What are the best and cheapest cities to live in Canada?

Poutine stall

In this post we’ll look at some of the best and cheapest cities to live in Canada. The five featured below may not rank as the outright top places to live in the country but all have something to offer in terms of quality of living and rank as much more affordable than the likes of Toronto and Vancouver.

We also have a cost of living table for the 15 largest cities in the country which may be a useful starting guide for anyone considering moving to Canada. All data was updated in 2023 to take into account recent rises in the cost of living in the country.

Table of Contents

5 of the best cities to live in Canada that are more affordable

Montreal, Quebec

Canada best places to live

One of Canada’s largest, best known and most visited destinations, you may be surprised to learn that Montreal is also the cheapest of the really big cities in the country. Indeed, Montreal is around 20% cheaper than Toronto to live in.

Located in the east of the country, the city is the cultural hub of life in French Canada. It’s perhaps most famous for its culinary appeal with more restaurants per capita than any other place in North America. Whether you’re into fine dining or filling street food, Montreal has got all bases covered and it’s also certainly the best of the five cities featured here when it comes to a night out with a wide range of bars, clubs and music venues.

While frequently compared to Paris for obvious reasons, Montreal has a considerably more industrial, even grimy feel to it which makes comparisons with large cities in the US such as New York or even northern parts of the UK perhaps more fitting. It also benefits from one of the busiest airports in Canada, an advantage on some of the other cities featured in this post which may be a very long way from anything like a major international airport.

Living Cost Index – 2,500 Canadian Dollars per Month (approx US$1850)

Edmonton, Alberta

Next up is Edmonton, frequently ranked as one of the best places to live in Canada. It offers better rental rates than most other cities in North America (although they are increasing) and also has quite a youthful population which makes it a good base for anyone on the younger end of the age scale.

While it may not have quite the fun factor of Toronto or Montreal, Edmonton is still a sizable city with more than a million residents. It’s the capital of the western province of Alberta so it’s not like you will be short on options when it comes to entertainment. The Edmonton International Fringe Festival is the highlight of the city’s cultural calendar, similar to the Edinburgh equivalent and the largest event of its kind in the Americas.

It is important to consider the city’s climate before you make any radical decision to move to Edmonton. It is the northernmost city of any real size in North America and it is bitterly cold during the winter with temperatures rarely rising above freezing between early December and late February, even during the day. Summers are mostly warm and sunny, with average temperatures between 20 and 25°C and days that are long with sunsets at 10:00 p.m. or later in June.

Living Cost Index – 2,500 Canadian Dollars per Month (approx US$1850)

Hamilton, Ontario

cheapest places to live in Canada

If you’re put off by the high cost of living in Toronto but want easy access to it, Hamilton is a good compromise. The two cities are only 70 km away by road with plenty of public transport links so it’s possible to live and rent in Hamilton but still enjoy everything that Toronto has to offer.

While the gap is narrowing, rental prices are approximately 25% lower in Hamilton, which in any case may suit those looking to live in a slightly smaller city. While it may not be a glamorous place, with an industrial reputation, Hamilton is gentrifying quickly and now caters to a large number of commuters who work in Toronto, as well as students at McMaster University, one of the best in Canada.

Like its larger neighbour, Hamilton boasts a lakeside location and is also located within easy access for visiting Niagara Falls on the US border – which will make for a memorable early day-trip should you make the move here.

Living Cost Index – 2,650 Canadian Dollars per Month (approx US$1950)

St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

If you’re keen on living in a slightly smaller city and are more interested in Canada’s wonderful nature rather than its urban life, St John’s, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador may be the perfect place.

Located on the very easternmost point of North America (apart from Greenland), you are a world away from the continent’s major urban centres. Living on Canada’s largest island serves up all kinds of opportunities to get out into the great outdoors with endless options in terms of hiking trails.

With averages of around 300 cm of yearly snowfall, you probably need to enjoy the white stuff to consider making it your home but summers are pretty mild with average highs of 20°C during July and August ensuring you get to enjoy the changing of the seasons and witness one of Canada’s most picturesque cities in various different shades.

It should be noted though that the city’s economy is largely dependent on the often unpredictable oil and gas industry and finding work in other sectors may be difficult.

Living Cost Index – 2,550 Canadian Dollars per Month (approx US$1875)

Quebec City, Quebec

cheapest cities to live in Canada
Quebec City via G Yancy, CC BY 2.0

Finally, we head back to French Canada and Quebec City, the capital of the province of the same name. One of the cheapest places to live in Canada, Quebec City ranks as the second most affordable of the 15 largest cities in the country after Windsor, according to our research (detailed below).

