Cost of Living for a Family in Canada [2023]

A mother holding her two sons in a bright morning.

Canada is one of the most expensive countries to live in, especially for families. This is because a variety of factors affect the cost of living in Canada, including its high taxes, the rising cost of real estate, and the fact that much of the country’s population is concentrated near major cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

The average cost of raising a family of four in Canada is $4,200 without housing. Renting a family-friendly apartment in cities like Toronto costs about $3,000 per month. A family in Canada must budget for expenses like housing, food, child care, transportation, and education. This figure does not include the costs of owning a home or paying for expenses like clothing or recreation.

While the cost of living in Canada varies depending on your location and family size, some of the major expenses that you can expect to pay as a Canadian family include housing, food, child care, transportation, and education. This article explores these areas in more detail and discusses the average costs associated with each.

All costs mentioned in the article are in the Canadian dollars.

How much does it cost for a family to live in Canada in 2023?

The average cost of living for a family with two kids is estimated to be $4,200 a month (without rent), but it depends on where you live in the country. For instance, Vancouver is more expensive than Toronto, which is more costly than Montreal. Lifestyle also plays a significant role in your monthly expenses.

Consequently, it’s essential to understand the cost of living in certain cities as an individual or a family before moving.

Depending on your preferences, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton offer a great lifestyle and rent balance – great places to start. Necessities to consider include; rent, childcare, transportation, food, and groceries.

Here’s a table comparing the average cost of living in four cities in Canada (without rent).

City Monthly average expenses for one personAverage monthly expenditures for a family of four
Vancouver $963$3,490
Toronto $950$3,460
Ottawa $941$3,443
Montreal $880$3,250

Housing and accommodation in Canada for a family

Rent is the most significant factor in your budget, typically taking up 30% to 50% of the monthly expenses.

Each city has a different selection of apartments, homes, and shared houses. Most residential areas cost less than downtown districts, while family-based neighborhoods are more expensive.

The average rent in Toronto is $2,070 a month. Here’s an overview of what to expect in Toronto regarding rent:

  • Shared room: $600 – $800
  • Bachelor style apartment: $900 – $1,300
  • Two-bedroom apartment: $1,000 – $2,500
  • Luxury condo: $1,800 – $3,000
  • A single-family detached home: $3,000 – $4,000

Housing utilities like electricity costs and communication service charges (not included in the rent) add up to the cost of the rent. In Ontario, electricity costs average at $130 a month for about 1000 kilowatt-hours (KWH).

Whereas communication services which comprise a cellphone, internet, and TV, average at $170 a month, according to CRTC.

The prices also vary according to proximity to the city centers, less expensive as you move outside the city center. Other considerations that determine the city you choose include personal preference, career opportunities, and budget.

The language barrier is a factor you shouldn’t ignore. Although English is the most commonly spoken language in Canada, a city like Quebec speaks French. Some neighborhoods are more bilingual than others; downtown offers more opportunities for English speakers to mingle.

Home rental rates in various cities in Canada:

CitySingle-familyFamily of 4
Source: CMHC Rental Market Report


The transport network in Canada is mainly connected by a series of highways and subways metros that ease commuting. Public transport like buses and trains is standard for residents in major cities like Toronto and Montreal.

Though a majority still commute by automobile. In Quebec and Vancouver, many commuters use bikes to work. Although expensive, owning a car is more practical if you’re living on the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). For newbies, get used to driving on snow.

Transportation costs depend on the city you live in and are determined by the gas and insurance price. For instance, in Ontario, gas retails at $1.05 per liter, approximately $142 a month, while insurance premiums at about $125 a month.

The quality of transport is relatively high in Toronto at $143 a month for a general pass—significantly cheaper than car ownership.

Food and groceries

The average food expenditure for a Canadian is approximately $93 but varies between cities. In Calgary, it’s slightly higher at about $111 a month, whereas the food price triples in Toronto, averaging at $347 a month per person.

This includes dining out, groceries, and home-cooked meals. The figures depend on the diet type and your frequency of eating out.

For a family with one child, food costs vary depending on the city. For instance:

  • $985 in Montreal
  • $1,040 in Ottawa
  • $1,100 in Calgary
  • $1,200 in Toronto

Retail prices for essential commodities are as follows, according to Numbeo:

  • $1.95 – Milk (1litre)
  • $2.35 – Bread
  • $2.95 – Rice (1kg)
  • $2.85 – Eggs (dozen)
  • $4.50 – Tomatoes (1kg
  • $1.40 – Bananas (1kg)
  • $11.9 – Beef (1kg)

Health and fitness

Canadians enjoy free medical cover through Canada’s universal healthcare system funded by the country’s tax system. Unfortunately, this cover excludes dental and vision care, which your employer’s insurance plan takes caters to.

