How expensive is life in Canada? A 2019-2020 cost of living review by province and territory

Chapter 6: Cost of living in Quebec

Published: 30-12-2019

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PVTiste

Cost of living in Quebec

Montreal is the most expensive city in the province, but cost of living is very affordable in Quebec City, Gatineau (in the National Capital Region), just outside Montreal in Longueil or Laval, in Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, etc.

Average wages in Quebec

Minimum wage (as of May 1, 2019):

  • General minimum wage (applies to most employees), $12.50 per hour
  • Minimum wage for employees receiving tips, $10.05 per hour
Quebec 2018 average hourly wage
Average hourly wage (total employees - all industries) $25.42
Management $40.40
Business - finance and administration $25.51
Natural and applied sciences $33.64
Health $27.26
Education - law and social - community and government services $31.36
Art - culture - recreation and sport $23.48
Sales and service $17.09
Trades - transport and equipment operator $25.18
Natural resources - agriculture $21.13
Manufacturing and utilities $21.19

Cost of living in Montreal

Rent prices

According to the CMHC, a bachelor apartment is $753 per month, a one-bedroom apartment (called a “3 ½” in Quebec) is $887 per month in Montreal. RentSeeker estimates a bachelor apartment is $1015 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $1282 per month. For PadMapper, a bachelor apartment is $1250 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $1500 per month.

By the way, your French language skills may not help when you’re looking at classifieds since Quebec uses unique terminology. Read Deciphering rental ads in Finding accommodation in Canada!

RentSeeker data November 2019 PadMapper dat November 2019
Bachelor apartment $1015 $1250
One-bedroom apartment (3 ½ in Quebec) $1286 $1500
Two-bedroom apartment (4 ½ in Quebec) $1676 $1950
Three-bedroom apartment (5 ½ in Quebec) $2165 $2334

Mon loyer Québec is a useful collaborative tool (beta version, in French only) to see how much people pay all over Montreal. This is a great way to see differences from one neighbourhood (or even one street!) to the next.

The most expensive neighbourhoods in the city are downtown Montreal (downtown core and around universities), Plateau-Mont-Royal and Côte-des-Neiges. The cities of Outremont and Westmount are also pricey.

Like everywhere else, the further from the downtown core, the cheaper rent is. You also pay for conveniences—apartments close to a subway station are more expensive. The exception is Nuns’ Island (Île-des-Sœurs)—despite the lack of efficient public transportation options to get to downtown Montreal, it’s very expensive. In this case, you’re paying for the stunning environment!

So, where should you go for cheaper rent? Laval, north of Montreal (just avoid the West side where real estate is expensive) or Longueuil, on the south shore, directly across Montreal. However, both are quiet commuter towns and public transportation options are not exactly convenient, which is why most residents drive to Montreal. You basically have to deal with either traffic jams (and the cost of car ownership) or tricky connections to Montreal’s public transportation system.

Public transportation

Montreal’s extensive public transportation system is operated by the Société de transport de Montreal (STM). It includes metros and buses:

  • Reloadable OPUS card: $6
  • Single trip (bus and metro): $3.50
  • Ten prepaid trips: $29 (so $2.90 each)
  • Unlimited weekend pass (from Friday, 6 p.m. to Monday, 5 a.m.): $14
  • Three-day pass: $19.50
  • Weekly pass: $26.75
  • Monthly pass: $86.50

For more information, read Current fares.

Entertainment

  • Restaurants: a meal and a non-alcoholic drink sets you back $15-$20 (plus tax and tip). Fancier restaurants are around $45-$80.
  • Bars: a beer is $5-$7 and your favourite cocktail $8-$15
  • Movie theatre: a ticket is $12-$14
  • Cigarettes: $10 for a pack of 20.

Food

Food prices are average for Canada, but produce is often more expensive than in Europe, South America or Asia.

Cost of living in Quebec City

Rent prices

Real estate in Quebec City is much cheaper than Montreal. According to the CMHC, a bachelor apartment is $527 per month, a one-bedroom apartment (again, a “3 ½” in Quebec) is $613 per month. For PadMapper, a bachelor apartment is $890 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $929 per month. Strangely, the monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is almost the same in Quebec City and in Montreal.

Rent is higher in Upper Town (“Haute-Ville”) than in Lower Town (“Basse-Ville”) and Vanier.

Public transportation

The bus system is operated by the Réseau de transport de la capitale (RTC):

  • Single-trip ticket: $3.10
  • Single trip cash fare: $3.50
  • Day pass: $8.75
  • Unlimited weekend pass: $16
  • Five-day pass: $30
  • Monthly pass: $89.50

For more info, check the Fare schedule.

Entertainment

  • Restaurants: a meal and a non-alcoholic drink sets you back $15-$20 (plus tax and tip). Fancier restaurants are around $45-$70.
  • Bars: a beer is $4-$7 and your favourite cocktail $8-$13
  • Movie theatre: a ticket is $12.50
  • Cigarettes: $12 for a pack of 20

Rent prices elsewhere in Quebec

You will find rent prices for other cities in Quebec on the map below, based on data from the CMHC:

Chapter 6 of 10

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