The Cost of Living in 3 Major Canadian Cities

By Logan Bright Modified on June 12, 2019
Tags : Money

Popular cities, their average costs, and what you can do to save a buck.

A shot of modern architecture, with a Canadian flag to the side, in sunny Vancouver.

Canada is a wonderful place. Beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and an open, inclusive stance towards the world. Perfectly reasonable that folks from across the globe would want to study and live here.

Alas, it's not always easy: the cost of living in Canada can seem, at times, astronomical. How can you know what to expect when you arrive? Where will you live, and how will you afford it? Let's look at some of the most popular cities in the country, with the help of and the National Bank of Canada, so you can start pinching your pennies.


Toronto is Canada's largest city, and among its most expensive. With over 3 million residents, many of them newcomers to the country, the pace of life can seem hectic. So many people means rent is high. For a furnished apartment in an average area, expect to pay around $2,100 a month. Bear in mind you'll also want utilities ($100), a basic internet connection ($50), and groceries ($250), and the numbers can add up quickly. Watch out for more expensive areas of the city, too, where rents can reach over $2,400 a month.


Vancouver, the jewel of the west coast, is often considered Canada's most expensive city. The perennial mist and fog do little to keep people away; the metropolitan area boasts a population of nearly 2.5 million. Rent can easily climb to $2,700 a month for a furnished apartment in an expensive area — which, you'll find, most desirable parts are. Factor in groceries (around $260 a month), internet ($55), and utilities ($100), and it's no surprise that Vancouver has a reputation as an expensive place to live.


Montreal's community is broadly bilingual, meaning many residents are fluent in both English and French, which could be an advantage for those trying to shore up their language skills. And compared to some of the options we've seen so far, Montreal is downright affordable. For a furnished apartment in an expensive area, you're looking at around $1,600 a month. Utilities come in cheaper, as well, ($65), as does the internet ($43). Montreal even offers electricity for nearly half the rate per kilowatt hour as Toronto or Vancouver.

So what's a frugal student to do? Canada offers many world-class institutions, and cost-of-living expenses are largely unavoidable. How can you save a bit of money when living in Canada?

Consider becoming a transit user and living further out of the downtown core. Commuting to work and school may not be glamorous, but it's likely to save you cash in the long run. Plus, you can study or snooze while you ride.

Learn to cook at home. You're paying all that rent anyway, why not make use of your kitchen? Groceries may be expensive, but eating out is more so. Sure, the occasional grab-and-go snack is okay, but if you find yourself choosing a restaurant or calling Uber Eats each evening, it may be time to invest in a cast iron pan.

And of course, look at living with a roommate. This will be easier for some than others. A few ground rules can improve your roomie relationship, and help you keep things professional. Do your research, and be selective. Remember, as with anything: safety first!

Canada is an incredible place. Despite the expenses, there's so much to learn and do. You'll soon see why so many people want to live, study and work in Canada.

National Bank of Canada

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