Living in Montreal vs. Vancouver: Where Should You Live?

Living in Montreal vs. Vancouver: Where Should You Live?

Montreal, the second-most populous city in Canada and the largest city in Quebec, stands as a cultural and economic hub. Meanwhile, Vancouver, a bustling west coast seaport in British Columbia, ranks among the nation’s most ethnically diverse cities. Both are renowned for their stunning landscapes, rich culture, and unique activities. Deciding where to move is a difficult decision that requires considering living costs and much more.

The housing markets in both cities have surged in recent years, with prices reaching unprecedented highs. The average home price in Montreal reached $521,600 in August 2023, while in Vancouver, prices are significantly higher at around $1,208,400.

To help you decide where to move, let’s compare Montreal and Vancouver’s housing, groceries, transport, entertainment opportunities, and job industry. The cost comparison and statistics will help you decide where you should live.

Without further ado, here’s our guide to Living in Montreal vs. Vancouver.

Montreal vs. Vancouver

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Public transit in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Public transport in Montreal

The STM metro system is central to Montreal’s public transit network, with four major lines connecting downtown to notable tourist attraction, train stations, and bus stops. Operating from 5:30 am to 1:00 am on weeknights and until 1:30 am on weekends. Montreal offers other transit options, like the 747 Shuttle Airport system, that provides direct transportation from the airport to downtown. BIXI bike-share service offers over 6,000 bikes for rent at minimal prices.

Here are all the essential fares that you can consider while traveling within Montreal.

Bus and Metro fares in Montreal

Type of fare Rate
Single ticket $3.75
Daily pass $11.00
Weekly pass $30.00
Monthly pass $97.00
747 Trudeau Airport/Downtown $11.00

STM (Sept 2023)

What Are the Metro Opening Hours in Montreal?

The metro operates daily from 5:30 am to 1:00 am. On Saturdays, it operates until 1:30 am. Operating hours vary by line (green, blue, yellow, and orange).

Public transport in Vancouver

Vancouver’s public transit is easily accessible, connecting major tourist sites. The Rapid Transit SkyTrain is an automated system of trains running over and underground. Vancouver’s regional transport authority is Translink, with a coordinated network of buses and shuttles.

HandyDart is a door-to-door ride-sharing service that caters only to individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities. SeaBus is a passenger-only ferry that runs between Downtown Waterfront Station and Mission. Whereas the bus charges a flat one-zone rate, SkyTrain and SeaBus have three-zone pricing structures. There are concessions for the elderly and children, as well as Compass cards

Bus and Metro fares in Vancouver

Type of fare Rate
Single ticket (1-Zone) $3.15
Single ticket (2-Zone) $4.55
Single ticket (3-Zone) $6.20
Daily pass (All Zones) $11.25
Monthly Pass (1-Zone) $104.90

Translink (Sept 2023)

What Are the Public Transit Opening Hours in Vancouver?
The SkyTrain operates from 5 am to 1 am on weekdays, from 6 am to 1 am on Saturdays, and from 7 am to 1 am on Sundays. The exact schedule may vary by train.

Both Vancouver and Montreal have extensively laid out transit systems. For everyday riders, Montreal offers multiple packages such as the full-day fare, weekend fare, and evening fare, which can be cost-effective. Additionally, the metro system in Montreal is significantly convenient and is expanding at a successful rate.

Cost of groceries in Montreal vs. Vancouver

The table below compares the cost of groceries for one person living in Montreal vs. Vancouver.

Groceries costs Montreal Vancouver
Milk (regular), (1 gallon) $10.86 $12.34
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) $3.69 $3.88
Rice (white) (1 lb) $1.96 $2.48
Eggs (regular) (12) $4.28 $6.01
Local Cheese (1 lb) $7.32 $8.05
Chicken Filets (1 lb) $7.28 $8.32
Beef Round (1 lb) $7.94 $8.78
Apples (1 lb) $1.98 $2.45
Banana (1 lb) $0.88 $0.86
Oranges (1 lb) $2.19 $2.26
Tomato (1 lb) $2.43 $2.58
Potato (1 lb) $1.23 $2.01
Onion (1 lb) $1.43 $1.56
Lettuce (1 head) $3.17 $3.56
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) $18.00 $20.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) $3.69 $4.22
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle) $4.31 $4.58
Average monthly cost of groceries for 1 person  $330.56 per month. $375.76 per month.

Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Vancouver (Sept 2023)

What to do in Montreal vs. Vancouver

When it comes to entertainment in Montreal vs. Vancouver, each has its fair share of amusements for its inhabitants. So, let’s review it one by one:

Entertainment in Montreal

Montreal is full of culture, delicious food, and beautiful old architecture. It is recognized for its bustling nightlife, including jazz festivals, and its residents are known for being laid-back and appreciative of life. No other Canadian city, including Vancouver, could compete with Montreal’s well-known art, especially considering Montreal dedicates a whole neighborhood called Place-des-arts to it where you can experience many festivals, museums, and activities!

Montreal’s annual comedy festival “Just for Laughs” occurs in June. There are several free live events, and comedy shows that you can attend all across the city — especially in the downtown area. Summers are especially fun with musical and cultural activities, while winters are harsh, there are plenty of outdoor and indoor activities to do. Besides, there are over 40 museums to visit in the city, including a historical center, the Old Port of Montreal.

Entertainment in Vancouver

Vancouver impresses with its natural beauty, mountains, beaches reminiscent of those in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the ocean. Moving to Vancouver is perfect for biking, skiing, and sailing. The trip up to Whistler (the sea-to-sky corridor) is breathtakingly gorgeous. Even if you don’t want to hike, ski, or snowboard, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy, such as the gondola up to Grouse Mountain or the restaurants and walkways along the seafront.

Both cities are quite different yet incredible, offering a wide variety of activities. Living in Montreal provides greater ethnic diversity, vibrant nightlife, amazing food, and rich art scenes, whereas Vancouver offers scenic beauty, abundant outdoor activities, and pleasant weather.

Cost of entertainment in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Leisure activities such as sports clubs and cinemas are abundant in both cities. The monthly fee for a fitness club in Montreal for one person is $41.14, which is lower than in Vancouver, where it is $60.94. The cost of an international release cinema seat is nearly similar in both cities, with Montreal being slightly less expensive. Additionally, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant is cheaper in Vancouver. In general, the cost of entertainment is relatively less expensive in Vancouver.

Entertainment costs Montreal Vancouver
Mid-range restaurant meal $57.50 $50.00
Taxi 1h $44.25 $40.00
1 cinema ticket $15.00 $18.00
Total $116.75 $108.00

Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Vancouver (Sept 2023)

Housing in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Montreal’s housing prices are consistently increasing, with an average of $521,600 in August 2023. Over the last few years, the real estate sector in Vancouver has been flourishing, with the number of agents and transactions reaching record levels. The housing market experienced 13 consecutive months of all-time high home prices, with an average home price of $1,208,400 in August 2023.

CREA (Aug 2023)

Cost of Housing in Montreal vs. Vancouver

In the tables below, you’ll find two charts that display the average cost of renting an apartment, including two apartment types, and the average home price in Montreal vs. Vancouver.

Cost of rent in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Area/Neighborhood 1-bed apartment 3-bed apartment
Montreal (Outside of Center) $1,221.81 $1,979.26
Vancouver (Outside of Center) $2,240.70 $3,791.40

Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023) &  Numbeo-Vancouver (Sept 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Area/Neighborhood Average home price 
Montreal $521,600
Vancouver $1,208,400

CREA (Aug 2023)

The cost of living in Montreal is cheaper than in Vancouver in terms of housing costs and rent.

How much is a house in Montreal and Vancouver?
The average price of a house in Montreal is $521,600, while in Vancouver it is $1,208,400.

Job opportunities in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Montreal is suffering from an acute labor shortage. The manufacturing industry of Quebec has faced a loss of $1.8 billion in the last two years because of a lack of skilled workers. There will be an estimated 1.2 million job vacancies in the next decade and an influx of workers moving to Montreal. In-demand job titles include computer network technicians, engineers, teachers, health workers and programmers.

According to the labor force survey conducted by Statistics Canada, the professional, technical, and scientific services industry is booming in Canada post-pandemic. The West Coast, including Vancouver, has Canada’s lowest unemployment rates. The most in-demand jobs include the healthcare department, teachers, chefs and cooks, developers, and sales specialists.

Salary comparison in Montreal vs. Vancouver

For the same professions, salaries are comparatively higher in Vancouver than in Montreal.

