21 Cheapest Places to Live in Canada: Lowest is $1,390/Month

21 Cheapest Places to Live in Canada
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Last updated Jul 11, 2020

Canada is the 2nd best country in the world to live, according to this US News and World Report. Thankfully, this doesn’t translate to the cost of living, and it’s only the 24th most expensive country to live in. 

I’ve moved around a lot, and I’ve experienced firsthand how drastically different costs of living can be from one place to another. So if you are looking for the cheapest place to live in Canada, I can help. 

This article orders the cheapest cities to live in Canada. Some of the results will surprise you!

Average Income by Province

Before we head into the cheapest place to live in Canada discussion, let’s see how provinces line up based on the average income. The income below belongs to individuals (not households) aged 16 and older. 

ProvinceAverage Income
Alberta$55,700
British Columbia $48,500
Manitoba$45,600
New Brunswick$43,100
Newfoundland and Labrador$45,300
Nova Scotia$42,900
Ontario$49,000
Prince Edward Island$42,000
Quebec$43,900
Saskatchewan$48,500
For reference, the national average income = $48,000

21 Cheapest Places to Live in Canada

There are a lot of variables that may go into deciding what the cheapest cities to live in Canada are. The cost and considerations might also be different for individuals and families. 

For this list, we have decided upon two comprehensive variables: Monthly cost of living for a single individual (without rent) and monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment. These two variables encompass the total cost of living for a particular place. The data is gathered from Numbeo and Wikipedia.

21. Surrey, British Colombia

Surrey, British Colombia

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,151
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,490

With a population of about 517,000, Surrey is the second most populated city in the province. It’s mainly an urban area but also houses a decent portion of agricultural and rural areas. There are six communities in the city. The majority of the population is made up of minority ethnicities, with South Asians forming the largest piece of the pie. 

The city is a major industrial hub in the province, as well as a major logistics center point in the region, which means jobs are relatively easy to come by. 

20. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,191
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,412

Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia and houses a population of about 431,479. The city acts as a major economic center in eastern Canada and has a generous allocation of both government services and private businesses. Most of the city’s population is made up of natives. 

Major industries in the city include agriculture, mining, fishing, and forestry. It’s also home to the 11th best university in the country, i.e., Dalhousie University. If you frequently eat out, you will find Halifax significantly cheaper than Toronto, though not so much for groceries. Childcare and transportation are also cheaper.  

19. Kelowna, British Colombia

Kelowna, British Colombia

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,100
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,357

Kelowna is named after the word of Grizzly bear in Okanagan. It’s the third-largest metropolitan area in the region, with a population of 217,214, which is rapidly growing. The service industry is the largest employer in the city. Tourists come for boating, golf, hiking, and biking in summer, and winter traffic is dominated by skiing and snowboarding. It’s also famous for its vineyards.  

Average salaries in the city are on par with large metropolitans like Toronto, but the cost of living is significantly cheaper. According to Maclean’s Crime Severity Index (CSI), Kelowna unfortunately also has one of the higher crime rates in the country.

18. Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,194
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,183

Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, and the second-most populous city (932,546 people). It’s home to the sixth-best university in the country, i.e., the University of Alberta (ranked 136 in the world), which is also one of the largest employers in the region. Thanks to its rich heritage and cultural festivals, the city is nicknamed the festival city of Canada.

The city is home to major oil and gas reserves, some of the largest in the world. Naturally, petrochemical industries in the city are some of the most prominent employers. It’s also the regional financial center. Despite a lot of employment opportunities and a decent-sized population, the city is very cheap to live in.

17. Kitchener, Ontario

Kitchener, Ontario

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,083
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,289

Kitchener is the twin city of Waterloo and home to 233,222 people. It was called Berlin up until 1916. It has one of the strongest German heritage among the cities in the Waterloo region. It has the eighth-best university in the country (University of Waterloo). Kitchener also hosts the largest music event in Ontario, the KOI music festival.

The city’s economy is driven mostly by manufacturing. Major employers in the city include Research In Motion, Toyota Manufacturing, Manulife, and Sunlife Financial.

