Since the cost of living is how much income you would need to sustain a standard of living and cover expenses in a particular city, it is safe to say Toronto’s cost of living is one of the highest rates among cities in Canada. The main components that influence the overall cost of living in a city include basic living expenses such as the cost of housing, transportation, food, and childcare. Below we will calculate the cost of living for Toronto and other major cities in Canada to help you make a more informed decision about where to live.
Toronto’s Average Cost of Living
The average cost of living for a family of three with a young child in Toronto is $5,500 per month. Your biggest expense out of this total cost will be rent, with the average cost to rent a two-bedroom apartment and pay additional fees for utilities being over $2,700 per month. This amount represents almost 50% of your living expenses! Other costs you can expect to pay include food costs, with the average cost of food per person in Toronto being $400 per month, transportation costs, with the cost of a car being $400 per month, and average preschool costs of $1,200 per month. With such high costs for day-to-day living expenses, it makes it hard to save for investments, to purchase a home, for a vacation, or for an emergency. Overall, the cost of living for a family in Toronto is very high, which is important to consider if you have a family or plan on having a family in the future.
Ottawa’s Average Cost of Living
Ottawa, the capital of Canada, has an average cost of living per month of $4,200 for a family of three with a young child. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ottawa is much more affordable than Toronto, with the average monthly cost being $1,800 including the cost of utilities, compared to over $2,700 in Toronto. Other monthly living costs in Ottawa include $350 for food per person, $400 for the cost of a vehicle, and $1,000 for preschool costs. Even with Ottawa’s emerging technology sector and many well-paying jobs, the cost of living is still relatively affordable for families compared to Toronto.
Vancouver’s Average Cost of Living
Vancouver comes closest to matching Toronto’s high cost of living, with the average cost of living per month being $5,050 for a family of three with a young child. Toronto is only $450 per month more expensive, at $5,500. The biggest cost by far if you live in Vancouver is housing, with the cost of rent with utilities being $2,600 per month for a two-bedroom apartment. Other monthly costs include $360 per person for food, $450 for the cost of a vehicle, and $1,000 for the cost of preschool. Similar to Toronto, Vancouver may be unaffordable to live in without a high income, especially for families.
Calgary’s Average Cost of Living
Although the province of Alberta has had a weak economy compared to the rest of Canada since the price of oil fell in 2015, Alberta and Calgary still benefit from some of the highest incomes in Canada, and an affordable cost of living. The cost of living for a family of three with a young child is $4,250 per month, compared to Toronto at $5,500 per month. This breaks down to $1,670 for rent and utilities for a two-bedroom apartment, $380 per person for food monthly, $370 for the cost of a vehicle monthly, and $1,075 for monthly preschool. Overall, Calgary continues to be a city that is drawing migration both within Canada and internationally because of its relatively affordable cost of living.
Montreal’s Average Cost of Living
With strong rent controls, subsidized child care, low electricity prices, and lower relative costs than other major cities, the average cost of living in Montreal for a family of three with a young child is $2,650 per month. This compares very favourably to the cost of living of $5,500 per month in Toronto! The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment including utilities is $1,150 per month in Montreal, according to data from CMHC’s Rental Market Report. Other monthly expenses include $330 in food costs per person, $330 for a vehicle, and $179 for preschool. Montreal’s childcare costs are more than $1000 less per month than Toronto’s because the Government of Quebec subsidizes daycare. Although the cost of living is very attractive in Montreal, lower average household incomes and higher tax rates might make Montreal slightly less appealing on a cost of living basis than at first glance.
In conclusion, understanding how the cost of living will differ in another city is crucial to making a decision about where to live. Even if you are getting paid more in a high-cost city such as Vancouver or Toronto, you may have less money left over after you deduct your living expenses because of higher living costs. As well, although the cost of living in a city is important to your overall standard of living, it’s also important to live somewhere that you like, which means a city that’s close to family and friends, home to a job that you like, and a place with good amenities and activities that you enjoy.
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