Canada is one of the most popular destinations for immigration; immigrants always choose Vancouver, Toronto or Calgary as the top 3 cities when considering moving to Canada.
As an immigrant myself from Australia, this was also an assessment that was undertaken by us for many months across a wide range of categories.
After 6 months of assessments, Toronto was selected due to a number of factors. Generally speaking, the cost of living in Canada is substantially less than Australia, most parts of Asia and most parts of Europe; but it can be expensive compared to some US cities.
In terms of the cost comparison, Vancouver is definitely more expensive than other Canadian cities; but it is a unique city on its own.
Living Cost Comparison:
Housing: Vancouver has one of the most expensive housing markets in North America. You should not compare housing price in Vancouver to Asia, Europe or Australia; you should compare it to other Canadian or American cities.
This makes city expansion difficult; plus influx of new immigrants and its reputation as beautiful and green city have all added to its prestige, which also add the premium to its property value.
Toronto, in comparison, is quite scalable, if you move outside the downtown areas; you can find larger houses or townhomes at much more affordable price. The city is also spreading as it has plenty of land for new developments.
The consequence is travelling, Toronto is a very spread-out city, so even though you are saving in housing cost, your transportation cost maybe going up because of the distance.
Food: food & grocery price are generally quite comparable between the 2 cities. Sometimes you find better deals in Toronto due to more competition in Toronto; but generally speaking, the price is quite comparable.
Utilities: Typically, this could be a bit higher in Toronto due to longer winters; and summers are actually warmer than Vancouver; which results in higher electricity usage during summer times.
However, Ontario Government is quite supportive to families and they have lowered the gas rate during winter times.
Transportation Cost: There are 2 factors to compare the transportation cost between the 2 cities. The fuel tax is higher in Vancouver, it has higher gasoline price than Toronto.
However, as mentioned earlier, Toronto is a much bigger city, and this has resulted in longer commuting distances, this often involves multiple transportation modes (Train, Subway or Bus). If you add up these factors, the transportation cost can be quite comparable between the 2 cities.
So, the main difference is really on the housing cost, which can be very significant. If using our own case as an example, the difference can be $2,000 a month based on a 4-bedroom house in each city. Plus, one should also consider the opportunity cost.
Assuming you are buying a 4-bedroom house in Vancouver, which costs $750,000, you can get the same house in the same distance for $600,000. That is a saving of $150,000 – which means much less down payment required by the bank.
If you invest in this difference, you can also receive additional benefits such as dividends, interests or capital gains – assuming you are making the right investments.
This article draws a quick living cost comparison between the 2 cities. But like what many have said, there are certain things money can’t buy – you can’t buy the ocean views, you can’t buy the convenience where you can drive to a ski field within 20 minutes, you can’t buy the magnificent mountain views in Vancouver or the clean air – so the choice really comes down to personal choice.