Mercer: Canada remains a relatively affordable place to live

The cost of living in Canada ranks favourably among other global options

Mercer: Canada remains a relatively affordable place to live
Steve Randall

It may be getting more expensive to live in Canada with inflation rising and house prices escalating, but how does it compare to other countries?

The post-pandemic world is one in which individuals and companies are evaluating whether their current situation is appropriate for how they want to live and work.

Mercer has published its Cost of Living Survey 2021 which, although designed to help companies decide on the best locations for employees, also makes for interesting reading for individuals.

Mobility is evolving from relocating an employee for a few years then repatriating them to their home location – to other kinds of mobility moves such as short-term assignees, international foreign hires, permanent transferees, commuters, international remote workers and international freelancers.

Looking at the cost of living in major cities, Vancouver is the most expensive in Canada, followed by Toronto. However, both are less expensive than many global peers, ranking 93rd and 98th most expensive, respectively.

Montreal (129) and Calgary (145) have both become more expensive in the latest rankings, while Ottawa (156) became less costly.

“Globally, Canada remains a relatively affordable place to live and an attractive destination for remote workers,” said Gordon Frost, partner at Mercer Canada. “As companies consider how they will manage an increasingly flexible workforce after the pandemic, cost of living is becoming an even more compelling employee value proposition – which is essential for retaining their current workforce and attracting new talent.”

In the US, currency fluctuations have meant a decline in cost of living in major cities including New York (14), Los Angeles (20), San Francisco (25), Honolulu (43) and Chicago (45).

Most expensive

The most expensive cities for remote workers are:

  1. Ashgabat
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Beirut*
  4. Tokyo
  5. Zurich
  6. Shanghai
  7. Singapore
  8. Geneva
  9. Beijing
  10. Bern

*Beirut’s inclusion in the top 7 results from a severe and extensive economic depression due to escalation of several crises — the country’s largest financial crisis, COVID-19 and the Port of Beirut explosion in 2020.

The rankings are based on comparative costs of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.