Estimate how much it’ll cost you to live in Canada.
Before you move
Find out how much it costs to live where you’re planning to settle in Canada. The cost of living will vary depending on where you decide to settle. Some costs will be similar for items and services across Canada.
Learn if your home country has a limit on how much money you can remove by checking with your:
- financial adviser
Read the Canada Border Services Agency website to find out more about:
- bringing money with you to Canada
- items you can import duty-free and tax-free
Proof of funds
You’ll have to prove you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada if you’re immigrating as a:
- skilled worker (Express Entry)
- self-employed person
You’ll need to provide proof of your funds to the Canadian visa office in your home country when you apply to immigrate.
Your cost of living may be different
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 in Canada may be higher than you’re used to.
Household expenses can take up to half your take-home pay in Canada. These expenses include the cost of your:
- heating and other utilities
- health insurance
Your home will cost the most
Most Canadians spend 35% to 50% 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 rent
Many 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. You can pay 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 buy
If 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% 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.
Some provincial and territorial health programs may not cover some newcomers for the first three months they are in Canada.
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.
Food will be a basic expense. 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% of your take-home pay. 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 cigarettes
Some people include alcohol and cigarettes as part of their budget. Alcohol and cigarettes are expensive in Canada because they are heavily taxed.
Many 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 use public transportation, walk or bike.
It 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 expenses
Living 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
- long-distance calls to friends and family in your home country
Pay cheque deductions
For most jobs in Canada, your employer will remove some money from your pay cheque. This is called a deduction. Pay cheque deductions can reduce your pay by as much as 25% to 35%. The money from these deductions usually pays for:
- Income taxes
- Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan
- Employment Insurance
- Union dues (if you belong to a union)
- Payments to a retirement or pension plan (if you belong to a plan or choose to make contributions through your employer)
- Any other deductions you and your employer agree to in writing
Your pay cheque will show how much money has been deducted for each item. The total amount of your pay cheque before deductions is your gross income. The amount you get to keep is your net income or take-home pay.
Like many countries, Canada adds sales taxes to many of the goods and services you buy.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)
GST is a Government of Canada tax of 5% added to the price of most goods and services.
Provincial Sales Tax (PST)
PST is added to GST in most provinces and will range from an extra 7% to 10%. Alberta, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon do not have provincial or territorial sales tax.
Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)
Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Ontario combine the GST with the PST and call it the HST.
In Quebec, Revenu Québec administers the GST/HST and Quebec Sales Tax.
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