Overall, the cost of living in Canada is high – but so is the quality of life. Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey, which measures the comparative cost of items in 227 cities worldwide, ranked Toronto as the world's 90th most expensive city, with Vancouver at 116th. Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal are more affordable, ranking 145th, 137th and 135th, respectively.

While housing is expensive, expats earning a decent salary will find these cities to be otherwise affordable, thanks to the fact that Canada provides subsidised health insurance and education. 


Cost of accommodation in Canada

Accommodation costs in Canada vary across different cities and regions. Rent in large cities like Vancouver and Toronto is the steepest, with prices increasing closer to the city centre. Utilities are another expense expats must budget for. Owing to freezing winter temperatures in Canada, these can get fairly pricey. 


Cost of transportation in Canada

Canada has a vast public transport system, but it does come at a price. That said, getting around in major Canadian cities is still less costly than in other important world centres. Cars are relatively cheap to purchase, and most Canadians own a vehicle. Mandatory car insurance can be expensive, though.


Cost of education in Canada

Canada is well known for having an abundance of high-quality and affordable schools that attract many international students. Expats with young children will appreciate the fact that Canada provides free public education to all citizens and permanent residents, from kindergarten to secondary school. 

Each region administers its own education system, so policies and requirements may differ in each province. Expats who don't have a permanent resident card or a work permit must apply for a study permit for their children, who would then be classified as international students and would have to pay tuition, which can be steep.


Cost of healthcare in Canada

All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for health insurance. The country's healthcare system is made up of provincial and territorial health insurance plans that are funded through taxes and administered by the provinces and territories themselves. 

After applying for public health insurance, expats will have to wait until they become eligible to use it. These periods can be covered by temporary private health insurance. The officially recommended period for which expats should purchase temporary coverage is three months. 

Those who would like access to services that aren't covered under their province or territory's health insurance plan can buy private health insurance, which usually includes prescription drugs, dental costs, private hospital rooms, ambulance services and prescription glasses.


Cost of groceries in Canada

Food and drinks in Canada are generally cheaper than in Western European countries but slightly more expensive than in the United States. Canadians eat a lot of beef and chicken, making pork and lamb a rarity and therefore pricier.

It's easier to get other speciality meat like bison, especially in larger cities. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year at lower prices than in Western Europe.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Canada

Canada boasts a variety of lifestyle and entertainment options to suit most expats. As a diverse and multicultural society, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the world's different cuisines without breaking the bank. Nature-loving expats can also ski, mountain bike, hike or kayak at little to no cost. 


Cost of living in Canada chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Toronto in June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CAD 2,500

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

CAD 2,120

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CAD 4,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

CAD 3,200

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

CAD 3.70

Loaf of white bread

CAD 3.46

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 16

Rice (1kg)

CAD 4.18

Dozen eggs

CAD 4.61

Pack of cigarettes

CAD 18

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

CAD 13

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 2.72

Cappuccino

CAD 5.04

Bottle of beer (local)

CAD 8

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

CAD 115

Utilities

Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data

CAD 55

Internet (average per month)

CAD 76

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

CAD 201

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

CAD 1.75

City centre bus/train fare

CAD 3.30

Petrol (per litre)

CAD 1.51

Expat Health Insurance

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