If you’re from south of the border, looking to move to Canada, it’s worth noting that living costs are less in Quebec City than in even the very cheapest cities in the USA (excluding very small towns in some states) such as San Antonio and Memphis.

It also just happens to be a very pretty place to live with a large number of cultural charms. As one of the very oldest European settlements in North America, it’s a city with a long story to tell and boasts that genuinely historical feel that many of its Canadian and US counterparts lack.

Quebec City’s social calendar is full of festivals, especially during the summer and winter months. The main disadvantage of living in the city though, at least for English speakers, is that it is a very Francophone place. This can make life in the suburbs and away from the central and tourist districts a bit more complicated, but it shouldn’t put you off considering living in Quebec.

Living Cost Index – 2,400 Canadian Dollars per Month (approx US$1750)

Canada Cost of Living Calculation Explained

For the five cities featured above and those in the table below, numbeo’s cost of living data has been used as a guide to work out the estimated cost of living index for the 15 largest Canadian cities. While it is based on real data supplied by actual residents in each location, everybody is different and your actual cost of living will vary considerably depending on your lifestyle.

It is primarily designed to be a means of comparison and to showcase the range that exists with cities such as Toronto and Vancouver considerably more expensive to live in than the likes of Windsor and Quebec City. The estimates are loosely based on what a single person might spend in a typical month. The idea is to cover all living costs as well as the cost of renting a room in shared accommodation or a small private flat where it’s viable to do so.

However, finding high quality accommodation in a good area and having a very active social life will see you spend far more than the figures quoted, particularly when faced with high inflation and rising prices. Students or anyone looking to live a frugal lifestyle may be able to get by on marginally less in some cases, but again it really does depend on the individual.

Also consider that travel and health insurance costs aren’t included in these figures and will vary a lot depending on your age. Get a quote in less than a minute from SafetyWing for an idea of how much this may be in your circumstances. There is more info about them in our SafetyWing insurance review which explains what is and isn’t covered.

Cost of Living – What are the cheapest cities to live in Canada?

CityLiving Cost Index (Monthly in Canadian Dollars)
Quebec City2400
At the time of writing, US$1 = 1.36 Canadian Dollars, €1 = 1.46 Canadian Dollars, £1 = 1.69 Canadian Dollars.

Vancouver is the most expensive city to live in Canada, although only marginally so with Toronto and Victoria also notoriously pricey. If you are planning to find a job in Canada or have one lined up, you should of course also consider that you will most likely earn more in those cities.

Students, digital nomads and remote workers may be wise to base themselves in one of the five featured above or another of the cheaper cities. You can find even cheaper places to live of course but in such a vast country, you may have to settle for living in a much smaller or really isolated town if you want to get by on significantly less than 2500 Canadian Dollars per month.

Comparing living costs in Canada to the best cities to live in Europe, it is comparable to only those in the most expensive countries in the continent. For example, most of the best places to live in France (which is expensive by regional standards) are cheaper than Montreal with Paris the only French city with costs comparable to those in typical large Canadian cities.

Canada also ranks near the top when it comes to the cost of living in North America although even the likes of Vancouver and Victoria are marginally cheaper than the most expensive cities south of the border.

This post on the cheapest cities to live in Canada was last updated in May 2023. Please note, this article is purely designed to compare the cost of living around Canada. We are not experts on Canadian immigration laws, nor on the current local job markets/study options. If you have questions on this, we’d suggest using other forums or contacting your local Canadian embassy if it is an immigration related question. Thanks!

What are the best and cheapest cities to live in Canada?

58 thoughts on “What are the best and cheapest cities to live in Canada?

  1. I appreciate your illuminating the most affordable cities to reside in Canada. What aspects make living in these cities more inexpensive for citizens? It’s important to know where one can live comfortably without breaking the bank.

    1. Accommodation costs are probably the main differential for those renting. You’ll pay a lot more to rent in Vancouver or Ontario than most other places but of course there are also differences in other typical day-to-day living expenses (groceries etc).

  2. The detailed breakdown of living costs and the affordability index for each city is incredibly helpful for anyone considering a move within the country. It’s refreshing to see a focus on practical considerations like housing, transportation, and groceries, which play a significant role in day-to-day expenses. The inclusion of lesser-known cities with their unique advantages showcases a well-rounded perspective on affordability. Overall, this article serves as an invaluable resource for those seeking budget-friendly options while exploring the diverse and beautiful landscapes Canada has to offer.

