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Canada vs. USA Which is better to live in

Canada vs. USA: Which is better to live in?

Struggling to decide about which country to move to? Canada and the USA offer plenty of opportunities and lifestyles, but making the decision depends on several factors and individual preferences.

That’s why we decided to throw away our bias and compare the two countries on multiple facets to help you decide which country is better to live in!

Canada and the USA both offer diversity, high-quality education, and plenty of job opportunities. However, Canada is a safe nation with universal healthcare and affordable living costs, while the USA has cheaper housing and higher income.

What led us to this conclusion? Well, we compared the living costs, healthcare, educational and job opportunities, salaries, and safety in both countries! Read on!

Cost of Living: Canada vs. USA

Cost of Living Canada vs. USA
Image Source: John McArthur
The cost of living in Canada is more affordable than in the USA. One person needs an average of $2,317 per month in the USA, compared to Canada’s $1,901, which is an 18% difference.

You would think that the USA wins over Canada regarding cheaper living costs because of the higher salaries, but living in the Great White North is actually more affordable.

On average, Canada’s food, transportation, and housing prices are lower than the USA’s. How did we calculate this? Below is a table using the data we’ve gathered from LivingCost.org.

Cost of LivingCanadaUSA
Food
Milk (1 L)$2.09$1.07
Rice (1 kg)$2.90$4.04
Eggs (1 dozen)$3.28$4.43
Chicken Breast (1 kg)$11.40$11.70
Round Steak (1 kg)$14.00$15.30
Potato (1 kg)$2.24$2.68
Onion (1 kg)$2.40$2.65
Water (1 L)$1.13$1.37
Eating Out
Fast Food Meal$9.56$9.60
Restaurant Dinner for 2$63.30$67.50
Been in a Pub (16 fl oz)$5.20$5.87
Cappuccino$3.64$4.76
Others
Utilities for 1 person (electricity, heating, water, etc.)$93.70$116.00
Internet Plan (50 Mbps, 1 month unlimited)$57.40$68.30
Gas/Petrol (0.26 gal)$1.21$1.01
Prices in Canadian dollars (CAD)

Based on the table above, it’s apparent that the USA generally has a higher cost of living than Canada, particularly in food and monthly utilities. It’s important to note that monthly expenses will depend on the city and lifestyle.

For instance, you cannot compare living in New York City, considered the most expensive city to live in the USA, to living in Leduc, a small Albertan city—living in major cities, especially in urban places, will cost more than suburban and countryside areas!

A better comparison is Toronto and New York—both the most populated cities in their respective countries. In this example, the latter is 28.3% more expensive in consumer prices than the former—Canada still wins in this category.

Housing: Canada vs. USA

Housing Canada vs. USA
Photo by Zac Gudakov
Canada’s housing prices are much higher than those in the USA, sometimes with an average price that is twice as high. Canada’s benchmark price is significantly higher at $757,300 compared to the USA’s $422,000.

Real estate is where we lose. Our American neighbour has a slightly better situation than us when it comes to owning residential properties.

On average, real estate prices in Canada are significantly higher than in the USA for both houses and rent. In fact, Canada has seen a huge price increase in the housing market from January to April 2023.

Despite a slight decrease in July this year, Canadians continue struggling to buy homes due to continuous rising prices—especially after the pandemic.

Typically, the cost of homes rises gradually over the years, although there may be occasional dips. Still, the USA has more affordable home prices than its neighbouring country up north.

Moreover, these price disparities can be attributed to various factors, including differences in demand, supply, and economic conditions between the two countries

Also, housing prices and rent are typically higher in urban areas compared to suburban and countryside regions. Some factors will also affect the final sold prices, like the state of the property and possible renovations needed.

Below is a table with average house prices we’ve gathered from WOWA and Redfin for major cities. But do note that these costs will also vary depending on the type of housing and the size of the property.

