Vancouver Cost of Living: What to Know About Housing Costs & Living Expenses in Vancouver 
Vancouver is one of the most desirable Canadian cities due to its temperate climate and vibrant culture. While Vancouver may be more expensive than most Canadian cities, its large size means many housing choices. Real estate in Vancouver ranges from luxury homes to more affordable options like condos and townhomes. Housing costs in Vancouver vary greatly, according to the location within the metropolitan area. Here's what to know about the overall cost of living in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Housing Costs in Vancouver
Vancouver and Toronto have similar housing costs and are two of the most expensive cities for housing in Canada. For many years, Vancouver's housing was more expensive than Toronto's, but Toronto now has more expensive housing, though the gap is relatively small. Housing prices for both cities are expected to be roughly equal in the near future.
Median Home Price
The median price of all homes for sale in Vancouver is roughly $1.1 million, while the median price for single-family homes in Vancouver is around $2 million. The median price of condos and townhomes is approximately $1.1 million.
As with any major city, housing costs vary considerably depending on the exact area. Here's a closer look at average housing prices across Vancouver:
- West Vancouver: $3.8 million
- Bowen Island: $1.4 million
- North Vancouver: $1.4 million
- Vancouver West: $1.3 million
- Richmond: $1.2 million
- Vancouver East: $1.1 million
- Burnaby East: $1.1 million
- Ladner: $1.1 million
- Coquitlam: $1.1 million
- Burnaby South: $1.1 million
- Burnaby North: $1 million
- Port Moody: $900,000
- Maple Ridge: $900,000
- Port Coquitlam: $900,000
- Pitt Meadows: $900,000
- New Westminster: $800,000
Rent in Vancouver has increased significantly in recent years. The median rent in Vancouver for a one-bedroom apartment is around $2,500 per month, while studio apartments are approximately $2,300 per month. Two-bedroom apartments average about $3,500 per month, and three-bedroom apartments cost an average of $4,750 per month.
Vancouver's utility costs are relatively affordable. The city sets flat rates for water, sewer, and garbage collection, and Vancouver's power bills are also somewhat inexpensive. These costs include:
- Water (single-family dwelling): Approximately $800 per year
- Sewer (single-family home): Approximately $653 per year
- Garbage collection (75L bin): Around $100
- Power: 12c per kilowatt-hour
- Internet: An average of $70 per month
- Mobile phone service (5GB of data): Typically $80 per month
Vancouver Food Costs
While food costs in Vancouver are higher than average, many grocery stores offer affordable food. Additionally, the price of eating at restaurants in Vancouver is higher than average due to the number of high-end restaurants in the city. Vancouver is one of Canada's fine dining hotspots, and the high prices at these restaurants raise the average restaurant prices considerably. Still, there are many affordable places to eat in Vancouver.
The average Vancouver resident spends around $400 on groceries each month. Grocery prices continue to rise across Canada, including Vancouver. It's possible to get a better idea of an individual's grocery bill by looking at the average prices for everyday items.
Vancouver is home to many restaurants, from affordable casual dining spots to high-end fine dining destinations. The cost of food, real estate, and dining out in Vancouver are all higher than the national average.
Restaurant prices range from $12 per person for fast food to $50 per person for dinner in a mid-range restaurant. Lunch at a mid-range restaurant is generally cheaper, at around $25 per person. Prices are much higher and vary in fine dining establishments.
Transportation Costs in Vancouver
Transportation in Vancouver can be pretty affordable, as the city has an extensive public transit system. Vancouver offers a monthly pass for public transport that is more affordable than the monthly cost of owning a car. Gas and other automotive expenses are generally more expensive in Vancouver than in the average Canadian city. Car insurance in British Columbia costs roughly $1,800 to $2000 per year.
Vancouver residents looking to save money on transportation costs will likely opt for a Compass Card monthly pass that allows unlimited usage of the city's public transit systems. It is also possible to purchase daily passes or pay per ride.
