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Is Canada or the USA more Expensive?

Written by Jessica Steer
With the latest increase in inflation as well as all of the other economic changes in the world, living anywhere is more expensive than it has been before. While both the USA and Canada are expensive countries to live in, there is still the age old debate of which one is more expensive? Where is it cheaper to live, buy a house or even buy groceries? Which parts of Canada are the most expensive and which of the USA are? Ultimately, both countries are actually quite expensive to live in but which one will give you the most for your money?
Table of Contents

    Living Standards in Canada and the US

    When it comes to the living standards in each country, the reality is that both countries have good standards of living. That being said, there are differences between the two. The first one is healthcare. The USA is one of the most expensive countries in the world when it comes to healthcare costs, even if you have health insurance. In Canada, healthcare is structured a bit differently. If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident then healthcare is paid for with your taxes and do not have to pay for individual visits.

    When it comes to parental leave, the countries also have differences. In Canada there are mandated leave and benefits where you get paid through provincial employment insurance. This can be up to $593.00 per week. These EI premiums are paid into through amounts taken off of your yearly pay. In the USA, however, there isn’t as much support. Most states have their own laws but you can get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act).

    Taxes in the Us vs Canada

    When factoring in the living standards we should also take a look at the amount of taxes paid yearly. In Canada, taxes range anywhere from 15%-33%. If your annual income is less than $49,020 per year and are single, you can expect to pay 15% in taxes. In the US tax rates are between 10% and 37% but if you make over $40,526 as a single person then you pay 22% in taxes. This makes the low income threshold higher in Canada than the US.

    Finding a Job in the USA vs Canada

    The difficulty in finding a job in the USA or Canada really depends on your status. It is much harder as an immigrant than it is of someone who was born in that country. For this reason, it is much more difficult to get a job in Canada than it is in the USA. This is because a lot of Canadian companies want Canadian work experience. If you are an immigrant that did not emigrate with a Canadian job offer, it is likely that you don't have that. This is not the case as often in the US making it much easier to obtain a job there.

    As a citizen, the average Canadian or American, in their own country, doesn’t have too much difficulty finding a job and there is equal job security in either country, as long as you have some experience, are a skilled worker or have some education under your belt. The economies are relatively equal so there isn’t a huge difference in this regard.

    Jobs in the US vs Canada

    When it comes to getting a job in Canada or the US, both offer great positions with a good quality of life. That said, there are some downsides to working in both countries.

    The difference between working in the US, over Canada, is there are more overtime hours. In Canada, there’s less of a focus on working overtime and even some parts of the country are starting to introduce 4-day work weeks. You can still get great health benefits in the US, but you’re likely to get more vacation time, paid travel as well as paid maternal and paternal leave. In the US, though, tax rates do tend to be a bit cheaper. Ultimately though, both countries have a great job market.

    Which Country is more Beautiful?

    In this category, Canada is ranked as number 2 in the world whereas the US is ranked at number 9. The reason for this is that Canada has so many diverse landscapes. There is so much natural beauty that is home to so many different animals. It really doesn’t matter where you go, there will be someplace to see. Like Lake Louise in Alberta, Whistler Blackcomb in BC, or even just the landscapes in the Maritimes. There is so much to be seen.

    Salaries in the US vs Canada

    While the differences aren’t large between earning amounts in Canada and the US, Americans actually have higher average salaries than Canadians. The average salary of Americans is $56,690 and it is about $43,867 in Canada. These are both in USD. The main difference though is that you do rely on post secondary education to get a higher paid position in the US. In Canada, there are more Canadians earning above the average income that do not have any post secondary education.

    There are a few reasons why salaries are higher in the US. These are;

    • higher operating costs
    • supply and demand
    • cost of living
    • venture capital culture

    All of these factors give the US an advantage to have a higher salary average. The operating costs in Canada are much higher than those of the states. This is mostly due to the fact that there are different taxes and regulations in each country. That being said, the cost of living is lower in Canada, which does account for some of the salary. The US’s higher salary will make up for some of that. The US is also much larger so it has a broader range for supply and demand. Lastly, the US has a much higher VC culture, mostly because there is a much larger population. This means there are more startups hiring more employees.

