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

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 in deciding whether to move or not. Real estate listings in Calgary and Montreal are more affordable compared to other larger cities like Toronto and Vancouver. The average home price in Calgary is $553,800, while in Montreal it is $521,600.

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. 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

Type of fare

Rate

Single ticket

$3.60

10 Tickets

$36.00

Daily pass

$11.25

Monthly pass

$112.00

Calgary Transit (Sept 2023)

How much is a Calgary transit monthly pass?
The cost for a Calgary monthly transit pass is $112.

 

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 dépanneurs (corner stores), and grocery stores sell tickets. Opus cards are commonly used in Montreal. Other transit options include the 747 Shuttle service and BIXI. For an $11 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.

STM info (Jan 2024)

Public transit 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)

How much is a transit monthly pass in Montreal?
The cost of a public transit monthly pass in Montreal is $97.00.

 

Cost of groceries in Calgary vs. Montreal

The table lists the cost of groceries in both cities:

 

Groceries costs

Calgary

Montreal

Milk (regular), (1 gallon)

$10.65

$10.86

Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)

$3.02

$3.69

Rice (white) (1 lb)

$2.05

$1.96

Eggs (regular) (12)

$4.50

$4.28

Local Cheese (1 lb)

$7.17

$7.32

Chicken Fillets (1 lb)

$7.04

$7.28

Beef Round (1 lb)

$8.96

$7.94

Apples (1 lb)

$2.52

$1.98

Banana (1 lb)

$0.91

$0.88

Oranges (1 lb)

$2.28

$2.19

Tomato (1 lb)

$2.20

$2.43

Potato (1 lb)

$1.56

$1.23

Onion (1 lb)

$1.54

$1.43

Lettuce (1 head)

$3.53

$3.17

Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)

$17.50

$18.00

Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)

$3.43

$3.69

Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle)

$4.02

$4.31

Average monthly cost of groceries for 1 person 

$331.52 per month.

$330.56 per month.

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

 

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 parks and open areas where you may spend time with your family. 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.

The Bow River Weir was transformed into a rapid system for rafters in 2021. 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, home to stunning Rocky Mountains and lakes. Kananaskis Country is known for its numerous mountain peaks, and hiking, popular for mountain biking, skiing (downhill or cross-country), and horse riding are some common sports. 

Beautiful summer events are held in the city in the Calgary Zoo, Telus Spark Science Center, Glenbow Museum, Bow Habitat, Fish Hatchery, Prince’s Island Park, and Nose Hill Park.

The Calgary Stampede, the Spruce Meadows Derby, and the Flames, are just a few of the events that make Calgary the City of Festivals.

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.

Costs of entertainment in Calgary vs. Montreal

A mid-range restaurant meal costs about $50 in Calgary and $57.50 in Montreal. In Calgary, a monthly adult health club membership costs $76.78 compared to only $41.14 in Montreal. In Calgary, a seat in a movie theater showing an international release costs $17.00, whereas, in Montreal, it costs $15.00. Both cities offer similar costs in entertainment.

 

Entertainment costs

Calgary

Montreal

Mid-range restaurant meal

$50.00

$57.50

Taxi 1h

$46.50

$44.25

1 cinema ticket

$17.00

$15.00

Total

$113.50

$116.75

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

 

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 increased by 17% year-to-date in January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. Meanwhile, condominiums saw an 8% increase in median price, and the median price of Plex (2-5 units) decreased by 2% year-to-date January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

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 detached home increased by 15.19% in January 2024 compared to January 2023. Meanwhile, apartments saw a 19.38% increase in median price in January 2024 compared to January 2023.

Cost of Housing in Calgary vs. Montreal

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 Calgary vs. Montreal.

Cost of rent in Calgary vs. Montreal

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Calgary (Outside of Center)

$1,509.55

$2,386.41

Montreal (Outside of Center)

$1,221.81

$1,979.26

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

Cost of buying a property in Calgary vs. Montreal

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Calgary

$553,800

Montreal

$521,600

CREA (Aug 2023)

How much is a house in Calgary and Montreal?
The average price of a house in Calgary is $553,800, while in Montreal it is $521,600.

 

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. 

Finances.gouv.qc.ca (2021), Statistiques Québec (Feb 2022)

Salary comparison in Calgary vs. Montreal

The table below presents the comparison of average job salaries in both cities:

 

Professions

Average salary in

Calgary

Average salary in

Montreal

Software Engineer

$109,990.40

$102,398.40

Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

$97,760

$74,880

Financial Analyst

$97,676.80

$85,280

Mechanical Engineer

$104,000

$90,500.80

Business Analyst

$102,315.20

$81,993.60

Government of Canada Job Bank (Nov 2023)

 

Cost of living in Calgary vs. Montreal

Average monthly costs to live in Calgary vs. Montreal

The following table sums up the average monthly cost of living in Calgary and Montreal. 

Category

Monthly cost in Calgary

Monthly cost in Montreal

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,509.55

$1,221.81

Numbeo’s monthly grocery expenses

$331.52

$330.56

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$347.20

$110.21

Internet with 60 Mbps

$96.25

$59.54

Transit pass

$112.00

$97.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$113.50

$116.75

Gym membership 

$76.78

$41.14

Total

$2,586.80

$1,977.01

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

 

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. 

Walkscore (Jan 2024)

Where to live in Calgary?

Lifestyle

Neighborhood

Outdoor recreation 

Mission, Sunnyside

Families and Students

Edgemont, Varsity

Accessible

Mount Pleasant, Killarney/Glengarry

Where to live in Montreal?

Lifestyle

Neighborhood

Outdoor reacreation 

Verdun, Anjou

Families and Young Couples

LaSalle, Kirkland, Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie

Accessible

Lachine 

Is tax cheaper in Calgary vs. Montreal?

Income tax rates in Calgary (Alberta)

Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

  • 10% from $0.00 to $142,292 of annual taxable income.
  • 12% on the next $142,292.01 up to $170,751.
  • 13% on the next $170,751.01 up to $227,668.
  • 14% on the next $227,668.01 up to $341,502.
  • 15% on the amount over $341,502.01.

Personal Income Tax (Dec 2023)

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)

Federal tax rates in Calgary vs. Montreal

The federal tax rate is the same in Calgary and in Montreal. 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 in Calgary vs. Montreal

In Canada, there are three types of sales taxes: the federal GST (5%), the provincial sales taxes PST (varies depending on the province), and the HST, which is a combination of the two. In Alberta, there’s the GST only, set at about 5%, which applies to purchases of goods and services. Meanwhile, in Québec, 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. 

 Government of Canada (Sept 2023)

Conclusion

Both cities are the heart of their province but offer quite different experiences and atmospheres. Calgary can offer a rich and exciting lifestyle as much as Montreal can. It all depends on where your interests and priorities lie, as each city has its specific strengths. If you are planning to move soon, check out the best moving companies in Calgary and the best moving companies in Montreal.

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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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