Considering moving to the USA or Canada? Both countries offer great work and higher education opportunities along with favorable amenities like fast internet, digital nomad communities, industry events, cultural shows, and plenty of local travel options.
If you’re struggling to decide between the two countries, consider looking at the average cost of living in Canada vs the U.S. so you can find which country can offer you the desired quality of life at your expected average salary.
This article will break down the living costs in the USA vs Canada, diving deeper into housing costs, the healthcare system, food prices, and other living expenses.
Is it cheaper to live in Canada or the U.S.?
Both Canada and the U.S. have lower-cost cities and more expensive areas. Plus, it depends on your income level and spending habits. However, most cities in the U.S. can be more expensive than Canadian cities.
For example, according to the cost of living index by Numbeo, here is the cost of living comparison between some of the two countries’ most expensive cities. (Rent prices are excluded from the calculation as the average cost can vary based on several factors.)
- Living expenses in New York are over 40% higher than in Vancouver.
- Living expenses in Los Angeles are over 11% higher than in Toronto.
- Living expenses in San Francisco are over 40% higher than in Ottawa.
In general, living in the U.S. is about 10% more expensive than living in Canada.
Factors affecting the cost of living in Canada vs U.S.
There are several factors that influence your living expenses in the U.S. or Canada. Here’s a detailed breakdown of major expenses like housing, healthcare, education, food, and entertainment.
Housing costs can be expensive both in the U.S. and Canada, but rent is higher in many American cities.
Here are the average rent prices in the two countries, according to Numbeo estimates. The prices are in USD and rounded to the nearest 100.
- One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,700
- One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,400
- One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,200
- One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,000
It is cheaper to rent in Canada than in the U.S. with a difference of $400-$500 per month, which adds up to $4,800 to $6,000 a year. If budget is a concern, moving to Canada might offer lower housing costs and hence lower living expenses.
Healthcare costs can greatly add to the cost of living, especially if you don’t have health insurance. Fortunately, there are plenty of insurance options in both countries—with Canada also offering universal healthcare to all.
Here’s a detailed cost of living comparison breaking down the healthcare costs in the U.S. vs Canada.
Healthcare costs are significantly higher in the U.S. than in most other countries, including Canada.
The country does not have universal healthcare, and the average healthcare costs are estimated to be about $12,900 per person, per year.
You can get health insurance through your employer, or you can opt for private insurance. Private healthcare insurance can be expensive, starting at over $500 per month for an individual.
Healthcare costs in Canada are less expensive than in the U.S. The average healthcare costs in the country are estimated to be $8,500 CAD, or about $6,200 USD per person, per year, which is almost half of the healthcare costs in the USA.
You can get both public and private healthcare insurance in Canada. The private health insurance costs start at $4,000 CAD, or $2,900 USD per year for a family. This is also half of the healthcare insurance costs in the USA.
If you’re moving to the U.S. or Canada with your family or are planning to have kids there, it’s important to budget for education costs in your living expenses.
Here’s what education may cost in the two countries. The prices are in USD unless otherwise noted.
- K-12 private school: $12,350 per year on average
- College tuition at a public four-year school: $9,400 per year on average
- K-12 private school: $2,977-$19,349 per year
- College tuition: $6,834 CAD per year on average
Food prices can significantly affect your living expenses, especially if you eat out often. Here are the average costs of different food items you can expect to pay. The prices are in USD and rounded to the nearest 100.
- Meal in an inexpensive restaurant: $18
- Three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant: $70
- McDonald’s combo meal: $10
- Cappuccino: $4-$5
- Milk: $4 for 1 gallon
- Rice: $2 for 1 pound
- Tomato: $2 for 1 pound
- Meal in an inexpensive restaurant: $14-$15
- Three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant: $65
- McDonald’s combo meal: $9
- Cappuccino: $3-$4
- Milk: $7-$8 for 1 gallon
- Rice: $1.40 for 1 pound
- Tomato: $1.60 for 1 pound
Food prices in Canada are comparatively cheaper than in the U.S. with the exception of milk, which is almost double the price in Canada.
The average cost of entertainment depends on the standard of living you seek. If you enjoy going to the movies, attending live shows, and using lots of internet, you can expect to pay higher living expenses vs if you spend most of your time working or chilling at home.
Here are the average costs you can budget for. The prices are in USD and rounded to the nearest 100.
- Internet: $70 for 60 Mbps
- Movie: $12 a seat
- Gym: $42 per month
- Shopping: $46 for Levi’s jeans
- Internet: $60 for 60 Mbps
- Movie: $11 a seat
- Gym: $40 per month
- Shopping: $51 for Levi’s jeans
Most entertainment options and consumer goods are similarly priced in Canada and in the U.S., but things are slightly cheaper in Canada. It’s only a few dollars difference though.
However, do consider that other living expenses like education, healthcare, and food are quite higher in American cities, so your overall cost of living will likely be higher in the U.S.
Average salary in the U.S. vs Canada
The cost of living in Canada vs the U.S. will be largely influenced by your income. Here are the average salaries after tax in the two countries:
- U.S.: $4,200 per month
- Canada: $3,000 per month
Jobs in expensive cities tend to pay higher. For example, the average salary after tax is over $6,300 in San Francisco and over $4,200 in Toronto.
However, note that your average salary will depend on a lot of factors, like your education, job title, work experience, and even the city you work in. So it’s possible for you to make more money in Canada than in the U.S., even if the average salaries are higher in the U.S.
Sending money to Canada or the USA
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