Why is it so expensive to live in British Columbia?

British Columbia (BC) is Canada’s westernmost province. The province has a population of about 5.1 million people, making it Canada’s third-biggest province in terms of population. It sits right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and has made Victoria, the 15th biggest metropolitan area in Canada, its capital. 

The province of British Columbia is hilly, with numerous main mountains extending north-south from the coastline to the Alberta border. British Columbia’s regions include Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Kootenays, Canyons and the Cariboo, North and Central Coast, and Northern British Columbia.

The cost of living in British Columbia is affected by so many things but importantly, housing, taxes, utilities, and healthcare are why it is so expensive to live here. However, the cost of living varies depending on where you reside. You need to find the right city in British Columbia that suits your pocket.

Cost of Living in British Columbia

British Columbia is commonly regarded as the most costly province in Canada to live in. For example, the average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is around $2,793, more expensive than the average in Toronto, which is $2,300.

Although living in Vancouver is pricey compared to other provinces in Canada, people still flock there. This might have something to do with the exceptional standard of living that people are able to get there. Victoria, the capital of the province, and Kelowna are both less expensive and still pleasant towns to visit.

Despite this, Vancouver is a popular expat destination, with good scores on major worldwide standard of living indices. It is clean, safe, and offers a dynamic and multi-cultural lifestyle to its people.

Here’s what it costs on average to live in British Columbia:

Housing and rental costs

Rent or paying off your mortgage is most likely where you’ll spend the majority of your earnings. When it comes to the cost of living in Canada, the housing market should be considered first. The part of British Columbia where you choose to reside has a significant impact on how much you will pay for a home.

According to StatsCan, Vancouver, also known as Hollywood North, has the highest rent costs in Canada, with a two-bedroom apartment costing an average of $2,793 per month. More inexpensive choices can be found further out, such as in Marpole, on Vancouver’s southern outskirts. In Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey, rent is less expensive, but it is also on the increase.

Food and Entertainment

Food is expensive, as it is in Toronto, but you can always shop around for cheaper stores, specials, and other alternatives that suit your needs. Independent retail businesses in Chinatown are typically an excellent place to get rice and fruits and veggies.

Dinner and a non-alcoholic drink can set you back $20-$25 in Vancouver eateries, and $15 in Victoria (plus tax and tip). However, Vancouver has some fantastic Asian eateries where you can get affordable sushi or Chinese noodles. Don’t be afraid to venture into the back alleys of your area for a bite to eat. In Victoria, more upscale restaurants charge between $60 and $75 for a three-course dinner for two.

Going out to have drinks with friends? A beer will set you back approximately $6 in Vancouver and $7 in Victoria, while your favorite cocktail will set you back $10-$16 in Vancouver and $10-$13 in Victoria (plus tax and tip).

For movie night, be prepared to pay $15 per ticket!


Canada has a well-developed public transit infrastructure, particularly in urban regions like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. You have the option of using the bus, metro, light-rail train, tram, or booking an Uber service. Ferries are a common mode of transportation in coastal parts of Canada, such as British Columbia and the Atlantic Coast.

TransLink, Vancouver’s public transportation system, is accessible, dependable, and covers virtually the whole metro area of the city with a network of buses, trains, and ferries (SeaBus).

You may buy a single-ride ticket for around $3 or a reusable Compass Card with credit that is deducted for each trip. The monthly transportation pass will set you back approximately $100. Lyft charges a $2.50 base cost, a $2.50 service fee, plus $0.65 per kilometer and $0.33 per minute in addition to the basic rate. The base rate is $2.50, with a $2.00 booking charge, plus $0.70 per kilometer and $0.33 each minute.


In some circumstances, utilities may be included in your rent. If it isn’t, you’ll be responsible for paying your power, gas, and internet/cable bills. At $12.55 for 1GB of data, Canada has one of the highest mobile data rates in the world. Furthermore, automobile insurance is mandated by law across the country.

On average, in Vancouver, electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for an 85m2 place costs $100. 60 Mbps (or more), unlimited data, cable/ADSL internet costs another $100. If you have a car, you will be expected to pay around $80-$110 in insurance, and gas costs $0.98 per liter.

What makes British Columbia so expensive to live in?

More than a third of all Canadians live in the country’s three largest metropolises: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

These large, bustling cities throughout the country entice young professionals, foreign workers, and immigrants by providing more job opportunities in various fields, cultural diversity, improved infrastructure, facilities, and educational opportunities.

The southwest portion of British Columbia boasts some of the greatest weather in Canada and easy access to some of North America’s top outdoor sports. In comparison to the United States, Victoria and Vancouver have relatively low crime rates. The most recent homicide in the area occurred six years ago, and there are no negative neighborhoods in Victoria.

That is why it is so costly to live here. The skyrocketing real estate prices and rents in Vancouver and Victoria are driven by a shortage of supply in this area of Canada with the most pleasant climate.


Vancouver is a beautiful city with mountains, the ocean, and woods around it. It has a reputation for being clean and environmentally friendly. It may be enticing to live in Vancouver and Victoria, but they are not the only good places in British Columbia. 

If you move further out and get out of the two main population areas, it is less expensive. So, while it can be worth it if you have the money, there are less expensive choices.

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