Cost of living in Canada: Your guide

Zorica Lončar

Universal healthcare, a socially progressive government, a reputation for kindness and geography perfect for hikers, skiers, sailors, photographers and urbanites alike. It’s easy to see why so many people from around the world have considered moving to Canada.

If you’re among those who have decided to take the plunge, one of the first steps is figuring out how much it will cost to move, and how much it will cost to live once you get there.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the cost of living in Canada, so you’re ready to settle down in any of the country’s six time zones.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to Canada for good, using a service like Wise could help you reduce your overall costs. Now you can send, receive and organise your money internationally, without hefty fees.

How expensive is Canada in comparison to other countries?

One of the first things you’ll have to consider when it comes to your finances is the exchange rate. How much the money from your home country will amount to in Canadian dollars and how far that gets you, but also what types of fees you might pay to convert your money.

This becomes especially pressing if you’ll still be earning income in your home currency, as you’ll be faced with currency exchanges on a pretty regular basis.

Unfortunately, most banks and money exchange services tend to markup the exchange rate to increase their profits. By making money on the rate, they’re able to keep their conversion fees low.

This sneaky method can trick you into believing you’re getting a good deal, but is ultimately pretty expensive. When you’re converting your funds make sure to check a currency converter for the current, mid-market exchange rate.

Wise can help

If you need to send money to or from Canada, you can use the Wise multi-currency account and get a fair rate. It lets you hold money in 40+ currencies and you can also use the Wise international debit card when you travel.

Give it a try. Try Wise today and cut back on fees.

The currency

Once you’ve dealt with the currency exchange, you’ll have a bank account full of Canadian dollars, typically just referred to as dollars or by their slang name, “loonies.” While in Canada, it’s most common to denote money with just a dollar sign ($), which is sometimes written as C$ or Can$ to distinguish it from other dollar-based currencies. It’s also sometimes written as CAD.

The list below shows the approximate value of Canadian dollars at the time of writing, compared to a few major currencies:

  • $1000 = C$1343
  • £1000 = C$1550
  • €1000 = C$1553
  • A$1000 = C$874

Additionally, the following chart compares some basic costs (in Canadian dollars) across Canada and four major countries, to give you an idea of general pricing for day to day expenses.

Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
Toronto, Canada ¹C$2,243C$101C$156
Montreal, Canada ²C$1,407C$90C$94
London, UK ³C$2,996C$101C$235
New York City, USA ⁴C$5,271C$132C$174
Berlin, Germany ⁵C$1,674C$81C$116
Sydney, Australia ⁶C$2,144C$100C$190

What are the most expensive and cheapest major cities?

Cities across Canada can vary widely in how expensive they are. The following table lists the top five most expensive cities to live in Canada. ⁷

  1. Toronto, Ontario
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia
  3. Montreal, Quebec
  4. Ottawa, Ontario
  5. Calgary, Alberta

What are general living expenses like in Canada?

Total Living Expenses in Toronto ¹Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)C$1,392
1 person, per year (without rent)C$15,948
4 person family, per month (without rent)C$4,848
4 person family, per year (without rent)C$58,176
Living Expenses in Montreal ²Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)C$1,150
1 person, per year (without rent)C$13,800
4 person family, per month (without rent)C$4,239
4 person family, per year (without rent)C$50,868

What are the average salaries in Canada?

With the cost of living in mind, the other major financial consideration is how much you’ll make. Depending on where in Canada you choose to settle, your salary could differ massively as employers compensate for the cost of their city. If you’re not planning to keep your job back home, the following tables will give you an idea of what kind of salary you can expect in your industry in Toronto or Montreal.

Salary averages for Toronto ⁸Average salary
financial analystC$52,067
graphic designerC$37,966
mobile developerC$53,257
product managerC$69,402
software engineerC$57,673
web developerC$43,663
Salary averages for Montreal ⁹Average salary
financial analystC$42,722
graphic designerC$33,831
mobile developerC$57,956
product managerC$59,398
software engineerC$52,127
web developerC$42,015

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Canada?

No matter where in the world you move, rent is always going to be one of the biggest items in your budget, typically taking up 35% to 50% of your monthly expenses. The following tables detail rent prices across three of Canada’s biggest cities.