  3. I’m 55 with more than 15 years lecturing in a college with PhD in view. I want to relocate to Canada with my family. Your help please.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi, it’s hard to answer questions like this without knowing more info about your circumstances and what you and your family want. If you’re looking for lecturing jobs, perhaps you could contact colleges directly or try to seek a more specific forum where people are in that industry in Canada.

  4. I have graduated in Applied mathematics from one of my country’s government university
    And have been working for the last 9 years in banking industry.
    So could you please tell me which province would suite best for PR&Job relating to this.


    1. Hi, really sorry but don’t have any specific knowledge of the banking industry in Canada or where your best work options would be in your circumstances. Maybe you can try other forums, maybe reddit? to get in touch with people in the banking sector or other people who have migrated there for work.

        1. No idea I’m afraid! Maybe try and contact some people in that line of work in Canada via social media as it’s quite a specific area.

    2. Hi, I am Sreedevi
      I am looking for a job in Canada. I am a IT recruiter having 4yeats of experience

  5. Hello. I am from kenya and would wish to move to canada for a job, i have experience in Manufacturing quality control/ assurance and i can work as a laboratory analyst. Pls help me identify the best canada city where i can find this opportunities

  6. I can say that living in Victoria you need waaaaaay more than 2100 canadian dollars per month! Victoria is NOT cheap or easy to live in. I’ve lived in Victoria for over a decade, and it has not been affordable for a long time. 2100 is going to give you rent for a one bedroom plus MAYBE 300-400 for all your other expenses such as food, internet and hydro (power/electricity). The average price for a one bedroom is around 1600-1700 per month. If it’s any cheaper then be prepared to wait on a list to even be called back for a viewing if you get a call back at all. It’s so competitive that many have been looking for months and there are tent cities that have popped up of people who have jobs and money but have yet to find a home. This is not meant to scare anyone away, but unless you have connections or family or friends who are willing to take you in then you will be hard-pressed to find anything yourself. Food is insanely expensive as well, as for two people I usually spend about 120.00 to 150.00 every two weeks (and that with bargain hunting and shopping at different stores for deals).

    1. Thanks for your comment. When you say “one bedroom”, I presume you mean one bedroom apartment as opposed to a room in a flatshare? There are many rooms advertised online in Victoria for well under 1000 dollars per month so there shouldn’t be any problem getting by on 2100 Candadian Dollars per month for anyone willing to live in a flatshare or anyone renting an apartment with friends/family.

    2. I’m not sure where you got your data from for Victoria! $2100 a month is not going to go far.

      1. The data source is explained in the article and comes from people living in Victoria. As mentioned in the article, the figures are not designed to be an exact estimate of what YOU would spend and will vary drastically depending on your expectations/lifestyle. There is no reason why people renting a room in a flatshare cannot live on $2100 per month.

  7. Great read! Thanks for sharing some of the cheapest cities to live in Canada, this has been so informative especially the part where you compared the cost of living in different cities in Canada. I also read a post from Paradise Developments called 8 cheapest places to live in Ontario which is also a really informative read especially for those who are looking for places that come with low cost of living in affordable housing but are specifically interested to stay within Ontario only.

  8. Hi!
    My husband and I, are US citizens looking to find a desirable retirement home. Can you tell me which would be the areas with the mildest winter’s and also areas with lowest cost of living.
    Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi, British Columbia generally has the milder winters with less snowfall and sub-zero days in places like Vancouver and Victoria when compared to other cities, however they are both quite expensive.

      Maybe you could look at one of the smaller towns in British Columbia. Some options for slightly warmer winters (relatively speaking) & better living costs include St. Catharines (Ontario) while you could also look at the East Coast which again generally avoids the bitter cold of more inland areas. Even somewhere more northern on the East Coast like St. John’s for example has milder winters (& is slightly more addordable) than inland cities but it doesn’t experience such warm summers.

  9. i migrate to canada with my family which is the best city for him. iam a lawyer in pakistan . my experience is 4 years.

    1. Hi Umar, sorry but not an expert on the legal profession or the local job markets in Canada so it’s very hard to answer that question. I’d suggest using other online forums or platforms such as Reddit and trying to speak to someone in Canada in that line of work.

      1. I agree with the above comment from Victoria regarding the pricing being out of wack. Unless you’re living off pot noodle, in a shared flat, walking everywhere and have no social life. I’ve lived in both the UK and Canada and can assure you that as a current resident of B.C that you will struggle to live any kind of quality of life within the suggested budgets.