    Housing Costs in Canada Compared to the US

    Currently the price of housing in Canada is over double than that of in the US. It has steadily increased since 2020 more than 30%. Interest rates in Canada have now spiked to help combat the housing prices, it is going to take a while leaving the housing prices much less affordable than anywhere else.

    In the US, housing prices have gone up around 27% in the same time period that housing prices increased a lot. They are not near as expensive as the Canadian housing market, but they are still higher than normal.

    The reason for these increases has a lot to do with the pandemic. This resulted in a lot of people working from home or needing more space. This caused a lot of buying and selling in the market. Pair that with lack of housing and the result is a major spike in housing prices.

    The rental market is also more expensive in Canada than it is in the US. It is roughly an average difference in rent of $100 per month between Canada and the US. This is relative though. It ultimately depends where you are in each country.

    Cost of Living: Canada Vs the US

    While the US does tend to have higher salaries, it’s actually cheaper to live in Canada. Here are some examples of how the cost of living is lower.

    Scenerio Cost in the US Cost in Canada
    Rent $1,702 $1,774
    Utilities $429.33 $348
    The annual cost of food $5,259 $3,564
    Annual car insurance $2,014 $2,000
    Health insurance monthly $600 $0

    As you can see, it’s slightly cheaper to live in Canada over the US, but ultimately, the total cost will depend on where you live in each country.

    Areas of the USA that are more Expensive

    Just like any other Country, there are some places that are more expensive to live in than others. In the US, some of these places are:

    • New York
    • San Francisco
    • Honolulu
    • California

    The main reasons for this is the cost of housing and other things like transportation or food. Where you live really affects these things. Places with denser populations, closer to city centers, and popular travel destinations tend to be much more expensive than smaller less popular cities. Usually the farther from the city center you are, the cheaper it is.

    Areas of Canada that are more Expensive

    In Canada, this is the same premise. More populated cities like Toronto and Vancouver are much more expensive to live in than smaller places in more rural areas. Luxury activities cost slightly more in major cities. An example of this is going to a restaurant. In Canada, restaurants can be quite expensive no matter where they are located but even more so in high traffic areas. The common thing for all of these places is that the cost of housing is high. This is because there is a large demand for housing so the prices keep increasing. Since housing prices in Canada are already extremely high, many Canadians are starting to avoid these expensive cities for more rural areas. Because of this, the prices in these areas are increasing as well but they are still not as expensive as major Canadian cities.

    Ultimately, the cost and living standards aren’t only going to vary in the country that you live in, but also where you live in that country. Things like monthly gym membership costs, the education system, living costs, housing costs, social benefits and even consumer prices are all impacted by this.

    Moving to the US From Canada

    If you’re considering moving to the US, it’s hard to say if that’s the right thing to do or not. It really just depends on your reasons for moving, and what you gain by moving there. While there are still plenty of opportunities in Canada, there are plenty of great opportunities in the US as well. The cost of living, there, is just slightly higher but, they have lower taxes. All in all, there are pros and cons to living in both countries, so you just have to figure out which is best for you.


    Overall, both Canada and the US are fairly expensive to live in. Canada has much higher housing costs but healthcare costs are much more expensive in the US. While US salaries are slightly higher, Canadians have a much easier time making a higher salary with less education. Honestly, both of the countries have positive and negative aspects when it comes to being affordable. Overall though, the Canada cost parameters are lower. This means overall the cost of living and consumer prices are higher in the US, which justifies the higher wages. The affordability of these places is hard to base on an average because it all depends on the career that you choose as well. While the US has more startup companies and educated positions, a lot of Canadian careers are in other fields like trades. These things also make a big difference in which country is better.

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