As one of the most expensive cities in Canada, the cost of living in Vancouver is high and expats will need to plan their budgets accordingly. The 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranks Vancouver at 94th out of 209 cities surveyed, making it the most expensive city in Canada.

Cost of accommodation in Vancouver

Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city, with promising job prospects and a great lifestyle. Each year, scores of expats as well as Canadian citizens head to the city in search of new opportunities. As a result, the demand for accommodation is high and the rent is expensive. In fact, Vancouver has the highest housing 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 eating out in Vancouver

Eating out can be expensive in Vancouver. That said, the city boasts world-class eateries and dining out in Vancouver is worth shelling out every now and then. It's not all fine-dining though, and expats are sure to find a variety of good restaurants that won't break the bank. 

Cost of entertainment in Vancouver

Vancouver isn't known for its lively nightlife due to the city’s strict licensing laws. Therefore, it's 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. In the winter, expats can visit Vancouver’s museums and galleries, where entrance fees are generally quite reasonable.

Cost of transport in Vancouver

Vancouver has a fairly extensive public transport system, which is made up of buses, trains, the SkyTrain, streetcars and ferries. Travel by public transport is cost effective if passengers purchase a monthly pass.

Having a car isn't a necessity in Vancouver, especially if expats live in an area close to the city centre. Nevertheless, the cost of running a vehicle is fairly reasonable in Canada. Those who do need to drive around for work will be glad to know that petrol costs are also quite reasonable in British Columbia.

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 top-rated school systems in Canada. 

Parents who choose to send their child to a Canadian private school in Vancouver can expect to pay high fees. Those who would prefer to have their children continue education in their home country’s curriculum can send their child to one of Vancouver’s many international schools. However, expats should bear in mind that international school fees in Vancouver are especially expensive.

Cost of living chart for Vancouver

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 2,050

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

CAD 1,600

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 3,700

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

CAD 2,800


Eggs (dozen)


Milk (1 litre)

CAD 2.35

Rice (1kg)

CAD 4.40

Loaf of white bread

CAD 3.20

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 16.50

Pack of cigarettes 

CAD 15

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

CAD 10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 2.30


CAD 4.45

Bottle of local beer


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

CAD 80


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

CAD 0.38

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

CAD 81

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

CAD 84


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

CAD 1.90

Bus/train fare in the city centre


Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

CAD 1.35

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

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