Overall, the cost of living in Canada is high – but so is the quality of life. Mercer's 2024 Cost of Living Survey, which measures the comparative cost of items in 226 cities worldwide, ranked Toronto as the world's 92nd most expensive city, with Vancouver at 101st. Montreal, Ottawa, and Calgary are more affordable, ranking 118th, 126th, and 141st, 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 priciest, with costs 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 each province's policies and requirements may differ. 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 consists of provincial and territorial health insurance plans funded through taxes and administered by the provinces and territories themselves. 

After applying for public health insurance, expats must wait until they become eligible to use it. During this period, temporary private health insurance can be purchased. The officially recommended period for expats to purchase temporary coverage is three months. 

Those who would like access to services not 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. There is also plenty of entertainment for sports enthusiasts and art and film lovers, but this comes at a cost. Cinema tickets are fairly affordable, while the best theatre tickets can set you back quite a bit. Those who favour a night out on the town must budget for this, as alcoholic drinks like cocktails can be pricey. 

Cost of living in Canada chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Toronto in July 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreCAD 2,500
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreCAD 2,000
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreCAD 4,500
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreCAD 3,600
Milk (1 litre)CAD 4
Loaf of white breadCAD 3.90
Chicken breasts (1kg)CAD 17
Rice (1kg)CAD 5
Dozen eggsCAD 5
Pack of cigarettesCAD 20
Eating out
Big Mac MealCAD 15
Coca-Cola (330ml)CAD 2.90
CappuccinoCAD 6
Bottle of beer (local)CAD 8
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantCAD 120
Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and dataCAD 62
Internet (average per month)CAD 71
Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)CAD 164
Taxi rate/kmCAD 2
City centre bus/train fareCAD 3.35
Petrol (per litre)CAD 1.60

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