Cost of living in Canada

You’ve packed up your winter woollies and are dreaming of your close encounter with a moose and all the benefits of the Canadian lifestyle. Hold up: have you considered how much it’ll cost for you to live in Canada? Do you know how much you’ll be paid and what you’ll need to pay out for life’s essentials (like housing and food)? Get a head start on your financial planning.

Let’s start at the beginning.

All of the below is quoted in Canadian dollars. For up to date currency exchange, click here.

What you can expect to get paid

Knowing what sort of salary you can expect in Canada means you can understand how much of your salary will be spent on necessities – but more importantly, what will be left over for spending on the fun stuff. 

Take a look at the average salary guide for Canada:


Average weekly wage*

Forestry, logging and support


Mining and quarrying, and oil and gas extraction








Wholesale trade


Retail trade


Transportation and warehousing


Information and cultural industries


Finance and insurance


Real estate and rental and leasing


Professional, scientific and technical services


Management of companies and enterprises


Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services


Educational services


Healthcare and social assistance


Arts, entertainment and recreation


Accommodation and food services


Other services (excluding public administration)


Public administration


 *As of August 2012 

The big stuff: housing

  • Most Canadians spend 35-50% of their income on housing and utilities. This includes the cost of renting your home or paying your mortgage. It also includes the often high cost of heating your home (Canada’s winters can be a bit brutal) and paying for utilities such as electricity, telephone lines and water.
  • Expect to pay at least CAN$350 a month to rent a room and at least CAN$2,000 a month to rent a larger apartment or a large house – but costs will be less outside large cities.

The big stuff: healthcare

  • All Canadians and permanent residents are eligible to apply for health insurance. Health insurance means you don’t have to pay directly for most healthcare services, they’re paid through your taxes instead. 
  • Unfortunately, health insurance is different in each province and territory so there’s no average costs available. Depending on where you want to settle, there will be different systems and costs. Click here for more information. 

The other stuff: transport and food

Transport average costs:

  • Bus fare one way (local): CAN$2.25
  • Petrol: CAN$1.15 - $1.50 per litre

Food average costs:

  • Fast food meal (hamburger, soft drink and French fries):  CAN$4 - $6 per person
  • Standard restaurant meal: CAN$10 - $25 per person
  • A coffee: CAN $1.70

*All stats current as of August 2012

You can also click here to see this info in an illustrated format.


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