Living in Calgary vs. Montreal: Where Should You Live?
Calgary combines the dynamism of a large metropolitan area with the warmth of a connected community. Fresh air, lots of sunshine, open spaces, parks, rivers, and mountains — what’s not to love? While Montreal, the second-most populous city in Canada and the largest city in the Province of Quebec, is the country’s cultural and economic hub. According to Forbes, Montreal is the 9th best to live in due to its community spirit, top-notch food, and world-renowned cultural scene.
We understand that the cost of homes in Canada can be a determining factor of moving or not. The real estate listings in Calgary are affordable. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the median house prices in Calgary as of May 2022 are $440,000, whereas, in Montreal, they are $576,000.
This article compares the costs of public transit, housing, groceries, entertainment, and job opportunities in Calgary and Montreal to help you decide where you should move to. Without further ado, here’s our guide on Living in Calgary vs. Montreal.
Calgary vs. Montreal
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Public transit in Calgary vs. Montreal
Public transport in Calgary
Getting around Calgary is easy because of 2nd lowest traffic congestion and an average commute of only 26 minutes. Calgary Transit is Calgary’s primary public transportation provider. The My Fare app for contactless payments, one of Calgary’s most recent transit innovations, makes the city’s transit system advanced and convenient. Calgary operates more than 160 bus routes to bring you throughout the city.
The C-train provides rapid transit in Calgary, with two lines traveling the whole city. The Blue Line travels east-west from Saddletown to 69 Street, while the Red Line travels north-south from Crowfoot to Somerset-Bridlewood. Both new C-train lines and additions to already existing ones are planned.
One-way cash fares are available. Children and students receive savings off the $3.60 adult cost. Using the My Fare app, you can buy and load day passes and monthly passes onto a monthly pass card.
Public transit fares in Calgary
How much is a transit monthly pass in Calgary?
The cost of a public transit monthly pass in Calgary is $112.00
Public transport in Montreal
Montreal’s metro (subway) system is clean, secure, and swift. The public transportation is quite simple, with just four lines connecting the downtown area to the main tourist attractions, bus stops, and railway stations. The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM), a public transportation company, runs the transit bus and rapid transit services in Montreal.
All metro stations, some depanneurs (corner stores), and grocery stores sell tickets. Opus cards are commonly used in Montreal. The metro station kiosk is the only place to purchase the $6 rechargeable card.
Other transit options include the 747 Shuttle service and BIXI. For a $10 ticket, the 747-shuttle bus will carry you directly from the airport to downtown and vice versa as an extension of the STM bus service. It is one of the most affordable travel options from the airport to downtown.
With more than five hundred drop-off locations, BIXI is a bike-share company with more than 6,000 bikes across the island. You must pay $5.25 for a day pass to rent a BIXI; only credit cards are accepted.
(*Mtl.org & STM info)
Public transit fares in Montreal
Here’s a quick summary of transport costs in Montreal:
747 Shuttle Airport System
Free for children under 11
1$ unlock fee
(includes unlimited 45 min and under)
(*STM & Tripsavvy)
How much is a transit monthly pass in Montreal?
The cost of a public transit monthly pass in Montreal is $94.00.
Cost of groceries in Calgary vs. Montreal
The table lists the cost of groceries in both cities:
The average cost of groceries (Items X kg)
Milk (1 liter)
Loaf of fresh white bread (500g)
Rice (white), (1 kg)
Local cheese (1 kg)
Chicken fillets (1 kg)
Beef round (1 kg)
Apples (1 kg)
Bananas (1 kg)
Oranges (1 kg)
Tomato (1 kg)
Potato (1 kg)
Onion (1 kg)
Lettuce (1 head)
Water (1.5-liter bottle)
Bottle of wine (Mid-range)
Domestic Beer (0.5 liters)
Imported Beer (0.33 liter)
What is the average cost of groceries for 1 person in Calgary?
The average cost of groceries for 1 person in Calgary is $277.23
*Groceries for one person are multiplied by 2.5 for a monthly average.
