What is the Standard Vancouver Living Cost?

The cost of living in Vancouver is broken down much like the cost of living in the rest of Canada; most of your money goes to shelter, personal taxes, transportation and food in that order. You can expect 80% of your income to go towards those four expenses.


Vancouver Living Cost: Average Household Expenditure (CAN$)

  $ Expenditure / Household
Total expenditure $72,486
Shelter $16,736
Transportation $11,067
Food $8,118
Recreation $3,757
Household operation $4,211
Clothing $3,173
Health care $2,680
Household furnishings and equipment $1,865
Education $1,645
Tobacco products and alcoholic beverages $1,101
Personal care $906
Miscellaneous $1,197
Games of chance (net amount) $107
Reading materials and other printed matter $249
Personal income taxes $9,975
Personal insurance payments & pension $3,791
Gifts of money & contributions $1,908


Vancouver Cost of Living: Housing

home living cost vancouver bcThe cost of living in Vancouver is heavily influenced by the housing market. Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada when it comes to housing.

The average price in the greater Vancouver area of a home was $616,000 in July 2012. The average rental price of a two-bedroom apartment was $374,000 and a detached house was $950,200.**


Vancouver Living Cost: Income Tax

Vancouver households paid an average of $9,975 in income taxes in 2010. For more information on tax rates and how to estimate what you can expect to pay annually in taxes to budget for your life in Vancouver, read BC / Vancouver Taxes on Income.


Cost of Living in Vancouver: Transportation

The average Vancouver household in 2010 spent $11,067 on transportation.

Vancouver Public Transit Costs

Bus pass prices range from $91 - $170. For more detailed information on Vancouver public transit costs read Vancouver Bus Fares, Tickets, & Monthly Pass Prices.

Vancouver Gas Prices

Gasoline in Vancouver, sold by the litre, is cheap when compared to Western European countries, and currently hovers around $1.34 per litre, as of September 2012. Over the last few years, prices have fluctuated between $1.05 and $1.50 per litre. Prices tend to be cheaper on the outskirts of the city. For recent price updates, check this chart

*Tip: If you're making your way out to Abbotsford, make sure you fill up while you're there, as they generally have the cheapest prices in the region.

Car Insurance / ICBC Rates in Vancouver

Car insurance in BC is handled by a government corporation, ICBC (the Insurance Company of British Columbia). Rates are based on geography and car type, and you get discounts based on driving experience. For every claim-free year you get a 5% discount on your insurance premium up to a maximum of 43%. There's no explanation why the last year is 3%. You can also get discounts if you only allow drivers with at least 10 years of experience to drive your car. You can save money on car insurance by paying a year at a time. If you pay in monthly installments you'll be charged a small interest rate on your premium. Because the rates can be very different for each car and driver, you should contact ICBC to find out what you'll have to pay to insure your vehicle.

Parking Costs

Parking costs downtown Vancouver during the week are around $18 for a day. For more details about all the various parking options and their prices read A Guide to Vancouver Driving & Parking.


Food Costs in Vancouver

billet dollar canadienThe average household spent $8,118 on food in 2010. This number varies based on the size of your family, your tastes and how much you eat out.

A typical single person will spend $200 to $300 per month on groceries, depending on the tastes and preferences. A family of 3 can spend between $285 to $450 a month. While a family of five typically spends around between $450 to $650 a month. If you plan to live downtown, expect to pay more on groceries as prices for fresh food and produce tend to be around 10-15% higher than the rest of Vancouver.

Tips to Save on Groceries in Vancouver

    > Pay attention to weekly flyers that come in local newspapers, which feature the sales and discounts at the various grocery chains. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on discounted items.

    > The Real Canadian Superstore offers the best prices overall, while the overall shopping experience at IGA Marketplace, Save On Foods and Safeway is better. That being said, these three stores usually have a few highly discounted items in their advertised flyers that might make it worth a trip for the budget conscious shopper. To get their advertised sale discounts at Save On Foods and Safeway, you need a scan card, which is provided free when you fill out an application.

