Overall, the cost of living in Canada is high, but in exchange, so is the quality of life Canada offers.

Mercer's 2021 Cost of Living Survey, which measures the comparative cost of items in 209 cities worldwide, ranked Vancouver as the world's 93rd most expensive city, with Toronto not far behind at 98th. This is a significant jump from previous years, indicating a rising cost of living. On the other hand, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa are much more affordable, ranking at 129th, 145th and 156th 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 substantial support towards the cost of health insurance and education.

Cost of accommodation in Canada

Accommodation costs in Canada vary across different cities and regions. The highest rents are in large cities like Vancouver and Toronto, with prices increasing the closer one lives to the city centre. Expats renting accommodation outside the city in the suburbs can expect to pay lower rents. 

Cost of transportation in Canada

Canada has a vast transportation system. Public transportation in Canada is quite expensive, but transport in the major cities is definitely less expensive than that found in other important world centres.

Cars are relatively cheap to purchase, as is petrol, and most Canadians own their own car. Mandatory car insurance can be pricey, 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 appreciate that Canada provides free public education to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents from kindergarten until they complete secondary school, which is usually at the age of 18.

Each region administers its own education system, so policies and requirements differ from province to province. Expats who don't have a permanent resident card or a work permit have to 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 in Canada. 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 may have to wait before 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 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 food in Canada

Food and drinks in Canada are priced fairly but can't be considered cheap, even though they're generally cheaper than in Western European countries. Food is a bit more expensive compared to the United States.

Canadians eat a lot of beef and chicken, and less pork and lamb, which is less available and pricier. It's easy to get other speciality meat such as bison, especially in larger cities. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year for prices that are generally a little cheaper than in Western Europe.

Cost of living in Canada chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Toronto in March 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 1,300

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

CAD 1,100

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 2,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

CAD 1,900


Milk (1 litre)

CAD 2.50

Loaf of white bread


Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 13.50

Rice (1kg)

CAD 3.80

Dozen eggs

CAD 3.70

Pack of cigarettes

CAD 15

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

CAD 11.50

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 2.30


CAD 4.40

Bottle of beer (local)


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

CAD 75


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

CAD 0.30

Internet (average per month)

CAD 80.60

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

CAD 160


Taxi rate/km


City centre bus/train fare

CAD 3.20

Petrol (per litre)

CAD 1.30

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