Before landing in Canada, it’s a good idea to investigate what your living expenses might be like in the community you’re considering.
Canada is a vast country and living expenses in Canada can vary quite dramatically depending on where you choose to settle down, with housing being the most significant expense for most families. To help you on your journey, here are examples of the kinds of living expenses you need to factor into your monthly budget and how your location might impact those costs.
Housing costs in Canada often surprise newcomers unfamiliar with the Canadian housing market, particularly around larger cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Plan to allocate between 35% and 50% of your net monthly income on housing costs including utilities.
Many immigrants choose to begin their Canadian journey by renting and where you live will dictate the rental costs. A 2-bedroom condo in downtown Vancouver or Toronto can cost as much as $3,000 per month whereas a 2-bedroom home in Saint-Johns, New Brunswick may cost around $1,200. Areas like New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta generally offer the most affordable housing, while British Columbia and Ontario are the most expensive.
Most Canadian families own at least one vehicle. There is a large market for both new and used cars, with options to buy or lease (new only), you can decide which option works best for your needs and your budget.
It is important to know that when buying a vehicle, you are responsible for more than just the cost to purchase as you will have to factor in gas, maintenance, and insurance which is expensive but mandatory in Canada. You will also be required to exchange your current home country’s driver’s license for a Canadian license. If your licensing country is not part of a reciprocal licensing program, you must complete a knowledge and road test before getting your provincially issued driver’s license.
Many Canadian also choose to rely on public transit, walking, or biking as their primary means of commuting. Monthly transit passes are available in most larger communities and are relatively low in costs compared to using cabs, car riding programs, and using your own vehicle.
When budgeting Canada living expenses plan to allocate at least 20% of your monthly income to food. The average family of four will spend approximately $1,200 per month on food and more if your family eats out often. Many cities in Canada offer a plethora of different cuisines and fusion flavours from all over the world, so there is always something new to check out. Local and fresh seasonal food is a big hit too with supermarkets and specialty farmer’s markets carrying wholesome and fresh produce and locally crafted cheeses, meats, and even in-house-made alcoholic beverages.
Childcare costs can significantly impact your monthly budget if you require full-time care for young children. Except for Quebec, which provides government-subsidized childcare plans to earmark between $1,000 and $1,400 per month per child under 5 for childcare costs. In addition, it may take some time to find a good and well-reputed childcare centre in your area.
Keeping some funds aside for unexpected expenses such as car repairs, home maintenance issues, or illness is highly recommended. And while Canada provides free universal healthcare, things like prescription medications are not covered.
There is also a lot to see and do in Canada. Many families allocate a small percentage of their monthly income for extras like dining out, leisure, and travel.