The Cost of Living in BC Compared to the Rest of Canada

Evaluating the Cost of Living in BC in Comparison to Other Provinces

British Columbia (BC), with its majestic mountains, pristine coastlines, lush vineyards and forests, is undoubtedly a charming place to reside in. Yet, when considering a move to this stunning province, it’s essential to gauge the living costs. An old adage even jests that BC stands for “Bring Cash.” So, what does it truly cost to live in BC compared to the rest of Canada?

Deciphering the Current Expenditure of Living in BC

Canada, owing to inflation and skyrocketing rents, has earned a reputation as one of the world’s priciest countries to reside in, standing at the 17th global position. Here, three major expenses dominate household budgets – housing, food, and fuel.

In BC, living costs vary considerably based on location. Notably, Vancouver and Victoria are popular, yet expensive living destinations. Conversely, other BC regions may offer lower housing costs but demand higher prices for food, utilities, and gas.

For a solitary individual, basic monthly expenses in BC average at around $1,362, exclusive of rent. Incorporating average housing rent for a one-bedroom unit, the total cost of living shoots up to approximately $3,535.

A family of four, on the other hand, can expect to spend nearly $4,881 monthly without including rent. Considering that the average rent for a three-bedroom unit in BC stands at $3,232, the total living cost for a four-member family, complete with rent, would amount to roughly $8,113.

Fuel Costs

Fuel prices in BC are subject to frequent fluctuations and generally tend to be higher than the rest of Canada. Factors influencing the cost of gas are manifold and can cause daily changes. Nevertheless, BC recorded the highest average gas price of $1.56 per liter in early December 2022 compared to Alberta’s $1.25 per liter and Ontario’s $1.36 per liter. This discrepancy is primarily due to BC’s higher provincial taxes.

Food Expenses

Food often forms a significant chunk of household budgets, sometimes ranking second or third after housing and taxes. Since early 2021, food prices have experienced a steep hike. According to Canada’s Food Price Report for 2022, a family of four (comprising two adults in the 31-50 age group and two children aged 14-18 and 9-13) might incur annual grocery costs as high as $16,288 by 2023.

However, food expenses are variable and depend on numerous factors such as dietary habits, location, and dining preferences (home-cooked meals versus eating out). For instance, an average adult living on Vancouver Island might spend around $360 monthly on groceries. To learn more about managing food costs, check out our blog.

Rental Rates

Rentals in BC are notoriously high. In 2022, the average rent increased by 16% across the province. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit is $2,173, considerably higher than the national average of $1,722.

Moreover, purchasing a house in BC is also an expensive affair. BC boasts the highest average home price in Canada, with the average home price in November 2022 standing at $906,785 compared to the national average of $632,802.

The Consumer Price Index

Inflation has caused the cost of living to soar worldwide. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures inflation by tracking price changes for the following elements:

 

  • Shelter;
  • Food;
  • Transportation;
  • Clothing and footwear;
  • Household operations;
  • Furnishings and equipment;
  • Health and personal care;
  • Recreation, education, and reading;
  • Tobacco, alcohol, and recreational cannabis;
  • Inflation Rates.

 

Every Canadian province has been affected by inflation. The average inflation rate in Canada from October 2021 to October 2022 was 6.9%. However, BC’s inflation rate exceeded the national average, standing at 7.2%. Therefore, if you reside in BC, you can anticipate a quicker increase in the costs of goods and services compared to many other Canadian regions.

Living Wage

Considering a move to BC or already living there, what would be the living wage required to maintain a modest yet comfortable standard of living after taxes, but inclusive of any government benefits?

The necessary income varies based on the specific BC region. It can range from $18.98 per hour in the Fraser Valley to $24.29 per hour in Greater Victoria. The living wage is calculated using items in the CPI basket of goods. Notably, BC’s minimum wage of $15.65 per hour falls below the living wage.

For comparison, Ontario’s lowest living wage is $18.05 per hour in London, Elgin, and Oxford, with the highest being $23.15 per hour in the Greater Toronto Area. Alberta’s living wage begins at $17.50 in Red Deer and ascends to $32.75 in Canmore.

Earning a living wage in BC is crucial to affording housing, food, and other necessities.

Job Prospects

The job market in BC is currently robust. Over 100,000 jobs were added during 2021, and the unemployment rate is currently about 5.3%. Moreover, BC is projected to offer over a million job positions over the next decade, with approximately 80% of these positions requiring post-secondary education.

The provincial government expects 37% of these jobs to be new, while the remaining 63% will open up due to workforce retirements and other reasons. Immigrants are expected to fill 34% of these jobs, while 8% will be filled by individuals relocating from other provinces.

The next decade is predicted to bring significant employment opportunities to BC, making the province an excellent choice for career growth.

Comparing Cost of Living

Excluding housing, the monthly cost of living varies significantly across provinces, ranging from $2,300 for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland to $4,800 for BC. Ontario follows closely behind BC as the province with the second-highest living cost at $4,100 a month.

Comparing living costs in Toronto and Vancouver reveals a negligible difference of less than 1%. However, rental costs in Vancouver are 10.12% higher on average than in Toronto.

Seek Assistance if Needed

If high living costs are causing financial distress, know that help is available. Bankruptcy Canada hosts a team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees offering debt solutions. Don’t hesitate to contact Bankruptcy Canada to book a free, confidential consultation to explore your options for a debt-free future.

Find Your Personal Debt Relief Solution

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are here to help. Get a free assessment of your options.

Discuss options to get out of debt with a trained & licensed debt relief professional.