Cost of living in Canada (2022)

Gabriela Peratello
21.02.22
7 minute read

Universal healthcare, a socially progressive government, a reputation for kindness and a 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 hit the ground running.

📑 Table of Contents

What’s the cost of living in Canada vs the US?

The currency used in Canada is the Canadian Dollar. It’s 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 ($), it’s sometimes written as C$ or Can$ to distinguish it from other dollar-based currencies. It’s also sometimes written as CAD.

Let’s start with some basic costs (in US dollars) across Canada and 3 major US cities, to give you an idea of general pricing for day to day expenses. These costs do not cover rent — we’ll look more at housing costs later.

CityAverage monthly cost for 1 personAverage monthly cost for a family of four
Montreal¹878 USD3,239 USD
Ottawa²952 USD3,457 USD
Toronto³963 USD3,494 USD
Vancouver⁴941 USD3,460 USD
New York⁵1,356 USD4,979 USD
Boston⁶1,149 USD4,125 USD
Los Angeles⁷1,061 USD3,836 USD

Note: Data correct at time of research 9 February 2022

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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 key Canadian cities:

JobMontreal⁸Ottawa⁹Toronto¹⁰Vancouver¹¹
Dentist96,585 USD122,926 USD82,926 USD73,170 USD
Finance manager58,395 USD55,385 USD68,629 USD58,395 USD
Software engineer52,127 USD56,009 USD57,673 USD57,673 USD
Nurse34.441 USD43,387 USD46,965 USD46,516 USD
Chef28,620 USD26,489 USD31,969 USD42,930 USD

Note: Data from Teleport, correct at time of writing — 9 February 2022

How much does it cost to live in Canada?

Let’s move on to the details — how much does daily life usually cost in Canada?

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 four of Canada’s biggest cities.

Renting a house or apartment in Canada

Here’s a rundown of the average monthly rental cost of different property types in key Canadian cities, all shows in USD for convenience:

City1 bed apartment in city center1 bed apartment outside of city center3 bed apartment in city center3 bed apartment outside of city center
Montreal¹1,005.06 USD735.58 USD1,800.31 USD1,274.85 USD
Ottawa²1,280.15 USD968.80 USD2,167.57 USD1,624.24 USD
Toronto³1,592.83 USD1,365.54 USD2,764.76 USD2,211.81 USD
Vancouver⁴1,674.23 USD1,340.17 USD3,299.72 USD2,341.59 USD

Note: Data correct at time of writing — 21 February 2022

How much does a house cost in Canada?

Prefer to buy a place as an investment or to live in while you’re in Canada? Here are the approximate costs of homes in major cities. Again, we’ve kept the data in USD to make it easier to build a budget.

CityPrice in city center (sqft)Price outside of city center (sqft)
Montreal¹547.06 USD282.39 USD
Ottawa²405.36 USD282.38 USD
Toronto³838.28 USD681.56 USD
Vancouver⁴890.74 USD655.35 USD

Note: Data correct at time of writing — 21 February 2022

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 doctors’ visits, the dentist, getting your eyes checked, going to the emergency room, or any other medical visit.

As with the majority of countries with this type of healthcare, it’s funded by the country’s tax system. The average person pays about 4,222 CAD per year to maintain the no-cost system, while a family of four pays about 11,735 CAD.

Though taxes at that level can seem pretty high to foreigners, all in all Canadians mostly agree it’s not too much to pay for the relatively limitless healthcare system.

How much does travel and transportation cost in Canada?

Much like their southern counterparts in the US, Canadians tend to drive everywhere. That being said, the popularity of biking to work is increasing.

In fact, some neighborhoods in Halifax, Vancouver, and Quebec City see 20% of commuters getting to work by bike, though this statistic dips significantly through the cold winter months.

In major cities it’s also fairly common for residents to use public transport, buses and trains, though automobiles remain king in the Canadian commute. It’s also worth noting the prevalence of air travel, as Canada is a large country and cars and trains don’t suffice for some longer trips, especially coast to coast.

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, though they’re somewhat less affordable than European countries where universities are often subsidized by the government.

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How much does it cost to move to Canada?

