Immigrating to Canada: Evaluating the cost of living

The immigration process can seem quite lengthy, stressful, and even challenging at times since it involves getting your educational credentials evaluated, contacting all your employers for experience letters, completing medical tests, and even getting clearance from the police department. Not to discourage you, but all these tasks only make up one part of the journey. The other part is focused mostly on what I’ll categorize as “research” and is spread throughout the immigration journey from pre-application to post-landing. People mostly spend time researching on topics like how to find a job after moving, how much will it cost to live in a certain city, how to transfer money, etc. 

I’ve written about my immigration experience and the job market in two of the earlier posts in this series. And I even did a holistic blog on fund transfer so I won’t spend much time talking about them here.

In this fourth blog of the “Immigrating to Canada” series, I’ll try to answer another popular question that made it to my list of top five immigration questions: What’s the cost of living in Canada?

If you’re hard-pressed for time and are looking for a quick answer, you can check out this site called Numbeo and select all the options that reflect your situation to view the cost of living for a specific city in Canada. 

Cost of living depends on many variables. Here’s the longer version of the answer derived by breaking down the question into smaller, more bite-sized pieces:

Note: Most of you reading this blog might be aware that as part of my job working with Arrive, I write blogs on the Arrive Hub as well. Since I’ve already blogged about some of the related topics on Arrive, for a deep-dive, I will only provide links to those articles here with occasional tips/advice and/or explanation.

Accommodation 

No matter where you live in Canada, rent and/or housing cost will most likely be the majority portion of your expenses each month. My experience is limited to Toronto, and hence, you can read all about renting in Toronto here. It includes an estimate of various costs involved in renting a place in Toronto.

Food, Clothing, Transportation, Insurance, Entertainment, and Other Expenses

I’ve covered all these topics in one of my blogs on the Arrive Hub — that’s the only reason I’ve clubbed all them in one category. Check out this blog for more tips and friendly advice on estimating these expenses.

Taxes

If you’re moving to Canada from a country like India, you will find the tax rate in Canada to be very high. 

  • Pay cheque deductions (income tax, pension plans, insurance, and other deductions) can reduce your pay by as much as 25% to 35%. 
  • Like many countries, Canada adds sales taxes to many of the goods and services you buy. Goods and Services Tax (GST), Provincial Sales Tax (PST), and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) are usually applied to all goods and services sold.

The monthly expenses calculator on the Arrive Hub is an excellent tool to have a comprehensive view of how much it costs to live in any city in Canada.

If you’re looking for more resources that the Government recommends, you can check this webpage.

Popular notion among many people I know back in India: 
Moving abroad = earning in dollars which is valued at a higher rate than INR = more savings considering the currency conversion rates. This also happens to be one of the reasons why many people think about moving/working overseas.

First things first — this idea is flawed. Unless you work in the Middle East, the belief cited above won’t necessarily be true.

Since the cost of living is drastically different compared to India, your financial status in Canada changes and depending on how much you make, you may have minimal savings each month. 

This situation then leads to the question: Is it financially beneficial to move to Canada?  A fellow newcomer and blogger, Ronak Gandhi, has addressed this topic in his article on LinkedIn; I recommend you give it a read. Ronak has also authored a bunch of other articles for newcomers to Canada that are nothing but brilliant — personally, I found much of his advice helpful. 

Moving to a new country is a daunting task but the right research and resources can help you confidently get to your desired destination! So don’t stress and take it one step at a time.

Do comment and let me know if you found this post helpful. If you haven’t already, subscribe for email updates, and stay tuned for the last blog in this series. 

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