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. 😕
But if we adapt to our surroundings we should be able to live the lifestyle we want on a relatively modest income 🙂 Luckily I live in what is arguably one of the most affordable cities in the world – Vancouver, B.C. Canada. 😀 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
This budget doesn’t feel restrictive because it’s so darn cheap to live here 😀
I don’t even try to be thrifty. 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.
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. 😕 But not in Vancouver! With interest rates so low my monthly mortgage payment on my 2 bedroom apartment is only about $800/month. 😀
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.
Here is another 1 bedroom suite I found on craigslist recently for just $675 a month.
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.
Eating well can be quite costly. But food is so cheap in Vancouver. I can usually buy 2 full bags of fresh fruit and vegetables for about $10 at discount produce markets. I’ve posted receipts for proof.
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)
Restaurant food and other prepared dishes are cheap too. 🙂 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 lot before they close for the day. 🙂 Often $4 can buy 2 full take-out boxes of food that can last me a full day lol.
Supermarkets like Loblaws and its franchises (Superstore, t&t, etc) 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.
This is the perfect opportunity for busy people like myself, who may not always have time to cook, to conveniently grab something cheap and easy for dinner. 🙂
Safeway will sometimes have special deals like the following which includes a pizza, ice cream, and soda, all for just $6.
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.
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. 🙁 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. 🙂 I didn’t even turn on my baseboard heater this past winter because it never got cold enough. 😀 Here’s a copy of my most recent hydro bill.
People in Chicago pay $300 a month 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. 🙂
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.
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. 😉 A monthly pass is $128.50 in Toronto, but its just $91.00 in Vancouver. 🙂 A brand new Volkswagen Golf also costs $1,000 less in Vancouver than in Toronto.
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.
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. 🙂
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 a 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. (^_^)
Random useless fact: