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Comfortable Life in Canada How much salary is enough

Comfortable Life in Canada: How much salary is enough?

While Canada isn’t exactly the most expensive country to live in, it still has a high cost of living. If you’re looking to move here, it’s important to know the average salary you need to live in this country comfortably—granted, it still depends on your lifestyle.

We looked into various factors that will affect your monthly income, like housing, food, transportation, and others so you can make an informed decision before moving here.

How much salary do you need to live comfortably in Canada?

A single person needs a yearly salary of $45,000 and up (after taxes) to live comfortably in Canada, while a family of four needs roughly $90,000 to $100,000. Factors will affect this, such as the lifestyle and region you live in.

Want to know what will ultimately decide how you live comfortably in Canada? Let’s dive right in!

Factors That Affect Living Costs in Canada

Many variables will affect how you live comfortably in Canada despite having an above-average salary. A couple and a family of four will need higher monthly budgets than a single person.

In addition, the province and city you live in will play a significant role. For instance, living in Toronto or Vancouver will be more expensive than living in Calgary or Abbotsford.

That also includes the lifestyle, such as hobbies, entertainment, and travel. As we’ve said above, the prices will depend on the region—Ontario will have pricier restaurants and shops than Alberta.

Now, let’s talk about the expenses! *gulp*

Mortgage and Rent

It’s no secret that Canada has expensive housing prices. According to WOWA, the average sold price of a home in Vancouver is $1,270,664, while Toronto’s is $1,118,374.

Moreover, we’ve seen a year-by-year increase in the real estate market. Despite some occasional dips, it still remains pretty high!

To give you an idea, here’s a table we compiled using the data gathered by WOWA. We listed the average home prices as of July 2023 in the following provinces.

ProvinceAverage Home Price
British Columbia$967,948
Ontario$856,269
Quebec$479,004
Alberta$455,923
Nova Scotia$435,293
Prince Edward Island$402,614
Saskatchewan$305,669
Newfoundland and Labrador$304,765

Not everyone in Canada can afford to buy a home. It’s quickly becoming unaffordable, especially for middle and low-income families.

The same goes for rental units.

In fact, the rental asking prices in Canada increased a whopping 8.9% compared to the previous year! The July 2023 Rent Report by Rentals.ca showed that you need to pay an average of $1,435 to $2,420 a month, depending on the number of bedrooms.

Furthermore, 2 to 3-bedroom units for families will be even more expensive. Rentals.ca shows that the average 3-bedroom apartment in Toronto starts roughly at $3,716, with listings showing over $4,000 in asking prices!

RenterAverage Monthly Rent Price
Single Person$1,500 – $2,500
Family of Four$3,716 – over $4,000

Utility Bills

You need electricity, gas, water, phone, and internet to live comfortably. You need these to function at home!

If you live in a house, you are in charge of utilities. If you rent an apartment, it will depend on your agreement with your landlord.

Some landlords will include the cost of utilities in the monthly rental price. But others will decide to hand that over to the tenant.

If that’s the case, you can expect around $300 in basic utilities if you live alone. Families with kids can spend an average of $300 to $500.

Here’s a closer look at the average prices for monthly utilities in Canada, as gathered by Numbeo.

UtilityAverage Monthly Price
Basic (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage for a 915 sq ft apartment)$200.29
Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls (10GB with data)$56.66
Internet (60Mbps or more, unlimited data)$85.87

Food Expenses

hand grabbing a red bell pepper
Photo by sydney Rae

Before we start, we want to note that grocery budgets will depend on the individual’s dietary preferences. For example, certain food products like gluten-free and plant-based alternatives are pricier than their regular counterparts.

Now, inflation results in food prices going up. Unfortunately, Canadians (and our bank accounts) will not experience any break any time soon.

Canada’s Food Price Report 2023 forecasts a food price increase of 5% to 7%. We will particularly see that in the meat, vegetables, and dairy aisles.

Furthermore, a family of four will need to spend roughly $16,288.41 annually on food alone! Meanwhile, a single person spends about $3,500 to $4,000 yearly.

Shockingly (or maybe not), that’s more than a thousand-dollar increase from the previous year!

We also want to mention that older Canadians tend to spend less money on food than younger individuals. In contrast, families with teenagers tend to spend more money on food—adolescents do experience growth spurts, after all!

Let’s talk about the actual food prices. According to the gathered data by Numbeo, a dozen eggs cost $4.34. That’s quite an increase, considering it used to be $3.87 just last February 2022, according to Statista.

Here, we compiled a table from Numbeo to give you an idea of how much Canadians spend on food.

FoodAverage Price
Market
Regular Milk (1 gallon)$10.62
Loaf of Fresh White Bread$3.01
Eggs (1 dozen)$4.34
Local Cheese$6.69
Chicken Fillet (1 lb)$6.85
Beef Round (1 lb)$8.32
Apples (1lb)$2.34
Oranges (1 lb)$2.19
Potato (1 lb)$1.47
Onion (1 lb)$1.51
Lettuce$3.21
Restaurants
Meal for 2 (mid-range, 3-course meal)$90.00
Meal at McDonald’s$13.00
Cappuccino (regular)$4.82

Here’s a summary table for a better look at the yearly food budget you need to consider.

Number of PeopleAverage Yearly Food Costs
Single Person$3,500 – $4,000
Family of Four$16,288.41

Transportation Costs

Most Canadians drive to work. But cars are not cheap to own. Since the pandemic, Canada experienced auto supply shortages, leading to expensive costs. *gulp*

Autotrader.ca reported that a new vehicle has an average price of $66,288, while a used one is around $39,645. Besides the high upfront fees when buying a car, you need to consider the maintenance and insurance costs. 

