Have you ever wondered how much it costs to live in some of Canada’s most expensive cities?
Canada is currently ranked as the 18th most expensive country in the world to live in. It’s closely followed by Japan and the United States, which are ranked as the 19th and 20th most expensive countries, respectively.
If so, you’re in the right place. Below, I’ll show you the most expensive places to live in Canada and back it up with the latest data on the cost of living. Let’s dive in!
Canada, as a whole, is one of the more expensive countries in the world to live in. However, there are plenty of affordable cities and towns for those looking to cut down on costs. If you don’t mind paying extra for the big-city lifestyle, though, then this list is for you.
Let’s start by taking a look at the most expensive major cities in Canada.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,366.86 per month
- Average Home Cost: $1,079,395
- Best For: High-paying job opportunities in tech and finance sectors
Toronto is widely regarded as the economic centre of Canada. The city has a growing population of 2.93 million residents and is home to 86,700 businesses. If you’re a young professional, there are few better places to jump-start your career.
Provided that you can hustle hard, provide value, and continue developing your skills, then you’ll have little trouble finding gainful employment in Toronto. With so many inhabitants, Toronto is also an excellent city to begin building your professional network in.
All of that being said, Toronto is also the most expensive city in Canada, in terms of the overall cost of living. In November 2022, the cost of the average home sold was over $1 million and the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city was $2,335.
The city’s central location in Canada, proximity to the US border, and position as a trade centre are what make Toronto a great city for business. However, if you’re trying to live a more affordable, peaceful lifestyle, then you may want to consider somewhere else.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,324.70 per month
- Average Home Cost: $1,131,600
- Best For: Those who want to live in a modern city with close proximity to some of BC’s most beautiful nature reserves
According to Mercer’s list, Toronto is ranked as the 89th most expensive city to live in, followed by Vancouver, which is now ranked as the 108th most expensive city in the world to live in.
According to Wowa’s third-quarter housing market report, the average Vancouver home sold for over $1.13 million in November 2022. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city will also run you an average of $2,440 per month in rent (and that’s before you pay utilities).
Although Vancouver’s housing market is a bit more costly than Toronto, the cost of living in the city is a bit more affordable ($1,366/month in Toronto, compared to $1,324/month in Vancouver). The average consumer probably won’t notice too much of a difference between the two cities on a day-to-day basis, though.
Vancouver is actually my hometown and it’s been interesting to witness firsthand just how much the city has grown and expanded since I was a child.
Standing in the heart of the city, you’ll be surrounded by stunning high rises and a modern, well-planned city structure. However, if you go just outside of the city, you’ll be able to experience some of the best hiking trails and waterways that British Columbia has to offer.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,251.10 per month
- Average Home Cost: $621,254
- Best For: Finding jobs in technology, healthcare, and government
Compared to Toronto and Toronto’s suburbs (some of which I’ve mentioned below), Ottawa is a lot more affordable. However, we’re ranking Canada’s largest cities in this section, and with a population of 1,017,449, Ottawa is Canada’s fourth-largest city.
Ottawa serves as the seat for Canada’s government and is home to the Royal Canadian Mint, which produces all of the coins in Canada. It’s home to a number of politicians and government employees. Ottawa has also become known for its growing healthcare and technology sectors.
The average home in Ottawa costs around half of what you’d pay in Vancouver or Toronto, which makes it a far more favourable market to purchase a home in. The cost of living is also significantly less, and you can rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre for $1,693 per month.
The few times that I’ve visited Ottawa, I’ve always been impressed by how friendly the people here are. The city is also very clean, modern, and progressive, which makes it great for newcomers who are looking to make friends.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,158.44
- Average Home Cost: $560,074
- Best For: Artists, food-and-bev workers, French speakers
Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city and is home to 1,762,949 residents. Despite its expansive size, Montreal is a relatively affordable city to live in, work in, and buy a home in.
Like the rest of Quebec, Montreal’s primary language is French. However, many of the residents are bilingual and speak English, as the city has a growing immigrant population.
That being said, the majority of Montreal businesses favour candidates who can speak both French and English fluently, so if you only speak one or the other, then you may have trouble finding high-paying employment in major sectors.
Linguistics aside, though, Montreal has a lower cost of living than Toronto or Vancouver. The city also offers excellent public transportation and a similar big-city lifestyle.
Now that we’ve ranked Canada’s most expensive major cities let’s take a look at some of the smaller cities in Canada. While these cities have a far lower population (all of them have fewer than a million residents), they’re just as expensive to live in as some of Canada’s larger cities.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,320.62 per month
- Average Home Cost: $943,834
- Best For: Retirement living, watersports
Located on the southeastern point of Vancouver Island, Victoria serves as the capital of British Columbia. It’s also home to some of the province’s most expensive and exclusive neighbourhoods.
