cost of living

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

British Columbia is home to lush forests, incredible coastlines, stunning mountain ranges, vineyards, and much more. Before you consider relocating, you may want to consider the cost of living in BC. It’s been said that BC stands for “bring cash.” So how much does it cost to live in BC compared to other provinces in Canada?

The Current Cost of Living in BC

Inflation and rapid rent increases have contributed to Canada being one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in. Canada ranks as the 17th most expensive country globally for the cost of living. Housing, food, and gas or fuel prices are three expenses most people have.

Living expenses in BC vary depending on location. Vancouver and Victoria are both popular places to live and are expensive. Other areas of BC may have lower housing costs but higher costs for food, gas, and utilities.

The average cost of living in BC for a single person for basic expenses is $1,362 without rent. Adding the average price of a one-bedroom rental unit will bring a single person’s living cost up to $3,535.

A family of four can expect expenses of $4,881, not including rent. The average rent for a three-bedroom unit in BC is $3,232. Therefore, the cost of living for a family of four, including rent, will be about $8,113.

Gas prices

Gas prices in BC fluctuate but can be high compared to the rest of Canada. Gas costs depend on many factors and can change daily. However, gas prices in BC were higher than in any other province with an average of $1.56/litre in early December 2022. As a comparison, gas prices in Alberta were $1.25/litre, and Ontario had an average gas price of $1.36 per litre. This difference can mainly be attributed to higher provincial taxes in BC.

Food prices

Food can take up a large part of your budget and is sometimes your second or third largest expense after housing and taxes. There has been a rapid increase in food prices since early 2021. Canada’s Food Price Report for 2022 is projecting that for a family of four with an adult male (31-50) and female (31-50) with a boy (14-18) and girl (9-13), the annual cost of groceries could be as high as $16,288 in 2023.

FAs we all know, food is not a fixed expense like rent. The amount you pay for groceries will depend on many factors, such as what you eat, where you live, and whether you cook or dine out. Generally, on Vancouver Island, you can expect to spend an average of $360 on groceries per adult each month. For ideas on how to deal with food costs, see our blog.

Rent prices

If you are considering renting a unit in British Columbia, you’ll find the price of rentals to be high. In 2022, the average rent increased by 16% in BC. The average cost to rent a one-bedroom unit in BC is $2,173. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Canada is $1,722 per month.

Buying a home is expensive as well. British Columbia has the highest average home price in Canada. In November of 2022, the average home price in Canada was $632,802. In BC, it was $906,785.

Consumer price index

The cost of living is high everywhere due to inflation. The Consumer Price Index measures inflation by measuring price changes for:

  • 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 has affected every Canadian province. The average inflation rate in Canada from October 2021-October 2022 is 6.9%. However, British Columbia’s inflation rate was higher than the Canadian average at 7.2%. Therefore, if you live in BC, you can expect the costs of your goods and services to increase faster than in many other parts of Canada.

Living wage

If you are moving to BC or living in BC, what is the living wage you need for a reasonable but modest standard of living, after taxes but including any government benefits you receive?

The income you need will vary, depending on where you live in BC. The amount ranges from $18.98 per hour if you live in the Fraser Valley to $24.29 per hour in Greater Victoria. The living wage is calculated using items in the Consumer Price Index basket of goods. The minimum wage in BC of $15.65 per hour is below the living wage.

As a comparison, the lowest living wage in Ontario is $18.05 per hour in London, Elgin, and Oxford. The highest living wage is $23.15 for the Greater Toronto Area. Ontario’s minimum wage is $15.50 per hour.

Alberta’s living wage starts at $17.50 in Red Deer and goes up to $32.75 in Canmore. The minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour.

Earning a living wage in BC is essential to afford a place to live, food, and other necessities.

Job opportunities

The job market in British Columbia is strong right now. Over 100,000 jobs were added during 2021, and the unemployment rate is currently about 5.3%. In addition, BC expects to fill over 1,000,000 positions in the next ten years. About 80% of these positions will require post-secondary education.

The provincial government expects that 37% of these jobs will be new. The remaining 63% will be created by people leaving the workforce through retirement and for other reasons. The BC government forecasts immigrants will fill 34% of these jobs. People moving from other provinces will fill another 8% of positions.

The government in BC expects the next decade to bring a lot of employment to the province. Therefore, moving to BC or living in BC can provide some excellent career opportunities.

Cost of living comparison

The cost of living, excluding housing, comparison between provinces ranges from $2,300 per month for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland to $4,800 per month for British Columbia. The province with the second highest cost of living is Ontario, at $4,100 per month.

If you compare the cost of living in Toronto to Vancouver, you’ll only find a difference of under 1%. However, the cost to rent in Vancouver is 10.12% higher on average than in Toronto.

Reach Out If You Need Help

If the cost of living has made it difficult or impossible for you to manage your finances, we can help you. Derek Chase and Associates have a team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees who can offer solutions for your debt. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Derek Chase and Associates to book a free, confidential meeting to review your options to help you go forward debt-free.

Derek L. Chase, CPA, CA, LIT

Being able to offer debt help assistance to individuals and corporations on a more intimate basis was a driving force in completing a “second CPA” by becoming licensed by the Federal Government as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (previously Trustee in Bankruptcy) in 1997. It is extremely satisfying to be able to witness lives change for the positive due to a restructuring of financial affairs.