What is the average cost of groceries for 1 person in Montreal?
The average cost of groceries for 1 person in Montreal is $273.48
*Groceries for one person are multiplied by 2.5 for a monthly average.
What to do in Calgary vs. Montreal
Entertainment in Calgary
There is less nightlife in Calgary because it is less populated than Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal, but there are more than enough parks and open areas where you may spend time with your family and friends. In addition to the many parks and malls in downtown Calgary, the area near Chinook Mall, Stephen Avenue, and 17th Avenue also has some top-notch restaurants.
Beautiful summer events are held in the city of Calgary in the Calgary Zoo, Telus Spark Science Center, Glenbow Museum, Bow Habitat, Fish Hatchery, Prince’s Island Park, and Nose Hill Park.
In 2021, the Bow River Weir was transformed into a rapid system for rafters. Calgary is also home to the greatest pedestrian path network in North America.
An hour west of Calgary is the country’s first provincial park, Banff Provincial Park, which is home to stunning Rocky Mountains and lakes. Kananaskis Country is known for its numerous mountain peaks. Some common sports include hiking, mountain biking, skiing (downhill or cross-country), and horse-riding.
The Calgary Stampede, the Spruce Meadows Derby, the Flames, and the Stampeders are just a few of the events that make Calgary the City of Festivals.
(*Life in Calgary & Tripadvisor)
Entertainment in Montreal
The city offers excellent taste and a strong sense of fashion, all at reasonable costs. Montreal is a haven for foodies. There are over 5,000 restaurants, including hundreds of excellent ones, delivering top-notch taste and presentation at rates that are at least half what you would pay in New York or Paris for the same dinner.
Nearly 700 acres of greenery make up Mount Royal Park, a huge park in the city’s heart. It is a terrific place to walk, exercise, laze around, and have a picnic with fantastic city views. The city is home to a top-notch art hub: place-des-arts which hosts a museum, academic campus, and a plethora of events all year long. The city also has its famous planetarium, insectarium, and world-renowned botanical gardens.
You can kayak, canoe, boat, and fish in the city because it is an island surrounded by the Saint Lawrence River.
Whitewater rafting and jet boating are available at Lachine Rapids. More than a dozen ski hills, including the amazing Mont Tremblant, are within less than an hour’s drive to the north or south-east.
(*Mtl.org, Tripadvisor & Timeout)
Costs of entertainment — Calgary vs. Montreal
A three-course supper for two at a mid-range restaurant costs about $90 in Montreal while only $85 in Calgary. In Calgary, a monthly adult health club membership costs $79.85 compared to only $43.90 in Montreal. In Calgary, a seat in a movie theatre showing an international release costs $16.00, whereas, in Montreal, it costs $15.00.
Cost of housing in Calgary vs Montreal
According to information from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers, the median price of a single-family home in Montreal and its metropolitan area decreased by less than 1% month over month to $576,000 in May. Since June 2021, prices haven’t decreased for two straight months.
The average property price in Montreal has increased by 16% since May of 2021. The condo market remains stable, with the median price rising by 12% year over year to $410,000 in May, almost unchanged from April.
Over the previous three years, the Calgary area has had the cheapest housing market among Canada’s four main cities—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. The low-income tax rates in Alberta are another reason people consider moving to Calgary.
According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the median cost of a home in May 2022 was $440,000. Housing prices in Calgary caused a 5 percent increase in overall sales volume.
How much is a house in Calgary?
The average cost of a house in Calgary is $440,000.
How much is a house in Montreal?
The average cost of a house in Montreal is $576,000.
Cost of rent in Calgary
Rents in Calgary vary according to the location and size of apartments. The table below lists some common neighborhoods and the cost of apartments of varied sizes in each.
Cost of rent in Montreal
Here is a summary of rental cost of apartments in Montreal.
Quarter Ville Marie
(*Liv & Zumper)
How much is rent in Montreal?
The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Montreal is $1,450.
