They’re 541.7km apart. 5 hours and 48 minutes by car (pending traffic, of course). 5 hours and 32 minutes by train. 1 hour and 15 minutes by plane. 112 hours by foot (though you’d have to be insane to even attempt it).
And yet, despite the remarkably close proximity between two of Canada’s largest metropolitan cities, Toronto and Montreal are fundamentally different in countless ways. There’s the language, the food, the culture, the winter weather, the turning on red lights (don’t ask), and as you’ll see, a large disparity when it comes to cost of living.
As it stands today, Toronto is generally 21% more expensive than Montreal based off numerous categories, and that number climbs even higher when moving with a family. In this article, we’ll compare the cost of living in Montreal vs Toronto, and then we’re going to explore why living in “The Six” is typically pricier, and what your monthly credit card bill might look like if you choose to move to either of these incredible urban centers.
From a high-level perspective, we can attribute the price disparity between these two cities to two factors: language and weather. Since Toronto is predominantly English-speaking, an increasing number of Canadians and global citizens view it as a more feasible landing spot compared to the French-dominant Montreal. Unfortunately, the supply of housing and rental units in Toronto can’t quite keep up with the demand, which drives prices skyward.
As for the weather, ask any Montrealer and they’ll agree: Quebec winters are a cruel beast. In Toronto, the average snowfall clocks in at roughly 48 inches per year, whereas in Montreal, that number almost doubles to 83 inches per year. If you don’t love building snowmen or non-stop snowball fights, 7 feet of snow can seem a tad daunting. Regarding temperatures, the average Toronto winter chill drops to about -7˚C over December, January and February. In Montreal, the average winter temperature sits at -12˚C over the same period—that’s a temperature on par with Moscow, Russia.
The bottom line is this: since Toronto is more desirable from a language and climate point of view, the rental prices are higher, which ultimately drives up the overall cost of living. But if we dive a little deeper, we can find the other areas where Montreal and Toronto differ in prices. Spoiler alert: it’s a good time to start saving in the piggy bank if you have your eyes set on T-Dot over the YUL (Toronto over Montreal… we like our nicknames around here) .
COST OF LIVING BREAKDOWN: MONTREAL VS. TORONTO
In general, living is—unfortunately—pretty expensive. There’s rent, groceries, transportation, gym memberships, and the list goes on. Without drowning you in every nitty-gritty detail, we’ll break down what an average monthly credit card bill might look like if you and your family are to move to either of these two amazing cities.
Before you whip out your phone to begin learning French on Duolingo in preparation for a move to Montreal, keep in mind that this breakdown comes with tons of caveats. Factors like moving with kids, driving a car, owning property and more can all influence the cost of living in a prosperous metropolitan city. This chart is simply meant to serve as a loose guide, so you can keep your hair from greying when the first credit card bill arrives.
NOTE: If you’re thinking of purchasing a home in Canada, we strongly recommend reading this comprehensive article on Buying a House in Canada.
WHICH CITY TO CHOOSE?
Here’s the good news: even though Montreal is cheaper than Toronto, you’ll be delighted to know that you can’t really go wrong with either of these fantastic landing spots. Both are replete with thriving and unique cultures, ample opportunity for careers and businesses, delicious restaurants that will satisfy even the most hardcore “foodies” out there, and wonderful entertainment atmosphere.
And keep in mind, all these figures are based on estimates and averages. There are dozens and dozens of different neighbourhoods in Montreal and Toronto, where you’ll see that the cost of living can actually vary widely within each city. So depending on your budget and your lifestyle, you’ll likely find that both of these cities offer something for everyone.
Moving to Canada is more than a life-changing decision. It’s a decision to embrace a safe and friendly environment, to revel in a multi-cultural melting pot, to enjoy universal healthcare and some breathtaking moments in nature. And above all, it’s a choice you’ll never regret, even if the temperature occasionally gives you haunting flashbacks to the middle of Russia.
At ARIANNE, we want your transition to Canada to be easy, smooth and hassle-free, regardless of how much it costs to settle in and live. That’s why we’ve prepared our comprehensive Online Relocation Guides that will give you all the tools you need to orchestrate a flawless move to Canada.
Josh Gladstone is a Canadian copywriter, blogger and storyteller. He’s been obsessed with travel since Columbus first set sail—“Columbus” being the name of his bathtub sailboat as a toddler. He’s lived in Hong Kong, Germany, Spain and France, so when it comes to travel stories, Josh lets his passport do most of the talking.