As one of the most expensive cities in Canada, Vancouver's cost of living is high, and expats should budget accordingly. The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranks Vancouver 116th out of 227 cities surveyed, making it the second most expensive city in Canada after Toronto at 90th.


Cost of accommodation in Vancouver

Vancouver is a vibrant cosmopolitan city that offers a great lifestyle and plenty of job opportunities. Each year, scores of expats as well as Canadian citizens head to the city in search of a fresh start. As a result, the demand for accommodation is high, and the rent is expensive. In fact, Vancouver has the highest rental prices in Canada and regularly ranks as the least affordable city in North America in terms of property prices relative to earning power.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Vancouver

Eating out in Vancouver can be expensive. That said, the city boasts world-class eateries that are undoubtedly worth shelling out for occasionally. It's not all fine dining though, and expats are sure to find a variety of good restaurants that won't break the bank. Due to strict licencing laws, Vancouver's nightlife isn't as crazy as Toronto's or New York's. It's therefore unlikely that expats will party away all their hard-earned dollars. 

In terms of activities, much of what there is to do in Vancouver is based outdoors and is often free to enjoy. Popular pursuits include hiking and biking at Lynn Canyon National Park and enjoying a day of relaxation at Stanley Park. In the summer months, Vancouver residents tend to head for one of the city's many beaches. During winter, expats can visit Vancouver's museums and galleries, where entrance fees are reasonable.


Cost of groceries in Vancouver 

Owing to rising inflation and living costs, groceries in Vancouver are getting pricier. Expats can make their money go further by skipping the grocery stores in downtown Vancouver and heading for the suburbs instead, as groceries are often slightly cheaper there. Buying seasonal produce rather than out-of-season items is another fantastic way to reduce one's grocery bill. 

Buying in bulk at stores such as Bulk Barn or retailers like Walmart and Costco can also help expats. There are also plenty of wallet-friendly markets throughout Vancouver, where expats can get fresh and high-quality produce.


Cost of transport in Vancouver

Vancouver has an extensive public transport system comprising buses, trains, the SkyTrain, streetcars and ferries. Commuters looking to spare a few bucks should consider purchasing a monthly pass.

Having a car isn't necessary in Vancouver, especially if expats live in an area close to the city centre. With the rising cost of fuel, expats who are considering getting a car will have to budget for the cost of running a vehicle.


Cost of healthcare in Vancouver

As is the case throughout Canada, healthcare in Vancouver is free to all citizens and work permit holders. While the British Columbia Medical Service Plan (MSP) offers access to specialists, general practitioners and in-patient care, expats will need to take out private health insurance as a supplement. 

The MSP does not cover prescription medication or dental or eye care. Additionally, it offers limited coverage outside the British Columbia province. Fortunately, expats' employers will usually sponsor their private health coverage. Those who do not have this benefit will need to include this cost in their monthly budget. 


Cost of education in Vancouver

Expats moving to Vancouver with children have the option of sending their child to a public school in the area at no cost. The standard of schooling in British Columbia is generally excellent, and the province has one of the most highly rated education systems in Canada.  

Parents who choose to send their children to a Canadian private school in Vancouver can expect to pay high fees. Those who would prefer for their children to continue in their home country's curriculum can send them to one of Vancouver's many international schools. Expats should bear in mind that international school fees are particularly expensive in Vancouver, but these schools often have exceptional facilities and a wider variety of extracurricular activities.


Cost of living chart for Vancouver

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

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 2,600

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

CAD 2,200

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 4,700

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

CAD 3,600

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

CAD 5.51

Milk (1 litre)

CAD 2.84

Rice (1kg)

CAD 4.79

Loaf of white bread

CAD 3.92

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 17.43

Pack of cigarettes

CAD 20

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

CAD 13

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 2.90

Cappuccino

CAD 5.50

Bottle of local beer

CAD 7.50

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

CAD 110

Utilities

Mobile monthly plan with calls and data

CAD 58

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

CAD 91

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

CAD 143

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

CAD 2

Bus/train fare in the city centre

CAD 3.10

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

CAD 1.83

Expat Health Insurance

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