You should know that auto insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Canada. Each province also sets its own specific requirements for coverage. 

Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan drivers pay higher car insurance premiums than others. The average annual premiums in these provinces are around $1,200 to $1,800.

In contrast, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island have lower annual premiums. Drivers will only need to fork out $850 to $900 each year.

Additionally, international cars are pricier than domestic ones. Naturally, SUVs come with a higher price tag than sedans—which means bigger families will need to shell out more money!

Now, if you choose to use the public transit system, the costs will depend on where you live. Torontonians lose in this category as the commute will take a large chunk of their monthly salary.

Toronto residents spend the most on public transit at $156 per month. That means a single person will cough up over $1,800 yearly to get to work!

Meanwhile, Calgary is just behind with a monthly pass of $112, and Winnipeg takes the third spot at $107.80.

For a closer look, the table below lists the public transit prices in Canada’s selected cities as reported by Picodi. Note that these prices are per person.

CitySingle TicketMonthly Pass
Toronto$3.20$156
Calgary$3.60$112
Winnipeg$2.80$107
Vancouver$2.50$102.55
Montreal$3.50$94
Saskatoon$3.00$83
Halifax$2.75$82.50
St. John’s$2.50$78
Yellowknife$3.00$75
Moncton$3.00$70
Whitehorse$2.50$62
Charlottetown$2.00$20

Maybe plan to move to a walkable city or bike-friendly city? It will cost way less to walk and cycle to work!

Childcare

Childcare in Canada is expensive. Of course, that depends on the number of children you have or plan to have, lifestyle, and region.

Due to inflation, the costs of raising a child have gotten more expensive. It takes an average of $15,000 to $20,000 a year, or $270,000 to $360,000 until the child turns 18.

Furthermore, that’s roughly $1,500 a month for basic needs. Keep in mind that as living costs continue to rise, these average prices will surely go up as well. 

As we mentioned above, it will vary depending on the lifestyle. Are your kids going to summer camp? Will they take weekly piano lessons? Do they need a nanny? Are they going to get braces in the future?

So, you might want to consider saving up for future expenses.

It’s worth emphasizing that employee benefits typically include the family. Thus, it can be financially helpful to make the most of these benefits!

Education

Raising a child means saving up for education. One advantage we have, besides high-quality education, is that the public school system covers the tuition fees from kindergarten to high school.

Many call it “free,” but it actually isn’t. Education fees are paid for through taxes by residents—just like healthcare!

Higher education is a different story, though. Domestic students do have an edge as they pay less than international students.

As per Statistics Canada, in the 2022/2023 school year, the average tuition fee for domestic undergraduate students amounted to $6,834. Meanwhile, graduate students incurred an average cost of $7,437. 

It’s not quite the same for international students because they pay way higher fees than citizens and permanent residents. International undergraduate students paid around $36,123, while international graduate students had to pay $21,111.

Keep in mind that tuition fees do depend on the field of study. Some courses will cost way more! Check out the tuition fee table for full-time Canadian students based on Statistics Canada.

Average Tuition Fees for Canadian Full-Time Students, 2022/2023
Field of StudyUndergraduate StudentsGraduate Students
Business, management and public administration$7,207$14,823
Education$5,185$6,747
Math, computer and information sciences$7,012$8,902
Nursing$5,995$6,956
Social and behavioural science, and legal studies$5,864$6,056
Physical and life sciences and technologies$5,992$6,935
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation$6,031$6,045
Engineering$8,527$7,454
Humanities$5,889$4,898
Dentistry$23,963$13,223
Law$13,222$6,589

Healthcare

Thanks to Canada’s publicly funded healthcare system, we can pretty much afford to go to the hospital. All citizens and permanent residents can sign up for public health insurance.

But keep in mind that Canadian provinces have different health plans. That means not all will cover the same services and products.

One example is the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), which won’t cover eyeglasses or dental services at the dentist’s office. Also, ambulance emergency services are only fully covered under certain circumstances.

That’s why many Canadians pay for supplemental health insurance. That’s another to subtract from your salary besides the tax deduction for universal healthcare.

So, how much is private health insurance in Canada?

Premium health plans will have an average of $4,000 per year, but it will depend on the coverage. Let’s say you pay that amount, that will deduct $333 per month from your income.

Miscellaneous Costs

Is it living comfortably if you can’t have fun every now and then? Extra costs mean leisurely activities, like sports, movies, travel, and hobbies.

Now, leisurely costs will depend on the individual’s lifestyle. Do you prefer travelling once or twice (maybe even thrice?) a year? Or are you a movie buff? Do you enjoy going to the spa twice a month?

These costs will also include birthdays, weddings, and special occasions. If you’re a parent, do you plan on taking your kids to a theme park celebration? Or just a simple birthday party at home?

Leisurely activities can probably take out $200 to $500 a month from your salary. Of course, that will depend on the activity and how often you plan on doing it!

Our Final Thoughts

A single person living in Canada needs at least $3,000 a month to live comfortably in the country. Meanwhile, a family of four needs at least $8,000 to $9,000 monthly. Those are after taxes!

As much as we love Canada’s breathtaking views, pristine lakes, friendly people, and delicious cuisine, we have to admit it’s not cheap to live here.

Year after year, living costs keep on going up. Thus, many middle-income families are finding it increasingly challenging to manage their expenses. 

Keep in mind that monthly bills will depend on spending habits, financial commitments, lifestyles, and the region you live in. Canadians are mostly having a difficult time making ends meet due to rent and food prices.

Moreover, if you plan to live in Toronto or Vancouver (Canada’s two most expensive cities), expect to spend way more on rent. Quebec City, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg are definitely more affordable.

The region is an important factor to consider, especially since housing costs don’t seem to be going down any time soon.

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