14 Most Expensive Places To Live In Canada (2023)

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!

The Most Expensive Major Cities In Canada

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.

1. Toronto, ON

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,521 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $1,082,496
  • 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 and average house prices.

In August 2023, the average house price was over $1 million and average rent prices for a one-bedroom apartment in the city started at $2,554. CTV News recently reported that residents would need to earn $34 per hour (an average salary of $70,720 per year) to afford the cost of living.

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.

2. Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, BC
  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,467 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $1,283,729
  • Best For: Those who want to live in a modern city with close proximity to some of BC’s most beautiful nature reserves

For years, “Van City” held the position of the most expensive Canadian city. Recent data from Mercer’s 2022 cost of living survey showed that Vancouver had been surpassed by Toronto, which is interesting considering its already expensive house prices.

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 price for a Vancouver home sold for over $1.28 million in August 2023. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city will also run you an average of $2,741 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 ($1,521/month in Toronto, compared to $1,467/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.

3. Calgary, AB

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,532 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $648,900
  • Best For: Low-cost homes, great quality of life, and its diverse job market

Nestled against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary is known for its high quality of life ratings and was ranked as the world’s third-most livable city by The Economist in 2022.

It offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication, making it a magnet for both outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike.

When it comes to housing, Calgary’s market features a range of options, from downtown apartments to suburban family homes.

While the cost of living is relatively high (more than both Toronto and Vancouver), the cost to buy a home is almost half, and you can find a quality home for under $700,000. That’s nearly unheard of in Toronto and Vancouver.

The city is home to the second-largest concentration of corporate offices in Canada, including major energy companies like Suncor, Imperial Oil, and Husky Energy. Additionally, Calgary has been diversifying its economy with emerging sectors like technology, health services, and renewable energy.

Needless to say, there are ample employment opportunities in this city.

  • Fun Fact: Every July, the city hosts the Calgary Stampede, a rodeo and exhibition that is one of Canada’s largest annual events, drawing visitors from all over the world.

4. Ottawa, ON

Ottawa, ON
  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,496 per month
  • Average Home Price: $682,436
  • Best For: Finding jobs in technology, healthcare, and government

Compared to other cities like Toronto and its 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 is the province’s capital city and 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 the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre for $1,849 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.

5. Montreal, QC

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,303 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $598,535
  • 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.

6. Edmonton, AB

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,446 per month
  • Average Home Price: $397,811
  • Best For: Fairly-priced homes, excellent job market, thriving arts scene

The housing market in Alberta’s capital city is a great deal more affordable compared to other major Canadian cities and even its sister city of Calgary. That being said, the cost of living without rent is a bit high compared to other regions in the province.

Edmonton serves as a gateway to the oil sands of Northern Alberta, making the energy sector one of its most significant industries. Major energy companies, as well as research and development, have a strong presence here.

In addition to oil and gas, Edmonton has a growing focus on healthcare, education, and technology.

Despite the higher-than-average cost of living, the city’s affordable housing prices and booming job market have led to a large influx of new residents over the past couple of years.

The Most Expensive Places To Live In Canada: Smaller Cities

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.

7. Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC

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 July 2023, the average home sold for $1.03 million and the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $2,140. 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.

8. Hamilton, ON

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,405 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $873,600
  • Best For: Proximity to Toronto, students attending McMaster University

Hamilton’s housing market offers a mix of historic homes, downtown apartments, and suburban spaces, often at more affordable rates than in nearby Toronto.

That being said, home costs of just under $900,000 aren’t exactly cheap compared to the rest of Ontario, and the cost of living is only slightly lower.

Hamilton’s proximity to Toronto is one of the main reasons residents are willing to pay for the high cost of living. It’s also home to McMaster University, which is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world.

Its economy aside, the city is also known for its natural attractions, such as the Niagara Escarpment, which provides stunning views and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities.

9. Markham, ON

Markham, ON
  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,393 per month
  • 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. 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 $2,070 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.

10. London, ON

London, ON
  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,353 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $726,000
  • 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 $1,863 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.

11. Brampton, ON

Brampton, ON
  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,339 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $1,013,744
  • 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.

To rent an apartment in the city, you’ll need to shell out an average of $1,961 per month in rent and an average of $337 per month in hydro and utilities.

12. Surrey, BC

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,338 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $1,138,200
  • 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 July 2023, the average home in the Fraser Valley region sold for $1.01 million.

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.

13. Burnaby, BC

  • Average Cost Of Living (Without Rent): $1,315 per month
  • Average Home Cost: $1,140,365
  • Best For: Proximity to Vancouver, local parks, suburban housing

Burnaby lies just a half-hour drive west of downtown Vancouver and is an increasingly popular city that offers a good mix of urban and suburban living.

Its key industries include technology, film and television, and retail, with the presence of major shopping destinations like Metropolis at Metrotown.

Housing options in Burnaby range from high-rise apartments to single-family homes, generally at a more affordable rate than in Vancouver, where many of its residents work.

Known for its beautiful parks like Burnaby Mountain and Deer Lake, the city offers excellent quality of life away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

14. Kelowna, BC

Kelowna, BC

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 $1.1 million in 2023, and the cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $1,815.

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.

How Is The Cost Of Living Determined?

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

FAQs

To wrap up, let’s answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about the most expensive places to live in Canada.

What Is The Most Expensive City In Canada?

Currently, the most expensive city in Canada to live in is Toronto. The average cost of living (not including rent) is $1,521 per month, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home cheaper than $1 million.

What Is The Most Expensive Province To Live In?

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.

Where Is Housing The Most Expensive In Canada?

Markham, Ontario, currently has the most expensive housing market in Canada, with the average home selling for over $1.34 million.

Wrapping Up

Most Expensive Places To Live In Canada

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!

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a 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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