Cost of Living Comparison: UK and Canada

12 min read

Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with stunning scenery and amazing wildlife. The country has plenty to offer those looking to relocate, with the high quality of life - and its universal healthcare. However, such a lifestyle does come at a cost, and that’s why Canada is now one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

If you’re planning to emigrate to Canada or want to learn more about how Canadian living compares to that of the UK, we’re here to reveal everything. Read on to learn more about living costs in Canada, and get some useful hints and tips about what to bear in mind when planning a big move to the Great White North.

Where are Canada's most expensive and cheapest places to live?

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, so there’s enormous variation across the country regarding living costs. Canada’s most famous cities typically offer higher average wages (especially for skilled workers) and command higher living costs than more rural areas, so the average cost of living here will depend on what you’re looking for.

The most costly places to live in Canada are the major cities of Vancouver, British Columbia, where the average apartment price per square metre is $13,391.35, or £8,666.45, and Toronto, Ontario, where an apartment costs $1,560.60, or £1,009.97 per square metre. Other pricey locations include Victoria in British Columbia, Hamilton-Burlington in Ontario and Calgary in Alberta.

If you’re hoping to move to Canada but can’t quite stretch to the living costs of any of its most expensive cities, all is not lost. There are cities in many other areas of the country that are far more affordable and offer great value in house prices. Popular options include Saint John in New Brunswick, where houses have an average price of $171,596, and another New Brunswick city, Greater Moncton, where you can expect to pay around $174,800 for a home.

Canada living costs - what you can expect to pay

Before you weigh up whether or not to make a move to Canada, you’ll need to consider both the effect of a move on your household bills and the income you can expect to receive once you’ve relocated. Take a look at some of the main living costs of people in Canada and see how they vary across the country.

Housing

For most people, housing will be the biggest expense in any move. So, it’s likely that this will be a deciding factor when you start thinking about where to settle.

The average monthly cost for housing in Canada varies significantly in different locations. If you’re planning to move to a big city, you will pay far more for housing than if you opt for a more rural town or village.

These are the average monthly rental prices in five cities in Canada:  

  • Toronto: $2,117.08
  • Montreal: $1,382.02
  • Vancouver: $2,251.29
  • Calgary: $1,372.53
  • Ottawa: $1,702.50

Bills

Household bills are another significant factor in calculating the cost of living. You may find that your household bills differ quite considerably after moving to Canada, so it’s worth doing the maths before you start packing your bags.

Canadians pay similar bills to those in other countries. Therefore, heating, electricity, gas and water need to be factored into your equations. Canada has a long cold winter, so while the price of energy may not differ too much to the UK, heating costs will tend to be higher because of much lower average temperatures.

There is a bit of good news, though. In Canada, rentals usually include utilities like heating and hot water, so if you’re planning to rent rather than buy, you may not need to worry too much about how long you’ve got your heating on.

Healthcare

Take residence in Canada permanently, and you’ll be entitled to Medicare. This is Canada’s universal healthcare system. It's available to all who reside in the country full time.

Medicare covers a full range of healthcare treatments. It also subsidises several other fields, such as checkups at the opticians and any further investigations or procedures a patient might need.

If you’re moving to Canada short-term, you'll need to think about healthcare provision. Depending on how long you plan on staying, you may need to invest in private health insurance for the duration of your time there. In Canada, health insurance is quite expensive, so make sure you factor this in when budgeting for your move abroad.

Leisure and activities

There’s much more to life in Canada than work and bills. Canada offers incredible opportunities for exploration, with adventures at every corner. Thankfully, leisure activities and hospitality in Canada are relatively inexpensive.

Restaurant prices in Canada are much lower than you might expect. This is interesting given that most of the food consumed by the country is actually imported (except the maple syrup, of course!) and therefore more expensive than that of countries that grow and manufacture more of their food locally.

Entertainment, like live music and cinema, is also relatively inexpensive in Canada - even if you move to one of its most desirable cities.

What are the average salaries in Canada?

While many of the costs incurred from living in Canada are higher than those of the UK, the national average salary of both countries is broadly similar.

In the UK, the average monthly salary for a full-time employee is £2,261.05. Positions requiring more training and experience reach salaries of £100,000 per year and beyond.

