Monthly cost of living for a family of three
|City||Total Cost of Living||Monthly Housing Costs |
2 Bedroom Apartment
(Rent + Utilities)
With current levels of inflation the cost of living in Canada is rising throughout the country. Understanding how much it will cost you to live in certain cities and provinces compared to the average and median income in that city or province is a key factor in determining where to live. It is important to understand how much it costs to live in a certain area compared to how much is earned in that area because the cost of living may affect the net worth of a person over time. If the cost of living is high, an individual will not be able to save as much money, which will lead to a decrease in net worth growth. Your cost of living can include the costs of key necessities such as:
Housing costs include rent, electricity costs and communication service costs, all which vary depending on your province. Renting is also impacted by the type of home you rent. The type of homes we will cover in this guide are:
For food & grocery costs, this includes the average amount of money needed to feed you and your family, including food from restaurants.
For transportation costs, since gas and insurance are the most variable between provinces, this part will include different gas prices and insurance premiums for each city, along with the cost of maintenance.
Finally for childcare, it includes the cost of care for infants ages 0-2, toddlers ages 2-3, and preschoolers ages 3-4.
This guide is here to help you determine what these costs could look like for you within some of Canada's largest cities.
Ontario is Canada's largest province with over 14.7 million people, and is one of the most expensive provinces on a cost basis. This is partially explained by the province having some of the highest housing costs in Canada, especially around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), where 48% of Ontarians call home.
Fortunately, current low mortgage rates mean that Ontario homeowners can take advantage of lower interest costs. It's expected that mortgage rates will rise over the next few years, which can increase the cost of living for many Ontarians.
However, with the household monthly cost of food, electricity, and communication services being around the Canadian average at $398, $104, and $169, the province is able to help mitigate its sky high rents through its other more reasonable costs.
With Toronto being home to many Canadian head offices and well-paying office jobs, it is also one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada.
Regarding housing, the average Toronto rent will make up your largest cost of living expense. Depending on the property size, the average Toronto rental rates are as follows:
Another cost for housing is utilities, which include electricity and communication services and are usually not included in the rent. Based on a survey of rates by the C.D. Howe Institute, the average monthly cost for Toronto Hydro is $104. Telecommunication services, including TV, phone, and internet cost an average of $169 per month in Ontario, according to the CRTC at year end 2019. All of these would add up to the housing cost for 1 person in a bachelor style apartment being ~ $1,490 per month.
If you're planning on raising a family in Toronto, it will be important to plan in advance for what are the highest single family home rental rates in Canada. The chart below shows the average rent for single-family homes in 2022, with Vancouver being $952 more expensive per month than the next closest market, Toronto.
Living in Toronto also entails a lengthy and expensive commute. With a good public transportation system, including subways, city buses, streetcars and buses from the suburbs, the quality of public transport is quite high compared to other Ontario cities. At a cost of $143 per month for a general pass, it can be much cheaper than car ownership. For those living in the outskirts of the GTA however, owning a car may be a more practical way to commute. Car ownership in Ontario can be expensive, with insurance premiums being some of the highest in Canada at ~$125 per month. Including the cost of gas, at ~$2.00 per litre, with the average amount Canadians drive per month (1384 Kilometers), this would cost you ~$280 per month. According to CAA’s driving costs calculator, the monthly fuel cost, maintenance cost, and insurance cost of a car in Ontario would be $578 per month.
When it comes to food costs, according to Toronto's Nutritious Food Basket Calculator, the average cost per month to buy food in the city ranges from ~$260 for a female adult, to ~ $340 for a male young adult. However, this doesn't tell the whole story, especially in a city that's always on-the-go. The cost of dining can average $10+ for lunch, to $25+ for takeout or an inexpensive dinner. In comparison, the average monthly cost of food in Ontario minus restaurants was ~$253 per person, meaning the cost of food in Toronto is slightly higher. Meanwhile, the average food expenditures per household in Ontario was $398 per month, which includes both food at home and food from restaurants.
Finally, the last major cost is childcare. According to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, Torontonians pay some of the highest child care costs in Canada, with the median monthly cost being:
Overall, If you are planning on raising a family in Toronto, the added costs of childcare, a larger home, and additional food and miscellaneous costs mean that it is important to have your finances in order.
