Canada was recently ranked among the top-ten most expensive countries in the world to live in, outranking Australia, Qatar, and the Netherlands. Although Canada offers plenty of tax credits and other forms of government aid, living in Canada is still rather costly.
Currently, the average cost of living in Canada per household is $5,748 per month or $68,890 per year. Some provinces and territories are cheaper or more expensive to live in, but this represents the average cost of living in Canada as a whole.
Below, I’ll break down the cost of living in each Canadian province, explain how the cost of living is calculated, and give you some helpful tips to reduce your own living expenses so that you can keep more of your hard-earned money.
The cost of living is defined as the amount of money needed to pay for all necessary living expenses and maintain a certain quality of life. Necessary expenses include:
- Food and groceries
- Fuel & transportation
- Education and education-related expenses
- Entertainment (within a reasonable standard)
The current job market and economy of a region can also affect the cost of living, depending on minimum wage laws and how much the average resident earns.
The average cost of living in Canada is calculated by adding together the average cost of living in each province and territory and then dividing this by the number of provinces and territories surveyed. Statistics Canada generally produces separate reports for provincial regions and territories.
The average cost of living in Canada is $5,748 per month per household, according to data obtained from the most recent report on average household spending by Statistics Canada.
To get a picture of living costs throughout Canada, though, it helps to be able to compare the cost of living in each province and territory.
So, with that in mind, here’s the cost of living breakdown by province and territory in Canada per household:
|Province or Territory||Monthly Cost of Living per Household||Annual Cost of Living per Household|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$4,897||$58,768|
|Prince Edward Island||$4,722||$56,662|
- Sources: Statistics Canada reports Household spending, Canada, regions and provinces (2019) & Household spending, three territories
One thing to note is that the cost of living in Canada’s three territories (Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon) may not be the most accurate. The most recent Statistics Canada report on household spending in the territories was released in 2012.
However, the provincial data is more recent and was released by Statistics Canada in 2019, based on census and income tax data.
Recent inflation and market fluctuations may have caused an increase in the cost of living throughout Canada, though, and I will update this list as soon as Statistics Canada compiles and releases its most up-to-date report.
If you have a mind for statistical analysis and read through the official Statistics Canada reports that I referenced, you may have noticed two key terms at the top of the household spending charts:
- Total expenditure
- Current consumption
To calculate the cost of living in Canada, I used the current consumption dollar amount, as this represents the amount of money consumers spend on necessities (including rent, mortgage payments, or other forms of shelter).
The total expenditure includes both the current consumption amount and the following:
- Income tax payments (the biggest category)
- Insurance payments & pension contributions
- Charitable gifts & donations
These last three spending categories don’t directly relate to the cost of living, though. Income taxes (GST/HST) are pre-defined by each province and the federal government.
Insurance payments, pension contributions, and donations are all items of personal choice and aren’t considered to be a necessity or living expense.
Now that you can see the cost of living breakdown in Canada by province and territory let’s take a deeper look at each region and examine some of the factors that contribute to living costs.
Note that all of these numbers are per household spending, not individual
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $6,654
- Annual Cost Of Living: $79,848
It may come as a bit of a surprise that Alberta has the highest average cost of living in Canada. Although Alberta doesn’t have as many billionaire residents as the neighbouring province of British Columbia, Alberta residents (as a whole) earn significantly more than the national average.
The average pre-tax income of Albertan households is $125,522, which is well above the national average of $75,452.
This is largely due to the fact that Alberta is the energy centre of Canada. Alberta produces over 80% of the country’s oil and over 30% of Canada’s other natural resources. Jobs in these sectors typically pay very well, which has likely contributed to the country’s higher cost of living.
Another interesting fact is that Alberta was one of the first provinces to institute a $15 minimum wage, several years before neighbouring provinces followed suit.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $6,459
- Annual Cost Of Living: $77,511
British Columbia is home to some of Canada’s most prominent billionaires. As such, it should come as no surprise that BC has the second-highest cost of living in Canada.
As a former resident of Vancouver (the province’s capital city), I can attest to this. In fact, for a while, Vancouver was ranked as the most expensive city in Canada, before it was eventually surpassed by Toronto, ON.
Vancouver aside, BC is also home to some of Canada’s top-rated retirement communities and resort towns, which have also driven the average cost of living up. At $15.65, though, BC currently has the highest provincial minimum wage in Canada, which helps to balance out the higher-than-average cost of living in BC.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $5,441
- Annual Cost Of Living: $65,288
Manitoba is one of the more affordable provinces in Canada, and the annual cost of living is around $3,500 cheaper than the national average.
Some of the contributing factors are Manitoba’s $13.50 minimum wage, the fact that much of the province is rural, and the fact that you can purchase a home in the capital city of Winnipeg for just over $350,000.
Compared to its neighbouring province of Ontario, where the average home sells for around $835,000, Manitoba is a very inexpensive province to live in. That being said, the average salary in Manitoba is around 6% below the national average, which balances out the cost of living.