16. Montreal, Quebec

Montreal, Quebec

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,055
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,293

The most populous city in Quebec is home to over 1.7 million people. Most of the people living in Montreal have European roots, primarily French and Italian. Downtown Montreal is also known as the “indoor city,” and it is the largest underground complex in the world.

Montreal has the second-largest economy among Canadian cities. Major industries in the city include electronic goods, aerospace, pharmaceutical, and telecom. It’s also the provinces major entertainment and media center. It’s also home to the fifth-best university in the country (University of Montreal), and corporate headquarters of two of the big five banks: Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada

15. Kingston, Ontario

Kingston, Ontario

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,123
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,224

The “Limestone” city situated at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, is home to 123,798 people. It shares its name with the capital city of Jamaica, and weirdly enough, it was briefly one of the first capital of United Canadas. The city has a strong military history. 

Most important employers in the city are public sector institutions: healthcare, public education, government, and tourism. It’s substantially cheaper than Toronto in terms of restaurants, transportation, and leisure activities, though childcare and utilities in the city are unusually expensive.

14. Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,216
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,058

Niagara Falls, a famous tourist attraction, is also one of the cheapest cities in the country to live in. Tourism is the bread and butter of the city, and most of the 88,071 population is associated with the service industry. The city used to be home to many hydroelectric power producers, but they went away in the 70s and 80s.

The city had to lean towards tourism to provide employment for the population of the city. They also incorporated gambling into the mix, which attracted a lot of tourists. Apart from utilities, the city is substantially cheaper compared to Toronto. 

13. Nanaimo, British Colombia

Nanaimo, British Colombia

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,141
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,125

Nanaimo, also known as the harbor city, is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Aboriginal people still make up about 8.4% of the 90,500 inhabitants of the city. It had a coal-driven economy, which was augmented by forestry in the 60s. Currently, the most prominent employer is the provincial government. 

Even apart from the monthly rent, it’s a very cheap city to live in. It also has the main campus of Vancouver Island University, which attracts a lot of international students. 

12. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,145
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,096

Saskatoon is the largest and city in the province of Saskatchewan. About 330,674 people live in the city. It’s also considered one of the sunniest cities in the country and has a lot of bridges. The city houses a decent number of aboriginal inhabitants (First nation) that have been in the city for about 6,000 years. 

Despite being the coffee capital of the country, the bulk of the city’s economy rests upon wheat. Two other pillars of the city’s economy are Potash and Oil. Out of these two, Potash is more important since about two-thirds of the world’s recoverable potash reserves are in the city. The corporate headquarter of the world’s largest Potash company, Nutrien are also in Saskatoon.

11. London, Ontario

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,022
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,163

Apart from the name, London doesn’t share a lot with the capital of the UK. It’s the regional center of healthcare and education, and the two largest employers in the city are Western University and TD Canada trust. The population of the city is 383,822.

It had a manufacturing-focused economy before 2009, but now it’s more oriented towards IT and research. Healthcare research – a major economic driving factor in the region, mostly comes under the scope of the eighth-best university in the country, i.e., Western University. 

10. Red Deer, Alberta

Red Deer, Alberta

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,208
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $943

Red Deer has a population of just 100,418. It’s a major hub of oil, cattle, and agriculture in the region. Most of the population lives in the urban areas of the city. It doesn’t have a university, and many of the students who stay in the city, have to make do with Red Deer College, which is the largest post-secondary institution in the city. 

Despite being home to just over 100 K people, Red Deer has a high crime index. It’s still one of the top-ten most dangerous cities in the country (used to be the sixth most dangerous).

9. Regina, Saskatchewan

Regina, Saskatchewan

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,101
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,014

Regina is the capital city of Saskatchewan and home to over 215,106 people. Like the larger city of Saskatoon, Regina’s economy and most of the jobs also revolve around Potash, oil, and natural gas. Some of the major employers are 3S health services, Access communications, and Cornerstone credit union. 

Though tourism isn’t the main contributor to the city’s economy, the city has various parks and attractions. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous cities in the country. 