As the capital of Canada, the cost of living in Ottawa is lower than in Toronto. The primary reason for this is the lower cost of housing the city offers. According to the CMHC Rental Market Survey for October 2021, the average monthly rents in Ottawa are:
With rental rates being much lower than Toronto, it can lead to saving thousands of dollars each year. Including electricity and communication service costs, the true cost of living for one person in a bachelor style apartment can be ~ $1,314 per month.
Although Ottawa doesn’t have as vast of a network of public transportation as Toronto, a monthly adult pass will set you back $125.50 per month. If you choose to drive, which is especially more convenient if you are commuting from the suburbs or the much cheaper Gatineau Quebec, you can expect similar gas and insurance expenses as those in Toronto.
With Ottawa being a slightly lower overall cost of living city than Toronto, food prices can be expected to be close to the Ontario average. That average, where Stats Canada found that the average household of 2.4 people spends ~ $868 per month on food, including dining out, would mean the average person spends ~$362 per month.
In terms of childcare, Ottawa’s monthly costs are below Toronto and London at an average of:
This makes staying home as a parent less necessary, considering the costs being much lower than an average salary would be. With Ottawa's proximity to Gatineau, who has subsidized child care through the Quebec government, those on a tight budget could live in Gatineau and make the commute to Ottawa. This would be especially worthwhile for families with multiple young children, considering the cost of childcare in Gatineau is $181 per child, meaning you may save thousands of dollars per year.
London is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative for those looking to save money and still work in the GTA, with over 650 Londoners commuting to Toronto daily. In terms of rent, the average monthly rate is:
With electricity and communication service costs fairly standard around province-wide rates, the average cost for 1 person in a bachelor apartment can set you back $1,038 per month.
In terms of transportation, a monthly bus pass will cost $95 per month for the average adult, much cheaper than Toronto and Ottawa's monthly fee. However, this is partially because of less diverse ride offerings, and less connectivity throughout the city. This makes owning a car very necessary if you are commuting from the outskirts of London or the surrounding area. Again, the cost of owning a car will be fairly standard across Ontario, given similar insurance rates and gas prices.
For food, the average cost per person of $347 per month for Ontario holds true. However, it may lean to the lower end of the spectrum given the overall lower costs of living in the city.
Finally, the average cost of childcare in London is between the cost of Toronto and Ottawa, with it being the following:
The province of Quebec continues to rank as one of the lowest cost of living provinces in Canada. This stems not only from some of the lowest rents in Canada and subsidized child care, but also through Quebec’s electricity prices being much lower than the national average, at 7.3 cents per kWh.
Although the Montreal Metropolitan area accounts for Canada's second most populated area, the cost of living in Montreal is among the lowest for major cities in the country. This is partially because of the cost of rent being very low compared to other big cities.
The average monthly housing costs are:
In addition to low rents, the cost of power is only $73 for an average of 1000 KWH per month. As well, $160 per month for communication services make for some of the lowest total housing costs in all of Canada, at ~$946 for 1 person in a bachelor style apartment.
The cost of transportation in Quebec is one of the lowest in the country, with insurance rates of ~$60 per month. Even with the price of gas being slightly above the national average, Montreal and Quebec still rank among the lowest cost to drive provinces in Canada. If you're living in the city especially, public transportation is also very affordable, with the monthly cost of an adult Montreal transit pass being $90.50 per month.
In terms of food costs, the average monthly household expenditure for Quebec is $820 for an average of 2.4 people. This comes out to $342 per person, making the cost of food slightly below the national average. Depending on your type of diet and whether you eat out alot or not, this average will differ.
Finally, Quebec’s subsidized child care means that the average monthly provincial rate for infant care, toddler care, and preschool is $181 per month. This means that young families are able to have both parents working, with the added income far and away outweighing the low cost. This makes Montreal and all of Quebec a very appealing place to raise a family on a cost basis.
The trend of low Quebec rents continues in Quebec City, with the average monthly rent being:
These low rents, along with low power and communication service costs make living in Quebec's capital very affordable. The image below shows just how much cheaper Quebec City is for a bachelor style apartment, compared to other major Canadian cities.