Moving abroad is always going to be expensive. However, exactly how much you’ll need to pay will depend a lot on how you intend to manage your move.

If you’re traveling light and will be taking everything with you in your vehicle or as luggage your costs will be pretty low. However, shipping your entire household goods will naturally cost an awful lot more.

Online estimates of moving costs range from a fairly low 1,500 USD through to over 7,000 USD based on where you’re traveling from and the volume of goods you need to move.

The easiest way to see how much it will cost to move from the US to Canada in your case is to get a quote from a cost comparison site or local relocation agency where you live.

🎯 Here are a couple of options to try in the first instance

Does Canada pay you to live there?

It’s a great headline — but for most US citizens moving to Canada the reality is that the Canadian government is not going to pay them to do so.

The program which likely generated the idea that Canada was paying people to move there is a Graduate Retention Program which is in place in Saskatchewan¹². The criteria for this program include that you’ve graduated recently from a qualified higher education institute and come to live in the province.

If you’re eligible, it’s true that you could stand to gain up to 20,000 CAD in rebates through tax deductions, which are intended to offset the costs of getting your higher education. However, for most people moving to Canada to live or work, unfortunately the government is unlikely to hand over cash to see you immigrate.

Best cities to live in Canada: overview and main costs

If you’ve been offered a job in Canada or are headed there to study, you may have already decided where to live. However, if your options are open it’s worth doing a bit of research into different locations.

Canada is a big country which means there’s something for everyone whether you prefer a busy city or a rural retreat. Here are a few of the key locations expats tend to live in Canada.

Cost of living in British Columbia

vancouver

Over on the west of Canada, British Columbia is home to Vancouver, and the province capital Victoria — both of which are common expat destination choices.

The province is said to be the most diverse in Canada, and Vancouver offers the mildest winters of any major Canadian city, with easy access to great outdoor activities when you need a break.

Housing in Vancouver is fairly expensive — but depending on your personal preferences and choices you may still be able to live well, for less, compared to many major US cities.

Montreal cost of living

montreal

Montreal is in Canada’s Quebec province — a French speaking area. It’s a beautiful city which is safe and has a long and rich history. English is spoken by many people here, but if you want to move here in the long term you’ll probably benefit from learning French.

Montreal is one of the cheaper cities in terms of rent, but has competitive salaries compared to other cities in Canada — making this a good choice for expats who want to come to Canada to progress their career while enjoying a great quality of life.

The cost of living in Ottawa

ottawa

As Canada’s capital, and a city known for being clean, safe and easy to live in, naturally lots of expats choose Ottawa as home. There’s plenty to do for those who love museums, art and culture — and it's easy to get to the great outdoors too.

Despite being the capital, costs of living are relatively low compared to other major Canadian cities. You’ll find a better range of affordable housing for example, which can make a big difference to your budget overall.

Toronto cost of living

toronto

Toronto is the largest city in Canada, situated on the Northwest edge of Lake Ontario. It has a number of advantages for US citizens looking to move to Canada — including the fact it’s only a short drive to the US border when you want to head back for a break.

Toronto's climate is relatively mild, and with a multicultural population you can bet on there being plenty to do year round. Costs of living are on the high side — including both consumer prices and rent.

While there are lots of job opportunities for immigrants, it’s not necessarily the highest paid place to find work, either.


Canada has always been known as a great place to live, and depending on where you choose to settle you may find the country very cheap for the relatively high quality of life.

Even in the largest cities, Canada tends to be more affordable than most European cities, and they don’t even have Tim Horton’s, hockey or mountains.

No matter where in Canada you decide to live, good luck with your move!


Sources:

  1. Numbeo - Cost of living in Montreal
  2. Numbeo - Cost of living in Ottawa
  3. Numbeo - Cost of living in Toronto
  4. Numbeo - Cost of living in Vancouver
  5. Numbeo - Cost of living in New York
  6. Numbeo - Cost of living in Boston
  7. Numbeo - Cost of living in Los Angeles
  8. Teleport - Salaries in Montreal
  9. Teleport - Salaries in Ottawa
  10. Teleport - Salaries in Toronto
  11. Teleport - Salaries in Vancouver
  12. Saskatchewan - Graduate retention program

Sources checked on 02.21.2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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