Apr 012014
 

Move to Vancouver to Enjoy a Low Cost of Living

Sometimes it may feel like we’re constantly being gouged by the world around us. πŸ˜•

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But if we adapt to our surroundings we should be able to live the lifestyle we want on a relatively modest income πŸ™‚ LuckilyΒ I live in what is arguably one of the most affordable cities in the world – Vancouver, B.C. Canada. πŸ˜€ I currently make more than $3,000 a month from my 2 jobs combined, but if we exclude my consumer/investment debt-related expenses for the moment, my total cost of living each month is less than $1,500. Here’s the cost of living breakdown.

Housing related $800
Food $150
Hydro+Internet+phone $100
Transportation $150
Miscellaneous $200

This budget doesn’t feel restrictive because it’s so darn cheap to live here πŸ˜€

I don’t even try to be thrifty.Β Things are just naturally cheap in Vancouver. As I’ll explain below, there is probably no other major city in Canada or the U.S. where I can buy the same degree of security, freedom, opportunity, and general quality of life as I have today, for just $1,500 a month.

Affordable Housing

Trying to pay for a roof over our heads in large cities like San Francisco or New York City (where the average rent is over $3,000/month.) can be financially challenging. πŸ˜• But not in Vancouver! With interest rates so low my monthly mortgage payment on my 2 bedroom apartment is only about $800/month. πŸ˜€

There are lots of cheap options for renters too. Here’s a one bedroom apartment recently listed. It’s only $875 per month . It’s located near public transportation, restaurants, and other services, as indicated by the high Walk Score. Statistics Canada suggests that living in a high walk score neighborhood promotes a healthier lifestyle and decreases the chance of obesity.14-04-marpoleproperty vancouver affordable city

Here is another 1 bedroom suiteΒ I found on craigslist recently for just $675 a month.

14-04-houserent Vancouver most affordable city

I hear 1 bedroom suites in Calgary and Toronto (outside city centers) normally rent between $1,000 to $1,200 a month. Phew. I’m glad I don’t live in those expensive cities.

Cheap Food

Eating well can be quite costly. But food is so cheap in Vancouver.Β I can usually buy 2 full bags of fresh fruit and vegetablesΒ for about $10 at discount produce markets. I’ve posted receipts for proof.

14-04-food Vancouver most affordable city

I can buy staples like milk, bread, and eggs at the local Walmart for $7.50. I think that’s very reasonable. (click image to enlarge)

15-06-groceries-walmart

Restaurant food and other prepared dishes are cheap too. πŸ™‚ At Yamato Sushi in downtown for example, I can get a 22 piece assorted sushi combo including soup for just $5.95! How are they still in business? 😯

Food courts and bakeries across Metro Vancouver usually drop their prices a lotΒ before they close for the day. πŸ™‚ Often $4 can buy 2 full take-out boxes of food that can last me a full day lol.

14-04-foodcourt Vancouver most affordable city

Supermarkets like Loblaws and its franchisesΒ (Superstore, t&t, etc)Β  will often mark down their pre-packaged foods in stages starting in the late afternoon. Each hour or so lower priced stickers would be applied.

14-04-cheapdinner Vancouver most affordable city

This is the perfect opportunity for busy people like myself, who may not always have timeΒ to cook, to conveniently grab something cheap and easy for dinner. πŸ™‚

Safeway will sometimes have special deals like the following which includes a pizza, ice cream, and soda, all for just $6.

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If you want to be really frugal, I’ve done some research that suggests it’s even possible to survive in Vancouver without spending any money on food whatsoever. This can be done by taking advantage of free food events that happen every day around the city.

 

Cheap Utilities

A spokeswoman from Toronto Hydro says a typical Toronto customer pays $110 a month for electricity. In Edmonton, AB, many people spend over $200 a month for heating and power, ouch. πŸ™ In New Brunswick a couple’s December energy bill came to $1,935 😯 Utilities can be quite expensive with the snow storms hitting Canada and the U.S. this past year. But not in Vancouver.

Climate has been pretty tame these last few decades here. πŸ™‚ I didn’t even turn on my baseboard heater this past winter because it never got cold enough. πŸ˜€ Here’s a copy of my most recent hydro bill.

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People in Chicago pay $300 a monthΒ for their power bill during the winter. Meanwhile I pay about $25 a month for mine. Yet another reason why living in Vancouver is so affordable. πŸ™‚

Phone bills are cheaper in Vancouver too. According to the cellphone regulator CRTC, people in Vancouver also pay relatively less for our wireless plans than other cities in Canada on average.

14-04-wirelessprices Vancouver most affordable city

Transportation

According to numbeo.com a one-way ticket on local transport in Calgary or Toronto is $3.00. But in Vancouver it’s only $2.75. πŸ˜‰ A monthly pass is $128.50 in Toronto, but its just $91.00 in Vancouver. πŸ™‚ A brand new Volkswagen Golf also costs $1,000 less in Vancouver than in Toronto.

Low Taxes

This graph I found from the bcbudget.gov.bc.ca website is a little old but it shows that B.C. has the lowest income taxes for those who are most in need of tax breaks.