In October 2022, the average home sold for just under $944,000 and the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $2,043. Although it’s certainly more affordable than living in downtown Vancouver, you also have to keep in mind the fact that you’re cut off from the mainland.
Since Victoria is located on an island, residents and visitors must travel by ferry. The same also applies to goods and materials that are transported to the island.
This, of course, drives up the cost of everyday goods and services, leading to a higher-than-average cost of living. A recent report showed that Victoria is the most expensive city in Canada to buy groceries in.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,154.59 per month
- Average Home Cost: $1,227,612
- Best For: Retirement, outdoor sports
Kelowna is a picturesque lakeside city located in the heart of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. In recent years, it’s become one of the most popular retirement destinations in Canada, thanks to the slower pace of life, incredible views, golf resorts, and boating community.
Living in Kelowna doesn’t come cheap, though. According to Remax Canada, the average home sold for over $1.2 million in 2022, and the cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $1,755.
Recently, Kelowna was ranked as the 5th most expensive city in Canada by Global News Canada. Despite this, some are saying that the city is undervalued.
Part of the higher cost of living can be attributed to Kelowna’s more isolated geographic location, as it’s a four-hour drive from Vancouver’s ports.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,241.98 per month
- Average Home Cost: $952,950
- Best For: Lower cost of living and close proximity to Vancouver
Surrey has a growing population of 518,467 residents and is located in the Fraser Valley, which includes the cities of Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford. In late 2022, the average home in the Fraser Valley region sold for $952,950.
Surrey is just an hour’s drive away from Vancouver, which has made it a popular place for those looking to escape Vancouver’s high cost of living and growing traffic.
The atmosphere is very similar to Vancouver, and Surrey is home to a growing number of businesses, diverse communities, and offers the same beautiful mountain views and access to ecotourism opportunities.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,230.81 per month
- Average Home Cost: $999,631
- Best For: Proximity to Toronto, lower cost of living, and a more relaxed pace of life
Brampton is a 45-minute drive west of Toronto, which is one of the main reasons people move to the city.
Compared to the hustle and bustle of Toronto, Brampton offers a slower pace of life, has less traffic, and you can actually purchase a home for less than $1 million – all of which have made it a great alternative to the larger city.
Brampton has a growing population of 656,480 and is home to over 8,100 small businesses, which has led to the development of a vibrant, upscale, small-city economy.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,301.37
- Average Home Cost: $1,344,123
- Best For: Proximity to Toronto, exclusive neighbourhoods, recreational activities
Although home prices in Ontario have largely decreased, Markham is an exception to the rule. Between October and November 2022, home prices in Markham increased by 6%. Today, Markham is one of the most expensive small Canadian cities to buy a home in.
If you prefer to rent instead, then expect to pay $2,025 per month in rent (which is a bit cheaper than Toronto).
The small city of 338,503 is the 4th-largest in the Greater Toronto Area and is home to some of the region’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
Similar to Brampton, Markham is just a 45-minute drive outside of downtown Toronto. As a result, it’s become a popular city for those who want to live close to the big city without having to deal with the stressful traffic and the fast pace of life.
- Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,186.61
- Average Home Cost: $611,343
- Best For: Parks, museums, low crime rates, education
London, Ontario is two-and-a-half hours southwest of Toronto and is best known for being home to the University of Western Ontario. Aside from the major college, the city has great public schools and a low crime rate, which has made it a popular destination for families.
While the cost of living is similar to cities in the GTA, you can purchase a home in London for far cheaper and rent an apartment for an average of $1,836 per month.
London has a diverse community, offers plenty of public parks, museums, and has a growing art scene – all of which are great reasons to consider living here.
The cost of living in a city isn’t just determined by the cost to buy a home or rent an apartment. Although these are some of the most important determinants, cost of living also incorporates the cost of categories, such as:
- Groceries and food
- Entertainment and eating out
- Recreational activities
- Transportation and fuel
- Clothing and retail
- Building supplies and materials
To wrap up, let’s answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about the most expensive places to live in Canada.
Currently, the most expensive city in Canada to live in is Toronto. The average cost of living (not including rent) is $1,366 per month, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home cheaper than $1 million.
As a whole, Ontario is the most expensive province in Canada to live in. It’s not only home to Toronto but is also home to some of the country’s most expensive smaller cities like Brampton, Hamilton, Mississauga, and others. Ontario is also home to the highest concentration of billionaires in the country.
Markham, Ontario currently has the most expensive housing market in Canada, with the average home selling for over $1.34 million.
From the busy urban metropolis offered by Toronto and Vancouver to smaller cities like Victoria and Kelowna, these are some of the most expensive cities in Canada. While they may come with a higher cost of living and sky-high real estate, these cities often offer some of the best employment opportunities.
If you’re more concerned with the climate, though, keep on reading to see my list of the cities with the warmest weather in Canada next!