Everything You Need to Know About the Cost of Living in Canada

February 14th, 2023

Canada is one of the most popular destinations among expats worldwide for a good reason. The country is very welcoming to immigrants, and Canadians are famous for being polite and friendly. While it does get cold up there, Canada’s high quality of life and inclusive culture make it an appealing place to live in.

If you’re thinking about moving to this vibrant country, it’s a good idea to consider the cost of living in Canada. However, that will depend on the location you choose, as costs vary in different parts of the country.

This article explores the cost of living in different parts of Canada, which can help you make the best decision regarding the area you want to move into.

Is Canada Expensive to Live In?

Canada has similar living costs to that of the US. While some things, such as gas, tend to cost more in Canada, things like rent are lower. That’s especially true compared to major cities like New York or Los Angeles. Nevertheless, in most cases, Canada has similar costs as the US.

Much like in the United States, the cost of living in Canada can vary widely depending on where you live, as each province is different and has its own government and tax rates. More popular and populated provinces typically cost more to live in, while places that are more out of the way and less busy tend to be cheaper.

That said, living in the countryside instead of a major city can help you save money. But if you want to live near a major city and still save some money, consider moving to the nearby suburbs.

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What Is the Average Cost of Living in Canada?

Housing Costs in Canada

Housing costs in Canada depend a lot on where you live. For example, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in Canada and one of the most popular destinations for expats. That said, monthly rent in Vancouver can be compared to cities like London and New York (except Manhattan).

For a one-bedroom apartment in an expensive neighborhood, the prices range between $1,600 - $1,950 per month. Outside the city center, you can expect to pay around $2,040 - $2,500 per month for a three-bedroom apartment. In addition, utility costs can be anywhere between $75 - $92 and internet tends to cost $55 - $67 per month on average.

If you’re planning to move to Toronto, you can expect to pay around $1,480 - $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center per month. A three-bedroom home in the suburbs tends to cost around $2,050 - $2,500 per month, with utilities costing around $108 - $132 per month and internet around $50 - $60.

Note that these are some of the most expensive cities to live in Canada. Other places tend to be less expensive.

For example, a one-bedroom apartment in Montreal can cost you about $970 - $1,200, while a three-bedroom home can be anywhere between $1,620 - $1,975. Calgary has similar housing costs to that of Montreal, with a one-bedroom apartment costing from $950 - $1,180, and a three-bedroom apartment holding the price of $1,700 - $2,080.

For a one-bedroom apartment in Ottawa, you can expect to pay $1,180, while a three-bedroom home tends to cost around $1,780 - $2,175 per month. Other cities, like Winnipeg, have smaller housing costs with the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment being $750 - $900, and $1,160 - $1,425 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Food Prices in Canada

Due to the cold climate, Canada has a short growing season for fresh fruits and vegetables. For this reason, Canada imports around ⅔ of its fruits and vegetables, making them more expensive than in the US or Europe.

Like housing prices, meals tend to cost more in larger cities. If you live in a large city like Vancouver, you can expect to pay for dinner at a mid-range restaurant around $80 - $98.

Naturally, cooking at home will cost you significantly less. For example, a one-pound bag of potatoes will cost around $1 -$1.17, and for one pound of rice, you can expect to pay $1.30 - $1.55. Here are some costs of other common grocery items:

  • One pound of chicken breasts costs around $4.47 - $5.47.
  • A dozen of eggs costs $2.71 - $3.31.
  • One 0.5 l bottle of beer costs around $1.49 - $3.05.
  • One pound of apples will cost you about $1.46 - $1.78.

Transportation Expenses in Canada

Most Canadians drive as public transport is only available in urban areas. And for a gallon of gas, you can expect to pay around $5.36 - $6.56.

The Most Expensive Places to Live in Canada

The major cities in Canada have a lot to offer, but they come at a price. Here are some of the most expensive places to live in Canada:

  • Toronto, Ontario: Toronto is Canada’s biggest city and has similarities with New York in terms of variety, busyness, and multicultural. Ontario is the most expensive city in Canada but it ranks only 89th in the world.
  • Vancouver, British Columbia: Vancouver, the second most expensive city in Canada, sits amid the natural beauty of Canada’s west coast. It’s a popular place to live in due to its milder climate, forests, ocean, mountains, and flourishing art scene.
  • Montreal, Quebec: If you plan to live in Montreal, you’ll have to learn French. This bilingual city is famous for its multiculturalism, distinct Quebecois culture, and sophistication. It’s also one of the oldest cities in Canada.
  • Ottawa, Ontario: Ottawa is the federal capital city of Canada. And while it has a reputation for being a bit staid, it still offers vibrant music festivals, museums, and beautiful nature preserves.
  • Calgary, Alberta: Once known as Cowtown, Calgary sits near the foot of the Canadian Rockies. It’s one of Canada’s most recognizable places.

The Cheapest Places to Live in Canada

As we mentioned, places outside of the major cities tend to be more affordable. Some smaller cities are also less expensive. That said, here are some of the most affordable places to live in Canada that are either close to major cities or in areas with a lot of natural beauty:

  • Longueuil, Quebec: Next to Laval, Longueuil is Montreal’s second-biggest suburb. It sits on the opposite bank of St. Lawrence, making it easy to access Montreal for a much lower price. This city combines vintage charm with modern convenience and is home to Canada’s space agency.
  • Lèvis, Quebec: This city shows the more industrial side of Quebec. Situated across the St. Lawrence River from a major urban center, it’s close enough to the provincial capital for a significantly lower cost.
  • Brockville, Ontario: Brockville is a family-oriented town sitting on the banks of St. Lawrence. It’s about an hour and a half outside Ottawa and around the same distance from Montreal and Toronto.
  • Weyburn, Saskatchewan: This city is located over an hour from Regina, the province’s largest city. It’s a peaceful, affordable place that is still vibrant.
  • Prince George, British Columbia: Prince George is the largest city in the northern half of the westernmost province situated far from the coast and closer to the Yukon territory. The easy-going rural lifestyle, low cost of living, and natural surroundings are attractive to many people, so they choose to live there.

The Cost of Living in Canada Depends on Your Location

Like in other countries, the cost of living in Canada will largely depend on your location. Typically, living in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver will cost you more - living expenses are similar to major cities in Europe and the United States. On the other hand, smaller places in Canada still offer a lot, but at a significantly lower price. That’s especially true for cities located near the capitals.

Therefore, to determine what your cost of living in Canada will be, you need to decide where you want to live. Fortunately, Canada has a lot to offer, whether you live in a large, busy city or a rural, family area.

Before moving to Canada, it’s a good idea to exchange your money for Canadian dollars beforehand. This way you can avoid the unnecessary stress of thinking about exchanging money when you get there, and enjoy the perks of competitive rates.

One of the best ways to exchange your dollars online is through US First Exchange. We have a wide range of currencies from around the world at the most competitive rates. And all you need to do is order online, and we’ll deliver it right to your doorstep in no time.

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