Monthly food costs for Quebec City are also around the average for the province, at ~ $328 per person.
A general age bus pass in Quebec City costs $89.75 per month. If you are to own a car, the cost is similar across Quebec and Montreal, given low insurance rates and with slightly above average gasoline prices.
Finally, just like in Montreal and the rest of the province of Quebec, subsidized child care means an average cost of $181 for all types of childcare.
With Alberta having no provincial sales tax and relatively higher incomes than the rest of Canada, the province can be attractive to move to. Along with a fairly modest cost of living that is anchored by low rents province-wide, and cheap gas prices, Alberta can be a place to comfortably raise a family. However, for some necessities such as food and electricity, Albertans pay some of the highest costs in all of Canada.
The cost of living in Calgary is very affordable especially for a major city, and is fueled by cheap rent. Average monthly rents are as follows:
Much of this low cost of rent and living can be explained by the economic difficulties both Alberta and Calgary have faced over the last number of years. Low rent, in addition to electricity prices at 16.6 cents per KWH and $166 for 1000 KWH, and communication services at $180 per month means the cost of housing for 1 person in a bachelor style apartment would be ~$1,275.
For transportation, many Albertans gravitate towards driving rather than public transportation. The cost of insurance is $110 per month, while the cost of gas is lower than the national average. If you do choose to take public transit, the cost is $112 for an adult monthly pass.
Monthly food costs in Alberta happen to be some of the highest in Canada, at $393 per person. This is partially because of higher restaurant spending of $116 per month versus $96 for the Canadian average. With Calgary being a major city, it's likely that the food costs associated with living here are slightly higher as a result of an overall higher cost of living versus smaller towns.
Finally, the monthly cost of childcare is:
The cost of living in Edmonton is partially dictated by low housing costs, which are as follows:
With a similar cost of electricity and communication services to Calgary, the average cost for 1 person in a bachelor style apartment would be ~$1,235 per month.
The cost to drive will also be very similar to Calgary, with the average Alberta insurance rate being $110, and gas prices being similar in the region. If you instead take public transit, the monthly cost will be $73 for those under 25 years of age and $100 for those 25 years old and above.
Estimates for food costs in Edmonton are the same as the province of Alberta, with the monthly amount spent on food being $393 per person.
Finally, childcare in Edmonton is around the national average and is more affordable than Calgary with the following monthly costs:
Housing is especially a hot topic when discussing the cost of living in BC, given high real estate prices and a high cost to rent. This makes BC one of the most expensive provinces to live in Canada.
With a very expensive housing market to buy into, renting is the only option for many Vancouver residents. This expensive cost for housing limits home affordability and makes the cost of living in Vancouver comparable to cities such as Toronto. The cost to rent per month is as follows:
Although rents are high in Vancouver and in BC, the cost of electricity and communication services are below the national average. At 12.6 cents per KWH and $126 for 1000 KWH, and $174 for phone, TV, and internet, it makes the high rents slightly more affordable. Above shows a breakdown of the total cost of housing for a 2 bedroom apartment in Vancouver.
For transportation, with parking being tough in the city core, public transportation is one option to get around. The cost for a monthly transit pass depends on where in the Vancouver area you plan on commuting, ranging from $98 to $177 per month. If you were to own a car, the cost of insurance in BC is on average $153 per month, and the average price of gas is among the highest in Canada.
The monthly cost for food living in BC is an average of $369 per person, with $107 being allocated to restaurants. This is likely much higher in the Vancouver area with more people on-the-go and with an overall higher cost of living in the city.
Finally, childcare costs are lower than other major cities such as Toronto by a large margin, with costs per month of:
Being a fairly rural province aside from large cities such as Winnipeg, the cost of living in Manitoba is affordable.
The cost of living in Winnipeg is very low compared to other major cities. Housing costs per month are as follows:
In addition to the cost of rent being affordable, electricity prices are a very low 9.9 cents per KWH, or $99 per month for an average of 1000 KWH. As well, the cost for communication services is slightly below the national average at $175 per month. Overall, the total monthly cost of housing for 1 person in a bachelor style apartment is ~$1,055.
