Overall, the cost of living in Canada is high – but so is the quality of life.

Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living Survey, which measures the comparative cost of items in 227 cities worldwide, ranked Toronto as the world’s 89th most expensive city, with Vancouver not far behind at 108th. Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal are more affordable, ranking 141st, 132nd and 125th, respectively.  

While housing is expensive, expats earning a decent salary will find these cities to be otherwise affordable thanks to the fact that Canada provides subsidised health insurance and education. 

Cost of accommodation in Canada

Accommodation costs in Canada vary across different cities and regions. Rent in large cities like Vancouver and Toronto is the steepest, with prices increasing closer to the city centre.

Cost of transportation in Canada

Canada has a vast public transport system, but it does come at a price. That said, getting around in major Canadian cities is still less expensive than in other important world centres. 

Cars are relatively cheap to purchase, and most Canadians own a vehicle. Mandatory car insurance can be pricey, though.

Cost of education in Canada

Canada is well known for having an abundance of high-quality and affordable schools that attract many international students. Expats with young children will appreciate that Canada provides free public education to all citizens and permanent residents, from kindergarten to secondary school. 

Each region administers its own education system, so policies and requirements may differ in each province. Expats who don't have a permanent resident card or a work permit must apply for a study permit for their children, who would then be classified as international students and would have to pay tuition, which can be steep.

Cost of healthcare in Canada

All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for health insurance. The country’s healthcare system is made up of provincial and territorial health insurance plans that are funded through taxes and administered by the provinces and territories themselves. 

After applying for public health insurance, expats will have to wait until they become eligible to use it. These periods can be covered by temporary private health insurance. The official recommended period for which expats should purchase temporary coverage is three months. 

Those who would like access to services that aren't covered under their province or territory’s health insurance plan can buy private health insurance, which usually includes prescription drugs, dental costs, private hospital rooms, ambulance services and prescription glasses.

Cost of food in Canada

Food and drinks in Canada are generally cheaper than in Western European countries but slightly more expensive in comparison to the United States. Canadians eat a lot of beef and chicken, making pork and lamb a rarity and therefore pricier. It's easier to get other speciality meat such as bison, especially in larger cities. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year at cheaper prices than in Western Europe.

Cost of living in Canada chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Toronto in July 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 1,560

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

CAD 1,302

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 2,556

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

CAD 2,204


Milk (1 litre)

CAD 2.60

Loaf of white bread

CAD 3.06

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 14.05

Rice (1kg)


Dozen eggs

CAD 3.84

Pack of cigarettes

CAD 16

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

CAD 12

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 2.36


CAD 4.53

Bottle of beer (local)

CAD 6.34

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

CAD 80


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

CAD 0.34

Internet (average per month)

CAD 81.74

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

CAD 174.14


Taxi rate/km


City centre bus/train fare

CAD 3.25

Petrol (per litre)

CAD 2.03