However, Manitoba is a great place for remote workers to consider living, as they’ll be able to stretch their funds a lot farther compared to neighbouring provinces.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,849
- Annual Cost Of Living: $58,191
New Brunswick offers some of the cheapest homes and has some of the lowest living costs in Canada.
That being said, the province doesn’t offer much in terms of city life, high-paying jobs, or a climbable socio-economic ladder. Over 80% of New Brunswick is covered with forests, and the province has fewer than 778,000 residents.
In September 2022, the average home sold for $281,900, which is incredibly affordable compared to other provinces in Canada. As such, New Brunswick is a great place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to settle down and live a slower lifestyle.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,897
- Annual Cost Of Living: $58,768
Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s easternmost province. The province is home to just over a half-million residents, and the population has stayed relatively consistent over the past fifty years.
Newfoundland and Labrador aren’t known for bustling cities and industrial centres. Rather, the province is known for its quiet, relaxed pace of living.
The region has some of the most pristine ocean communities in Canada, and tourism is a major source of income here. Additionally, there are lots of jobs in the manufacturing and hydroelectric sectors.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $5,827
- Annual Cost Of Living: $69,922
The Northwest Territories have a relatively high cost of living compared to most other Canadian provinces. Additionally, the territory has one of the highest median incomes in Canada.
This is due, in part, to its remote location in Canada’s northern hemisphere. Because of its distance from major distribution centres, the cost of food, building materials, and everyday necessities is significantly more costly in this territory.
This, of course, directly contributes to the high cost of living in the Northwest Territories.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,980
- Annual Cost Of Living: $59,763
Nova Scotia is a relatively inexpensive province to live in and is home to some of Canada’s cheapest cities. Although Nova Scotia is one of the smallest provinces in Canada, it’s also the most populated province in the Atlantic Region.
Its capital city of Halifax has a steadily growing population of 359,000 and has become a financial centre for the region.
Once you move outside of the main city, though, the cost of living in Nova Scotia becomes dramatically cheaper. In September 2022, the average price of a home sold in Nova Scotia was $379,000, which is fairly affordable compared to the cost of housing in neighbouring provinces.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,254
- Annual Cost Of Living: $51,045
Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada at $16 per hour. That being said, the cost of living is relatively low compared to other provinces in Canada. This is likely due to the fact that there aren’t as many high-paying employment opportunities in the territory.
The main drawback of living in Nunavut is that it’s severely under-served. You won’t find affordable public transportation as you would in Ontario, and there are very few public roadways connecting the territory’s communities.
In fact, there are no highways that come into the province, which means that all food and supplies must be delivered by air, incurring additional expenses.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $5,990
- Annual Cost Of Living: $71,876
Ontario is Canada’s most populated province, is home to the federal government, and has a rapidly growing population of 15 million and counting. It’s also home to Canada’s highest concentration of billionaires who contribute a huge amount to the province’s tax revenue.
Toronto is not only the most expensive city in Ontario but currently stands as the most expensive city in the entire country of Canada, with apartment rent averaging close to $3,000 per month (not including other living expenses).
Although Ontario’s cities are expensive to live in, the province has plenty of more affordable suburbs and smaller towns where the cost of living is lower.
There are also a number of provincial benefits and tax credits that lower to middle-income families can take advantage of to lower their cost of living (such as the Ontario Trillium Benefit).
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,722
- Annual Cost Of Living: $56,662
Prince Edward Island is known for its scenic vistas, quiet communities, and slow pace of life. In recent years, it’s become one of the most popular retirement destinations for aging Canadians. The cost of living is relatively low here, and the average home sells for just over $390,000, similar to its neighbouring provinces in the Atlantic region.
The average pre-tax income for PEI families is $74,210, which is rather low compared to the national average. This, combined with PEI’s slower-paced economy, is likely why the island offers a lower cost of living.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,851
- Annual Cost Of Living: $58,208
When people think of Quebec, Montreal is probably one of the first places that come to mind. While this city is known for being on the more expensive side, the rest of the province is relatively affordable by comparison. Only 59% of Quebec’s population lives in an urban region, and the rest live in rural Quebec, which is markedly cheaper.
Even urban centres like Montreal and Quebec City are still more affordable than Vancouver or Ontario, though. Both offer excellent (and affordable public transportation), food costs below the national average and a single person can still rent a room for less than $1,000 per month.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $5,944
- Annual Cost Of Living: $71,323
Saskatchewan has historically been known for being one of Canada’s more affordable provinces. However, it seems as if the tides are beginning to change, as Saskatchewan’s economy is leading the nation – especially in terms of its manufacturing sector, which has grown by almost 27% over the past year.
Because of this, the cost of living is steadily increasing throughout the region. While housing and rent costs are still relatively low, the cost of food and entertainment has been going up.
