent prices in the city center:
|Apartment type||Average rent (CAD)||Average rent (USD)|
Rent prices outside the city center:
|Apartment type||Average rent (CAD)||Average rent (USD)|
When you move to Vancouver, one of the most difficult steps of your relocation will be finding your ideal home. The city’s housing market is very competitive, and it’s currently facing a lack of affordable housing in almost all neighborhoods. We understand how stressful it can be to secure the right home when the competition is high, and you are in a city you don’t know. Our local advisors help you secure your ideal home. Contact our Home Finding team today to learn how.
Cost of Living in Vancouver
When you calculate your living expenses in the Toronto, you need to consider, at the very least, your monthly rent, travel and transportation costs, grocery prices, utility costs (e.g. electricity, internet, gas, water), education, and healthcare costs.
The overall average (without rent) for a single person versus a family of four are as follows:
- Family of four estimated monthly costs: 4,400 CAD (3,300 USD).
- Single person estimated monthly costs: 1,200 CAD (900 USD).
Average Grocery Prices in Vancouver
Overall, Vancouver is an expensive city to live in. Aside from rent, everyday expenses, such as groceries, are pricey too. But, as salaries are higher too, the impact on your finances will not as bad as it seems at first glance.
To give you an idea, we compiled a table with common everyday expenses for a typical household:
|Vancouver Food & Alcohol Prices||CAD||USD|
|Meal, inexpensive restaurant, per person||18.00||13.50|
|Dining out for two People, mid-range restaurant, three-course meal per person||75.00||56.00|
|1 kg (2 lb.) chicken fillets||16.00||12.00|
|1 liter (1/4 gallon) of milk||2.50||1.90|
|1 kg (2 lb.) of tomatoes||4.30||3.20|
|0.5 kg (16 oz.) of cheese||9.80||7.30|
|1 kg (2 lb.) of apples||3.95||2.95|
|1 bottle of beer||4.00||3.00|
|1 bottle of red wine (mid-range)||18.50||13.80|
|0.5 kg (1 lb.) of bread||3.20||2.40|
Estimated Utility Costs in Vancouver
|Average Utility Costs in Vancouver per month||CAD||USD|
|Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage for 85m2 Apartment||100||75|
The Most Expensive and Cheapest Neighborhoods in Vancouver
West End —Downtown Vancouver
Surrounded by Stanley Park on one side and the ocean on the other, the West End neighborhood is located on the west of Vancouver’s downtown area and is one of the most affordable districts in the center. The most interesting aspect about the West End is its types of housing, which are just as diverse as its residents. This neighborhood is especially LGBTQ+ friendly and home to a growing diverse community.
- Rent prices range from 1,500 CAD (1,120 USD) for a one-bedroom apartment to 3,000 CAD (2,250 USD) for a two-bedroom.
Yaletown —Downtown Vancouver
Vancouver’s most popular, but also most expensive neighborhood used to be a rail yard in the 19th century.Today, the former loading docks are hip restaurants, trendy cafés, and nightclubs. Yaletown has money and this shows in the rent prices.
- A one-bedroom apartment in a high-rise building can cost about 2,300 CAD (1,720 USD) per month.
If your priority is space over location, then this spot may be right for you. The area is situated along the Fraser River, and also has a lot of green spaces, good schools, and shops for everyday necessities.
- It is one of the last remaining neighborhoods with affordable homes starting at 1,700 CAD (1,270 USD) per
Kitsilano is an up-and-coming area for young families. Rent prices are reasonable and it is surrounded by two popular beaches (Kits and Jericho). It also has an amazing view to Downtown and the North Shore Mountains.
- The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around 1,800 CAD (1,350 USD) per month.
This neighborhood is more popular among retirees who enjoy a slower pace of life. However, many young families live in Kerrisdale because rent is not as high as in Downtown Vancouver. This neighborhood has everything people need for everyday life, including the famous Kerisdale Village with some of the city’s best shops. The commute to the business district center takes around 25-30 minutes.