The cost of public transportation in Winnipeg is $106 per month for the average adult. This is one option to get around the city, with the other being by car. The average monthly cost of insurance in Winnipeg is $90, with the cost of gas being below the national average.
For food, the average amount spent per person in Manitoba is one of the lowest in Canada, at $346 per month.
In terms of childcare, the average monthly costs are some of the lowest in Canada, at:
Saskatchewan ranks as a very affordable province to live-in and raise a family.
This stems from some of the lowest housing costs in all of Canada, however electricity costs and food are some of the highest in Canada.
For example, the cost of renting in Saskatoon, the largest city in Saskatchewan, is below $1500 a month for the following:
Saskatchewan’s electricity costs are 18.1 cents per KWH or $181 per 1000 KWHs. When it comes to communication services, Saskatchewan is also the highest, at $202 per month.
The cost for food in Saskatchewan is ~$362 per month.
In terms of childcare, the monthly costs in Saskatoon are close to the national average. These monthly costs are:
With some of the lowest income levels in all of Canada, the cost of living in Nova Scotia is modest. This low cost of living is fueled by lower housing costs versus more populated and higher earning provinces.
With monthly housing costs making up a large portion of the cost of living in Halifax, the costs are as follows:
In addition to the cost of rent, electricity costs are 17.1 cents per KWH, for an average of $171 for 1000 KWH. This high electricity cost is because Nova Scotia has some of the highest power costs in Canada. As well, communication services cost $180 per month. This means that the monthly housing cost for 1 person living in a bachelor style apartment in Halifax is ~$1,249.
For transportation, a monthly transit ticket costs $82.50. However, if you plan on owning a car and commuting around town, the average monthly cost of insurance in Nova Scotia is $74.
Nova Scotia has some of the lowest food costs in all of Canada. The average monthly cost for food is $315 per person, however if you plan on eating out somewhat frequently, this number will be much higher.
In terms of childcare, the monthly costs are as follows:
Along with its fellow Atlantic Canada provinces, New Brunswick ranks among the more affordable places to live in Canada. This includes the cities of Moncton, Fredericton, and Saint John.
The average cost of rent per month in Moncton is as follows:
In addition to the cost of rent, electricity costs are 12.7 cents per KWH or $127 per 1000 KWH. For communication services, the average cost is $172, below the national average of $176. This makes the monthly cost of housing for 1 person in the form of a bachelor style apartment at ~$1,020.
The monthly cost of food in New Brunswick is ~$329 per person, with $85 being spent at restaurants.
For childcare in New Brunswick's biggest city of Moncton, the average costs are:
PEI is the smallest province in Canada, and has very low housing costs. The average monthly rent in PEI is as follows:
The cost of electricity is 17.4 cents per KWH or $174 per 1000KW, around the average in Canada. Communication services are also similar, at $177 per month versus $176 for the average rate in Canada. The cost of housing for 1 person to live in a bachelor style apartment would be ~$970 per month.
Monthly food expenditures in PEI are also very low compared to the Canadian average, at ~$308 per person.
Monthly Childcare costs in PEI’s biggest town, Charlottetown, were the following:
Although Newfoundland & Labrador has a weaker economy compared to other provinces, with the highest unemployment rate among all provinces in Canada, it's a very affordable province to live in.
The monthly cost of housing in Newfoundland & Labrador are as follows:
These are some of the lowest rental rates in all of Canada. For the costs of electricity, the province is close to the Canadian average at 13.8 cents per KWH or $138 per 1000 KWH. For communication services, it's the same story with an average cost of $175 per month compared to the Canadian average of $176 per month. The monthly cost for 1 person to live in a bachelor style apartment would be ~$1,047.
The average monthly food cost in Newfoundland & Labrador is ~$328 per person, with only $69 per month being spent at restaurants.
For childcare, the province has slightly below average costs, evident by St. John’s monthly childcare costs being the following:
In conclusion, understanding how much it will cost you to live in a certain city or province is something to take into consideration when determining where to live. It however isn't the only factor. It's also important to live somewhere you like, where the job you want is located, and where your friends and family are.