Considering that Canada has one of the highest living standards in the world, it is hardly surprising that there are some fairly expensive cities in the country. There are now several cities in Canada where the average home costs over a million or close to a million Canadian dollars.

The ranking below is based on the cost-of-living index. It is an index that combines details of a range of expenses, including rent or mortgage, groceries, child care, education, health care and entertainment. The results are then compared to a baseline of one hundred. The closer to the base line the index is, the more expensive the city is.

Rank

City

Index

1

Nanaimo, British Columbia

78.61

2

Victoria, British Columbia

78.08

3

Vancouver, British Columbia

75.76

4

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

75.68

5

Toronto, Ontario

75.41

6

Calgary, Alberta

74.96

7

Guelph, Ontario

73.58

8

Edmonton, Alberta

73.38

9

Ottawa, Ontario

72.95

10

Markham, Ontario

72.64

11

Halifax, Nova Scotia

72.25

12

Mississauga, Ontario

71.53

Looking at the table of the most expensive cities, it is easy to see that British Colúmbia has the most expensive cities and takes the three top spots. Ontario has the most cities on the list, with many provinces, including Quebec, not making the list at all.

Large cities are often more expensive that smaller cities, so it is really interesting to note that not all the cities on the list are large cities. Big cities such as Montreal and Winnipeg, the second and seventh largest cities in Canada, are not among the largest cities in Canada. In fact, they are both very affordable cities.

So let’s have a look at the twelve cities on the list in more detail.

Table of Contents

Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo, the most expensive Canadian city, is situated on Vancouver Island. This city, with a population of around 90,000 is on the east coast of the island. It is a desirable place to live, but that is reflected in the house prices, with an average family home costing $944,950 in February 2022. That is a 23% rise in a year.

Many of the citi’s residents work in retail, accounting and real estate, but the biggest employer in the area is the health care system. The average incomes in Nanaimo are lower than in Victoria or Vancouver. However, out of the three cities, Nanaimo has seen the biggest growth in median family employment income.

Victoria, British Columbia

The second British Columbian city and the second most expensive on the list is the capital of British Columbia, Victoria. The main reason Victoria is so expensive is the high cost of homes. In February 2022, the price of an average single family home climbed to over one million Canadian dollars. A jump of around 175,000 CAD in a year.

However, the high property prices are compensated with some of the lowest property taxes in the while country. The wages in the area are also competitive. Since Victoria is the capital of the province, there are plenty of job opportunities within the government offices. However, the property industry now employs more people in Victoria than in any other sector.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia

The third and last British Columbian city on the list of the most expensive cities in Canada is Vancouver. It is the biggest city in British Columbia and the Greater Vancouver area is home to 2.6 million people, making it the third largest cosmopolitan area in Canada behind Toronto and Montreal.

Vancouver has a booming house market and the average price of a home is over 1.3 million CAD. Desirable properties are snapped up pretty quickly, with the median days for houses on the market being only 15 days. The day-to-day living costs are also high, but so are average incomes. The job prospects in Vancouver are good, with a low unemployment rate of just 3.6%.

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

St John’s is the provincial capital and one of the oldest cities in North America. It has one of the lowest real estates in Canada. At an average of 371,000 CAD for a single-detached home, the house prices are significantly lower than in the top three cities on the list. The house prices are climbing in St John’s, too with prices up 8.4% from the previous year.

With such low property prices, one might begin to wonder why is St John’s on the list at all. What makes St John’s an expensive Canadian city is the higher cost of day-to-day living. This includes the cost of public transport, which is one of the most expensive in Canada.

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is the first city of Ontario to make the most expensive cities list. It is the largest metropolitan area in Canada, with over 6.2 million people living in the Greater Toronto area. The city continuously attracts new residents because of its great employment opportunities. It is a hub for both global and domestic finance and business. The city is also very supportive of start-ups.

The average house prices in Toronto are comparable to Vancouver, with the average house price at 1.35 million CAD in April 2022. That is an increase of about 300,000 CAD from the previous year.