Job opportunities in Calgary vs. Montreal
Calgary has the highest personal income per capita in Canada at $59,907 and the highest labor productivity of any large Canadian city. The city is known for utilizing digital technology to solve real-world issues. The most in-demand job opportunities are for information system analysts and consultants, trade managers, computer programmers, and healthcare workers.
There is a severe labor shortage in Montreal. Due to a scarcity of competent personnel, Quebec’s industrial sector has lost $1.8 billion over the last two years and thus has a very low unemployment rate at 6.1% across the province. Over the next ten years, there will likely be 1.2 million job openings and a surge in the number of employees moving to Montreal. Computer network technicians, engineers, educators, and programmers are very in-demand professions.
Salary comparison in Calgary vs. Montreal
The table below presents the comparison of average job salaries in both cities:
The average salary in Calgary
The average salary in Montreal
Cost of living in Calgary vs. Montreal
In Calgary, you would need about $6,200 to live comfortably, whereas in Montreal, you could get by with $5,856 (assuming you rent in both cities) which means Calgary is typically 5.8% more expensive than Montreal.
Rent prices in Montreal are 5.44 percent lower than in Calgary, while consumer prices, including rent, are 5.06 percent lower in Montreal than in Calgary. Montreal restaurant prices are 0.39 percent more than Calgary grocery prices, which are 1.85 percent lower in Montreal.
The cost of living indices of Calgary and Montreal are:
Cost of living index
Average monthly costs to live in Calgary vs Montreal
The following table sums up the average monthly cost of living in Calgary and Montreal.
*For 1 person
Average house price
Average monthly rent price (1 bedroom in City Centre)
Public transit (monthly pass)
Utilities (electricity + internet)
Cell phone plan
$80, unlimited talk, text, and data included
$80, unlimited talk, text, and data included
Gym membership (monthly)
Clothing and shoes (1 pair each)
Both cities are the heart of their province but offer quite different experiences and atmospheres but Calgary can offer a rich and exciting lifestyle as much as Montreal can. It all depends on where your interests and priorities lie as they each have specific strengths. If you are planning to move soon, check out the 5 best moving companies in Calgary and the 5 best moving companies in Montreal.
FAQ - The most frequently asked questions about Calgary and Montreal
What is the biggest difference between Calgary and Montreal?
Calgary is an amazing choice for any outdoors-loving individuals and offers drastically lower housing costs than any other province as well as higher than national average salaries to its workforce. On the other hand, Montreal is culturally very different from Calgary by having French as their dominant language which sets it apart and is noticeable in every sphere of life. It’s also the second-most walkable city in Canada whereas Calgary is more suited for cars.
Where to live in Calgary?
Yonge-Eglinton, Liberty Village and King West
Chinatown, Bridgeland and Inglewood
Harbourfront, Cabbagetown and Church-Wellesley
Where to live in Montreal?
Ville-Marie and Outremont
Villeray and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Côtes-des-Neiges and Plateau Mont-Royal
Is tax cheaper in Calgary vs. Montreal?
- In the province of Quebec, they have a GST which is set at about 5% and their own provincial tax (TVQ) set at 9,975%.
- In the province of Alberta, they have GST which is set at about 5%. They do not have a provincial tax.
Income tax rates in Alberta
Income tax rates in Quebec
10% on the first $131,220 of taxable income, +.
15% for $45,105 or less.
12% on the next $26,244, +.
20% between $45,105 and $90,200
13% on the next $52,488, +.
24% between $90,200 to $109,755
14% on the next $104,976, +.
25,75% on the next $109,755, +.
15% on the amount over $314,928
Federal tax rates
The federal tax rate is the same in both cities. Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:
- 15% on the first $50,197 of taxable income, plus
- 20.5% on the next $50,195 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over 50,197 up to $100,392), plus
- 26% on the next $55,233 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $100,392 up to $155,625), plus
- 29% on the next $66,083 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over 155,625 up to $221,708), plus
- 33% of taxable income over $221,708
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