In an era of rising living expenses, many are seeking cities in Canada that offer a high quality of life without breaking the bank. These hidden gems provide an array of amenities and attractions while remaining affordable for those earning under $100,000 USD.
Here are seven such cities scattered across the vast Canadian landscape, each with its unique charm and cost-effective living.
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $2,352
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $3,894
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $1,220
Calgary, known as “the energy capital of Canada,” is experiencing remarkable growth. This city is home to major oil companies like Suncor Energy, attracting young professionals with lucrative opportunities, according to Mac Steer, owner and director at Simify, a company that helps travelers remain connected through prepaid travel SIMS.
Beyond the economic prospects, Calgary boasts excellent public transit and abundant green spaces, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, its proximity to Banff National Park and Lake Louise Ski Resort adds a touch of adventure to everyday life.
“Calgary has excellent public transit and an abundance of parks and green space, which is great if you like being outdoors,” Steer said. “And there are tons of attractions nearby, like Banff National Park or Lake Louise Ski Resort.”
Vancouver, British Columbia
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $3,294
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $5,206
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $1,858
While Vancouver might be the priciest on our list, it provides a cosmopolitan atmosphere without the typical urban drawbacks. For nature enthusiasts, Vancouver is a paradise. You can embark on scenic hikes in Lynn Canyon Park or visit Stanley Park to explore its renowned seawall. It’s a haven for food and blends the hustle and bustle of a big city with the laid-back charm of a coastal town.
“I think the best thing about Vancouver is that it’s close enough to the city — but far enough away — that you can get all the amenities of an urban environment without all the hassle of living in one,” Steer said. “There are tons of things to do: You can go hiking in North Vancouver or check out one of the many art galleries around town. There are also tons of great restaurants, bars and coffee shops if you’re looking for something more low key.”
Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $2,380
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $4,573
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $1,248
Nestled on Canada’s eastern coast, Halifax is a delightful fusion of history and modernity. For music aficionados, Halifax offers a thriving live music scene with venues like the Seahorse Tavern and the Carleton Music Bar & Grill. This city’s waterfront boardwalk is perfect for leisurely strolls, and its culinary scene celebrates fresh seafood and local flavors.
“Attractions like the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the historic Citadel Hill, along with a reasonable cost of living, make Halifax an attractive place for those earning under $100,000,” said Justin Albertynas, CEO at Ratepunk, a travel website that helps travelers find the most affordable hotels for free. “Housing costs here are about 30% cheaper compared to cities like Vancouver.”
Quebec City, Quebec
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $2,017
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $4,264
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $783
With a thriving cafe culture and numerous bistros, Quebec City invites you to indulge in culinary delights.
“This UNESCO World Heritage site offers European charm right in North America,” Albertynas said. “Its French-inspired cuisine, the historic Old Quebec area and festivals like the Winter Carnival provide an enriched lifestyle at a relatively affordable cost. Rent prices here are almost 40% cheaper than in Toronto.”
Whether you’re exploring the Plains of Abraham or enjoying a leisurely stroll along the St. Lawrence River, the city’s rich history and culture are always present.
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $1,906
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $3,440
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $837
Winnipeg is famous for its affordable real estate, low cost of living and rich cultural history.
“Known as the Gateway to the West, Winnipeg offers affordability without compromising on cultural amenities,” Albertynas said. “The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the vibrant Exchange District are a testament to its rich culture and history. Utility bills are generally 10% to 15% lower than the national average.”
For art enthusiasts, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection, while the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre hosts captivating performances. Foodies can explore the city’s culinary scene, from classic Canadian dishes at The Forks Market to international flavors in the Exchange District. Winnipeg’s diverse neighborhoods, like Osborne Village and Wolseley, provide a unique atmosphere for residents to enjoy.
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $1,722
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $2,989
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $731
Located in southern Saskatchewan, Regina boasts a lively cultural scene and a fervent sports culture, especially when it comes to hockey, with the Regina Pats being a local favorite.
“With a booming job market and a lower cost of living, Regina offers a balanced lifestyle,” Albertynas said. “Attractions like the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Wascana Centre make it more than just an affordable city but a place with a rich quality of life. Regina’s property tax rate is among the lowest in Canada’s major cities.”
For outdoor enthusiasts, Regina offers numerous parks and green spaces, including Wascana Park, where you can enjoy picnics and walking trails. The city’s vibrant cultural scene includes venues like the Conexus Arts Centre and Global Theater.
- Monthly cost of living for expat: $2,264
- Monthly cost of living for digital nomad: $3,778
- One-bedroom/studio rent in center: $703
Lethbridge offers fiscal respite for anyone looking for affordable living. This vibrant city offers cultural festivities, buzzing theaters and stimulating art scenes. Places such as the Galt Museum & Archives are treasure troves that document the city’s textured history.
“Lethbridge’s charm is two-fold: its cultural heartbeat and its economic growth,” said Enoch Omololu, founder of Savvy New Canadians, a personal finance website in Canada.
“Beyond its windy reputation, the city boasts a cost of living that’s approximately 15% lower than the national average. With a growing job market, especially in sectors like healthcare, education and retail, it offers solid employment opportunities.”
Editor’s Note: The monthly cost of living for expats, digital nomads and one-bedroom studio rent in each city was compiled from Nomad List.
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