- A small two-bedroom home costs around 2,200 CAD (1,650 USD).
North Vancouver (Lynn Valley and City of Burnaby)
Since Downtown is expensive, North Vancouver neighborhoods are becoming increasingly popular. Both Lynn Valley and Burnaby are ideal areas for those looking to escape the chaos of the city center.
- A two-to-three-bedroom apartment starts at 2,000 CAD (1,500 USD).
For more information on everything you need to know about this favorite expat destination, visit our Comprehensive Guide about Living Well in Vancouver.
Cost of Education in Vancouver
Vancouver’s public-school system is highly respected internationally. You don’t need to send your child to a private school to give them an advantage. Be aware that most schools have different profiles. While some place more emphasis on the arts, music, or sports, others offer bilingual programs for the large French or Chinese community living in Vancouver. All in all, the school system has a reputation for high academic performance.
If you decide to enroll your children in the private education system or at annternational school in Vancouver be prepared to pay hefty sums. Yearly fees range from 18,000 CAD (13,550 USD) to 60,000 CAD (45,150 USD).
Learn more about Canada’s school system in our Education section of our Canada Guide.
Vancouver Healthcare Cost
The Vancouver healthcare system is publicly funded by the Medical Services Plan (MSP), which covers all residents. You pay a low premium that is deducted from your wages. This provides cover for all doctors and specialists’ appointments, as well as surgery. The co-payments are very low, sometimes almost non-existent. You are only eligible for the MSP care if you have a residence permit. Otherwise, you will need private health insurance.
For detailed information on this topic, visit our section Health Insurance and the Healthcare System of the Canada Explained.
Vancouver Public Transportation
You can either buy a single use ticket around 3 CAD (2.25 USD) per ride or a reusable Compass Card with credit, which is deducted for each journey. The monthly transport pass will cost you around 100 CAD (75 USD).
Buses in Vancouver
Vancouver has a lot of bus routes throughout the city. The busiest and most popular routes connect Downtown with the more popular neighborhoods around the urban and beach areas, and run from 5:00 to 1:00. After that, a night line fills in until the normal daytime schedule picks up again.
SkyTrain runs on electricity and is the city’s most environmentally-friendly public transportation. It is also the world’s longest automated light rail transit system, covering 49.5 km of track. This is mostly elevated, so it feels like you are flying—hence the name SkyTrain.
There are three lines available connecting Downtown Vancouver to the suburbs. The Expo and Canada Line run every two to five minutes through Downtown. The Millennium Line runs east from Vancouver every three to six minutes. The lines operate daily from 5:30 to around 1:00.
This special passenger-only ferry connects Downtown Vancouver’s waterfront to the North Shore and departs every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes during the night, with the last SeaBus leaving at 1:00 in the morning. The scenic route across the water takes about 12 minutes, where you can enjoy an amazing view to the city, the sea, and the mountains.
West Coast Express
The West Coast Express is a commuter service that connects suburbs on the outskirts of town, which are not linked to SkyTrain and buses, with Downtown Vancouver. This service is part of the public transit system and offers only five departures in the morning and late afternoon to evening, Monday to Friday.
Vancouver has four major cab companies that all charge around the same fares. A ride around Downtown costs about 5 CAD (3.75 USD), whereas the drive from the airport to Downtown is about 40 CAD (30 USD).
You can also use apps such as Uber and Lyft. Lyft charges a 2.50 CAD (1.90 USD) base fee and a 2.50 CAD (1.90 USD) service fee, as well as additional charges 0.65 CAD (0.50 USD) per kilometre and 0.33 CAD (0.25 USD) per minute. Uber costs include a 2.50 CAD (1.90 USD) base fare and a 2.00 CAD (1.50 USD) booking fee, plus 0.70 (0.50 USD) CAD per km and 0.33 (0.25 USD) CAD per min.