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Cost of living in Canada: Basic expenses for newcomers

Canada is a popular destination for immigrants due to its strong economy, high standard of living and welcoming culture.


However, the cost of living in Canada can shock newcomers, especially those from countries, like ours, with a lower cost of living.


Understanding the expenses associated with living in Canada is essential for anyone planning to immigrate to a new country.


This post will explore some of the higher expenses you can expect to encounter as a newcomer to Canada. We will also include our personal experience living in Mississauga, Ontario, as a two-adult couple with no children.


Remember that these are basic expenses you will have to pay monthly living in Canada. In addition, you will need to budget for entertainment expenses, arrival expenses (tickets, college tuition, etc.), retail purchases, etc.


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2. Food



1. Housing


One of the most important expenses you will face in Canada is housing. If you don't know what to expect when renting a property as a newcomer, you can read How to Rent Your First Home as a Newcomer to Canada.


The cost of housing varies depending on the city you're in and the type of housing you're looking for.


In Toronto and Vancouver, two of Canada's largest cities, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is over $2,000 - $2500 per month.


In Vancouver, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is over $2,000 - $2500 per month.

In smaller cities like Quebec City or Halifax, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is around $800 to $1,600 per month, according to the information retrieved from Numbeo.com; by the way, I recommend this page to explore more details of the cost of living of the city you want to check.


In the last two years, prices have gone way up; we have lived in a fully furnished 1 bedroom apartment in Mississauga, Ontario, for 1750 CAD per month since the beginning of 2021. Still, we know that similar apartments today hover around 2500 CAD, even unfurnished.


2. Food


Food is another major expense you will face in Canada, and the amount of money spent on food will depend on the size of your family and your preferences.


If you want to save money on food, you can buy groceries and cook at home; if you want to know other resources we use to spend less on food, I invite you to read 16 tips for buying groceries on a budget in Canada.


Food is another major expense you will face in Canada

In our case, we spend around 400-500 CAD per month trying to cook at home most of the time, trying to use apps to save on food and also, taking into account that we follow a plant-based diet, we don't consume dairy, eggs or meat, which sometimes have higher prices, compared to legumes or vegetables.


3. Transportation


Transportation costs in Canada vary according to the city and the preferred mode of transportation.


In Toronto and Vancouver, where public transportation is well-developed, a monthly transit pass costs between $150 and $200.


In smaller cities, where public transportation is less developed, owning a car sometimes becomes the best option.

Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto/GTA public transit cards

In our case, we used public transit for a year and a half in Mississauga, as we didn't have to commute daily with 50 CAD a month on the Presto Card; we were fine, but if you have to commute every day, this expense will increase. Consider that the fare on MiWay (Transportation in Mississauga) is 3.1 CAD.


After a year and a half, we bought a used car for 5300 CAD, and it has come in handy, especially for saving time.


A trip that used to take an hour by bus is now 15 to 20 minutes. However, you must remember that other expenses appear when you have a car, such as a car insurance (we pay 178 CAD/month), gasoline (about 1,40 CAD per litre) and maintenance.


If you want to know how we complete the process to get a car, you can check out How to Buy a Car as a Newcomer in Ontario, Canada.



4. Utilities


Utility costs, such as electricity, gas (if applicable), tenant's insurance and Internet, should also be considered when calculating your budget to come to Canada.


For our 1-bedroom apartment, the monthly electricity payment is around 50 CAD. There are special times during the day when the rates are lower, such as weekends or between 7 pm and 7 am, that can help you save a little.


We also use the Internet, and our monthly payment is around 96 CAD.


Utility costs must also be considered in your budget.

Depending on the place you are renting, you must pay a tenant's insurance that will protect your belongings in case of any problems with the property you are renting; we pay 25.16 CAD per month.


If you want to rent a house, check if there are additional costs for snow removal or other, which in our case, are not required to pay.


5. Healthcare


Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system, which means that all residents can access basic medical services at no cost.


However, when you are a newcomer to Ontario with a study or work permit, you do not have access to this system. You must stay in the province for a couple of months to apply; if you want to learn about that process, I invite you to visit Health Card for Work Permit Holders in Ontario.



In addition, some services, such as dental care, eye care and prescription drugs, are not covered by public health care and can be expensive.


The cost of private insurance, which covers these additional services, can range from $100, $200 or even more per month, but usually, the company you work for provides that insurance or you can pay for it yourself.


 

This summary can help you get an idea of the fixed monthly expenses and help you calculate your budget for moving to Canada.


If you are already in Canada, are there other essential payments in your province that need to be considered here?

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