CountryAverage Price (single-family residence)
Canada$757,300
USA$440,000
CityAverage Price (single-family/detached homes)
Canada
Toronto, Ontario$1,118,374
Vancouver, BC$1,270,664
Winnipeg, MB$376,656
USA
Los Angeles, California$930,000
Boston, Massachussetts$775,000
Washington, DC$645,000

Education: Canada vs. USA

Education Canada vs. USA
Photo by Charles DeLoye 
The USA is an ideal destination for those looking for more research-focused educational opportunities thanks to its world-renowned universities.

On the other hand, Canada (Is it worth studying in Canada?) is a smart choice for students looking for more affordable tuition fees.

We should note that while both countries offer high-quality education, the USA just won this category for its plethora of prestigious universities.

The USA dominated the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023, with 177 universities earning spots out of 1,799. Meanwhile, Canada only has 31 universities that made the list.

As a matter of fact, seven institutions secured the top 10 positions. Notably, Harvard University, trailing closely behind the UK’s Oxford University, claimed the 2nd spot, while Stanford University held the 3rd position. 

Furthermore, the USA’s educational institutions offer more academic opportunities due to research-focused universities, leading to better employment opportunities for the future.

However, tuition fees in Canada are more affordable, ranging from $15,000 to $60,000 per year, while it usually costs around $23,000 to $100,000 in the USA. So, budget is also something to consider.

Here’s a table we compiled to show you the list of the top-ranking universities from the USA and Canada. Clearly, the former reigns the top 20 spots of the World University Rankings 2023.

World RankingUniversityLocation
2Harvard UniversityMassachusetts, USA
3Stanford UniversityCalifornia, USA
5Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Massachusetts, USA
6California Institute of Technology (Caltech)California, USA
7Princeton UniversityNew Jersey, USA
8University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)California, USA 
9Yale UniversityConnecticut, USA
11Columbia UniversityNew York, USA
13The University of ChicagoIllinois, USA
14University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania, USA
18University of TorontoOntario, Canada
20Cornell UniversityNew York, USA

Another upper hand we have when it comes to education is the straightforward visa application process. International students in Canada can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which can help them attain permanent residency status.

Moreover, the visa process for international graduates in Canada focuses more on academic accomplishments. The country also has new initiatives to welcome immigrants due to a labour shortage.

On the other hand, obtaining a visa to the USA typically entails a complex and time-consuming process, taking into account various factors beyond educational achievements.

Work Opportunities: Canada vs. USA

Work Opportunities Canada vs. USA
Photo by Saulo Mohana
Both Canada and the USA boast strong job markets, providing plenty of opportunities. However, Canada has a distinct advantage over the USA due to its smoother and more straightforward visa application process for immigrants.

How did we reach this conclusion? While both Canada and the USA have plenty of job openings in different fields, the determining factor is the ease of application in each country.

Canada has an advantage regarding a smoother work visa application process, which is worth considering if you plan to move abroad. 

The country has introduced various programs for immigrants looking to work due to its ongoing labour shortage problem. Canada has to fill jobs since many citizens are close to their retirement age—or have retired already.

Moreover, there’s even a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) for individuals with specific skills and work experience who can contribute to each province. In fact, the country plans to welcome 500,000 immigrants annually by 2025.

Consequently, Canada has several workers’ programs that act as pathways for international students to stay and work in the country. It’s a much easier process than the USA, which has a long-winded process.

Salary

Before we start, we would like to note that the average income will vary depending on the industry/sector, position, skills, and work experience. 

Now, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the 2022 average yearly salary in the USA is US$77,463, while Canada’s is US$59,050—a 26% difference!

But why is the salary lower in Canada? It’s due to the higher operating costs and the demand and supply. The USA has a population of over 339 million, while Canada is at around 40 million—a big difference!

Consequently, businesses in the USA have a higher demand for its products and services. Furthermore, many international enterprises are based in the US, attracting more investors and workers than in Canada.

In the table below, we gathered the average income per annum for the largest provinces and states per population, according to NationwideVisas.com.

