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Here's How The Cost Of Living In Montreal Actually Compares To 6 Other Canadian Cities

Lower prices might be Ottawa's one redeeming quality.

Senior Editor
Montreal skyline. Right: Edmonton skyline.

Montreal skyline. Right: Edmonton skyline.

Canada: land of the free and home of the seriously indebted. Amid record inflation, the cost of living in Canada has soared from unreasonable to holy-sh*t-holy-sh*t-holy-sh*t.

In Montreal, once a bastion of affordable living in an otherwise unaffordable country, residents have hunkered down in the face of skyrocketing prices, consoled by the certainty that they at the very least have it better than Canadians in other cities… right?

Crowd-sourced data from Numbeo, which calls itself the "world's largest cost of living database," shows Montreal prices creeping up to levels comparable to those in other metro areas — though Montrealers still pay nowhere near the sums that the miserable suckers in Toronto and Vancouver have to scrape together.

Here's how the cost of living in Montreal compares to that in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

Where is it better to live, Montreal or Vancouver?

Vancouverites are swimming in money — but it looks like it goes out as quickly as it comes in.

According to Numbeo, the average net monthly pay in Vancouver is $4,907.13, 23.04% higher (as a percentage of the Vancouver figure) than Montrealers' net monthly pay ($3,776.43).

That seems to be Vancouver's only advantage.

Info submitted to Numbeo suggests that consumer prices overall are 23.23% higher in Vancouver, where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is $2,363.24, compared to Montreal's $1,386.53. Outside the centre, Vancouverites spend an average of $1,996.34 for an apartment of the same size; Montrealers: just $1,061.64.

To actually own a unit in one of downtown Vancouver's glassy sea-green skyscrapers, prospective homeowners have to be prepared to throw down $13,644.78 per square metre. A comparable Montreal condo costs $8,442.79 per square metre, according to Numbeo.

Is it cheaper to live in Edmonton or Montreal?

Montreal and Edmonton are more comparable, price-wise.

What Alberta's capital lacks in allure it makes up for in money. Edmontonians earn an average net monthly pay of $4,485.82, 15.81% higher (as a percentage of the Edmonton figure) than the average Montreal salary.

That's despite lower rent prices: $1,220.33 for a one-bedroom in downtown Edmonton, $166 cheaper than a central Montreal one-bedroom.

Edmonton residents who buy property get an even greater value. Numbeo puts the average price per square metre for a unit in the city centre at $2,968.85. The price per square metre in central Montreal, $8,442.79, is an eye-popping 184.38% higher.

Is it cheaper to live in Montreal or Calgary?

Montreal fares slightly better than Calgary in almost every category except average monthly net salary: $3,776.43 to Calgary's (likely) oil-inflated $5,167.65, a difference of 26.92% (as a percentage of the Calgary figure).

And yet the price per square meter of an apartment in the Calgary city centre is almost half as expensive, Numbeo shows: $4,427.36 to Montreal's $8,442.79.

That disparity decreases by half outside the city centres. Apartments in the sprawling wasteland outside central Calgary cost an average of $3,373.38 per square metre. In Montreal, units in peripheral areas cost an average of $4,632.61 per square metre.

How much cheaper is Montreal than Toronto?

Another comparison where Montreal has the obvious advantage. Anecdotally, Montrealers are all too familiar with the grumblings of Torontonians who have to strive to stay alive in their exorbitantly priced hellhole.

Data compiled by Numbeo suggests that, overall, consumer prices including rent in Toronto are a whopping 25.21% higher than those in Montreal.

Numbeo puts the average rent for a downtown one-bedroom apartment at $2,184.69 in Toronto and $1,386.53 in Montreal, a difference of 36.43% (as a percentage of the Toronto figure). Outside the city centres, an apartment of the same size costs $1,879.36 in Toronto and $1,061.64 in Montreal.

The prospect of purchasing a condo in Toronto is even bleaker: properties cost an average of $12,860.60 per square metre in the city centre and $9,717.98 per square metre in the surrounding sprawl, according to Numbeo — 52.33% and 109.77% higher, respectively than the price per square metre of units in Montreal.

Torontonians' higher salaries might be some consolation. Numbeo data puts their average monthly net pay at $4,237.65, compared to Montrealers' $3,776.43.

Is Montreal or Ottawa more expensive?

Lower real estate prices in Canada's sleepy capital city might be its one redeeming quality.

Ottawans pay an average of $1,712 per month for one-bedroom apartments in the city centre and $1,347.06 for one-bedroom apartments in the city outskirts. Montrealers pay about 20% more for both.

Condo units in the Quebec metropolis are also 31.7% more expensive in the city centre ($8,442.79 per square metre to Ottawa's $6,410.43)

Salaries are higher in Ottawa, too (net $4,390.44 per month on average, according to Numbeo), probably because Ottawans have to be paid to stay in Ottawa.

Is Halifax cheaper than Montreal?

At the height of the pandemic, Halifax became a destination for disaffected urban Canadians lured by the enchanting coastal lifestyle and promise of lower costs.

According to Numbeo data, many of the real or imagined cost of living advantages Halifax might have had over Montreal in 2020 and 2021 have evaporated. The site says overall consumer prices in the Nova Scotia capital are 6.61% higher than those in Montreal.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment both in the city centre (-15.06 %) and surrounding areas (-19.44%) is lower in Montreal.

Haligonians also have to suffer a simply awful demonym, but at least have more money to cover their higher rents, with an average net monthly salary of $4,104.66, 8% higher than Montreal's, according to Numbeo.

Halifax has Montreal beat when it comes to real estate. Units in the city centre cost an average of 66.22% less per square metre ($5,079.43) in Halifax than in Montreal.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

    Thomas MacDonald
    Senior Editor
    Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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