The average monthly salary in Canada is $4,285.43, roughly £2,769.77. There is quite a distinction between entry-level positions and those that require more experience, with roles typically starting at $52,000 per year and rising to over $100,000 for more skilled employees.

There is a marked difference in average salaries across different regions in Canada and the UK. Those living in or near cities usually earn more in Canada than in the UK. However, in the UK, cities such as London offer salaries far higher than the average.

In London, the average full time monthly salary is £2,863.69. In Canada, while city jobs offer higher salaries, the difference isn’t usually quite as pronounced as in the UK. However, cities such as Vancouver offer high salaries, with an average of $4,854.75.

Living in Canada vs the UK

The UK's cost of living is soaring, but how do these growing costs compare with those in Canada? Take a look at Canada vs the UK cost of living comparisons in Canada vs the UK for all you need to know.

Housing

We’ve talked about how much it costs to buy a home in Canada’s most famous cities and where you can buy a far more affordable home in Canada. So you might be wondering how these prices compare with the cost of a home in the UK.

Data released in April 2022 shows that the average cost of a UK home currently stands at £281,161. This means that over the past year, house prices have risen by 12.4%.

House prices in the UK vary significantly depending on where you’re looking to buy, so the UK is similar to Canada. However, in the UK, regional fluctuations in pricing are more pronounced - particularly when you consider the enormous increase in house prices in the capital vs the rest of the country.

In London, a city centre apartment will set you back £13,312.51 per square metre. The UK average per square metre is much lower at £4,095.15.

Bills

Household bills in Canada are considerable, so you can expect them to take up a good portion of your income. However, they’re still typically lower than they would be for a comparatively sized home and family living in the UK.

The ONS family spending report, released in March 2021, found that the average household in the UK spends £588 a week on household bills. In Canada, average household bills are $254.40 per week, which converts to approximately £160.

Healthcare

Canada offers its Medicare package to all permanent residents, making the cost of healthcare negligible.

The situation is broadly similar in the UK, as permanent UK residents are entitled to free healthcare under the National Health Service (NHS), paid for through National Insurance contributions, which are taken directly from their wages. So, if you’re moving from the UK to Canada or vice versa, you’ll be covered under the other country’s healthcare scheme, which means you won’t see any changes in healthcare costs or provision.

Some UK residents choose to take out private health insurance to secure a faster or more efficient service if they require any treatment. This is the same as in Canada, where private treatment is also available - but it comes at a cost.

The cost of private healthcare insurance varies considerably depending on which insurer you opt for and your medical history. So, if you need health insurance to cover time spent in Canada or the UK, you’ll need to speak to insurers about your position to find out what you should expect to pay for full coverage.

Leisure and activities

Leisure and hospitality in Canada is inexpensive compared to the UK, and a typical shopping trip cost is much lower.

In the UK, a cinema ticket costs approximately £10 ($15.47), whereas a similar ticket in Canada would be $14.25 (£9.21). It’ll also cost you more to eat out at a local restaurant.

On average, you’ll pay around £50 for a restaurant meal in the UK. A comparable meal in Canada would be $18.24 (£11.79) - even if you’re eating in one of the country’s most expensive cities. 

The trend continues with other leisure activities, such as shopping. If you’re heading to the local shopping centre searching for a new pair of jeans, you’d be better off doing so in Canada.

In the United Kingdom, a pair of jeans from a big name brand will cost you over £60.57 (approximately $93.69) - far more than a similar pair sold in Canada, where the same pair would be priced at approximately $66.15.

Consider using Clear Currency when moving to Canada

Have you got a big move planned? Whether you’re weighing up the pros and cons of moving to Canada for work, or you’re simply looking for a new start solo or with your family, we’re here to help ensure the process runs smoothly.

At Clear Currency, we offer transparent and competitive transfer rates. Open a Clear Currency account today, and you’ll be able to transfer funds quickly, simply and securely.

Our friendly team of currency specialists is also on hand to provide a personal service that keeps you in the loop throughout the process, with no hidden fees or nasty surprises. Get in touch today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you. You can contact our team via live chat, phone and email.


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