The Compass Card has three tiers of coverage. Zone 1 covers inner Vancouver, while Zone 2 covers inner Vancouver and surrounding areas like New Westminster, Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver. Zone 3 covers every locale in Zone 2, plus suburbs like the Delta community, the city of Surrey, Coquitlam, and Port Moody. A monthly pass for Zone 1 is about $100, a Zone 2 pass is roughly $140, and a monthly pass for Zone 3 is around $190.
Taxis are a popular mode of transportation for Vancouver residents. Prices will vary based on the company, but travellers can expect to pay between $2.50 to $3 per kilometre.
Vancouver Healthcare Costs
Canadian citizens and permanent residents are covered by government-funded health insurance in all provinces, including British Columbia, and each province has a public health insurance plan. In British Columbia, this plan is called the Medical Services Plan.
The MSP covers medically necessary procedures in full, including care from both physicians and dentists. Those covered by this plan will not have to pay anything, but procedures not considered medically necessary may not be covered or may only be partially covered. For example, the MSP partially covers chiropractic care and massage therapy.
A public health insurance plan in Vancouver does not cover veterinary care. The average pet insurance premium for a dog in British Columbia is around $60. Cats are usually a bit more affordable than dogs to insure.
Childcare Costs in Vancouver
Parents in Vancouver can enroll their children in daycare or hire a nanny, with daycare being more affordable. The monthly cost of daycare in Vancouver was about $1,400 to $1,500 in the past. However, various government programs have significantly reduced the cost of childcare in Vancouver, with the average monthly price now being between $600 and $700.
Parents who have just moved to Vancouver may want to look for nannies instead. Nannies are a bit more expensive than daycare, as the average cost of a nanny is around $3,600 per month. However, the government does offer a program to make care from a nanny more affordable. This government program can contribute about $400 per month to the cost of a nanny for the first child under 19 months old. Parents may also reduce costs by offering room and board to the nanny for a reduced monthly charge.
Vancouver Entertainment Costs
Vancouver is known for its world-class entertainment options, from concerts to sporting events and more. Entertainment options are available at every price, from free to expensive premium experiences.
Free entertainment options include visiting one of Vancouver's many parks, some of which have facilities like basketball courts and playgrounds. Affordable entertainment options include going to the movies, with the average ticket price between $15 and $20. Canucks games and Whitecaps soccer games are also popular among Vancouver residents. Tickets to these games generally cost around $50 on average.
Salary in Vancouver
Salaries in Vancouver are higher than the Canadian average. The median household income in Vancouver is about $65,000, roughly the standard in Canada. The average salary is about $73,000 per year, slightly higher than the Canadian average of $72,000 per year.
The minimum wage is set by the provincial government of British Columbia and applies throughout the entire province, including Vancouver. It is roughly $16 per hour, though it is rising steadily. It is the second-highest minimum wage in Canada, ranking behind only the sparsely populated territory of Nunavut.
The unemployment rate in Vancouver is around 6%. This number is slightly higher than the Canadian average of about 5%.
Many of the highest-paid jobs in Vancouver are computer programming positions. These jobs often pay over $100,000 for senior employees and over $80,000 for junior employees.
The sales and service sector employs the highest percentage of workers in the Vancouver area. Roughly a quarter of Vancouver residents work in this area. The business, finance, and administrative services sector is also a common employer, accounting for nearly 20% of Vancouver's workforce. About one in six Vancouver residents are employed as tradespeople, with job titles such as mechanics, carpenters, electricians, etc.
Vancouver's residents have to pay provincial income tax and federal income tax. British Columbia's income tax ranges from 5.06% to 20.5%, with residents that earn more having to pay more tax. The combined provincial and federal tax rate for Vancouver residents is between 20.06% and 53.5%.
Additional Consideration For Moving to Vancouver
Vancouver has a higher-than-average cost of living but also offers unique amenities and one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the entire country. However, the weather is much more temperate than in other culturally rich cities like Toronto, making Vancouver a highly desirable place to live. Vancouver's wide range of housing options means it is more affordable than it may seem.