Is it cheaper to live in British Columbia or Alberta?

Is it cheaper to live in British Columbia or Alberta

Canada is one of the best places to live in the world. The standard of living in different parts of the country makes it a delight, but the cost of living can be a little higher than usual. As a result, people constantly compare provinces to find the best to live in. One of the common questions asked is, is it cheaper to live in British Columbia or Alberta?

British Columbia and Alberta are neighbouring provinces, making it easy to migrate. British Columbia has some of the most expensive cities in Canada. When you consider factors necessary for basic living, such as rent, housing, food, utilities, taxes, etc., Alberta is cheaper than British Columbia.

Regardless of this, Alberta is still an expensive place to live. In this article, we compare the cost of items in the two provinces to determine which of them is cheaper to live in.

Is It Cheaper to Live in British Columbia than Alberta?

It’s generally considered cheaper for you to live in Alberta than British Columbia. But this significantly depends on the part of the province you choose to live in. For example, if you decide to live in Vancouver, you’ll be paying more than it’ll cost you to live in Calgary, Alberta’s most expensive city.

Cost of Living in British Columbia vs Alberta 

To determine the actual cost of living and which one is cheaper between British Columbia and Alberta, we have to examine the cost of necessities in the two provinces to see which is higher. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Housing

Vancouver, BC, is notorious for the exorbitant price of houses far ahead of the national average. Homes here cost an average of CAD1.172 million. The average cost of housing in British Columbia is CAD736,000, making it the most expensive province for real estate.

On the other hand, Alberta is number 3 on the list, with real estate costing CAD353,000. This is only the provincial average, and you will pay for more houses in some parts. For example, the average cost of homes is much higher in Calgary, Alta than in Quesnel, BC.

2. Rent

If the housing is expensive, you can always expect the rent to follow suit. In British Columbia, the costs of rent vary from city to city. Vancouver has the highest cost of rent in the whole country. A studio costs CAD1800 per month, a one-bedroom apartment costs CAD2036, and a two-bedroom costs CAD2972 each month. Of course, the prices are a little lower in other parts of the province.

Compared to this, Even the most expensive cities in Alberta don’t cost as much as the provincial average for British Columbia. For example, the rent for Calgary is CAD1036 for a studio, CAD1224 for a one-bedroom apartment, CAD1468 for a two-bedroom, and CAD1657 for a three-bedroom.

It’s even cheaper in Edmonton, where rent is CAD941 for a studio, CAD999 for a one-bedroom apartment, CAD1201 for two bedrooms, and CAD1456 for three-bedroom apartments. The provincial average is lower too.

3. Food

Another factor that significantly affects the cost of living is the cost of food. In British Columbia, the cost of food is an average of CAD35 per day for travellers. It could be a little lower for residents and where you eat affects your cost. For example, eating in a restaurant will cost more than grabbing fast food. In Vancouver and British Columbia, generally, the cost of groceries is 2% above the national average.

In Alberta, food costs a little lesser at an average of CAD31 per day for travellers. Dining out costs CAD12 per person on average, and breakfasts are less cheaper to get when compared with lunches and dinner.  In terms of cities, a basic lunch in the Edmonton business district will cost CAD22, while fast food costs CAD11. 

Grocery-wise, the cost of groceries in Edmonton is 1% less than the provincial average, while that of Alberta is also 1% less than the Canadian average. This shows that food is also costlier in British Columbia than in Alberta.

4. Healthcare

Another way to determine the cost of living in a province in Canada is healthcare services. In this area, both British Columbia and Alberta are higher than the national average. But it’s more expensive to access healthcare services in British Columbia than in Alberta. While Alberta is only 1% above the national average, British Columbia is 2% above the national average. So, it’s slightly cheaper to get healthcare services in Alberta.

5. Goods and Services

The cost of goods and services can seriously affect the overall cost of living. For example, essential items and services such as clothing, laundry, home appliances, etc., are much more expensive in British Columbia than in most provinces in Canada. They generally cost 10% above the national average in British Columbia. This is far above the cost of goods and services in Alberta, where it costs only 5% more than the national average. 

To better grasp how expensive goods and services are in both provinces, we compare two cities, one from each province. In Nanaimo, BC, internet per month at 8mbps cost CAD65, 40′ flatscreen television costs CAD392, laundry detergent (3l or 100 oz) cost CAD12, cleaning help hourly rate costs CAD24. In Edmonton, Alta, the same items and services cost CAD53, CAD335, CAD11, and CAD23, respectively.

6. The Overall Cost of Living

It’s clear by now that things are more expensive in British Columbia compared to Alberta. But to get a clear view of how expensive both provinces are, we look at the overall cost of living compared to the national average. For British Columbia, the overall cost of living shows that it’s 23% above the national average. 

On the other hand, the cost of living in Alberta is the same as the national average. For example, the cost of living in Edmonton for a family of 4 is CAD4,722, while it’s CAD4,823 in Nanaimo, BC.

The Bottom Line

Alberta is a cheaper place to live compared to British Columbia. But this doesn’t mean that Alberta has a low cost of living. On the contrary, it’s still an expensive place to live in Canada. So, you might want to consider the cost implications before moving to Alberta.

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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