Read this article to learn what you can expect from Canadian healthcare.

The coverage also applies to foreigners and expatriates, but only for emergency care; except for those with permanent residency. You pay for other medical services like routine care, medications, or hospital room.

Check out our recommended and affordable health insurance for expats in Canada.

Child care varies in each province, with Ottawa having lower costs than Toronto and Vancouver. Gatineau highly subsidizes child care through the Quebec government averaging $172 per child annually.

The proximity to Gatineau explains the low care costs in Ottawa, which is also easy to commute.

Cost of living for a family of 4 in Canada

According to Numbeo and Canada statistics, a family with two children’s estimated monthly expenses are $4,200 a month, rent excluded. These costs include transportation, food and drinks, entertainment, clothes, and miscellaneous expenditure.

The cost of living is distributed as follows for a family of four in Toronto:

Housing cost40%
Food and drinks18%

Family life in Canada

A typical family in Canada consists of two spouses and two children. Both with a job (with the woman working part-time), earning a median household income of about $90,000 per annum.

This amount will afford them a comfortable lifestyle in most cities. Raising a child in Canada is expensive and averages between $10,000 and $15,000 a year. This process involves the cost of pregnancy, childbirth, preschool, healthcare, food education, and miscellaneous expenses.

Family expenses

Housing takes up most of your monthly expenses at about 35% to 45%, depending on where you live in Canada. Food prices are also high in some cities than in others. In Quebec, food costs about $1,312 per month, whereas it’s $1,420 in Vancouver.

Transport costs depend on the proximity to your workplace. For instance, if you work in Toronto and live in Ontario, the cheaper option is renting or buying a car.

The gas and insurance prices add to the total transport compared to someone living and working in Toronto. However, public transport is also a good option for those on a budget.

The median income for a family of 4 in Canada

According to statistics, it’s estimated that a family of four earns a median of $90,000 per annum or about $24 an hour. The salaries differ depending on the province your family resides.

For example, in Northwest Territories, the wages for a family of four average at $124,510 a year, $87,000 in Quebec, and approximately $91,540 in Ontario.

Most families in Canada belong to the middle class based on income only. According to Statistics Canada, a family with a median income of $50,640 to $130,000 per year is considered middle class in Canada.

High-income earners get approximately $513,700 a year and are categorized as upper class. Lower-class households are estimated to earn between $25,000 and $45,000.

Child care and benefits

Families with children under the age of eighteen can receive the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) between $ 5,765 and $6,833 a year. 

Introduced in 2016, the CCB provides eligible parents with tax-free payments to help raise a family. Children with disabilities receive a higher amount at various municipal levels.

The national average child care in Canada is approximately $10,000 per annum. Torontonians pay one of the highest costs in the region, with the median monthly costs being $1,774 for infant care, $1,457 for toddler care, and $1,207 for preschool.

If you’re planning to move to Toronto with a family, ensure your finances are appealing. Otherwise, you can opt for a city like Ottawa and Quebec with subsidized child care. 

The average cost of living for a couple in Toronto 

Toronto is undoubtedly the most multicultural city globally, with a population of nearly three million. Although filled with vast opportunities, it remains one of the most expensive and unfordable cities to live in, especially as a young person.

Based on the cost of rent, transport, food, internet, and basic utilities, a Torontonian needs $49,545 a year or $3,570 a month before tax to survive in the city.

The average cost of living in Toronto is $2,817 for one person, which is significantly manageable depending on your lifestyle.

Frequent dining out, renting or buying a car, and designer clothes are among the things that can blow out your budget. If you’re moving to Toronto as a couple, here’s what you should know:

1. Rent

The average rent for a one-bedroom in Toronto is $1,695. Liberty village charges the most at $2,165, while East Danforth the exact costs $1,450. The choice to live frugally or extravagantly is tied to your budget and income.

2. Basic utilities

Electricity around Toronto costs around 12.5/kWh, and the monthly charges will depend on your house consumption. Internet is averaged at about $65 to $80 a month based on the speed of preference. An average cell phone plan costs between $70 and $90, depending on the service provider.

3. Transport

Gas, insurance premiums, and parking fees are high if that’s the means of commuting you prefer. A liter of gasoline retails at about $1.602 as of 26 December 2022; monthly totals depend on your movement. Parking fees cost around $20 or more per day downtown.

So, if you want to cut costs, public transport is better with a monthly pass of $125 – the quality is top-notch.

4. Entertainment

  • Gym: $55 a month
  • Cinema and theater: $10 – $20 per ticket
  • Hiking: $10 for a day pass
  • Canoeing: $135 an hour   
  • Zip lining: $60 – $124, depending on where you go

The average cost of living for a couple in Toronto:

ItemCost ($)
Phone and internet$157

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