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13 things to think about when planning a budget in Canada

October 4, 2021

When planning your arrival in Canada, no matter what province or city you choose, you’ll have to adapt your budget to your new reality. Here are some tips and practical information about the most common expense categories.

Apartment rental

The price of a 2-bedroom apartment will cost you at least $820 a month. This cost may increase depending on various criteria: area, city or neighbourhood, type of apartment, total number of rooms, etc.

Generally speaking, you’ll need to add the cost of electricity, heating and telecommunications services.

Roommates and sublets are permitted and legal.

Utilities (electricity, heating)

Plan on $25 to $75 in addition to rent for electricity.

Heating will cost you between $25 and $150 a month.

These costs vary according to your personal use, the number of rooms, the season and sometimes even the age of the building.

Cost of consumer products

The prices posted for consumer goods will be increased by 15%, the equivalent of provincial and federal taxes. Learn more about taxable goods and services.


Groceries cost about $300 per person, per month. Of course, this amount can vary if you’re in a couple or if you have a family and depending on your food choices, among other things.

It’s also important to note that all processed food products are taxed.


The 15% tax applies to the total bill and an equivalent percentage must be left as a tip at the end of the meal.

Telecommunications plans (internet, television and mobile)

For a TV and internet package, expect to pay about $75 to $125 a month. For mobile, from $65 to $100. The high cost of plans in Canada is due to a lack of competition.

Public transit

As an example, a monthly pass costs $90 in Montreal and gives you access to the metro and bus network.


Gasoline prices vary according to several factors: the province, the city and even the gas station. On average, it costs $1.40 per litre, but the price can also vary depending on the type of gas you choose for your vehicle.

Home and auto insurance

Home insurance for tenants and home owners isn’t mandatory in Quebec, but it’s highly recommended. It will protect you from property loss resulting from theft, fire or vandalism, or from bodily injury or property damage you might unintentionally cause to someone else. The price of tenant insurance tends to be low, between $20 and $40 a month, with homeowners paying more—between $75 and $100 depending on the coverage.

On the other hand, car insurance is mandatory and costs $40 to $80 per month. Certain factors will affect the price of your auto insurance, such as your age, the type of car, the model and the year of manufacture. The region, city or neighbourhood you live in may also affect the price you pay.

Healthcare system

The healthcare system is 98% public. In order to benefit from Medicare, you must apply for a health insurance card. There is, however, a parallel network of private clinics and medical offices.

Depending on your country of origin, you may need to purchase insurance to cover the waiting period, which can be up to 3 months following your registration.

School system

In Quebec, public elementary and high school is free (ages 5 to 16) for citizens and permanent and temporary residents. In addition, to protect the French language, all immigrant children must attend a French public or private school, whatever their country of origin.

Only English-speaking Quebecers can attend English schools.

For post-secondary studies, expect fees in both public and private institutions.


As of May 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Quebec is $14.25, but it varies from one province to another. Barring exceptions, wages are usually paid every 2 weeks. They are net of taxes, as they’re deducted at source.

The minimum annual paid vacation in Quebec is 2 weeks, with a third week added after 3 years.

Income taxes

There are 2 levels of income tax in Canada: federal and provincial. The level of taxation varies according to salary and can reach up to 53.31% of income.

Quebec has the highest taxes, but it also offers the most services.

If you’re a wage earner, your taxes will be automatically “deducted at source” from your pay. You’ll see it on your pay statement. Tax deducted at source will likely be adjusted up or down at the end of the fiscal year. Canadian tax returns are filed individually and not by household. Thanks to a bilateral agreement between France and Canada, French citizens are exempt from double taxation. They do, however, have to file tax returns in both countries.