    2. It is mild weather in Abbotsford, BC or perhaps if you’d like island living, Courtenay or Comox, BC… it will be slightly cheaper than Victoria or Vancouver

  10. Hi I am Persia (20F) from Bangladesh I wanna move to Canada alone I’ve completed my O Levels and I also do have a Radio-Jockey certificate but I probably wanna work as a barista/bartender I am looking for a place to settle in with good night life and cheapest living cost as I’m financially very weak. Thanks i advance for your advice! 🙂

    1. Hi Persia,

      Good to hear from you. If good nightlife and affordable costs are the priority then Montreal is the place that immediately jumps out although I imagine there may be French language requirements for bar jobs there. It arguably pips Toronto and Vancouver in terms of nightlife and is much cheaper.

      Other more affordable options with decent nightlife might be Calgary or Quebec City if you really want to cut costs to a minimum. However it’s worth researching salaries too as you should make more by working in the more expensive cities and you might be able to find a cheaper rental deal in a flatshare if you’re happy with a small room and are willing to share a property with a number of people.

    2. Do construction supervisor/ Foreman works available in Canada for foreigners and expecially in a hotter region?

  11. Hi, I plan to migrate to Canada from India. Which is the best place to live and has more Opportunities for HR Professionals?

    1. Hi Harneet, not really an expert on the HR opportunities in Canada. A bit of research suggests Ontario and British Colombia are perhaps the best places to look but not sure how much impact the pandemic has had on those jobs and what kind of opportunities there currently are.

        1. Hi, the populations are so low in both that there’s not really enough data to give an accurate estimate for the cost of living. Numbeo does give estimates for Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories suggesting that although rents are lower, it is actually more expensive to live there overall than Toronto. Guessing the cost of transporting consumer goods so far is a factor in driving up prices, but honestly not 100% sure how accurate that is. If anyone has more info, please comment!

  12. I am residing in Saudi Arabia my son has completed grade 12with these subjects English, Business, Accounts, Economics. My question here he is interested in software can he choose BBA in information technology. 2)like which university i should apply it should be reasonable 3)Can he get the admission after ielts and for how many years BBA in IT. Want to make sure that if the fees is reasonable Thank you Masooma Zafar

    1. Hi Masooma,

      Sorry, but really not an expert on the university system in Canada or how IT courses work. I’d suggest contacting some universities directly or trying to find online forums or communities for international students in Canada. Maybe somebody there can help explain the experience and offer some advice.

      All the best!

      1. Hi, I plan to migrate to Canada from Nigeria. Which is the best place to live and has more Opportunities for
        JOURNEYMAN ELECTRICAIN Professionals?

        1. Sorry, but don’t have any information about opportunities in this specific profession but I imagine there is a need for electricians everywhere 🙂

    2. I study Business Technology Management at the University of Ottawa, but in French. This university charges the same fees for francophone international students and Canadian citizens (so about a third of the regular fees). I’m not sure about other universities, but you may want to consider colleges if you’re on a budget.

  13. Hi,
    I am planning to migrate to Canada with my family.
    I am 39 yrs old and working on in IT Industry with15 yrs exp and Proj.Manager.
    So I request you to help to get below details:-
    1) How about the opportunities for IT employees in Canada.
    2) suggest the best place to settle down at initial days to reduce cost of living.

    1. Hi RS!

      Toronto is likely your best bet for Tech/IT jobs. In terms of how easy it is to find work right now, I really don’t know! You’d probably need to speak to someone currently working in the IT sector there. The likes of Oshawa and Hamilton may be good options for you to settle down initially as you’ll find cheaper accommodation and living costs but would still be close enough to commute to Toronto for work if required.

      Ottawa also is known for having decent IT opportunities.

    2. I am planning to migrate to Canada as a professional accountant.pleaae which province will be suitable for me and also lower standard of living and low rent

      1. Hi,

        Don’t any specific knowledge of the accounting industry. Please refer to the table for more info on the cost of living. For cheaper rents in good job markets, perhaps you may want to look at commuter towns close to the big cities for example Kitchener or Hamilton near Toronto.

    3. I study Business Technology Management at the University of Ottawa, but in French. This university charges the same fees for francophone international students and Canadian citizens (so about a third of the regular fees). I’m not sure about other universities, but you may want to consider colleges if you’re on a budget.

  14. Hi funky,
    I wish to apply as a student – I have an MBA and also currently studying social work and rehab here in Nigeria. I will like to study a course in relation to finance and health.

