Household expenses

Household expenses can take up to half your take-home pay in Canada. These expenses include:

Home costs

Most Canadians spend 35% to 50% of their income on housing and utilities. This includes the cost of:

  • water
  • electricity
  • telephone service
  • heating your home
  • renting your home or paying your mortgage (long-term loan)

If you rent

Many newcomers choose to rent an apartment on a monthly basis. Rental costs vary across cities and across Canada. They usually cost less outside large cities.

You’ll likely pay at least $350 a month to rent a room. You can pay at least $2,000 a month to rent a larger apartment or a large house.

An immigrant-serving organization where you plan to live can help you find a home you can afford.

If you buy

If you want to buy a house, you’ll probably need to get a mortgage. Banks and other lending institutions give mortgage loans by deciding whether you have:

  • enough income
  • enough assets (things you own)
  • a good credit rating

Most banks will ask you to pay at least 10% of the cost of the house (a down payment) from your own money.

Besides your mortgage payments, you’ll have to pay:

  • property taxes
  • household insurance
  • other fees if you plan to purchase a condominium (condo)

You can compare the costs of housing in communities across Canada in the city profiles section of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website.

Health insurance

Some provincial and territorial health programs may not cover some newcomers for the first three months they are in Canada.

Check with the ministry of health in your province or territory as soon as you arrive in Canada to see if you need to buy extra health insurance.

Basic expenses

Basic expenses include food and clothing.

Food costs depend on the size of your family. This cost can double if you often eat in restaurants or choose to buy specialty items.

Clothing expenses may be less than 10% of your take-home pay. You may spend a lot more if you buy your clothing at designer stores. Second-hand shops sell used clothing and furniture at very low cost.

Alcohol and cigarettes

Some people include alcohol and cigarettes as part of their budget. Alcohol and cigarettes are expensive in Canada because they are heavily taxed.


Many Canadian families have one or more cars that they:

  • buy new
  • buy used
  • lease (a form of long-term rental)

Look at all the costs before you decide to buy or lease a car, such as:

  • gas
  • parking
  • insurance
  • registration
  • loan payments
  • paying to keep it working well

Many Canadians use public transportation, walk or bike.

Car insurance

It’s the law that you must insure and register all cars with your provincial or territorial government. Car insurance can be expensive, but it protects you and other drivers in case of an accident.

In most provinces, you can find out more by contacting the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Occasional expenses

Living in Canada, you’ll find that every now and then you have to make payments for occasional expenses, such as:

  • school supplies
  • prescription medicine not covered by health insurance
  • long-distance calls to friends and family in your home country


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