Montreal is always praised for having such an incredibly low cost of living. But how affordable is life in Montreal really?
Using the cost of living calculator Numbeo, we decided to find out the exact cost of living in our fair city, mainly to find out if Montreal is truly as cheap as everyone says.
Do note, however, that there are a lot of variables when trying to calculate a city's cost of living. One person may live with their parents, thus negating rent as a cost. Others may be vegan, and so spend less on meat. Some may not drink or go out at all, lowering costs even further.
But we know more than enough about the average Montrealer to create a pretty good picture of their lifestyle, and what they spend money on. Read on and find out just how much you actually spend living in Montreal.
Everyone in Montreal is a bit of a foodie, even if they don't describe themselves as such. There are just too many great restaurants. diners, and cafes too ignore. Getting your hands on all the delicious eats the city has to offer comes at a price, of course, and since Montrealers love their food, we're willing to fork out some cash for a good meal (fork included).
We're going to take some liberties and say that you'll likely be eating out a few times in a week when living in Montreal. A lot of you may be all about the "I cook at home" life, but that doesn't quite ring true to the Montreal lifestyle. Eating out a few times a week at cheaper places is pretty standard, as is getting a more legit meal at a pricier place.
With that in mind, here's how much a Montrealer will spend on eating out in a week:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $13.00 x2 (more if you don't cook much)
- 2-person meal at a mid-range restaurant: $60 (because you're paying for your bae, right?)
- Fast food meal: $9 x2 (sometimes you just need a quick meal on the go)
- Cappuccino: $3.50 x4 (a bit less if you go for a basic coffee, or don't hit up cafes very often)
Total: $118, or $472 per month.
There's a very real difference between dining out and going out, namely that you aren't doing much eating when hitting up the club/bar. What you are going is drinking, and racking up a bar tab is a pretty easy feat, as I'm sure you know.
In the hopes that everyone doesn't get super muff'd up every time they go out in Montreal, we're going to say the average citizen purchases about three drinks when hitting the town, with drinks set at $9, a happy mid-point between beer and cocktails. Of course, drink prices can be more expensive depending on where you go.
Added to the bill of a night out is a cab ride, which isn't always necessary, but is definitely a reality in the winter. Lets also not forget about a late-night meal, because a poutine craving caused by the drunchies is a very real thing.
- Drinks at the bar: $9.00 x4
- Cab ride home: $10.00 (more if you live super far, less if you're splitting the bill with people)
- Late night meal: $9
Now lets multiply it all by two, because Montrealers go out from Thursday to Sunday, and you're probably heading out for at least two of those nights.
Total: $110, or $440 per month.
Unless you're eating out for every single meal (and we strongly discourage that, unless you have very deep pockets) then you're going to have to get your food from somewhere. For all of us that don't live with our parents, that means a trip to the grocery store.
To calculate an average total for groceries in Montreal, we're going to base our/Numbeo's calculations on a well rounded meat-eating diet. Many in the city are vegetarians, so they may have a slightly lower food-bill because they're not buying meat, but one could argue that vegetarians tend to spend more on cheese (one of the pricier grocery items) and that could even everything out anyway.
A grocery bill in Montreal, with a healthy mix of fruits, veggies, grains, cheese, and meat adds up to...
Total: $49.4, or $197.6 per month.
Owning a car in Montreal can be a serious hassle, not to mention the added costs including insurance, gas, and general maintenance. Add in the mass amounts of traffic found in the city, and you'll see why most Montrealers forgo their cars for public transit or bikes.
Cars are even more unnecessary when you consider how easy it is to get around with the city's metro and bus system. Montrealers may complain about late buses or metro delays but all in all it's a solid system.
Since owning a car isn't quite a need in a small city like Montreal, we're going to list the only real transportation expense as a monthly STM pass. Do note that this cost is cut in half if you can get a student discount.
Total: $82.00 per month.
Utilities & Monthly Expenses
Now onto the boring stuff we all have to pay for, like heating, electricity, and internet. Depending on the time of year, utilities like heating can vary, but others are a bit more constant, like your phone bill.
You'll also notice that we've tacked on a gym membership to this list of monthly expenses. While many don't hit the gym, many Montrealers do, how else do you think the city maintains its population of beautiful people?
- Basic utilities (heating, electricity, water): $101.82
- Internet: $52.05
- Cellphone: $60 (average of the big three service providers)
- Gym membership: $47.48
Total: $261. 35
After the boring expenses, we're now at the fun stuff, or the things you spend money on that you don't really need. But to be fair, the need to smoke cigarettes and drink wine could be a veritable necessity to some. We're not here to judge.
If you're not about smoking cigs/marijuana or drinking, at least while at home, then you can pretty much skip over this listing of expense. The majority of you reading probably do, though, so here's how much your vices or costing you.
- Mid-range bottle of wine: $15
- 6-pack of beer: $8.99 (may vary depending on brand)
- Pack of cigarettes: $10.00 (based on Marlboro pricing)
- Other: $10 (to include whatever else may be included in your array of vices)
Total: $43.99, or $175.96 per month.
No matter what city you live in, rent payments are going to be your largest monthly expense. Thankfully, Montrealers catch a break when it comes to rent, because the rates are just so low when compared to other Canadian cities.
This is where we're taking a very different figure than the one Numbeo suggests. The cost of living calculator states a Montreal apartment in the city's centre will cost you $927.78 per month. Yeah, maybe a 3 1/2 in Old Montreal, but we know better than that.
Most Montrealers live with roommates, which drastically cuts down the price of rent. Living outside of high price zones like downtown, the McGill Ghetto, or Old Montreal can get you an even lower rate.
In general, rent in Montreal could range from $300 or $800, depending on the area (Verdun vs. Plateau) and what's included in the rent. For the sake of calculating an average cost of living in Montreal, we're going to say that rent will cost you...
Every once in a while you might pass by a store window that entices you too much not to walk in and buy a new piece of apparel. Or maybe there's a band playing and you simply need to go to the show.
Regardless of the reason, these random expenses happen, and they're hard to really budget. So just for the sake of being realistic, because there's always going to be something you want to randomly spend on, we're putting a monthly cost of splurges at...
Total: $100, per month.
The Cost Of Living In Montreal
Now that we've got all the nitty-gritty details out of the way, lets find out just how much it actually costs you to live in Montreal every month, and for an entire year.
Taking into account eating out, going out, rent, transportation, utilities, splurges, and vices, here is how much you're like to spend in a month in Montreal:
- Total: $2, 278.91 (if you don't go/eat out that much, the figure is closer to $1, 714.91)
- Yearly total: $27, 346.92 (or $20, 578.92 if you're particularly thrifty)
So, to live in Montreal, and limit your spending pretty hard, you only need to make about $21k/year. Those who enjoy drinking, eating, and partying are looking at a yearly cost of living closer to $28k, which really isn't all that bad.
All in all, Montreal is a very affordable city, even after you break everything down. A minimum wage job will pretty much cover all of your expenses, and all those who live the professional life will be sitting pretty. That's definitely not the case in Toronto and Vancouver.
But it's important to note that while Montreal has a very low cost of living, the province enforces some of the highest taxes in Canada, which is even worse when you note that salaries in Montreal are generally lower than other metropolitan cities. So you may be spending less, but you're also making less money, too.