Vancouver is the first option for many of those who want to immigrate to Canada, and it is no wonder: Mild climate, great job opportunities, quality of life and the city’s natural beauty are great attractions. However, if you are one of those who dream of living in Vancouver, you may have been a little discouraged by hearing people say how expensive Vancouver can be. But the reality is not so simple, and there are options for every budget.
So, let’s be realistic: How much living in Vancouver will cost for you will depend on the lifestyle you want to have. Obviously, if you want to live in a 3 bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver, you will probably need a bigger budget than someone willing to live in a smaller place in a different neighbourhood.
You must also consider your income: The minimum wage in British Columbia currently is CAD $ 13.85 per hour. Keep in mind that this is the minimum pay, and that depending on your profession and job in Canada, this value can be significantly higher. To consider the cost of living in Vancouver, we will take into account the main expenses of a newcomer in Canada, such as housing, transportation, healthcare, supermarket, entertainment and childcare.
How much does it cost to live in Canada?
Rent in Vancouver
It is very common to hear people say that rent in Vancouver is high, but as we mentioned before, it is not that simple: It all depends on where you want to live and the lifestyle you want to have. Currently, the price of renting a 1 bedroom apartment in Downtown Vancouver (Downtown) is around CAD $ 2000 to CAD $ 2500. But if you are willing to live in other neighborhoods, you can get a similar apartment in Burnaby between CAD $ 1700 to CAD $ 1900, and in Richmond for CAD $ 1500 to CAD $ 1700.
You may think that if you move away from the city center, getting around may be difficult. Quite the contrary: Canada’s public transport system is very well integrated and comprehensive. It is possible to get from Burnaby and reach Downtown Vancouver in about 40 minutes using just one subway line!
In addition to the monthly rent, water and electricity bills for 2 people will cost around CAD $ 30 TO CAD $ 60 per month. But keep in mind that a lot of apartments already have these bills included in the rent.
A lot of people choose to have a roommate when renting an apartment in Vancouver. It is a great option to divide the costs of rent and other expenses, as well as a way to make friends.
When compared to cities like Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco (especially in the Bay Area), the price of living in Vancouver is more affordable, considering it is a large and developed metropolitan area.
Public transportation in Vancouver Public is an integrated system operated by Translink, which includes buses, skytrain (subway) and SeaBus services (ferry between Vancouver and North Vancouver) and covers not only Vancouver but also its surrounding neighborhoods like Surrey, Richmond and Burnaby regions.
If you are going to use public transportation frequently, we suggest that you buy the Compass Card – with it, you will have access to all of Vancouver public transportation services. The price varies according to the zone you want to include in your ticket. In regards to the monthly ticket, the price for Zone 1 (Vancouver city area) is CAD $ 98, Zone 2 (New Westminster, North Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond) CAD $ 131, and Zone 3 (Surrey, Pitt Meadows and other places furthest away), $ 177.
The Public Health System in Vancouver
In the province of British Columbia, the health system is called the MSP (Medical Services Plan). The cost for public healthcare in BC will depend on your status and your visa in Canada – the current values are:
- International students (with study permit): CAD $ 75 per month
- International workers (with work permit): Free
- Permanent residents, Canadian citizens: Free
- Dependents (children)
- With study permit: CAD $ 75 per month
- With visitor status: Free
Grocery shopping in Vancouver
How much you spend on grocery shopping in Vancouver is relative: it all depends on your lifestyle, where you shop and what you buy. For example, according to Numbeo, milk and cheese are cheaper in Vancouver than in Toronto, and the reverse is true for bread and rice. According to the same website, people living in Vancouver spend 12.5% less than people living in Seattle when it comes to groceries.
Furthermore, just like anywhere in the world, it is important that you know where to shop. Supermarkets like No Frills, Walmart and Real Canadian Superstore are popular cheaper choices, while Safeway, T&T and Whole Foods offer differentiated products, but at a slightly higher price.
In general, a person spends between CAD $ 300 and CAD $ 600 a month on groceries, but just like you do at home, you can save even more by checking the week’s promotions, and following that basic tip: never go grocery shopping while hungry!
Entertainment and Restaurant Costs
As anywhere else, it depends on the gastronomic experience you want to have. According to Numbeo, for a cheap restaurant you can expect to pay around CAD$ 18 per person. For an average priced meal for two, that value can go up to CAD$ 80. But if there’s one thing Vancouver has to offer, it is variety! You can find a number of good quality restaurants of all price ranges. In addition, every year there are some events like Dine Out Vancouver or Taste of Yaletown, which allows you to enjoy fine dining at a fixed and affordable price.
But you don’t have to spend any money whatsoever to enjoy Vancouver. There are several free experiences: Take a walk around Stanley Park or enjoy the trails at Lynn Canyon Park, without spending anything!
Nurseries, Nannies and child care.
If you are immigrating to Canada with your child, it is also necessary to take childcare into consideration! In British Columbia, basic education begins after the age of 5, so if your child is younger, you need to provide a guardian to look after him or her while you work.
If you intend to hire a nanny who will come to your home and give your child exclusive attention, the price is around CAD $ 15 to CAD $ 20 per hour.
Another option available for those immigrating to Canada as a family is Day Care, which costs between CAD $ 1000 and CAD $ 1800 per month. It may seem that raising a family in Canada is expensive, but Vancouver still has the advantage compared to Toronto and other major metropolitan areas.
Overall cost of living
It is true that Vancouver is not exactly the cheapest place to live in Canada. But it is not so different when compared to Toronto or other major cities.
One of the perks of living in British Columbia is that there are ways to make it affordable. For example, choosing a place a little further away from downtown Vancouver will give you a reasonably priced place to live with lower property taxes. And if you still reduce your grocery shopping, entertainment and electricity costs, you can still save good money for your future plans!
If you are looking to move to Vancouver and are wondering about the cost of living, contact us, book an appointment. We can help you. There are affordable ways to live in Canada, without breaking the bank!
If you are in doubt as to the best way to immigrate to Canada, take our free profile evaluation!