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So there you have it. Vancouver is one of the cheapest cities in North America to live in. If you want to live a frugal lifestyle it helps to live in a naturally frugal city. πŸ™‚

Statistics show that Vancouverites are wealthier than the average Canadian. This is because a cheaper place to live means you spend less, which leads to more savings and investing. This is further supported by aΒ BMO study which shows that people in B.C. believe they will save about $15,100 this year, while those in Alberta plan to only save $12,500 (21% less,) despite earning higher annual incomes than folks in B.C. I believe this is because the cost of living is higher in Calgary and Edmonton than in Vancouver. We’ve seen how just the electricity bill alone can cost hundreds of dollars more in colder cities.

It’s hard to believe how much value I’m getting with under $1,500 a month here in Vancouver. In most other cities, $1,500 will barely cover the rent for a 2 bedroom apartment like the one I’m living in today. So as far as urban living goes in the developed world, I think Vancouver is one of the most affordable cities on earth to live in. (^_^)Β 

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Random useless fact:

14-04-gourmetdish Vancouver most affordable city

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32 Comments on "Vancouver – The Most Affordable City To Live In"

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Arun
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Opps, I thought Vancouver is the expensive city in Canada. Looks like Toronto is the expensive city. In here, you cannot find a one bedroom apartment for less than $1000. I am looking to buy a small house close to Toronto area, but couldn’t find one for affordable price :(. We don’t buy any fancy items, and we shop with flyers; however, we couldn’t restrict our grocery bills for less than $400 :(. Other expenses… you already mentioned :((. Business owners, people with welfare and Rob Ford friends are enjoying the luxury life in Toronto :D.

The Asian Pear
Guest

Vancouver may be affordable if you rent but it’s pretty expensive if you decide to buy property though. Yikes. Listed as world’s 2nd most expensive place after Hong Kong.

PC
Guest
PC

Very cheek in tongue post you got today. I think gas prices in Vancouver is higher than most cities in Canada. Sure you can rent, but do you want to rent forever? Vancouver has one of the most affordable housing markets in the world. Housing takes the most out of income I think.

Michael
Guest

Where’s my calender…

makinthebacon
Guest

I live in the suburbs and it seems only big chain grocery stores are the only grocery stores nearby. I actually enjoy price comparing and price matching. Weird, I know. I’m sure smaller independent grocery stores exist, but I would have to drive further to get to them.

I, too, like grabbing the discounted ready to go food. It sure beats cooking. πŸ˜›

Debt Hater
Guest

Interesting post, I had no knowledge of the other costs of living in Vancouver other than hearing that the housing market was ridiculously expensive there! Seems that you have proved otherwise here though, at least when it comes to renting. I think $1500 a month in a major city (especially one that is as nice as Vancouver seems) is an awesome thing!

Martin
Guest
Martin

I don’t see MSP premium mentioned anywhere. As a couple, we’re paying $125.50/mo (or $1,500 a year). That seems like a big one you left off your list. As for apartment, if you have a dog or cat, suddenly the price increases by 50% (if you can even find a place willing to take you within Vancouver).

Lily Savage
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Lily Savage

your findings are faulty and i don’t agree at all. sure, it’s *possible* to find a place in vancouver for $675, but it’s very very uncommon, and it would be such a pit you wouldn’t want to live there. most one bedroom places in vancouver start at $900. and yes, you can live very frugally, buy marked down food, forego a data plan, and take all sorts of other cost-cutting measures, but you can do that in any major city. it’s a lifestyle choice irrespective of and not bound by geography. you also neglected to mention that the cost of living in vancouver is actually very high because, on average, people make less in vancouver than in every other city you mentioned. we don’t have the oil of calgary and high finance of toronto. we have development, and very few people benefit monetarily from that.

Jason
Guest

What are your condo fees?

I would love to move into a condo but I have see such high monthly fees that the actual purchase price is a secondary concern…

mrmasum
Guest

Thanks author for your nice blog and great shared to Plumbing service
Vancouver plumbing

Simple Vancouver
Guest

Heh…My expense breakdown is quite similar to yours. And also spending habits.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I am so relieved and shocked at the same time as it is very contradicting to the majority of articles out there stating that the city is very expensive. I am probably moving out to Vancouver this upcoming August to peruse a one year degree and I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some of the tips to choose a decent studio apartment not far away from West Broadway where my institution is located. Many Thanks In advance.

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

Hi I am presently living in Edmonton. and I want to move to Vancouver will you give me some tips about jobs and living there with family. I am new to Canada and every one says it is difficult to live in vancouver because of cost of living.

Oana
Guest
Oana

I don’t know what part of Vancouver that applies to, but I can tell you I pay $8 for one loaf of bread and $6 for a dozen eggs. And of course, $60 for one haircut. I can also say there are even more expensive options. Whoever wants to stay healthy should avoid any ready-made food at t&t. You should go to Europe once to see what affordable + high quality means. I like your blog, I just don’t find it realistic.

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