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The Cost of Living In Canada

Canadian housing is particularly cheap compared with other developed nations. The average house price in Canada is around seven times the average annual wage. Prices are highest in Ontario and Alberta (six to seven times the average wage) and Vancouver (eleven times the average wage).

People moving to Canada with the proceeds of house sales from countries with more expensive housing can often buy a house in Canada with a considerably reduced mortgage. This leaves more of their income for other activities and lowers their cost of living in Canada significantly.

Compared with many other western countries, although not the USA:

· food is cheaper in Canada

· Dining out and most forms of recreation are cheaper in Canada.

· Petrol/gasoline and cars are cheaper in Canada

· Power is cheaper, but more power is needed to heat houses in a typical Canadian winter

· Car insurance is very expensive in Canada.

Mercer carried out an extensive Canadian cost of living survey for overseas workers in 2016. The survey covers 209 cities around the world, and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

Canadian cities continued to drop in this year’s ranking mainly due to the weak Canadian dollar. The country’s highest-ranked city, Vancouver (142), fell twenty-three places. Toronto (143) dropped seventeen spots, while Montreal (155) and Calgary (162) fell fifteen and sixteen spots, respectively, with Ottawa rounding out the list of Canadian cities at 171.

The survey found that Canadian cities have lower living costs than many other locations in the developed world, making them compelling for expatriates from organizations outside the country.

Since the last survey, Canada as a whole is becoming less expensive relative to other cities, because of the weakening of the Canadian dollar. Vancouver was the most expensive due, in part, to its relatively high rental costs.

Canadian households spent an average of $59,057 on all types of goods and services in 2014. Of this total, shelter accounted for 29.06% of spending, transportation for 20.14%, and food 13.73%. Spending on clothing represented 5.93% of the total, and health care 3.81%


Canadian households spent an average of $17,160 on shelter in 2014. Homeowners spent an average of $19,501 while renters spent about $12,507. The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment across Canada was $930 per month. Alberta households reported the highest spending on shelter at $20,676. The highest share of spending on shelter was for households in Ontario, at 31.5% of total spending. Spending on shelter was directly related to the size of a population centre. Households in rural areas spent an average of $14,242 on shelter, compared with $19,475 for those in centres with a population of one million people or more.

You should know the basic cost of living in your adopted city before you move. Research is crucial so that you are not surprised by the cost of accommodation or transportation. Toronto and Vancouver, particularly the downtown areas, are relatively expensive. Higher salaries in these cities can compensate for this, but it is best to understand the cost of living before you settle.


Households spent an average of $11,891 on transportation in 2014.; This spending consisted of $10,717 on average for private transportation (which includes cars, trucks and vans and their operating costs), while the remaining $1,174 was for public transportation, which covered spending on public transit, taxis, air fares, buses and trains. Total spending on transportation varied considerably by household type.


Households reported spending an average of $8,109 on food in 2014. This total consisted of $5,880 on average spent on food from stores, and the remaining $2,229 for restaurant meals. Households headed by seniors reported the highest share of spending on food purchased from stores, at 12.0% of total spending, and the lowest share from restaurants, at 3.4% of total spending. In contrast, households headed by a person under 30 years of age had the highest share of spending on restaurants, at 5.4% of total spending, and the lowest share on food from stores, at 8.6%.

Average Total Expenditures

On average, Canadian households reported total expenditures of $80,728 in 2014. This total includes spending on goods and services, plus expenditures on income taxes, pension contributions, insurance premiums, and gifts of money. The average spending of $59,056 on goods and services represented 73.15% of total spending. Income taxes, gifts, insurance premiums, and pension contributions accounted for the remaining 26.85%.

Average House Prices in Canada

One of the major attractions of a move to Canada, for some, is the cost of housing compared with their current location. Prices are higher in Canada’s big cities than they are in the surrounding towns.

Canada’s highest house prices are found on the west cost in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the countries mildest weather is found.

Severe winter weather or remoteness from major markets usually results in low house prices. For example, property prices are low in Manitoba and the Maritime Provinces. In 2007, prices in booming Alberta rose above prices in Ontario for the first time, and prices in Calgary rose above those in Toronto. In 2014 the situation has reversed, and once again British Columbia and Ontario homes cost more than in Alberta.

Canadian Cities - Average House Prices – July 2016

City Average House Price

Vancouver, British Columbia $1,008,000

Toronto, Ontario $710,000

Calgary, Alberta $469,000

Ottawa, Ontario $374,000

Montreal, Quebec $349,000

Regina, Saskatchewan $315,000

Halifax, Nova Scotia $293,000

Fredericton, New Brunswick $182,000

Canadian Provinces – Average House Prices – July 2016

Province Average House Price

British Columbia $663,000

Ontario $518,000

Alberta $404,000

Quebec $285,000

Saskatchewan $303,000

Newfound & Labrador $253,000

Manitoba $276,000

Nova Scotia $222,000

New Brunswick $180,000

Prince Edward Island $165,000

Canadian Average $481,000

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