Canada is a favorite destination among expats from around the world.
Its cold climate may be a deterrent for some, but its inclusive culture, high quality of life, and upward mobility make it attractive for many.
Are you thinking about moving to Canada? Before you make any decisions, it’s important to understand how much it costs to live there.
Keep reading for our comparison of how the cost of living in Canada stacks up to other developed nations.
Housing Costs in Canada
Canada is a huge country, in fact, it is the second-largest country by landmass (Russia is first). And where you live depends on what you’ll pay for housing.
The beautiful city of Vancouver is one of the most popular destinations for expats, which also makes it among the most expensive cities in Canada.
Cost of Living in Canada with Rent
Monthly rent comparable to metro areas like London or New York (outside of ultra-expensive Manhattan). For a furnished small apartment (one bedroom) in an expensive neighborhood, you can expect to pay about 2,000 USD per month. In Canadian currency, that equals about 2,680 Canadian dollars (CAD).
Expect to pay slightly less in other major Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Ontario, and Calgary. These mid-range cities offer the same high quality of life as Vancouver, at a slightly discounted rate.
If you prefer a more remote area or a smaller town, you’ll pay a lot less. In Saskatoon, for example, you can find a furnished one-bedroom apartment for less than 1,000 USD per month.
Food and Entertainment Prices in Canada
With its cold climate, much of the food in Canada is imported. That means the costs are slightly higher than what you would pay for similar products in the U.S. But compared to Western Europe, food in Canada is a bit cheaper.
Going out on the town for dinner in large cities, such as Montreal and Vancouver, will cost you. You can expect to pay prices similar to what you would pay in Chicago or other major metro areas. Like housing, meals cost less in smaller cities and more remote towns.
Healthcare Costs in Canada
Most people in the U.S. are well aware of Canada’s “free” health care system. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
Yes, Canadians have a government-funded healthcare system that covers basic health care. Funded by taxpayers, the definition of “basic care” varies from province to province.
The Canadian healthcare system is good – but there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about it. Most people think that Canadians don’t need to purchase health insurance at all. The truth is, many citizens (and many expats) choose to purchase additional coverage for things that aren’t covered in the “basic” plan.
Transportation Costs in Canada
Aside from housing, food, and healthcare, it’s also important to consider what it will cost you to drive and get around in Canada. The majority of Canadians drive, and public transport is only viable inside urban areas.
According to Cross Border Shopping, gas in the U.S. costs about 20% – 25% less than fuel in Canada. If you tend to drive long distances or have a lengthy commute, this can make a huge difference. In comparison to European cities, the price of gas in Canada is about the same.
Cost of Living in Canada by City
The cost of living in a country as large as Canada can vary widely by city. Living in the countryside instead of a major city can save you money. Likewise, the cost of living in certain provinces will be very different as well. If you have the flexibility to choose where you want to live, consider the cost of living in the city you are moving to compared to other nearby locations. You will find that you will be able to save significantly.
Most Expensive Cities to Live in Canada
As discussed, the major cities in Canada are the most expensive. Here is a list of the five most expensive cities to live in Canada:
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Toronto, Ontario
- Victoria, British Columbia
- Calgary, Alberta
- Hamilton-Burlington, Ontario
Cheapest Places to Live in Canada
Conversely, some of the more affordable places to live are outside of the major cities. The province of Quebec, in particular, is very affordable and a wonderful place to relocate. Here is a list of the top ten most affordable places to live in Canada:
- Sherbrooke, Quebec
- Laval, Quebec
- Saguenay, Quebec
- Lévis, Quebec
- Terrebonne, Quebec
- Longueuil, Quebec
- Moncton, New Brunswick
- Trois-Rivières, Quebec
- Abbotsford, British Columbia
- St. Catharines, Ontario
Summary of the Cost of Living in Canada
Just like in the United States and Western Europe, where you live in Canada will determine your monthly expenses.
In major cities like Montreal and Vancouver, living expenses are similar to major cities in the U.S. and Europe. In smaller towns and less populated provinces, you’ll pay less compared to the United States.
To figure out a budget and determine exactly what your cost of living will be, you first have to decide where in Canada you want to live.
If you’re leaving a small town for the big city life, be prepared to pay for it. If you’re leaving a big city for a smaller, more remote Canadian location, you’ll likely pay much less.