CanadaAverage Yearly SalaryUSAAverage Yearly Salary
Ontario$55,524California$61,290
Quebec$51,735Texas$50,490
British Columbia$53,516Florida$47,750
Alberta$61,865New York$63,970
Manitoba$49,661Pennsylvania$51,340
Saskatchewan$54,371Illinois$55,130

Diversity: Canada vs. USA

Diversity Canada vs. USA
Photo by Zac Ong
Canada and the USA are both diverse countries. They both have a mix of cultures and languages, especially in major urban cities like Toronto, Vancouver, New York, and Los Angeles.

Diversity is where Canada and the USA are tied. They are two countries with high numbers of immigrants per year.

With a population of approximately 339 million, the USA accepts approximately 1.1 million legal immigrants annually. In contrast, Canada, with a population of 38 million, welcomes around 500,000 immigrants each year.

In 2021, the largest group of immigrants in the USA are from Mexico, with India, China, and the Philippines trailing behind. Meanwhile, India, China, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the top countries of immigrants in Canada in 2022.

It’s important to note that not all states and provinces will have a racially diverse population, particularly in rural areas. But many immigrants have dispersed throughout Canada and the USA over the years, making their number greater than before.

Below is a table displaying the countries from which the majority of immigrants originate, according to CIC News and CNN News:

Top Countries of Origin for Immigrants
CanadaUSA
IndiaMexico
ChinaIndia
AfghanistanChina 
NigeriaPhilippines
PhilippinesEl Salvador
FranceVietnam
PakistanCuba
IranDominican Republic
USAGuatemala
SyriaKorea

Safety: Canada vs. USA

Canada is safer than the USA, earning the 11th spot on Vision of Humanity’s 2023 Global Peace Index. Meanwhile, the USA was down at the 131st position.

What made us decide on this?

Well, Canada has an overall GPI (Global Peace Index) score of 1.35, trailing behind Switzerland at 1.339 — the lower the score, the more peaceful. It has made some impressive progress this year, moving up two spots from 2022, where it had a score of 1.39.

In contrast, the USA landed the 131st position with a 2.448 GPI score, behind South Africa’s 2.045. Interestingly enough, the USA took the same position the previous year with a score of 2.439.

Factors that affected these scores are the level of societal safety and security, ongoing international and domestic conflict, and the degree of militarization. 

Healthcare: Canada vs. USA

Canada provides healthcare insurance paid for by taxes, making it affordable for its people, while the USA does not have universal healthcare.

One of the things that many Americans struggle with is expensive healthcare, leading to many using their personal funds to pay for hospitals. In fact, the USA spends almost double out-of-pocket expenses than Canada, according to The Commonwealth Fund.

In addition, the USA is the only high-income nation that does not provide a guarantee of health coverage for its population. As a result, a considerable portion of the population remains without any form of health insurance.

Moreover, maternal and infant deaths in the USA are higher than in Canada. In 2020, the former had an average of 5.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, while the latter had 4.5.

Also, for every 100,000 individuals, the USA saw 7.4 fatalities due to assaults, including gun violence, while Canada reported 1 death. It’s worth noting that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average stands at 2.7.

Our Final Thoughts

Overall, both countries offer plenty of opportunities for newcomers with different lifestyles. The end result will depend on your preferences and priorities.

We made a table below to summarize everything we discussed above to help you decide.

FactorsOur ChoiceWhy?
Cost of LivingCanadaCanada, on average, is 18% more affordable than the USA.
HousingUSACanada’s house prices are more expensive, sometimes twice more than the USA’s.
EducationTiedThe USA provides more research-focused world-renowned universities, while Canada has cheaper tuition fees.
Work OpportunitiesCanadaBoth countries provide plenty of job opportunities, but Canada’s smoother work visa process edges out the USA.
DiversityTiedBoth countries welcome thousands of immigrants each year, with many urban cities having a diverse population.
SafetyCanadaCanada is the 11th safest country in the world, while the USA is down in the 131st spot.
HealthcareCanadaCanada has a publicly-funded universal healthcare system, which the USA doesn’t provide.
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