Renting in Montreal¹⁰Average cost
large apartmentC$1,394
medium apartmentC$1,179
small apartmentC$925
student dorm room ¹³C$380
Renting in Toronto ¹²Average cost
large apartmentC$2,408
medium apartmentC$2,028
small apartmentC$1,648
student dorm room ¹³C$7,975 - C$12,635/term
Renting in Calgary ¹⁴Average cost
large apartmentC$1,775
medium apartmentC$1,521
small apartmentC$1,255
student dorm room ¹⁵C$3,900 - C$12,750/term

What about healthcare and dental costs in Canada?

One of Canada’s major attractions is the free healthcare system, meaning you won’t pay any direct fee for most healthcare services or going to the emergency room. ¹⁶

As with the majority of countries with this type of healthcare, it’s funded by the country’s tax system. According to the 2022 data, the average person pays about C$8,563 per year to maintain the no-cost system. ¹⁷

Though taxes at that level can seem pretty high to foreigners, Canadians mostly agree it’s not too much to pay for the relatively limitless healthcare system, as they’re able to maintain relatively good health.

However, it’s important to note that the free healthcare system is currently available only to Canadian citizens and those with a permanent residence permit. ¹⁶

Here are some healthcare services and their average cost:

Healthcare service ¹⁶Average cost
Doctor’s visits$0
Diagnostic tests$0
Hospital care$0
Dental servicesAvailable through an extended plan

How much does travel and transportation cost in Canada?

Much like their southern counterparts in the US, Canadians tend to drive everywhere. However, over 20% of them use public transport for their daily commute. Biking to work is the third most popular option, with around 10% of Canadians relying on it as their main method of transport. ¹⁸

Transportation and vehicle prices ¹⁹Average cost
gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)C$1.98
monthly transport passC$100
bus ticket, single useC$3.25
taxi tariff, 1kmC$2
Toyota Corolla Sedan, newC$25,487
Volkswagen Golf, newC$28,000

How much does education cost?

Like most other countries, Canadians enjoy a free public school system for children up to age 18. For higher education, prices in Canada are relatively low compared to universities in the US, UK and Australia. ²⁰

The following table will give you an idea of education costs in Canada.

SchoolAverage yearly cost
preschool ²⁰From C$450 a month
University of Toronto tuition ²¹C$6,100 - C$67,430
York University tuition ²²C$7,153 - C$38,826

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Canada?

Everybody has a different standard when it comes to being financially comfortable. It also depends on where you live, since big cities are more expensive. On average, a single person living in Canada would be comfortable with at least C$45,000 per year. Couples would need at least C$50,000. ²³

Cost of living in Canada vs. UK

According to Mercer’s Cost of Living City Ranking, London is significantly more expensive than any Canadian city. The UK capital comes at number 15 on the list, while Toronto is at 89 as the most expensive place in Canada. ⁷

When comparing rent costs in these two cities, London takes the crown again with around 30% higher prices. Utilities are more than 2x cheaper in Toronto, while the internet bill is one of the rare things that are more expensive in Canada. However, the overall comparison lines up with the fact that average salaries are bigger in the UK. ²⁴

All in all, Canada has always been known as a great place to live. However, the cost of living in Canada could be something to get used to compared to your home country. Household costs will take up about 50% of your salary so it’s important to come well prepared.

Make sure you’re getting the most out of your money by using the Wise multi-currency account to send money to and from Canada. There’s no exchange rate markup and no hidden fees. No matter where in Canada you decide to live, good luck with your move!

Join Wise today

Sources used for this article:

  1. Numbeo - cost of living in Toronto
  2. Numbeo - cost of living in Montreal
  3. Numbeo - cost of living in London
  4. Numbeo - cost of living in New York
  5. Numbeo - cost of living in Berlin
  6. Numbeo - cost of living in Sydney
  7. Mercer - most expensive cities in the world list
  8. Teleport - salaries in Toronto
  9. Teleport - salaries in Montreal
  10. Teleport - cost of living in Montreal
  11. Universite de Montreal - housing
  12. Teleport - cost of living in Toronto
  13. University of Toronto Mississauga - housing
  14. Teleport - cost of living in Calgary
  15. Collegedunia - student accommodation in Calgary
  16. Government of Canada - Canada healthcare system
  17. CIHI - health spending in Canada
  18. Statista - modes of transportation for commuting in Canada in 2022
  19. Numbeo - cost of living in Canada
  20. Internations - school costs in Canada
  21. University of Toronto - tuition
  22. University of York- tuition
  23. Spring Financial - cost of living in Canada
  24. Numbeo - cost of living comparison Toronto vs. London
  25. Wise - terms and conditions & pricing

Sources checked on 9-Nov-2022.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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