Household expenses

Your everyday costs

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

  • home, heating and other utilities,
  • food,
  • clothing,
  • health insurance and
  • transportation.

Your home will cost the most

Most Canadians spend 35% to 50% of their income on housing and utilities. This includes the cost of renting your home or paying your mortgage (a mortgage is a long-term loan.) It also includes the often-high cost of heating your home and paying for electricity, telephone service and water.

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 will 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 settle can help you find a home that you can afford.

If you buy

If you want to buy a house, you will probably need to get a mortgage. Banks and other lending institutions give mortgage loans. They decide whether you have enough income, enough assets (things you own) and a good credit rating. Most banks will ask you to pay at least 10% of the cost of the house from your own money.

In addition to your mortgage payments, you will have to pay for property tax and household insurance. If you plan to purchase a condominium (condo), you will have to pay other fees.

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.

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

Basic expenses

Food will be a basic expense. Costs will 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. Canadians either buy their cars new or used or they lease them, which is a form of rental.

Make sure you think of all the costs before you decide to buy or lease a car. For example, when you own a car you will have to pay to keep it working well, for gas, monthly loan payments, registration and insurance. When you lease a car you will sign a contract to have the car for a set period of time. You will pay the same costs as you do when you own a car.

Many Canadians use public transportation, walk or bike.

Car insurance

It is the law that all cars must be insured and registered 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 more information by contacting the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Be ready for occasional expenses

Living in Canada, you will find that every now and then you have to make payments for occasional expenses. Some examples:

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


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