8. Prince George, British Colombia

Prince George, British Colombia

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,141
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $971

Despite just a population of 74,003, it’s one of the largest cities in northern BC. The economy of the city is driven mostly by the service industry. The local administration has invested nearly $100 million in infrastructure. The city traditionally relied upon forestry for most of the revenue generation. 

It’s also one of the 15 most dangerous cities in the country, with a CSI score through the roof. Despite a small population, it’s home to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), the 29th best university in the country.   

7. Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,177
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $931

The small city of Saint John boasts a population of 67,575 and has a distinction of being the oldest incorporated city in the country. It’s the second-most populous city of the province. The economy traditionally relied quite heavily on the shipbuilding industry, which is one of the largest (and oldest) in the world. 

Now, the city is focused on IT, tourism, and educational institutions. The city has a decent industrial heritage, with facilities like the country’s largest oil refinery and dock. But the economic trend is shifting.

6. Lethbridge, Alberta

Lethbridge, Alberta

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,215
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $882

Lethbridge has a population of about 92,729, and it’s the transportation, industrial, and financial leader of Southern Alberta. About 50% of the population is associated with hospitality, retail, healthcare, and the education sector, which is quite a contrast to its agricultural and industrial heritage. However, the major sector in the city is still agriculture.

The small city has over 130 parks and other major attractions like Lethbridge Viaduct, the highest and longest steel trestle bridge in the continent. 

5. Winnipeg, Manitoba

Lethbridge, Alberta

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,076
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,011

Winnipeg, the capital and the largest city in the province, boasts a population of 705,244, which is the 7th largest in the country. The city remains covered in snow for about one-third of the year, but it also gets quite hot in the summers. About half the population is employed in the trade, manufacturing, educational and healthcare sector, and about 14% in the public sector.

The city’s name is partly the inspiration for the famous character Winnie the Pooh. It also has the longest skating rink in the world.

4. Laval, Quebec

Laval, Quebec

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $988
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $1,087

Laval is the largest suburb of Montreal, and the 13th most populous city in the country, with over 422,993 people living in it. The economy in the city is driven by retail, industrial, pharmaceutical, and technology sectors. The city has four major industrial parks, each with its individual collection of industries and businesses. 

Prominent employers in the city include SAP, Intact, and the University of Montreal. It’s also a relatively very safe city to live in.

3. Windsor, Ontario

Windsor, Ontario

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,087
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $923

Windsor is known as the automotive capital of the country. It’s home to FCA Canada, and also has two Ford company’s engine plants. The other major sectors in the city are tourism, education, and government services. Windsor has a population of 217,188.

It’s home to one of the largest distilleries in North America (JP Wiser) and about 180 parks. As the most southern city in the country, it’s literally five minutes away from Detroit – another automotive city, or at least it used to be.  

2. Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City, Quebec

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $1,022
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $775

Quebec City has a population of about 531,902, and it’s the capital city of Quebec. It’s also considered one of the safest cities in the country, especially among such heavily populated cities. A part of the city (the oldest) is part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. 

Major employment sectors in the city are defense, services, public administration, and tourism. Manufacturing only makes up about 10% of the jobs. 

1. Sherbrooke, Quebec

Sherbrooke, Quebec

Average Monthly Cost of Single Person (without rent): $884
Average Monthly Cost of 1-bedroom in City Center: $506

The winner on this list and one of the cheapest places to live in Canada is the city of Sherbrooke, home to about 161,323 people. It’s an educational powerhouse in the region, and the University of Sherbrooke is the largest employer in the city. It’s very well located and ideally connected by major railways and highways. 

As one of the cheapest cities in the country, it’s prices present a striking contrast against Toronto. Rent, property prices, childcare, even utilities cost a mere fraction of what they do in Toronto. Plus, it’s relatively very safe, which adds to its charm.

Conclusion

I hope this list of 21 cheapest places to live in Canada will help you in your quest for affordable living. If you aren’t able to move away from big (and expensive) metropolitans, you may want to adopt some of these frugal living habits to lower the cost of your living. 

<a href="https://wealthawesome.com/author/christopher-liew/" target="_self">Christopher Liew, CFA</a>

Christopher Liew, CFA

Creator of Wealth Awesome

A Canadian CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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