    Please advise on best cities in Canada to apply for this and work- warm clime and really affordable school fees and accommodation.
    Your considerations will be highly appreciated. Age 40

    Many thanks – Hetty

    1. Hi Hetty,

      I’m not sure about the best places to study those specific courses. I suspect you will have to compromise a bit as finding a cheaper city with a warmer climate plus good work opportunities & the course you want may be difficult.

      British Columbia is the region with the warmest climate, although like all of Canada, winters are cold! Places like Abbotsford and Victoria may be worth looking into if you’re put off by the costs in nearby Vancouver. The Toronto area is also a bit warmer – the costs are high in the city itself but maybe somewhere like Oshawa or Hamilton could be a good option for you as you’ll get cheaper rents but will be close enough to take advantage of the work/study opportunities that exist in and around Toronto.

    2. Hi good day.. can I work and school at Canada? Secondly I need a cheaper place to stay.. thanks…

    3. Hi, I’ve lived in 5 provinces, attended several universities and worked in different fields in Canada. Generally, rural areas have the best prices, opportunities and quality of life.” The biggest mistake most immigrants make is that they immigrate to the big cities where things are competitive, expensive, busy and you get much less for your loonie. Best advice I can give you is to think outside the box. There are almost always jobs in every sector in smaller towns and centers.

      1. Hello, I am kindly asking if you could advise on some rural areas in Canada with good work opportunities?

    4. Hi, My name is Abdulbasot I am 60 years I am from Libya am, Procurement professional for oil and gas sector, Planning to immigrate to Canada would you kindly assist me by providing the shortest way to immigrate and or getting permanent residencey. I had graduated from Fanshawe College in London ontario on September 1987, my family consist of 5 persons

      Appreciating your valued Collaborations
      A Grea

      1. Hi Abdulbasot. I’m sorry but not really in any position to give you reliable advice on the immigration requirements in your specific circumstances. I’d suggest you contact directly the nearest Canadian Embassy and somebody there should be able to advise you on what you would need to do in order to immigrate and obtain residency.

  15. I ‘ll want you to answer my questions through my email. I am a senior lecturer in a Nigerian university. I am a Nigerian too. Last year July, I applied online to live & work in Canada through Federal Skilled Workers Program. After completing all the forms & meeting their requirements, I was selected as one of the nominees. Few days ago, I received an approval letter instructing I & my family to go to Senegal embassy for our permanent resident & visa. The mail equally stated that we ‘ve to pay for our permanent resident.

    My question now is, if actually this is genuine, will the Canadian Federal Government who has given us the opportunity to come & work, school, & live in Canada, not ‘ve provided permanent resident travel documents for us to come to Canada? Will Canada government want us to travel from Nigeria to Canada? Will Canadian federal government want us to pay for our permanent resident while we re still in our home country? Yes, they said they ‘ll provide our fight tickets but that will be after we ‘ve paid for our permanent resident. Is it proper? please, kindly anser these questions for me. Am thinking that they ‘re not genuine. What do you think?

    Thanks so much in anticipation of your kindest consideration & cooperation. Remain richly blessed & safe. Shalom!

    Dr Mrs Ezezue Bernadine Oluchi
    Department of Business Management
    Ebonyi State University Abakaliki,

    1. Hello, not really an expert on Canadian legal matters or the program you mentioned. I’d suggest contacting the Canadian Embassy directly and showing them the letter if you have any doubts. They should be able to clear that up. Good luck!

      1. Hello sir ,
        I’m Jayanth from india
        I’m looking for master’s /post baccalaureate in canada .
        As I’m indian I don’t know much about canada .
        Which public university is good (according to you), and suggest me which place I may look for staying in canada (student friendly place with less rent and cost of living )
        I hope that you’ll help me with answers for above mentioned questions .

        1. It greatly depends on:
          – which field you’ll be studying
          – How much you’re able to afford
          – If you do speak French or not

          1. Hello. I am looking to come to Canada for study. I have been admitted to PgCert in Project Mgt in a College in Ontario. Please can you advice what the best option for me regards job opportunities and province to settle in. Am in Nigeria and planning to come to Canada in September. Is it possible to stay in another province different from the location of the school since the mode of study is now remote?
            Also some advice on possible grants and funding for study will be helpful. Thanks

    2. Hey, Gooday. I’m from Nigeria have my first degree in English and Masters’s in English as well. Help me to see the best affordable schools for my Ph.D. and where I can secure good work.

      1. Hi, I am from Nigeria and I want to migrate to Canada.do you think I will be able to secure a job as a photographer and which city is the best to stay

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