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How Much Does It Cost to Live in Canada?

The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.

Ranking in 8th place in their most recent study (out of 149 countries) was Canada. This puts Finland in the top 6%, with its rankings for Personal Freedom (2nd), Business Environment (4th) and Social Capital (6th) helping the country secure a top spot. Finland’s lowest positions were for Health and Safety & Security, for which both ranked 24th.

Whilst Canada offers the perfect blend of cultural cities and untouched landscapes, what is the true cost of living there?

Canada’s economy

Canada has the 10th largest economy in the world. Although Canada’s government delivers green policies, the country’s economy is actually reliant on the fossil fuel industry. The service industry, in general, dominates the country’s economy and 75% of Canadians are employed by the sector.

After a lull in 2016, Canada’s economic growth has regained momentum and 94.2% of the population are employed.


The official currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar. Each dollar is divided into 100 cents.

The Canadian dollar is available in the following denominations:

Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 (rarely used)

Coins: 1c (rarely used), 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c (rarely used), $1 and $2

Expat accommodation in Canada

Whether expats are looking to buy or rent in Canada one thing will be very apparent – this is a general shortage of properties. Properties in cities and their suburbs get snapped up quickly so most new arrivals tend to utilise the skills of an estate agent to help them secure a home. Expats should remember that accommodation is likely to account for a large portion of their living expenses.

Whilst the hunt for a home might take a little longer compared to other countries, expats will be surprised by the different styles of property available. Most expats end up living in an apartment, condo, townhouse or detached house.

Expat healthcare in Canada

The Canadian healthcare systems is on par with that of the US and UK. Whilst Canada offers free healthcare to all its citizens, expats do not get the same treatment. Healthcare costs in Canada are considered expensive compared to similar nations and it is the only country in the world where prescriptions aren’t included in the government-funded healthcare system. For this reason, most expats in Canada tend to invest in a comprehensive health insurance policy to ensure they are completely protected.

Expat education in Canada

Schooling accounts for 5% of the Canadian government’s spending every year. Tertiary education is promoted in the country and most children attend school from the age of five and graduate at eighteen. However, each school district is managed on a provincial level so things can vary so expats should check the educational guidelines are where they are living.

Education is free in Canada for nationals and legal residents. Expats not in this position will be charged a fee by public schools in Canada, however, this is less than the private or international schools in the country.

Jobs in Canada for expats

93.2% of Canada’s population is employed and most expats do not have an issue when seeking employment in the country. The unemployment rate is predicted to drop to 0% by 2020 as the number of job roles being created is increasing year upon year.

Being bilingual in French and English is a real hit with recruiters in Canada. All expats wanting to work in Canada will require either a permanent residence permit or a work permit. Many expats find jobs in forestry, fishing, oil and gas sectors. In the cities, roles in financial services, communications and real estate are fruitful.

Comparison to UK

The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user-contributed data in regard to Canada.

The tables below provide an overview of the differences in costs between Canada and the UK. Please note that all Canadian prices have been converted into British pounds.

GroceriesUK Price (£)Canadian Price (£)Cheaper Country?
Milk (1l)£0.91£1.32UK
White bread (500g)£0.95£1.66UK
Eggs (12)£2.19£1.97Canada
Local Cheese (1kg)£6.04£7.03UK
Banana (1kg)£0.99£1.04UK
Water (0.33l)£0.88£1.02UK


TransportUK Price (£)Canadian Price (£)Cheaper Country?
Petrol (1l)£1.13£0.75Canada
One-way ticket£2.50£1.94Canada
Monthly pass£60£56.25Canada
Taxi (1km)£1.55£1.10Canada


Utilities (Monthly)UK Price (£)Canadian Price (£)Cheaper Country?
Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment£150.49£85.64Canada
1 minute of PAYG talk time£0.07£0.19UK
Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)£24.39£42.91UK


ClothingUK Price (£)Canadian Price (£)Cheaper Country?
Jeans (Levi or similar)£56.61£37.30Canada
Dress (chain store)£29.07£25.79Canada
Nike running shoe£55.00£59.55UK
Leather business shoes£61.56£74.12UK


Eating OutUK Price (£)Canadian Price (£)Cheaper Country?
Fast food meal£5.00£5.97UK
Inexpensive restaurant£15.00£8.95Canada
3 course, mid-range, 2 people£55.00£38.79Canada
Imported beer£3.50£4.18UK


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