This guide is probably one of the less glamorous yet most practical introductions to Canada you’ll find because yes, money matters—you need to figure out your budget before the trip and maybe choose your destination based on cost of living.
So, how expensive Canada is, really? As you probably suspect, in such a big country, there are huge differences between cities and regions. Your current cost of living will also affect your perception—some travellers find it lower than at home, other much higher. This is why you need averages, estimates, reliable data and numbers with a dollar sign in front.
After an overview of average hourly wages, food and rent prices, phone plans and sales taxes in Canada, we offer detailed info on each of the 12 provinces and territories—Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Nunavut isn’t included (yet!)—with a population of 38,780 and a challenging location, reliable data is hard to find. But hey, if you do go, pass along any info collected!
All prices are in Canadian dollars.
Cost of living at a glance
Rent: In the most expensive cities (Toronto and Vancouver), a room in a shared house starts around $850-$1,000. You’ll pay much less in the rest of the country, except in Yellowknife.
Food: On average, an adult spends $375 per month to eat nutritious meals. Your budget depends on your diet and where you shop. Detailed information is available in Food.
Cellphone plan: You’ll pay $45-$60 per month for a plan with both data and minutes.
Internet access: Budget $40-$150 per month for Internet access.
Public transportation: $86.50/month in Montreal, $151.15/month in Toronto and $98-$177 $ in Vancouver (depending on the number of fare zones covered).
Minimum wage: From $11.05 to $15, depending on the province/territory. Tipped employees or liquor servers often have a different, lower minimum wage.
Average hourly wage: From $22.26 to $30.75 depending on the province/territory (excluding Nunavut).
Originally published May 2013, last updated November 2019.