    > Store brands are cheaper than brand names when compared at their regular prices. Look for the yellow-label "No Name Brand", as well as President's Choice brands at Real Canadian Superstore. Save On Foods uses the "Western Family" brand, while Safeway uses their "Safeway Brand."

    > Safeway has a customer appreciation 10% discount on the first Tuesday of every month.


Cost of Education in Vancouver

The average household spent $1,645 on education in 2010. Public schools in Vancouver are free for Canadian citizens, people with permanent resident status or the children of parents who are in Canada on a minimum of one year work visas. There are also private school options, along with several colleges and universities in the greater Vancouver area. Read Vancouver School Costs - What You Can Expect to Pay for more information.


Health Care Costs in Vancouver

In Canada, health care is provincially funded and all residents have access to basic health care. In BC, all residents must become members of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) after a 3 month wait. You're then required to pay a premium based on the size of your family. If you're unable to afford to pay the premiums, assistance is provided by the government.

Residents are defined as being citizens of Canada, immigrants with permanent residence status, who live in BC at least 6 months in a calendar year.

Current monthly premiums are $64 for one person, $116 for a family of two, and $128 for a family of three or more.

In BC you pay MSP separately, and you can pay monthly, in three month increments, or yearly.

*Tip: In other provinces, health care premiums are often deducted through income tax, or are paid when you file your taxes. This means in those provinces if you're a low income earner, you automatically get reductions in your premiums. In BC, you have to apply for deductions, so keep an eye on how much you make. If you're making less than $30,000 a year after taxes you could be eligible for a discount on your premiums! Contact MSP for more information.


Cost of Living in Vancouver: Utilities

Your cost of utilities is entirely dependent on what services you need and whether you will own or rent your home. If you're renting, the cost of some or all of your utilities may be included in your monthly rent. Make sure you ask what's included in your rent. If you can, try to speak to the previous tenants to find out what they were paying for utilities.

Services like telephone and cable can vary based on the level of service you receive. Basic phone services tend to start at $25 a month, while Internet service varies based on speed from $20/month up to $75/month. For more information, read our article on Vancouver utilities.


Vancouver Living Costs: Other Expenses

Various other expenses factor into the cost of living in Vancouver. In 2008 these were the average other costs incurred by residents of Vancouver.
Personal insurance payments and pension contributions $3,791
Recreation $3,757
Household operation $4,211
Clothing $3,173
Health care $2,680
Household furnishings and equipment $1,865
Tobacco products and alcoholic beverages $1,101
Gifts of money and contributions $1,908
Personal care $906
Miscellaneous expenditures $1,197
Games of chance (net) $107
Reading materials and other printed matter $249

*From 2012 Consumer Price Index, Statistics Canada



Vancouver Price Chart


The chart below provides the standard prices in Vancouver for many common items to use as a point of reference.


Loaf of Bread $2.50
Milk 4 Litre (1 or 2%) $4.22
Spaghetti 900g package $2.99
Large Eggs (Dozen) $4.50
Cheddar 12oz (340g) $7.00
10kg Turkey (22 lbs) $40.00
Russet Potatoes (per pund) $0.99
Wine 750mL (average quality) $15.00
Beer, 12-bottle case $22.00
Vodka 750 mL (25 oz) $25.00
Big Mac Meal at McDonald's $6.50
Ground Beef $5.69/kg
Head of Iceberg Lettuce $1.49
MacIntosh Apples $1.69/lb
1.75L Orange Juice $4.99
Butter 454g package (16 oz) $5.59
3lb bag of carrots (1.36 kilograms) $2.49



Other items  
Ipod 8GB nano $169
TV 32" LCD $450 - $600
Standard laptop (PC) $400 - $700
Movie ticket $10 - $13
Pack of Cigarettes (20 pack) $11


* All Statistics are from Stats Canada, the federal agency in charge of census and statistics for Canada unless otherwise stated.

** MLS® Home Price Index, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

*** Historical mortgage rate information supplied by CanEquity - this refers to five year fixed rate mortgages. 

Important Disclaimer:

Those figures are only estimates based on statistics and living experience in Vancouver. 2Vancouver.com Consulting Inc is not responsible for the accuracy of the data provided on this page.

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