The Definitive Guide to Cost of Living in Canada – 2020 Edition

After you overcome all those prejudices and figure out that Canadian humor maybe is not that bad, it is time to think about the other, more important aspects, such as the cost of living in Canada. CA is known for its exceptional quality of life and high standards, which never comes at a low price. Let’s look at some numbers and figure out how much you’ll need for this moving international adventure.

Moving abroad is never an easy decision, but when abroad is so close like when moving to Canada, it is almost like you’re not leaving your country (almost.) That’s why CA is one of the best places to live abroad for Americans, plus you won’t have to bother learning a new language abroad. Over one million Americans reside and work in CA, so not only that it is physically close to home, but you’ll find large expat communities of fellow Americans in pretty much every city. So, it seems that the Great White North’s somewhat chillier climate is worth all the perks of being a Canadian. Now, if you got all the documents needed to travel abroad, let’s see how much such a change of residence cost you.

Is It Expensive to Live in Canada?

Generally speaking, we could say that CA is pricey. But the Great White North is divided into three territories and ten provinces, and the expenses are not the same everywhere. For example, by far, the most expensive cities are Vancouver and Toronto, so if you’re moving to Vancouver, keep in mind that everyday expenses are high. But that is usually followed by high paychecks, and considering the vast offer of jobs in Canada for Americans, we think you’ll manage it.

Is Canada Cheaper Than the US? Cost of Living in Canada Vs. USA

Many of you are probably wondering where it is cheaper, and who wins in the cost of living Canada vs USA debate. But there are simple answers to that. In some categories, the US is more affordable, and in others, CA. For example, health insurance and rent might be cheaper in CA, but utilities, gas, and other goods are more pricey. So overall, you gain some, you lose some. At the end of the day, it all depends on your money management skills.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Canada? Living in Major Cities

Did you know that according to many surveys, the Great White North is one of the best countries to live in? But how much does one need to have a comfortable life there? That is one highly arguable question, and the answer depends upon many factors, from one’s personal preferences and lifestyle to the location. Also, it is not the same if you’re single and moving with a dog, if you’re moving to another country for love, or you have a family and kids that need to go to school. Many Canadians claim they need around $250,000 (before tax) per year per person for comfortable living, which is almost three times higher than the average salary. However, it is totally doable to survive without struggling with less than that

What You Need to Know About Tax System

Like in many countries, CA also has a sales tax system, but again, things differ from one province to another, so carefully research them all to find a winning combination. Here are the taxes you can expect once across the border:

  • GST – Goods and services tax – 5% added to the price of most goods and services
  • PST – Provincial sales tax – PST is an additional tax that is applied in most provinces and varies from 7% to 10%. Regions that don’t have territory or province taxes are Alberta, Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories.
  • HST – Harmonized sales tax – In some regions, GST and PST are merged with college HST. You can see this in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

What Are the Average Salaries?

Are you relocating and hunting for a job position at the same time? Then take a look at this video to get an insight on average salaries in different fields of work. This will help you get a sense of how much you could earn and calculate your costs in advance to form a  budget.

How Housing Impacts Canada Cost of Living

No matter how much you earn, the most significant part of your income will go on rent. That is unless you’re looking to become a homeowner or move to the suburban areas. The majority of newcomers who are just starting to live in another country decide to rent, whether alone or with a roommate. In the chart below, we compared the prices in some of the most popular cities among expats, but if you’re looking for something even more affordable, check out provinces such as Quebec, known for the reasonable cost of living in Canada.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Canada Per Month? Read the Prices and Average After-Tax Salaries in Main Cities

If you decided you’re relocating to one of the friendliest countries in the world, you should carefully pick your future city and the region. Suppose you’re thinking about relocating to the best neighborhoods in Montreal, attracted by the affordable prices. In that case, you might have to learn a bit of French to overcome a language barrier because around 43% of residents are francophone. If you’re moving to Ontario, you should know that it’s the main economic hub, as well as the most populous province. And then there are the highly popular hotspots such as Vancouver and Toronto, so let’s compare the expenses in some of these major cities to get a better idea of Canada’s cost of living. All listed prices are in USD, not in CAD, so keep that in mind.

The Costs of Healthcare-Related Services

CA has a universal healthcare system that is funded by the taxpayers’ money. More than 11% of countries’ GDP goes on healthcare, and Canadians don’t save on it. On average, a single person pays around $4,300 per year to maintain this system “free.” Each province has a different Medicare plan, which includes certain medical services for free, but there’s only one problem – long waiting lists. However, the perks of Canada’s exceptional free public healthcare system are only available to those who are permanent residents and have citizenship.

Private Healthcare Insurance Costs

Expats will have to rely on private health insurance. But that is something that many locals also invest in because free healthcare does not cover exactly everything — medication and prescription drugs. Many Canadians obtain private health insurance through their employer, so this should be one of the essential relocation questions to ask your employer. If not through the employer, you can purchase private health insurance through one of many insurance companies. The prices vary depending on the plan you choose. You should expect to pay from $60 to $115 per person for private health insurance per month.

The Costs of Education

Education is another area in which CA ranks high on an international level. Many young professionals relocate here for education opportunities, but also families looking to invest in their children’s schooling, which is why this is one of the best places to live abroad with family. Public elementary and secondary schools are free, but preschool, childcare, and daycare are not, since the majority of them are private institutions.

On the other hand, most CA universities have cheaper tuition fees than those in the US or Australia but are generally more expensive than in the best European countries. Also, if you want your kid to learn French, count in the expenses of a language school. The fun fact is that the grading system tends to differ from one province to another.

How Much Is Private Schooling in CA?

If you’re not interested in public schools funded by the government, expect that you’ll have to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 per year in some of many private schools. Many of these private schools rely on Montessori and Waldorf approaches to education, which is why many parents decide for them.

What Are the Best Universities?

With large campuses, a wide selection of programs, tuition fees much more affordable than in the US, and numerous activities tailored for the students’ needs, this is a mecca for internationals looking to invest in their education by attending some of the highly ranked universities. Take the McGill University in Montreal, University of Toronto, or the University of British Columbia in Vancouver into consideration, and you won’t regret it.

Will the Transportation Impact Your Budget

Since you’re not really moving across the world, you should consider overseas vehicle shipping or driving if your hometown is close to your future Canadian home. International shipping can be pricey, but since this is not like you’re moving to Seoul or moving to India, you will probably be able to afford shipping overseas your vehicle. Having a car by your side is always convenient, whether or not you plan to use it for the daily commute.

How Public Transportation Works

If you’re residing in a metropolitan area such as Vancouver one, you’ll probably be very satisfied with the quality and how well-connected public transportation is. There’s a network of buses, a SkyTrain, West Coast Express train, and even SeaBus, so you can get pretty much anywhere using some of these means of transportation. Prices depend on the zone. Daily and monthly passes are available. However, as soon as you go further from these large metro areas like Vancouver or Toronto, you’ll struggle a lot more with public transportation, which is why shipping a car usually pays off.

The Expenses of International Moving to Canada from the US

The proximity, the same language, and high standards are only some of the reasons why many Americans seriously consider moving internationally to CA. It is easy to keep in touch with friends and avoid relocation stress when you’re not going too far. Now when you know what is the cost of living in Canada, we recommend you to start searching for a reliable international moving company that offers all overseas shipping services, whether you’re moving by sea or moving by air. Count on packing services, boxes and moving supplies, custom crating, and even oversized freight or renting storage when shipping overseas. The costs of international moving are not low, which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a free in-home estimate and set your budget as soon as possible.