Take a look at what average salaries look like for the most in-demand professions in Montreal and Vancouver:

Professions Average salary in

Montreal

Average salary in

Vancouver

Software Engineer $102,398.40 $112,008
Data Scientist/Analyst $92,040 $95,409.60
Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses $74,880 $87,360
Financial advisors $72,800 $78,000
Audio and video recording technicians $62,400 $71,136

Government of Canada Job Bank (Nov 2023)

Cost of living in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Average monthly costs to live in Montreal vs. Vancouver

In terms of living expenses, the cost of living in Montreal is more affordable than the cost of living in Vancouver. The table below compares the cost of living in both cities, considering accommodation, groceries, transportation, and utility costs:

Category Monthly cost in Montreal Monthly cost in Vancouver
1 bed apt rent outside city center $1,221.81 $2,240.70
Numbeo’s monthly grocery expenses  $330.56 $375.76
Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$110.21 $144.08
Internet with 60 Mbps $59.54 $85.50
Transit pass $97.00 $104.90
Entertainment

Meal, taxi, movie

$116.75 $108.00
Gym membership $41.14 $60.94
Total $1,977.01 $3,119.88

Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Vancouver (Sept 2023)

FAQ – The most frequently asked questions about Montreal and Vancouver

What is the biggest difference between Montreal and Vancouver?

Montreal is one of the less expensive cities in Canada, while still being the second-most populous. One of the biggest differences between Montreal and Vancouver would be the culture, where Montreal is host to many French-Canadians while offering a more European feeling. Also, another stark difference is the weather, where Vancouver’s weather is milder.

Where to Live in Montreal?

Lifestyle Neighborhood
Outdoor recreation Verdun, Anjou
Families and Young Couples LaSalle, Kirkland, Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie
Accessible Lachine
Urban Lifestyle Outremont

Where to Live in Vancouver?

Lifestyle Neighborhood, Coquitlam
Outdoor recreation White Rock, North Vancouver
Families Langley
Accessible Abbotsford
Urban Lifestyle West Vancouver

Is tax cheaper in Montreal vs. Vancouver?

Income tax rates in Montreal (Quebec)

Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

  • 14% on annual taxable income of $51,780 or less.
  • 19% on the next $51,780 up to $103,545.
  • 24% on the next $103,545 up to $126,000.
  • 25.75% on the amount over $126,000

Revenu Quebec (Jan 2024)

Income tax rates in Vancouver

Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

  • 5.05% from $0 to $47,937 of annual taxable income.
  • 7.70% on the next $47,937.01 up to $95,875.
  • 10.50% on the next $95,875.01 up to $110,076.
  • 12.29% on the next $110,076.01 up to $133,664.
  • 14.70% on the next $133,664.01 up to $181,232.
  • 16.80% on the next $181,232.01 up to $252,752.
  • 20.50% on the amount over $252,752.

Canada Revenu Agency (Feb 2024)

Federal tax rates

The federal tax rate is the same in Montreal and in Vancouver. Applicable tax on the annual taxable income includes:

  • 15% on annual taxable income from $0.00 to $55,867.
  • 20.5% on the annual taxable income from $55,867 up to $111,733.
  • 26% on the annual taxable income from $111,733 up to $173,205.
  • 29% on the annual taxable income from $173,205 up to $246,752.
  • 33% on the annual taxable income over $246,752.

Canada Revenue Agency (Jan 2024)

Sales tax rates in Montreal vs. Vancouver

Canada has three types of sales taxes that vary by province. In QuĂ©bec, there’s the PST and the GST, which are set at about 5% and 9.975%, respectively, totaling 14.975% and applying to purchases of goods and services. Whereas in British Columbia, there are two separate taxes: the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which are set at approximately 7% and 5%, respectively. When combined, they total 12% and apply to purchases of goods and services.

Government of Canada (Sept 2023)

Conclusion

Both cities offer a very diverse community and a plethora of activities that will keep their residents entertained all year round. However, Montreal offers a significantly lower cost of living than Vancouver, making it the cheapest of the big cities in Canada. Additionally, being in Québec, Montreal provides a perfect haven for French speakers worldwide, setting it apart from all other cities in North America. Vancouver offers slightly higher salaries and a more modern ambiance compared to historic Montreal. If you are planning to move soon, check out the 5 best moving companies in Montreal  and the 5 best moving companies in Vancouver.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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