Your life in Canada will be different than in your home country. You may have to take a job with lower pay while you upgrade your skills or get experience working here. That means your financial status could change. Even if you earn a higher salary in Canada than you were earning in your home country, the cost of living here may be higher than you are used to. Below are typical cost of living figures in Canada for your information.
Existing newcomers, please feel free to add your typical costs for essential services or other items via comments as this is really useful information for everyone.
Prepare financially before you leaveDetermine how much it costs to live where you are planning to settle in Canada. The cost of living will vary depending on where you decide to settle but some costs will be typical for items and services across Canada.
Check with your banker, lawyer, or financial adviser to find out if your home country has a limit on how much money can be removed. Find out more about bringing money with you to Canada and items you can import duty free and tax free on the Canada Border Services Agency website.
If you will be immigrating to Canada as a skilled worker, investor, entrepreneur or as a self-employed person you will have to provide proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada. You will need to provide proof of your funds to the Canadian visa office in your home country when you submit your application for immigration.
Here are some typical costs for items and services in Canada.
Household expenses - Your everyday costsUp to half your take-home pay in Canada can be taken up by household expenses. These expenses include the cost of your home, heating and other utilities, food, clothing, health insurance and transportation.
Your home will cost the mostMost Canadians spend 35 to 50 percent of their income on housing and utilities. This includes the cost of renting your home or paying your mortgage (a mortgage is a long-term loan.) It also includes the often-high cost of heating your home and paying for electricity, telephone service and water.
If you rentMany newcomers choose to rent an apartment on a monthly basis. Rental costs vary across cities and across Canada; they usually cost less outside large cities.
You will likely pay at least $350 a month to rent a room and at least $2,000 a month to rent a larger apartment or a large house. An immigrant-serving organization where you plan to settle can help you find a home that you can afford.
If you buyIf you want to buy a house, you will probably need to get a mortgage. Banks and other lending institutions give mortgage loans. They decide whether you have enough income, enough assets (things you own) and a good credit rating. Most banks will ask you to pay at least 10 percent of the cost of the house from your own money.
In addition to your mortgage payments, you will have to pay for property tax and household insurance. If you plan to purchase a condominium (condo), you will have to pay other fees.
You can compare the costs of housing in communities across Canada in the city profiles section of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website.
Health insuranceSome provincial and territorial health programs may not cover some newcomers for the first three months they are in Canada.
You should check with the ministry of health in your province or territory as soon as you arrive in Canada to see if you will need to buy extra health insurance.
Basic expensesFood will be a basic expense and costs will depend on the size of your family. This cost can double if you often eat in restaurants or choose to buy specialty items.
Clothing expenses may be less than 10 percent of your take-home pay, but you may spend a lot more if you buy your clothing at designer stores. Second-hand shops sell used clothing and furniture at very low cost.
Alcohol and cigarettesSome people include alcohol and cigarettes as part of their budget. Alcohol and cigarettes are expensive in Canada because they are heavily taxed.
TransportationMany Canadian families have one or more cars. Canadians either buy their cars new or used or they lease them, which is a form of rental.
Make sure you think of all the costs before you decide to buy or lease a car. For example, when you own a car you will have to pay to keep it working well, for gas, monthly loan payments, registration and insurance. When you lease a car you will sign a contract to have the car for a set period of time. You will pay the same costs as you do when you own a car.
Many Canadians also choose to use public transportation, walk or bike.
Car insuranceIt is the law that all cars must be insured and registered with your provincial or territorial government. Car insurance can be expensive, but it protects you and other drivers in case of an accident. In most provinces, you can find more information by contacting the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Be ready for occasional expensesLiving in Canada, you will find that every now and then you have to make payments for occasional expenses. Some examples: buying prescription medicine (not covered by health insurance), school supplies and long-distance calls to friends and family in your home country.
Learn more about the costs for living in major cities across Canada at Statistics Canada’s website.