By now I’m sure we’re all familiar with the term “cost of living”. Usually, it’s used in the phrase, “the cost of living in Toronto/Vancouver/Edmonton/King’s Landing is too high”. I don’t just mean that coffee shops these days are selling $9 lattes, or a movie ticket is $20. I’m talking about rent. Groceries. Electricity. Transportation. Childcare. How much do the essential things you need to live cost, and where can you find that information?
Let’s start with Toronto. The most common paycheque guzzler for a single wage-earner isn’t luxury items, vacations, or even (cue my 30-year old assistants’ manic laughter) homeownership. It’s just plain old cost of living. According to Numbeo, Toronto’s rent for a 1 bedroom apartment outside the city centre averages at about $1,700 a month. Basic utilities are about $134, and a monthly transit pass is $150 a month.
In a city like Halifax, an apartment outside the city centre runs for about $863 a month and utilities at $150 a month. The Toronto specs above feature a very bare-bones lifestyle. If you wanted something extra for health, for fun, of peace of mind–things all human beings need–then let’s consider that as well. The cost for things like a fitness membership ($55-$58), a meal at an inexpensive restaurant ($15-$20) and even a pair of jeans ($65-$72) don’t fluctuate too much between the two cities.
We can roughly estimate that Montreal is 29.5% cheaper to live in than Toronto; Victoria is 12.8% cheaper than Vancouver; and Winnipegis 14.5% cheaper than Calgary. Edmonton sits in the middle of Toronto and Halifax with $1000 a month rent but $195 a month utilities so it’s a perfect example that with most cities there are going to be categories where you save, and some where you don’t.
Ideally, your income should be spent like so: housing (35%), utilities (5%), food (10-20%), transportation (15-20%), clothing (3-5%), medical (3%), personal (5-10%), savings (5-10%) and debt payment (5-15%). Now, many people (myself included) have spent an entire 2 weeks pay on rent, but 35% is a nice goal to work towards. And knowing this can make it easier when negotiating wages with prospective employers!
Once again, these stats are just for a single earner in a household. If you have other regular costs, from dependants to a chronic illness, you can expect the cost of living to shoot up. Add to that the fact that most people have some kind of debt, be it thousands in student loans or just run-of-mill but-objectively-worse credit card debt. So if you’re considering relocating or changing your job, make sure you account for all your expenses. After all this, there are still taxes.
Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Vancouver Island. You are invited to subscribe to our Job Seeker newsletter or submit your resume.