- Monthly Cost Of Living: $4,836
- Annual Cost Of Living: $58,033
Last but not least, we have Yukon – Canada’s westernmost territory. The entire territory has a small population of just 43,744 individuals. Despite this, Yukon has grown very rapidly over the past few years, as its economy has experienced a small “boom.”
It has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada (3.3%) and is one of the only regions to have experienced GDP growth between 2019 and 2021.
This growth is most pronounced by the high number of Canadians immigrating to Yukon, which has caused a temporary housing shortage. Thanks to this housing shortage, the cost of buying and renting a home has increased.
Several key factors contribute to the overall cost of living in a region. They’re all interlinked in one way or another. Here’s a quick breakdown of each factor and how they can affect each other to determine the cost of living in Canada.
The cost of buying a home or renting an apartment in a region is one of the main factors that determine the cost of living. This is because your mortgage or rent payment is likely the highest monthly expense you’ll have.
When considering the housing market, it’s also important to consider the difference in housing costs between the region’s major cities and its more rural areas.
For example, Ontario’s extensive rural population helps to balance out the high cost of living in the province’s more expensive cities like Toronto and Hamilton.
By comparison, consider somewhere like New Brunswick, where most of the province is rural, and the overall cost of living is very low.
Although this technically isn’t a cost of living factor, the current job market and economy of a region almost always contribute to the overall cost of living. Simply put – where people earn more, they spend more.
Alberta is a great example of this. Although its capital city is nowhere near as expensive as Vancouver, BC or Toronto, ON, the overall cost of living is high due to the fact that Albertans earn more (on average) than those working in other provinces.
Food costs don’t differ too much from one province to the next. However, some of the farther regions (such as Nunavut or Victoria Island, BC) may have higher food costs due to logistical complications.
For example, Nunavut is inaccessible via major roads during the peak of winter and goods shipped to Victoria Island must travel by boat, which incurs additional expenses.
The cost of entertainment typically increases in more affluent regions and cities in Canada. This encompasses expenses such as:
- Clubs, bars, and nightlife
- Eating out at restaurants
- Museums, exhibits, and events
- Recreational facilities
While all Canadians have access to tax-supported universal healthcare, the cost of private healthcare differs significantly from one province to the next. Private healthcare providers tend to charge more the closer they’re located to major cities and affluent populations.
The cost of clothing can be a bit difficult to calculate, as it varies significantly depending on an individual’s taste and habits. However, there are some trends worth noting.
Clothing typically costs the most in major cities and becomes cheaper in more rural areas. Of course, the flip side of this is that cities provide more opportunities for shoppers to purchase second-hand clothing at thrift stores.
The cost of fuel is a major factor in living expenses, especially considering that electric vehicles make up less than 2% of auto sales in Canada. Fuel costs typically increase in major cities, where the taxes are higher, and fuel stations have to pay more for the property they’re located on.
Although most students are able to take out loans to cover the cost of education, it’s still an expense that must be paid.
The cost of post-secondary education also affects the average cost of living within a given region or territory.
Provinces that are home to major private universities tend to have higher education costs compared to provinces that only offer community colleges or are home to less reputable universities where tuition is cheaper.
Is the increasing cost of living getting you down? If so, here are some helpful tips to consider if you want to reduce your living costs (no matter where you live).
Setting a budget for yourself (and sticking to it) is one of the easiest ways to save money. The steadily increasing consumer price index in Canada has made necessities like food and groceries far more expensive than they used to be.
To keep your budget positive, you’ll need to cut down on wasteful spending and start adhering to a strict budget.
The easiest way to accomplish this is with an easy-to-use budgeting app that you can link to your primary accounts to track and categorize spending.
Restaurants have become increasingly expensive lately. If you’re like most Canadians who eat out several times a week, then your finances are inevitably going to be affected. One of the best ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on food is to start cooking at home instead.
Cooking at home doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you have some basic cooking tools, ingredients, and a YouTube cooking tutorial, you can chef up gourmet meals at home for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at a restaurant.
Given the choice, I far prefer living alone. However, if you’re young, single, and don’t have a family to take care of, then living with a roommate can dramatically reduce your monthly rental expenses.
Alternatively, if you own a home, you could consider renting out one of the rooms on Airbnb as a short-term rental to help you pay your mortgage.
Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider going out to play a few games of pool or attending a free dance workshop instead of a night at the club. Go for a coffee date instead of dinner and drinks. Take advantage of free or low-cost museums and art exhibits.
To wrap up, here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about living costs in Canada.
Alberta currently has the highest average cost of living in Canada. However, the province also has the highest average income compared to other provinces in the country, so this balances out the higher-than-average living costs.
According to Statistics Canada, PEI has the lowest cost of living in Canada.
The average cost of living in Canada is $5,748 per month, a number which has steadily grown over recent years. As long as you’re smart about your finances, continue to save money, and stick to a budget, though, you should be able to adapt to the rapidly changing economy.
Another alternative is to consider moving to a more affordable part of the country. Keep on reading to see the cheapest way to move across the country and start fresh next!