Calgary, Alberta

Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and the third largest in Canada. It is home to approximately 1.3 million people. The city has been ranked twice as the most livable city in North America by The Economist.

In Calgary, the house prices have climbed a lot slower compared to the other cities on the list so far. The average price rose by only 1.8% from May 2021 to May 2022 when the average price for a single family home was 520,000 CAD. The price is similar to the second biggest city in Canada, Montreal, where an average home price is 587,000 CAD.

Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario

Guelph is situated between some of Ontario’s largest economic hubs, including Toronto, Waterloo and Hamilton. With such a central location, it would be easy to assume that many people from Guelph commute to the nearby larger cities for work. However, most of its residents find work locally. In fact, Guelph is one of the easiest cities to find employment according to the Bank of Montreal.

Smaller places like Guelph, with a population of 135,000 people, often have cheaper properties than larger cities. However, this is not the case in Guelph where you can expect to pay just over 900,000 CAD for an average family home.

Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and home to just short of million people. Many of the city’s residents find employment in the oil and gas industry and job prospects in Edmonton are good. Edmonton is the eight most expensive city in Canada because of the higher than average cost of day-to-day living.

However, buying a property in Edmonton is cheap, compared to many of the other cities that made the most expensive cities list. Even though Edmonton is seeing rising prices on the property market, you can still get an average family home for around 371,000 CAD, a jump of 9.4% compared to a year before.

Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It is the fourth largest city in Canada and the ninth most expensive. The average price of a family home in Ottawa is up 7.7% from May 2021 to May 2022. As the population of the city grows, there is a higher demand for homes that there is a supply of homes. The same issue is behind the jumps in house prices in many of the popular areas and cities in Canada.

Since Ottawa is the political centre of Canada, the biggest employer in the city is the federal government. Other larger employment sectors in Ottawa include tourism, high-industry and health care.

Markham, Ontario

Markham is the 16th largest city in Canada and only 30 kilometres from Toronto. Markham has only had a city status since 2012. The city is the home of many technological companies and industries and has a high employment ratio. Companies that have bases in Markham include IBM, Hyundai, Motorola and Huawei.

Because of such great employment prospects, Markham is a desirable home and house prices here are high. The average cost of a family home is 1.3 million CAD. However, what is interesting about Markham is that, despite fluctuations over the year, the average house prices have remained the same compared to the year before.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia. The city benefits from approximately 40% cheaper rental market than, for example Toronto or Vancouver. The house prices here are lower, too, with the average price in April 2022 at 528,000 CAD. However, the prices have risen sharply over the last few years. In April 2020, the average price was just 335,000 CAD and in April 2021, 382,000 CAD.

Halifax is a centre for business in eastern Canada and its largest employment sectors are in health and social assistance services, trade, public administration, and education. However, the wages in Halifax are not yet as competitive as other cities of its size, and it also has higher than average taxes.

Mississauga, Ontario

The final city is Mississauga, and it is the fifth city from Ontario to enter the list. It is another Canadian city that has seen a sharp increase in average home prices. The prices are up 14.2% from April 2021 and an average home now costs over a million CAD. In fact, it was 1.1 million CAD in April 2022. Mississauga also has high property taxes.

Mississauga is less than 30 kilometres from Toronto, which increases the employment opportunities for its residents. On the other hand, this proximity has been one of the reasons for the rise in property prices with more people looking to live outside Toronto and work remotely.

The interesting thing about the most expensive cities in Canada is that they all still rank below the 100 cost-of-living index base line. The reason for this is that none of the cities have high costs in all the areas looked at when forming the cost-of-living index.

Cities that have the highest property prices will often have lower cost of, for example groceries, utility bills or child care. Other regions might have lower taxes or higher average incomes to balance out the overall living costs.

The bottom line is that you could choose any of the cities included on this list and provided that you earn a decent salary, live quite comfortably. You will also be guaranteed a high standard of living, a great educational system, free health care, lots of recreational options and plenty of beautiful nature. All of which are part of the high standards of life in Canada.