Geographically, Canada is a large landmass with ten provinces and three territories spread across six time zones, climate types and habitation levels.
As a Permanent resident, you can have your pick of the provinces. You have a say on where you want to live, work or study within Canada. While this freedom may drive you towards the most attractive and opportunity-filled cities, it is wise to consider that different places have wildly differing living costs.
Big cities, while giving you more access to opportunities, also command a higher cost of living. It’s the reason why many smaller destinations are gaining popularity with recent immigrants.
Striking the right balance between opportunity and affordability is vital when immigrating to Canada.
This article will compare the different Canadian provinces and determine the province with the lowest cost of living in Canada.
What are the factors that determine the cost of living?
As a human, there are a few non-negotiables that you’ll need to survive and thrive in Canada. This includes food and daily necessities, a home, transportation etc. The cost of living is the basic amount needed to afford these necessities.
Renting is the most common form of accommodation, especially in the major urban centres. It is common practice for recent immigrants to go with the convenience of rental homes and apartments. The 2018 Canadian Housing Survey reported 640,700, or 56% of all recent immigrants, were renters in either subsidized or non-subsidized housing.
Which province has the cheapest rent in Canada?
The average rent of a two-bedroom unit as reported by Rentals.ca are:
|Province||City||Average two-bedroom rents|
As expected, Vancouver and Toronto had the most expensive average rent in Canada.
The province of Saskatchewan had the lowest average rent in Canada.
Which province has the cheapest homes in Canada?
An alternative to renting is buying. Buying a home is a big commitment for a recent immigrant and requires more investment and time.
The Average home prices, as sourced from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) for September 2022, were as follows:
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$285,200|
The statistic shows New Brunswick with the lowest home prices in Canada.
The current Canadian Housing market
The overall inflation in the housing market prompted the government to ban the purchase of all residential homes by foreigners in Canada, starting January 1st, 2023. This law does not apply to newcomers with permanent resident status.
Which Canadian province has the cheapest Public Transit fees?
Most of the major Canadian cities have fully functional public transit systems. The fares vary between cities and must be considered if you rely on it for your daily commute.
|Province||City||Cost of a monthly pass for adults|
|British Columbia||Vancouver||$102.55 (single zone) and $185.20 (three zones)|
|Montreal||$94 (Zone A) $184 (Zone A,B,C)|
Which province has the lowest Auto insurance rates?
Auto insurances are mandatory for vehicle owners in Canada. As such, the Auto insurance premium in your province can impact the cost of owning and driving a car. The auto insurance rates in 2020, according to GAA, is as follows:
|Province||Average premium (2020)|
Another factor that affects the cost of car ownership is gas prices. The averages as of November 8th, 2022, according to CAA.ca, were:
|Province||Average Gas price|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||190.9/L|
|Prince Edward Island||194.8/L|
Which Canadian province has the most affordable childcare facilities?
In 2022, more than half (52%) of all Canadian children under six years of age were in some form of childcare. It is a big part of the expenses for people with families and is something to be aware of. Places like Toronto are known for their costly childcare fees, while the government of Quebec subsidizes and provides affordable childcare.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives compiled the child care fees for all major Canadian cities in their report titled ‘Game Changer- Will provinces and territories meet the new federal child care fee targets? Canadian child care fees 2021.‘
Below is a look at the median childcare cost for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers in some of the most recognizable Canadian cities.
|City||2021 median Infant fees (monthly)||2021 median Toddler fees (monthly)||2021 median preschool age fees (monthly)|
The table should make it apparent that Ontario has the most expensive childcare in Canada. Toronto’s median fees for infant care was the highest on record ($1,948 a month) while nearby cities of Brampton, Oakville, Mississauga and Markham had high infant fees in the $1500-$1600 range.
On the other end, Quebec had the most affordable childcare fees with a uniform $189 a month or $8.70 a day across all its major cities like Montreal, Laval, Quebec-city, Gatineau and Longueuil.
Cheapest province in Canada
It is impossible to endorse a single region as the cheapest province in Canada. Quebec has the most affordable childcare and lowest premiums on vehicle insurance, Saskatchewan has the lowest rents, New Brunswick homes are cheaper on average, and Alberta has the lowest gas prices.
Does cheaper equal better?
No, cheaper does not equal better.
You won’t find most immigrants heading to the cheapest Canadian provinces. This is for several reasons:
- The first reason is job prospects. Where you live is often determined by your work- and you’ll find most of the work concentrated around the big urban centres. Places with better and more job opportunities, like Ontario and British Columbia, predictably attract more economic immigrants and have a higher cost of living as a result. You may find cheaper housing and facilities in rural Canada, but the realistic chances of landing a stable job there as an immigrant are very low.
- Another reason why it’s not sensible to be chasing the cheapest province is community. Adjusting to life in Canada takes time, and it can be rough if you don’t have a community behind you. Places like Vancouver and Toronto are popular for this very reason. They already have large immigrant communities, making them more welcoming to newcomers.
- The culture of a place can also be a barrier, no matter how affordable a place seems. A place like Quebec has its own unique culture and heavily favours French speakers. You might find the place alienating as an immigrant, especially if you’re not proficient in the language and culture.
- Nature also plays a significant role in determining the liveability of a place. A cheaper rent hardly matters if you’re freezing all year long. This is the appeal of British Columbia and cities like Victoria and Vancouver, which have the warmest average temperatures in Canada. Despite its harsh winters, even Toronto is frost-free for most of the year.
- While living in most major Canadian cities may be expensive, they have efficient Public transit systems that can save you a lot of money and time. Living in the outskirts means spending more on a private vehicle, losing hours to traffic and forfeiting the convenience and affordability of public transit.
In conclusion, a low cost of living is not the benchmark of an ideal immigration destination. You don’t want to cut too many corners when choosing your future home. It’s vital to prioritize your job prospects, mental and physical health and convenience over money.